Since the creation of the EPA in 1970, there has been increasing pressure on industrial facilities to cut down on the various emissions their processes produce. Also, the handful of key industrial pollutants that need addressing typically require their own unique interventions. If you would like to learn more about how industrial plants reduce emissions, read our brief guide.
Reduce Methane Leaks
First, loose methane presents a significant environmental risk. As plants process oil and gas, gaseous methane can easily leak and dissipate into the surrounding air, contributing to harmful greenhouse gases. The EPA requires facilities to track and quickly fix leaks and modify existing equipment to cut down on leaks. The agency also requires a certain baseline of planning before drilling to prevent methane leaks.
Selective Catalytic Reduction
Another crucial pollutant class to track and eliminate is nitrogen oxide. NOx contributes to acid rain and smog development as it interacts with other substances. To cut down on NOx, plants utilize Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) processes to treat noxious exhaust gases after their creation. Essentially, in the presence of a catalyst that keeps temperatures low so no extra NOx results, nitrogen oxides react with ammonia to form water vapor and nitrogen gas. There are many advantages to SCR technology, one of which is the high degree of nitrogen oxides it chemically reduces. Over the last several decades, SCR is responsible for a significant drop in industrial NOx emission.
Flue Gas Desulfurization
One of these substances that interacts with NOx to create acid rain is sulfur dioxide, or SO2. Another way industrial plants reduce emissions is to scrub this sulfur dioxide, a process also known as flue gas desulfurization. In flue gas desulfurization, calcium or sodium-based solution or powder cleans flue ducts’ existing sulfur dioxide and prevents it from escaping into the atmosphere. There are wet and dry iterations, and wastewater created by wet desulfurization methods must go through treatment before discarding.
A more indirect way for industrial organizations to address emissions is not to change their operations, but to offset their carbon footprint by investing in external environmentally conscious projects. For example, they can enable methane capture in landfills to take advantage of waste’s breakdown by-product. There are also programs for promoting clean energy and forest growth in which organizations can get involved.