Prospects for Integrated Air Pollution Control in Pulverised Coal Fired Power Plant
AUTHOR: Hermine Nalbandian
DATE: November 2002
The coal-fuel cycle, from mining to transport to power generation and transmission of electricity, imposes burdens on the environment that can harm ecosystems and human health. Pulverised coal combustion for power generation results in the emission of gases and particulate matter that have a detrimental impact on the environment. Most notable are carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen oxides (Nox) and sulphur dioxide (SO2) and also trace elements. The objective of environmental protection policies and programmes is the preservation of environmental quality, that is the quality of air, water and soil. Most pollution control efforts have been historically based on the command and control approach which is the imposition of regulations that set limits and standards to reduce pollution.
Pollution prevention is a developing field. It is defined mainly as the reduction or elimination of wastes and pollutants at their sources. Environmental acts for pollution prevention and control have been introduced in North America and Europe in the 1990s. Many initiatives and programmes have also been launched in recent years aiming to develop a futuristic coal-fired power generating plant that emits zero or near-zero emissions. Many integrated or multi-pollutant technologies are currently under development. These aim to reduce two or more air pollutants simultaneously despite the lack of uptake of existing combined SO2/NOx systems. However, these technologies differ in that they mainly use an existing technology and improve its capability of capturing further pollutants. The prospects for integrated air pollution control technology appear to be highest in the USA in the near term. In the long term, application of these technologies will depend mainly on national legislative requirements, their efficiency, effectiveness, reliability, and most importantly capital and operating and maintenance costs.