Recent publicity relative to the contribution of Chinese power plants to smog and soot deposition in California is making voters aware that pollution control needs to be addressed on a global basis, according to a report by the McIlvaine Company (www.mcilvainecompany.com). The report predicts this will force the United States to set an example on emissions. However, it says given present regulations the United States could find itself in the embarrassing situation of emitting six times as much SO2 as China.

The McIlvaine Company, in its online report “World FGD Market,” says it expects new regulations will ensure virtually all coal-fired power plants in the United States will be equipped with scrubbers to remove SO2 by 2020.

According to the McIlvaine Company, a Sunday, June 11 article in The New York Times, “Pollution from Chinese Coal Casts Shadow Around the Globe,” leads the reader to believe that China will continue to be a polluter on a scale dwarfing other countries, including the United States. The McIlvaine Company says this perception is false, as nearly half the emissions in China are from small furnaces in industry and even commercial and residential buildings, which will be eliminated with the construction of more environmentally friendly coal-fired electricity generators.

McIlvaine says all the FGD systems being installed in China will have to capture the SO2 fumes, as operation without injecting the limestone would quickly result in destruction of the plant through corrosion. McIlvaine says most new units are guaranteed for 95-percent efficiency.

The Times article quotes Chinese officials as targeting installation of scrubbers on all plants by 2010. McIlvaine says this won’t happen, but it is possible that by 2015 this program could be completed. McIlvaine estimates the installation of scrubbers on all plants would eliminate small sources of emissions, cutting SO2 by 10 million tons, leaving 16 million raw tons. With 95-percent efficient scrubbers, McIlvaine says emissions would be only 800,000 tons.

According to McIlvaine, the United States on the other hand is only targeting a reduction to 4.8 million tons in 2010. Therefore, emissions could be six times that of China. By 2020, present regulations would result in more than two million tons of SO2 emissions in the United States. So even if the Chinese program is not completed until 2020, its emissions at some point fall below those of the United States, notes McIlvaine.

Relative to mercury, McIlvaine says the Chinese scrubbers will remove most of the mercury along with the SO2. By addition of bromine or chlorine they can remove as much as 90 percent. In contrast, McIlvaine says the U.S. in 2010 is only targeting 34 percent mercury reduction.

McIlvaine predicts that the United States will pass new legislation that will ensure that U.S. emissions are comparable (on a per MW basis) to those in Japan, Western Europe, and (with its new program) China.

Even without new federal legislation it is likely that all U.S. power plants will have to install scrubbers before 2020. The driver will be reduction in fine particulate, says McIlvaine. SO2 reacts in the atmosphere to form fine particulate sulfates. Fine particulate has been identified as causing more than 40,000 deaths per year in the United States. The national law requires states to meet tough, very-low ambient fine particulate levels well before 2020. McIlvaine says the installation of scrubbers will be the most cost-effective way for states to make these reductions.

For more information on McIlvaine”s FGD World Markets, visit www.mcilvainecompany.com/air.html#NO27