The energy industry lives now in a world defined by regulations controlling power plant emissions. The toughest anti-emission regulations the industry has ever known have been put into place over the past eight years, and while a Trump administration will undoubtedly attempt to scale back as many as they can, the impact they have made is likely a lasting one.
For this reason, plant managers want their facilities to function at a high level while still being in compliance with emissions regulations. To do so, they are paying close attention to inefficiencies in their plants and looking for ways to optimize their processes while attempting to avoid costly fines and penalties from the government.
For biomass providers, this is particularly crucial. Without maximum efficiency, biomass plants will struggle to remain financially competitive – something with which most facilities already struggle. Efficient compliance is the one thing that can ensure a plant continues to operate in the black and free from consequences of non-compliance.
Here are common sense solutions to limit biomass plant emissions and create more efficiency with a plant’s compliance strategies.
Optimizing Biomass Fuel Delivery
When plants seek to control emissions, they don’t typically start with fuel delivery – but biomass fuel delivery is actually the first place to begin optimizing a facility.
One of the biggest causes of emission overruns is a flawed and ineffective boiler biomass feed system. Biomass fuels invariably clump together and aren’t as uniform as coal. They also contain more foreign debris. Failure to adequately screen, size, and distribute fuel can lead to emissions problems down the road.
Additionally, at the boiler, uneven flow of fuel can indicate that emissions problems are more than likely going to happen at some point later in the process. Biomass metering bins have to be designed in such a way as to regulate the fuel feed uniformly. If they’re not, your boiler will have lower combustion efficiency – and higher emissions at the end of the process.
Finally, poor fuel delivery will typically result in more particulate matter being transported to the exhaust gas draft system – which results in higher CO and NOX emissions.
Making Boiler Air Systems More Efficient
How your biomass plant handles air is another critical factor.
One major cause of poor performance with emissions is having an air handling system that is too small to handle the demands of your system. A consequence of this is having larger char particles enter the exhaust gas system and decrease combustion efficiency. A solution is to have a properly-designed and sized over-fire air (OFA) system to efficiently burn char particles so they have less of a chance of entering the exhaust gas system.
Additionally, OFA systems have to provide the proper mix of oxygen and gases to burn the gases that come from biomass fuel as a result of combustion. The best way to ensure an efficient OFA system is to increase combustion efficiency through a properly-designed OFA apparatus – which takes experience and engineering skill to accomplish.
Improving Mechanical Dust Collectors
Finally, a plant can better abide by emissions regulations by taking care of its mechanical dust collectors (MDCs).
MDCs are not new technology; they’ve been in existence for decades. They’re overlooked, but contain enormous potential for reducing emissions and keeping a plant compliant with a minimum of energy. They accomplish this by reducing the amount of air particulate, lowering the amount of work load on air handling equipment, and protecting equipment from erosion and fire damage that can come as a result of operating a biomass boiler.
While you’ll more than likely need more advanced systems than MDCs, a properly-engineered mechanical dust collector is invaluable in controlling over 85 percent of exhaust particulates from a boiler.
The theme among all three of these areas is simple: use well-designed equipment built with the clear intention of reducing emissions while promoting efficiency. A proper audit of your fuel and air handling systems will reveal any problems that are keeping your plant from operating at a higher efficiency rating – and putting you in danger of non-compliance.