NEWS RELEASE                                                                                                                JULY 2015

Change Environmental Regulatory Policy to Foster R&D and Cost Effectiveness

The recent Supreme Court ruling in the U.S. remanding the air toxic rules due to lack of cost consideration is a wakeup call.  The message is that the whole system is flawed.  It discourages rather than encourages R&D. Invariably the cost estimates prior to regulation turn out to be wrong. So regulations are rarely cost-effective.

EPA recognized that setting arbitrary limits is not cost-effective and so created a “Cap and Trade” system. The trade aspect of this policy was sound, but the cap aspect merely duplicated the problems with conventional regulations where there is no incentive to do better than is required.

All that is needed is to move from “Cap and Trade” to “Create and Trade.” Those power plants ranking in the lower 50 percent would pay fees to be divided among those in the top 50 percent.  The payments and receipts would be based on ranking.  These payments provide great incentive for the industry to “create” cost-effective solutions.

Mercury reduction would be a very good demonstration of the power of “Create and Trade.”  There are new mercury removal technologies which are much more cost-effective than the ones available at the time of the cost determination.  It was concluded that to move from 85 percent mercury reduction to 95 percent reduction would cost $30,000/lb.  Now the cost may be as low as $1,000/lb.   If the “Create and Trade” rule stated that any company removing more than 85 percent of the mercury would be paid $15,000/lb. for each additional pound removed, there would be a great incentive for power plants to install the most efficient equipment. 

Ultimately the most cost-effective technologies would be installed.  Initially the bar would be set at 85 percent removal but, if it turns out that some companies are making huge profits by obtaining 95 percent efficiency, then it would be time to raise the bar to 90 percent.

There is almost no supplier generated air pollution control research in the U.S.  The creation of a back-end mercury module for high efficiency is a fortuitous anomaly.  The creation of a “Create and Trade” system would generate many new cost-effective technologies. It would also make the U.S. again the center of air pollution technology.  This is a position it is ceding to China presently.

The concept is equally valid for the upcoming EPA rules on CO2 emissions.  Coal-fired power plants can make effective reductions in CO2 emissions by increasing efficiency. So there are ways to make cost-effective reductions in CO2 emissions per unit of power produced.  Rather than set arbitrary limits a “Create and Trade” system would encourage R&D and use of the most cost-effective technologies.  The national strategy is to continue to operate some 200,000 MW of coal-fired power plants. An incentive program to increase efficiency would result in significant reduction of CO2 emissions and be positive rather than negative for the economy.

For more information on this subject click on 5AB Air Pollution Management

NEWS RELEASE                                                                                                                JUNE 2015

Supreme Court Mercury Ruling Will Have Uneven Impact on the Pollution Control Industry

The Supreme Court in a 5-4 split ruling on Monday rejected the Environmental Protection Agency’s MATS rules governing toxic air pollutants including mercury. This ruling will have immediate consequences for the air pollution industry, but the impact will be uneven.  It will affect the suppliers of certain types of equipment but not others.  There are short-range and long-range impacts which are both negative and positive according to the analysis in the Mercury Air Reduction Market published by the McIlvaine Company.

Justice Scalia, writing for the court’s majority, said  “The agency must consider cost—including, most importantly, cost of compliance—before deciding whether regulation is appropriate and necessary.” “It is not rational, never mind ‘appropriate,’ to impose billions of dollars in economic costs in return for a few dollars in health or environmental benefits. Statutory context supports this reading.”

The EPA had argued that it was not required to take costs into account when it made the initial determination to regulate. But the agency added that it had done so later in setting emissions standards and that, in any event, the benefits far outweighed the cost .The two sides had very different understandings of the costs and benefits involved. Industry groups said the government had imposed annual costs of $9.6 billion to achieve about $6 million in benefits. The agency said the costs yielded tens of billions of dollars in benefits.

There is a good possibility that there will be little change in the market. “Given the fact that the EPA has already done a detailed cost benefit analysis justifying the rule, and the fact that the majority of the affected industries have already invested heavily in compliance, there is a good chance that the D.C. Circuit will allow the rule to remain on the books” while the agency makes its revisions, said Patrick Parenteau, an expert on environmental law at Vermont Law School.

If the rule is stricken during the re-write period, the largest and most immediate negative impact would be the loss of sales of activated carbon and other chemicals to aid in the mercury capture. There will be negative impacts on suppliers of trona and lime.   This rule could delay revenues by several years.  On the other hand, most of the equipment to capture the air toxics has already been installed. Also there are State regulations which require mercury reduction as well as limits on other pollutants. These lessen the impact.

Coal-fired generators are subject to other rules which require more efficient air pollution control equipment and more are lurking.  The States have the responsibility for meeting ambient air quality levels for particulate (PM2.5) SO2, NOx and ozone.  Substantial emission reduction of pollutants at coal-fired power plants is the most cost effective route for the States to proceed.  It is also the most politically popular as compared to prohibiting home barbecue grills.

Over time the decision to include cost could be positive for the air pollution industry. The cost of mercury reduction with the present technology is far less than anticipated at the time the rules were drafted.  Therefore, any revised rule is likely to be as stringent as the one being stricken.

In fact more stringent rules would be justified.  The cost per pound of mercury removed is a function of the efficiency.  The first 70 percent of the mercury can be removed very cost effectively.  At the time of the background analysis for the rules it was estimated that the cost per pound to move from 85 to 95 percent efficiency would be ten times that for lower efficiencies. This is no longer the case.  High removal efficiencies can be cost effectively achieved.

If cost is also included in climate change rules, the capture of CO2 will be hard to justify.  There are two reasons:

  • Benefits to U.S. citizens are less than to people living along the equator
  • The benefits are long term

Any cost benefit analysis of CO2 capture limited to U.S. citizens in the short term will compare unfavorably to other investments.  The Supreme Court ruling was narrow and focused just on the language in the Clean Air Act relative to mercury.  Nevertheless, there is a precedent set which could be the difference between shutting down and operating many coal-fired power plants. Scott Segal of Bracewell & Giuliani, said the decision should come as a warning to the Obama administration as the EPA prepares to unveil the climate change regulations this summer.

CO2 reduction can be cost effective if it is tied into efficiency. Extracting waste heat from the flue gas will be attractive.  As a result, modest CO2 reduction rules could have a positive effect on the industry. Coal-fired power plants have other opportunities to become attractively green.  One is the recovery of rare earths from flyash.  Another is to combust municipal and sewage waste.  Use of treated municipal wastewater with zero liquid discharge would mean that a coal-fired power plant has a positive impact on waterways.

For more on:N056 Mercury Air Reduction Market

NEWS RELEASE                                                                                                                JUNE 2015

$20 Billion Market for Air Pollution Solutions

Air polluters are increasingly seeking total solutions. The result is a market for suppliers with double digit growth opportunity reaching  $20 billion per year by 2025.  The scope includes initial design, installation, operational guidance and maintenance programs.  There are a number of drivers in this marketplace.

Driver Example
Complex systems with multiple control   steps Coal-fired boilers, cement kilns and   chemical processes
Valuable final  product recovery Precious metal mining
Valuable process product recovery Refinery catalyst, solvents in chemical   and surface treatment
Safety Explosive gases
Health Semiconductor toxic fumes
Potential for air pollution control system   to negatively impact operations Many industries
Lack of skilled personnel within the   plant Continuous trend
Success of remote monitoring Applicable to all pollutants and   operating parameters
Ability of suppliers to provide a lower   cost alternative Reduction of repairs, downtime, energy   consumption, etc.

The world’s information is increasing geometrically, whereas human capacity to absorb it remains fixed. The result is that knowledge now resides in narrow niches.  The purchaser no longer has staff that can equal the knowledge provided by the supplier who has the niche knowledge.

In the past, a plant only had to worry about stack opacity. The complexity of the removal task has increased greatly with regulations on NOx, mercury, acid gases and toxic metals.  The choice of NOx removal equipment affects the generation of SO3 which in turn necessitates an additional pollutant to remove.  The scrubbing option with the most environmental byproduct does not capture mercury, whereas the option which does capture mercury creates solid waste issues.

The result is that the initial design and operations is complex.  Outsourcing is, therefore, a cost effective alternative.

For more information, click on: 5AB Air Pollution Management

NEWS RELEASE                                                                                                    JUNE 2015

Billion Dollar Flow Control and Treatment Market to Reduce Coal Flyash Contamination and To Make Valuable By-products

Coal-fired power plants are being forced to give up their traditional ash ponds to prevent repetition of recent ash spill incidents in Tennessee and the Carolinas.  In the U.S. and elsewhere, the discharge limits on effluents are becoming more stringent. As a result, this is generating a new opportunity for suppliers of pumps, valves, filters and centrifuges.  This opportunity is being continually analyzed in a number of McIlvaine publications.

Zero liquid discharge systems are one solution.  Wastewater is purified and reused or evaporated.  A number of systems have recently been installed in the U.S., Italy and China.

The flyash formerly residing in ponds will be removed and placed in dry landfills or made into useful products.  The Chinese have a large program to extract rare earths from the flyash.

Centrifuges, clarifiers, hydrocyclones and other sedimentation equipment will play a major role in both process separation and wastewater purification as these flyash landfills are processed. There is a major opportunity to extract the rare earths at the time of coal combustion or gasification.

The largest gasification program is in China where more than one billion tons of coal per year are slated for conversion. Other Asian countries are moving ahead with coal-to-chemicals plants.  The Ukraine has five plants underway to reduce dependence on Russian gas.

Direct coal liquefaction uses grinding, hydrogenation and separation. Centrifuges and clarifiers provide process separation.  Indirect liquefaction and coal-to-gas utilize gasification.  The big uses of centrifuges and clarifiers are in water and wastewater treatment.

The economics and environmental impact of coal conversion can be greatly enhanced by rare earth recovery.  In the past, an outside source of acid to leach the rare earths has been needed. McIlvaine Company believes this expenditure can be avoided.

By using the chlorine in coal, the rare earths can be extracted in what the McIlvaine Company believes to be simply the marriage of two proven systems.


Making hydrochloric acid from coal is not a new idea. Using this technology for rare earth leaching is new.  The particulate and HCl emanating from the gasifer are captured in a venturi scrubber. This is already the scheme used for the GE gasifier. However, the proposed design recirculates acid to achieve a 30 percent dirty acid concentration.  A bleed stream with the flyash and acid is then sent to a tank for further leaching. A number of additional separation steps are then needed to produce the rare earths from the flyash. So this separation is another opportunity for centrifuge and clarifier suppliers.

For more on N005 Sedimentation and Centrifugation World Markets, click on:

Pumps World Markets, click on:

N006 Liquid Filtration and Media World Markets, click on:

N064 Air/Gas/Water/Fluid Treatment and Control: World Market, click on:

NEWS RELEASE                                                                                                                JUNE 2015

Operators Are Challenged To Keep Up With Latest Gas Turbine Combined Cycle Technology

A number of new products, services and processes combined with changing regulations are making it difficult to make the right decisions relative to the purchase of new gas turbine and combined cycle components.   Operation and maintenance decisions are also being impacted by new options and new demands.  McIlvaine is offering an organized decisions program to ease the effort and help operators make the best choices.

Gas Turbine and Combined Cycle Decisions

The basic decision is whether to start with a simple cycle or combined cycle design. One option is to add the steam cycle later.  In any case, the fuel efficiency is low without the combined cycle operation. If the plant is going to be situated at the site of an old coal-fired power plant, the owner must decide whether to use the existing boiler feedwater treatment and wastewater systems.  There is even the possibility to use the existing boiler for steam generation. Fuel selection is very important.  Which will be the primary fuel and will there be a liquid backup fuel which can be stored on site?  A recent additional option is LNG which can be delivered by what is called the virtual pipeline (truck).  China is planning massive use of coal-derived gas.

The emission control approach differs greatly between simple and combined cycle operations.  In the simple cycle system, the selective catalytic system for NOx reduction is subjected to high temperatures.  Use of an expensive high temperature catalyst is one option.  An alternative is to bleed in ambient air and operate at lower temperatures.

The method by which NH3 is delivered to the catalyst system differs.  Urea to ammonia processes eliminate safety hazards during transport.  Aqueous ammonia has low safety risks but is more expensive than anhydrous ammonia.

Cooling options include wet, hybrid and dry cooling.  There are cost implications as well as environmental.  The energy required for dry cooling with air cooled condensers is high.  Another concern is capacity in hot weather.  One the other hand, dry cooling is an answer to water scarcity or difficulty in obtaining a water permit.

The water and wastewater issues can be avoided even with wet cooling. Many plants are opting to use treated municipal wastewater.  They can also install Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) systems.  Assuming that the treated municipal wastewater would otherwise have been sent to a receiving stream, the GTCC plant can claim to reduce area water pollution rather than increase it.

It is desirable to take a holistic view when selecting components.  The question of pulse jet cleanable intake filters vs. static filters should factor in the valve system used to clean the pulsed filters. A better design pulse cleaning system may be just as important as a better filter medium.

There are pump design considerations based on the fast cycling needs.  The drive decisions are also impacted.  Pumps for once-through cooling can be fitted with variable speed drives to make flow adjustments. One reason to adjust flow is to minimize damage to aquatic life. There are substantial analyses of this phenomenon.

Electric, hydraulic and pneumatic actuator each have advantages and disadvantages.  The best option varies with the service. There are a number of innovations in HRSG design to adapt to the fast cycling needs. Just to keep up with new developments with this technology is a challenge.

There are many operational challenges.  Should you repair or replace service valves?  An alternative to buying the lowest first cost valve and then replacing it frequently is to buy the best valve and repair rather than replace it. Operational problems with rapid cycling GTCC systems include Flow Accelerated Corrosion (FAC).  Stellite delamination of valves is another problem created by rapid cycling. 

Rapid progress is being made with gas turbine combined cycle power plants. In order to stay abreast, consider Gas Turbine and Combined Cycle Decisions.