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What is NOx - And Why Control It?

We proudly promote the Nationwide Boiler CataStak™ Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) System for single-digit NOx emissions on package boilers and other fired equipment. Have you ever wondered exactly what NOx is, and, why reducing NOx emissions and your carbon footprint is important?  

NOx refers to nitrogen oxides. It is a generic term for a group of highly reactive gases containing oxygen and nitrogen in varying amounts. NOx forms when fuel is burned at high temperatures, like in a burner combustion process. Package boilers, fired heaters, gas turbines, heat recovery steam generators, and other fired equipment will produce varying levels of NOx, depending on the type of fuel, the burner construction and arrangement, and if any SCR technology is being used.

In short, reducing NOx emissions into the atmosphere will reduce a number of health and environmental hazards linked to the harmful pollutant. NOx has been linked to ground-level ozone, acid rain, water quality deterioration, global warming, and a number of significant respiratory issues.

The EPA and state air boards have been instrumental in the reduction of stack emissions since the 70’s, and Nationwide Boiler has been using and selling CataStak™ SCR systems to continue the trend. Check out this informative article for more detailed information on the harmful effects of NOx and how the EPA is working to control it.

https://goo.gl/61L9JG

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"Low Hanging Fruit" Efficiency Choices

Every week we receive a lot of information on energy efficiency solutions and updates about what the government is doing about climate change. Earlier this week we attended the 18th annual luncheon of the Manufacturers Council of the Central Valley, a group based in Modesto, CA which represents the interests of local manufacturers.

The Keynote speaker, Dorene D'Adamo, a member of the California Air Resource Board, discussed climate change, California's emission reduction goals, and strategies aimed to help meet the state's emission reductions by 2020. One thing mentioned that struck a common chord among others in our industry was the idea of "low hanging fruit" - remedies that are currently being developed and utilized that make a notable difference in reaching energy efficiency and emission goals.

This concept was also recently expressed to us by Sid Abma of Sidel Systems. Sid mentioned that the easiest and most highly promoted action we, as a society, do to help curb greenhouse gas emissions are on the side of electricity reduction and conservation. This includes changing light bulbs, insulating our attics, double panning our windows, and using electric motors.

Sid states that everything we read and hear is about being power smart (electricity). Renewable energy such as solar, wind and tide are also on the fore front, but it always seems to circle back to electricity. Sid argues that emission reduction strategies from natural gas usage are often ignored. Natural gas is widely used in industry (food and beverage, textiles, electricity generation, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, rubber, plastics, etc.) and reductions in its usage need much more attention than it is currently receiving.

We agree with Sid. The mainstream media's focus is often times more focused on "low hanging fruit", however, we have also seen great strides from the government and public utility companies in terms of promoting energy efficiency and offering rebates and incentives for industry users. For example, the U.S. Department of Energy's Industrial Technologies Program (ITP) leads the nation in conducting research and development for energy efficient technologies and supports the commercialization of emerging technologies. In addition, the EPA provides guidance and recognition to companies that develop long-term climate change strategies through their "Climate Leaders" program. Locally, many of our users have worked with PG&E and third party vendors to obtain rebate checks from equipment upgrades, which have resulted in substantial energy savings.

Sid's energy savings solution towards natural gas is condensing flue gas heat recovery. The Sidel SRU Series Condensing Flue Gas Heat Recovery Unit can be installed with any natural gas fired power boiler or heating unit. It is designed to reduce operating costs by recovering much of the wasted heat normally lost in the atmosphere into usable heat. Potential applications for the recovered heat include preheating process water or preheating return water for heating systems or boiler make-up feedwater. More specially, schools, universities and hotels could use the recovered energy for swimming pool water or it can be used into the space heating systems of buildings. Sidel System's website includes additional information about this cost savings solution, and if you have not already researched this topic, it is worth a look.

We all know that increased natural gas energy efficiency will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. There are many ways that this can be achieved and advancements in technology are always evolving.  Today, we must open our eyes a little wider and pay attention to all the cost-saving opportunities available at our fingertips that are not always widely recognized. The low hanging fruit is not only the easiest to pick, but it is often times the most ripest.

We would like to know what you are doing to reduce your natural gas usage. Also, are there any emission/energy reduction strategies you feel are not getting the attention they deserve?

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Tips to Maintain Air Compliance

We recently came across an article in Pollution Engineering that highlights an important issue for all major facilities - air fines and how to avoid them. It is everyone's responsibility to ensure compliance and the best way to do so is by educating yourself and your team and by networking with others in the industry. Below highlights the main points from the article, but please visit the link above for a more detailed approached.

1.     Compliance is a team effort and the best preventive measure is to keep the entire team aware and fully briefed on where the facility stands in regards to compliance. With everyone in the know, compliance becomes a vested interest and a shared responsibility.

2.     A basic review of your facility's Title V permit, a federally enforceable document that provides parameters on plant emissions, is a good first start. A review of the basic allowable permissions contained in the permit will lead the way.

3.     Set a date for a frequent (yearly) review of the Title V permit. This will help flag inconsistencies and avoid further inspections and notices of violation (NOV).

4.     Get to know your local inspectors and do not hesitate to ask them for guidance. Ask them informative questions about what common violations they have seen lately and what others in the industry are doing to keep in good standing.

5.     Check out the following websites: The EPA's Acid Rain Inspectors Guide and the Clean Air Markets Division.

6.     To help keep abreast of changing regulations, join an association membership and attend industry events (conferences, seminars and tradeshows). Organizations such as the ABMA, CIBO and others update their members on a continual basis.

7.     Subscribe to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Monthly Digest Bulletin. This e-magazine can be subscribed to by emailing usaepa@govdelivery.com. 

8.     Show pride in maintaining compliance and recognize and reward employees for their efforts in maintaining compliance.

9.     When evaluating vendors for stack testing, check their references, inquire about their experience in performing the tests needed to stay in compliance, and make sure that their work is conducted to the highest standards. Ask vendors if they are a Qualified Stack Test Individual, or QSTI.

10. Let your customers know about your compliance goals and your efforts to maintain "green" in your facility. Also promote this message to your stakeholders in the community.

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Pre-Compliance Planning: When to Begin

The following is taken from an artile we published in the Winter edition of The Steamlines, our corporate newsletter.  Climate change and compliance in California and other parts of the nation is a hot topic, and often times, companies are faced with tough decisions, with little information. Find out how Nationwide Boiler dealt with meeting compliance, through a proactive approach. In the long run, it was the right decision and today we continue to push the envelop in energy efficiency and ultra low emissions.

A recent shift away from coal and towards natural gas has been brewing in the United States. Many companies are taking advantage of the plunge in natural gas prices due to the introduction of horizontal drilling technology leading to the expansion of new reserves throughout the United States.

Business Week recently reported that several major utilities including Progress Energy, Tampa Electric and General Electric all have new strategies based on a shift to natural gas. Many of these strategies are combined with other renewable energy projects such as solar and wind power, helping to create a “balanced” strategy and utilizing all possible energy and efficiency instruments.

However, the Energy Information Administration suggests that natural gas prices will not stay low for long and that the fuel-switching trend will be short-lived. It may only be a matter of time when the laws of supply and demand take in effect, driving up fuel prices. If and when this happens, will these strategies change or will it be too late? Unlike the utilities above which have conducted major shifts in their business plans associated with predicted price savings, many other companies in varying sectors have decided to wait before committing to long-term strategies. This holds especially true on the topic of climate change. Many companies are taking the sidelines until climate change policies become final and are not making risky shifts to their business plans. Overall, when it comes to long-term environmental planning, when is it the right time?

From experience, long-term, pre-compliance planning paid off for Nationwide Boiler. As local air quality regulations in California rapidly decreased the limits for NOx emissions, Nationwide took action to research and develop strategies that would enable our rental boiler fleet to perform at the lowest NOx levels available. Ultimately, Nationwide chose a compliance strategy based on the best technology currently available, able to deliver the highest performance. Our CataStak Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) System was born through this discovery and today the CataStak SCR product line includes solutions for gas turbines, steam generators, watertube and firetube boilers, field-erected boilers and heaters.

Had Nationwide waited for final determinations made by air quality regulators, we would not have been able to provide a product offering for our customers by the time compliance was mandatory. In the long run, pre-compliance planning enabled us to better serve our customers with reliable, well proven solutions and in the process the company has grown, provided new jobs and Nationwide Boiler has expanded its operations to include a new strategic business unit. The new business unit, Nationwide Environmental Solutions, was specifically formed to help solve tough compliance issues and provide total plant solution that yields both emission reductions and increased energy efficiency.

Currently, both federal and state regulators are proposing aggressive strategies to combat climate change and promote energy reductions. In California, the Global Warming Solutions Act requires California to develop regulations that will reduce gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Assembly Bill 32, targeting large generators of greenhouse gas, is currently in the drafting phase to support the act and it includes a cap-and-trade program that establishes a cap covering 85% of the state's GHG emissions. If passed, large industrial sources that process at or above 25,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalents will fall under these rules starting January 1, 2012. Similar situations are happening in TX, NY and other areas around the United States and the implications for businesses (as well as consumers) may be insurmountable. Increases in electricity, natural gas, transportation, product, and administrative costs are unknown, but likely.

Through our own experience we have learned that in terms of environmental planning it is vital that companies look and plan ahead in order to effectively manage risks, control costs, and to maintain competitiveness. The development of pre-compliance strategies based on best performance standards and efficiency upgrades should be of concern for every major facility in addition to the negotiation of long-term fuel and supply-chain contracts.

If you need assistance in developing a pre-compliance strategy, call Nationwide Boiler today. Our proactive approach to climate change was the right choice for us, and we are confident that it will also be the best choice for you.

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