We understand the impacts associated with greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and other air pollutants, including linkages to climate change, public health concerns and threats to ecosystems.
We also recognize that emission reductions are often a signal of improving overall operational efficiency at our manufacturing facilities. We therefore see our focus on emission reductions as a potential competitive advantage, and we look to partner with our customers and others who share our goal of reducing emissions impacts across the value chain. We monitor our emissions closely and work to minimize our respective impacts in support of maintaining compliance with our regulatory obligations and reducing our global environmental footprint.
By the end of 2018, we had realized 50% of our 2025 GHG reduction target. This was achieved through efforts to capture waste heat and offset our purchase of electricity and by improving our process yields through technology, product selection and feedstock selection. Looking forward, additional process technology improvements are under development for deployment at one of our recently announced expansions in Asia, with the expectation that this technology could be deployed at other facilities.
In 2018, we experienced our first full year of operations of our NOX emission reduction system at our facility in Pampa, Texas, USA. This system has continuously achieved a 90% reduction for what was previously our most intensive facility in terms of NOX emissions. Furthermore, we successfully completed the NOX control system at our largest carbon black manufacturing facility, in Tianjin, China; these controls also achieved a 90% reduction of NOX emissions. Through these efforts, we were able to exceed our global NOX emission reduction target well ahead of schedule.
Our SO2 emissions were consistent with previous years, with slight variation based on fluctuations in our feedstock sulfur content and the products we produced. However, we continue to make progress on the implementation of our SO2 control system at our facility in Franklin, Louisiana, USA, and we have started the early engineering for the control system at our nearby Ville Platte facility. These systems are expected to be operational in 2021 and 2022, respectively.
Optimizing Boiler Efficiency
We improved efficiency significantly and drew down emissions in Maua by re-purposing a manufacturing by-product.
Optimization of boiler efficiency is a long-established means of reducing natural gas use. At our Maua, Brazil, carbon black manufacturing facility, a multifunctional team conducted a detailed review of the boiler operation at the site in an effort to recover more waste heat, improve the operating efficiency of the boiler and reduce NOX emissions. The team identified several key areas that needed to be addressed, including using 100% of the by-product gas (tailgas) from the carbon black process, reducing excess air flow to the unit and increasing the temperature in the boiler to achieve higher NOX removal rates from the selective noncatalytic reactor. By making these improvements, the team was able to retrofit the process such that 100% of the tailgas generated from the carbon black manufacturing process could be utilized by the incinerator.
Curtailing Contaminants Around the World
We are actively pursuing air pollution control systems at several of our facilities across the globe. We recently completed projects in air contaminant reduction at two of our sites: Pampa, and Tianjin.
In 2017, we completed two key projects in air containment reduction. At our Pampa, Texas, USA, facility, we finalized the installation of the NOX control system. The new system, designed and installed over the past three years, uses a two-stage process to remove nearly 90% of NOX emissions or approximately 1,400 MT per year. At our Tianjin, China, carbon black facility, we completed the first phase of our NOX control system, also achieving nearly 90% removal of NOX from that operating unit. Both projects are contributing significantly to our NOX goal, and we continue to make progress at other facilities to introduce similar technologies.
Supporting Air Quality in China
Investment in an upgrade to the heat recovery system in our Tianjin site allowed for a partnership that reduced the release of air contaminants significantly.
In 2017, our Tianjin, China, carbon black facility completed an upgrade of its waste heat recovery system, which enabled us to provide nearly 45 MT of steam per hour to our neighbor in the Tianjin Bin-hai New Area. By using steam generated from our waste heat, our neighbor eliminated their annual use of 45,000 MT of coal, resulting in significant benefits to air quality by reducing annual emissions of NOX by 50 MT, SO2 by 280 MT, and eliminating nearly 112,000 MT of CO2. The project received significant recognition from the local government in support of China’s overall effort to reduce emissions and improve air quality.
Utilizing Excess Energy to Reduce Emissions
An important element of our GHG emission reduction efforts is the recovery of our waste heat to convert it to usable energy.
At many of our facilities over the past several years, we have invested heavily in equipment and process improvements to generate electricity from steam or to enable the use of our process off-gas as a substitute for natural gas. While we use much of this energy ourselves, we are often able to sell any excess energy to our neighbors and partners as well, which reduces their use of fossil fuels. In 2017, the energy we sold offset more than 500,000 MT of CO2e from the environment, equivalent to the annual Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions of two typical carbon black manufacturing facilities. These efforts will continue in the future, with the completion of the energy recovery facility currently under construction at our Franklin, Louisiana, USA, carbon black facility.