We closely monitor our emissions and are continuously looking for ways to reduce these emissions and have a long-standing commitment to emission reduction.
Considering the link between GHG and climate change as well as the health and environmental issues associated with air pollutants, it is imperative that we monitor our emissions closely and work diligently to minimize our respective impacts as much as possible. Often, this means working closely with the governments in the areas where we operate as they aim to reduce industrial and commercial sources of emissions in their communities. In this regard, we have been leading the industry and demonstrating our support of these collective objectives. This has been especially true in both the United States and China, where we have continued to see increasingly stricter regulations for our industry and others. We are responding to these new challenges through the installation of state-of-the-art emission control technology.
The emission controls and operational practices we have introduced at our facilities to reduce emissions have shown positive results. Over the course of the 2017 calendar year, we made progress in GHG emissions reduction, achieving 41% of our reduction goal.
We also made significant improvements in our NOX emissions from our baseline year, realizing an 18% reduction in our NOX emissions intensity and an 11% decrease in our absolute emissions, which represents 93% of our overall goal from the 2012 baseline. We also continued to make progress toward our SO2 reduction, reaching 26% of our goal, and we expect to see further reductions as ongoing projects are completed.
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.