Thursday, March 10, 2016

Neumann reports better performance than expected for Drake scrubbers

Posted By on Thu, Mar 10, 2016 at 8:42 AM

click to enlarge CASEY BRADLEY GENT
  • Casey Bradley Gent
Despite ongoing concern about price increases for the new pollution control equipment at the Martin Drake Power Plant, Neumann Systems Group, the firm responsible for the project, once again reported better than expected performance data on Wednesday. 

From a press release, copied below, NSG says that after around two weeks of operating its desulfurization unit, it has already captured 135,000 pounds of sulfur, which is being converted to gypsum. 

NSG says that removal level far exceeds state mandates that kick in late next year. 

Regarding the gypsum, the release points out that it can either be land-filled or potentially sold for use in wallboard (drywall). The substance also helps form plaster and blackboard chalk and can be used as a fertilizer and soil conditioner. 

That in mind, we asked Colorado Springs Utilities what they are currently doing with the product.

Spokesperson Amy Trinidad replied: "We are collecting the gypsum in a storage facility at the Drake site. Once we collect enough gypsum, it will be transported to our Clear Spring Ranch facility for disposal as currently there is no commercial market for this by-product."

In the final paragraph of the below press release, you'll see many other possibilities for pollutant captured turned into supposedly valuable goods. It will be up to CSU, not NSG to find potential revenue streams, as Dave Neumann says "the system and the products belong to them."

Here's the press release in full:
Today Neumann Systems Group, Inc. (NSG) provided an update of the results of the nearly two weeks of continuous operation of the NeuStream® desulfurization unit at the Colorado Springs Utilities’ (CSU) Martin Drake Power Plant, Unit 7. NSG VP of Operations, Dr. JP Feve said: “The NeuStream® scrubber has operated now for almost two weeks and has continuously removed sulfur dioxide at a higher level than predicted. To date over 135,000 lbs of sulfur have been removed from the flue (exhaust) gas from the Drake 7 Unit. Additionally, we are now producing gypsum from the captured sulfur dioxide.”

The measured sulfur dioxide removal level is far higher than that mandated by State Air Quality requirements which go into effect at the end of 2017. “NSG is very pleased to have had the opportunity to build a system that improves the already good Colorado Springs air quality to some of the very best in the nation. We are also pleased that we are contributing to maintaining low electric rates for Colorado Springs Utilities ratepayers by enabling the continued operation of the coal-burning, Martin Drake power plant,” said NSG CEO, Dr. Dave Neumann.

The NeuStream® desulfurization system has two major parts, or subsystems. The flue gas scrubbing subsystem, containing the patented NeuStream® flat jets, extracts gaseous sulfur dioxide from the flue gas flow into an absorbing liquid termed a “sorbent.” The sorbent used is mostly water and a small amount of a benign sodium based compound called soda ash. As the sulfur dioxide is absorbed into the sorbent it reacts producing a mix of sodium sulfite and mostly sodium sulfate. The second part or subsystem of a NeuStream® desulfurization system is the sorbent processing subsystem (SPS). The SPS converts the sodium sulfate in the sorbent from the scrubber subsystem into gypsum (calcium sulfate). The gypsum is then precipitated from the sorbent as a solid and the water/sodium solution is then returned to the scrubber subsystem for reuse.

As was mentioned, the scrubbing subsystem has been continually cleaning the flue gas by absorbing sulfur dioxide and making sodium sulfate. As more and more sodium sulfate has been accumulated in the sorbent, the sorbent has then been flowing into the SPS where the sodium sulfate is being converted to gypsum (calcium sulfate). “Over the past almost two weeks, more and more gypsum was being accumulated in the water-based sorbent to the point where the liquid would release it as a solid,” said NSG CTO, Dr. Eric Klein. The picture below on the left shows the first release of the solid gypsum from the sorbent onto a belt filter. The belt filter in turn drops the gypsum into a storage bin. It is later land-filled or potentially reused in wall board. The picture on the right shows a sample of the very first gypsum from Neustream®.

  • Courtesy Neumann Systems Group

The color and composition of the gypsum suggest that it is pure and very dry. According to NSG CTO, Dr. Eric Klein, “These are important indicators of efficient system operation.” The operation of the gypsum production part of the NeuStream® desulfurization system completes the initiation of end-to-end operations.

End-to-end NeuStream® desulfurization system operations are continuing unabated with both the scrubbing subsystem and the sorbent processing subsystem performing at levels above expectations. Work will continue for several months on load testing, system chemical use optimization, control software settings optimization and system performance testing. During this period there are times when the system is scheduled to be shut-down for internal component inspections and hardware and sensor adjustments that are part of the process of commissioning the NeuStream® desulfurization system.

The continued successful operations of the NeuStream® desulfurization system is a result of the work of the dedicated and expert NSG team including Andy Awtry, Dustin Chelius, Jeff Courtright, Mike Cuchiara, Tom Ferrell, J.P. Feve, Rich Hampton, Eric Klein, Nick Miller, Ted Struttmann, Jason Tobias and other important contributors. Testing is being conducted by a joint NSG/CSU team. During the past year CSU personnel have made significant contributions to bringing the system to the current point. Their contributions are in the areas of operating software development and testing, and integration of equipment and software into Martin Drake. CSU plant operators are assisting with testing and are currently being trained to take over full operation of the NeuStream® system.

NeuStream® is a disruptive “platform” technology, meaning it has potential for revolutionary impact in a wide range of product areas important to the industrial and economic well-being of the United States and the rest of the World. NeuStream® technology enables cost effective capture of pollutants from fossil fuel plants including greenhouse gases and it enables the cost effective use of these captured pollutants in the production of chemicals such as fertilizers and sulfuric and nitric acids; building materials such as gypsum; rare earth and strategic metals needed for energy efficiency, electric vehicle and wind and solar applications. Additionally, the NeuStream® technology has significant potential in other areas such as increasing the efficiency of production of bio-fuels, the cost effective production of pharmaceuticals such as the anti-malarial drug Artemisinin, and CO2 for enhanced oil recovery.

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