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NIPSCO cleans up: first utility to meet sulfur emission standards.

It keeps the air cleaner, cuts utility bills, avoids landfill pileups and supplies a needed by-product. The advanced flue-gas desulfurization facility at NIPSCO's Bailly Generating Station near Burns Harbor does all these good things.

Dedicated in August 1992, the facility received a Power magazine 1993 Powerplant Award. "High availability rate, environmental benefits and innovative 'own and operate' business arrangement with the utility" were among reasons cited for the honor.

Pure Air, a general partnership of Air Products and Chemicals Inc. and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America Inc., designed and constructed the equipment. Using it allowed NIPSCO to become the first utility in the nation to meet new sulfur dioxide emission standards mandated by the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments. Cost-sharing with the U.S. Department of Energy, through its Innovative Clean Coal Technology Program, helped pave the way.

Burning high-sulfur Indiana coal at the Burns Harbor-area station creates |SO.sub.2~. Switching fuel would make a difference, but NIPSCO spokesperson Beth Wrobel says the company wants to support the local economy by using coal. Now the pollutant we'd rather not breathe is finding a new life in businesses and homes.

Pulverized limestone--a neutralizer--is injected directly into the |SO.sub.2~ absorber, and high-quality gypsum results. Gypsum is the material between the paper fronts and backs of wallboard.

In East Chicago, the U.S. Gypsum Co. turns captured gypsum into wallboard. The company had to spend extra start-up dollars when it committed to using the material but felt the investment would pay off. New equipment was needed because handling rock is different from working with the synthetic product. One plus is that U.S. Gypsum gets year-around shipments from NIPSCO by truck; when they received rock by barge, shipments came only in months the lakes were open.

(A drier form of synthetic gypsum called PowerChip is in test stage. If this product, similar to rock traditionally used in gypsum manufacturing, is successful, extensive plant modifications can be avoided.)

The new facility produces a better product than less advanced ones, and it does the job cheaper. Cost savings are estimated at 50 percent over those of conventional desulfurization systems. A "single loop" process eliminates pre-quenching equipment and leads to simpler operations. Also, a higher availability rate--99.9 percent compared with 95 percent or less in the industry--means fewer shut-down times with electricity purchased elsewhere.

There are space savings as well. The new scrubber requires a little more than four acres; a regular scrubber has three absorber towers plus a spare and needs 10 acres. Now the Bailly Station can use just one scrubber for both plants instead of the eight needed formerly.

Pure Air owns and operates the equipment, now in the three-year demonstration period specified by a DOE agreement. After successful demonstration, Pure Air will continue with the facility for another 17 years.

The Bailly project, chosen in nationwide competition, is one of a few scrubbers in the world using the pulverized limestone injection method. Russia, China, Italy, England, and Japan are among countries whose representatives have come to learn more about NIPSCO's new technology.

Hoosier Energy's Merom Station has another Pure Air flue-gas desulfurization system. The Sullivan County equipment is a few years older than that at Bailly Station and uses different technology.
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Title Annotation:Bailly Generating Station
Author:Keaton, Joanne
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Date:Jul 1, 1993
Previous Article:Indiana environmental law update.
Next Article:Federal environmental law update.

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