ST. LOUIS, July 19 /PRNewswire/ -- A pilot program begun last fall at AmerenUE's Meramec Plant to generate electricity by combusting a blend of coal and paint solids from Chrysler's St. Louis Assembly Plants has received a pollution prevention award from the St. Louis chapter of the National Association of Environmental Managers (NAEM) -- and may be expanded to other Chrysler facilities, company officials say.
"We are working to expand the 'Paint to Power' program to two other facilities in Michigan, with the expectation that paint solids from these automobile assembly plants will be combusted for energy recovery by the local utility," says Bill Wolf, Director of Paint Operations for the Chrysler Group.
Meanwhile, Washington University in Saint Louis and Chrysler have teamed up to begin testing the use of titanium dioxide -- a major component of the paint -- to cut mercury emissions from coal-fired electric generating plants, like the 855-megawatt Meramec Plant in South St. Louis County.
The studies are being conducted by Washington University's Department of Energy, Environmental and Chemical Engineering, under the direction of Dr. Pratim Biswas, Stifel and Quinette Jens Professor at Washington University. Biswas is the supervisor of the project.
AmerenUE is very interested in the Washington University/Chrysler research. Under federal regulations, the company is now facing the world's first requirements to cut mercury emissions from electric generating plants.
Mercury is released in trace quantities when coal is burned. The combustion process also generates ash, which utilities can market to the construction industry for a variety of applications. Typically, about half of the ash produced at AmerenUE power plants is recycled in applications ranging from blasting grit and roofing shingles to concrete. However, it must have certain qualities to be recyclable.
The electric power industry is currently studying the use of various chemicals, or "sorbents," to remove mercury from power plant emissions. The sorbent that has shown the most potential to date is activated carbon. However, if ash contains too much carbon, it cannot be used as a replacement for Portland cement in the concrete manufacturing process -- one of the main ways ash can be recycled and kept out of landfills.
"We believe titanium dioxide has the potential to remove mercury without affecting the quality of the power plant's ash," says Biswas.
The challenge now is to make sure that the results Washington University and Chrysler have seen in the lab can be translated to a power plant, says Ken Anderson, Ameren managing supervisor, Air Quality Management.
"Further research is needed, but we're excited about the possibility of identifying a material that could both help us cut mercury emissions while preserving the quality of our ash -- especially a material we are already familiar with because of the 'Paint to Power' program," says Anderson. "This has both financial and environmental benefits for our customers."
"This unique partnership represents the good that can come about when the public and private sectors join together to solve problems," adds Chrysler's Bill Wolf. "The potential to help Ameren, Washington University and the utility industry reduce mercury emissions -- while lowering Chrysler's disposal costs -- is very exciting."
AmerenUE is a subsidiary of St. Louis-based Ameren Corporation (NYSE: AEE). Ameren, through its subsidiaries, serves 2.4 million electric customers and nearly one million natural gas customers in a 64,000-square-mile area of Missouri and Illinois.
Washington University in St. Louis has embarked on several energy and environmental initiatives. Details are available at http://ees.wustl.edu/. The Department of Energy, Environmental and Chemical Engineering focuses on research in this arena -- see http://www.eec.wustl.edu/ for details. And, a new International Center for Advanced Renewable Energy and Sustainability (I-CARES) has been recently created to promote research and development efforts in this field at Washington University.
Chrysler, which manufactures Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge vehicles, is dedicated to protecting the health of its communities, natural resources and the global environment. The company addresses environmental challenges by working continuously to improve the environmental performance of its products and operations. The company supports the development of advanced sustainable technologies and is an industry leader in promoting the use of alternative fuels.
CONTACT: Tim Fox, +1-314-554-3120, firstname.lastname@example.org, for AmerenUE