The Impact of Emissions Control Requirements on Prime Mover Selection

The Clean Air Act (CAA), first enacted in 1970, establishes the nation's air regulatory priorities and a basic regulatory framework. It has been amended several times over the years. The Clean Air Act Amendment of 1990 (CAAA) expanded significantly the scope and detail of the national air regulatory program. Federal and state regulations require emission source owners to minimize or reduce air emissions under a number of regulatory circumstances. The type of regulation influences the preferred control approach, as does the pollutant to be controlled and the stringency of the requirement.

In order to install and operate prime movers or other fuel burning equipment, permits must be acquired to confirm compliance with environmental regulations. There are two general types of permits under state and federal air regulations: permits allowing the construction or modification of air pollution sources, generally referred to as a new source or preconstruction permit, and permits authorizing the operation of air emissions sources. The requirements for obtaining these permits vary dramatically from state to state.

The ability to control regulated air emissions from prime movers and related equipment is an important component in the selection and operation of the prime mover control system.

Natural gas-fired Otto-cycle engines, for example, may be favored over a more thermally efficient or less costly liquid-fueled Diesel engine, largely on the basis of the need to minimize emission of certain pollutants. Steam turbines may be selected over direct fuel-burning reciprocating engines and gas turbines in some cases, because the fuel-burning component (i.e., the boiler) has already been permitted.

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