WHEATLAND- The Platte County Emergency Management & Local Emergency Planning Committees held a public informational meeting at the high school auditorium on June 6 to discuss the use of Anhydrous Ammonia at Laramie River Station (LRS) and the benefits of reducing air quality emissions at the Laramie River Station.
Just what is Anhydrous Ammonia and why is it being used to reduce emissions?
Anhydrous ammonia is the gas or compressed liquid form of ammonia that contains no water. It is made up of one-part nitrogen, and three parts hydrogen. It’s an important compound, used in a diluted form in everyday household cleaning, as well as in the industrial cleaning industry. It has several uses in agriculture and the manufacture and synthesis of certain molecules.
A quick recap in Layman’s terms regarding how the power plant operates. The power plant produces electrical power. Coal (also known as a “fossil fuel”) is burned to boil water to make steam. Steam under high pressure is then used to spin a turbine. The turbine is linked to a generator. The generator uses the kinetic energy from the turbine to make electricity. Burning coal is what produces the pollutants and is the reason for emissions control.
Because each unit (LRS has three units) at LRS releases exhaust from the tall stacks you see high in the sky, they also release particles, sulfur dioxide and NOx (nitrous oxide) into the air. In order to reduce pollutants released into the air and preserving future environmental needs of our planet, the federal government has mandated the reduction guidelines set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency. Laramie River Station is a power plant required to improve the air quality emissions.
In order to comply with these regulations, LRS has invested roughly $250 million dollars into the modification of the power plant by using a process called, “Selective Catalytic Reduction “(SCR). This technology in which anhydrous ammonia is added to the flue gas passing through layers of a catalyst. The ammonia and NOx react on the surface of the catalyst and form harmless nitrogen (N2) and water vapor. SCR has the highest NOx reduction level and is well accepted by the industry. Anhydrous ammonia is considered the most effective NOx reducing agent for the SCR system.
“Anhydrous ammonia has been successfully used at power plants across the country for decades to reduce NOx emissions. The system at LRS has been designed to minimize the risk while providing a highly efficient NOx control to Unit 1. Its installation and use are essential for the long-term operation of the Laramie River Station” said Troy Tweeten, LRS Plant Manager.
Because ammonia is hazardous in nature, there are many safety concerns related to transportation, storing and handling of this chemical. LRS has modified the facility with upgrades such as ammonia detection and monitoring systems; automatic shutoff valves, deluge systems (tanks and pumps), and safety showers. Security access is tightly controlled, with no unauthorized access, 24-hour surveillance and automated alarm systems. There are also local and remote emergency shutoff valves. Highly proceduralized and comprehensive facility staff training to all plant personnel and contractors. All shift employees are trained in hazardous waste operations and emergency response. LRS has an emergency response plan that designates the Platte County Emergency Management (PCEM) to activate the CODE RED system for an uncontrolled release of ammonia.
If you have a CODE RED question, please contact Emergency Management Coordinator, Terry Stevenson at (307) 322-1356. For the use of anhydrous ammonia on site at LRS, please contact, Environmental Coordinator, David Cummings at (307) 322-7080.