Man Is Awash

If the air in which man lives can be compared to the water of the ocean, cannot the additives to the air be compared to the salt in the water? Man cannot drink ocean water and he cannot breath some of the additives. He can tolerate and even enjoy the addition of salt in finite quantities to the food he eats but must concern himself with its effect on the other bodily functions.

Among the additives that are delivered into the air we breathe and that influence the manufacture of our products are items listed herein. Some of these are added by nature, some by the manufacturing processes and some by the changes of state required by man himself. The human body is obviously always in a state of energy conversion and such items as food are necessary to support that conversion.

The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is in the business of keeping these processes in balance. Its elaborate listings on its website have allowed us to glean certain data applicable to the 48 counties that we consider our trading area. The quantities listed are on a rounded tons per year basis and are emitted by some 1,219 sites listed on the website and within that 48 county constraint.
CO Carbon Monoxide 185,000 tons
NOX Nitrous Oxide 193,000 tons
VOC Volatile Organic Compounds 61,000 tons
SO2 Sulfur Dioxide 419,000 tons
NH3 Anhydrous Ammonia 14,000 tons
PM 2.5 Particulate Matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers 22,000 tons
PM 10 Particulate Matter smaller than 10 micrometers 21,000 tons

These 915,000 tons convert to 1,830,000,000 pounds; a large number to be diluted into the atmosphere in which we all live and manufacture our goods. No wonder the October, 2003 issue of the ASHRAE magazine states on its front cover “Preserving Film, Paper, Electronic Data” which addresses the control of pollutants to minimize such deterioration. Adding these pollutants to natures basics like radiation, moisture, heat (or lack of), vapor pressure and contaminants offers great opportunities to the members of the disicpline in which we all practice.

If removal and/or control of these elements is to take place, we must be prepared to use:
Mechanical Collection devices (filters)
Safe disposal of collected materials
Desiccants and Molecular Sieves
Change of state devices: Heat Exchangers, Refrigeration, Boilers
Heat Reclaim mechanisms
Exhaust Systems
Fresh outdoor air makeup systems
Space Pressurization
Chemical neutralization
Bio Technology

An approach to containment could be to outlaw their creation in any form. The cost-benefit ratio to man of this approach would be so low as to be unacceptable in most cases. The EPA approach is to set maximum allowable dissipation levels at each site, a technique that has a much better cost-benefit ratio and is more palatable by man.

That approach does not eliminate or reduce the need for management of their control in most manufacturing processes. The need in those areas is so great that even the use of outerspace is being researched. Many processes are so sensitive to even infinitessimally small quantities of contaminants that they become not possible without total containment or collection. Certainly the Pharmaceuticals fall in that category but there are others as well.

It seems to us that it is the members of our discipline that have a corner on the selection and application knowledge bank that allows for completion of these complex processes. Should not all of us become major contributors to the increased process sophisticaton and services to mankind?

Engineering Bulletin -Volume 2, Issue #5
by: Kenneth W. Wicks, M.E. – ASHRAE Fellow
and Robert Carpenter – Sales Engineer

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