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UT Arlington Researchers to Study Ways to Reduce Harmful Emissions from Coal-burning Power Plants

January 17, 2007

TXU Power will fund two projects by The University of Texas at Arlington’s Department of Industrial & Manufacturing Systems Engineering to research and design systems for reducing nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions – a principal cause of smog. TXU has committed to offsetting key emissions – NOx, sulfur dioxide and mercury – from its proposed 11 new coal-fired generating units and further reducing key emissions across the company’s solid-fuel fleet by 20 percent from 2005 levels.

Assistant Professor Jay Rosenberger is the principal investigator in a one-year, $100,000 project creating operational and management tools to maximize the performance of Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR)-related technology. SCR is the primary technology proposed to minimize NOx emissions from the planned new units. SCR uses a chemical reaction to break down the NOx into elemental nitrogen and water.

Dr. Rosenberger will be assisted by Drs. Victoria Chen, H. W. Corley and Seoung Bum Kim; all are in Industrial & Manufacturing Systems Engineering Department. For the project, they will provide decision support tools to manage catalyst layers, specifically adding and/or removing layers during scheduled outages to maintain control of NOx emissions across multiple units; determine whether the SCRs are operating as planned and if minor SCR tuning operations should be used to improve SCR efficiency; and develop a performance monitoring tool on boilers to control emissions into the SCRs.

In a related project, Associate Professor Victoria Chen and Assistant Professor Seoung Kim and are the co-investigators in an $85,000 endeavor to develop, test and deploy a software tool to assist TXU in monitoring, correlating and alarming multivariable sensor inputs to power plant equipment modeling software. This statistical process engine will incorporate an “on-line” function through which the system would continuously sample and process incoming data to build multivariate charts and provide outputs for alarm conditions to TXU’s Power Optimization Center.

“We need advanced operational tools and techniques to make certain we meet our environmental commitments,” said Mike Greene, TXU Power’s chief executive officer. “With the help of UT Arlington’s top-flight College of Engineering, TXU will develop a first-of-its kind NOx reduction management system that will result in significant NOx reductions.