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Technology, Allowances and Credits:
Components of a Sound NOx Reduction Strategy


Dennis L. Salbilla
Haldor Topsoe Inc.


Randy Lack
Emission Credit Brokers

This article examines several options to meet upcoming NOx reductions of the flue gas coming from the Fluid Catalytic Cracking Unit (FCCU). Several technologies such as SCR, SNCR, and additives will be reviewed to highlight their benefits and limitations. Since every FCCU is unique in terms of feed quality and process conditions, each refiner must determine their own NOx management solution without sacrificing the facility’s operating flexibility.

An overview of allowances, credits and the current Houston/Galveston Cap and Trade program will also be provided. Trading emission reduction credits offers refiners flexibility in terms of time to get the plant into compliance as well as financial incentive for people whose facilities are in compliance and have spare credits to sell. Some refiners may elect to hedge their risk by reducing NOx emissions and taking a long position on their emission reduction credits. The current market for these credits lacks liquidity, i.e. many buyers and many sellers. If a refiner thinks he can wait a year or two to purchase credits, the credits may not be available and if there are credits, the cost may be extremely high.

The Environmental Protection Agency is considering a plan that would require refineries, utilities and other plants to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by 80 percent to as much as a 90 percent by 2008. In either case, refineries with a FCCU will have to change the way they currently operate the unit since it is the source of over 50% of the total NOx emitted from the refinery.


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