Environmental Engineering for Air Emissions


In three previous papers we dealt with an overview of environmental engineering, industrial wastewater permits, and industrial wastewater environmental engineering. In this paper, we will discuss environmental engineering required to address air emissions to the outside environment. Environmental engineering for air emissionsThese emissions result from manufacturing and industrial operations. They may be from a point source such as a smoke stack or from a non-point source and are called fugitive emissions. The latter result from processes typically inside a building or in an outside designated area. Environmental engineering is required to determine the best reasonably achievable control technology to minimize the emissions to the environment outside of the facility. The environmental air engineer must be involved in the design, testing, and adjusting the controls. Applications for Title V Air permits and Federally Enforceable State Operating Permits (FESOPs) must be signed and sealed by a Florida licensed Professional Engineer (P.E.). A P.E. in Florida is only allowed to practice in areas that he or she has the required education, training, and experience. Thus, the P.E. must be an environmental engineer with air emissions knowledge and experience and is quite often called the Air Engineer and is usually with an Environmental Consulting firm such as ours, Environmental Safety Consultants, Inc. 

Start with the Pollutants 

To engineer the air emissions controls, you have to know the process generating the emissions. The environmental engineer must review the raw materials, the industrial or manufacturing process, the resultant air emissions, and the control options. Following are a few pollutants which may be of concern: 

  • Particulate Matter (physical particles or dust) 
  • Nitrogen Oxides 
  • Sulfur Dioxide 
  • Carbon Monoxide 
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) 
  • Ozone 
  • Lead 

All of these except VOCs are criteria air pollutants established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA, https://www.epa.gov/criteria-air-pollutants).  Each type of pollutant may require a different environmental engineering design to remove or reduce it before being emitted to the outside environment.

Clean It Up 

The goal is to clean up the air so the pollutants are eliminated or below State standards prior to emission. These standards are thresholds for public health concerns. If the pollutants are below these criteria, there is not a public health concern, but there still may be a concern for unborn babies (pregnant women), children, the elderly, and individuals with certain lung conditions, such as emphysema, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), etcetera. 

Control Design 

The control design is selected to address the pollutants. Following are a few examples: 

  • Alternative raw materials 
  • Industrial process modifications 
  • Filters (cloth, baghouses) 
  • Cyclones (gravitational) 
  • Air scrubbers 
  • Precipitators (electrostatic) 
  • Equipment maintenance and cleaning 

Role of the Environmental Air Engineer

First, the environmental engineer reviews the industrial process, including materials and chemicals, generating the air emissions. The engineer then evaluates several control design options and runs calculations to determine which one will work best and will be cost-effective. He or she then prepares the air permit application; submits it to FDEP and, if required, to the County; provides additional information requested by the FDEP and County; reviews the permit making sure that it meets good engineering practice and is manageable for the client; and, if requested, monitors the treatment process in light of the permit conditions. 

Environmental Safety ConsultantsSo there is a discussion of air emissions environmental engineering and what the environmental engineer’s role is! If you need any assistance, Environmental Safety Consultants (www.escflorida.com) is here. We are a Florida licensed environmental engineering company with a P.E. on staff. We have the credentials and experience to help you with your industrial wastewater needs. We are just a telephone call (800-226-1735) or an e-mail away (escinc@verizon.net). Contact us today!