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Feb. 5, 2012
CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine:
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Baghouse passes ‘snif’ test

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Thanks to the addition of a baghouse system, Slippery Rock University’s coal-burning boiler plant particulate emissions are nearly 100 times lower than the federal legal limit. Third-party test results released Monday show the plant located next to Morrow Field House emits no smoke and a minute amount of particulates.
    Scott Albert, SRU director of facilities and planning, said the certified testing demonstrates that plant operations exceed U.S. Clean Air Act standards. “We feel a sense of relief that the baghouse performed as it was designed,” he said.
     SRU had to show compliance on visible emissions – smoke – and coal particulate emissions to pass a recent “stack test.”  The federal government does not want smoke emissions to exceed 60 percent at any time or 20 percent for more than three minutes.
     “From a visible emissions perspective we were at zero percent throughout the test,” Albert said. “That means you don’t see any smoke coming out of the stack. If you look closely, you might see the air rippling from the heat, but you don’t see any smoke coming out.”
      Particulate readings came in well below the federal standard too. “We couldn’t emit more than 0.4 lbs/MMBtu and our average over three runs was 0.0046 lbs/MMBtu – almost 100 percent less than the allowable limit,” Albert said.
     Construction of the $6.3-million baghouse, funded with capital improvement money from the commonwealth, began a year ago and was completed last fall. The boiler plant generates steam for heating campus buildings.
      Before the baghouse construction, the boiler plant had a couple of below standard particulate readings, prompting the federal government to issue a notice of violation against SRU requiring remediation, Albert said.
    “In order to resolve the issue, we agreed to install a baghouse and build a coal storage building on Branchton Road,” Albert said. “We used to store our emergency coal stockpile outside. This The rain and sun exposure caused the coal to degrade. This degraded coal is what led to the bad particulate readings.”
       Albert said the baghouse would also save the University up to $750,000 a year. Had SRU converted the boiler to a natural gas system, “It would have cost us much more to run the boiler plant,” he said.
       The baghouse utilizes four filtration modules, three operate at all times, the fourth is a spare in case of a malfunction. The system also includes economizes to make it more efficient. When hot exhaust gas first leaves the boilers, it passes through the economizers before reaching the baghouse. The economizers preheat water going back into the boilers so the system doesn’t use as much coal to keep the water hot, Albert said.
     “It helps to keep our operating costs lower,” he said.
      SRU’s “Reaching for 2025 and Beyond” strategic plan identifies resource management and sustainable design and implementation as institutional priorities. SRU’s former president Robert Smith also signed the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment establishing a policy for offsetting greenhouse gas emissions to reduce global warming.

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania’s premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.