Wednesday, 16 January 2002
Fossil-fueled power plants as a source of atmospheric carbon monoxide
Elevated carbon monoxide (CO) mixing ratios in excess of those derived from emissions inventories have been observed in plumes from one gas- and coal-fired power plant and three of four lignite coal-fired electric utility power plants observed in east and central Texas. Observations of elevated CO on days characterized by differing wind directions show that CO emissions from the lignite plants were relatively constant over time and cannot be ascribed to separate sources adjacent to the power plants. These three plants were found to be emitting CO at rates 22 to 34 times those tabulated in State and Federal emissions inventories. Elevated CO emissions from the gas- and coal-fired plant were highly variable on time scales of hours to days, in one case changing by a factor of 8 within an hour. Three other fossil-fueled power plants, including one lignite-fired plant observed during this study, did not emit substantial amounts of CO, suggesting that a combination of plant operating conditions and the use of lignite coal may contribute to the enhanced emissions. Observed elevated CO emissions from the three lignite plants, if representative of average operating conditions, represent an additional 30% of the annual total CO emissions from point sources for the state of Texas.