Notes from the Lab


Researchers at MIT and in China have found a feasible way of significantly reducing a major source of air pollution in China by improving the country's industrial boilers.

The burning of coal emits the largest amount of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide per unit of heat produced. In China, coal is the principal fuel burned; one-third of the country's entire coal output is consumed by its nearly half-million industrial boilers. Due to boiler inefficiency, however, 75 million tons of coal are wasted and 130 million tons of excess CO2 are poured into the atmosphere each year.

The China-MIT study found that it would be feasible and affordable for the Chinese to improve the performance of their boilers through installation of simple gas analysis equipment and training of boiler operating personnel. The researchers say that the average efficiency of three-fourths of China's industrial boilers could be raised from 65 to 72 percent through such practices. The average cost: $3,500 per boiler, far less than the cost of replacing the boilers.

Professor Emeritus of Chemical and Fuel Engineering J������nos Be�r is the principal contact for the work. His colleagues come from Taiyuan Institute of Technology and MIT. The work was supported by the Alliance for Global Sustainability, the Center for Global Partnership, the New Energy Development Organization of Japan and ABB Co.

A version of this
article appeared in the
March 31, 1999

issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume
43, Number

Topics: Education, teaching, academics


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