Impact of power generation on air pollution in industries like construction
On World Health Day, IPG’s CEO Toby Gill talks about air pollution, the biggest risk to global health, and how our flameless combustion technology can enable construction companies to end their reliance on diesel generators and reduce their impact on air quality.
Air pollution is one of the biggest environmental health risk in the world. 8.7 million deaths globally in 2018, a staggering one in five of all people who died that year, were the result of air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels, according to a recent report from the journal Environmental Research.
Our green energy transition is not only about reducing greenhouse gas emissions to prevent rising global temperatures and the catastrophic environmental impact that will result. But our efforts to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy sources will also limit the negative impact on our air quality, and therefore public health.
Replacing the diesel generator
Low emissions zones, bans on the sales of petrol and diesel cars, and changes to the “red diesel” tax break are key measures by the UK Government to de-incentivise the use of fossil fuels and reduce pollutant emissions in our cities. What is less reported, however, is the impact of burning fossil fuels for power generation on our air quality.
To date, innovation in the energy sector has mainly focused on wind and solar generation. As a result, we have the road map for the majority of our energy supply, disrupting our reliance on centralised coal and natural gas power plants. But fossil fuel power generation today is not restricted to large-scale power plants.
The diesel generator continues to provide essential power generation for remote, temporary and distributed applications such as construction, large-scale events, and grid balancing. This market is still projected to be worth $27 billion next year.
Take the construction industry as an example, whether you are powering welfare facilities, site compound or an on-site crane, the diesel generator is the workhorse of the industry. According to the Centre for Low Emission Construction, the construction industry is estimated to contribute 7%, 34% and 15% respectively to NOX, PM10 and PM2.5 emissions within London. About 1% of this is dust from site activities like land clearing and demolition, whilst the vast majority comes from diesel generators, bulldozers and other plant machinery.
Governmental and regulatory changes are increasingly placing pressure on construction companies to address the pollutant emissions of their operations. But with on-site wind and solar not always feasible, battery storage solutions only reducing emissions, not eliminating them, and hydrogen availability challenging the economic feasibility of fuel cells, what other solutions are there?
Flameless combustion for a clean-and-green alternative to the diesel generator
IPG’s Flameless Ceramic Turbine is a cleaner-and-greener alternative to the diesel generator. Our breakthrough in flameless combustion technology delivers pollutant-free power from any renewable fuel, enabling construction companies to reduce both their pollutant and carbon emissions.
Much like a diesel generator today, IPG’s turbine can be used to provide baseload power to the construction site before temporary builders supply is established. Alternatively, this can be used as a dedicated power source for activities such as crane operation or powering on-site offices and welfare facilities.
It can be packaged with a battery storage technology to further optimise your on-site energy system. This allows the turbine modules to be turned off when the battery is fully charged, supporting smaller and more efficient infrastructure, without compromising power availability for your operations.
Cleaner: Pollutant-free power from hydrogen and biofuels
IPG’s turbine operates at high temperatures, above the temperature for spontaneous reaction (auto-ignition) of any fuel, to perform the chemical reaction of combustion without a flame.
By eliminating the flame, we prevent the formation of pollutant emissions, such as NOx, CO and PM. This flameless combustion process also operates on any fuel, enabling construction companies to transition from natural gas sources to alternative fuels such as hydrogen and biogas, as they become readily available.
Cheaper: Low-cost power solution that will end your reliance on diesel
High-temperature ceramics and compact waste heat recovery deliver efficiencies comparable to that of large centralised power plants. This then combines with our use of low-cost, widely available materials and existing manufacturing practices to ensure the levelized cost of energy is competitive with the diesel genset.
This is not only more cost-effective than existing renewable-fuelled technologies but will also help to off-set the higher cost of renewable fuels, relative to diesel.
Future-proof: Modular solution, scalable to growing net-zero ambitions
Aligned with industry standards, 100kW modules can be stacked in shipping containers for on-site power that is mobile and scalable. Individual units can be switched on and off to match demand during different times of the day, reducing fuel wastage and emissions.
To learn more about how IPG’s technology can support pollutant-free, net-zero power generation for your construction site, or to find out how you can participate in one of our 2022-23 commercial trials, please get in touch.
 Environmental Research, Volume 195, April 2021, Global mortality from outdoor fine particle pollution generated by fossil fuel combustion: Results from GEOS-Chem, available from: www.doi.org
 UK Government, 2020, Government takes historic step towards net-zero with end of sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, available from: www.gov.uk
 HM Treasury, 2021, Consultation on reforms to the tax treatment of red diesel and other rebated fuels, available from: www.gov.uk
 GlobalData Energy, 2018, Diesel Generators Market, Update 2018 - Global Market Size, Competitive Landscape, Key Country Analysis, and Forecast to 2022
 Greater London Authority, London Atmospheric Emissions (LAEI) 2016, available from: www.data.london.gov.uk (accessed 6th April 2021)
 An example includes the Non-Road Mobile Machinery (NRMM) Low Emission Zone in London that came into force in September 2020. For further details see: Greater London Authority, Non-Road Mobile Machinery (NRMM), available from www.london.gov.uk (accessed 6th April 2021)