SEOUL, May 21 (Yonhap) -- A new eco-friendly mist eliminator that can drastically reduce fine dust released by thermal power plants has been developed for commercial use, a state-run machinery research institute said Tuesday.
The electrostatic mist eliminator (EME) has been tested to effectively reduce pollutants released to 0.5 milligram (mg) per one cubic meter, or some 10 times better than what can usually be achieved at present, the Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials (KIMM) said.
"The new device combines a conventional mist eliminator (ME) and an electrostatic precipitator that 'electrifies' pollutants and moves them to one side so they are not released into the atmosphere," KIMM said.
It said if existing MEs are exchanged or augmented with EME at flue gas desulfurization (FGDs) facilities at coal-fired power plants, they will be able to cut back on fine dust particles to levels on par with generators using liquefied natural gas as fuel.
The institute added the new eliminator, which are modular in design, can be set up without the need for very expensive wet electrostatic precipitators that are used to filter out minute particles. It said the overall size of the developed pollutant reduction device is only a third of MEs, making them attractive for power plants that are always short of space.
KIMM declined to provide the exact price tag of the EME, which is the first of its kind in the world, although making clear it will be competitive vis-a-vis similar devices. It said the eliminator took over two years to make with research related costs hovering around 5.6 billion won (US$4.8 million).
Lee Chae-soo, the principle research engineer at Doosan Heavy Industries and Construction that worked with the machinery institute on the projects and conducted actual pilot tests at one of its power plants, said the first EME should be in operation in the country within the year.
"Talks are already under way with power generation companies on the installation of the new device," he said, without providing names, adding the EME could find future buyers in places like India, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Asia's fourth-largest economy has some 60 coal-fired thermal power plants in operation, with the government taking steps to get older units to conform to the latest fine dust reduction standards in the coming years. The government has been conducting real time monitoring of thermal power plants to make certain that the latest power plants emit less than 5 mg per cubic meter of fine dust. Violators can be fined for not meeting the standard, with the most serious offenders being ordered to halt operations.
Seoul has said that by 2022, it aims to cut back on fine dust released in the country by 30 percent of what it was in 2014 as the general public has demanded firm action to deal with the pollution issue.
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