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2012 Master's Level Graduate Research Conference

Session I - Session II - Session III - Session IV

Reducing RIT's Toxic Chemical and Greenhouse Gas Emissions with Clean Burning Natural Gas

In 2010, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) purchased and consumed 79 Million kWh of electricity from “the grid”. Generating this electricity produced 25,995 metric tons of CO2 greenhouse gasses, 3.24 pounds of mercury, thousands of tons of coal slag (containing arsenic, lead, nickel, vanadium, beryllium, cadmium, barium, chromium, copper, molybdenum, selenium and radium) and unknown amounts of IARC Group 1-3 carcinogens and sulfur/nitrogen oxides. The greenhouse gasses, mercury, and sulfur/nitrogen oxides were released into the atmosphere over western New York and the coal slag was discarded near Buffalo. The unintended consequences of RIT’s energy purchases make it a significant point contributor to air, ground and water pollution. This paper recommends that RIT actually deliver on the promise of sustainability by “getting off the dirty grid” and generate 100% of its electricity needs from a new ultra-high efficient natural gas turbine located on right on campus. Natural gas burns cleaner than other hydrocarbon fuels, produces much less greenhouse gasses per unit of energy released and emits no mercury. Environmental benefits aside, RIT could save up to 35% on its electric bill each year, based on the estimated cost of new comparably sized power plants, RIT’s 4% cost of capital and the historically low price of natural gas. Since RIT currently pays $.07/kWh, those savings could amount to $1,935,500 per year.

Presenter: Steven Barber (Rochester Institute of Technology) -- stb4703@rit.edu
Topic: Business/Sustainability - Panel
Location: 120 Hartwell
Time: 3:15 pm (Session IV)

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