Air Quality: Chuang

Power plants in California consume upwards of 1 billion gallons of water per day, primarily through evaporation in cooling towers. Much of this water is currently freshwater in order to minimize the emissions of salts, metals and other chemical constituents in the form of particulate matter from these cooling towers. The Chuang research group, in collaboration with UC Davis, has been working on a project funded by the California Energy Commission to characterize particulate emissions from existing power plants in order to understand the consequences of converting power plant coolingmason towers to brackish water or seawater. The project involves sampling existing power plants to understand in detail the size and concentration of particles currently being emitted, from which we plan to deduce what a change to non-freshwater sources would mean for particulate emissions. We accomplish this this by lifting the entire experimental apparatus over top of an operational cooling tower with a crane, and measuring the physical and chemical properties of the emitted particles. Upon completion, this project has the potential to reduce the state's demand for freshwater.