Air emissions control at Fermilab

The Feynman Computing Center Generator is an internal combustion engine that FCC uses for back up power. It emits criteria pollutants, such as carbon monoxide, sulfur oxide, nitric oxide and particulate matter. Photo: Teri Dykhuis

The Feynman Computing Center Generator is an internal combustion engine that FCC uses for back up power. It emits criteria pollutants, such as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter. Photo: Teri Dykhuis

Releases to the air can occur from a variety of activities that take place on site, for example, internal combustion engines such as generators. The management of air emissions at Fermilab is a requirement that falls under the Registration of Smaller Sources program of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. Under this program, Fermilab is responsible for tracking and monitoring both existing and potential emissions into the air to ensure that the site remains a low emitter of criteria and hazardous air pollutants. These emissions can occur from various types of equipment or activities on site. Any new sources, or changes to existing sources, should always be communicated to Fermilab’s Environmental Protection Department for potential tracking.

Fermilab is also engaged in efforts to reduce its emission of greenhouse gases, which are gases that trap heat in the atmosphere. The primary greenhouse gases of interest for Fermilab are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases. Again, emissions of these gases from equipment on site should always be communicated to the EPD.

Finally, Fermilab tracks all activities associated with refrigerant use including equipment charging, recovery and leaks. All refrigerants must be obtained through Kevin Anderson of FESS. Only EPA-certified technicians can service refrigeration equipment, and they must keep strict accounting of all refrigerant related activities. Any amount that cannot be accounted for is recorded as an emission.

Equipment owners should consider a program of planned maintenance and/or surveillance to discover potential leaks before they develop into a problem. Because it’s important to recover chemicals from old equipment that has been replaced, the refrigerant manager should be informed about all scrapped, replaced or new cooling equipment to make sure that refrigerants are properly recovered.

If you have questions as to whether or not an air emission should be reported to the EPD, please reach out to Teri Dykhuis.

Teri Dykhuis is an environmental specialist in Fermilab’s Environmental Protection Department.