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Chemical company partners with state DEC to reduce emissions

Ellen Abbott

A chemical company working out of Solvay has come up with a way to reduce the amount of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions its manufacturing process produces. Chemtrade and the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) worked together on the project.

Chemtrade Logistics Syracuse is the only facility in North America that manufactures sodium nitrate, a compound used in everything from dye manufacturing to food preservatives. But the nitrogen oxide that escapes during the manufacturing process can contribute to several clean air issues, from smog to acid rain, according to Regional DEC Engineer Reggie Parker.

“It's is not a natural chemical to be in the environment,” Parker says “So it’s nothing people want to be breathing.”

The DEC, working along with Chemtrade, came up with a way to reduce these emissions, according to Chemtrade plant manager Robert Amend.

"Before what we did -- see those big tall stacks over there -- we’d put the gasses in the atmosphere. We spent the money on a selective catalytic reduction unit, which is the small stack over there, " Amend says. "We put the gasses there, and [it] scrubs the gasses out of the air, and it reduces NOx emissions by 90 percent. "

That adds up to 500 tons of nitrogen oxide taken out of the air the equivalent of 40,000 cars driving 12 thousand miles a year.

Amend says the difference will be apart to passersby.

“Before when we were running, when you pass by, you’d see yellow smoke coming through those two stacks,” he says. “And now we’re running both lines right now, and you don’t see anything coming out of the small stack there. And we’re running as hard today as we’ve always run.”

Nitrogen oxide emissions can contribute to smog and acid rain.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.