ASSESSMENT OF AMBIENT AIR WITHIN THE VICINITY OF A CHARCOAL PRODUCTION SITE IN AMUKPE SAPELE, DELTA STATE

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ABSTRACT

      Air quality continues to be among the top environmental concerns in Nigeria.  In nigeria, where majority of  the rural population uses charcoal, very little is known about the impacts of the life-cycle of the fuel on the livelihoods of the producers, who endure significant health, safety, and environmental risks for marginal gain in a highly lucrative industry. Population increases and deviations from the energy ladder model suggest that charcoal demand for heating and cooking in Sub-Saharan Africa will continue to increase through the year 2030 and beyond. Charcoal production industry can use an air monitoring program to assist in addressing its environmental responsibilities, and its responsibility as a local community member. Industry performance monitoring enables industrial plant to be managed in an environmentally sustainable manner .

     A survey of air quality in a charoal production site  Amukpe sapele  and environs in the Niger delta area of Nigeria revealed that air quality in the area is affected to varying degrees by industrial activities in the production site.

     This report covers a brief background of the study, state of the problems,  aims and objectives of the work done, the scope of the research  and also the relevance of work done with regards to the analysis of emissions produced by a charcoal production facility located in amukpe sapele delta state.  An accredited environmentalist was involved as a third party. Consulting an independent third party to perform the measurements give more credible  results and provide unavailable equipment required for the analysis.

The aim and purpose of the project is the evaluate the concentration of particulate matter and gaseous pollutants present within a 2km radius of the charcoal production facility.  The significance of this experiment is to detect if  air in the surrounding environment is polluted with emitted gase from the production site,  which can be detrimental to human health.  A survey of air quality in amukpe sapele and environs in the Niger delta area of Nigeria revealed that air quality in the area is affected to varying degrees by industrial, human and natural activities.

 

       The discussed results indicate that a local charcoal production facility can be sustainable and without a significant environmental impact in sense of its emissions. However some deeper environmental performance evaluation could take place with the availability of measurement equipment with a wider measurement range, higher precision and more suitable for measurements in a charcoal factory. Also, the results indicates large amounts of concentration of pollutants within the immediate environment of the immediate environment. It is recommended that charcoal producers in amukpe sapele waer appropriate PPE’s and follow WHO guidelines and recommendations to control and reduce emissions.


 

CHAPTER  ONE

1.0 INTRODUCTION

1.1 BACKGROUND OF STUDY

   Charcoal is a woodfuel produced in rural areas and consumed in cities and towns. Some of the factors influencing the choice of using charcoal instead of firewood in urban areas include: Charcoal has a higher calorific value per unit weight that firewood, it is therefore moree conomic to transport charcoal over longer distances as compared to firewood; Storage of charcoal takes less room as compared to firewood; Charcoal is not liable to deterioration by insects and fungi which attack firewood; Charcoal is almost smokeless and sulphur – free, as such it is ideal fuel for towns and cities. It is estimated that approximately 1.5 billion people in developing countries derive at least 90% of their energy requirements from wood and charcoal. Another one billion people meet at least 50% of their energy needs this way. In most developing countries, 90% of the people depend on fuelwood as their chief source of fuel and each year the average user burns anywhere from a fifth of a ton, in extremely poor, wood short areas such as India, to well over a ton in parts of Africa and South Asia (GFC, undated). In 1999, it was estimated that 1.9 billion m³ of wood was burned for cooking, to provide heat or to manufacture charcoal for later burning (FAO, 1999).

 

     Large-scale charcoal production, primarily in sub Saharan Africa, has been a

growing concern due to its threat of deforestation, land degradation and climate change impacts. It is cited as the most environmentally devastating phase of this traditional energy supply chain, and despite increasing per capita income, higher electrification rates, and significant renewable energy potential, charcoal still remains the dominant source of cooking and heating energy for eighty percent of households in Sub Saharan Africa (SSA) (Arnold et al, 2006; Zulu and Richardson, 2013). As a traditional fuel that has been used for hundreds of years, it serves as a lifeline for the rapidly increasing populations in the urban centers of the region, in addition to potentially significant portions of the rural population. Due to its low cost compared to other fuels like kerosene and liquefied petroleum gas, as well as other factors that will be discussed in the coming sections, the demand for charcoal is expected to continue rising dramatically in the coming decades, despite best efforts by modern energy advocates. Charcoal use in SSA is predicted to double by 2030, with over 700 million Africans relying on it as a durable, preferred, and cheap source of energy. With a forecasted increase in consumption, there is a great need to identify real versus perceived energy futures with respect to charcoal. Research has shown that large-scale transitions to modern energy sources will only occur once a certain income threshold is met, while other studies have indicated that even with large increases in earned income, the large majority of many SSA countries continue to utilize charcoal. If a continued reliance on charcoal is suggested, there is an even greater need to evaluate and address the

environmental and social issues associated with this highly influential, and largely

informal, industry.

       Air pollution is the introduction of chemicals, particulate matter, or biological materials that cause harm or discomfort to humans or other living organisms, or cause damage to the natural environment or built environment, into the atmosphere. It can be defined as the presence in the outdoor or indoor atmosphere of one or more gaseous or particulate contaminants in quantities, characteristics and of duration such as to be injurious to human, plant or animal life or to property, or which unreasonably interferes with the comfortable enjoyment of life and property (Odigure, 1998). It has been difficult to achieve cooperation for air pollution control in developing countries like Nigeria, whose chief concern is to provide such basic need as food, shelter and employment for her populace.

     A substance in the air that can cause harm to humans and the environment is known as an air pollutant. Pollutants can be in the form of solid particles, liquid droplets, or gases. In addition, they may be natural or man-made (Anderson, 2005). The atmosphere is a complex dynamic natural gaseous system that is essential to support life on planet Earth. Stratospheric ozone depletion due to air pollution has

long been recognized as a threat to human health as well as to the Earth's ecosystems. Indoor air pollution and urban air quality are listed as two of the world's worst pollution problems in the 2008 Blacksmith Institute World's Worst Polluted Places report (Anderson, 2005).

 

1.2  STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

The pollutants emitted from a charcoal production site have the ability to cause adverse health affects such as respiratory diseases. The charcoal producers in this region are not well enlightened and do not consider the the dangers these emissions possess if the enter the environment in significant levels. Hence, they would not be able tackle the problem of air pollution and green house gas emissions produced by the pryolysis of charcoal. Worryingly, the government through the medium of environmental protection agencies do not pay much attention to these process produces considerable amounts of green house gases and suspended particle matter which are discharged into natural receptors, (majorly  air)  leading to major environmental problems in the long run.

 

A review of the literature surrounding charcoal supply chains in Sub-Saharan

Africa paints a clear picture that the demand for this energy source will not remain

stagnant, but will increase dramatically through the year 2030 . Even in countries where electrification rates are at their highest, as in  Ghana, 60-70% of the population still use charcoal for cooking and heating , a finding identified in numerous studies that deviates from the traditional energy ladder model. Electricity rarely replaces charcoal as a fuel, though increases in income lead to higher usage of more refined fuels, like kerosene and LPG, to replace biomass; this helps to illustrate the negative, and often misleading, correlation found between charcoal and electrification. In some of the least developed countries, like Liberia, where less than one percent of the population is connected to grid electricity, 95% rely on traditional biomass fuels in the form of wood and charcoal. In the growing rural areas, charcoal is the primary fuel used for heating and cooking, as poor infrastructure, high cost, and low-income levels limit market growth for refined cooking fuels.

 

Health-related impacts associated with woodfuels have traditionally focused on

effects from their consumption. Indoor air pollution (IAP) is the primary concern given the high concentrations of smoke and particulate matter released during woodfuel combustion. Smith et al (2002) documented trends in respiratory illness among disproportionate numbers of women and children as a result of IAP from woodfuel combustion throughout the developing world. However, little is known about the nhealth impacts endured by charcoal producers during extraction and production phases. For example, it is known that pyrolysis, the process utilized for the production of charcoal, releases significant amounts of gaseous by-products, including carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and others  known to be deadly to humans in moderate concentrations through the use of dose-response studies.  Rural producers are known to work within close proximity to high temperature kilns that off-gas these highly toxic compounds, generating potential high risk for poisoning. In addition, use of primitive tools can potentially lead to moderate or severe injuries, which can prove fatal in rural areas that lack access to adequate medical care. Academic literature and government reports refer to the working conditions of charcoal producers as unsafe; government officials and research papers alike mention these ‘hazards’ in passing.

     Additional indicators of social threats include widespread child labor, gender differences in education and production outcomes, extreme price variability often at the hands of merchants and the lack of potential for poverty alleviation in current methods of production. The lack of regulation in the charcoal industry creates the highest risk of

exploitation and safety hazards, yet no studies have investigated in-depth the health and social risks associated with the production of this highly demanded fuel.

 

1.3 Aim and Objectives of Study

The aim of this study is to determine the presence of air pollutants in significant concentrations and its spatial distribution to its surrounding environment along a two kilometre radius and its effects  on in one of it.

The specific objectives are to

1.     Determine the presence of air pollutants in gaseous emissions discharged from a charcoal production facility. 

2.     Run ambient air quality analysis to determine the spatial distribution of these air pollutants in the surrounding environment over a 2km radius.

3.     Compare results of the study to national and international standard such as the world health organisation and draw out conclusions.

4.     Suggest solutions to the problems of these air pollutants to the surroundings and give recommendations and control methods.

 

1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF PROJECT

This study will help confirm the true distribution of air pollutants discharged from t production of charcoal in the sampled community. The concentration, translocation and distribution of the specified air pollutants in relation to the  distance will also be determined; this should help complete a holistic pollution cycle analysis. Results of this research project should further serve as baseline studies for further research work on charcoal production in amukpe sapele and studies on the effects of the charcoal industry’s activities.

 

1.5 SCOPE OF RESEARCH

1.5.1 Analysis of Emissions And Controls

         There are five types of products and byproducts from charcoal production operations: charcoal, noncondensible gases (carbon monoxide [CO], carbon dioxide [CO2], methane, and ethane), pyroacids (primarily acetic acid and methanol), tars and heavy oils, and water. With the exception of charcoal, all

of these materials are emitted with the kiln exhaust. Product constituents and the distribution of these constituents vary, depending on raw materials and carbonization parameters. Organics and CO are naturally combusted to CO2 and water before leaving the retort. Because the extent of this combustion varies from plant to plant, emission levels are quite variable. ethanol, and polycyclic organic matter. If uncombusted, tars may solidify to form SPM emissions, and pyroacids may form aerosol emissions.

      The charcoal briquetting/stacking process is also a potential source of emissions. The crushing, screening, and handling of the dry raw charcoal may produce PM and PM-10 emissions. Briquette pressing and drying may be a source of VOC emissions, depending on the type of binder and other additives used. Continuous production of charcoal is more amenable to emission control than batch production because emission composition and flow rate are relatively constant. Emissions from continuous multiple earth charcoal kilns generally are controlled with afterburners. Cyclones, which commonly are used for product recovery, also reduce PM emissions from continuous kilns.

         Afterburning is estimated to reduce emissions of PM, CO, and VOC by at least 80 percent. Control of emissions from batch-type charcoal kilns is difficult because the process and, consequently, the emissions are cyclic. Throughout a cycle, both the emission composition and flow rate change. Batch kilns do not typically have emission control devices, but some may use after-burners. Particulate matter emissions from briquetting operations can be controlled with a centrifugal collector (65 percent control) or fabric filter (99 percent control).

 

 

1.5.2 CHARCOAL AT A GLANCE

      Charcoal is produced in slow pyrolysis carbonisation process. The charcoal yield being dependent on such process parameters as the final temperature, the biomass particle size, the heating rate and the reaction atmosphere (Elyounssi et al., 2012). Charcoal contain a large number of pollutants and known health hazards: particulate matter (PM), carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide, sulfur oxides (mainly from coal), formaldehyde, and polycyclic organic matter, including carcinogens such as benzo[a]pyrene and benzene (5-8). Exposure to indoor air pollution from the combustion of solid fuels has been implicated, with varying degrees of evidence, as a causal agent of several diseases in developing countries, including acute respiratory infection (ARI) and otitis media (middle ear infection), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer (for coal smoke), asthma, nasopharyngeal and laryngeal cancer, tuberculosis.

         In amukpe sapele, charcoal is traditionally made in small, simple batch-type kilns where the parameter management and control is very limited. The charcoal production feed can be a wide range of materials. Different types of biomass feed lead to the production of different charcoal grades basic grade biochar, premium grade biochar and charcoal. The used biomass can be starting from biodegradable waste from local waste collection services to hardwood (Schmidt et al., 2012). The use of biodegradable waste for production of valuable materials and energy is highly recommendable in order to reach the EU targets for minimization of the share of landfilled biodegradable waste as well as to avoid resource scarcity (Pubule et al., 2014). In the early 1940’s the most successful charcoal production technologies were developed - the Lambiotte and SIFIC process. This is a continuous carbonization process where the retort is filled continuously with wood from the top, while downstream simultaneously carbonisation takes place. The cooled charcoal is removed from the bottom. The process is energy autonomous gaining the necessary heat from burning gases attained from pyrolysis. The gases go through a condenser and afterwards are blown in the bottom of the retort where it cools the fresh charcoal while preheating the gases (Vertes et al., 2010). This technology has much higher process control and it offers the possibility of producing charcoal more efficiently and with higher increased yields then the traditional batch methods. This leads to the conclusion that with an increased interest of charcoal production this kind of technologies have to be evaluated form the environmental performance aspects.

         The drying of the firewood is crucial for proper functioning of the retort torch, where the excess pyrolysis gases are burnt before emitting to the atmosphere.

         The fresh wood is received with around 55% moisture content, while the technological process requires the moisture content of the input fuel to be below 25%.  The drying takes place in four chamber dryers heated with wood-fuelled water boilers. The retort is operated under experimental conditions in order to carry out the relevant measurements that describe the production facilities’ environmental performance regarding the emissions. The discovered results can be used to evaluate whether there is place for charcoal production in an economically developed country where the environmental performance is of high importance, and it is strictly regulated.


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