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Air Products’ GHG Rises, NOx and SOx Fall

Air Products’ greenhouse gas intensity rose in 2010, but the company is still on track to meet its 2015 reduction target, according to its 2011 sustainability report

The $9 billion-sales producer of atmospheric, process and specialty gases saw its GHG intensity rise slightly last year to 94.4 percent of 2007 levels, up from 93 percent in 2009. The 2010 result, however, still puts the company ahead of the annual average decreases needed to hit its goal of 93 percent of 2007 levels, in 2015.

Air Products established the goal for scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions last year, in collaboration with the EPA Climate Leaders program (which the agency is now phasing out). The goal relates to the company’s two main GHG-producing activities, hydrogen/carbon monoxide/synthesis gas production (HyCO) and atmospheric gases separation. Emissions from both activities are indexed against production.

Future progress toward the 2015 goal will be dependent on additional energy reduction for Air Products’ HyCO and large air separation unit (ASU) businesses, the company said.

The sustainability report does not provide units for GHG intensity figures, but it does provide absolute emissions data. Scope 1 (direct) emissions were 14.4 million metric tons of CO2e in 2010, up from 13.3 million in 2009. Scope 2 (indirect) emissions were 9.32 million metric tons in 2010, up from 8.21 million in 2009.

Scope 3 emissions were 0.10 million metric tons.

The company says it reduced energy intensity of HyCO production for the third straight year in 2010, due to the start-up of a large-scale, high-efficiency hydrogen plant and balancing production to load its most energy-efficient plants, among other measures.

A graph in the report shows HyCO energy intensity falling to 98 percent of 2007 levels in 2010 – but does not give an actual energy intensity figure, or name actual units, for any of the reporting years. To reach its 2015 target of a seven percent reduction from 2007 levels, Air Products will need to speed up the pace of its HyCO energy intensity improvements.

The company’s ASU energy intensity also improved from 2009, although it still up on 2008 levels, and this measure lags more than HyCO energy intensity does behind the company’s target. The company says the ASU result is due to the global recession’s impact on production volumes and plant efficiencies. Again, no figures or units are given.

Air Products says it expects efficiency improvements to accelerate this year as the economy recovers and the company improves its asset loading.

In 2010, Air Products’ global water consumption, excluding water returned to its source, was 16.1 billion gallons, up three percent from 15.6 billion gallons in 2009. The company said higher production in 2010 had increased the amount of water needed for cooling. It has a goal of a ten percent reduction in the “controllable portion” of its water usage, from a 2009 baseline, by 2015.

In 2010 it used 2.1 billion gallons of recycled and reclaimed water, including 1.5 billion gallons of recycled process condensate from global hydrogen production; 565 million gallons of recycled industrial and sanitary grey water used as process water at its Edmonton, Alberta, plant; 37 million gallons of treated wastewater for boiler feed at its Joliet, Ill., plant; and 62 million gallons of recycled water at its Santa Clara, Calif., plant.

The company’s NOx emissions of 1,435 tons and SOx emissions of 193 tons in the U.S. and Europe were down more than 12 percent from the previous year, which Air Products says is largely attributable to increased use of biomass at its cogeneration facility in Stockton, Calif.

Its 2010 hazardous waste output was 46.8 million pounds, up 31 percent from 35.6 million pounds in 2009, which Air Products says is primarily due to increases in production in its Electronics and Performance Materials businesses. The company has a goal of reducing hazardous waste shipments in the U.S. and Europe by 20 percent from 2005 levels.

The company’s number of environmental incidents was up three percent year on year, though in the Americas, Air Products says 2010 saw the fewest number of incidents for six years. But it also reports that the number of notices of violation received from agencies was up 40 percent in 2010. Environmental fines paid globally in FY2010 were $15,000.

In March the company agreed to pay $62,130 to settle claims by the EPA that it violated chemical reporting requirements at its Sparrows Point, Md., facility.

This month Air Products flipped the switch on the a new 2MW solar farm, capable of supplying enough energy to power more than half of the company’s administration buildings.

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