Chinese officials claim to have installed the world’s first operational “natural-direct cooling” (NDC) system for a power plant in the country’s north-central province of Shaanxi.
Hailed as a milestone achievement for the industry, the novel cooling method could prevent as many as 54 000 tons of harmful carbon emissions from leaching into the atmosphere yearly.
The developers of the technology, Powerchina Northwest Engineering Corporation, claim the NDC system utilises no fans to stimulate airflow, substantially lowering energy costs.
At the same time, limiting noise pollution from the often loud conventional cooling methods, which often rely on compressors, generators, and fans – all of which can exceed 80 decibels.
Research also indicated that technicians working in close proximity to noisy power plant machinery suffered from adverse psychological effects, including neurobehavioural changes, stress and low levels of happiness, according to a paper penned by Indian Institute of Toxicology researcher, Ganesh Chandra Kisku, and Santosh K. Bhargava.
Powerchina claim their newly developed technology does not require water pumps for cooling either, instead the NDC takes advantage of both air-cooling and indirect cooling systems.
While details on exactly how the Shaanxi plant doesn’t dissipate heat without emitting harmful substances into the atmosphere have yet to be disclosed, the NDC system has been recognised as a “significant technological apparatus” at the national level, according to the local news outlet, Shaanxi Daily.
The Yanghuopan Power Station in Yulin City where the NDC system will operate, will save an estimated 54 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually and cut coal consumption at the facility by roughly 24 500 tonnes per annum, according to a report by the state-run Chinese Media Group (CMG).
The same report said the 660 gigawatt-hour per year plant will generate very few by-products such as soot, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide.
When exposed to these harmful chemical compounds, a technician can be faced with significant health risks, including shortness of breath, nausea, and irritation to the eyes and throat.
China, while a world leader in the production and installation of renewable energy sources, burns more coal than any other nation, with the government insisting that energy security is vital for a growing economy.
Implementing technologies like the NDC system will significantly clean up what is a relatively dirty practice.
President Xi Jinping did, however, commit to continuing the advancement of his country’s position as a leader in the nuclear and renewable energy sectors last year.