Wednesday, October 23, 2013

China’s Response to Air Pollution Poses Threat to Water

China’s proposed SNG plants, most of them located in arid and semi-arid regions in Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia, together will consume a total of 500 to 700 million cubic meters of freshwater annually at full operating capacity. That’s almost 20 percent of the region’s total industrial water use in 2011. - Click to enlarge.
While the Air Pollution Control Action Plan has ambitious goals—cutting air particulates and coal consumption—it may create unintended problems for China’s water supply.

The Plan aims to reduce particulate matter in the North China Plain by 25 percent and reduce coal’s share of the national energy mix to 65 percent by 2017.  One of the plan’s key recommendations is to replace coal with cleaner natural gas, including synthetic natural gas (SNG) converted from coal. Converting coal to natural gas, however, is an extremely water-intensive process.  One cubic meter of SNG requires 6 to 10 liters (1.58-2.6 gallons) of freshwater to produce.  So in an attempt to control urban air pollution in the east, China might jeopardize its water supplies elsewhere.

China’s Response to Air Pollution Poses Threat to Water

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