Energy company aims to cut emissions
GLENWOOD SPRINGS Research by an EnCana engineer is making Garfield Countys air cleaner and his former teacher proud.Dennis Schmitt first led EnCanas efforts to use fuel and oil additives that have increased the efficiency and reduced the emissions of diesel engines that power drilling rigs in the Piceance Basin, which is centered in the county.Now hes working with his alma mater, Colorado State University, to see if the additives could achieve similar results with engines powered by natural gas and used to move gas through pipelines.Schmitt earned his bachelors and masters degrees in mechanical engineering from CSU. Dan Olsen, an engineering professor at CSU and Schmitts former graduate advisor, is working with Schmitt on the research at CSUs Engines & Energy Conversion Laboratory, which the college says is the largest independent lab of its kind in North America.Its exciting to see one of my former students being so successful with a company like EnCana, Olsen said.Schmitt said he first learned from EnCana engineers in Texas about additives being offered by American Clean Energy Systems Inc., based in Pennsylvania. At the time, Schmitt was EnCanas drilling engineer for the Piceance Basin, and he began using the additives to see how they performed on diesel engines that power the rigs. The results were so good the additives now are being used for pretty much all of EnCanas drilling in the basin, he said.I thought, well, if it works well on these diesel engines maybe we can find out if it works with natural gas engines, he said.Schmitt, who these days primarily works on pipeline compression for EnCana, said the company probably has about 70 natural gas engines in the Piceance Basin. They generate a total of about 100,000 horsepower, to compress gas for transportation in pipelines.Reducing emissions in the diesel drilling engines, and potentially in the natural gas compressor engines, could go far in reducing EnCanas emissions of pollutants, Schmitt believes. He said the additives appear to have cut carbon monoxide emissions by 70 percent in the diesel engines.Schmitt thinks thats important to air quality in western Colorado, and that residents also could benefit from it in other places where EnCana could make use of the additives.Its important to me personally to try and make things more efficient and its also important to do what I can to try to reduce the emissions from various operations that we have, he said.Along with the lab research, he is planning a field demonstration involving use of fuel additives in one natural gas engine in EnCanas Mamm Creek field south of Rifle and Silt.If its successful then of course the project becomes much larger scale because then I would be looking at finding a way to roll this thing out to many, many engines throughout the basin and beyond, he said.Schmitt said other energy companies besides EnCana also are using additives in their diesel engines. He said if EnCana finds out the additives can be beneficial in natural gas engines as well, it will make that information available to others rather than keeping it proprietary.We fully support everybody trying to find ways to reduce their energy consumption and reduce their emissions footprint, he said.