Cooling Towers: Not So Cool?

Frederick M. Lowther

Anyone who has been in a tall building looking down on shorter buildings has seen the usual array of mechanical “boxes” with large spinning fans. Those “cooling towers” sit atop tens of thousands of buildings across the country, from hotels to office buildings, hospitals, university and government buildings, and residential towers. Cooling towers also sit adjacent to many industrial facilities, such as petrochemical plants, where cooling by exhaustion of heat is part of the industrial process. More recently, there is the advent of truly enormous data centers, which are the guts of operations of “public cloud” companies, such as Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Oracle, IBM, etc. In many cases, these data centers rely on water-based cooling towers, which control temperatures for the large spaces housing computers/servers, and which are often adjacent to thousands of people. It is now estimated that there are as many as two million cooling towers operating in the United States. Continue reading “Cooling Towers: Not So Cool?”

New PA DEP Data Confirms That Methane Emissions Continue to Plummet from Unconventional Natural Gas Production in Pennsylvania

Michael L. Krancer

Pennsylvania DEP’s 2015 Air Emissions Inventory for Unconventional Natural Gas Operations is out. It was released late in the day on Thursday before the Labor Day weekend so there will be a lot of “debrief” as time goes on. But here is an early take. Continue reading “New PA DEP Data Confirms That Methane Emissions Continue to Plummet from Unconventional Natural Gas Production in Pennsylvania”

Stirring Up the Hornet’s Nest: Political Risk and Infrastructure

Michael L. Krancer

As the agenda at this year’s Northeast U.S. Petrochemical Construction Conference (June 19-20, Pittsburgh) will attest, there’s one thing that any new buildout of downstream petrochemical facility needs and that is an ample and reliable supply of upstream and midstream feedstock extraction and transportation. In the past supply was much easier to count on than it is today. Today’s new landscape of political opposition to hydrocarbons poses new risks that must be managed just like any other financial or enterprise risk. The opposition is committed to nothing short of destruction of the hydrocarbons business from the well-pad to the chemical plant to the consumer. Thus far, industry has underestimated this political risk and that is proving to be costly. Continue reading “Stirring Up the Hornet’s Nest: Political Risk and Infrastructure”