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Chapter 1

Units and Materials and Energy Balances

1 Units of measurement

In any environmental management programme measurement, accounting and

balancing of materials, pollutants or otherwise, is required. For example, in a sodium
hydroxide manufacturing industry, which may use mercury in its process, it is important
to know the amounts of mercury purchased every year and discharged in gaseous,
liquid and solid wastes and that carried over in the product. This will enable designing of
a suitable environmental monitoring and management programme. It is therefore
necessary to follow a commonly used and accepted system of measurements
consistently. This session reviews some basic considerations which an environmental
scientist or engineer must be familiar with, to carry out such accounting.

Table 1 gives some of the common units that are used in environmental management
calculations. It also gives conversion factors between the International System of Units
(SI) and British System, commonly known as foot pound second system (fps). In most
countries measurements are made in units based on SI units.

Table 1: Some basic units and conversion factors.

Quality SI units SI Symbol Multiply by To obtain

fps units

Length meter m 3.2808 ft

Mass kilogram kg 2.2046 lb
Temperature celsius. °c 1.8 +32 °F
Area square meter m2 10.7639 ft 2
Volume cubic meter m3 35.314 ft 3
Energy kilojoule kJ 0.9478 Btu
Power watt W 3.4121 Btu/h
Velocity meter/second m/s 2.2369 mi/h
3 3
Flow rate meter /second m /s 35.3147 ft3/s
Density kilogram/meter 3 kg/m3 0.06243 lb/ft3
In the environmental field, it is quite common to encounter both extremely large
quantities and extremely small ones. To describe such extreme values a system of
prefixes are used with the units. Commonly used prefixes and their meaning are
presented in Table2.

Table2: Common prefixes

Prefix Symbol Meaning

micro M 10"6
milli m 10"3
centi c 10"2
deci d 10-1
deca da 10
hecta h 102
kilo k 103
mega M 106

Commonly used units of length, area, volume and mass are:

kilometer (km) = 1000m

m = 100 centimeter (cm)
cm = 10 millimeter (mm)
hectare = 10,000 m2
liter (L) = 1000 ml_=1000 cm 3
m3 = 1000 L=1kL
kg = 1000 gram (g)
g = 1000 milligram (mg)
mg = 1000 micro gram (pg)

Units of Concentration

Concentration of pollutants in water or air are expressed as a ratio: mass or volume of

pollutant in a given mass or volume of water or air. Substances in water are usually
expressed in terms of mass of substance per unit volume of the mixture such as mg/L
or pg/L.
Example 1

4 kg of common salt is thrown in a pond containing 800m 3 water. What is the resulting
concentration of the salt in the water in mg/L, pg/L?

4kg 106 mg 1m3
x x = 5 mg/L
3 3
800m 1 kg 10 L

5mg 1000 pg
x = 5,000 pg/L
L 1 mg

Concentration of substances in liquids are also expressed as ratio of mass of the

substance to a specified mass of mixture, usually as parts per million (ppm) by weight.
Since most concentrations of pollutants in water are small, one liter of mixture weighs
essentially 1000g, we can write:
1mg IL 1g
x x = 1 mg/10 6 mg=1pp
L 1000g 1000mg

Therefore mg/L and ppm may be used interchangeably as long as the liquid density can
be assured to be 1000 g/L.

Sometimes concentrations in liquids are also expressed in percentage (mass/mass)

Example 2

For the data of Example 1, calculate the concentration in percentage. Assume the density of
solution as 1000 kg/m3 (or 1000 g/L)

4kg 1 m3
x x 100 = 0.0005%
800m 3 1000 kg

Note: ppm can be changed to percent by dividing by 104.

Concentration of air pollutants are measured both in terms of mass of pollutant

(pg or mg) per unit volume (m3) of the mixture and as percent or ppm by volume. Since
the volume of a gas changes significantly with temperature and pressure, to calculate
volume at different temperature and pressure help is taken of the relationship.

Where P= pressure, V= volume, T=Temperature in degree Kelvin (°K) and subscripts 1
and 2 correspond to the changes in the condition of measurement.

Example 3

14 g sulphur is burnt in a room having 5000m 3 air maintained at 15°C Calculate resulting
sulphur dioxide concentration in the air in the room in pg/m3, ppm and percent by volume.

Solution: -

Calculate the volume of 5000 m3 air at one atm. pressure at 25°C and 0°C, using Vi=V 2 .
Ti rr 2

5000 (273 +25)

v25 = 5173.6 m 3
(273 + 15)

5000 (273 + 0)
V0 = 4739.6 m 3
(273 + 15)

Calculate the mass and volume of S0 2 produced at 0 °C from stochiometric equation.

S + 02 = S0 2

64g S0 2
Mass of S02 produced=14 g S x =28 g
32 g S

Since 1g mole of a gas occupies 22.4 L at STP

28 g S0 2 22.4 L S0 2
Volume of S 0 2 produced at 0°C= x— = 9.8 L
64 g S0 2 /mole 1 mole

28 g S 0 2 106 pg
x = 5412 pg/m at 25° C
5173.6 m air 1g
and 9.8 L 1 m3
x x 106 = 2.06 ppm
4739.6 m 3 10 3 L

and 2.06
-— - 0.0002 %

ppm x mol wt
Note: mg/m3 = (at 25 °C and 1 atm)

For uniformity in reporting, the concentration of air pollutants can be reported as pg/m3
at 25°C. This is also written as pg/Nm J (microgram per normal meter cube).

2 Materials and energy balance

The first step in understanding a process is to compile an overall materials and energy
balance. This step alone may locate imbalances and inconsistencies. It may not be
possible to measure every flowing stream in a process. Careful measurement of all
inputs and outputs can characterize the unknown streams. Such balances can also give
an idea of the behaviour of a system if any of the input and output conditions are
modified. Lastly and most importantly materials and energy balances can give us
important information regarding the impact on the environment of a proposed new plant
or activity. These aspects are illustrated by the following examples.

Example 4

A high volume sampler filtered air at an average rate of 1.2 m3/min for 24hour period. This
resulted in collection of 0.8500g of dust particles. What is the particulate concentration?

Total air filtered = 1.2 m 3 /min x60 min/h x 24h =1728m 3
Particulate concentration = 0.85g/1728 m3 x 106 pg/g
= 492 pg/m3
Example 5

A bag house is being used to remove dust from an air exhaust stream flowing at 100.0
m3/min. The dirty air contains 15.0 g/m3 of particles, while the cleaned air from the bag house
contains 0.020 g/m3. The industry's operating permit allows the exhaust stream to contain as
much as 0.90 g/m3. For various operating reasons, the industry wishes to bypass some of
the dirty air around the bag house and blend it back into the cleaned air so that the total
exhaust stream meets the permissible limit. Assume no air leakage and negligible change in
pressure or temperature of the air throughout the process. Calculate the flow rate of air
through the bag house and the mass of dust collected per day in kg.


Draw a flow diagram of the process as shown in Figure 1. In this problem two balances can
be made, namely, flow rate of dust in g/min and flow rate of air in m 3 /min. Balancing of flow
rate of air in m 3 /min is possible because the temperature and pressure of air remains
constant in the system.

Write a balance for dust around the total system:

Input = Output from bag house +Output in the mixed exhaust

Or Output from bag house = 100m3/min. x 15 g/m 3 —100m 3 /min. x 0.90 g/m3 =1410 g/min.

Or Daily dust Output = 1410g/min x 24h/1d x 60min/1h x 1kg/1000g= 2030 kg

Write a balance for airflow around A:

100 = X+Y, where X and Yare bypass stream and flow through baghouse,

Write a balance for dust around B:

15X + 0.02Y = 0.9x100
Solving the last two equations
X, the bypass stream = 5.9 m 3 / min.
Y, the flow through bag house = 94.1 m 3 /min.
Example 6

A 150 MW coal-fired power plant is 40 percent efficient. If the coal contains 42 percent ash
and 0.5 percent sulphur, calculate the amount of ash and S02 produced per day. Assume
calorific value of coal = 6,000 kJ/kg coal.


First we determine the input rate of heat to the plant. Since it is 40% efficient, heat required

150 x 103 kW
= 375000 kW=375000 kJ/s.

375000 kJ 1 kg coal
Therefore coal used= x
s 6000 kJ

3600s 24h 1T
x x x = 5400 T/d
1h 1d 1000kg

Since the coal is 42% ash, amount of ash produced 5400 x 0.42 = 2268 T/d

Usually only 10 percent of the ash is collected as, bottom ash. The balance escapes with flue
gas as fly ash. Therefore the plant will emit 0.9 x 2268= 2041 T/d ash if no ash removal
method is adopted.

If an electrostatic precipitator (ESP) of 97% efficiency is installed, the plant will emit 0.3 x
2268=6.8 T/d ash.

Amount of S0 2 can be calculated from stochiometric relation: S + 02 = S0 2 , i.e., 32 g S

produces 64g S0 2 .

5400 T Coal 0.5g S 64g S 0 2

Therefore S 0 2 produced= x x =54 T/d
d 100g 32g S

Note: 1W = 1 J/s
Mixed exhaust to atmosphere
Bypass air
Flow= 100.0m 3 /min
Flow= X m 3 /min
Dust = 0.90 g/m 3
Dust= 15.0 g/m

Dust removed
Flow=Z kg/min