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Southwest Research Institute awarded grant from Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to further reduce emissions from fire testing

For immediate release

San Antonio — Aug. 4, 2015 — Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has received a $500,000 grant from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to install pollution abatement technology to decrease emissions associated with fire technology research conducted at the Institute.

The New Technology Implementation Grant, administered by TCEQ through the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan, helps offset costs associated with reducing pollutants emitted from stationary sources. SwRI was the only organization to receive an implementation grant in the new technology category.

“This grant will offset equipment expenses associated with SwRI’s $2.5 million investment in pollution abatement systems for fire research facilities, scheduled to go online in later this year,” said Dr. Mike Lewis, executive director of SwRI Environmental, Safety, and Quality Systems.

With the grant, SwRI will install a baghouse filter system with activated carbon and dry sorbent injection to manage emissions for three Fire Technology Department facilities. As a pioneer in fire technology, SwRI conducts lifesaving research and testing to ensure that various materials meet fire safety standards. This advanced pollution control device efficiently removes particulate emissions associated with this activity, while neutralizing acid gas emissions and removing sulfur dioxide, hazardous air pollutants, and trace metals such as lead and mercury.

“This latest effort is in addition to the $2 million baghouse air pollution control device SwRI installed last year to reduce particulate emissions from our diesel engine labs,” said Lewis. “That device is helping us to reduce total particulate emissions by 50 percent.”

While ozone pollution is a current area of concern for the San Antonio metro area, SwRI’s research activities in aggregate contribute less than one percent of the point source emissions for oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and approximately one-tenth of one percent of the volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions for Bexar County. Ground level or “bad” ozone is not emitted directly into the air, but is created by chemical reactions between NOx and VOCs in the presence of sunlight. By contrast, the on-road mobile sector accounts for roughly 38 percent of the NOx and 17 percent of the VOCs for the county.

Additionally, much of the engine, fuels, and lubricant research the Institute conducts — working with private industry as well as government entities such as the Environmental Protection Agency — have helped create or validate technological developments to reduce pollution emissions.

“It’s not hyperbole to say Southwest Research Institute has made significant contributions over the years to research resulting in lower air pollution levels around the world,” said SwRI Executive Vice President Walt Downing. “And, due to pollution abatement efforts on the campus like the fire technology and diesel engine labs filter systems, SwRI has lowered regulated emissions output by 20 to 60 percent in the last 10 years. We are committed to being a good corporate citizen here in Bexar County and in all of the communities in which we operate, and we’re very appreciative of this latest grant from the Texas Committee on Environmental Quality to help us continue to conduct our important work in an environmentally responsible manner.”

SwRI has been conducting research and development in fire technology and automotive systems, among many others, for more than 65 years.

For more information, contact Deb Schmid, (210) 522-2254, Communications Department, Southwest Research Institute, PO Drawer 28510, San Antonio, TX 78228-0510.