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Environment & Energy
WKSU is looking for the answers to the questions you have about Ohio in a project we call "OH Really?" It's an initiative that makes you part of the news gathering process.

Harnessing the Energy From Smokestacks Can Be Expensive. OH Really?

photo of smokestacks
JAMES KELLY
/
SHUTTERSTOCK
A listener wants to know if the gas emissions from smokestacks -- like the ones in Cleveland's Industrial Valley -- can be harnessed as an energy source.

For decades, factories in Cleveland's Industrial Valley have sent smoke and even fire out of their smokestacks – a process known as “flaring.”

Margaret Liske from Hudson has always wondered about the smokestacks along I-77 near Cleveland.

“They belch out huge, high billows of smoke and -- at night -- fire. Why is this potential heat not somehow recycled [or] reused?”

For the answer, we asked Krishna Rao, a chemical engineer who recently retired as president of Valley View-based plastics firm, Nanofilm.

“There’s this constant push-and-pull about what’s good for the environment versus what’s good for the company in trying to reduce their costs. It’s more expensive to burn it and use it as a source of energy because they have access to lower cost fuel. Or if they decide to ship it somewhere else, the cost of transportation – whether through tankers or through pipelines – will require a lot more investment. That’s been the [classic] argument.”

Rao says other countries, including Russia and Nigeria, have required a decrease in these types of emissions. He hopes the U.S. will, too.

You can ask your question for “OH Really” here.

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