Raw Material Substitution

Removing some pollutants involves simply substituting materials which perform equally well in the process but which discharge less harmful products to the environment. This method of air pollution reduction usually produces satisfactory control at a low cost.

Typical examples are the substitution of high-sulfur coal with low-sulfur coal in power plants. This substitution requires little technological change but results in a substantial pollution reduction. Changing to a fuel like natural gas or nuclear energy can eliminate all sulfur emissions as well as those of particulates and heavy metals. However, natural gas is more expensive and difficult to ship and store than coal, and many people prefer the known risks of coal pollution than the unknown risks of nuclear power. Coal gasification also greatly reduces sulfur emissions. Another example is substituting gasoline with ethanol or oxy genated fuels in internal combustion engines. This substitution reduces the O3 pollution in urban areas. Alternative energy sources, such as wind or solar power, are being explored and may become economically feasible in the future.

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