Fugitive Emissions Working Group Recognized with U. S. Secretary of Energy’s 2011 Achievement Award

Department of Energy Secretary Chu and Greg Barrett, Environmental Engineer, Argonne National Laboratory

U. S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu recognized the Fugitive Emissions Working Group (FEWG), of which Argonne National Laboratory is a part, with the Secretary’s Achievement Award — the Department of Energy’s highest non-monetary honor for a group or team effort. Greg Barrett, Environmental Engineer, accepted the award on behalf of Argonne National Laboratory and all Argonne employees who have contributed to the laboratory’s sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) reduction efforts.

Uniting more than 20 Department of Energy (DOE) laboratories, power administrations, National Nuclear Security Administration facilities, and program offices, the FEWG has eliminated nearly half of DOE’s emissions from the most potent greenhouse gases (GHG) on the planet. Leveraging science, technology, and managerial know-how, this campaign has prevented the release of more than 600,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent since 2009.

The FEWG is working to reduce emission rates even further over the next two years. By driving down fugitive emissions, DOE is on track to achieve one-third of its 28 percent GHG reduction goal commitment at very low cost.

At the 2011 Secretarial Award Ceremony, representatives of ten sites that played a leadership role in eliminating fugitive emissions were recognized, including Argonne’s Greg Barrett.

FEWG Chair Josh Silverman commented on the special role of Argonne National Laboratory on the Working Group, “When we began assessing fugitive emissions within the Department, we were shocked by how much these potent gases increase DOE’s greenhouse gas releases. Argonne staff played a leadership role in helping to develop strategies to address this critical issue. In just two years, thanks to the initiative of Argonne staff and other FEWG participants, fugitive emissions turned from a major environmental challenge into a DOE climate change success story. As a result, the Department of Energy is reducing its greenhouse gas footprint, years ahead of schedule, by aggressively controlling its fugitive emissions.”

Argonne’s SF6 reduction efforts have significantly reduced the laboratory’s total GHG emissions. One pound of SF6 is equivalent to 10 tons of CO2. Argonne is leading the way in SF6 reductions by recapturing the gas, used as an anti-arching agent in electron microscopes, accelerators and other high-energy equipment. The gas is recaptured, recycled and reused.

Representatives from the Fugitive Emissions Working Group (FEWG) receiving the 2011 Secretary of Energy's Achievement Award. (U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Chu in center; Environmental Engineer Greg Barrett, Argonne National Laboratory, to the left of Secretry Chu.)

Posted October 27, 2011