Urban pollution, human health and district heating

The European Community, Italy and its Regions have been in the last years at the centre of a series of initiatives aimed at a reduction of pollution of the air in the urban centres.

The urban pollution is due to high concentration of the pollutants in the air (exhausted gases of cars and of boilers used by buildings and climate) and also to the specific characteristics of urban areas.

There exist several strategies aimed at improving the quality of the air in the urban areas:

  1. use of specialised trees able to capture the CO2 and store the excess of it as biomass that can then be reused
  2. use of District Heating and Cooling to heat or cool down facilities erected in urban areas among which there are condominium, schools, public offices, nursery houses, hospitals, swimming pools and so forth
  3. relocation of industrial activities in surrounding areas outside cities and surrounded by forests and green areas; if the district heating network is powered by a cogenerative power plant, it is advisable that it is erected outside the city
  4. improvement of the shadowing and air circulation in urban areas in order to mitigate the air temperature
  5. use of much more performing cars and in general transportation means in line with a sustainable mobility
  6. use of renewable sources for the generation of electricity and thermal energy together with the adoption of smart grid technologies
  7. change in life style towards a more sustainable regime more respectful of natural resources.

These strategies allow to drastically reduce the pollutants in the atmosphere in particular the so called PM10. PM10 means Particular Matter ≤ 10 µm, that is particular matter whose dimensions are less or equal to 10 micron. Particulate matter in the air can enter the human body, affecting the cardiovascular system as well as other major organs. Chronic exposure leads to a number of health risks.  

The recently published study shows, based on the available information, that traffic (25%), combustion and agriculture (22%), domestic fuel burning (20%), natural dust and salt (18%), and industrial activities (15%) are the main sources of particulate matter contributing to cities’ air pollution. However, there are significant differences between various regions of the world.

For this reason the European Community and its member states have elaborated in the last years a series of rules and regulations to reduce the urban pollution and consequently to improve human health together with an awareness campaign to explain the risks and the strategies above.

Among these, the most important ones for Cogenpower relate to the use of District Heating and Cooling, the emphasis about energy efficiency and saving of primary energy. These areas represent specialities for Cogenpower as you can see browsing our website or simply getting in contact with us.

In conclusion the increased sensitivity of all the European Institutions (till the local ones), the presence of new technologies and a renovated awareness towards the theme of preservation are channelling a very important momentum towards urban transformations that, if implemented shortly and successfully, can guarantee sustainability for cities.

Contact us if you want to discuss it further with a specialist!

Written by Dr Francesco Vallone

Innovative resourceful CEO

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