Baseball, not carbon: Ontario needs to stop filling Rogers Centre

Ontario power plants running on “clean” natural gas dumped 34,317 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the air yesterday—enough to fill Rogers Centre, the huge domed stadium that is home of the Toronto Blue Jays, nearly 12 times. The concentration of CO2 in the global atmosphere went over 400 parts per million just over two months ago. That is the first time in recorded human history it has gone that high. You can see the current concentration in Item A1 in the upper right.

Imagine this vast—1.6 million cubic meter—indoor space filled with CO2. Well, Ontario power plants running on natural gas dumped enough CO2 yesterday, June 23 2014, to fill this volume more than 12 times.

Rogers Centre, home of the mighty Toronto Blue Jays. Imagine this vast—1.6 million cubic meter—indoor space filled with CO2. Well, Ontario power plants running on natural gas dumped enough CO2 yesterday, June 23 2014, to fill this volume nearly 12 times.

So 12 Rogers Centres worth of CO2 from gas-fired power generation, in one single day. And how much power generation? Of the 425.8 million kilowatt-hours that Ontario grid-connected 20+ megawatt generators produced yesterday, gas-fired plants contributed 15.2 percent. The 34,317 metric tons of CO2 pollution they dumped into the air represented over 98 percent of the CO2 emitted by all combustible-fueled power plants reporting to the Ontario grid.

How to calculate how much CO2 fits into Rogers Centre
At 25 °C, Rogers Centre with its roof closed holds 2,877 metric tons of CO2. Here is how I got that number:

  1. The mass of one mole of CO2 is 44.01 grams. (Most versions of the Periodic Table, including this one, give the mass of each element. Look up carbon and oxygen—the constituent atoms in a molecule of CO2—and note their mass. Don’t confuse the atomic mass of an element with its atomic number! Add the mass of one atom of carbon, ~12.01 atomic mass units or AMU, to that of two atoms of oxygen, ~32 AMU. The result: a molecule of CO2 has a mass of 44.01 AMU. A mole of CO2 is therefore 44.01 grams.)
  2. One mole of any gas, at 25 °C and one atmosphere pressure, occupies 24.47 litres of volume. (One mole of any gas at standard temperature and pressure occupies 22.414 litres. To calculate molar volume at another temperature, let’s call it T2, with the same pressure, convert temperature to Kelvins and then multiply the ratio of the STP volume to temperature by T2; this is Charles’s Law. In this case, your T2 is 25 °C, which is 298 Kelvins: 25 + 273 = 298. Your ratio of STP volume to temperature is 22.414/273 = 0.0821. Multiply 0.0821 x 298 = 24.466 litres.)
  3. One metric tonne, or one million grams, of CO2 contains 22,727 moles: divide one million by 44.
  4. Multiply those 22,727 moles in a tonne of CO2 by the molar volume of a gas at 25 °C, which from point 3 is 24.47 litres.
  5. Therefore one metric tonne of CO2 at the above-mentioned temperature and pressure occupies 556,136 litres.
  6. One cubic meter is 1,000 litres, so a metric tonne of CO2 occupies 556.14 cubic meters (divide the 556,136 litres of CO2 that make up a metric tonne by 1,000).
  7. Now you need to know the volume of Rogers Centre. According to Rogers, Rogers Centre’s volume is 1,600,000 m3. So divide that by 556.14 to get 2,877.

That means that 15.2 percent of the power made 98 percent of the CO2 that keeps driving the figure in Item A1 into the stratosphere.

When I look at Rogers Centre, I want to think of the Blue Jays and their glory years of 1992 and 1993, and the glory days that lie ahead. I don’t want to think of the multiple times it gets filled by power plant CO2 on typical warmish summer Ontario days.

The really sobering thing is, it could be much worse. Have a look at Table A3 in the upper right. The column “Gas replaces nuclear” switches out last hour’s nuclear generation and replaces it with gas. Look at the difference in CO2 emissions.

You might not believe this, but the mainstream “environmental” lobby in Ontario wants to replace nuclear with gas. I say we replace that lobby with one that actually cares about the environment.

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