184 Rogers Centres in October: the alarming facts about gas-fired power plant waste

Toronto’s Rogers Centre, home of the Blue Jays, is a domed stadium with a retractable roof. It is a beautiful place to visit and watch a ball game. When the roof is closed, it has an internal volume of 1.6 million cubic meters. How big is that? Why, big enough to hold 2,877 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), the principal man-made greenhouse gas pollutant.And how much is that? Well, on a hot day in July, about one hour’s worth of Ontario gas plant pollution.

Rogers Centre in Toronto, home of the mighty Blue Jays. The stadium can hold 46,100 baseball fans, or, with the roof closed, 2,877 metric tons of CO2. On July 18 of this year, Ontario gas plants dumped about that amount CO2 into the air each hour.

You may recall my post “Ontario’s world-beating climate change express train is about to careen off the rails,” in which I commented on Ontario’s grid electrical output of July 18 2013, an extremely hot day. On eleven individual hours of that day, the provincial gas plants dumped enough CO2 to fill up the Rogers Centre at least once. Over the course of that single day, Ontario’s gas plants dumped 21 Rogers Centres’ worth of CO2 into our air.

During the month of October 2013, the same plants, producing of course at a much lower rate than in July, dumped just over 530,000 metric tonnes of CO2 into our atmosphere. That is enough CO2 to fill up Rogers Centre 184 times.

[stextbox id=”info” caption=”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. Add the mass of one atom of carbon, ~12.01 atomic mass units or AMU, to that of two atoms of oxygen, ~32 AMU.)
  2. One mole of any substance, 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 any temperature given the same pressure, convert temperature to Kelvins and then multiply the ratio of the STP volume to temperature by the final temperature; this is Charles’s Law. In this case, your final temperature is 25 °C, which is 298 Kelvins. 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. Therefore one metric tonne of CO2 at the above-mentioned temperature and pressure occupies 556,136 litres.
  5. One cubic meter is 1,000 litres, so a metric tonne of CO2 occupies 556.14 cubic meters.
  6. Rogers Centre’s volume is 1,600,000 m3, so divide that by 556.14 to get 2,877.[/stextbox]

Next time someone tells you natural gas is clean, ask them if that’s so then why did it generate enough waste to fill up Rogers Centre, a 46,100-seat baseball stadium, with CO2 21 times over on July 18.

And here is a bonus fact. You may recall that Germany’s CO2 waste from combustible-fueled power generators was 325 million tons in 2011. Well, those 325 million tonnes of German power plant CO2 could have filled up the Rogers Centre more than 112,900 times.

That was one year’s worth of Germany power plant CO2.

By contrast, all the nuclear plants in Canada have generated enough waste to fill six NHL hockey rinks up to the height of the boards. Well, a typical NHL hockey rink is 200 feet by 85 feet (according to the NHL). That works out to 17,000 square feet (actually less—you have to allow for the curved edges at either end; I won’t bother with the calculus). According to Rogers, the Rogers Centre has 143,000 square feet of exhibit space at field level. That’s more than eight NHL hockey rinks.

Pile half a century’s worth of used nuclear fuel bundles from all of Canada’s reactors up to the level of a typical NHL hockey rink’s boards, i.e., up to about low chest height, and you would cover Rogers Centre at field level… once.

Ontario’s gas plants were dumping one whole Rogers Centre’s worth, which is far far higher than chest height, of gaseous waste in a single hour last July.

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James Greenidge
10 years ago

Why can’t educational gems like this get out into the public to do nuclear energy some good???

James Greenidge
Queens NY

10 years ago

Why all that gas you speak of, otherwise known as methane, was it anything to do with low winds? After all isn’t that the reason they brought in the “natural” gas. It burns when the windmills stop working. They stop working when the wind slows and when the wind is too strong. But on the really hot days nuclear takes over. Why’s that? Does that make the anti-nuke greens full of hot air? Forget the banning of coal that was already in the works how about banning “natural” gas?

Morgan Brown
10 years ago

The total net (i.e. delivered to the grid) nuclear electrical production in Canada is 2.68 billion MWhe from June 4 1962 to June 30 2013 (my best estimate, compared to 2.64 billion MWhe to Dec 31 2012, from the IAEA’s PRIS).

If one assumes this electricity would otherwise have been generated by fossil fuel (a valid assumption) and assume 0.5 tonnes of CO2 per MWhe generated by natural gas (double that for coal), then the total Canadian nuclear generation is equivalent to the avoidance of >1.3 billion tonnes of CO2. In Ontario, the avoided fossil generation would have been largely coal rather than gas, if nuclear had not been available.

Based on 2877 tonnes CO2/Rogers Centre, the total net Canadian nuclear generation is equivalent to the volume of CO2 that would fill at least 465,000 Rogers Centres!