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On CCS Breakthrough: sCO2 Power Cycles Offer Improved Efficiency and Integrated Carbon Capture

The NET Power plants are rated to be slightly more efficient than today's state of the art NGCC plants, at over 50% efficiency, and that includes free carbon capture.

CO2 pipelines will be needed for CCUS in general. Today we have over 4000 miles of CO2 pipelines in use in the USA. Large scale carbon capture will require a continent-wide pipeline infrascructure, on order of 40,000 miles. While this a big piece of work, it is feasible and it is historically comparable to other large infrastructure networks that have been successfully built such as rail, telecom, power grid, and gas pipelines.  

The key for carbon capture to be economic is to find beneficial uses for CO2 that provide positive market demand for the molecules. Treating carbon capture as waste disposal is sure to be an economic failure. CO2 has many uses from oil and gas recovery, to use in turbines to replace steam as described in this article, for heating and cooling, chemicals, and even being recycled back into fuels.

November 18, 2014    View Comment    

On Underground Coal Gasification Gets New Start in USA

What comes out of the ground is syngas, CO-H, which is then put through various cleanup processes including acid gas removal where the CO2 is scrubbed out (captured). Linc is seeking to sell their CO2 and assuming they do then this process is effective at helping reduce CO2 emissions.

Alternatively if they combust the syngas to produce electricity with minimal gas cleanup then the emissions are not really improved over burning coal directly.

Gasification processes in general are very good at improving emissions (both criteria and carbon) since all the scrubbing technology is readily available, but of course the scrubbers need to be employed, which is not always guaranteed depending on the end use, country and regulatory regime.

November 13, 2014    View Comment    

On Is Small-Scale GTL the Next Big Thing?

Bob, hydrocarbon fuels are not going away, no matter how much climate activists wish they were. To deal with CO2 emissions we need a robust carbon capture and utilization infrastructure (as well as efficiency, renewables and nukes). Beyond that we can at least optimize around clean fuels so that we are not poisoning ourselves with toxic pollution. Pure methane, which LNG is, is completely non-toxic and renewable, and we have the cleanup technologies already available to produce synthetic and renewable fuels equally clean from dirty feedstocks.

November 7, 2014    View Comment    

On Is Small-Scale GTL the Next Big Thing?

F-T fuels are the highest performing liquid hydrocarbon and enable the best engine efficiencies, which is why they are favored in races such as the 24 Hours at Le Mans. The US Air Force has tested F-T jet fuel for decades and it consistently receives the highest grades.

It is important to maximize conversion efficiencies and efficiencies everywhere, no one argues against this. But conversion processes are all about turning raw materials that can not be utilized in their raw state and turning them into a refined final product that someone can use. GTL is part of a family of conversion technologies, in this case using methane as a feedstock, but any carbon based material can be used, bio or fossil, no matter how contaminated or dirty, they get cleaned up and converted into the highest grades of useful fuels. This is a good thing.

November 7, 2014    View Comment    

On Is Small-Scale GTL the Next Big Thing?

CHP is great, I am a supporter of it, but this discussion is about transport fuels.

Landfills already exist and are venting methane today, this is a problem that must be managed and harvesting the methane for fuel is clearly one of the best things to do. Of course we should be diverting organics into digesters, which would also produce methane for fuel.

Organics and food waste are a robust resource for renewable natural gas, the numbers are by no means trivial. The best analysis I have seen estimates conservatively that 17-18% of our natural gas supply could be bio-based, these are substantial quantities. This is shown in real world examples, Clean Energy Fuels, the leading retail supplier of LNG/CNG for transportation supplies 17% of its product from landfill gas. Beyond landfills every sewage treatment plant and farm could support digesters producing renewable natural gas, there is a lot of RNG to be had and it is considered by the EPA to be carbon negative, the only carbon negative transport fuel.


November 7, 2014    View Comment    

On Is Small-Scale GTL the Next Big Thing?

double post

November 7, 2014    View Comment    

On Is Small-Scale GTL the Next Big Thing?

Bob, I do not have specific data on carbon emissions from the conversion process, but the final diesel product will have the same carbon content as petrol diesel. Refining crude oil has its own carbon emissions as well that must be compared.

But I will reiterate, Velocys is using landfill gas, at least on one project. This is biomethane and that means dramatically lower net carbon emissions. And biomass is ripe to be used as a feedstock on these processes so there are numerous pathways to reduce carbon impact.

Secondly, these processes are all carbon capture ready. When they do their gas cleanup CO2 is already being separated out, so it is very straightforard to upgrade fischer-tropsch and related conversion processes for carbon capture and utilization, and in the long run that is what we will need to be doing.

Finally, CO2 is not the only emission we should be concerning ourselves about. Removing criteria pollutants that are toxic and cause thousands of deaths every year is a very worthwhile undertaking, even if CO2 emissions are left constant.

November 7, 2014    View Comment    

On Is Small-Scale GTL the Next Big Thing?

Max, I simply do not agree with you. Conversion processes such as GTL enable us to clean up dirty feedstocks and turn them into ultrapure fuels, such as the jar of synthetic jet fuel/diesel in the picture. The public health improvements that arise from removing pollutants from our fuels are clear and obvious. These conversion processes are not limited to natural gas either, they work just as well for biomass, garbage, coal, petcoke, petroleum, etc, the pollutants (sulfur, heavy metals, nitrogen) are removed and CO2 can be captured.

Natural gas (methane) is non toxic and suitable for burning indoors and cooking our food on. Anytime we can switch out dirty coal or petroleum for natural gas pollution and public health is improved. The advantage GTL offers for natural gas is that it expands the market for clean fuels, particularly for jet fuel and diesel that are used in bulk quantities for high horsepower applications and not suitable for electrification.

Methane is also renewable, the big project Velocys is moving ahead on is using landfill gas. This is methane that is a naturally occuring greenhouse gas and is now being converted into petroleum replacements for which there are few other options. What is wrong with that?

Do you have a better option for aviation than converting biomethane into jet fuel? There are some other options but this is certainly one of the best.

November 7, 2014    View Comment    

On Energy Quote of the Day: 'Natural Gas is Often Described as a Bridge Fuel. How Long Should that Bridge Be?'

Natural gas with carbon capture is not a bridge but the destination.

November 6, 2014    View Comment    

On Are Declining Oil Prices Increasing the Risks to OPEC, U.S. Energy Security or Clean Fuels Supplies?

The Saudis et al are certainly in competition with US shale oil as well and would like to undercut it. For US policy makers low oil prices are a trade-off between US producers who lose and US consumers who benefit. 

October 23, 2014    View Comment    

On Are Declining Oil Prices Increasing the Risks to OPEC, U.S. Energy Security or Clean Fuels Supplies?

John, this is a very good analysis, if reduced oil prices are sustained it will have significant near term impacts on all alternative fuel efforts for transportation. There is a tight cost-benefit analysis that must be considered for any vehicle or fleet owner considering switching to natural gas or electric, so fleet owners may slow down conversions.

I would point out the overtly political nature of the Saudi's actions to maintain high production and market share in the face of falling prices. The Saudi's, Iraq, UAE, Kuwait are all US allies working together on this, and the action is clearly intended to hurt their adversaries in Russia and Iran who are more dependent on high oil prices to meet their budgets. It is no coincidence that this is happening during a period of open conflict and war.

For Americans, this results in lowered gasoline prices and a bump in the wallet for all drivers. I drive a lot and appreciate it myself. But as pointed out, this will slow down transition to a better fuel system. This should also remind us all of how insecure our fuel supplies are, which are dependent on international events that are completely outside our citizens control.

One of the best reasons to convert to electric and natural gas transport is that it is all domestically produced and not subject to the gyrations of international geopolitics.

October 23, 2014    View Comment    

On The Case for Electric Vehicles, Part 2: EV Costs

I would agree with Clayton below, the new Tesla Model D is taking on the McLaren F1 for 0-60 performance. 3.2 seconds can't be ignored and will get better. And battery swap is faster than filling a tank of liquids, so in a race scenario with battery swap allowed it would be an unfair advantage for the EV versus an ICE.

I don't see battery pack weights being a problem, in the Tesla the battery mounted on the underside of the frame lowers the center of gravity and improves the handling. Plus so many heavy components have been removed, engine, transmission, radiator, exhaust system, etc. So I think the weight issue is a wash.

The relevant calculation for comparing fuel costs is to compare vehicles of like size and weight and see what it costs to move them, I think that is basically what the eGallon does. Using fleet averages or assumptions about vehicle choice makes for apples and oranges.

For air pollution, I don't explicit numbers either, but not all vehicles have modern engines or are in good maintenance. I am a big proponent of natural gas for heavy duty vehicles since a big part of reducing pollution is to have cleaner fuels, synfuels are good in this regard as well. But even natural gas has some emissions, particularly when the engine is out of tune and it doesn't take a lot of data to see that zero emissions will result in big improvements in air quality.

October 17, 2014    View Comment