Comments by Jim Baird Subscribe

On We Need More Energy Innovation: But What Does That Actually Mean?

Highest ranked amongst the eight climate risks identified by the IPCC in its 2014 Summary for Policymakers, (page 13) is: Risk of death, injury, ill-health, and disrupted livelihoods in low-lying coastal zones and small island developing states and other small islands, due to storm surges, coastal flooding, and sea -level rise.

This risk as well as the other 7 plus the one identified by the team lead by Boris Worm of Dalhousie, which was reinforced last week by a British study showing that climate change may deprive the atmosphere of as much as two-thirds of the oxygen we breath are all mitigated by producing energy by moving surface ocean heat to deeper water through heat engines that have the capability of producing as much energy as the world annually derives from fossil fuels.

Global warming is 93 percent ocean warming and most of that is surface warming in the tropics which then migrates towards the poles to melt ice and permafrost or is converted to mechanical energy in the form of storms that create the threat the IPCC has acknowledged.

The ocean abyss is an alternative heat sink into which the heat of warming can be moved to create beneficial mechanical energy. That which is not converted would no longer be available to melt anything near the poles or produce tropical storms.

Unless you address 93 percent of the problem you can't make much impact.

On the other hand by addressing the problem correctly you can cool the ocean surface and the atmosphere and sequester CO2 all at the same time.  

If we are serious about addressing climate change, is the crux of the matter?

December 10, 2015    View Comment    

On COP 21: A Pathway for 1.5°C

Sea level rise has three components all of which are mitigated by producing energy moving surface ocean heat to the deep through heat engines. The first is thermal expansion as the oceans heat up. The coefficient of expansion of sea water at 1000 meters is half that of the tropical surface thus this component of sea level rise is also halved by moving surface heat to deeper water. The greatest long-term sea level threat is melting of the polar icecaps and here too heat moved to the deep is no longer available to melt ice. And the final component is the movement of terrestrial fossil water into the sea as a result of aquifer pumping. To get OTEC power to shore, in most cases, requires the conversion of electricity to an energy carrier like hydrogen by electrolysis. Utilized to its maximum potential OTEC would convert 15 cubic kilometers worth of sea water to gas each year and then back to water on land as the hydrogen is used to produce energy. This could provide 600 gallons annually for every individual on the planet and greatly reduce the need for aquifer pumping. And if you want CCS, the14 terawatts of primary energy  use to produce the energy/water carrier hydrogen using the “supergreen” electrolysis technique developed by a team from Lawrence Livermore Laboratories would sequester 79 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. 

There are faux answers to climate change and then real ones based on the science.  

December 10, 2015    View Comment    

On On the Importance of Clean Energy Innovation and Deployment: Improving Messaging for Clean Energy and Climate Advocates

"If u believe climate change is an urgent global priority, making clean energy as cheap as possible over time key to accelerating deployment."

The Lowest Cost Renewable Energy Comes With a 2000 Percent Environmental Dividend

 

December 9, 2015    View Comment    

On On the Importance of Clean Energy Innovation and Deployment: Improving Messaging for Clean Energy and Climate Advocates

The real valley of death lies on the conservative side of the innovation valley of death.

A British study released last week shows that climate change may deprive the atmosphere of as much as two-thirds of the oxygen we breathe. As was suggested in this forum nearly 3 years ago, the problem stems from the fact thermal stratification of the oceans is cutting phytoplankton, which produce most of our atmospheric oxygen and are the base of the ocean food chain, off from the nutrients they need to survive. Moving surface heat to deeper water reduces this stratification and would produce gentle upwelling that would mitigate the phytoplankton nutrient problem. When that movement is through heat engines, which emit no carbon emissions, the same amount of energy as is currently derived from fossil fuels can be produced and the atmosphere is cooled.

No other energy technology can equal the environmental benefits afforded by this technology yet the R&D being expended is negligible.



 

December 9, 2015    View Comment    

On Energy on the Edge: Understanding the Challenge

Alternative energy that can reverse the damage that has been done - in the late 1970s a team from the Applied Physics Laboratory of Johns Hopkins University estimated that the surface water temperature of the oceans, and therefore the lower atmosphere, would be reduced by 1 degree Celsius each decade through the production of 5 terawatts of OTEC power.

To get this energy to market, in most cases, requires the conversion of the electricity to an energy carrier like hydrogen. The oceans have the capacity to produce 14 terawatts of OTEC power. Using the “supergreen” electrolysis technique developed by a team from Lawrence Livermore Laboratories would sequester about 79 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. 

Both the damage done is reversed and the worse consequence of global warming, sea level rise and storm surge, are mitigated.

Win/win/win. 

December 1, 2015    View Comment    

On Can Humanity Coexist With Rising CO2 Levels?

Without additional efforts to reduce GHG emissions beyond those in place today, emissions growth is expected to persist driven by growth in global population and economic activities. Baseline scenarios, those without additional mitigation, result in global mean surface temperature increases in 2100 from 3.7 °C to 4.8 °C compared to pre-industrial levels (median values; the range is 2.5 °C to 7.8 °C when including climate uncertainty, see Table SPM.1)11 (high confidence). The emission scenarios collected for this assessment represent full radiative forcing including GHGs, tropospheric ozone, aerosols and albedo change. Baseline scenarios (scenarios without explicit additional efforts to constrain emissions) exceed 450 parts per million (ppm) CO2eq by 2030 and reach CO2eq concentration levels between 750 and more than 1300 ppm CO2eq by 2100. This is similar to the range in atmospheric concentration levels between the RCP 6.0 and RCP 8.5 pathways in 2100.12 For comparison, the CO2eq concentration in 2011 is estimated to be 430 ppm (uncertainty range 340 – 520 ppm)13. [6.3, Box TS.6; WGI Figure SPM.5, WGI 8.5, WGI 12.3]

Page 9 

November 14, 2015    View Comment    

On Can Humanity Coexist With Rising CO2 Levels?

In all honesty Mark I took the SPM statement at face value. My interest is in the production of energy that can zero out atmospheric temperature rise an mitigate the two greatest risks of climate change - sea level rise and storm surge. To my mind speculation as to the what might be does little to solve the problem.

 

November 13, 2015    View Comment    

On Differentiation, Financial Support, and the Paris Climate Talks

The key to unraveling this conundrum is a realistic energy substitute that prevents most of the loss and damage from climate change, which forecloses the need for restitution, and  fulfills the energy needs of the developed and emerging nations alike. Both the developing and industrialized world need to grow their economies using energy that mitigates the cause and effect of climate change.

Ocean thermal energy conversion saps the energy of the storms that damages vulnerable countries and diminishes sea level rise - the other great threat - in three ways:

  • surface ocean heat moved to 1000 meters expands ocean water half as much as it does at the surface,
  • tropical heat moved to the ocean abyss no longer is available to move to the poles where it melts icecaps, and
  • the production of hydrogen as an energy carrier for ocean derived power can transfer as much as 15 cubic kilometers of ocean volume to land annually.

Electrolysis of sea water with the technique developed by Lawrence Livermore Laboratories also has the potential to sequester as much as 79 billion metric tons of atmospheric CO2 annually with result climate change is tackled at its root as well as with respect to its major consequences.

It will be far more productive for the developed nations to provide emerging nations with energy that mitigates the climate problem than to pay them reparations that will have limited remedial impact on the environment or the threats they face.

 

November 13, 2015    View Comment    

On Desalination Gets a Graphene Boost

(Duplicate?)

November 13, 2015    View Comment    

On Desalination Gets a Graphene Boost

Hydrogen is as much a water carrier as an energy carrier. To get the 14 terawatts of power the oceans are capable of producing with OTEC to shore requires the conversion of the electricity to an energy/water carrier.  This 14 TW would convert 16 trillion kg of ocean water (15 cubic kilometers) to gas and when that 1.8 trillion kgs/year of hydrogen was converted back to energy on land it is the equivalent of 600 gallons annually for every individual on the planet.

If that conversion was done with the supergreen hydrogen technique devleoped by Lawrence Livermore, 79 billion metric tons of CO2 would also be removed from the atmosphere annually.

Win/win/win.

November 13, 2015    View Comment    

On Sharing the Road to Zero Emissions, Part 1: More ZEVs Provide Customer Choice

Morry, as I pointed out here, converting the heat accumulating due to global warming - principally in the ocean - to power and moving the balance to the deep may be the only way we can meet commitments to keeping to a less than a 2C temperature increase. To get this ocean generated energy to market however requires the conversion of electricity to an energy carrier. There are strong arguments that this carrier should be ammonia but like you I favor hydrogen because it is as much a water carrier as and energy carrier and there is a more concerted effort in the automobile industry for its use.

There is a real climate case to be made for hydrogen but as Bob points out that is undercut by steam reforming of methane. Electrolysis of sea water using OTEC power on the other hand may well be a do or die situation. 

The most efficient way to produce compressed hydrogen is to perform electrolysis in deep water. When performed at a depth of 1000 meters, as would be the case in an OTEC situation, the gas arrives at the surface pressurized to 100 bar. 

Full capacity OTEC -14 terawatts – using the “supergreen” electrolysis technique developed by a team from Lawrence Livermore Laboratories would also sequester about 79 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide each year.  

That amount of power would produce 1.8 trillion kilograms of hydrogen through the electrolysis of 16 trillion kilograms of water and this hydrogen, when reconstituted on land through the production of energy in a fuel cell or by burning in a combustion engine, would provide every person living on the planet 600 gallons of water annually.

A widely-used model estimates the social cost of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions at $326 trillion by 2200.

One example of the driver for these these cost was Hurricane Patricia, the strongest Pacific Hurricane ever to reach land.

The heat that powered that and like storms when driven to a depth of 1000 meters would no longer be available to cause havoc and the coefficient of expansion of sea water at that depth is half that of the surface so sea level rise would also be reduced.  

A new University of Cambridge study shows that melting permafrost will release sufficient carbon dioxide and methane to increase that cost by an additional $43 trillion.

Tropical heat moved to the deep also can no longer move to the poles to melt icecaps or permafrost.

Technology that slows or reverses global warming can not only prevent these losses it is the strongest incentive for the development of a hydrogen economy.

November 10, 2015    View Comment    

On Canadian Climate Policy and Your Vote

Mark, it will be interesting to see if a new government has any interest in keeping to Canada' s commitment to maintaining global temperature increases below 2C. There is a real opportunity to expand the Canadian economy through the implementation of homegrown technology that allows Canada and 113 co-signatories to the Copenhagen Accord to keep to those commitments. It takes more than just the government however to move on the opportunity.

October 19, 2015    View Comment