1 Stopping Climate Change by Replacing Fossil Fuels
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Stopping Climate Change by Replacing Fossil Fuels with Equivalent Biofuels
Energy Systems in the face of Climate
Change, Rising Energy Demand, and Legacy Infrastructure.
Climate Change is a chemistry problem. Guidance for Evolving
Our Energy Systems in the face of Climate Change, Rising Energy Demand, and Legacy Infrastructure.
This web site is connecting the technology dots to a
better energy future than we could ever obtain from just windmills and solar
This is likely the world's most complex web site banner.
It could be described as a tableau-like graphic presentation of the main players in the epic struggle to stop the growth of Climate Change. To an explanation of the above banner. >
Over the last ten years or so this web site has evolved into a rather different concept for ending Climate Change. When I began writing it, I was thinking of my work experiences between 1956 and 1996 - 40 years in the electrical utility and heavy industry application area.
(Below) Modern civilization's major energy components
(Below) A directory sketch showing the interconnections of the major components that make up our energy systems.
Above: Chapter Index Diagram From IPCC Energy Systems
Chapter 7, Figure 7.1, Page 519.
ipcc_wg3_ar5_chapter7.pdf (88 Pages)
(Below) How today's modern industrial civilization uses it's energy
(Below) Adding Unconventional Oil, Thorium, and a portion of the actual known amount of Uranium
The following image is an overview of the energy resources currently available to man. Manufacturing synthetic combustion fire molecules using energy from the fission of uranium and thorium appears feasible from an energy resource viewpoint.
The image above began as the basic IPCC presentation of Global Energy sources and uses (located above). Your author added the user icons, unconventional oils, thorium (blue), and the big yellow rectangle which represents a fraction of the recoverable uranium dissolved in sea water (3.3 micrograms per liter of seawater, recoverable at 3 to 10 times the current cost of mined uranium - depending upon who you ask).
(Below) How the United States uses it's energy
(Above) In 2012, the United States used about 1/5 of the world's 524 Quads of energy.
How big a job would it be to replace fossil fuels with
Example Project 1:
Converting Taichung, the world's largest source of carbon dioxide, to nuclear.
The global energy produced in 2012 was 524 quads. 1 quad = 293,297,222 megaWatt-hours [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quad_(unit) ]
One ThorCon "Dual-core" reactor can pump out 500 megaWatts 24/7/365/4. 500 mW x 8,760 hours/year = 4,380,000 mW-h/year per reactor.
293,297,222 megaWatt-hours per quad x 524 quads for 2012 = 153,687,744,328 mW-h, ÷ 4,380,000 mW-h/year per reactor = 35,088 reactors.
It would take 35,088 ThorCon "Dual-core" reactor modules to replace all the global energy - coal, oil, gas, etc., - produced in 2012.
This gives us a very rough idea of what needs to be achieved by 2050 if we are to grow beyond fossil fuels.
Example Project 1: Converting Taichung, the world's largest source of carbon dioxide, to nuclear. >
(Below) How the world's energy is broken down into Heat and Electricity
Looking at the "Energy Use" and "Climate
Change Gasses" charts above, the gasses chart shows we can't completely stop the
progress of Climate Change by simply ending fossil fuel fires. Almost 1/2
of Climate Change has nothing to do with fire. A very inconvenient truth.
In the U.S., near zero oil is used to make electricity, 38 % of natural gas, and 92 % of coal is burned to make electricity.
Stopping Climate Change
depends, in part, upon ending most
of the combustion (burning) of the fossil fuels coal, oil, and natural gas.
Unfortunately, civilization cannot survive without the heat currently being provided by coal, oil, and natural gas. Yet, to stop Climate Changes caused by fossil fuels, these fossil fuels must be replaced during a "Decarbonization Era" with equivalent or greater amounts of heat from carbon-neutral or carbon-negative fuel equivalents.
The only sources of energy large enough to enable mankind to economically manufacture equivalent carbon-neutral combustion fire for thousands of years would be uranium and thorium fission and, perhaps eventually, nuclear fusion. A pound of uranium contains about 3 million times the energy of a pound of coal.
Your author regards the CO2-neutral portion of the Methanol Economy described by Nobel-prize winning chemist Dr. George Olah, et al, in 2006 and the nuclear powered biomass sourcing of carbon-neutral CO2 as described by Dr. Charles W. Forsberg as being feasible. If powered by advanced nuclear fission, the Decarbonization Era for moving away from fossil fuels could begin soon.
Dr. Olah's book begins rooted in fossil fuels and the reality mankind will burn through them in the not too distant future. By chapter 7, he addresses fossil fuels and climate change and by chapter 8, renewable energy sources and atomic energy.
Coal: Everyone has understood since about 1960 that coal has been made economically and environmentally obsolete by nuclear fission. During the Decarbonization Era, the largest of the existing coal burning power plants will have to have their coal boilers repowered with equivalent advanced nuclear boilers. This will both speed the energy transition and minimize its cost.
As was the case with the first steam engine developed by Newcomen in the early 1700s, and replaced 70 years later by the Watt steam engine (still in use today) our first choice of nuclear engines, the 550°F water cooled BWR and PWR nuclear reactor engines have not proven to be the optimal choice either in safety or thermal efficiency.
Now, 70 years later, the world is putting the finishing touches on several very different nuclear fission engines that have the worst of nuclear's hazards designed out of them. Hotter, thus more efficient than the 550°F water cooled reactors, these advanced reactors deliver their heat at coal's 1,300°F to 1,750°F. These are temperatures that equal or exceed fire and are hot enough to efficiently heat the chemical processes needed to make a large variety of methanol-based fire fuels out of CO2 captured from the air.
Oil and gas: Replacing oil and natural gas will involve a similar rebuilding of energy fuel infrastructure. Like oil refineries, carbon-neutral methanol refineries will be huge. Their new generation high temperature fission reactors will be centrally located in underground silos to supply the massive amounts of heat necessary to transform CO2 captured either from the air or biosources into non-climate changing liquid and gas combustion fuels.
(Above) Exxon Mobil oil refinery in Texas. There are 137 oil refineries in the United States, about 700 in the World.
(Below) The Nuclear-Hydrogen-Biomass Liquid-Fuel Cycle.
(Below) As you can see, Climate Change has many aspects. This web site explores the mitigation aspect.
What is this web site suggesting?
Position: Climate Change is real - not a major existential
threat to humanity - but much more than an annoyance.
The goal is to provide enough cheap clean energy - both electricity and combustion fuels - for everyone in the world to live well.
Fossil fuels - coal, oil, and natural gas - are no longer essential for powering mankind's energy economies.
1. Nuclear offers low cost electricity, carbon-neutral vehicle combustion fuels,
and carbon-neutral residential heat.
(Click to enlarge >)
Nuclear waste disposal using the Woods Hole - Sub-Seabed Waste Solution - 96.10.pdf Oceanographic Institution's suggestions along with the idea of a repository in the ice-free land part of the Antarctic https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McMurdo_Dry_Valleys are advocated.
Nuclear barges offer a way to quickly repower to nuclear the existing 1,200 mega-coal power plants that produce about 1/3 of all CO2.
4. Wind and solar make more sense for isolated villages
than for mega-population complexes like the coasts of the U.S. and China.
80% of the world's population lives within 60 miles of a sea coast, a natural economic, physical, and market location for nuclear.
3. Carbon capture will work but will always be more expensive per Watt than
the emerging next generation of advanced nuclear reactors.
If we decided to salvage some of the old EPA-outlawed coal power plants to get them back on-line, we could get a 5 to 8 year head start into the era of decarbonization by adding small less expensive gas exhaust carbon capture boilers for baseload electricity along with occasionally using the plant's original coal boilers for peak electrical power bursts. Gas is cheaper to carbon capture than oil.
4. Carbon captured biofuels provide an economically viable path to sucking CO2 back out of the air.
5. Nuclear's energy can be efficiently packaged in carbon-neutral CO2-based synthetic methanol vehicle and methane heating gas fuels.
6. Mega-cities will need mega size nuclear powered flash desalinators. 1,500 oil powered flash desalinators are already in use in the Mideast. The United Arab Emirates are currently building nuclear powered electricity plants and are investigating combined electricity + flash desalination plants.
Many Anti-Climate Change activists are also Anti-nuclear. There is no other source of energy at hand other than nuclear fission capable of making the carbon-neutral combustion fuels necessary to replace fossil fuels and the world will not give up the thousands of different kinds of life-sustaining heat applications now being obtained from fossil fuels.
In their order of impact on CO2 emissions, this web site examines technologies currently at hand to stop Climate Change:
1. Replacing the coal burning boilers on the world's
existing power plants with
Advanced Nuclear steam generators.
2. Using Biofuel Energy Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) or small nuclear energy for most cogeneration applications.
3. Retrofitting modular natural gas fired carbon capture boiler/exhaust systems to existing coal power plant generation units 300 megaWatts or smaller.
4. Using advanced nuclear micro-reactors to duplicate industrial size fossil fuel fires.
5. Removing Climate Changing CO2 directly from the air with nuclear powered combination air scrubbing machines/power plants to provide CO2 as combustion fuel feedstock.
These systems are not from that twilight zone between science and fiction. There are technical papers associated with many of the systems, others are products in development by private companies, while still others are suggestions by your author extending ideas of others. All are clearly labeled.
Virtually all the devices you will find in this web site have been developed by extremely competent engineers over the last decade or so, many by the folks at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). The entire world owes them a debt of gratitude.
Are there any items relating to ending Climate Change unique to your author and this web site? Yes.
1. Stumbling across and recognizing the
value of the comparatively small number of coal burning power plants that need
to be upgraded to nuclear to end about 1/3 of all Climate Change emissions.
2. The extremely hot heat one can obtain from the combustion of fossil fuels in an oxyfuel carbon-capturing environment can provide the carbon neutral fuel manufacturing tools of hydrogen gas through thermal water splitting and ambient air CO2 capture.
3. Understanding when carbon captured natural gas makes more sense than nuclear for powering certain advanced energy applications.
4. Stumbling across and recognizing the value of the Woods Hole solution and several other solutions to disposing the nuclear waste created when nuclear fuels make more sense than natural gas.
- Jim Holm
Footnotes & Links