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1  Unneeded Old Coal Power Plant          2  New Electricity Generator Building       
3  Power Plant Choices          3a  Pilot Plant Power          3b  Carbon Capture Power          3c  NuScale Nuclear Reactor          3d  ThorCon Nuclear Reactor          3e  General Atomics Nuclear Reactor         

4  Hydrogen and Steam Generators          5  Biomass Preparation          6  Plasma Torch Biomass Gasifier          7  Biosynfuel Refinery          8  Biosynfuel Product Processes

Introductory Tour:
A surplus coal power plant site re-equipped to be a Clean Energy Park


The largest portion of civilization's mechanical energy will always be sourced either directly or indirectly from heat engines.
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             Click for individual equipment pages>       1      2      3      4      5      6      7      8      Back-arrow returns you to here.

Using Carbon-captured or Nuclear Energy to Replace Fossil Fuels with Biosynfuels

Setting the scene for coal2nuclear and Clean Energy Parks.

The basic thinking behind the coal2nuclear or Clean Energy Park concept is that the unneeded coal power plant site is unneeded because it is burning coal. Not because it's electricity has been completely replaced by windmills. Typically, only about 1/3 of an electrical grid can be powered by intermittent wind before it runs into stability problems. The typical cure for this is to add fast-responding gas turbine generation connected in a combined cycle generation configuration. Unlike coal and large nuclear, gas turbines - which are actually aeroderivative jet airplane engines - can increase and decrease their power output very rapidly to compensate for the wind surges and lulls of large wind farms also connected to the same electricity grid.

Aeroderivative combined cycle gas turbine power plants, physically much smaller than the coal power plant's equipment for the same electricity output, can often be installed on the same site adjacent to the unneeded coal power plant and use some of the site's now unneeded electrical equipment to transmit it's electricity to the same load via the existing grid.

Already under construction in Idaho, and due to first come on line in 2019, is the first of the next generation nuclear reactors - the NuScale. Physically and electrically much smaller than the nuclear power plants in use today, it, like the aeroderivative gas turbine, is electrically agile and capable of providing stabilizing "fill-in" electricity to grids being fed by large amounts of wind and solar electricity. Think of that surge of power you feel as the jet airplane you are riding in begins it's take-off run.

The nuclear safety zone surrounding the NuScale nuclear plant is much smaller than the nuclear power plants in use today, making the construction of next generation nuclear plants adjacent to unneeded coal power plants on the same site feasible.

 

A Quick Tour Around The Clean Energy Park

1      Existing Coal Power Plant Sites: The image in the top banner depicts the starting point of perhaps the only feasible way 10 billion people can power an affluent modern life without creating more CO2.  The banner below it depicts an unneeded medium size coal power plant site converted to manufacture the basic energies needed to power affluent modern life - i.e., one where machines, not slaves, do most of life's grunt work without creating more CO2.

This industrial facility is called an "Energy Park". It's power - it's source of heat and electricity - is an advanced Small Modular Reactor (SMR) - unlike the nuclear reactors in use today. An energy park's products are electricity and carbon-neutral gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, methanol, and perhaps synthetic "natural" gas.

Existing coal power plant sites: already have the "Right Stuff" to manufacture and transmit electricity and the railroad, land, etc., facilities necessary to support the addition of equipment needed  to manufacture carbon-neutral combustion fuels.  (Check out the banner immediately above.) In some cases the coal part of the coal power plant will have already been decommissioned, the coal in the coal yard used up, making additional land available, the workers jobs terminated and the workers will be beginning to move away. A terrible loss since many possess skills and site knowledge that could form the maintenance cadre of an Energy Park's staff.

Existing coal power plants will soon be for sale very cheap all over the world and should be snapped up by energy companies interested in powering the world of the future. Worldwide, there are over 50,000 coal power plants, some 5,000 to 10,000 of them should be excellent candidates for upgrading into Clean Energy Parks. Medium size coal power plants tend to be located in areas with good access to biomass - rural for woody plants and agwaste, cities for garbage (MSW or Metropolitan Solid Waste) and sewage. Small coal power plants generally have sites and resources too small - and large coal power plants often have too much equipment in a tight site already. Growth space is provided by the existing coal storage area - something oil and natural gas power plants may not have.

2      New Electricity Generator Building:  Just as it is with buying an automobile where the engine, transmission, driveline and everything else are optimized for each other, the days of building nuclear reactors from an assortment of non-interoptimized components from lowest bidders are long gone.

3      SMRs or "Small Modular Reactors": There are a dazzling variety of over 50 different nuclear reactors on the drawing boards today, almost all SMRs, - SMRs are capable of producing amounts of electricity ranging from 5 megaWatts to 300 megaWatts, making heat at temperatures ranging from 550 degrees F to 900F, to 1,300F, to 1,800 degrees F, powered by both of the common natural nuclear fuels - uranium and thorium along with dozens of different blends of those two plus synthetic isotopes such as the plutoniums, and cooled by water, molten metallic sodium, a special kind of metallic lead, helium and carbon dioxide gas, in addition to several different kinds of molten salt, flowing thick and bright white-hot, looking for all the world like hot lava freshly thrown out of a volcano.

The particular nuclear reactor that has been chosen to power this Energy Park seems to be the best fit at this time. It's actually four 4-year exchangeable 250 mW SMRs-in-a-can, 2 connected in tandem and running, and 2 depleted used cans stored next to them letting the last of their radioactivity decay prior to being sent back to the factory for recycling. Check out ThorCon at: http://thorconpower.com/   

4      Hydrogen and Steam Generators: The steam generators and their associated water treatment systems will come as standard components in the nuclear power plant package. Hydrogen generators are not part of a nuclear electricity plant. Here is where we do something unthinkable if our electricity came from feeble, unreliable windmills - we use a big chunk of that nuclear electricity to make a lot of 1,800F heat to power the sulfur-iodine thermochemical process of splitting water into oxygen and hydrogen.

5      Biomass Preparation:  Sewage, Garbage (Municipal Solid Waste), Agwaste (Manure, Corn Stover, Wood Pellets, and a thousand other plant things that make up Biomass), Black Liquor (the wood lignin waste product from paper making. Paper mills make a lot of it and they power themselves with it now. They will have to repower with tiny nuclear reactors.)

6      Plasma Gasifier: Carbon-neutral (or Net-zero CO2) fuel means that when these combustion fuels are burned they do not add additional CO2 to the environment. If you think about the implications of the park's hotter than the sun (over 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit) plasma gasifier reducing garbage's molecular components to their basic atoms and embedded metals to stratified molten slag along with recycling carbon in the form of CO2, you may come to realize Clean Energy parks are a major gateway to an environmentally clean future where everything that passes through the gasifier - plant and mineral - becomes sustainable feedstock for future use.

7      Catalytic Biosynfuel Refinery:  The experts say "Use nuclear power to make methanol." I understand and believe them.

8      Carbon-neutral Direct Replacement Liquid Fuels:  A look at a few popular combustion fuels - methanol, gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, natural gas (methane) - and how carbon-neutral versions can be synthesized economically.

 

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Footnotes & Links

 

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