Now what is ‘death train’ Hansen going to do? Clean coal process developed to extract energy without burning or CO2

From James Hansen’s, Bill McKibben’s and Joe Romm’s worst nightmare department, comes this uplifting science story from the Ohio State University. Basically they found a way to oxidize coal and extract energy without releasing any CO2.

When a team of Ohio State students worked around the clock for nine days straight recently, they weren’t pulling the typical college “all-nighters.”

Instead, they were reaching a milestone in clean coal technology.

For 203 continuous hours, they operated a scaled-down version of a power plant combustion system with a unique experimental design–one that chemically converts coal to heat while capturing 99 percent of the carbon dioxide produced in the reaction.

This new technology, called coal-direct chemical looping, was pioneered by Liang-Shih Fan, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and director of Ohio State’s Clean Coal Research Laboratory. (Fan is a Distinguished University Professor and a 2012 Innovator of the Year.)

Typical coal-fired power plants burn coal to heat water to make steam, which turns the turbines that produce electricity. In chemical looping, the coal isn’t burned with fire, but instead chemically combusted in a sealed chamber so that it doesn’t pollute the air. A second combustion unit in the lab does the same thing with coal-derived syngas, and both produce 25 thermal kilowatts of energy.

“In the simplest sense, combustion is a chemical reaction that consumes oxygen and produces heat,” Fan says. “Unfortunately, it also produces carbon dioxide, which is difficult to capture and bad for the environment. So we found a way to release the heat without burning.”

Dawei Wang, a research associate and one of the group’s team leaders, says the technology’s potential benefits go beyond the environment: “The plant could really promote our energy independence. Not only can we use America’s natural resources such as Ohio coal, but we can keep our air clean and spur the economy with jobs.”

The researchers are about to take the technology to the next level: a pilot plant is under construction at the U.S. Department of Energy‘s National Carbon Capture Center. Set to begin operations in late 2013, that plant will produce 250 thermal kilowatts using syngas. Tests there will set the stage for future commercial development.

“At Ohio State, with a team of creative minds, we can take a technological concept closer to real commercial use,” Wang says.

The technology looks promising: as doctoral student Elena Chung explained, the 203-hour experiment could have continued even longer.

“We voluntarily chose to stop the unit. Honestly, it was a mutual decision by Dr. Fan and the students. It was a long and tiring week where we all shared shifts,” she says.

Fan’s students were thrilled to be involved in this breakthrough, even if they did lose some sleep.

“Ohio State has been very supportive of our research efforts,” Fan says. The result of the university’s backing? A place, he says, where “brilliant invention and cutting-edge research can be successful and progressive.”

===============================================================

From: New Coal Technology Harnesses Energy Without Burning, Nears Pilot-Scale Development 

“In the simplest sense, combustion is a chemical reaction that consumes oxygen and produces heat,” Fan said. “Unfortunately, it also produces carbon dioxide, which is difficult to capture and bad for the environment. So we found a way to release the heat without burning. We carefully control the chemical reaction so that the coal never burns—it is consumed chemically, and the carbon dioxide is entirely contained inside the reactor.”

Dawei Wang, a research associate and one of the group’s team leaders, described the technology’s potential benefits. “The commercial-scale CDCL plant could really promote our energy independence. Not only can we use America’s natural resources such as Ohio coal, but we can keep our air clean and spur the economy with jobs,” he said.

“We carefully control the chemical reaction so that the coal never burns—it is consumed chemically, and the carbon dioxide is entirely contained inside the reactor.”


Though other laboratories around the world are trying to develop similar technology to directly convert coal to electricity, Fan’s lab is unique in the way it processes fossil fuels. The Ohio State group typically studies coal in the two forms that are already commonly available to the power industry: crushed coal “feedstock,” and coal-derived syngas.

The latter fuel has been successfully studied in a second sub-pilot research-scale unit, through a similar process called Syngas Chemical Looping (SCL).  Both units are located in a building on Ohio State’s Columbus campus, and each is contained in a 25-foot-high insulated metal cylinder that resembles a very tall home water heater tank.

No other lab has continuously operated a coal-direct chemical looping unit as long as the Ohio State lab did last September. But as doctoral student Elena Chung explained, the experiment could have continued.

“We voluntarily chose to stop the unit. We actually could have run longer, but honestly, it was a mutual decision by Dr. Fan and the students. It was a long and tiring week where we all shared shifts,” she said.

==============================================================

Joe Romm of course can’t yet bring himself to carry this story over at Climate Progress, but Fox News used an old quote from one of CP’s nuttiest professors, yes our old friend Donald Brown, who says:

“Claiming that coal is clean because it could be clean — if a new technically unproven and economically dubious technology might be adopted — is like someone claiming that belladonna is not poisonous because there is a new unproven safe pill under development,” wrote Donald Brown at liberal think tank Climate Progress.

Heh.  Read more here: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/02/20/coal-cleanest-energy-source-there-is/

Rational people would of course embrace such news positively. But of course, we aren’t dealing with rational people at Climate Progress, or at 350.org, so I don’t expect them or James Hansen to be happy about this development.

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191 thoughts on “Now what is ‘death train’ Hansen going to do? Clean coal process developed to extract energy without burning or CO2

  1. “Unfortunately, it also produces carbon dioxide, which is difficult to capture and bad for the environment.”

    One worries about so called “scientists” who seem know so little about CO2 that they think it is bad for the environment. Let’s see how good the environment will be without any CO2. Hmmm … no life whatsoever … Yeah, real good environment that is.

    There is nothing about CO2 that is bad for the environment.

  2. I would think that there is a similar 200 hour session going on at the EPA trying to identify what new regulations can be used to stop this process ever being put into commercial use. They will find something probably using dust regulations against coal mining.

  3. “Unfortunately, it also produces carbon dioxide, which is difficult to capture and bad for the environment.”

    The stupid, it burns!

  4. I dont see the breakthrough. CO2 should be easily “captured” at the smokestack of a regular coal fired powerstation. Its what to do with that CO2 that is the real problem for CCS technologies.

  5. Sounds good … but I have a question. The article notes that the CO2 is contained in the reaction chamber. But .. but but … at some point, don’t you have to add more fuel and empty that CO2?? What are they planning to do wtih the captured CO2 in the chamber?? … like .. maybe compress it into liquid CO2? … pump it into greenhouses?? Just curious.

    But really, I think it is exciting news.

  6. Clean coal combustion like this is very bad news for the climate hijackers.

    Wait till Hansen finds out, he will have a canary. Fear propaganda has driven his entire career, white collar alarmist organizations like Climate Progress make their living from the sky is falling ransoms.

  7. The key to the technology is the use of tiny metal beads to carry oxygen to the fuel to spur the chemical reaction. For CDCL, the fuel is coal that’s been ground into a powder, and the metal beads are made of iron oxide composites. The coal particles are about 100 micrometers across—about the diameter of a human hair—and the iron beads are larger, about 1.5-2 millimeters across. Chung likened the two different sizes to talcum powder and ice cream sprinkles, though the mix is not nearly so colorful.

    The coal and iron oxide are heated to high temperatures, where the materials react with each other. Carbon from the coal binds with the oxygen from the iron oxide and creates carbon dioxide, which rises into a chamber where it is captured. Hot iron and coal ash are left behind. Because the iron beads are so much bigger than the coal ash, they are easily separated out of the ash, and delivered to a chamber where the heat energy would normally be harnessed for electricity. The coal ash is removed from the system.

    The carbon dioxide is separated and can be recycled or sequestered for storage. The iron beads are exposed to air inside the reactor, so that they become re-oxidized be used again. The beads can be re-used almost indefinitely, or recycled.

    Doesn’t sound that revolutionary to me. A similar process has been used for nearly 200 years to smelt iron ore. In fact, I’d say the not releasing CO2 claim is misleading, if not false. CO2 is released, the same amount as conventional burning. It’s just that the CO2 is captured, which is unrelated to the coal – iron oxide chemistry.

  8. Two chemical looping gasification processes, the syngas chemical looping (SCL) process and the coal direct chemical looping (CDCL) process, are developed for hydrogen and electricity co-production from carbonaceous fuels. Both processes involve the reduction of a metal oxide with a fuel followed by regeneration of the reduced metal oxide with steam and air in a cyclic manner.
    =======================
    This is the reverse of the process that occurs within the earth, where fossilized CO2 and water are converted by heat and iron into natural gas and more complex hydrocarbons.

    The biggest nonsense in science is that natural gas is created from the decomposed bodies of animals, and thus must be “rare” and thus must be expensive.

    Natural gas is created by plate tectonics and the reduction of limestone by iron and heat in the presence of water. All of which are abundant within the earth. Limestone is the accumulated CO2 captured by the oceans.

    By burning natural gas, humans are simply completing the cycle that would be completed naturally in the absence of humans. Over time the natural gas leaks to the surface, where it is consumed by microbes and converted back to CO2, where it is captured by the oceans and eventually turned into limestone.

    This limestone is subducted by plate tectonics along with ocean water and converted by iron and heat back into natural gas. It is an endless cycle so long as the earth’s core remains molten.

  9. Codetech, Klaas, read the article: the process does not “burn” the coal so does not produce CO2. If it can become economically viable, it means that there are no grounds for coal to be considered “bad” by those who fear CO2 emissions.

  10. A few things jump out:
    1. Coal particles 100 micrometers across
    2. iron beads about 1.5-2 millimeters across
    3. The coal and iron oxide are heated to high temperatures
    Cost of grinding, cost of heating not stated.
    4. CO2 capture at less than $40 per metric ton
    Whaaat …. LOL
    It might work as a subsidy earner under the “CO2 is a pollutant” creed, beyond that, who knows.
    Could be a breakthrough, could be another Climate Craziness of the Week.

  11. Truthseeker noted (6:10 PM):
    “Let’s see how good the environment will be without any CO2 . . . no life whatsoever.” These death-cult Malthusians won’t be happy until they develop some method to make photosynthesis produce CO (without the 2).

  12. Thus by burning natural gas, humans are simply completing a natural cycle. We have likely sped the cycle up somewhat, but at this point in time no one really knows how much natural gas the biosphere processes naturally each year. There is a huge amount of natural gas tied up in methane clathrate in the oceans awaiting extraction. We have only scratched the surface of the total amount of natural gas available as an energy source.

    More on the Chemical Looping Gasification Processes

    http://etd.ohiolink.edu/view.cgi?acc_num=osu1236704412

  13. I think it’ll be quite interesting to see exactly who reacts how to this. I’d think reactions to this should clarify what certain agendas out there are really all about out.

    For my part, I think this is great. CO2 may well be beneficial, but as Steven Mosher has pointed out before, geoengineering the environment isn’t what this is all about in my book. Maybe once the smoke clears (pardon the pun) some real science can get done and we can conclusively establish what cutting back on CO2 will or will not do to our food supply.

    But, as always, technology prevails. And as usually winds up being the case, not in the manner politicians would predict. Go figure.

  14. is like someone claiming that belladonna is not poisonous because there is a new unproven safe pill under development,” wrote Donald Brown at liberal think tank Climate Progress.
    ===============
    water is poisonous if you drink enough due to electrolyte imbalance. there was a woman reportedly killed recently as a result of drinking too much water on a fad diet.

    The name “belladonna” means “beautiful lady. The belladonna berry juice was used historically in Italy to enlarge the pupils of women, giving them a striking appearance.

    Though widely regarded as unsafe, belladonna is used as a sedative, to stop bronchial spasms in asthma and whooping cough, and as a cold and hay fever remedy. It is also used for Parkinson’s disease, colic, motion sickness, and as a painkiller.

    Belladonna is used in ointments that are applied to the skin for joint pain (rheumatism), leg pain caused by a disc in the backbone pushing on the sciatic nerve (sciatica), and nerve pain (neuralgia). Belladonna is also used in plasters (medicine-filled gauze applied to the skin) for treating psychiatric disorders, a behavior disorder called hyperkinesis, excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis), and bronchial asthma.

    Some claim that in large enough quantities, Belladonna can even cure the horrific malady of climate science.

  15. Faustino aka Genghis Cunn says:
    February 20, 2013 at 6:36 pm
    Codetech, Klaas, read the article: the process does not “burn” the coal so does not produce CO2.

    It does produce CO2. The same amount as burning.

    I read about this earlier at Bloomberg, which didn’t describe the chemistry, and my reaction was, ‘they have got some fancy chemistry there’.

    The press release is written to deliberately deceive people who don;t know basic chemistry, which apparently includes you.

  16. “If it can become economically viable, it means that there are no grounds for coal to be considered “bad” by those who fear CO2 emissions.”

    That will be a heartbreaking travesty for the the worrisome warmers.

    I almost feel sorry for them. Doesn’t that sound strange?

    What next? Cars that run on waste water with zero emissions? Oh the horror.
    The car haters would have nothing to fear but freedom itself.

  17. TimTheToolMan says:
    February 20, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    I dont see the breakthrough. CO2 should be easily “captured” at the smokestack of a regular coal fired powerstation. Its what to do with that CO2 that is the real problem for CCS technologies.

    I’m not very familiar with the proposed chemical engineering, but assuming complete combustion, flue gas would be some 79% nitrogen and 20% CO2. How do you separate that? You could pump it to high pressure where the CO2 liquifies or use cold to freeze out the CO2. I read somewhere that CO2 sequestration costs about 50% more coal, with all that extra energy used to separate out the CO2 and stuff it underground in an old natural gas well.

    The nice thing about this cycle is that output of the first stage is pretty much all CO2.

  18. There goes the efficiency out the window, so we will then use MORE resources for a unit of energy. And what do you envision is the end product of such a production loop, the O2 has to come from something or if using other oxidizers, even worse. I agree with Truthseeker, there is nothing bad about CO2, only good at any level we are speaking of, doubled or even tripled, it would then be one green Earth.

  19. “a way to oxidize coal and extract energy without releasing any CO2″

    Now if only there was an actual scientifically valid reason to not release CO2.

    A real breakthrough would be if a positive use for all the surplus socialists…

  20. @ferdberple
    >Two chemical looping gasification processes…

    That was really succinct. CH4 and H2 are produced continuously and copiously in the crust of the Earth, and further down. Below 100 km, long chain hydrocarbons are produced. Same raw materials and catalysts.

  21. This is a sad, sad day for flora everywhere.

    Just how smart is it to quit feeding lifestock yet everybody thinks it’s smart to quit supplying the gas that’s essential to the living plants that feed livestock (and eventually all humans)?

    Let’s just hope this technology is never used.

  22. > Now what is ‘death train’ Hansen going to do?

    I’ve never had the sense that Hansen is interested in forcing people back into the 19th century. I don’t know if he’d celebrate a safe/clean/efficient coal burning process, (and I’m not sure this is safe/clean/efficient), but it might release him to go after natural gas, trucking, and other uses that can’t accomodate this system.

    Bill McKibben, on the other hand, will jump on the “we’re roasting ourselves from the city outward!” bandwagon.

  23. It really would be a breakthrough, and it really would be the end of the inflated claims of climate alarmists (because the solution wouldn’t require socialism) if
    a) it were much cheaper than burning coal and capturing the CO2 at the stack, and
    b) we knew how to sequester the CO2 cheaply, cleanly, and safely.

    (a) might be true – the article doesn’t analyze all the costs.
    (b) isn’t true, probably because relatively little research is being done on this.

    We still don’t have a major program to get good at sequestering CO2. Shame on us.

  24. Mark Bofill says:
    February 20, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    “But, as always, technology prevails. And as usually winds up being the case, not in the manner politicians would predict. Go figure.”

    Greens know this. After the carbon tax, the next step is control of technology innovation and production.

  25. *maybe* the soft drink industry will benefit slightly now that subsidy scientists have figured out how to make CO2 in a box.
    all the reaction products are the same but you can be sure this subsidy science will lighten your wallet.
    they burn coal in a box
    whooptidoo.

  26. Wikipedia gives the standard heat of formation of CO2 as -393.5 kj*mol-1.
    Wikipedia gives the standard heat of formation of Fe2O3 as -826 kj*mol-1.

    This immediately gives rise to the questions of what are the temperatures and pressures of the two reaction vessels and how much thermal energy can be captured at various points 9in the cycle and what and where are the losses. What tradeoffs will be needed to reach a viable compromise between capital costs, operating costs, and efficiency? Will it even be financially feasible?

    The next questions are about where are we going to put all of this CO2 and how are we going to get it there. There are is a coal burning power plants in my vicinity and it is my understanding that it burns about 10,000 tons of coal each day. This would produce 36,600 tons of CO2 each day. Without spending too much time finding exact numbers, i am guessing that this would be roughly 200,000 barrels of liquid CO2 each day. How big and long a pipeline would be needed to take it where it could be used? Would the costs of the pipeline be figured into the capital costs of the plant? How much CO2 could actually be used before before the rest would have to be disposed of in some manner? How much would this cost? Considering the opposition to the Keystone pipeline, could the pipelines actually be built?

    I may be unreasonably skeptical, but I would sure be interested in seeing even a rough analysis that sketched out what might be needed to have a practical installation.

  27. PeterGeorge says:

    “We still don’t have a major program to get good at sequestering CO2. Shame on us.”

    CO2 is beneficial for the biosphere. More is better, therefore there is no need whatever to sequester CO2. That is one of the stupidest ideas in all of climatology — which is saying something, considering all the scientifically illiterate ideas floating around.

  28. This is much ado about nothing. There is still CO2 to get rid of (greenhouses?), if someone were to be worried about that. It does seem to remove the fly ash problem rather neatly, but I doubt the heat processing efficiency of carrying the heat via iron oxide balls to the work chamber. Then again, none of this is about improving the closed cycle efficiency of the steam process, but seeking subsidy for “clean” tech. The only good thing I can see about it is if the hype can stay high enough to fool the anti-science crowd at EPA, maybe we will be able to make electricity with coal again! (I know we still use coal, but EPAs unstated goal of the CO2 pollution finding was to put coal fired power plants out of business.)

  29. Regardless of your beliefs concerning CO2, this is a great step. Current technology for removing real pollutants is expensive…this could make it more feasible to build new coal plants….

  30. Truthseeker says:
    February 20, 2013 at 6:10 pm
    “Unfortunately, it also produces carbon dioxide, which is difficult to capture and bad for the environment.”

    One worries about so called “scientists” who seem know so little about CO2 that they think it is bad for the environment. Let’s see how good the environment will be without any CO2. Hmmm … no life whatsoever … Yeah, real good environment that is.

    There is nothing about CO2 that is bad for the environment.

    That was my reaction as well. How the dickens are we going to get it through the thick skulls of academic scientists and their students that CO2 is NOT a ‘pollutant’, and a lot more of it poses NO THREAT whatsoever to the planet, the climate, humanity, or anything?

    The mindless anti-CO2 litany is as irrational as the 17th-century fear of witches, and equally ill-founded—and being counterfactual, is anti-science, dammit! Someone tell them!

    /Mr Lynn

  31. “If we can save even one…” “We must tax ourselves and limit our own heat and travel and food for the sake of the grandchildren- we can’t take the chance…” “Just think of the miners and the filthy dirty mines. We must stop the miming now!” “Stop dirty mines nowI”

    I’m just practicing- trying to come up with some new catch phrases- trying to see if I can beat them to the punch- I know they are tenacious and won’t give up.
    Must I say who “they” are?

  32. Sean says:

    A real breakthrough would be if a positive use for all the surplus socialists…

    There are many Kcal in a socialist.

  33. Steve,

    No one likes pollution. But CO2 is no more polluting than H2O.

    And none of this addresses China, India, Russia, or a hundred smaller countries, which have no intention of hobbling their economies by reducing CO2 emissions. Out of all the world’s economies, the U.S. has done about the best job of reducing emissions. The real problem [for those who believe that CO2 is a problem] is China. But we hardly ever hear a peep about China. WUWT?

  34. Why would we want to absorb o2 which comes from plants yet not feed the plants to make more o2?

    This idea is so cruel to plants.

    The funny thing is, if this process proves to be economical and makes coal ‘ok’ this will expose the true agenda which is to lower the standard of living of humans as we are a blight to the planet don’t you know :)

    In other words, there will be some reason not to remove coal from Gaia.

  35. The idea is not to simply to oxidize coal but to create enough heat to generate steam to drive turbines.

    Hello? Do these researchers have any idea why we burn coal?

    This a breakthrough isn’t. Nonsense it is.

  36. Good luck to them. It will be intereesting to see what they do (and if they rethink their position on CO2) when they bump into the “We don’t actually care about CO2 or the environment, we want to ban the use of energy, period,” group.

  37. Mr Mitchell, you are slightly high in your value for No. tons CO2 produced, more like 28,600, on average!

  38. Intriguing, but it may be a very expensive way to use coal. (Still better than windmills, probably, at least more reliable!) We’ll have to see about the true cost/benefit economics per unit of energy. The energy and costs involved to reduce the coal to fine powder, the iron to beads like “sprinkles”, and all the heat needed to run the process etc. Then the CO2 which is contained in the reactor but has to be dealt with if the process is sold as a way to avoid releasing the CO2 into the atmosphere (I’m not accepting that worry but noting that it will have to be addressed in an economic fashion if this process is supposed to satisfy people who do worry about that). It’s an interesting lab experiment, but we shouldn’t make assumptions about the real-world economics for this just yet.

  39. This is sooooooooooooooooo bogus. Not a snowball’s chance in hell that it will produce any useful energy at a competitive price. Another spendulus-sucking project for Obama’s friends at best.

  40. If the claimed breakthrough includes the ability to generate heat from coal without emitting large amounts of soot, sulfur dioxide, and other components of smog [and acid rain in the case of SO2] then it is indeed a big advance in “clean coal” as the US had lots of coal.

    The bit about CO2 is probably directed at the funding agencies.

  41. CodeTech says (February 20, 2013 at 6:13 pm): “Great, it captures the CO2…

    Then what do they do with it?”

    Well, the best thing would be to sequester the CO2 where it can’t do any harm. I suggest sequestering it deep in the atmosphere, where it won’t pollute underground porous rock layers or aquifers, and won’t require long pipelines that could rupture and suffocate a bunch of folks. Plus, reverse underground sequestration is a mature technology, quite inexpensive, and is thought to have beneficial side effects on Gaian life forms. Moreover, the atmospheric sequestration sink is practically limitless AND actually RECYCLES CO2 into oxygen and flowers; the alternatives merely store the inert pollutants indefinitely, kind of like nuclear waste, except CO2 DOESN’T DECAY!!!

    So why would anyone want to pollute–at great expense–beautiful naturally pristine underground expanses FOREVER when this deadly waste can be RECYCLED into life-giving gasses and sheer natural beauty for mere pennies? To me it’s a no-brainer.

    :-)

  42. It still uses oxygen and still produces Co2, if the Co2 is not released to the atmosphere but stored somehow, it means we are depleting our atmosphere of oxygen, we need more not less.

  43. Here’s a recent white paper on the concept, published by Babock & Wilcox. http://www.babcock.com/library/pdf/BR-1892.pdf

    I’d urge caution, they don’t eliminate CO2, but merely concentrate it so that it is easier to handle. Also, I didn’t see them mention contaminants (coal is loaded with uranium, radium, arsenic, lead, mercury & other junk), plus sulfur, silica and calcium compounds.

    Sorry, I’ve seen far too many of these “miracle process” things come and go over the past 30 years…the last one was thermal depolymerization, which managed to stink up the town of Carthage, Missouri when the owners tried to turn turkey guts into renewable fuel.

  44. “Owen in GA says:

    February 20, 2013 at 7:32 pm”

    Flyash is used and can be used even more so in construction using concrete. So not that much of a problem IMO. But I agree with many here, it’s just a call for funding from the alarmist gravy train!

  45. Well !

    Let us all join in and dig the hole where we can bury windfarms and solarpanels and make the economy boom again! And wave the green khmers goood bye!!

  46. This is nothing new, so they have re-invented the wheel or something. The so called sealed reaction chamber is no different to a gasification column. the so called syngas, and producer gasses are hydrogen and carbon monoxide in the gas coking process. Read about it on Wikipedia, and compare this with the “Doctor’s” process. Does this do the same thing? Yes it does. Nothing new to see here then, move along now.
    [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal_gasification]
    [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal_gas]

  47. How much energy do they get out per Kg of Coal compared to burning it traditionally?
    How much does it cost for the chemicals involved in the “chemical process”?
    What are those chemicals, where do they come from and where do they end up?

  48. Hi guys , started visiting this site (and will keep doing so) for serious science now I come for a few laughs and a good story (Willis) as well.

  49. Aren’t these two statements at odds with each other? Please explain!!!
    ++++++
    1) “the process does not “burn” the coal so does not produce CO2.”
    2) So we found a way to release the heat without burning. We carefully control the chemical reaction so that the coal never burns—it is consumed chemically, “and the carbon dioxide is entirely contained inside the reactor.”

    The CO2 is not produced, but it is created and contained?????

  50. Moe said on February 20, 2013 at 6:37 pm:

    What are the odds that two separate commenters would provide the exact same commentary. Sock puppet anyone?

    Odds are pretty high these days. Someone goes to post, and if it doesn’t pop right up “awaiting moderation” or something else is wrong, they think it’s a WordPress screw-up and they should have been logged in. So you end up with the first version with a name, and the second version with their WordPress account name.

    In this case, “Klaas Fokkema” made the first post, noticed he had forgot to hawk a tiny “I get paid for clicks” commercial site, then re-posted the same thing with the link.

    Common mistake, site promotion… Not sock puppetry, this time.

  51. this won’t mean a thing. climate change is a means to control and power not carbon dioxde. If you don’t know the enemy you can not win the war.

  52. I have nothing against CO2 going into the atmosphere at present rates and many photosynthetic organisms probably would back me up on that view but since these carbon atoms have been sitting around underground for so long, it wouldn’t hurt to delay them a bit if concentrated CO2 can be captured more easily from such a process. There have been some interesting developments in industrial chemistry like catalysts which can convert CO2 and light into methanol fairly cheaply and closed system aquaculture and agriculture that use higher CO2 to increase yields. Even if algae doesn’t become a fuel source in the near term it is still possible to use it to make animal feed, chemicals and pharmaceuticals (if modified). CO2 could be used in these operations (learning to grow algae for these reasons in closed systems on cheap desert land may help spur the advancements of fuel algae enterprises).

    Cheaper CO2 may advance industries and research that would not have been cost effective if you were trying to capture it from flue gas.

  53. “If it’s so clean, why are they wearing heavy gas masks?”

    Well, the EPA seems to believe that particulate matter is instantly lethal at certain quantities. Unfortunately they didn’t find the high enough concentration when testing it on humans without their informed consent so no one is taking any chances. Better luck next time EPA.

  54. Could be interesting as there would be no burned products – no NOx, SOx etc. and no heavy metals, mercury and so on put into the air. The CO2 capture is a nod to the funding. The efficiency is the question as process needs pure oxygen and questions about long term fouling of the catalyst material with contaminents like the heavy metals. The heat capture and conversion to electricity would be subject to the ususal losses.

  55. D.B. Stealey says: February 20, 2013 at 7:51 pm
    Steve,
    No one likes pollution. But CO2 is no more polluting than H2O.
    And none of this addresses China, India, Russia, or a hundred smaller countries, which have no intention of hobbling their economies by reducing CO2 emissions. Out of all the world’s economies, the U.S. has done about the best job of reducing emissions. The real problem [for those who believe that CO2 is a problem] is China. But we hardly ever hear a peep about China. WUWT?
    ————————————————————————–
    China signed the Kyoto agreement, therefore they are good guys. The US under Clinton never signed, therefore we are the bad guys. Get it? Neither do I. Plus, as a developing country, China was not required to lower emissions, so signing carried zero penalty for them. In China’s defense, they are currently building 28 large nuke power plants and have over 100 on order or planned.

  56. D.B. Stealey says: Steve,
    No one likes pollution. But CO2 is no more polluting than H2O.

    Current processes for removing real pollutants (SO2 & NO2 for example) aren’t cheap. Perhaps in their attempt to eliminate CO2, they might have found a more economical mwans of reducing real pollutants…that was the intent of my previous message. Bottom line, we will use whatever form of fuel most cost effective to produce electricity…would love for that to be coal since we have so much of it…

  57. Aw what a shame LazyT is not allowed any more. I always enjoyed the smack down he/she usually received by the more erudite denizens in this venue… I usually learned something from the exchange.

    My immediate reaction to this story was like so many other commenters – where do they put the CO2? My suggestion is that they could sell it to nurseries and forresters as growth promoter and make some extra income to pay for the expensive infrastructure and processing required to attain the required particle size. /sarc

  58. The need is to convert the coal to something more valuable. Coal is not now competitive with gas for producing electricity. I fail to see how doing a loop-de-loop will provide cheaper energy. Why would an investor owned utility be interested? As others have mentioned there isn’t a CO2 problem so this isn’t a solution to anything. Only government subsidies will get a full scale plant of this type built.

  59. Interesting they’d say:

    the coal never burns—it is consumed chemically

    yet “burning” is “combustion” which is a “chemical reaction” (oxidation), i.e, “it is consumed chemically”. Methinks they’re stretching definitions to make a point but simply look silly instead.

    Fire involves a chemical reaction.

  60. It would have been considerably more informative to have a comparison of the effective energy extracted per tonne of coal compared to conventional steam generation.

  61. Pumping CO2 in the ground is fine as long as it’s not anywhere near where I live. I heard about a lake in Africa with a bed of CO2 that was released in an earth quake, CO2 is heavier than air so it “flowed” down a hill and suffocated a whole village instantly. Can they assure me the same thing won’t happen at a CO2 sequestering site ??? I don’t think so.

  62. OK, I worked through their process and it is truly brilliant.

    A conventional coal burning process works by taking oxygen out of the atmosphere, combining it with carbon. The releases energy and CO2.

    What these guys are doing is completely different. What they are doing is taking oxygen out of the atmosphere, temporarily storing it on iron pellets, then combining it with carbon. This releases energy and CO2 (which is temporarily stored.

    I’m certain everyone sees the difference.

    But that’s not the genius part. The genius part is convincing government officials that they are not “burning” the coal and to pour money into it. The Wizard of Oz had the decency to demand that nobody look behind the curtain. These guys have the curtain pulled completely open and are just telling you not to believe your own eyes.

    Not burning the coal. LOL. Where do you get the application forms to the DOE? I gotta take a crack at this…

  63. The yin and the yang……………….

    Strip the heathen-devil polluting climate security blanket out of the late Holocene atmosphere

    or……..

    Because it just might be the heathen-devil gas it is made out to be, stuff as many tonnes of it up there on the 5 out of the last 6 interglacial chance that it turns out to actually be the late Holocene atmosphere.

    Decisionz, Decisionz…………..

  64. Usually when people tout that they have “invented a new energy source” or a new energy recovery process they tout the efficiency. Those numbers appear to be missing. Except… that the standard seems to be that it must make energy no more than 35% more expensive. Tough “standard”.

    The second issue is that of sequestering Co2 — I note that other people have pointed out the releasing more CO2 will “green the Earth” — as it will. Enough said. Just because it is true does not mean it will penetrate the consciousness of our current crop of science workers.

    My final point is that all real climate scientists and real energy scientists should be required to retrain on the carbon cycle before one of them is allowed to cause serious damage. As I recall some of my old science teachers from the 50’s and 60’s had a grasp on the subject — I’ll see if I can dig up the names… As I further recall most of them had high school science plus teachers college — not even a BSc — what does this say about modern “higher” education? Me, my opinion? I dunno. Maybe you have some thoughts.

  65. Why not let LazyTeenager and EricGrismrud represent their failed advocacy, blacklisting people just makes them able to claim censorship, though we know SkS and RC are considerably greater offenders in this regard. We’re all reasonably intelligent enough people here to read through their polluted exhortations, aren’t we?

    REPLY: If it were only that simple. Please read my policy page under the header menu. Both of these people have crossed the line from simply being wrong, to doing and saying things that have crossed the line of decency. I simply don’t want them to be in my “home on the Internet” any longer. I have been quite tolerant, and each of these commenters has had several hundred comments here. But, when they cross lines of decency, I’m not obligated to take abuse in my own home. – Anthony

    [Reply #2: You have not read Eric Grimsrud’s thoroughly despicable comments, which were deleted before thy were posted. He is truly a horrible human being, and Anthony went out of his way to accommodate Mr Grimsrud. [— From one of Anthony's long term moderators.]

    Regarding Lazy T, Anthony has finally had his fill: “OK that’s it, you are banned, permanently. Get the hell off my blog. I won’t tolerate this sort of hateful crap from you anymore. Mr. Rothwell.” – Anthony Watts. Sometimes a line is crossed, and action must be taken. This is not censorship, this is housekeeping. — mod.]

  66. Here is just an idea for the unused CO2. Build Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors (LFTR) next to these new coal-fired power plants and use the 900C waste heat from the LFTRs to synthesize CO2 + H20 to make jet fuel.

    If the plant happens to be near the ocean, any remaining LFTR waste heat after the jet fuel synthesis could be used to desalinate ocean water….

    LFTRs can be built real small as no containment domes or water cooling towers are required as they don’t run on pressurized steam. The liquid salts in LFTRs reach 1,600C at single atmospheric pressure, which is used to heat up Helium gas in a heat exchanger to run gas turbines and generate electricity.

    There is still 900C of “waste heat” available after electrical generation to do whatever you like….

    Cool technology.

  67. Dear DOE,

    I would like to apply for a $100 million grant to build a pilot project power plant using hydrogen as a fuel. The process works by combining hydrogen gas with oxygen. This releases energy that can be used just like it is in a coal fired power plant to create electricity. The only byproduct is water. No deadly carbon dioxide is produced at all.

    At this point the energy required to create the hydrogen fuel is larger than what we are able to capture from the power generation process. That is why we need $100 million. We need to build large scale versions of the system which has been proven conclusively to work in the lab. By building larger scale systems, it should be possible to improve the efficiency of the hydrogen fuel creation process, and the power capture process to the point that it is commercially viable.

    Actually, time is of the essence, you should probably send $100 billion so we can achieve our goals faster.

  68. davidmhoffer says:
    February 20, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    Yeah, I was kind of wondering how one would heat the iron oxide and coal to a high temperature and say they were not “burning” the stuff.

  69. Anthropogenic sources of CO2 constitute a climatically insignificant part of all CO2 sources. Approx 97% of CO2 released into the atmosphere is natural, the tiny remainder is due to hydrocarbon fuel burning. The continuously rising atmospheric CO2 increase during the last decades is due to CO2 outgassing from the oceans according to recently released, peer-reviewed scientific reports. This proves the futility of all carbon-capture AND sequestration technologies that are being touted about but proving impossible to carry out.

    This new development, if I understand it correctly, does not release free CO2 but this remains sequestered within the mother fuel, in this case coal, and therefore can be disposed of without releasing that ‘harmful’ gas into the atmosphere. If this is economically viable, then it destroys the raison d’etre of all anti-carbon militants and these should now go back home and take care of their families and be happy for the rest of their lives. However, the truth is that these militants’ scope of war is not to stop anthropogenic CO2 release into the atmosphere, but to reverse humanity’s 300 year progress and put us back into the age of windmills and donkey power.

    So let this useless technology develop, thus putting the humanity-hating militants in a quandry, and giving the coal workers in Ohio the rest of the world a new hope of at least keeping the present standard of living until such time that the world realises that CO2 gas is what keeps carbon-based life going on this carbon-rich planet.

  70. I hear you Anthony, thanks for the reply. I have read many of their hundreds of comments and probably missed some of the more glaring examples, though one might guess it was an overt fondness for the D-word that got them their just reward. Perused grismrud’s site for a bit, lots of smug, little substance, and many uses of the aforementioned epithet.

    REPLY:
    Most of the glaring examples never made it to prime time because they violated site policy, but I unfortunately was tasked with reading them. – Anthony

  71. Lots of devices use chemical reactions to chemically alter hydrocarbons: solid oxide fuel cells or a Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell with a steam reformer do this as well. Conceptually the fuel cell has been around for 230 years or so.

    Perhaps this scenario sounds familliar to WUWT faithful:

    You will spend the next few days, explaining to the liberal elite around the office, that this is not diltihium crystal technology from Star Trek, that thermal KW still needs to be converted to steam to drive a turbine (30-37% efficient) to make electricity, and that pipelines are really expensive for sequestration.

    Since it is no use to challenge their religious beliefs on CO2 and CAGW, You will instead try to explain that the same liberal elite won’t let folks permit or construct pipelines for sequestration.

    And finally, the Irony(oxide) along with the carbon dioxide, escapes them.

    Did I get it it right?

  72. Overhyped and poorly described. The coal is still oxidised to produce CO2. There is no free lunch.

    The difference here is that this happens in a two step process. Essentially the oxygen is conveyed to the coal via a Ferric oxide molecule. The Fe2O3 gives up O2 to the carbon becoming FeO. In the second stage of the process the FeO is converted back to Fe2O3 by basically burning it in air at very high temperature

    This two step process is less efficient than simply burning the coal. The only advantage is that the CO2 can be efficiently extracted this way. If you simply burn coal the CO2 ends up mixed with the nitrogen and the unburned oxygen. If you wanted to sequester the CO2 you would have to separate it first which takes considerable energy. In this process the CO2 comes out already separated.

    The big question then is what they plan to do with the CO2. If you just released it you’d be better off to simply burn the coal which is more efficient. The only reason for using this process would be if you planned to sequester the CO2. The usual suggestion is to inject it into the ground. It takes energy to pump it deep down there further lowering the overall efficiency and requiring even more coal to be burned to generate the same amount of energy.

    Injecting CO2 into the ground is also environmentally risky. If the CO2 ever got up into the ground water (and a gas has a much greater chance of getting up there than for example the liquid used in fracking) it would form carbonic acid – soda water – which isn’t harmful by itself. Unfortunately carbonic acid can dissolve minerals out of the surrounding rock. Minerals like arsenic that you would really prefer to stay put. You could end up with a frothy toxic mess bubbling up out of the ground some time down the track.

    It astonishes me that people who oppose fracking on largely spurious environmental grounds seem to have no problem with carbon sequestration, which in my opinion is much more likely to pose a danger to the environment.

  73. PeterGeorge said:
    February 20, 2013 at 7:21 pm
    We still don’t have a major program to get good at sequestering CO2.
    ——————————————-
    Good – I hope we never do. I hope the insanity never becomes that advanced.

    Shame on us if it does.

  74. RockyRoad says:
    February 20, 2013 at 9:52 pm
    Interesting they’d say:
    the coal never burns—it is consumed chemically
    +++++++
    I agree with you. I am burning calories at about the rate that I consume them, when averaged over time (my weight has remained constant +/- 10 pounds since high school.) I produce solid, liquid and gaseous waste… and I also produce CO2… not a waste product.

    Now I guess I can say that my calories are consumed chemically… but that my CO2 is not contained… Now if I could only figure out how to sequester… never mind…

  75. Anthony’s inherent skepticism seems to have abandoned him in this case. I’m one of those who firmly believes that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. It’s a good saying to live by, in the absence of compelling information to the contrary. I hope I’m wrong in this case, but there is too much over-selling going on in science these days for me to take this at face value.

  76. Unfortunately, it also produces carbon dioxide, which is difficult to capture and bad for the environment.

    Facepalm. Drank the Kool-Aid didn’t he?

  77. I read the Babcock & Wilcox paper on the technology earlier today, and it does look good from certain perspectives, in that it can sequester or seperate CO2 cheaper than other ways of doing it, coming in only slightly less efficient than a conventional powerplant.

    The Coal Direct Chemical Loop has nothing to do with syngas. They’re just reducing iron oxide in one chamber, letting the oxygen in the iron oxide combine with carbon in the coal to produce nothing but CO2. That means the CO2 isn’t mixed with atmospheric nitrogen, and I assume the far lower reaction temperatures means sulfur dioxide and mercury are also reduced, staying mostly in the coal ash.

    Then they take the hot iron slag (as pellets), easily seperated from the ash, and burn it with outside air, which is what produces the heat to run the turbines and keep the reaction going. Oxidizing the iron doesn’t produce any CO2 because there’s no carbon with it, and probably no sulfur or mercury, either. The only exhaust in the second reaction should be the nitrogen that was already in the air, which didn’t take part in the combustion. So then the hot iron oxide from the second heat-liberating reaction is dumped back in the first chamber to continue the process.

    It’s basically a two-step combustion process to get a pure source of oxygen for the carbon reaction, instead of using an oxygen/nitrogen mix, whereas regular air is okay for the iron to iron oxide reaction. The energy in the coal is being moved over to the iron, producing nothing but CO2 (and some trace methane and steam), then the iron is burned in a seperate, cleaner combustion process. The benefit is that there aren’t a whole lot of losses using this indirect method, so it comes out way better than conventional scrubbers or seperators added to the back end of a normal coal combustion cycle.

    So it’s less efficient than what we do now, but more efficient than what the EPA was otherwise going to force everyone to do. I can’t say if that’s good or bad, but if someone can figure out how to burn these iron pellets in a fireplace (which wouldn’t have the stink and soot of coal) letting people heat their houses at coal energy prices instead of paying firewood or propane prices, returning the iron logs for a “recharge”, they’ll make a fortune.

  78. While CO2 capture is perhaps not as great a feature as the developers appear to believe, there may yet be some merit to the technique. A great deal of expense and effort goes into removing fly ash and combustion byproducts from the exhaust gases in a power plant, here the exhaust is neatly contained. Secondly, there is the potential for more complete oxidation and the use of soft or brown coal with no increase in pollution. Should the net cost of operation be reduced, power plant operators will be specifying this technique for new construction in short order.

  79. I’d prefer the simplified version.

    1. Mix the pulverized coal and rust particles (could be from scrap) into reactor chamber.

    2. Ignite mix.

    3. Maintain forced air blast feeding in at the bottom, controlling flow for temperature with no un-reacted oxygen allowed through to the top.

    4. Extract the molten steel from bottom of reactor chamber, reload fresh mix at top as needed.

    5. Use heat of cooling ingots or rolled shapes to make the steam for the electricity generators.

    Addendum: I guess you could process the gasses coming off of the burning mix, capture the carbon dioxide and any nitrogen oxides, if you really wanted to.

    Perhaps a nice water misting to capture the gases, which would make a nice liquid acid mix you could use to break down an iron source (scrap, ore) into the little rust particles.

    What do you think, not clean/Green enough? Or too feasible/practical for the EPA to allow it?

  80. This thing is all pain for no gain! It is all about sequestration. Take a step back and look at the overall picture here. The overall net chemical reaction is still C + O2 => CO2. Because you have now added extra steps to the process, you MUST get less useable energy to put into the electric grid at the end per ton of coal (carbon) burned. Thus, this process leads to MORE coal combusted to produce the same amount of useable energy as just burning it in air the normal way. Less efficiency means increased cost.

    Also, since you produce almost 3.7tons of CO2 for every one ton of coal, and we are burning millions, if not billions, of tons of coal annualy, that is one huge quantity of CO2 they plan on storing somewhere. That can niether be done safely or cheaply (people have already died in China when natural CO2 came out of the ground into a village). And since CO2 is not going to be causing CAGW, there is absolutely no gain to be had in capturing and sequestering all of this CO2. Thus this technology has ZERO benefits at a huge cost! The only thing it serves to do is further drastically increase the cost of energy and drive even more people into poverty.
    This will make Solyndra look like an excellent bargain. This is the one and only time I can think of where I would agree with the CAGW warmists. It is an incredibly stupid idea.

  81. pottereaton says:
    February 20, 2013 at 11:21 pm
    Anthony’s inherent skepticism seems to have abandoned him in this case. I’m one of those who firmly believes that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
    ++++
    Nothing here sounds too good to be true. I need some efficiency numbers such as what’s the expected cost to produce a kWh of energy once/if the process is improved. Give me some numbers please. If numbers look promising and if we really someday believe CO2 to be a bad thing, maybe there could be a glimmer of hope in my mind. But at this point, it’s a pretty neat rehashing of old technology used in metallurgy.

    When I worked in the foundry, we’d first burn off the carbon in cheap metals to make low carbon alloys. Then, we’d add aluminum to suck the oxygen from the slag (oxides of metals). This created heat to get the allow to temperature. Of course there was purging of Argon and Nitrogen with low amounts of oxygen to burn off the carbon at the beginning of the process… and we’d have to add pure silicon to get the si content back since its affinity to oxygen is higher than carbon… bla bla bla…

  82. CRS, Dr.P.H. says: wrote
    February 20, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    Sorry, I’ve seen far too many of these “miracle process” things come and go over the past 30 years…the last one was thermal depolymerization, which managed to stink up the town of Carthage, Missouri when the owners tried to turn turkey guts into renewable fuel.

    LoL. I recall reading about that process and wondering what had happened to it.

  83. Didn’t I read that a new fracking fluid is liquified dry ice? (Not that “evil CO2 stuff”, just good old tree food)

  84. I am with Alcheson: and regarding “This will make Solyndra look like an excellent bargain.”

    I worked in the semiconductor industry while I was working in robotics automation and servomotion control systems. That’s when I saw Solyndra’s stupid solar tubes while at Semicon/Solar West in SF. I recall asking the engineer at the show to explain their great technology. He said, our tubes can lay flat and the sun shines on some portion of the tubes at all angles because the solar cells are located cylindrically around the inside of the tubes. I responded that therefore the sun never illuminates all of the solar cells ever –and probably never more than 30%. So the efficiency is never ever going to be any good. There will never be sun shining on more than a small fraction of the cells in these tubes. He said, “but, but, you don’t have to tilt these towards the sun and they are perfect for flat roofs. I left dumbfounded at the nonsense. This was an instant fail in my mind.

    A few years later, I was instrumenting an industrial building in Fremont with sensors for an irrigation system to sense soil moisture content as feed back to watering optimization. While there, I saw huge numbers of these unsold tubes in their warehouse. The owner of the complex said they were being stored because Solyndra had nowhere to put them. A year later they were all ground down to dust and reclaimed as scrap. That’s where the tax money went… the rest lined pockets of Obama supporters at the expense of you and I.

    End of story!

  85. @JohnC says:
    February 20, 2013 at 11:46 pm
    Didn’t I read that a new fracking fluid is liquified dry ice? (Not that “evil CO2 stuff”, just good old tree food)
    ++++
    You left out the note. dry ice is CO2…liquid or not. But you knew that I am sure :)

  86. Hey, anti-federal paranoids! If you want to get exercised about a REAL scandal, look up energyfromthorium.com. No you wont be reading about conspiracies aimed at abolishing our freedoms. You’ll read about an elegant and proven technology that got muscled out of the funding that might have given us energy independence decades ago, The muscle that did it was that of the established nuclear industry and the pig headed behind-the-scenes roadblocks thrown up by 4 star admiral Rickover (“the Father of the Nuclear Navy”) and his handpicked director of Research and development (Milton Shaw) at AEC as well as Congressman Hollifield (It’s a LONG read but worth knowing about. Use keywords “Milton Shaw”, “Decline of The American Nuclear Establishment”). Dont neglect to read about thorium advocate, Dr Alvin Weinberg*, director of Oak Ridge National Laboratories (whose honors and accomplishments would humble all but a very few of the famous and not so famous. Rickover’s quick success with the light water reactor is owed to Weinberg’s recommending it after determining, as early 1946, the practicality of using pressurized water as both moderator AND coolant, ENRICHED uranium for the fuel and CADMIUM for fuel cladding.). If you want to condemn the Obama Administration concerning this issue, just be aware that “W’s” secretary of energy never acknowledged receipt of communications on the subject and candidate McCain became disinterested after losing in 08. And before you condemn Obama for his unfortunate choice for Energy Secretary Chu (of genuinely questionable loyalty), read up on the history of the Manhattan Project (in which Dr Weinberg participated) and learn how many times and ways that the M.P. nearly didnt happen -** (How DO you get through to the President or a convincible and influential staffer?)***
    Sorry for rambling but this issue fills thousands of pages and hours of internet video. It’s hard to know where to start and when to stop.

    * In the interests of full disclosure, it gives me much pleasure to report that Dr Weinberg authored “Global Effects Of Man’s Production Of Energy” in 1974. Yes, it was about climate change. And some of you might be disappointed to learn that Dr Edward Teller called attention to proliferating CO2 as a threat to future clinate.

    **Every President has gate keepers who allow or disallow issues from reaching the busy man at the top. But for the energetic advocacy of an unlikely combination of such relatively unknown great men as Szilard, Wigner, Alexander Sachs, Oliphant, Peierls, Frisch, Compton, Vannevar Bush as well as world famous Einstein, FDR would never have gotten us to the Bomb which not only ended the War but probably prevented World War III.
    ***I cant resist bringing up W’s and Rice’s cavalier dismissal of pre 911 warnings. What if FDR had been a little more like W in that regard?

  87. To Lazy T. Why not start your own blog? Let’s see if you can get anywhere near as succesful as Anthony is.

  88. @Mario Lento says:
    February 20, 2013 at 11:58 pm
    I am with Alcheson: and regarding “This will make Solyndra look like an excellent bargain.”
    >>>>>>>>>>>
    Shouldn’t this story about Solyndra’s scam, stealing millions in tax-money as subsidies, storing their snake-oil in warehouses, then disposing of their snake-oil by grinding up everything for recycling, be front page news in all mainstream media? The big green scam is so widespread that even the lapdog media try to hide it, a scam which globally, adding up all the big green pseudo investments amounts to the greatest scam ever perpetrated on mankind.

  89. Most likely won’t get anywhere, just like thermal depolymerization and Synrock. Synrock? Synthetic rock, invented as a material to mix with and permanently seal away radioactive waste. A small scale demonstration system was built in the 1980’s. The process involved mixing the waste with the Synrock powder, pouring it into a corrugated steel can and induction heating it. The red hot can was then smashed into a disk, compacting the Synrock and radioactive waste into a solid. Synrock samples showed only minor color changes, no cracks, chips or leaching under hot water and pressure tests that cracked and crumbled and caused leaching from borosilicate glass.

    So you’d think the government agency tasked with securely disposing of radioactive waste would choose Synrock? NOPE! They went with the borosilicate glass encapsulation process.

  90. Mario Lento says:
    February 21, 2013 at 12:00 am
    @JohnC says:
    February 20, 2013 at 11:46 pm
    Didn’t I read that a new fracking fluid is liquified dry ice? (Not that “evil CO2 stuff”, just good old tree food)

    CO2 doesn’t have a liquid phase at Earth atmospheric pressure. It goes directly from solid to gas. Above 5 atmospheres there is a liquid phase, but you are talking about several times that to get a liquid you can work with.

    I very much doubt liquid CO2 is used in fracking, but the ignorance and gullibility of grant issuing bureaucrats knows no bounds.

  91. Perhaps this technology could even be developed into small scale local or residential sized units, so the energy could be produced closer to the end user where it is needed rather than sent thousands of km on power lines where ~80% of the energy is lost in the wires. ?

  92. Well the first responders to this post caught on fast and I agree with them all the way. This sounds like a solution looking for a problem and if other stuff from Ohio State are to go by complete rubbish.

  93. Thanks for the explanation kadaka (KD Knoebel). But still by definition a sock puppet.

    But back to the new technology, I supposed theorist of their exercise is burn coal in the absence of nitrogen, which iis in plentiful supply when burning coal with air. That means the gas you get consists predominantly of co2 and h2o. I can see this being very important if want to sequester the flue gases to keep it out of the atmosphere.

    John m. I don’t for a minute believe your 80% figure is accurate. I accept that there is line loss but not that much.

  94. So they are burning coal – the only difference is that they are burning it in a sealed container.

    What is the point?

  95. Pater George says “We still don’t have a major program to get good at sequestering CO2. Shame on us.”

    Lately, I’m reading about capturing CO2 with algae, to produce a solid or slurry rather than a gas. Easier to handle, can sit at the surface without the need to dig a mine. Then, what to do with the algal mix? Well, why not burn it for fuel, thus bypassing the millions of years that Nature took to convert some such mixtures to coal?
    Should pay well on carbon credits. Go for it, you carpetbaggers.

  96. I really fail to see the point with this post. Why promote the false agenda of the so called green tech that tries to deprive nature of its most significant molecule, CO2? How is that good?

  97. Sorry, so CO2 is still produced but they capture it? Why not just apply the same capturing technology to conventional power stations?

    I can’t see what is new hear apart from chemical rather than air combustion.

  98. This is good news. This, among other reasons, is why I remain optimistic about energy supply century. This is why Warmists will always be on the back foot. They talk of peak oil, dirty coal etc. but human innovation, invention and discovery wins out. Just look at shale gas.

    My only problem with the article is the following:

    “In the simplest sense, combustion is a chemical reaction that consumes oxygen and produces heat,” Fan says. “Unfortunately, it also produces carbon dioxide, which is difficult to capture and bad for the environment.

    In what ways is CO2 it “bad for the environment” even with a doubling?

    The biosphere has seen decades of greening.

    The Sahel has been greening including parts of the Sahara.

    Greenhouse growers routinely pump in over 2.5 times current atmospheric levels.

    There has been no global warming for 16 years.

    There is no evidence of unusual extreme weather trends………………

    Abstract [eastern Colombia and western Venezuela]
    Effects of Rapid Global Warming at the Paleocene-Eocene Boundary on Neotropical Vegetation

    …….We observed a rapid and distinct increase in plant diversity and origination rates, with a set of new taxa, mostly angiosperms, added to the existing stock of low-diversity Paleocene flora. There is no evidence for enhanced aridity in the northern Neotropics. The tropical rainforest was able to persist under elevated temperatures and high levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide,…….

    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/330/6006/957

  99. Clean carbon? As if. I propose scrapping carbon credits instead burying deniers alive deep underground instead. This way we can keep plundering carbon to fly* across the globe so we can warn poor people who can’t afford carbon just how bad carbon is.

    Further I believe we may have to change the word to ‘the stuff that must not be named’ as saying c****n normalises it’s evil and makes Mother Earth so~0 sad . Whilst some may baulk at burying deniers who are still breathing this is for the greater good of our children and their children and besides deniers clearly have no souls and do not count as human. They carry the mark!

    *With a Carbon Collector Card Program (CCCP) I think the rate is about 1 denier buried alive per air mile which is why Al Gore is more god than saint. Credits can be exchanged for goods such as wicker baskets made by skilled four year olds – with all profits used to educate these heathens barbarians that burning anything to stave off hunger is bad as they should be working in corporate sweat shops for their keep.

    /sarc**

    ** although this may well be based on elements of truth.

  100. Re Lazy T.
    We (the ordinary readers at WUWT) don’t see a lot of the nasty stuff I’m sure.

    One of the reasons I keep coming back here and recommending it to other folks is the considered language and well moderated (transparent and even handed) treatment commenters receive.

    If Lazy T crossed the line in the opinion of Anthony and mods then that is good enough for me. In the early days of my climate learning curve I made the mistake of asking a few innocent questions on RC and SkS and was either caustically told to go read some stuff or my comments were black holed. I never go back there anymore! Besides they don’t have a Willis E or a Bob T :-).

  101. SAMURAI says:
    February 20, 2013 at 10:26 pm

    ……. The liquid salts in LFTRs reach 1,600C at single atmospheric pressure, which is used to heat up Helium gas in a heat exchanger to run gas turbines and generate electricity.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    I’m just a Welder but it’s my understanding that are concerns in the industry about near term shortages of Helium. The predicted Helium shortage Impacts MRI machines as well as certain welding process.

  102. Nothing “clean” or “dirty” for that matter about emitting CO2. NOT emitting it is starving plants and causing food poverty for humans and for wildlife. So totally screwed up it isn’t worth pointing out the fallacies.

  103. …..this might have been said already

    Isn’t this just some way to use iron oxide to split CO2 into C and O2? not producing CO2….just C?

  104. George Turner,
    Thanks for the more complete overview of the technology.

    So basically we are still going to see sulfur-oxygen compounds in the exhaust due to the sulfur in the coal, but it will eliminate the nitrogen-oxygen compounds. Still that is a step in the right direction. I am still a little concerned with what other contaminants in coal will get oxidized by the oxygen in the FeO3. Of course I’d have to look at the bond potentials in the conditions in the chamber to see if the other elements could break the O2 off the FeO3 to oxidize. I’m pretty sure the sulfur will, but I haven’t looked at the typical contaminant load in coal to see what other products we might see. The ash containment is a nice feature since we wouldn’t have to invest in expensive smoke stack scrubbers to keep it from flying away. The mercury and other heavy contaminants would be right there in the residue in the reaction chamber as well. It does make for a neat package from an environmental standpoint. The coal would just keep making FeO as fuel to feed into the real combustion chamber.
    Won’t the nitrogen and oxygen from the air that “burns” the FeO to FeO3 encounter high enough temperatures to form NOx though? I am not sure we aren’t moving the pollution formation from the coal combustion to the iron combustion phase. There are lots of physical and chemical engineering hurdles to overcome here. In the end there will have to be a cost-benefit calculation to determine whether the loss in efficiency is worth what little environmental benefit is derived from the process.

  105. “Now what is ‘death train’ Hansen going to do?”

    Mr. Hansen is currently into getting himself arrested in Washington D.C. while maintaining his job as manager of a branch of NASA in an expensive NYC facility, and pulling down a six figure salary with generous benefits. (And also generating meaningless “research” at taxpayer expense).

    Meanwhile, his opposition to the Keystone pipeline will do absolutely nothing to change the climate. NOTHING. But it will raise the price of energy in the U.S., cause us to lose jobs (not his of course), and make all of our lives more difficult as we try to satisfy our energy needs…thank you Mr. Hansen!

  106. I do think this is an important anti-pollution development that could save the coal industry. Coal’s real problem is particulate emissions from burning. I believe this eliminates those particulates entirely and probably cheaper than stack scrubbers. This is exciting for the coal industry– BUT– what are the capital costs to retrofit plants and build new ones? what’s cost comparison with NatGas plants for construction and operation? Those numbers will decide the fate of US coal. The contained CO2? Meh, make soda pop out of it, fill green houses with it, bury it. Not a big issue.

  107. This is not the death knell for Hansen and his ilk. If the technology catches on, and if they find some way to contain all that CO2 indefinitely, then in twenty years when everyone has forgotten the global warming scare we will start to see claims of a global cooling scare again. Catastrophic cooling caused by a lack of CO2 from industrial processes, in turn caused by the evils of capitalism depriving Gaia of her needed life blood because of evil profits.

    These people have little shame, and even less of a grasp on reality, and their motivation has always been political and ideological. As in the past, when the end of the world that the current Malthusian death cult is predicting fails to arrive, they will simply fade into the background for a while until some new barely plausible end of the world scenario presents itself for them to exploit. If someone invented a free energy machine that had near zero impact of any kind, a miracle machine in effect, these people would decry it as the ultimate evil, because it would take the power they have, and the potential power they want over people, out of their hands and into the hands of those they would rather rule than accept as equals.

    Your betters have told you coal and CO2 are evil. You don’t need to know why, you just need to accept and send them money and let them run your life.

  108. Doesn’t sound that revolutionary to me. A similar process has been used for nearly 200 years to smelt iron ore. In fact, I’d say the not releasing CO2 claim is misleading, if not false. CO2 is released, the same amount as conventional burning. It’s just that the CO2 is captured, which is unrelated to the coal – iron oxide chemistry.

    I agree. This is a yawner, unless there is something I’m missing. “Burning” coal vs oxidizing it by means of a complicated and expensive series of reactions both produce precisely the same amount of energy per kilogram of coal, because the chemical reaction is still C + O_2 -> CO_2. You can fancy it up, insert additional catalytic steps, and make it as costly as you like but at the end of the day you’ve still burned a kilogram of coal and produced just as much CO_2.

    Once produced, CO_2 itself is a kind of “ash”. It is energetically stable. It will hang out until something adds energy back (how much? just as much as was released burning it) to remove the oxygens and turn the carbon either back into coal or into e.g. a hydrocarbon. At the moment, the only cost effective way to do that is to do nothing with it but release it into the atmosphere and wait for the photosynthesizing plants of the world to do their job, just as they have for the last billion years or so. It would be lovely if we could take pure CO_2 and pure water and pump it into one end of a large factory and, perhaps using solar energy, transform it into gasoline by the time it reached the end of the building with anything like a competitive efficiency, but so far I’ve heard of nothing like this. Until it exists, there are lots of ways to capture or sequester CO_2 produced by burning, all of them expensive, and there is nowhere to put the almost four metric tons of it one produces burning a single metric ton of coal.

    What are they thinking?

    rgb

  109. This is so stupid and misleading that it is not even funny.
    What they do is the following cycle.

    Reaction 1 : 2 Fe2O3 + 3 C -> 4 Fe + 3 CO2 (endothermic reaction needs 505 kJ)
    Then
    Reaction 2 : 4 Fe + 3 O2 -> 2 Fe2O3 (exothermic reaction provides 1684 kJ)

    Do you recognise what that is ?
    Reaction 1 is the smelting furnace, that’s how we have been doing iron for the last few thousands years.
    Reaction 2 is rusting iron. Of course as we won’t wait decades that the iron rusts, we’ll help it along by using high temperature.

    So basically what they propose is to use a smelting furnace to produce iron that we let rust and then put the rust back in the smelting furnace to get iron that we let rust …

    If you want to have a feel for the staggering stupidity, you add the 2 equations and obtain :
    3 C + 3 O2 -> 3 CO2 (exothermic reaction provides 1 179 kJ)
    Yes, right. This whole revolutionary invention is fully equivalent to just burning coal what you can do in your home oven without needing a university lab and a professor.

    Let us recapitulate.
    This Kafka’s Castle does exactly the same thing like burning coal but does so by introducing an incredibly expensive and crazy system involving grinding coal to microparticles and transporting energy via hot iron.
    What do you reckon would be the economics compared to simply burning coal … ?
    Ah yes, as a bonus you get pure CO2 but you don’t know what to do with it.
    Put it in a stack perhaps :)
    Besides if you wanted pure CO2, you could burn coal in pure oxygen anyway.

  110. As a kid, I watched and counted the coal cars on a train taking 100 car-loads of coal to the powerplant every Monday-Friday. Imagine what we are going to do with over 300 train-car loads of CO2 produced every day by a single powerplant of the size of the one in Labadie Mo. And the cost of doing so, and what effect you think that will have on the cost of the electricity produced. Expensivie solar and windmill energy will look like a bargain.

  111. George Turner says:
    February 20, 2013 at 11:31 pm .
    They’re just reducing iron oxide in one chamber, letting the oxygen in the iron oxide combine with carbon in the coal to produce nothing but CO2
    Oxidizing the iron doesn’t produce any CO2 because there’s no carbon with it
    =========
    Of course there is, otherwise what would be the point.
    At high temps rust splits CO2 into C(gr) and O2……

  112. CO2 IS NOT BAD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT!

    IT’S PLANT FOOD!!!!!!!!! Idiots wasting time on a non-issue. What are they going to do with all of the CO2? Hunh?

  113. This technology is interesting for one reason and one reason only: NO AIR! The volume of the stack gas is much reduced, and with refrigeration could be a liquid CO2 stream. The downside is that oxidizing coal with pure oxygen proceeds at a temperature somewhere around 7,000 degrees F, so the reaction chamber must be exotic materials and cooled by elaborate channels.

  114. We could just mix the sequestered carbon dioxide with water and store it in bottles – with the appropriate sweeteners and flavourings we could call it “Carbon-Coala”!

  115. This [snip] is most probably a Chinese government agent placed in the US to pull the stupid Americans legs. He is, so far, very successful.
    The press release is obviously aimed at the semantically challenged damyankees.
    That’s you, buddy.

    REPLY: I snipped your hate speech, that’s all you buddy – Anthony

  116. all our CO2 has done so far is keep us out of an ice Age .. Now Britain’s closing its home supplied coal-fired Power stations so we can import costly gas .. probably exporting our coal to China .. Luckily China is on another planet .. or is that our politicians ???

  117. Actually, all this CO2 is very useful pumped down oil wells to extract more oil. There is a huge market for it IMO.

  118. I have wondered for a long time why there aren’t greenhouses around every gas and coal power plant. The greenhouses could use the heat in the winter, the CO2 to enhance the growth, and excess power capacity at night to increase the growing day length.

  119. MorningGuy says: “Pumping CO2 in the ground is fine as long as it’s not anywhere near where I live. I heard about a lake in Africa with a bed of CO2 that was released in an earth quake, CO2 is heavier than air so it “flowed” down a hill and suffocated a whole village instantly. Can they assure me the same thing won’t happen at a CO2 sequestering site ??? I don’t think so.

    That would be Lake Nyos, which sits on a volcanic vent. The deadly cloud extended up to 15 miles, and four entire villages were gassed. Some scientists claim volcanoes don’t emit much CO2. This one does, indicating their assessment may be off by an order of magnitude. But that’s acceptible in PostNormal science.

  120. @D.B. Stealey

    >Out of all the world’s economies, the U.S. has done about the best job of reducing emissions.

    It is actually a bit better than that. The Eastern forests of the USA are absorbing a huge amount of CO2 and no one is crediting that. They have been expanding since the early 50’s. The greens won’t count it because it means the net emissions from the US are perhaps 1/4 or 1/5 of the usual claims. It is about as logical as Calif saying that hydro power is not ‘renewable energy’. It is tree-stump stupid.

  121. Some real world questions.
    How is this different from the Fischer-Tropsch process?
    What is the ratio of pulverized coal & the ‘iron pellets” – A 588 megawatt power plant needs 300 tons an hour. How much power is needed to move the hundreds of tons/hour of iron in and out of the chamber and cool it down?
    Since I was working on a power plant next door to the ND – Great Plains Synfuels Plant, which uses the Fischer-Tropsch process, I have kept up with its progress. Back in 2000 the started a CO2 capture to feed the Canadian oil fields. Their site states they pull 50% of 18,000 tn/day of CO2 and ship it north to inject in the wells. If I remember correct it is a 6″ high pressure line.
    They do make a profit off this, little water in Sak. Canada and works well.

  122. I have been following this chemical looping technology for several years. It DOES produce CO2, as others have noted here. I assume the reporter that wrote this story misinterpreted what was being told.

    You can store the CO2 under pressure for a time, but it will build up to the point something will have to be done with it. In any reaction of coal and oxygen, there is at least twice the weight of CO2 generated as the weight of coal used. The fact that the off gas from the process is almost pure CO2 and water means you do not need an expensive separation technique to remove the CO2 from the nitrogen that normally comes along for the ride in traditional combustion. That nitrogen also carries away heat with it that could be used to generate steam.

    This is a similar process to what is called oxy-fuel, where pure oxygen is fed to a boiler with fuel and to allow a high precentage of CO2 to be in the flue gas. It takes a significant amount of power to run the air separation unit, however, up to 25% of the electrical output. Reacting the oxygen with iron the the chemical looping process significantly reduces the energy drain of this step.

    The statement, “Basically they found a way to oxidize coal and extract energy without releasing any CO2.” is incorrect and misleading.

  123. Dr. Fan is merely contriving word games to circumvent the word “burn”. If there’s anything novel here, I hope eventually to see it in a form that doesn’t insult my intelligence.

  124. rgbatduke: It would be lovely if we could take pure CO_2 and pure water and pump it into one end of a large factory and, perhaps using solar energy, transform it into gasoline by the time it reached the end of the building with anything like a competitive efficiency, but so far I’ve heard of nothing like this.

    to my knowledge, only laboratory scale demonstrations so far.

    This is just one particular way to sequester CO2, so it will appeal only to the people who think that is necessary and feasible. CO2 sequestration was included in the “wedges” papers.

  125. Re jorgekafkazar says: February 21, 2013 at 9:24 am
    Another volcanic area emits CO2. There is a volcanic CO2 venting area near Mammoth Mountain, California. The cross-country ski trail map and nearby trails have CO2 warnings.

    http://pubs.usgs.gov/dds/dds-81/Intro/MonitoringData/CO2/CO2.html

    “The most likely sources of the CO2 are degassing of intruded magma and gas release from limestone-rich metasedimentary rocks that are heated by magmatic intrusions. The remarkable uniformity in chemical and isotopic composition of the CO2 and accompanying gases at different locations around Mammoth Mountain indicates that there may actually be a large reservoir of gas deep below the mountain from which gas escapes along faults to the surface.”

  126. The carbon is already sequestered. Adding an equal tonnage of our oxygen that will NOT be replaced and is a far more scarce resource (do the maths) has far more serious repercussions.

  127. If not already mentioned – they could use this to trap their carbon. MOFs are clusters of metal atoms connected by organic molecules. Due to their extremely high internal surface area—that could cover an entire football field in a single gram—they can store large volumes of gas. “The MOF can release the adsorbed carbon dioxide when irradiated with light found in sunlight, just like wringing out a sponge,” says lead author Richelle Lyndon

  128. BTW, Anthony & Mods, thanks again for moderating these pages and keeping the unsavory elements out! We welcome dissent, but we don’t need junk. Best, Chuck the DrPH p.s. I still miss REP (Bob Phelan)!

    [Reply: We miss him, too. — mod.]

  129. This is the part I like from the Babcock and Wilcox White Paper.

    Abstract
    Coal-Direct Chemical Looping (CDCL) is an efficient
    power generation process. According to preliminary process
    and economic simulations, the CDCL process achieves
    greater than 90% carbon capture efficiency and meets the
    United States (U.S.) Department of Energy’s (DOE) target
    of <35% increase in cost of electricity (COE).

  130. “The press release is written to deliberately deceive people who don;t know basic chemistry”

    I concur. The chemical equations which would clarify what they’re talking around are AWOL.

    Oh, and they were already using iron and iron oxide crushers in coal-fired power plants back in the 1960s. They would crush the coal, then blow the dust into the fire-box… more or less continuously. The coal is not pure carbon; there are always other things mixed in with it with quantities varying with the coal-field, the seam and from place to place within that. Whether you’re just burning it, or using coal slurry pipe-lines to transport it (the acids tend to eat the pipes so they need to be lined, only the chunks of coal and lime-stone tend to bash the liners…), those “contaminants” have to be dealt with. They also already had “bag filters” for fly ash, and lime-stone scrubbers to neutralize acids in the flue gas in the late 1960s, before all of the fuss was raised in the media about “acid rain”. All I’ve seen ballyhooed since seem to be tiny incremental improvements.

  131. CodeTech says:
    February 20, 2013 at 6:13 pm
    Great, it captures the CO2…Then what do they do with it?

    —–
    Soda Streams in every home!!!

  132. What I find really exciting is that all the coal ash is contained apparently w/o needing expensive smoke-stack scrubbers. If they can also convert the CO2 into a product form that is a 2nd win.

  133. Seen a lot of stories like this in Popular Science. Of course we all hope there’s more to it. It sounds like there is a lot of energy required to preprocess/powder the coal. Would be interested in the net energy produced after accounting for the energy required to mine and deliver and prep the coal. Also if it’s so clean why the respirators?

  134. Teresa says:
    February 21, 2013 at 12:26 pm
    “What I find really exciting is that all the coal ash is contained apparently w/o needing expensive smoke-stack scrubbers.”

    Do you think that their system is cheaper than a flue gas scrubber? What gives you that idea?

  135. To CRS, Dr. P.H.:

    You wrote in part: ” Also, I didn’t see them mention contaminants (coal is loaded with uranium, radium, arsenic, lead, mercury & other junk), plus sulfur, silica and calcium compounds.”

    Huh? I don’t know about some of those others, but uranium in coal only goes < 10 ppm
    by weight, so in the case of U, I think your concern about concentration is misplaced.

  136. Andyj please do the maths on the amount of oxygen that will be sequestered with the co2. You will not be too concerned. If you are really concerned about using up oxygen, then you should be advocating the banning burning of all fossil fuels as a lot of oxygen will be used up as it combines with the hydrogen to form h2o.

    There has been a lot of mention upstream about starving plants if you sequester co2, well don’t be concerned as the carbon dioxide was not available to plants when the carbon was tied up in coal encore it was burnt, and they seem to have done all right.

    Some people up stream have talked about forests absorbing large amounts of co2 etc. that is good so long as the forests are never felled or die and rot. I would be more comfortable if the plants absorbed all the co2, but that is not happening because co2 levels in the atmosphere continue to grow.

  137. If all the CO2 from the roughly 4 gigatons of coal burned each year are captured by this process, this works out to ~92million large (190m3) tanker cars of liquid CO2 to sequester each year. Sequestering such large amounts of CO2 underground is very likely very hazardous at some point down the road. As others have pointed out, what happens to ground water quality as well, especially as the CO2 sequestered will be contaminated with SO2 and perhaps other things as well? In the end, it will still be hideously expensive with absolutely no net positive to speak of as CO2 will NOT cause CAGW.

    Oh, and Andyj says:
    February 21, 2013 at 10:11 am

    “what happens after all the Earths OXYGEN IS SEQUESTERED??????”

    According to my calculations and based on current rate of coal consumption it will take well over 3000 years to drop the O2 content in the air down from 21% to 20% so I don’t think that should be too much of a problem at this point.

  138. Andyj says:
    February 21, 2013 at 10:52 am
    The carbon is already sequestered. Adding an equal tonnage of our oxygen that will NOT be replaced and is a far more scarce resource (do the maths) has far more serious repercussions.

    If CO2 has gone up from 0.03% to 0.04% and oxygen has gone down from 20.96% to 20.95%, what is the problem?

  139. Andyj says:
    February 21, 2013 at 10:52 am
    “The carbon is already sequestered. Adding an equal tonnage of our oxygen that will NOT be replaced and is a far more scarce resource (do the maths) has far more serious repercussions.”

    After all the oxygen in the atmosphere is gone, we can easily split water into H2 and O, let the H2 dissipate into space (no we can’t burn it ! We need the oxygen! ), bottle it and sell it to anyone who needs a fresh breath.

  140. Chris R.
    But if 900000ppm is carbon and all of that is converted to CO2, then the remaining ash concentration of U just went from 10 ppm to 10 parts per 100,000. now about 50,000 of those parts are hydrogen which reacts to produce water. About 10,000 of those parts are nitrogen which will react to produce NOx, Up to 10,000 of those parts are contained water and trapped oxygen, which now leaves you with 10 parts in 30,000 or 1 part in 3,000. That is starting to get some concentration to it. Volatile distillation will do that to you! These are the numbers for hard coal, the carbon number is more like 600,000 ppm in the softer coals, but the volatile organics go up and you still wind up with a similar distillation number.

  141. Moe,
    Photosynthesis stops at about 180ppm CO2. We were at about 280ppm when the little ice age stopped. In geological time it has been as high as 3000ppm with plants and animals thriving quite well. I really don’t like the idea of flirting with plant death, as everything else dies with them when that happens. You see, we are all solar powered, but the plants do all the work.

  142. To Owen in GA:

    With respect to concentration of U: So what? You may not be aware of
    this, but the U.S. military uses so-called “depleted uranium” shells in
    tank-killing cannon ammunition. The penetrator heads on those shells
    are well over 90% U. Natural uranium is mostly U-238, which
    is very mildly radioactive. Unless you eat it or otherwise ingest it,
    it won’t harm you–the alpha particles it puts out are stopped within
    the first inch of air, you don’t even need tin foil to stop them!

    Now some of those other pollutants being highly concentrated might
    be an issue, but the fact that the original post led the list off with U
    is a indication that the good Dr. CRS was particularly concerned
    with it.

  143. Owe in GA, I have never heard that there was a lower limit of co2 concentration that will support photosynthesis. Do you mind posting the research that you got that conclusion from? Anyway, if we sequester all the co2 from all the coal fired power station from now on, the concentration of co2 in the atmosphere will remain at 40% higher than it was 150 years ago, so I don’t think you have to worry about plant death just yet.

    Also could you explain how humans fared when the last time co2 concentrations were 3000ppm? After all that is what is at stake here. Human survivability in a comfortable lifestyle no point in going back to 3,000 ppm if modern agriculture can’t grow food, or the habitat is racked by floods, drought or oth extremes of weather.

  144. My energy markets expert in a large three-letter non-partisan federal agency in foggy bottom says:

    The big breakthrough seems to be a way to capture the carbon without generating a lot of parasitic load—in traditional coal burning power plants, it is possible to capture CO2 in the flue but it takes energy to do so, hence the term parasitic load. The parasitic load can be as high as 30%, which means you are burning 30% more fuel and running your equipment 30% of the time just to capture the carbon. Means you would need to build thirty percent more capacity to serve the load that you serve without carbon capture. So, if these guys can get the energy out of the coal without parasitic load that would be huge. That said, I could not tell how efficiently their chemical (non-burning) process generates heat. The heat rate of different processes determines how much electricity you can generate from a unit of coal or other fuel. If they have a similar heat rate and no parasitic load, the costs of transport and sequestration are small in comparison. Of course, we do not know much about where we could dump huge quantities of CO2 without causing earthquakes and in areas where it won’t migrate, etc.

    There are other pollutants being scrubbed out of conventional stacks, at considerable cost. I did not notice that it discussed mercury, for example. Maybe the mercury goes on up with the heat. The particulates and such would be presumably not an issue but the solid waste left over would be. Much coal ash currently goes into beneficial uses such as making sheetrock and concrete. Lots of questions betwixt demonstration and commercialization. That’s why most of these ideas are perpetually on the verge, so to speak.

  145. Katherine says:

    Unfortunately, it also produces carbon dioxide, which is difficult to capture and bad for the environment.

    “Facepalm. Drank the Kool-Aid didn’t he?”

    It is hard to understand his level of ignorance. CO2 is necessary for all life on Earth. The atmospheric concentration of CO2 has been up to twenty times higher in the past, with no adverse effects. When CO2 was high, the biosphere thrived.

    And CO2 is typically between 500 ppm and 5,000 ppm in office buildings and residences. No one even notices.

    Finally, some folks seem to have the notion that plants grow by using soil. This is incorrect. They grow by ingesting CO2 from the air; they strip off the carbon atom, and emit an oxygen molecule. Plant growth comes from the CO2 in the air. When you look at a plant, you are seeing CO2 in action.

  146. This is the America that I thought was lost. Shame on me. Leave it to American scientists/ engineers (and the free enterprise system that will exploit this new tech) to find a way to solve a problem (even if it is a non problem -CO2) and not let this fossil fuel gift lie fallow. Now we are going to find out what the real CAGW protestors want – it isn’t clean CO2-free fuel to save us all!

    “Claiming that coal is clean because it could be clean — if a new technically unproven and economically dubious technology might be adopted — is like someone claiming that belladonna is not poisonous because there is a new unproven safe pill under development,” wrote Donald Brown at liberal think tank Climate Progress.”

    If irony hadn’t been invented, the clonatologists would have invented it. So Donald Brown, following your thinking, if a technically unproven hypothesis like “CO2 will cause unstoppable planetary destruction……

  147. To Moe:

    The reference to CO2 levels being 3000 ppm is from millions of
    years ago. Humans were not around. However, humans can easily
    tolerate CO2 levels up to 5000 ppm with no ill effects. This
    has been established on U.S. Navy submarines.

    As to your other fears–agriculture will be able to grow food just
    fine. Plants thrived during the period the dinosauria ruled the
    Earth–and CO2 was 1500-2000 ppm. Plants conquered the land
    during the Devonian period–and CO2 was 3000-4000 ppm.
    Most plants, including food plants, like high
    CO2 levels. As to your fears about drought, flood, extreme
    weather–these have not been reliably linked to increased CO2.
    There have been a horde of postings on this blog exploring
    the lack of evidence for such linkages. Use the search
    box on this site and read.

  148. Rick writes “How do you separate that? You could pump it to high pressure where the CO2 liquifies ”

    They’re going to need to do that for efficient transportation anyway. Unless of course there is a handy stable geological structure nearby to deposit into.. Which is like…never.

  149. brians356 says:

    “If they have a similar heat rate and no parasitic load, the costs of transport and sequestration are small in comparison”.

    I have to disagree strongly here! At ~1billion tons of coal consumption in the US, that works out to 3.47billion tons of CO2. Shipping that much CO2 will require specialized train cars and amounts to about 20million train cars per year. SInce the CO2 will be shipped under pressure and in liquid form it will have to avoid populated areas during transportation. Any severe train crash will release massivie quantities of cold, very dense CO2 that will hug the ground and potentially kill people within several miles downwind of the accident. Also, there is no proven technology to show that storing these massive amounts of CO2 (contaminated with SO2 and possibly other polluntants) underground can be done safely without damaging the water table . To make the claim that safe transportation and storage will be insignificant is beyond credible belief. At a minimum it will cost almost 4x the cost of shipping the CO2 than it does the coal, and probably more. Then you will have the added cost of sequestering it.

  150. Cgris R:

    Loaded many of those depleted uranium rounds on A10s in Desert Storm and never worried about them. Though some of the infantry guys hitting the area after the A10 shot the place up probably should have been wearing their gas masks. I do wonder how many lung cancer cases we are going to see in those guys in future years.
    The problem when you begin concentrating uranium by whatever means is not the uranium itself, it uses an alpha decay pathway (with a small probability of larger fission chunks) and alpha particles are only really dangerous if they are inside of you…skin will stop them. The problem is some of the daughters in the decay pathway (particularly radon) can get into your lungs rather easily.
    So if some ingenious chemist found a way to remove the silica and aluminum from the ash to use in glass and metal processes, you’d be left with messy things to get rid of. U238 isn’t much use (I suppose you could make red pottery glaze with it – joking here btw I’m pretty sure they stopped that in the 70’s). Mercury isn’t too nice either (though not bad in elemental form). It isn’t that they are evil, it’s just that there is no use for these and storing them is not easy. As it stands now the ash can be used in concrete and you wouldn’t notice the difference with a Geiger counter as concrete is already pretty active from all the other ingredients. (I love to put a Geiger counter up to peoples’ lovely granite counter tops and watch them have a conniption.) My comment was more about how 10ppm becomes 1 part per thousand in the residue – still not bad, but a lot more concentrated than atmospheric CO2.

  151. Just to add to the CO2 is good for and essential for plants, marijuana growers apparently think that a 1500ppm CO2 environment is good for increasing crop yield. And those guys are serious about crop yields. Maybe there’s an untapped market for all this “excess” CO2. There are apparently 400,000 “authorized” (indoor?) growers in California alone. Who new?

    And semi-related, L Berkeley Labs (researcher Evan Mills) came to the conclusion in 2011, that indoor marijuana growers consume 1% of US electricity (3% of California’s) from an article in the San Francisco Business Times, April 2011. Got to be a higher percentage now in 2013 with CO and WA states legalizing or decriminalizing. Wonder what the pot industry’s carbon balance/footprint is…

  152. “Is it as good as cold fusion?”
    I guess it’s a case of, if it works and is economically sustainable, will it placate the needs of the CO2 thermageddon brigade until their orthodoxy has run its course and the scientific method once again returns to mainstream science?
    Maybe then we will recognise that in our current CO2 starved era we should exploit rather than waste any rich source of fertilzer.

  153. Chris r, so,what was the climate like mills of years ago,when the co2 concentration was 3000ppm? It is not breathing the co2 that I am worried about, I am sure humans can survive that, but agriculture is more than just plant. It involves having a benign climate. Something here in Australia we are struggling with. In the north we are getting repeated floods and in the south east we have drought like conditions. Farmers are going broke and food output is declining. We are experiencing record heat records, so that cherry farmers are concerned that the cool weather they need during winter is no longer cool enough to set the fruit. I gather that you have never tried to grow a crop otherwise you would not simplify the process of food production down to plants growing.

  154. Well I stand as one with the trees. What about our life giving CO2. We were struggling before the industrial revolution at 280ppm.

  155. CRS, Dr.P.H. says:

    February 20, 2013 at 8:35 pm
    Here’s a recent white paper on the concept, published by Babock & Wilcox. http://www.babcock.com/library/pdf/BR-1892.pdf

    Thanks for this link it does put things in a better perspective than the University propanganda.
    I had to laugh at the comment that the students voluntarily quit after working so hard on shifts for over a week. Doesn’t sound like much commitment to me. I wonder if they understand how much effort is required for most developments?
    The fact that B&W are involved have studied this gives a lot of credence to the development , although we all know that many companies are eager to get on the gravy train from the FEDS. Quickly reading throug the B&W release one sees that there is a lot more to building a commercial plant than meets the eye from the university release. Having worked on similar development projects one knows that there are numerous engineering challenges that will arise and that most projects fail for a variety of reasons.
    From the B&W report below it is noteworthy that the government has no concern over increasing the cost of electricity considerably.
    “CONSOL Energy performed a preliminary economic
    analysis of the CDCL process following DOE/NETL’s
    Quality Guidelines. The study shows that the CDCL process
    has the potential to meet DOE’s target of 90% CO2 capture
    with less than a 35% increase in cost of electricity (COE).”

    Is CO2 such a threat that we need to increase the cost by 35%. I know the mantra from the greenies is that the cost will drop dramatically, but real world experience show that the cost of such developments always go up. An entire plant is much more complex than the small part demonstrated by the university in a lab. And this does not consider the complex problem of sequestration.

    See below that another EPA release claims that CO2 is benign when hawking it as a cleaning agent. I guess Lisa Jackson was wrong and lied in court.

    http://www.epa.gov/dfe/pubs/garment/lcds/micell.htm

    “Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring and generally benign substance. At room temperature, CO2 can exist in the form of a gas and is therefore used to carbonate soft drinks and other beverages. In solid form, carbon dioxide is known as dry ice. At room temperature, CO2 can also exist as a liquid if kept in a closed system at an elevated pressure. Liquid CO2 has a gas-like consistency and a low surface tension allowing it to function as a very effective cleaning medium when combined with detergents.”

    CO2 is not as easy to handle and transport (although possible) as liquid hydrocarbons due to it’s properties as shown below:

    The critical temperature for carbon dioxide is 88 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the maximum temperature at which carbon dioxide can be a liquid. The process of liquefying carbon dioxide must therefore keep the liquid below 88 degrees Fahrenheit.
    The minimum pressure needed to keep carbon dioxide a liquid is 5.1 atm to remain a liquid, no matter how cold it is.
    Remember that President Bush cancelled the clean coal project in Illinois because it was experiencing huge cost over runs, Obama resumed funding for reasons that I don’t understand.

    Considering the $90+ billion dollar waste in alternative energies so far this technology is probably a much better investment in tax dollars than solar panels, wind turbines, and converting our trees into biofuels.
    Has anyone calculated the commercial BTU produced per dollar spent on alternative fuels?

  156. To Moe:

    I have grown many crops. Corn is very big in the USA. It
    may be news to you down under, but we have had droughts
    in this country before, as well. You live with them as best
    you can.

    You seem to have bought into the hype distributed gleefully
    by activists disguising themselves as scientists. There is
    very weak evidence that our current levels of elevated CO2
    (100 ppm higher than in pre-industrial times) are causing
    increased severity of drought. A review by Cook et al.
    in 2007 (Cook, E.R., Seager, R., Cane, M.A. and Stahle, D.W. 2007.
    North American drought: Reconstructions, causes, and consequences.
    Earth-Science Reviews 81: 93-134) for North American droughts
    cited much more intense droughts prior to the industrial period.
    In fact, here’s a good quote:

    “Recent advances in the reconstruction of past drought over North America
    …have revealed the occurrence of a number of unprecedented megadroughts
    over the past millennium that clearly exceed any found in the instrumental records….
    These past megadroughts dwarf the famous droughts of the 20th century, such
    as the Dust Bowl drought of the 1930s, the southern Great Plains drought of
    the 1950s, and the current one in the West that began in 1999.”

    Globally, the picture is the same. Smith et al. (Smith, T.M., Yin, X.
    and Gruber, A. 2006. Variations in annual global precipitation (1979-2004),
    based on the Global Precipitation Climatology Project 2.5° analysis.
    Geophysical Research Letters 33: 10.1029/2005GL025393) point out that
    for their studied period, there was no net change in global precipitation
    .

    As I mentioned before, plants thrived at elevated concentrations
    of CO2. The climate was about 10 degrees C. warmer as a global average
    than today,

    Why do you keep bringing up 3000 ppm? Owen in GA
    mentioned that figure as having been achieved far before humans had
    contributed. We will never get there, because it would take burning about
    2.5 times more fossil fuel than exists on Earth.

  157. http://www.netl.doe.gov/technologies/coalpower/ewr/co2/oxy-combustion/in-situ.html You can see clearly in their diagrams that it produces just as much CO2 as a coal burning plant, but as many state, the question is one of efficiency. If we are to put it to good use, it would make more sense to pipe it into greenhouses and hydroponics than to pump it into the ground, where you can expect that in time it will produce caves and valleys where the air is unbreatheable.

  158. Sorry Anthony, I have to call BS on this one. And I’m not anti-coal either. This is essentially a content-free, gee-whiz puff piece. I have an MS in analytical chemistry. And I haven’t the foggiest idea what these Ohio-Staters are claiming to have accomplished.

    We WUWT readers are big boys and big girls. We deserve some real information, as in details. Apparently CO2 is generated, as is the case with conventional coal-fired power plants. Then what happens to this ‘evil’ gas?

    Does it magically disappear? Do they shoot it into outer space? Do they react it with metal oxides to form carbonates, which they then use to build pyramids to appease the Flying CO2 Monster? Or do they pump it into the ocean, as in, “Out of sight, out of mind?”

    And no, I’m not motivated to click on the links. I do not expect to find a reasonable level of information density there either.

    This clean coal article would be par for the course at Discover magazine, but it’s not up to your usual standards of excellence. I know that you can do better.

  159. @Larry Fields: Imagine if you paid for this free website… I think you’re being a little harsh here. If you are not interested, fine, say so. It seems that 191 people thought enough of the post to read it and comment. The piece is appropriate to those of us who want to be aware of things that are related to CO2, energy and our lives.

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