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Ultimate Geek
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Topic # 237568 8-Jun-2018 09:54
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https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/06/carbon-engineering-liquid-fuel-carbon-capture-neutral-science/

 

From the above article:

 

A Harvard-affiliated Canadian company is making a liquid fuel that is carbon neutral, and they hope the economics will be in their favour.

 

Imagine driving up to your local gas station and being able to choose between regular, premium, or carbon-free gasoline.

 

 

Carbon Engineering, a Canadian company, is already making a liquid fuel by sucking carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the atmosphere and combining it with hydrogen from water. This is an engineering breakthrough on two fronts: A potentially cost-effective way to take CO2 out of the atmosphere to fight climate change and a potentially cost-competitive way to make gasoline, diesel, or jet fuel that doesn’t add any additional CO2 to the atmosphere.

 

The captured CO2 is combined with hydrogen, which is made through the electrolysis of water. While the process requires a lot of electricity, the pilot plant in Squamish uses renewable hydro power. The resulting synthetic fuel can be blended or used on its own as gasoline, diesel, or jet fuel. When it’s burned it emits the same amount of CO2 that went into making it, so it’s effectively carbon neutral.

 

Now could this be a good alternative to electric vehicles?

 


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  Reply # 2031941 8-Jun-2018 10:16
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Its basically a synthetic Biofuel involving lots of expensive chemistry (and electricity) - rather than using plants to absorb the carbon

 

I doubt it will work on a large economic scale of million of barrels per day...


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  Reply # 2031956 8-Jun-2018 10:27
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"Now could this be a good alternative to electric vehicles?" ...maybe!

 

But a few things about this sound off to me. Realistically, it's never in a million years going to make a dent in the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere (remember this idea, if at all, only stacks up due to availability of spare hydro power). Given it takes more energy to convert water back to hydrogen than you can get out of the hydrogen, why not use the hydro power as is? Especially as it can directly replace existing thermal generation. 

 

That said, if they ever shut down Tiwai Point smelter, this could be a good use for the Manapouri hydro power, given it is in the "wrong" part of the country.

 

 


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  Reply # 2032003 8-Jun-2018 11:14
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That's a good thought though, want lower CO2, find a way to get rid of it!

 

But there are also other harmful gasses you need to get rid of, not just CO2.


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  Reply # 2032007 8-Jun-2018 11:19
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wellygary:

 

Its basically a synthetic Biofuel involving lots of expensive chemistry (and electricity) - rather than using plants to absorb the carbon

 

I doubt it will work on a large economic scale of million of barrels per day...

 

 

The "larger" plant they are building will produce *200* barrels per day!

 

 

 

 


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  Reply # 2032010 8-Jun-2018 11:21
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wellygary:

 

Its basically a synthetic Biofuel involving lots of expensive chemistry (and electricity) - rather than using plants to absorb the carbon

 

I doubt it will work on a large economic scale of million of barrels per day...

 

 

 

 

You depressed me now. 

 

Shall we quit research on this then :)




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  Reply # 2032081 8-Jun-2018 12:30
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kryptonjohn:

 

wellygary:

 

Its basically a synthetic Biofuel involving lots of expensive chemistry (and electricity) - rather than using plants to absorb the carbon

 

I doubt it will work on a large economic scale of million of barrels per day...

 

 

The "larger" plant they are building will produce *200* barrels per day!

 

 

But the idea is to scale up operations as described below, and if one Carbon Engineering air capture plant could negate the emissions from about 250,000 cars, it would surely be a worthwhile advance?

 

In 2015, Carbon Engineering started operations of its full end-to-end pilot plant, located in Squamish, B.C. The facility is designed to capture roughly 1 tons of atmospheric CO2 per day.[7] Carbon Engineering is in process of adding equipment to turn this captured CO2 into fuels, to demonstrate the "air to fuels" concept at small scale.[13][14]

 

Based on the data obtained from the pilot plant, Carbon Engineering intends to scale up its technology to build commercial plants, which eventually would each have the capacity to capture 1,000,000 tons of CO2 per year.[15] At that scale, one Carbon Engineering air capture plant could negate the emissions from ~250,000 cars – either by sequestering the CO2 or by using the recycled carbon dioxide as a feedstock to produce synthetic fuel.[16]


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  Reply # 2032092 8-Jun-2018 12:33
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All comes down to availability of 'spare' hydro power and the cost of the plant I guess.

 

 


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  Reply # 2032094 8-Jun-2018 12:35
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kryptonjohn:

 

"Now could this be a good alternative to electric vehicles?" ...maybe!

 

 

Nope... in an ICE, petrol is burnt to get motion at about 35% efficiency. No matter how efficient they are at turning electricity into petrol, it's never going to be as efficient (i.e. cheap) as just using electricity. The same goes for any ICE-based alternative, including burning hydrogen.

 

If this technology was available *right* *now*, it might be a useful stop-gap until the vehicle fleet is converted to electric. But by the time it is commercialised and installed, the fleet will already be mostly electric.

 

OTOH, it might be a good way to scrub some CO2 from the atmosphere, producing plastics and other stuff that is currently based on oil. Even then, I doubt the economics.

 

 


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  Reply # 2032098 8-Jun-2018 12:49
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While it is cool and interesting that they can pull CO2 out of the atmosphere, when all said and done this is just a convoluted, expensive and inefficient way to store electrical energy.

 

Even if the fuel creation process was 100% efficient, which it can't be, the engines in the vehicles that are burning the fuel are only 20% to 30% efficient so at minimum 70% of your electrical energy is being wasted.

 

It is the same reason that Hydrogen Cells aren't really making the impact that Lithium batteries cars are - it takes loads of electricity to make hydrogen and batteries are simply a far more efficient system for storing electrical energy.

 

 




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  Reply # 2032108 8-Jun-2018 13:14
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tripper1000:

 

While it is cool and interesting that they can pull CO2 out of the atmosphere, when all said and done this is just a convoluted, expensive and inefficient way to store electrical energy.

 

Even if the fuel creation process was 100% efficient, which it can't be, the engines in the vehicles that are burning the fuel are only 20% to 30% efficient so at minimum 70% of your electrical energy is being wasted.

 

It is the same reason that Hydrogen Cells aren't really making the impact that Lithium batteries cars are - it takes loads of electricity to make hydrogen and batteries are simply a far more efficient system for storing electrical energy.

 

 

 

 

But EV manufacturers are now rapidly moving towards producing EVs with higher capacity batteries (e.g. 64 kWh Hyundai Kona due here soon). And the higher the capacity of lithium batteries, the greater the amount of electricity that is needed to charge them up. And at the moment, NZ has not withdrawn the use of coal for the generation of electricity, so if the demand on the electricity network becomes too great, then coal is used, which sort of defeats one of the main purposes of an electric car, which is to reduce harmful emissions.

 

With the synthetic fuel that can be manufactured from CO2 pulled out of the atmosphere, it can be blended or used on its own as gasoline, diesel, or jet fuel. The main problem is that, when it’s burned, it emits the same amount of CO2 that went into making it, so although it’s effectively carbon neutral, it's still emitting CO2 into the atmosphere.

 

 


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  Reply # 2032120 8-Jun-2018 13:29
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The most likely application is aviation fuel.  It's unlikely we'll ever achieve the energy density in a battery to replace jet fuel in an airliner or helicopter (with useful endurance), but this could provide a low carbon alternative


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  Reply # 2032125 8-Jun-2018 13:39
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frednz:

 

But EV manufacturers are now rapidly moving towards producing EVs with higher capacity batteries (e.g. 64 kWh Hyundai Kona due here soon). And the higher the capacity of lithium batteries, the greater the amount of electricity that is needed to charge them up. And at the moment, NZ has not withdrawn the use of coal for the generation of electricity, so if the demand on the electricity network becomes too great, then coal is used, which sort of defeats one of the main purposes of an electric car, which is to reduce harmful emissions.

 

With the synthetic fuel that can be manufactured from CO2 pulled out of the atmosphere, it can be blended or used on its own as gasoline, diesel, or jet fuel. The main problem is that, when it’s burned, it emits the same amount of CO2 that went into making it, so although it’s effectively carbon neutral, it's still emitting CO2 into the atmosphere.

 

 

Plants and Trees are much more efficient at pulling Co2 out of the atmosphere....(at very little cost)   but even biofuels has turned into a bit of a bust....

 

Running Carbon capture on gas that has only 400ppm is fairly inefficient especially when you can run it at a Coal plant where it can be 100000-250000ppm..... so the tech could be useful for industry CCS.... but they are competing with a whole lot of others, such as Lanzatech etc

 

 


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  Reply # 2032149 8-Jun-2018 14:03
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frednz:

 

tripper1000:

 

While it is cool and interesting that they can pull CO2 out of the atmosphere, when all said and done this is just a convoluted, expensive and inefficient way to store electrical energy.

 

Even if the fuel creation process was 100% efficient, which it can't be, the engines in the vehicles that are burning the fuel are only 20% to 30% efficient so at minimum 70% of your electrical energy is being wasted.

 

It is the same reason that Hydrogen Cells aren't really making the impact that Lithium batteries cars are - it takes loads of electricity to make hydrogen and batteries are simply a far more efficient system for storing electrical energy.

 

 

 

 

But EV manufacturers are now rapidly moving towards producing EVs with higher capacity batteries (e.g. 64 kWh Hyundai Kona due here soon). And the higher the capacity of lithium batteries, the greater the amount of electricity that is needed to charge them up. And at the moment, NZ has not withdrawn the use of coal for the generation of electricity, so if the demand on the electricity network becomes too great, then coal is used, which sort of defeats one of the main purposes of an electric car, which is to reduce harmful emissions.

 

With the synthetic fuel that can be manufactured from CO2 pulled out of the atmosphere, it can be blended or used on its own as gasoline, diesel, or jet fuel. The main problem is that, when it’s burned, it emits the same amount of CO2 that went into making it, so although it’s effectively carbon neutral, it's still emitting CO2 into the atmosphere.

 

 

 

 

https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/world/104522072/surge-in-solar-power-is-flooding-australias-national-grid

 

 


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  Reply # 2032298 8-Jun-2018 18:12
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frednz:

 

But EV manufacturers are now rapidly moving towards producing EVs with higher capacity batteries (e.g. 64 kWh Hyundai Kona due here soon). And the higher the capacity of lithium batteries, the greater the amount of electricity that is needed to charge them up. And at the moment, NZ has not withdrawn the use of coal for the generation of electricity, so if the demand on the electricity network becomes too great, then coal is used, which sort of defeats one of the main purposes of an electric car, which is to reduce harmful emissions.

 

The assumption in this statement aren't quite correct and based on long debunked theories the the media likes to repeat:

 

1) Coal is used in NZ to meet peak demand which is mostly 9am till noon weekdays (unless we have a dry year and the lakes are low). Most people are at work at those times, NOT charging their cars because 80% of people charge their BEV's at home. As a side and adding to the point, most EV users with the choice are on a night and day plan, meaning power in the small hours of the morning (off peak) is cheaper. So the vast majority of EV's are charged when the coal stations are not running, meaning operating EV propulsion systems in NZ produces zero CO2.

 

2) Even in places like the USA where what you say about EV's running of coal is true, EV's still produce substantially less CO2 per km than petrol because the coal/transmission lines/BEV combo is still more efficient than a petrol engine - therefore those EV drivers are still reducing their carbon foot prints.

 

But on your point about not yet withdrawn the use of coal generation, this is primarily, and ironically, the fault of the environmental movement. Numerous attempts to build more hydro in NZ have been blocked by environmentalist, and they are presently busy objecting to wind farms. They can not appreciate that small and localised environmental damage (ie the flooding of a valley or towers on hills) that is almost entirely reversible, is substantially less harmful than burning coal and messing up the global environment in an irreversible way. We can drain a valley if a hydro dam has unintended consequences, we can not refreeze Antarctica.

 

frednz:

 

With the synthetic fuel that can be manufactured from CO2 pulled out of the atmosphere, it can be blended or used on its own as gasoline, diesel, or jet fuel. The main problem is that, when it’s burned, it emits the same amount of CO2 that went into making it, so although it’s effectively carbon neutral, it's still emitting CO2 into the atmosphere.

 

 

This is not the main problem - the problem is not as simple as CO2 being emitted into the atmosphere. The problem is the origin of the carbon. Ancient carbon being extracted and turned into CO2 is adding to the total CO2. If I take carbon out of the atmosphere and soon after put it back in, I have not added to nor subtracted from the carbon in the atmosphere - I am therefore carbon neutral and not contributing toward the problem.


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  Reply # 2032303 8-Jun-2018 18:30
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kryptonjohn: That said, if they ever shut down Tiwai Point smelter, this could be a good use for the Manapouri hydro power, given it is in the "wrong" part of the country.

 

Global warming and CO2 is a global problem. Shutting down Tiwai Pt and re-appropriating Manapouri is a foolish environmental move. It will solve zero on a global scale because the Aluminum it fails to make will instead be made in a coal powered smelter in China/Australia/USA/Russia.

 

The world is always going to need aluminum, and it takes a lot of electricity to make aluminum. If NZ wants to be a responsible global citizen that contributes to reducing CO2 in a meaning full way, while growing our economy, we need to be building 10 more Manapouri's, building new Aluminum Smelters and putting the dirty coal powered smelters out of business.

 

The problem at the moment is we don't have the gumption of our parents/grandparents who built all the hydro dams. Even though hydro is the goose that lays golden eggs, and right when the fate of the world depends on it we can't seem to pull finger and build some more.


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