Friday, May 29, 2009

Peak Oil: I Would Like You to Meet Smart Gasification of Coal, Biomass, Garbage

Exxon Mobile is investing in gasification technologies for converting coal, biomass, garbage, etc. into energy and fuels.

Australian companies are developing underground in situ gasification technologies for converting coal to gas. Similar technologies are likely to work as well for shale oils and oil sands.

Waste gasification is picking up momentum in the US.
InEnTec's technology, originally developed at MIT and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, in Richland, WA, uses a multiple high-temperature processes--including subjecting garbage to plasma arcs--to break down organic materials into syngas, a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. Syngas can either be directly burned in gas turbines to produce electricity, or it can be converted into other fuels, including gasoline and ethanol. Metals and other inorganic materials in garbage can be isolated and recycled. The combination of high temperatures and an oxygen-poor environment that prevents the garbage from catching fire eliminates the production of dioxins and furans, two toxic chemicals produced during incineration.
In Canada, the University of Northern British Columbia is installing a biomass gasification plant for its Prince George campus.

North America and Australia are swimming in energy. The only thing pushing the Anglospheric continents toward peak oil is their governments. Keven Rudd and Brock O'Bomba are both dyed-in-the-wool true believers in the religion of carbon hysteria. They are each willing to destroy their country's economy to save the people from an imaginary catastrophe. They were elected, of course, demonstrating once again the madness of crowds in a democracy.

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3 Comments:

Blogger J. Paige said...

Coskata process is also based on plasma gasification, and their pilot plant is in operation. Product is ethanol, target was $1 per gallon, early 2008 dollars.

JPS

3:44 AM  
Blogger al fin said...

Yep. Coskata may have miscalculated the cost and availability of feedstock. They thought cities would pay them to take all their pre-sorted garbage.

The volume of biomass likely to be consumed by gasification will use up municipal cellulotic waste and soon require not only waste from cities, agriculture and forestry, but primary agricultural and woodland production of biomass.

As I have said before, they'd better start planting now to assure themselves of feedstock.

The only problem is that research into the most economical feedstock is still in the steep part of the learning curve. They know how to convert dried lignocellulose into syngas, and syngas into energy and/or fuel.

But the economics of production of lignocellulose is changing rapidly due to rapid progress in the research.

2:55 PM  
Blogger J. Paige said...

don't know the Coskata business plan, but if they plan to own factories to convert municipal trash and yard waste, that's a problem. Cities and counties have a duty to collect and dispose of these materials. And they can't shut down -- they have to continuously provide services. So they like to own critical pieces of their industrial infrastructure.

Many of the disposal schemes are highly industrialized....wastewater treatment plants are an example of an industrial process commonly operated by cities. The trash/yard waste is essentially free--taxes and fees cover collection costs. Counties and cities also have huge fleets of vehicles, so the ethanol could be used w/o excess haulage. So on first analysis, at least, the plan ought to be consistent with the ownership pattern of trash incinerators, composting operations, or wastewater treatment plants---city will buy it and operate it, and purchase expert advice and upgrades as necessary.

EtOH plants that use other feed stocks could easily have a private ownership pattern. But I doubt if municipal or county EtOH plants would be private -- and this is especially so if several vendors offer their designs.

BTW, substantial quantities of ethanol could switch many dedicated public engines from diesel back to spark motors. Use E85 and you can go to 15:1 or 16:1 CR, almost a diesel, and high CR is probably the largest thermodynamic advantage for diesels.

JPS

6:23 AM  

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