Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Powder River Basin Coal The Best Value per MBTUs

Chemical engineer Robert Rapier has provided a comparison of costs per million BTUs for various energy sources. It is an interesting beginning point for discussion.
Current Energy Prices per Million BTU

Powder River Basin Coal - $0.56
Northern Appalachia Coal - $2.08
Natural gas - $5.67
Ethanol subsidy - $5.92
Petroleum - $13.56
Propane - $13.92
#2 Heating Oil - $15.33
Jet fuel - $16.01
Diesel - $16.21
Gasoline - $18.16
Wood pellets - $18.57
Ethanol - $24.74
Electricity - $34.03 _Source, Sources, and Conversion Factors

This is the type of comparison that the Obama - Pelosi crusade for energy starvation does not want you to see. But there it is, stark and plain.  It is important to separate issues of cost from peripheral issues such as "carbon climate catastrophe" and "peak oil."  

The only way that Powder Basin coal can be used cleanly is via gasification -- preferably using Integrated Combined Cycle Gasification with Combined Heat and Power production (IGCC with CHP).  IGCC extracts more energy from the fuel, using both gas and steam turbine cycles.  CHP makes productive use of the "waste" heat, making the entire enterprise above 80% efficiency.  Powder Basin coal is cheap and dirty, but it can be used cheap and clean using IGCC plus CHP.    If you want liquid fuels, you can convert cheap, dirty coal to cheap clean liquids using gasification plus Fischer Tropsch catalysis etc.

Forget the carbon sequestration, unless you have an algae farm or other productive use for the CO2 you are sequestering.   Carbon sequestration is a horrific waste of resources.  It virtually eliminates the advantages of IGCC while doing nothing for the environment except necessitating the use of even more fuel.

When the people understand the issues behind the grand crusade of the Obama - Pelosi Revolutionary Reich for redistribution, energy starvation, economic depression, and social justice, they tend to vote against it.

Published earlier today at Al Fin

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