Thursday, January 14, 2010

New Technology for Gasification, Nuclear, Geothermal....

In order for the world's economies to climb out of the current quagmire, several types of plentiful energy supplies will be needed. Long-term energy sources include solar, nuclear, geothermal, and biomass (one form of solar).

A new method of gasification of industrial and solid municipal wastes promises to provide large new supplies of clean energy -- while turning landfills into valuable repositories of wealth.
The process was developed in collaboration with Cascades Engineering and Projects, a division of Cascades Canada Inc. The system uses high-pressure high-temperature steam in an oxygen-free reactor, thereby reducing environmental impact. This new technology allows faster reduction of carbon-based materials to produce synthetic gas that can easily be converted to fuel or other forms of energy, as needed.

This project, developed in accordance with the City's Sustainable Development Action Plan, in agreement with the Green Municipal Fund criteria and in conjunction with the government MSW objectives, will significantly reduce the amount of waste Salaberry-de-Valleyfield sends to landfill. It will also produce substantial savings on costs generated by the transportation and disposal of waste. Furthermore, the City of Salaberry-de-Valleyfield's continued association with Global Clean Energy on this project will eventually lead to the creation of a new source of biodiesel to fuel some of its installations and reduce its energy costs. _via_BiofuelsDigest

Nuclear engineers at Idaho National Laboratory are looking into the use of graphite for future nuclear reactors.
Windes said Great Britain has been using reactors with designs similar to what his team is proposing since the 1950s. The United States researched graphite for nuclear purposes for decades, but with oil prices and enthusiasm for nuclear power plunging, the program was shut down in the 1980s, Windes said.

Windes' team in Idaho Falls is now dusting off that old research.

"We're trying to improve upon those old designs," he said. "In some ways, we're just reinventing a wheel that's already been invented, which is the price you pay for dropping something."

But Windes' team is working with some significant advantages. Scientists today have the benefit of perspective when they revisit old experiments, as well as better instruments and access to much more advanced grades of graphite, he said.

Graphite isn't a perfect solution to all nuclear problems. Over time, exposure to radiation causes it to shrink, distort and ultimately crack, Windes said. The INL team is conducting experiments largely focused on how to solve this problem.

The team placed a graphite sample in INL's Advanced Test Reactor in September, where it is exposed to similar conditions as a next-generation nuclear reactor, Windes said. The sample is scheduled to be removed in May 2011 and tested for thermal, physical and mechanical changes. _USNews
This is one area where new molecular manufacturing techniques will pay off. Pure graphite may not hold up to the necessary punishment over a long period of time -- but molecularly modified graphite certainly will. Better nuclear reactors are desperately needed, to expand the use of nuclear power.

Enhanced geothermal energy is a potentially limitless source of heat and power, but recent concerns over seismic side effects threaten to limit geothermal's use. New single-well technology appears to provide all the advantages of enhanced geothermal, without the seismic risk.
The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) has a project investigating a new type of Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) - single well geothermal. Single Well Geothermal potentially resolves many of the problems with conventional EGS - lower environmental impact, less ground water contamination, and mercifully less seismic events.

Another advantage to Single Well Geothermal is that there are over 4,000 abandoned bore holes from the oil and industry that can be used for the geothermal industry and the single well architecture. _GTM

Europe is quickly expanding its biomass electricity industry.
Currently, about 800 mono-firing power plants in 23 countries convert thermal energy from the incineration of wood, black liquor or other biomass into electrical energy. The electrical power of these plants increased from 5,300 MW in 2003 to 7,100 MW at present. “We expect a further increase of the capacity up to more than 10,000 MW until the end of 2013,” said the authors. _Bioenergy

The University of Arizona receives a grant to develope fuels and products from algae.
"To tackle the problem of large-scale production of algae for fuels and other products we have to have a better understanding of everything from the biology to the interfacing with existing petroleum processing plants," Ogden said.

"We're looking at the whole thing," she said, "from growing algae to putting fuel in your tank."

Belief in "carbon climate catastrophe" from burning fossil fuels, is more a religion than a science.



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