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Category Archives: GHG emission

 

When mother nature buried Carbon under the ground by way of fossil, we human beings mined them at enormous cost and added further value by combustion with air converting it into CO2 (carbon dioxide). In fact, we human beings added enormous value to carbon that remained buried (with zero value) for millennia. We were interested in the heat of combustion but forgotten about the CO2 emission. This is the fundamental flaw in the commercialization of thermal power using fossil fuels. Now there is a price to pay. There are only 2 options to overcome this problem.

  • We can completely ignore and ban fossil fuel all together at enormous cost (we have already invested in trillions in mining, processing, transporting and storing) and seek completely a new solution without any Carbon at all. This is unlikely to happen.
  • We can continue to use fossil fuel and generate base load power as we have been doing for decades but capture CO2 and convert it back into fuel so that it can be recycled with Zero CO2 emission. This is certainly feasible.

Many “so called innovators” are suggesting alternatives to fossil power generation using renewable source of energy. These sources were available with us from the beginning of the world as we know it, but they are intermittent. We are used to 24 x7 base load power using fossil fuels.

The real solution lies in using intermittent renewable energy to generate base load power with zero Carbon emission. Renewable Hydrogen (RH) can achieve this goal. In doing so battery can also play a small role but not a major role. Couple of things should happen to achieve this goal.

  1. Capturing CO2 at the lowest cost. It can be best achieved using Oxy combustion of fossil fuel such as LNG (because it is a purified form of natural gas) using Brayton cycle with 100 % CO2 capture.
  2. Generate renewable Hydrogen (RH) using electrolysis using renewable energy source such as solar and wind etc. Technology is well proven and commercially available.
  3. Convert captured CO2 into CH4 using methanation reaction (which is already commercially practised) and recycling CH4 as a fuel to continue the base load power generation as usual. The newly generated CH4 becomes a renewable natural gas (RNG) substituting fossil Hydrogen with renewable Hydrogen(RH). The above described technology is known as Carbon Recycling Technology (CRT) dveloped by CEWT, Australia. The process uses LNG only for a start up and then continue to generate its own RNG to continue the power generation using RH.

The above process is the only economical, commercial and environmental solution to the problem of global warming and climate change. All other methods will be expensive, time consuming with no guaranteed results and are unlikely to happen in the shortest time we have. By scraping fossil subsidies and taxing Carbon @ $100/Mt of CO2 (at least) and offering liberal subsidies to renewable energy the cost of renewable Hydrogen (RH) will be reduced. The cost of renewables is coming down and it can generate RH to the lowest so that CRT can be deployed everywhere. This technology will help achive Zero carbon emission while  a base load (24 x7) power is generated while keeping the Carbon below the earth as nature has done for a long time.

We at CEWT (Clean Energy and Water Technologies, Australia) sco2-power-cycleCO2 cloudcoal power plantoxy-fuel-directly-heated-sco2-power-cycle-flow-diagram-1have the solution (not just theoretical but practically and commercially implementable immediately) and we seek like-minded partners and investors to team up with us so that we can show case the technology and implement them worldwide. ( https://www.clean-energy-water-tech.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carbon footprint of capital per person as a function of GDP per capitaCarbon emission caused by human beings has become a major issue for our environment and future economy due to changing climate. But there are still few countries who are skeptical about the science of climate change and reluctant to act and refuse to be a part of United Nation’s action on climate change. These countries are either fossil fuel producers such as coal, oil and gas or large economies who have been traditionally depending on usage of fossil fuel for their economy and security. The transition from Carbon economy to non-Carbon economy may not be easier for them is the absence of an alternative technology that can guarantee not only complete elimination of CO2 emission but also efficiency and sustainability. There is a strong political motivation too behind such dithering and they create a fear of slowing economy and large-scale unemployment among the people in the absence of a viable alternative energy source. Therefore, United Nation has an important role to play at this critical juncture of transition to non-carbon economy and save the planet earth from imminent danger of environmental and economic collapse. UN can also stop mass extinction of species and migration of refugees for a better life.

UN was successfully able to bring together 174 countries to the negotiating table during Paris climate change conference. However, they failed to reach a unanimous Agreement and announce a concrete action plan to act. They failed to articulate the ways and means of reducing or eliminating man made CO2 emissions in a stipulated time frame. They also failed to bring powerful nations such as USA to the table which made the task even harder. But this situation can be changed if UN is able to articulate a concrete Action plan which is agreeable to all the parties involved. This is possible only if UN can address all the issues involved such as the alternative technology, funding, implementing in a stipulated time frame, measuring and monitoring the progress and achieving the final goal. UN should first be able to create the same level playing field where all Countries can take part equally without any discrimination. It depends completely on focusing the type of technologies to be deployed to achieve the above goals and It should be able set a specific date to implement such a plan. Currently renewable energy is considered as one of the alternatives along with renewable Hydrogen which can act both as an energy storage and as well as energy carrier. But renewable Energy is intermittent and energy storage has become part of the system. With our limited experience in renewable energy deployment over a decade renewable energy alone Cannot be the solution to address the issue of CO2 emissions. One must estimate the life cycle CO2 emissions of hardware used in renewable energy systems such as PV solar panels, Solar concentrators, wind turbines, storage batteries. Renewable Hydrogen generators, Fuel cells etc. Each of them has their own Carbon footprint that must be incorporated in life cycle assessment.

Similarly, even fossil fuel-based power generators such as boilers, steam or gas turbines, pumps and compressors etc too have Carbon footprint that should be assessed. Carbon footprint should be assessed as fixed carbon footprint and variable carbon footprint and then these data should be used to arrive at the Carbon footprint to generate power (tons of CO2/Mwh) Once a life cycle assessment of their Carbon footprint is estimated then it will be easier to rate each technology based on their “Carbon Rating” which will be a measure of their Carbon footprint. The Carbon rating is measured and allocated “number of stars” based on Carbon footprints. Lowest emitting technology will be rated with highest number of stars while highest emitting technologies will get the lowest number of stars.

Carbon rating will be a good measure to assess the technology that can be used worldwide. Countries who are reluctant to reduce CO2 emissions will be discouraged to participate in government and private tenders worldwide and exports. Such countries will be treated as “Pariahs” and rejected by consumers due to their low Carbon rating. Technologically advanced countries or companies who can use fossil fuel but with lowest or Zero CO2 emissions will also be able to compete with renewable energy technologies. Carbon Rating will offer everybody the same level playing field. Carbon is the fundamental building block of organic life on earth which is essential for human survival but unabated CO2 emission by human activities is the culprit. I strongly believe Zero Carbon emission can be achieved even while using fossil fuels by constantly recycling CO2 in the form of regenerated synthetic natural gas. It will not only eliminate CO2 emission but also generate synthetic fuel using renewable Hydrogen without any necessity to exploit fresh fossil fuels. Using renewable Hydrogen as a storage medium or as energy carrier may be expensive due to inherent nature of Hydrogen atom. UN can introduce Carbon Rating as a single tool to measure the Carbon footprint of a specific technology with the lowest or Zero CO2 emission worldwide to start with. They should be more proactive in promoting technologies with highest Carbon rating and encourage countries to adopt such measures.

 

“The method adopted in Vedanta to impart the knowledge of Brahman is known as the method of superimposition (adhyaaropa) and subsequent negation (apavaada). In the Bhashya, Bhagavatpada says, “The transmigrating self is indeed Brahman. He who knows the self as Brahman which is beyond fear becomes Brahman. This is the purport of the whole Upanishad put in a nutshell. It is to bring out this purport that the ideas of creation, maintenance and dissolution of the universe, as well as the ideas of action, its factors and results were superimposed on the Self. Then, by the negation of the superimposed attributes the true nature of Brahman as free from all attributes has been brought out. This is the method of adhyaaropa and apavaada, superimposition and negation, which is adopted by Vedanta.”  (Ref: What are Upanishads? : An over view by S.N. Sastri on Luthur.com)

The analogy that is often used to describe the process of superimposition and negation is that of ‘using a thorn to remove a thorn’. Finally, when the last thorn is removed, the thorn used to remove it is thrown away as well. Similarly, Carbon can be used to reduce carbon emission while power is generated!

Let us consider the issues of Carbon emission and global warming resulting in climate change in the above context. Recent conference in Climate change held in Paris is acclaimed to be a success to the planet earth collectively adopted by 195 countries both developed and developing. In a nutshell they all have agreed to reduce their carbon emissions to limit the global warming to less than 2C or even 1.5 between 2030 and 2050. Is it really practical to achieve the above target given the nature of reduction and the complexity of imposing such a reduction within the time frame? It is a big question mark.

The only practical method to reduce CO2 is by using Hydrogen CO2 + H2-à CO + H2O and then convert CO into a useful product such as Urea NH2CONH2 a fertilizer. Production of Urea requires additional Hydrogen which is again obtained by combustion of fossil fuel resulting in CO2 emission. Moreover, CO2 will eventually be released at the point of usage of urea later. While trying to reduce Carbon emission one will end up with more Carbon emission in the atmosphere.

The carbon emission from power plants can be substituted with renewable energy sources such as wind and solar at a very high cost but how the emissions from chemical plants such as urea or from automobile emissions, steel plants and cement plants be contained? We should also remember that silicon wafer to produce solar panels consume large amount of power which now comes invariably from fossil fuels. There is a long list of such plants emitting Carbon every day from all over the world.

But there is a possibility to reduce emissions substantially by converting CO2 emissions from power plants into a synthetic fuel which can then substitute fossil fuel to continue power generation. The CO2 resulting from combustion of synthetic fuel will be recycled in the same manner mentioned above thus completing a cycle. To convert CO2 into a synthetic fuel we will require Hydrogen either by renewable sources or non-renewable sources. The non-renewable sources for Hydrogen cannot be a long term solution but renewable Hydrogen is very expensive at this stage. Therefore, Hydrogen is the only source which will not only help reduce Carbon emissions but also help eliminate Carbon completely from planet earth. Renewable Hydrogen is the key to decarbonize the planet earth. However, it may be possible to decarbonize the planet temporarily by using Hydrogen derived from fossil fuel without emitting CO2! It is not just a theory but practical because the technology has already been tested! In this process the Carbon will remain in the loop where it will neither be buried nor emitted into the atmosphere but constantly recycled.

 

 

Rise in fossil fuel usageTornadoetsunamisuper bugssealevel riseFish deathFloodingEnvironmental refugeesDraughtbushn firesPresident Obama seized his ‘moment of truth’ when he announced his decision to cut carbon emission by 30% by 2030 in USA. His decision may not be popular in USA and in many parts of the world but it is the right decision. He was able to address to some extent ‘ the inconvenient  truth’ that has nagged him during his second term in office. He  introduced his decision through EPA (Environmental protection authority) effectively bypassing congress. In fact the purpose of creating EPA was to address the environmental issues but it failed in many ways and rest of the world followed such failures time and again. This has resulted in an accumulated carbon both in the atmosphere and in the sea in an unprecedented scale causing disease and environmental degradation world-wide.

Air pollution is costing the world’s most advanced economies plus India and China $3.5 trillion per year in lives lost and ill-health, with a significant amount of the burden stemming from vehicle tailpipes, according to a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

In the 34 OECD member states, the monetary impact of death and illness due to outdoor air pollution was $1.7 trillion in 2010. Research suggests that motorized on-road transport accounts for about 50 percent of that cost. In China, the total cost of outdoor air pollution was an estimated $1.4 trillion in 2010. In India, the OECD calculated the toll at $500 billion.

The costs were calculated based on survey data of how much people are willing to pay in order to avoid premature death due to ailments caused by air pollution. The method assigns a cost to the risks of emissions that decision makers can use in weighing public policy decisions.

In addition to the health cost the environmental degradation due to carbon pollution includes global warming resulting in mass extinction of species, causing  mega bush fires that are wiping out forests including rain forests, creating new bugs that are resistant to antibiotics, increasing sea level  that erodes coastal cities and submerge remote islands in pacific displacing millions of people as refugees, acidified oceans with massive extinction of species including fish stock. Such degradation is nothing but suicidal.

When a food or drug is introduced in the market it is subject to scrutiny by FDA (Food and drugs authority), but when it comes to environmental clearance to set up a coal-fired power plant or to set up a seawater desalination plant it is relatively easier to get such clearance from EPA. When  power plants emitted gaseous emissions initially EPA was able to limit the emissions of oxides of nitrogen, sulfur, phosphorous, soot and particulate matter , other organics including mercury and arsenic except carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide has been accepted as part of the air we breathe in; otherwise no power plant could have been approved because bulk of the emissions are only carbon dioxide. Had EPA acted timely in sixties or even in seventies to curb CO2 emissions an alternative  energy  would have emerged by this time.

Industries and economics were high in the political agenda and the environment was overlooked.  Many drugs were introduced during this period to cure diseases that were actually caused by environmental pollution such as carbon dioxide. Both power industries and drug industries grew side by side without realizing that environment is degraded slowly which causes chronic diseases.

Australia is the largest consumers of power in terms of per capita consumption in the world and yet the new Government in Australia is pushing a bill in the parliament to repel Carbon tax introduced by previous Government. They are also planning to raise revenue up to $ 26 billion for medical research over a time. On one hand politicians want to freely allow unabated carbon emissions into the atmosphere and on the other hand they want to introduce new drugs that can cure diseases  actually caused by  such pollution. It is an anomalous situation created by politics of climate change. Unfortunately carbon pollution has turned into an energy related issue and attracted political attention world-wide. The high cost of cleaning carbon pollution has turned many politicians into skeptics of science on carbon pollution and climate change.

“More than 170 nations have agreed on the need to limit fossil fuel emissions to avoid dangerous human-made climate change, as formalized in the 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change .However, the stark reality is that global emissions have accelerated (Fig. 1) and new efforts are underway to massively expand fossil fuel extraction by drilling to increasing ocean depths and into the Arctic, squeezing oil from tar sands and tar shale, hydro-fracking to expand extraction of natural gas, developing exploitation of methane hydrates, and mining of coal via mountaintop removal and mechanized long wall mining. The growth rate of fossil fuel emissions increased from 1.5%/year during 1980–2000 to 3%/year in 2000–2012, mainly because of increased coal use.” (Ref : 1)

The coal usage continues to grow especially in Asia due to expanding population and industrial growth and demand for low-cost energy.  USA is expected to achieve energy independence by 2015 which means more fossil fuels are in the pipeline. India and China are planning more coal-fired power plants in the coming decade. Australia is planning for massive expansion of coal and LNG and Coal seam methane gas for exports. Fracturing and hydrocracking of shale deposits are adding to the fuel.

Countries are more concerned with economic growth than the consequences of climate change. Despite recent warning from NASA that the depleting arctic glaciers have reached a ‘point of no return’ and the predicted sea level rise up to 10 feet is irreversible, there is a little reaction from countries across the globe.

There is a clear evidence that shows Green House Gas  emission will continue to increase in the future in spite of growing renewable energy projects because renewable solar panels, wind turbines and batteries will need more power from fossil fuels.  It is critically important to reduce carbon emission with great urgency by substituting fossil energy with renewable energy. For example, concentrated solar power (CSP) can be used instead of large-scale PV solar to reduce carbon footprint.

Solar energy is the origin of all other energy sources on the planet earth and solar energy will be the solution for a clean energy of the future. But how fast solar energy can be deployed commercially in a short span of time is a big issue. The increasing growth of fossil fuel production dwarfs the growth of renewable energy exposing the planet to catastrophic climate change. The GHG emission can be contained only by an aggressive reduction of CO2 emission into the atmosphere as well as by drastic reduction of fossil fuel production. This is possible only by using renewable Hydrogen. The cost of renewable hydrogen is high  but this is the price one has to pay to clean up the carbon pollution before the climate is  changed irreversibly. The obvious method to reduce carbon emissions is to tax carbon in such a way that it will no longer be economically viable to emit carbon to generate power or to transport. Paying carbon tax will be cheaper than paying for diseases and environmental degradation and natural disasters. Clean environment is the key for the survival of our planet and life on earth and one cannot put a price on such a life.

Ref 1:  Citation: Hansen J, Kharecha P, Sato M, Masson-Delmotte V, Ackerman F,et al (2013) Assessing ‘‘Dangerous Climate Change’’: Required Reduction of Carbon Emissions to Protect Young People, Future Generations and Nature. PLoS ONE 8(12): e81648. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0081648

 

 

 

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