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Can renewable energy really stop GHG emissions and global warming?

Renewable energy is slowly but steadily becoming a choice of energy of the people due to its potential to cut GHG emissions and global warming. The  changing weather pattern  around the world in recent times  are testimony for a warming globe. Can renewable energy really cut the GHG emissions and cut the global warming predicted by scientists? Thousands of large coal- fired power plants are already under implementation or planning stages. According to World’s resources institute, their key findings are :

1. According to IEA estimates, global coal consumption reached 7,238 million tonnes in 2010. China accounted for 46 percent of consumption, followed by the United States (13 percent), and India (9 percent).

2. According to WRI’s estimates, 1,199 new coal-fired plants, with a total installed capacity of 1,401,278 megawatts (MW), are being proposed globally. These projects are spread across 59 countries. China and India together account for 76 percent of the proposed new coal power capacities.

3. New coal-fired plants have been proposed in 10 developing countries: Cambodia, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Laos, Morocco, Namibia, Oman, Senegal, Sri Lanka, and Uzbekistan. Currently, there is limited or no capacity for domestic coal production in any of these countries.

4. Our analysis found that 483 power companies have proposed new coal-fired plants. With 66 proposed projects, Huaneng (Chinese) has proposed the most, followed by Guodian (Chinese), and NTPC (Indian).

5. The “Big Five” Chinese power companies (Datang, Huaneng, Guodian, Huadian, and China Power Investment) are the world’s biggest coal-fired power producers, and are among the top developers of proposed new coal-fired plants.

6.  State-owned power companies play a dominant role in proposing new coal-fired plant projects in China, Turkey, Indonesia, Vietnam, South Africa, Czech Republic and many other countries.

7. Chinese, German, and Indian power companies are notably increasingly active in transnational coal-fired project development.

8. According to IEA estimates, the global coal trade rose by 13.4 percent in 2010, reaching 1,083 million tonnes.

9. The demands of the global coal trade have shifted from the Atlantic market (driven by Germany, the United Kingdom, France and the United States) to the Pacific market (driven by Japan, China, South Korea, India and Taiwan). In response to this trend, many new infrastructure development projects have been proposed.

10. Motivated by the growing Pacific market, Australia is proposing to increase new mine and new port capacity up to 900 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) — three times its current coal export capacity.

The above statistics is a clear sign that GHG emissions by these new coal-fired power plants will increase substantially. A rough estimation indicates that these new plants will emit Carbon dioxide at the rate of 1.37 mil tons of CO2/hr or 9.90 billion tons of CO2 /yr in addition to the existing 36.31 Gigatons/yr (36.31 billion tons/yr) in 2009. (According to CO2now.org). If this is true, the total CO2 emissions will double in less than 4 years. If the capacity of new PV solar plants are also increased substantially then the CO2 emissions from PV solar plants will also contribute additionally to the above. There is no way the CO2 reduction to the 2002 level  can be achieved and the world will be clearly heading for disastrous consequences due to climate change.The best option to cut GHG emissions while meeting the increasing power demand around the world will be to recycle the Carbon emissions in the form of a Hydrocarbon with the help of Hydrogen. The cheapest source of Hydrogen is coal. The world has no better option than gasifying the coal instead of combusting the coal.

Capturing carbon and recycling it as a fuel.

Solar power, wind power and other renewable energies generated 6.5%[1] of the world’s power in 2012.  This is part of a rising trend[2], but there is a very long way to go before renewable sources generate as much energy as coal and other fossil fuels.  Solar panel of 1m2 size requires 2.4kg of high-grade silica and Coke and it consumes 1050 Kwh of electricity, mostly generated by fossil fuel based power plants. But 1m2 solar panel can generate only 150kwh/yr and it will need at least 7 years to generate the power used to produce 1m2 solar panel in the first place. More solar panels mean more electricity consumption and more GREEN HOUSE GAS EMISSIONS. With increasing number of coal-fired power plants under implementation or planning and growing popularity of  Solar power plants around the world the GHG emissions are  likely to increase in the future to the detrimental of the climate.

It could take at least 30 years (probably a lot longer) before renewable energy is as strong in the marketplace as non-renewable sources.  In consequence, there is a need to use fossil fuels more effectively and less detrimentally until the renewables can play a major role in global energy production.

One approach tried for more than a decade has been carbon capture, which stops polluting materials getting into the atmosphere; however subsequent storage of the collected materials can make this process expensive.  Now an Australian based company has gone one step further and designed a process that not only collects CO2 emissions, but also turns it into a fuel by using the same coal!

Clean Energy and Water Technologies has developed an innovative solution to avoid carbon emissions from power plants. The novel approach uses coal to capture carbon dioxide emissions (CO2 ) from coal-fired power plants and convert them into synthetic natural gas (SNG).  Synthetic natural gas would then replace coal as a fuel for further power generation and the cycle would continue. No coal is required for further power generation.

Through this method, the captured Carbon could be recycled again and again in the form of a Hydrocarbon fuel (SNG) with no harmful gas emissions. Carbon is an asset and not a liability. If Carbon is simply burnt away just to generate heat and power then it is a bad science, because the same Carbon can be used to generate several products by simply recycling it instead of venting out into the atmosphere. Carbon is the backbone of all valuable products we use every day from plastics to life saving drugs!

As well as seeking a patent for this breakthrough innovation, Clean Energy and Water Technologies is seeking investment for a demonstration plant. The concept has already been proven and a reasonable scale of demonstration will convince the governments and companies around the world to look at this alternative solution to the GHG (Greenhouse gas) emission and possibly meet a meaningful target on Carbon emissions within reasonable time frame.

Once demonstrated, it would then be possible to retrofit current coal-fired power stations with the new technology, increasing their economic sustainability and reducing their impact on the environment.

  1. The Economic Pressures

Power is an integral part of human civilization. With the steady increase in human population and industrialization the demands for energy and clean water has reached unprecedented levels. The gap between the demand and supply is steadily pushing the cost of power and water higher, whilst the supply of coal, oil and gas is dwindling. The prospect of climate change has compounded problems.

Many countries around the world have started to use renewable energy such as solar, wind, hydro and geo-thermal power; but emerging economies such as India and China are unable to meet their demands without using fossil fuels.  At present, it is far cheaper to use the existing infrastructures associated with non-renewable energy, such as coal-fired power stations.

Renewable energy sources are intermittent and need large storage and large initial investment, with advanced technologies pushing the cost of investment higher.  Governments could use environmental tariffs on power use to help make renewable energy more competitive, but politicians know that the public tend to not like such an approach.

  1. Demonstration Plant:

The estimated investment required for a demonstration plant is likely to be $10 million; however the potential for a  good return on investment is high, as shown by the following estimated calculation for a 100MW plant.

  • A 100MW coal-fired power plant will emit 98 Mt/hr CO2
  • Coal consumption will be about 54Mt/hr
  • To convert 98Mt/hr CO2 into SNG, the plant needs to generate 390,000m3/hr syngas by coal gasification.
  • The gasification plant will require 336 Mt/hr coal and 371 m3/hr water.
  • The net water requirement will be : 95.70m3/hr
  • The SNG generated by the above plant will be : 95,700m3/hr and steam as by-product : 115Mt/hr.
  • Potentially SNG can generate a gross power of 500 MWS by a Gas turbine with combined cycle operation.
  • The plant can generate 500MW (five times more than the coal-fired plant) from CO2 emissions.
  • Existing 100MW coal-fired power plant can use SNG in place of coal and sell the surplus SNG to consumers.
  • Surplus SNG will be about 75,000 m3/hr.( 2400 mm Btu/hr) with sale value of $36,000/hr. @ $15/mmBtu.
  • Annual sales revenue from sale of surplus SNG will be : $ 300 mil/yr.
  • The entire cost of coal  gasification and SNG  plant can be recovered back in less than 5 years.
  1. Carbon Capture and Storage

Carbon capture and storage is the process of capturing waste carbon dioxide (CO2 ) from large point sources, such as fossil fuel power plants, transporting it to a storage site, and depositing it where it will not enter the atmosphere, normally an underground geological formation. The aim is to prevent the release of large quantities of CO2  into the atmosphere. It is a potential means of mitigating the contribution of fossil fuel emissions to global warming and ocean acidification.  The long-term storage of CO2 is a relatively new concept. The first commercial example was Weyburn in 2000.

Carbon capture and storage applied to a modern conventional power plant could reduce CO2 emissions to the atmosphere by about 80–90%, but may increase the fuel needs of a coal-fired plant by 25–40%. These and other system costs are estimated to increase the cost of the energy produced by 21–91% for purpose-built plants. Applying the technology to existing plants could be even more expensive.Image

  1. Global Warming

Global warming is the rise in the average temperature of Earth’s atmosphere and oceans since the late 19th century and its projected continuation. Since the early 20th century, Earth’s mean surface temperature has increased by about 0.8 °C (1.4 °F), with about two-thirds of the increase occurring since 1980. Scientists are more than 90% certain that it is primarily caused by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases produced by human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels by coal-fired power plants.

  1. Greenhouse Gases

Without the earth’s atmosphere the temperature across almost the entire surface of the earth would be below freezing.  The major greenhouse gases are water vapour, which causes about 36–70% of the greenhouse effect; carbon dioxide (CO2 ), which causes 9–26%; methane (CH4), which causes 4–9%; and ozone (O3), which causes 3–7%. According to work published in 2007, the concentrations of CO2  and methane have increased by 36% and 148% respectively since 1750. These levels are much higher than at any time during the last 800,000 years, the period for which reliable data has been extracted from ice cores.

  1. The Future of Global Warming?

Climate model projections were summarized in the 2007 Fourth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). They indicated that during the 21st century the global surface temperature is likely to rise a further 1.1 to 2.9 °C (2 to 5.2 °F) for their lowest emissions scenario and 2.4 to 6.4 °C (4.3 to 11.5 °F) for their highest.

  1. The Impact of Global Warming?

Future climate change and associated impacts will vary from region to region around the globe. The effects of an increase in global temperature include a rise in sea levels and a change in the amount and pattern of precipitation, as well a probable expansion of subtropical deserts. Warming is expected to be strongest in the Arctic and would be associated with the continuing retreat of glacierspermafrost and sea ice. Other likely effects of the warming include a more frequent occurrence of extreme weather events including heat waves, droughts and heavy rainfall, ocean acidification and species extinctions due to shifting temperature regimes.

There is a divided opinion among scientists on climate science.  Major power consuming countries like the US, Europe, Japan and Australia are reluctant to sign the Kyoto Protocol and agree to a legally binding agreement. This has resulted in non-cooperation among the nations and the world is divided on this issue.  Such disagreement has hampered development of non-renewable energy

Ahilan Raman is the inventor of the innovative process mentioned in the article.  If you have any further questions or interested in becoming a part of this innovative technology, please feel free to contact him directly by writing to this blog.

Web: http://www.clean-energy-water-tech.com

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[1] Bloomberg New Energy Finance (Excludes large hydro projects).

[2] Up from 5.7% in 2011, and 2.4 percentage points up on the 2008 figure.

“Over two-thirds of today’s proven reserves of fossil fuels need to still be in the ground in 2050 in order to prevent catastrophic levels of climate change” – a warning by scientists.

There is a great deal of debate on climate change due to man-made Carbon emissions and how to control it without any further escalation. The first obvious option will be to completely stop the usage of fossil fuel with immediate effect. But it is practically not feasible unless there is an alternative Non-Carbon fuel readily available to substitute fossil fuels. The second option will be to capture carbon emission and bury them under ground by CCS (Carbon capture and sequestration) method. But this concept is still not proven commercially and there are still many uncertainties with this technology, the cost involved and environmental implications etc.The third option will be not to use fresh fossil fuel  for combustion or capture and bury the Carbon emissions but convert the  Carbon emissions into a synthetic hydrocarbon fuel such as synthetic natural gas (SNG) and recycle them. By this way the level of existing Carbon emission can be maintained at current levels without any further escalation. At least the Carbon emission levels can be reduced substantially and maintained at lower levels to mitigate climate changes. It is technically feasible to implement the third option but it has to be implemented with great urgency.

One way of converting Carbon emission is to capture and purify them using conventional methods and then react with Hydrogen to produce synthetic natural gas (SNG)

CO2 + 4 H2 ———> CH4 + 2 H2O

The same process will be used by NASA to eliminate carbon built-up in the flights by crew members during their long voyage into the space and also to survive in places like Mars where the atmosphere is predominantly carbon dioxide. But we need Hydrogen  which is renewable so that the above process can be sustained in the future .Currently the cost of Hydrogen production using renewal energy sources are expensive due to high initial investment and the large energy consumption.

We have now developed a new process to generate syngas using simple coal, which is predominantly Hydrogen to be used as a Carbon sink to convert Carbon emissions into synthetic natural gas (SNG). The same Hydrogen rich syngas can be directly used to generate power using gas turbine in a simple or combined cycle mode. The Carbon emission from the gas turbine can be converted into SNG (synthetic natural gas) using surplus Hydrogen-rich  syngas. The SNG thus produced can be distributed for CHP (combined heat and power) applications so that the Carbon emission can be controlled or distributed. By implementing the above process one should be able to maintain Carbon at specific level in the atmosphere. Existing coal-fired power plants can retrofit this technology so that they will be able to cut their Carbon emissions substantially; they can also produce SNG as a by-product using their Carbon emissions and achieve zero Carbon emission at their site while generating revenue by sale of SNG.

Coal is the cheapest and widely used fossil fuel for power generation all over the world. Therefore it will be a win situation for everyone to use coal and also to cut Carbon emissions that can address the problems of climate change. Meanwhile research is going on to generate renewable Hydrogen cheaply directly from water using various technologies. But we believe we are still far away from achieving this goal and we require immediate solution to address our climate change problems.

Recently BASF made a press release : http://www.basf.com/group/press release/P-13-351‎ claiming a break-through technology to generate Hydrogen from natural gas without any CO2 emissions.

Renewability and sustainability are two critical factors that will decide the future course of the world. We have to learn from Nature how sun is able to sustain life on earth for millions of years without the slightest hitch. The sun provides light energy for the photosynthesis to generate Carbohydrate using carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and water. The green pigment in the leaves of the plant ‘Chlorophyll’ catalalyses the photosynthesis. The plant grows and serves as food for animals. After certain period both the plant and animal dies and becomes carbon. New plants and animals are produced and the cycle continues. The dead plant decays and serves as manure for the new plant. A sequence of combinations of atmosphere, photosynthesis, micronutrients in the soil, absorption of carbon dioxide from air and release of Oxygen into the atmosphere, food production, life sustainenace, death and decay play like a symphony in an orchestra. Microorganisms too play their role in this cycle.

It is obvious from the above process that life cycle is based on ‘Renewability’.The  death and decay of the old plant gives way to the birth of new plant and new cycle. There is nothing static .It is a dynamic and cyclic process, where ‘Renewability’ is the key. Only with renewability the process can ‘sustain’. Without a cyclic nature, the process will end abruptly. In fact ‘renewability’ and ‘sustainability’ are closely linked.

When we try to develop a new source of energy it is absolutely critical that such a source is renewable and available directly from Nature. Sun is the prime source of such energy, though it is also available in other forms such as wind, wave, ocean thermal etc. Such renewability can come only from Nature because human life in intricately linked with Nature such as earth, sun and wind. Everything that happens in Nature is to support life on earth and not to destroy. This is a fundamental issue.

When we dig out Carbon from the earth  that was deeply buried by Nature and burn them, we release Carbon dioxide as well as Oxide of Nirtogen.Though our primary interest is only heat, we also create by-products such as greenhouse gases that upset the natural equilibrium. Nature can make some adjustments in order to maintain equilibrium; but when this limit exceeds, the equilibrium is upset creating a new environment, which may be alien to human life. This is unsustainable. Nature does not burn organic matter indiscriminately to generate Carbon dioxide to promote photosynthesis. It judiciously and delicately uses atmospheric Carbon dioxide without the slightest disturbance to the equilibrium. Many chemical reactions are irreversible and can cause irreversible damages, similar to ‘radiation’ from a nuclear reaction.

Whatever we do in the name of science, we will have to face their consequences, if we fail to understand the process of Nature completely and thoroughly. Fossil fuel sources are limited and burning them away to meet our energy demands is neither prudent nor sustainable. Human greed has no limit. We live in a finite world with finite resources and there is no place for infinite greed and destruction. There is no solution in Science for human greed.

 

Nature has a wonderful way of capturing Carbon and recycling it through a process called ‘carbon cycle’ for millions of years. The greenhouse gases in the atmosphere were restricted  within certain limits when it was left to Nature. But when human being started burning fossil fuels to generate power or to run cars, the GHG emission surpassed the limit beyond a point where global warming became an issue. The GHG level has increased to 392 ppm level for the first in our long history. Many Governments and companies are exploring various ways and means to reduce greenhouse emissions to avoid global warming. Some Governments are imposing taxes on carbon emission in order to reduce or discourage such emissions. Others are offering incentives to promote alternative energy sources such as wind and solar. Some companies are trying to capture Carbon emission for sequestration.

While we try to capture Carbon and store them underground, there are many potential commercial opportunities to recycle them. This means the Carbon emission is captured and converted into a commercial fuel such as Gasoline or Diesel or Methane so that future sources of fossil fuels are not burnt anymore. But this is possible only by using ‘Renewable Hydrogen’. Hydrogen is the key  to reduce carbon emission by binding carbon molecules with Hydrogen molecule, similar to what Nature does.

When NASA plans to send a man to Mars they have to overcome certain basic issues. Mars has an atmosphere with 95% Carbon dioxide, 3% Nitrogen, 1.6% Argon and traces of oxygen, water and methane.Nasa is planning to use Carbon dioxide to generate Methane gas to be used as a fuel and also generate water by using the following reaction.

CO2 + 4H2—–CH4 + 2 H2O

2H2O——-2H2 + O2

The water is electrolyzed to split water into Hydrogen and Oxygen using solar power. The resulting Hydrogen is reacted with Carbon dioxide from Mars to generate Methane gas and water using a solid catalyst. This methanation reaction is exothermic and self sustaining. How this can be achieved practically in Mars in those conditions are not discussed here. But this is a classical example on how the Carbon emission can be tackled to our advantages, without increasing the emissions into the atmosphere. There are several methods available to convert Carbon emission in to valuable products including gasoline. The  reaction of the methane with water vapor will result in Methanol.

2H2 + CO——– CH3OH

On Dehydration, 2CH3OH —– CH3COCH3 + H2O.Further dehydration with ZSM-5 Catalyst gives Gasoline 80% C5+ Hydrocarbon. Gas to liquid by Fischer-tropic reaction is a known process.

Carbon dioxide is also a potential refrigerant to substitute CFC refrigerants that causes Ozone depletion. Carbon recycling is a temporary solution to mitigate Greenhouse gas emission till Hydrogen becomes an affordable fuel of the future. It depends upon individual Governments and their policies to make Hydrogen affordable. Technologies are available and only a political will and leadership can make Hydrogen a reality.

World is busy developing alternative to Fossil fuel to cut anthropic Greenhouse gas  to avoid global warming. In fact all forms of alternative energy sources except nuclear energy are ‘solar energy’ from the sun, in one form or another. Sun has supplied energy from the time earth was born. It has conducted   ‘photosynthesis’ by supplying light energy and converting atmospheric carbon dioxide and water into glucose for plants, animals and human beings. The excess carbon from the ‘Carbon cycle’ has become fossil fuels under the earth over a time. The fossil fuel is the result of sun’s energy or solar energy. We unearthed fossil fuels and burnt them to extract energy to run our power plants or run our cars. In fact fossil fuel is also a form of  ‘Biofuel’ and technically there is no difference between them except fossil fuel formation takes millions of years.Fossil fuel is nothing but a source of Hydrogen with carbon backbone.

All forms of alternative energy sources we are currently trying to develop such as PV solar, solar concentrators, solar thermal, geothermal energy, wind energy and bioenergy etc, originate from solar energy. The word alternative energy is a misnomer because all these energy are fundamentally solar energy in one form or another.

Solar energy is a radiation of Nuclear fusion  of Hydrogen taking place in the sun. Two Isotopes of Hydrogen called Deuterium (with one proton and one neutron) combine to form a Helium 3 atom and Neutron with release of large energy. Deuterium is non-radioactive and can be extracted from seawater. But this process could not be duplicated commercially for Electricity generation. It is the safest and cleanest form of energy.

In other words, all forms of energy including solar energy come from Hydrogen. That is why Hydrogen has become a potential fuel source in the future. However, developing a commercial technology for the production and usage of hydrogen at a rate cheaper than fossil fuels with zero greenhouse emission has been elusive so far. Generation of Hydrogen from water by Photo electrolysis using a direct sunlight using a Photo catalyst is a promising technology. But duplicating Nature to generate large amount of energy using tiny amount of Hydrogen atom seems to be a distance dream. Nature knows the best. We human beings can use small energy generation technologies such as solar and wind to meet our small energy needs. “There is enough to meets everybody’s need but not everybody’s greed”,Gandhi said.

Exponential growth of population and industries has forced us to look for large power generation and fuel usage at the cost of serious environmental degradation and future generations. Only smarter and cleaner technologies will help sustain the future. Politicians and policy makers  should understand various technologies and their implications than advocating short-sighted and popular energy policies.

We have discussed about the formation of fossil fuel as part of carbon cycle. It takes several million years before the carbon from the plants and animals turn into fossil fuels due to chemical reactions under higher pressure and temperature. The fossil fuels include solid coal, liquid oil and gaseous Hydrocarbons such as crude oil and natural gas. The natural gas forms the top layer due to its lightness. Natural gas is also the result of anaerobic reaction by microorganism in the absence of air converting organic matter under the earth into a gas. The gas during exploration comes with great pressure to be transported across several kilometers. We are actually duplicating this process to generate Biogas from our food and agriculture wastes and other organic matters. The end product is a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide. During oil and gas exploration we get methane and carbon dioxide and other gases such as Hydrogen sulfide depending upon the location of the oil field. That is why Sulfur  and other products such as Mercaptans are present in crude oil and natural gas. When these fossil fuels are burnt the gaseous combustion  products contain sulfur dioxide and oxide of nitrogen along with oxides of carbon.  Air is normally used for combustion which is a mixture of Nitrogen and oxygen in the ration of 71:21,therefore, the combustion products invariably consist of oxides of nitrogen.

We are so addicted to oil and we are even trying to convert  natural gas into oil, similar to gasoline using GTL (gas to oil) process. However all these combustion processes can be reacted with steam to form synthesis gas, a precursor for liquid Hydrocarbon. It is quite obvious that water in the form of steam is a key part in future energy mixes because that is how one can introduce a Hydrogen molecule in the reaction process. Hydrogen in the form of water is the key. Even if we can successfully steam reform natural gas to get Hydrogen we still have problems deal thing with traces of sulfur and Mercaptans, potential poison for  catalyst in PEM (Proton exchange membrane) Fuelcells.The idea  is to generate Hydrogen using a carbonaceous source such as fossil fuel for simple reasons. It is abundantly available but it emits greenhouse gases; but when you introduce Hydrogen into the mix then there is a good possibility of reducing greenhouse emission, even though we still use fossil fuels. Secondly, we are cautious to handle pure Hydrogen due to its explosive nature and the best available option is to mix Hydrogen with combustion products of fossil fuels. The result is the formation of Syngas.

Syngas is an important intermediary that will lead us to the Hydrogen economy of the futue.The syngas can be generated by various methods as long as we have an organic source and water (steam) source. In fact all food and agriculture waste can be converted into syngas either using a biological process or by gasification process. Both will lead to formation of  Methane or syngas.

Syngas is a mixture of hydrogen with carbon dioxide formed in the following sequences, starting with carbon ,air and  steam.

2C + O2——– 2 CO

2CO + 2H2O———2H2 +2 CO2

The carbon source can be any organic source such as coal, coke, wood etc.As you can see in the reaction, the quantity of carbon source is equally important to generate Hydrogen. One can say that Syngas is a match maker between fossil economy of the past and Hydrogen economy of the future. It is a very important chemical reaction that will change the future energy scene in the world.

That is why many counties like US and Australia and in Europe who have much coal deposits are now trying to generate Hydrogen from coal. Once coal is converted into a gas such as syngas then they are one step closer to separate Hydrogen from syngas.Number of companies and research  organizations  around the world are trying to develop  an efficient and economical method of generating Hydrogen from coal. They have to find suitable conditions to generate higher yield of Hydrogen from syngas and then find an efficient system to separate Hydrogen from carbon dioxide. As I have mentioned earlier, the purity of Hydrogen is important especially when we use coal as the basic material because it has number of impurities to be  removed  before converting into a syngas.

As we can see, all energy roads are now leading to Hydrogen as the final clean fuel of the future. When the demand for Hydrogen increase, the demand for water too will   increase because it is the direct source of Hydrogen. Energy and water are two side of the same coin as I have mentioned earlier in the past.

Carbon is the backbone of an organic life on earth. Every life from the smallest microorganism to human beings is made up of carbon. A cycle  called ‘carbon cycle’ that decomposes carbon into carbon dioxide which is used to synthesis Carbohydrates by the  process known as  ‘photosynthesis’ in presence of water and sunlight, as described in the following equation:

6CO2+ 6H2O   + sunlight →  C6H12O6 + 6O2

The oxygen generated during the above process and carbohydrates sustains life of animals and microorganism on earth. These lives consume oxygen and carbohydrates and releases Carbon dioxide by respiration into the atmosphere. The released carbon dioxide breaks down carbohydrates and other organic matters and regenerates carbon dioxide for reuse by animals and other lives. Not all organic matters are decomposed and part of it is stored as carbon biomass in the roots of plants and other organic matters and buried under earth. After millions of years these organic matters turns into fossil fuels under pressure and higher temperature. Carbon is distributed on earth, in water and in atmosphere. Due to increase in population and industrial growth over several decades the carbon dioxide increased gradually in soil, water and atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is also released by natural events like volcanic eruptions.

But the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increased rapidly after industrialisation, when industries unearthed buried fossil fuels and burnt. In fact we are burning carbon at a faster rate than it is regenerated. It is purely man-made and it increases the presence of carbon dioxide both in atmosphere as well as in oceans. The rapid increase of green house emission started 240 years ago when industrial revolution started. The consequences of this unabated greenhouse gases due to combustion has caused ‘global warming’ with many consequences.

As I have mentioned in my previous articles, power generation and transportation are the two major industries that emit bulk of the greenhouse emission. Both industries use age-old technologies of combustion. The world has been complacent about fossil fuels and grossly indifferent to industrial pollution for decades. Global warming is looming as the biggest threat of the twenty-first century, yet we are not acting. Politicians deny global warming and they want to carry on the business as usual, at the peril of the future generations.

Powerful countries like US, China and India are reluctant to pass a unanimous resolution to set target for carbon emission, while smaller nations remain as powerless onlookers. These powerful nations can drag the rest of the world with them to face the wrath of the Mother Nature with disastrous consequences for their inaction.

It is quite obvious that world have no choice but switch to cleaner energy sources and leave the fossil fuels buried deep under the earth. A new paradigm shift in the way we generate energy and use them is the key for the survival of mankind. We need to develop Hydrogen as an alternative fuel source and Government should encourage innovations in such technologies, while they simultaneously price carbon. In the absence of a concrete legislation and mechanism to penalize polluters, industries will continue to use fossil fuels. A simple cost benefit analysis will show that taxing on polluters and simultaneously introducing renewable technologies will benefit the world in the long run.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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