Home & Index Page Sitemap About Prolog Introduction A Quick Tour Footnotes & Links
to Energy's Final Frontier:
Using Energy + Hydrogen + Biomass to Replace Fossil Fuels with Renewable Biofuels
The original heat engine, the 1712 Newcomen steam engine, mankind's first commercially practical replacement for the dispatchable energy of the horse.
The "Clean Energy Park"
To place a fence around the "Clean Energy Park" project idea, with the United States being the limits of the project - lots of easy-to-access data.
United States oil consumption is about 20 million barrels per day,
United States natural gas consumption is about 13 million barrels equivalent of oil energy (BOE) per day.
(Frequently, the "Barrel of Oil Equivalent" (BOE) is used to compare energies of different fuels.
Typically 5,800 cubic feet of natural gas or 58 CCF are equivalent to one BOE.)
the U.S. renewable feedstock pool would
have to support the manufacture of 33 million 275 pound BOE per day (4,537,500
tons per day, 1,656,187,500 tons per year)
of non-fossil liquid and gaseous hydrocarbon fuels.
At 1,000 tons per day per Clean Energy Park, that would be about 4,500 Clean
Energy Parks in the United States alone.
There are 4,177 Wal-Mart's - 3,275 of them Wal-Mart Supercenters - in the United States alone.
(Click to enlarge) (pdf)
2016 BILLION-TON REPORT [of U.S. Biomass]
At the end of 2017, the United States had about 1,084,783 MW—or 1.1 billion kilowatts (kW)—of total utility-scale electricity generating capacity and about 16 million kW of small-scale distributed solar photovoltaic electricity generating capacity.
3,000 500 mW Clean Energy Parks would be able to provide 1,500,000 MW or 1.5 billion kilowatts (kW) of electricity.
According to Sourcewatch, ( https://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Existing_U.S._Coal_Plants ) 600 coal power plants are still in operation.
As of December 31, 2017, there were about 8,652 power plants in the United States that have operational generators with a combined nameplate electricity generation capacity of at least 1 megawatt (MW). [One megaWatt is damn small. You can do that with a millpond hydro.]
When you innovate for a supply chain, you find out what problem needs to be solved and you provide a solution. Energy is a supply chain; successful energy innovation needs to solve problems." - EJ Moniz.
The problem is fossil carbon in all combustion fuels. The solution is to make all combustion fuels from carbon-neutral feedstock. Clean Energy Parks are a potentially successful energy innovation. - JP Holm.
This website's "Clean Energy Park" idea draws its fundamental concepts from
two different, but complementary, source documents:
1., Dr. Charles Forsberg's "Nuclear-Hydrogen-Biomass System" (Oak Ridge National Laboratory - U.S. DOE) and
2., Dr. George A. Olah's "Beyond Oil and Gas: The Methanol Economy".
The Energy Park idea's Bottom Line: Use Dr. Forsberg's Nuclear-Hydrogen-Biomass System to manufacture
Dr. Olah's Carbon-Neutral Biofuels to replace all commonly used fossil combustion fuels.
1. Dr. Charles Forsberg's "The Nuclear-Hydrogen-Biomass System."
In 2007, Dr. Forsberg, a chemist and nuclear
scientist from MIT and Oak Ridge Laboratories, prepared a slide show and
academic paper to present a related concept to the Annual Meeting of the
American Institute of Chemical Engineers .
Nuclear-Hydrogen-Biomass System - Slides - Dr Charles W. Forsberg .pdf Quick slide show overview.
Nuclear-Hydrogen-Biomass System - Paper - Dr Charles W. Forsberg .pdf Paper.
Meeting U.S. Liquid Transport Fuel Needs with a Nuclear-Hydrogen-Biomass System
Dr. Forsberg's view: "The two major energy challenges for the United States
are (1) replacing crude oil in our transportation system and (2)
eliminating greenhouse gas emissions.
A strategy is proposed to meet the total liquid-fuel transport energy needs within 30 years by producing greenhouse-neutral liquid fuels using biomass as the feedstock and nuclear energy to provide the heat, electricity, and hydrogen required for operation of the biomass-to-fuels production facilities.
Biomass is produced from sunlight, atmospheric carbon dioxide, and water. Consequently, using liquid fuels from biomass has no net impacts on carbon dioxide levels because the carbon dioxide is being recycled to the atmosphere when the fuel is burnt. The U.S. could harvest about 1.3 billion tons of biomass per year without major impacts on food, fiber, or lumber costs.
The energy content of this biomass is about equal to 10 million barrels of diesel fuel per day; however, the actual net liquid-fuels production would be less than half of this amount after accounting for energy to process the biomass into liquid fuel. If nuclear energy is used to provide the energy in the form of heat, electricity, and hydrogen to support biomass growth and conversion to liquid fuels, the equivalent of over 12 million barrels of greenhouse-neutral diesel fuel per day can be produced. The combination of biomass and nuclear energy may ultimately meet the total U.S. transport fuel needs."
- (Copy of text on slide 33, above, by Dr. Charles W. Forsberg.)
Conclusion: There is sufficient biomass to meet U.S. liquid-fuel needs if the energy and hydrogen inputs for biomass-to-fuel processing plants are provided by advanced nuclear energy.
2. In 2006, Nobel Prize winning energy chemist, Dr.
George A. Olah, published his influential book: "Beyond Oil and Gas: The Methanol Economy."
(New edition coming out in July, 2018)
Dr. Olah and his co-authors explored the different fuels that could be made from captured carbon dioxide; how they would be made, their advantages, shortcomings, and potential problems.
Beyond Oil and Gas - Literature Seminar - Lit_T_Matsumoto_B4.pdf A Japanese slide show presenting a quick overview of Dr. Olah's book.
Beyond Oil and Gas - Methanol Synthesis - Summary by George Olah.pdf Dr. Olah's comments on Methanol Synthesis.
Beyond Oil and Gas - The Methanol Economy - Slide Presentation -
R-Prakash-USC-May2014.pdf A more detailed
Dr. Olah's view: Liquid
hydrocarbons are a cheaper, safer, and more energy-dense way to store, handle,
energy than batteries or gaseous fuels such as hydrogen.
Methanol can be a carbon-neutral lowest common denominator liquid combustion fuel for making most of the other liquid and gaseous fuels along with many other substances.
Another top chemist's opinion Comparing energy densities.
The key is to use carbon-captured fossil energy and, when available, nuclear's energy, lavishly to solve Climate Change energy problems.
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Mass-produced Biofeedstock Renewable Fuel Substitutes for Oil and Natural Gas By 2030
Using up the last of our fossil fuels in clean carbon-captured power plants to manufacture environmentally safe liquid biofuels like biogasoline, biodiesel, biojet fuel, heating biogas.
How do we begin converting unneeded coal power plants into Clean Energy Parks and is this a chance for the coal power plant owners and workers to get rich if they do it?
We need about 15,000 Clean Energy Parks immediately to head off the worst of Climate Change. We have a head start on obtaining Clean Energy Parks with the growing availability of unneeded coal power plant sites since, worldwide, there will be over 50,000 unneeded coal power plants in the future. https://www.biomass.net/Biomass-and-Climate-Change.html
In addition, there will be
opportunities for completely new greenfield Clean Energy Parks now that
prime underground strata for CO2 disposal have been identified enabling
straight-down CO2 disposal via disposal wells located on site property.
Many of the world's coal power plants happen to be already located directly above CO2 disposal strata. For example, in Michigan, perhaps a dozen unneeded Michigan coal power plant sites are located directly above some of the best and safest CO2 disposal geologic strata in the world. All that is needed to sequester the captured CO2 from these plants is to drill a CO2 disposal well straight down on plant property as many miles as you like. Similar strata can be found elsewhere. Nothing could be quicker and cheaper. Many regions of the world have similar favorable geologic strata for CO2 sequestration near population centers.
The most practical size for conversion to Clean Energy Parks are small to medium sized suburban and rural plants equipped with one or two 50 to 200 megaWatt coal-fired generating units. Closer to biomass sources, room for the plant to grow.
Switching to a new combined cycle natural gas turbine plant could give an unneeded coal power plant site a whole new lease on life. Combined cycle power plants are characterized by high reliability, high heat flexibility, high automation and favorable environmental statistics. They emit only 330 kgCO2/mWh with net efficiency of about 60% (a conventional coal-fired power plant emits 860 kgCO2/mWh at 45% net efficiency) [Kotowicz]. If a carbon capture unit can capture 90% of 330 kgCO2/mWh, that's about 33 gCO2/kWh produced (ignoring life-cycle CO2) - that's getting into wind turbine territory. [Wind energy's life cycle CO2 nets around 11 grams of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour of electricity generated, according to Garvin A. Heath, a senior scientist at NREL.] Combined cycle power plants are available quickly anywhere globally from a large number of top-reputation suppliers such as Siemens, GE, Hitachi, etc.
Depending upon local environmental and energy market conditions, evolving a coal powered electricity power plant into a full Clean Energy Park as economic opportunities emerge could take as long as a decade:
coal power plant status with adequate adjacent greenfield land to support the
plant's full evolution into a Clean Energy Park. This might make government
utility termination funds available.
2. Now: Nuclear won't be ready for a generation or more so replacing the original electricity capacity with 2 to 4 times the capacity with natural gas or oil combined cycle generation is the way to go. This eliminates most of the need for cooling water.
3. Later: Adding stand-alone entire site post-combustion carbon capture equipment to minimize all plant CO2 emissions. If designed for it, a post-combustion carbon capture system can handle emissions from an assortment of simultaneous of fires.
4. Later: Adding plasma biomass gasification and gas-to-liquids (GTL) synthesis refinery equipment to manufacture carbon-neutral combustion fuels to replace fossil fuels.
Engineering the first Clean Energy Park will be the most difficult. Your biggest mistakes are often made on the first day. A project team consisting of perhaps 2 P.E. project managers, 5 engineers, 5 designers, and 5 clerical working for several years will be needed. In addition, several experts for each piece of equipment - perhaps customer engineering specialists from the equipment vendors - will be needed to see that the equipment meshes both physically and operationally. Unlikely this paper work can be done in less than two years after a capital-grade estimate has been funded with another year of so for construction and de-bugging. Beginnings are usually humble. I've seen large residential subdivisions begun with someone drawing with a t-square and adjustable triangle on paper taped to a raw door lying on two sawhorses.
Visiting the old coal power plant. Somewhere, the folks there have stashed a set of "as-built" drawings. Get them. Somewhere there is a retired "head of maintenance". Establish the best possible rapport with this person who probably knows the most about the plant and where the sewers, water mains, electrical conduits, etc., are really buried and what they really contain. At the very least, a modest "on-call" consulting contract is in order. This person can be the best friend the new project's field construction engineer ever had. Go by the NSPE contract and insurance guidelines.
1. Carbon-neutral waste-to-energy feedstock. According to AlterNRG (
http://www.alternrg.com/ ) combined global waste energy is the equivalent of 239 million bbls/day of
liquid fuels if the waste's energy is not used to make the fuels. (The world is
currently pumping about 92 million bbls/day of oil.) There is a great temptation
to burn biomass feedstock to manufacture liquid fuels as is advocated in the
BECCS electric energy scenario. This approach overlooks the vastly greater value
of carbon-neutral liquid and gaseous combustion fuels for the world's population in general.
For the near-term, we still have massive amounts of carbon-captured fossil
natural gas and oil energy to make electricity and heat to use to manufacture carbon-neutral
liquid fuels. For the long-term, we will soon have a variety of small, better,
safer, nuclear fission reactors that, using the proven uranium resources
seawater, we will be able to manufacture Climate-safe carbon-neutral fuels forever.
2. Power Plants will need to be 2 to 4 times as powerful to supply twice the original electricity load along with the additional electricity and process heat for powering the manufacture of hydrogen gas, a post-combustion carbon-capture facility, a plasma gasifier, and a small gas-to-liquids fuel refinery. The devil is in the details and, in this case, the advantages of either technology begin to fade when you start comparing nuclear's metal embrittlement due to neutron flux vs. carbon capture's metal corrosion due to the dissolved carbonic acid gases.
Molten Salt and
Pebble Bed nuclear reactors won't be ready
for general use for at least another decade so we will have to begin by repowering
the early unneeded coal power plant sites with
carbon-captured natural gas turbines
as the initial step. Gas turbines have been in mass production since about 1940 as jet
airplane engines. Every day, about one million ordinary people trust jet airplanes
with their lives. Either of two gas turbine configurations -
conventional carbon-captured natural gas - or, in some parts of the world,
oil powered hybrid CO2
- are able to do the job - albeit with a small amount of CO2 emissions. Either
of them will prove to have dirt-cheap initial cost compared to the first Small Modular Nuclear Reactor (SMRs) facilities.
(In the case of turbines, the term "gas" refers to the working fluid of the
machine, not its fuel, as a way to differentiate gas turbines from "steam"
Standard Turbine/Generator modules equipped with duct heated Heat Recovery Steam Generators (HRSG) are available in a wide variety of sizes for immediate delivery. There are at least 10 different world-class manufacturers who have already made tens of thousands of gas turbines for the world's electricity and aircraft industries. These units are typically mounted on a standard outdoor concrete pad that can be installed in several months by local equipment contractors working from standard pad designs. The jet engine's HRSG will need to have both a conventional steam generator and a solar salt heater to provide the 1,600F heat needed to thermochemically manufacture the hydrogen gas that is needed to make carbon-neutral gas-to-liquids (GTL) combustion fuels like gasoline and methanol.
Hotwell cooling water from the coal plant site's former life will be needed to further cool the natural gas turbine's exhaust in a CO2 capture column pre-cooler after it leaves the exhaust heat scavenger. The amine chemicals used by the post combustion carbon capture system cannot capture CO2 if they are heated by the jet engine's exhaust gasses. This would also be true if a Wärtsilä-type power plant diesel engine were used instead of aeroderivative jet engines in a smaller oil-powered Clean Energy Park.
Today, the transportation sector accounts for about 20 percent of global energy usage; however, as demand for EVs surges - more than half of all vehicle sales will be electric by 2040, according to the Bloomberg New Energy Finance 2017 report - the sector will require another 1,800 TerraWatt-hour (TWh) of electricity, and that's just a snapshot into one high-growth aspect of the electricity market. It's important that if we error on the size and number of the jet turbine/electricity generators for Clean Energy Parks, it be on the side of too big.
The oil and gas industry should
jump for joy at the prospect of adding 15,000 500 megaWatt carbon-captured
natural gas or oil power plants to their customer base and running their
reserves to zero instead of their
suffering the same "Leave It In The Ground" fate as their coal buddies.
Actually, they end up eating coal's lunch.
(A million tons of LNG produces about 4 terawatt-hours in a modern electricity
plant. - Rod Adams,
3. Carbon-capture systems for both gas and oil burning turbines can be added later if carbon capture is not available or mandated at the time of the turbine's installation. Remember to provide the required space for a carbon-capture facility when doing the initial equipment layouts - perhaps 4 to 6 acres. A facility such as this will have multiple fire-heated chemical processes so the carbon capture equipment will have to be up-sized to accommodate them as well as the basic turbine powered electricity and heat generating system. Carbon capture equipment could be supplied by one of the more than 20 different global chemical process engineering & construction companies. Some E&C companies have been designing and building industrial-scale carbon capture facilities for various fuel and chemical processes since the mid-1930s.
are engineered and built by Alter NRG Corp. Westinghouse Plasma Division and other companies and
15,000 could be mass-produced quickly by highly automated shipyards in Korea and
China on the same equipment used to
build small ocean-going fishing vessels. The consumable plasma torches are
currently being manufactured by Alter (and others) and are currently being used in
multiple global facilities as Metropolitan Solid Waste Syngas Generators
supplying Syngas to Clean
Electricity gas turbine generator power plants.
Check out the United Kingdom's two 1,000 Ton-Per-Day (TPD) Metropolitan Solid Waste (city garbage) MSW Syngas gasifiers in the 2015 Tees Valley Units 1 and 2 project.
https://www.nrg.com/case-studies/petra-nova.html (also Plasma Gasifiers)
(GTL) fuel refineries have already been engineered and are currently being offered
to the energy industry by Shell (and others) for fuel manufacture using natural
gas feedstock. Over the last several years many different catalytic GTL
processes also using Syngas feedstock have also been engineered and patented. Watch Shell's
video to the end to see what Shell has come up with.
Study: gasoline is more important than healthcare for Americans
The design of this Clean Energy Park may embody a few
1. Re-equipping unneeded existing power plant sites rather than "Green fielding", thus assuring a worldwide excess of potential inexpensive suitable site locations.
2. Using our remaining fossil fuel to make carbon-neutral fuel.
3. Exhaust gas recirculation for better CO2 capture.
4. Inexpensive and quick "direct-down" captured CO2 disposal wells.
5. Plasma, rather than incineration, to convert biomass into syngas.
6. Using biowaste for biomass.
7. Producing both electricity and industrial heat from a combined cycle power plant that features integral carbon capture.
8. The carbon capture system is sized to capture the CO2 from all the site's fossil fuel process fires, not just the power turbines.
9. Mass-produce the site's equipment, and the sites themselves, like cars to get the price down, the quality up, and to produce as many as possible as quickly as possible to impact Climate Change as much as possible. Three different size power plants: 100, 200, and 400 megaWatts.
1. Energy is a common commodity. Clean energy fuels
must be genuinely cheaper than fossil energy fuels before they will be
embraced by the world.
2. Climate Change's growth must be STOPPED before Climate Change can be REVERSED . (We are currently dumping over 100 million tons of ADDITIONAL CO2 into the air EVERY DAY.)
3. Possibly fewer than 1/4 of the world's coal power plants would need to be rebuilt to stop Climate Change's growth from ALL fuel sources - about 3/4 of ALL CO2.
4. Both the world's oil and electrical energy industries have the ability to stop the growth of Fossil Fuel Climate Change by re-equipping and operating "Clean Energy Parks" to both make electricity and to replace all fossil oil and gas fuels with Carbon-neutral Liquid and Gas fuels.
Multiple needs are being addressed by this
1. The need to replace fossil fuels with carbon-neutral fuels to halt most of the incessant intensification of Climate Change so that the reversal of Climate Change becomes a sane idea.
2. The need to use carbon captured fossil fuels to power the manufacture of all available biomass into carbon-neutral combustion fuels - not to squander our highest carbon biomass in hundreds of relatively low energy-yielding bio-energy power plants with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) BEFORE decarbonization of all the world's combustion fuels has been completed.
3. The coal power plant sites themselves and the large number of skilled people dependent upon these sites for incomes and taxes. These unique confluences of energy sustaining resources - rivers, rails, roads, etc., should not be squandered by using them for housing developments and shopping centers.
This website is based upon the understanding that
fossil fuels will always be preferred as long as clean energy fuels are more
expensive. Nuclear appears to be the best path to making cheap
Already, there are over 50 different baby nuclear reactors incubating in technology's development nest. You're bound to find several you like. I point out four on this website that are all very different, yet all very desirable for different applications such as producing electricity, extreme heat, hydrogen, desalinated water, and, of course, carbon-neutral combustion fuels.
The world also has over 200 thousand stationary diesel engines in the 2,000 and under horsepower class cranking out electricity and pumping water in rural locations. A swarm of tiny nuclear micro-reactors (outside the scope of this website) are being developed to replace dirty diesel fuel oil-burners.
Every day we are dumping an additional 100 million tons of fossil fuel's CO2 into the air for no good reason.
(From Carbon Dioxide
Information Analysis Center Q&A): Q. In terms of mass, how much carbon does 1 part per
million by volume of atmospheric CO2
A. Using 5.137 x 1018 kg as the mass of the atmosphere (Trenberth, 1981 JGR 86:5238-46), 1 ppmv of CO2 = 2.13 Gt of carbon. [G = Giga, or billion.]
- - - So, 400 ppmv CO2 = 852 Gt of carbon, or 852 billion tons of carbon, or, times 44/12 for CO2 to include the weight of the 2 oxygens at 16 each and one carbon at 12 each = 3,124 billion (3.124 trillion) tons of CO2.
This is why this website is about HALTING the GROWTH of additional CO2 first, rather than begin by pulling enough existing old CO2 out of the air to make things right again.
Would it be worth living with
nuclear's problems if that's what it took to end Climate Change's problems? Nuclear is the most powerful clean energy tool
Of the $556.7 million green-leaning foundations spent from 2011-15, “not a single grant supported work on promoting or reducing the cost of nuclear energy.” https://www.wsj.com/articles/climate-change-has-run-its-course-1528152876
If environmentalism's base - such as Sierra Club - really cared about stopping Climate Change, they would have been 100% behind nuclear by 1990. In light of the bad things Climate Change is bringing to the world, their opposition to nuclear is simply criminal.
Nuclear's real danger is what happens when Climate Change causes crop failure, then famine, then mass migrations. Then nuclear weapons will be used to gain and keep control of the world's still-fertile regions regardless of other consequences.