Posts Tagged ‘carbon sequestration’

By Harry {doc} Babad, © Copyright 2011, All rights Reserved.

Greening Introduction

REFERENCES AND THEIR USES – A late night musing

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is making changes to improve its scientific integrity. The move comes in part because of mistakes discovered in the panel’s 2007 assessment, including the incorrect statement that Himalayan glaciers would melt away by 2035.

Last year, the Inter Academy Council, a coalition of national scientific academies, recommended changes to IPCC to address these and other issues (C&EN, Sept. 6, 2010, page 15). At a meeting in mid-May, IPCC adopted a procedure for evaluating and correcting errors in its assessments. The group also established a standardized method for addressing scientific uncertainties in its reports, and it approved a new conflict of interest policy.

The present approach is compliant to the reviews of the IPCC by leading British and American Senior Technical advisory groups (e.g., NAS)

In addition, the panel set a benchmark for scientific literature used for its assessments. This gives priority to peer-reviewed studies but recognizes that reports from governments, industry, and research institutions may provide crucial data even if they aren’t peer reviewed. It states that magazines and newspapers are generally not valid sources of scientific in formation and bans the use of material from broadcast media, blogs, social networking sites, and personal communications of scientific results.

Note that the criteria the panel espouses are comparable to those I use in determining whether or not to use a reference in one of my articles.However, there is one major difference. I seldom use primary references (e.g., journals) as examples for further exploration for you my readers. First, such use of such would be counterproductive as a communications tool on the basis of knowledge accessibility.

Many of you, including my self, would be swamped by journal article contents in areas we had not studied Alternately if long ago studies, has evolved to the point where can not easily connect either with the concept details or newly evolved semantics. There for the contents would be, in terms of understanding, inaccessible to us!

Second, the entireties of journal articles are not easily available via Google and other publicly accessible search methods. Although, the abstracts of the article are, they are not detailed enough to serve as serious information even to a casual ‘knowledge-hungry’ reader. Again it’s a matter of access.

You can access full journal articles through a public library or local college library, only if the local agencies have individual subscriptions to that service. [No I’ve not tried the Library of Congress for journal\access detail.] Buying articles for archive reference copy use w/o the academic and public library discount is pricy… Certainly, as a routine expense, out of my budget. Indeed getting access to an occasional primary reference is the primary reason I maintain local library cards; other information is as easily available from my desktop iMac.

Therefore all of my references will remain secondary and shall only be used after a sanity, logic, and check on WIIFT <What’s in it for them>.

Check out my approaches to topic selection in the endnote entitled Sources and Credits.

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 The New Snippets and Topics ——— Titles, As Usual, in No Formal Order

 References and Their Uses – A late night musing

New Reactor Harnesses Sun’s Energy Like Plants The science keeps getting us closer but we’re a long ways from commercial or even breakeven costs.

Carbon Sequestration Core NETL R&D — The DOE Program

The Commuter Bike Redesigned and Electrified — If I was a rich man…

Pollution & Global Warming — Climate change in black and white

Symbiotic Coupling Of Wind Power And Nuclear Power Generation Finally someone serious about merging green power, renewable but intermittent Wind and greenhouse free baseload effective nuclear.

Nuclear Efficiency — With new fuel formulations, reactors could extract more energy, and reduce hazardous waste

Is the Coal Killer Flying Thousands of Feet Up in the Sky? — A new meaning to go fly a self powered kite.

IAEA Fujushima Dalichi Fact Finding Mission Summary and Initial Findings

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 New Reactor Harnesses Sun’s Energy Like Plants The science keeps getting us closer but we’re a long ways from commercial or even breakeven costs.

Researchers have unveiled a prototype reactor, which mimics plant life, turning the Sun’s energy to make hydrocarbon fuel. Developed by a team of scientists from the United States and Switzerland, The device uses the Sun’s rays and the mineral ceria (cerium oxide), to break down water or carbon dioxide into energy, which can be stored and transported.

Harnessing the power of the sun has been but a pipe dream, as conventional solar panels must use the power they generate in situ. With the ceria-fueled reactor, this issue is solved

The scientists, who include Caltech professor Sossina M. Haile and Swiss Institute of Energy Technology professor Aldo Steinfeld, wanted to figure out a way to harness the sun efficiently, without incredibly rare materials. They decided on testing ceria, a relatively abundant “rare-earth” metallic oxide with very special properties.

The solar reactor takes advantage of the ceramic ceria’s ability to “exhale” oxygen from its crystalline framework at very high temperatures and then “inhale” oxygen back in at lower temperatures. “What is special about the material is that it doesn’t release all of the oxygen. That helps to leave the framework of the material intact as oxygen leaves,” Haile explains. “When we cool it back down, the material’s thermodynamically preferred state is to pull oxygen back into the structure.”

Why start the long hard journey to practicality… click the link.

From:, January 20, 2011

An alternative approach to generating solar power, based on making more effective use of Thermoelectric devices then have been previously been possible is referenced below.

Solar Tower—The Third Way. (A new method of making electricity from sunlight has just been tested) Reported in the May 12th, 2011 Economist.

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 Carbon Sequestration NETL Core R&D — The DOE Program

Many of you know that I have grave doubts about carbon sequestration, putting carbon, as a gas, in underground geological repositories.  Nevertheless, in the interest of fairness, DOE’s efforts on the topic are summarized below, the information taken from their The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) web pages. I am pleased to note that other, international efforts are approaching the demonstration stage, but still fear for the risks associated with diverse environmental (geohydrologic-seismic) environments for any site-specific demonstration of long-term storage or disposal. Each and every location, not just environmental setting, must be proven safe for the so-called ‘disposal’ period, despite effect of plate tectonics (earthquakes) and perhaps climate change. [Think nuclear waste repositories.] 

Therefore herein, I am sharing only information focused primarily on the two areas of Pre-Combustion Capture and CO2 Utilization. However, the references I, link to all the current DOE efforts, my interests continue to mainly focus only on areas where the long term economic risk is a more important factor than the environmental ones.

The DOE Core Research and Development (Core R&D) focuses on developing new carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies to a pre-commercial demonstration level. The Core R&D Element includes five technical focus areas: (1) Pre-Combustion Capture; (2) Monitoring, Verification, and Accounting (MVA); (3) Geologic Storage; (4) Simulation and Risk Assessment; and (5) CO2 Utilization.

From my perspective, until the issue of ‘licensing’ geologic site for long storage [… let’s say 100 -300 years> or disposal < ≥ 1000 years> is actually address and consensus reached on it resolution, the most useful part of the pram is the isolation, capture and reuse of the CO2 we emit in generating electricity from coal, oil, and natural gas. Remember, CO2has no half-life. If we don’t concert it to a solid mineral form or release it to challenge the next ice ago, it will do damage whenever it get released back in to the atmosphere.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) capture is defined as the separation of CO2 from emissions sources or from within the CO2 emission process. When CO2 is recovered from emissions sources, such as power plant flue gases, it is in a concentrated stream that is amenable to storage or conversion. Currently this process is costly and energy intensive, accounting for the majority of the cost of storage.

The Carbon Sequestration Program (Pre-Combustion Capture Focus Area) is focusing on developing technologies used to reduce the cost of capture and separation of CO2 in pre-combustion systems. Pre-combustion capture is mainly applicable to Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) power plants and refers to removal of the CO2 from the synthesis gas (syngas) prior to its combustion for power production. CO2 is concentrated and at a high-pressure as a result. A simplified process schematic for pre-combustion CO2 capture is shown below. Near-term applications of CO2 capture from pre-combustion systems will likely involve improvements to the existing state-of-the-art physical or chemical absorption processes being used by the power generation industry.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) utilization efforts focus on pathways and novel approaches for reducing CO2 emissions by developing beneficial uses for the CO2 that will mitigate CO2 emissions in areas where geologic storage may not be an optimal solution. CO2 can be used in applications that could generate significant benefits. It is possible to develop alternatives that can use captured CO2 or convert it to useful products such chemicals, cements, or plastics. Revenue generated from the utilized CO2 could also offset a portion of the CO2 capture cost.

Processes or concepts must take into account the life cycle of the process to ensure that additional CO2 is not produced beyond what is already being removed from or going into the atmosphere. Furthermore, while the utilization of CO2 has some potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere, CO2 has certain disadvantages as a chemical reactant. Carbon dioxide is rather inert and non-reactive. This inertness is the reason why CO2 has broad industrial and technical applications. Each potential use of CO2 has an energy requirement that needs to be determined; and the CO2 produced to create the energy for the specific utilization process must not exceed the CO2 utilized.

Want to know more about potential uses of captured CO2, check out the link.

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 The Commuter Bike Redesigned and Electrified — If I was a rich man…

This week, most people on the East Coast were hunkering down indoors, prepared for this winter’s fourth Snowstorm of the Century. I (Dave Pouge) on the other hand, was riding around a hotel ballroom on a YikeBike. And I’ll be straight with you: I had kind of a Segway moment.

Remember that? After inventor Dean Kamen first gave secret demos of his self-balancing upright scooter to industry hotshots, their awed reactions included remarks like, “They’ll redesign cities for this thing.” Of course, the Segway never did become as commonplace as the bicycle, and the YikeBike won’t either. But what a cool idea.

It’s an electric bike. Top speed is about 15 miles an hour. Buttons that are right under your thumbs on the handlebars smoothly controls the accelerator and brakes. The handlebars themselves are at your waist level, which might seem odd but makes sense—you ride sitting fully upright instead of bending forward, as on a bicycle. That design also means that you can jump forward off the bike in a crisis; there’s no hardware in your way.

Here’s the twist: the whole thing folds down into its own front wheel. You undo four stainless-steel latches, then snap the back wheel, seat and handlebars into the front one. It takes about 10 seconds. (Watch the video embedded in the linked post to get the idea.)

After providing lots more details, David notes,I’m not sure how many takers of the high tech carbon composite the YikeBike will have at $3,600. But I really admire Mr. Ryan’s lean, green folding machine, and I wish him the best of luck.”

The YikeBike on Pouge’s PostsThe Latest in Technology from David Pogue, June 30, 2011, for the New York Times.

You want another choice…

After YikeBike Its Turn Of Honda’s U3-X!Another fun one-wheeler?

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 Pollution & Global Warming—Climate change in black and white

As noted in a recent Economist article, black and white (data) has many grey aspects. When air pollution hurts people’s health and heats up the climate it makes sense to do something about it. But, what about pollution that cools the planet?

An ideal fossil-fuel power plant would produce power, carbon dioxide and nothing more. Less-than-ideal ones—not to mention other devices for the combustion of carbon, from diesel generators to brick kilns and stoves burning dung—also emit various gases and gunk. These often cause local environmental problems, damaging lungs, hurting crops and shortening lives. And some of the gunk, notably soot or “black carbon”, can warm the planet, too.

Next week (February 28, 2011) ministers attending the governing council of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Nairobi will be presented with the summary, which I could not find, of a new report on how fighting air pollution can help the global climate (the report itself is due to follow a couple of months later). The summary makes a powerful case for acting on two short-lived climate “forcing’s”, factors that change the amount of energy the atmosphere absorbs, as carbon dioxide does, but stay in it only briefly. One is black carbon and the other is ozone. The later is both vital for blocking ultraviolet rays in the stratosphere but hazardous in the bits of the atmosphere where plants live and people have to breathe.

According to the UNEP report, implementing measures known to be effective against these two pollutants over the next 20 years would have “immediate and multiple” benefits. These include (1) average world temperatures between 0.2°C and 0.7°C lower than they would otherwise be by 2050 and (2) the saving of between 0.7 and 4.6 million lives with improved air quality. For black carbon the measures are largely in the form of more efficient ways of burning things; for ozone they mostly involve reducing emissions of methane, which encourages reactions in the atmosphere that make ozone. The black-carbon measures save a lot more lives than ozone control, but are trickier to assess in terms of climate

Beijing, but it could have any major urban industrial community in Asia.

The article continues with a discussion of the history of UNEP’s interest in black carbon including observations initiated by Veerabhadran Ramanathan, of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in La Jolla, California, and Paul Crutzen, a Dutch climate scientist who was one of the first to theorize about “nuclear winter”. These studies revealed the hitherto unappreciated extent of an “Asian brown cloud” thousands of kilometers across and fed by fires, diesel fumes and all manner of other things.

The article then focuses on the climate politics, as opposed to the science of black carbon; since reducing CO2 release internationally seems stalled politics takes the forefront. [Check it out, this is not intuitive. It’s an interesting read for the non-politicians amongst us.]

The article, lengthy but well written, ends with a straight forward section called “Clouding the Issues” that deals with both potential warming and cooling effects of atmospherically distributed and surface settled carbon soot. Who said science is black or white?

There’s no punch line but the realization at times, due to doubling effects, more R&D is needed before any action makes sense, especially from regulatory forcing factors.

Indeed, if the Arctic is warming faster than might be expected, other parts of the world are warming slower. One reason for this, widely accepted by scientists but little appreciated by policymakers, is that the sulphur given off by coal-fired power stations and some other industrial fossil-fuel use. Sulphur is very good at forming reflecting aerosols that can also make natural clouds both whiter and possibly longer lasting, which provides an added cooling effect. Acid rains anyone?

It is no coincidence that a non-governmental organization active in the fight against air pollution, America’s Clean Air Task Force, now strongly advocates more research into the pros and cons of geoengineering. Jason Blackstock, at the Centre for International Governance Innovation in Waterloo, Canada, points out that black carbon; sulfates and geoengineering are all neglected by the institutions that govern climate policy. He is looking at ways to bring the topics together in the broader context of how nations make choices about the climate. If human action on the climate is ever to be properly deliberate, it must first be properly deliberated.

This is a thought-provoking read that should threaten any ‘nature is simple paradigm’. I’ll be doing an Op-Ed analysis on Geoengineering for release in July; keep clicking to keep me honest and on schedule.

The Economist Magazine, a staff report, Feb 17th 2011.

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 Symbiotic Coupling Of Wind Power And Nuclear Power Generation Finally someone serious about merging green power, renewable but intermittent Wind and greenhouse free baseload effective nuclear.

I’ve copied the abstract from the peer reviewed Proceedings of the 1st International Nuclear and Renewable Energy Conference (INREC10), Amman, Jordan, March 21-24, 2010. The paper by Kate Rogers and Magdi Ragheb from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Department of Nuclear, Plasma and Radiological Engineering at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. A bit of disclosure, I got my Ph. D. in Organic Chemistry for the U of I at Urbana.

Why?  It has always perplexed me why so little has been published about use of coupled technologies (e.g., nuclear and wind or solar; and perhaps geothermal and wind power) in trying to get cost effective and function solutions to our energy needs while minimalizing direct worsening greenhouse gas releases? The life cycle releases still remain since you must mine-smelt-manufacture the facility, deal with land use footprint and water issues. However these environmental costs are a small portion of the pollution costs of facility based on transporting and burning hydrocarbons for 20-40 years. Okay, here’s the abstract. Check out the whole article…as Arthur Stanton Eric “Arte” Johnson would say on Laugh in, ’it’s verrry interesting.

The coupling of wind power production as an intermittent supply to nuclear power generation as a base load supply is discussed. Wind turbines on a standby operational mode are net importers of power for their control and yaw mechanisms. They need a supply of about 5 kW of power from an existing grid. They also require the vicinity of a power grid with excess capacity to export their generated power. A choice is the construction of wind farms in the immediate vicinity low population density population zones around nuclear power plants.

An example, used by the authors, is the Grand Ridge wind farm adjacent to the LaSalle nuclear power plant near Versailles, Illinois. Since the best wind resources in the USA are located far from the industrial and population centers there is a need for connection to the grid trough High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC). Due to ramping considerations, the planned introduction of 20 percent of electrical wind production in the USA by 2020 would pose challenging grid stability issues. Energy storage alternatives such as hydrogen production, compressed air, flywheels, superconducting magnets and pumped storage, need serious consideration. Doc agrees as long as the results are integrated into life-cycle system operations consideration… To misquote John Donne — no widget is an island!

Another related and more current reference

Hybrid Power Plants: Could They Bank Roll Nuclear Power? Nuclear Insider, 19 May 2011

Except casually, I’ve not searched this particular mother lode of greening information so any feedback from readers would be welcome.  Doc.

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 Nuclear Efficiency — With new fuel formulations, reactors could extract more energy, and reduce hazardous waste

When it comes to nuclear energy, the world is not exactly an early adopter of new technology: The vast majority of nuclear reactors running today falls into the so-called Generation II category and uses technology from the 1970s. Generation III reactors—the ones being built now or in the near future—are fundamentally based on the same water-cooled design, with improvements in safety, reliability, and efficiency.

It is in the development of Generation IV reactors—the ones that will start up around 2030—that nuclear energy will see a significant change in technology. The six models put forth by the Generation IV International Forum, chartered in 2001 to carry out nuclear energy research and development, aspire not only to be even safer and more reliable than previous generations, but also to get a greater return from the energy source—by extracting up to 90% of the available energy in their fuels instead of the 5% more typical of today’s reactors. In some cases, the reactors will use reprocessed or recycled waste fuel from other reactors. The fuels may also incorporate some of the longest lasting radioisotopes from waste fuel, including americium, curium, and neptunium, thereby turning these radiotoxic isotopes into less hazardous materials while providing a little extra energy in the process. To reach those goals, and especially to reach them safely, nuclear scientists are working to develop and evaluate new fuel formulations and materials.

Current reactors use either uranium dioxide or a mix of uranium dioxide and plutonium dioxide. The fuel powder is pressed into pellets that are about 1 cm in diameter. The pellets are then inserted into thin tubes to form rods. The tube material, known as cladding, is considered an integral part of the fuel. In traditional reactors, the cladding is a zirconium alloy.  After the rods are sealed, they are assembled into bundles of dozens to hundreds of rods; several hundred of the bundles make up the core of a reactor.

Jyllian N. Kemsley goes on to discuss, in a well-written and clearly illustrated fashion, the Generation IV reactors and how they will and can achieve bowered costs, safer operation and minimal need to dispose of high-level long lived radioactive waste. What I drew me to this article was the realization that outside of the US, that future is becoming now!

Article by Jyllian N. Kemsley, originally published in the ACS’ Science & Technology Magazine, September 13, 2010.

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 Is the Coal Killer Flying Thousands of Feet Up in the Sky? — A new meaning to go fly a self powered kite.

JoeBen Bevirt is building an inventive, flying turbine in a bold bid to make wind power practical. Bonny Doon, California is hardly the place one thinks of visiting for high-tech thrills. Once an old logging camp, the tiny hamlet northwest of Santa Cruz, California, sits at the end of a country road, past miles of empty beaches and strawberry farms. Hang a left before you reach the vineyard and you find a short dirt track leading to a barn. And then, amid hundreds of acres of redwoods out back, you encounter an avatar of the future—a whirring black gizmo, about the size of a bread box, zipping around overhead. The strange flying object is controlled remotely by a cluster of giggling engineers. Their leader, a tall man with the build of a gazelle, windswept blond hair, and a permanent grin, starts extolling the possibilities of his device before he remembers to introduce himself.

To inventor JoeBen Bevirt, the flying black box holds our clean-energy future, a world in which wind turbines lift off the ground and fly among the clouds. His company, Joby Energy, designs these turbines from scratch. “In order to have truly sustainable energy, we’ve got to beat coal,” he says. “We are going to need game-changing technology. I believe that technology is high-altitude wind.”

In concept his idea makes sense: Wind power from the sky would strip turbines of their expensive, heavy towers and oversize blades, allowing them to collect energy unobtrusively from the richest lode of wind in the world. Winds at an altitude of 30,000 feet carry 20 times as much energy as those near the ground, representing a source of power that could be a fraction of the cost of coal. The challenge, observers say, is keeping such turbines aloft. ——— Enjoy, read the rest of the article summary-The full version is, alas, available only to subscribers like me.

By Erik Vance; photography by Sean Fenn In Discover Magazine, February 8, 2011.

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 IAEA Fujushima Dalichi Fact Finding Mission Summary and Initial Findings_ A reference masquerading as a topic. I will deal with this topic in March of 2012, when most of the sound and fury has died down, and the facts have been collected, subject to peer review and published.  Meanwhile, we likely be watching the field days being enjoyed both by the anti-nuclear greens and the folks at big oil-coal and gas who profit as the earth appears to warm. From their perspective the only significant competitor, in the absence of a carbon tax, of CO2 and other green house gas free energy is being politically assaulted. No the nuclear renaissance is not dead, some government’s believe both killing their people with smog, and supporting the onward going warming is wrong.

I’ve been wondering whether the European Union, and perhaps the UK and Japan might impose a Value Added Tax [VAT] on product produced with electricity generated by pollution based plants. How? It’s naively simple. The VAT should be the ratio of ‘clean to polluting energy generated within the exporting country, other than transportation related. I know it’s in constraint of trade, but so are likely rising sea levels and the drowning of our port cities.

IAEA International Fact Finding Expert Mission Of The Nuclear Accident Following The Great East Japan Earthquake And Tsunami  Tokyo, Fukushima Dai-ichi NPP, Fukushima Dai-ni NPP and  Tokai NPP, Japan   24 May- 1 June 2011     Preliminary Summary

IAEA Fact-Finding Team Completes Visit to Japan (1 June 2011) – Preliminary Assessment

IAEA links to the Japanese Reactor Accidents and their Aftermath.

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Copyright Notice: Product and company names and logos in this review may be registered trademarks of their respective companies.

Some of the articles listed in this column are copyright protected – their use is both acknowledge and is limited to educational related purposes, which this column provides.

Sources & Credits:  — Many of these items were found by way of the links in the newsletter NewsBridge of ‘articles of interest’ to the national labs library technical and regulatory agency users. NewsBridge is electronically published by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratories, in Richland WA.  If using NewsBridge as a starting point, I follow the provided link to the source of the information and edit its content (mostly by shortening the details) for information for our readers. I also both follow any contained links, where appropriate, in the actual article, and provide you those references as well as those gleaned from a short trip to Google-land. Obviously if my source is a magazine or blog that the material I work with.

In addition, when copying materials that I cite, I do not fill the sourced ‘quoted’ words with quotation marks, the only place I keep quotes intact is where the original article ‘quotes’ another secondary source external to itself.  Remember, when Doc sticks his two bits in, its in italics and usually indented.


In Closing

Readers please read about my paradigms views, prejudices and snarky attitudes before flaming me… I show and tell my beliefs and paradigm at:

The materials I share in the topical snippets that follow come from the various weekly science and environmental magazines and newsletters, both pro or anti any given subject’s focus or technologies; as well as excerpts from blogs and ‘lists’ to which I subscribe.

Article selection (my article – my choice} are obviously and admittedly biased by my training, experience and at rare times my emotional and philosophical intuitive views of what works and what will not… But if you have a topic I neglect, send me feedback and I’ll give it a shot.

Since my topic segments are only a partial look at the original materials, click on-through the provided link if you want more details, as well as <often> to check out other background references on the topic(s). … And yes I trust Wikipedia, but only if I’ve checkout most of an articles references for bias and accuracy!       Doc.

QUOTE de Mois — A Richard Feynman Cornucopia

  • The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.  I believe that a scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy.
  • For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.
  • Scientific views end in awe and mystery, lost at the edge in uncertainty, but they appear to be so deep and so impressive that the theory that it is all arranged as a stage for God to watch man’s struggle for good and evil seems inadequate.

By Harry {doc} Babad, © Copyright 2011, All right Reserved.

Lessons Not Learned from Nuclear Power ——— Doc’s Eclectic View


The more I read and study the approach taken by the US and perhaps much of the rest of the world to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide [CO2] released from coal or gas burning power plants, the more perplexed I get.  Readers, I would welcome any feedback from you, on the CO2 and storage alternative I describe below.

At the root of my concern is the fact that the industry with Federal help is leaning toward geological disposal, as opposed to the easier, lower cost, and likely as safe approach to use long term near surface or surface storage at each generator site. I am also admitted biased toward interim 50-500 year engineering solutions to those that need demonstrating to thousands of years of geological media certitude.

To maximize the feedback I could receive from energy and climate change knowledgeable individuals, I post an earlier draft of this article on the American Nuclear Societies Social Media eList. This is an by invitation only ad hoc team of experts who share technical information about energy, greening technology and at times work, mostly as individuals, to counter false and fact-free media claims, cause not knowledge driven activists, or just mom-and-pop grass roots true believers about… what ever their cause.

I have appended the detail and itemized feedback comments I received and my thoughts about the information conveyed. I share only the first names of the folks who proved feedback; who they are is their business.

Preventing Carbon Dioxide Release to the Atmosphere

This article discusses a conceptual view for an alternative to geologic sequestration; the surface or near surface intermediate term (50-500 years) storage of the CO2 Released from Power Plants.

As I follow the government with industry support’s search for, and efforts to demonstrate a safe and publicly acceptable way to find a way to capture and search, dispose of CO2, I get very confused. The first task, based on what I’ve read is relatively straightforward. The chemistry and engineering is well divined and demonstrated at small and intermediate scale. The second step disposal, or even very long-term storage is a more difficult task, fraught with uncertainties. This is especially true for geological or deep seas disposal.

The idea of injecting CO2 in to depleted oil or gas fields, or brine filled aquifers reminds me of the efforts to site a ‘geologically safe’ nuclear repository. The key issue, politics aside, is whether an individual storage/disposal location will remain intact for the lifetime of the risk. For radioactive HLW, perhaps 10,000 years, a regulatory not a risk based limit. For carbon dioxide, forever or at least until we need it to reverse the next ice age.

I believe, iconoclast that I am, that the general and likely insurmountable problem with geological CO2 storage is predicting the long-term future in a heterogeneous environment. Specifically, the safety of each greenhouse gas geological storage site requires that their integrity must be demonstrated on a site-specific basis, alas expensive, even without considering NIMBY related legal costs. This seems to be the case until someone comes up with a cost effective, implementable method of irreversibly converting the captured CO2 to a thermodynamically stable form.

One possibility, we well understand, is concerting to calcium carbonate, in situ – underground.  Converting our captured carbon dioxide to limestone, in a geological formation places less of a burden on proving the geologic integrity of a specific site.

In nuclear terms, think of this as the waste form, which for HLW is borosilicate glass or the insoluble ceramic spent fuel itself.

A Potential Interim Storage Solution

I wonder why the near surface or surface storage of dry Ice in a well designed, terrorist proof passive facility hasn’t been studied, or if so, not publicized.

I’d like to acknowledge the fine diagram of the storage concept, which I described to Scott Armstrong, over the phone last night. Scott is president of MC•MUG, the local Macintosh Users group, a graphics expert and instructor, and a fine photographer.
  1. Pile up stacks of dry ice blocks, either one atop the other or on  some simple weight bearing shelving.
  2. These should insulated by a thick layer of dirt-cheap rock wool. Either blankets on the ice or as part of the dome structure. Which, that’s chemical engineering 101 engineering cost analysis issue.
  3. Located the storage unit, I picked a rebar reinforced dome, geodesic perhaps, both for esthetics and its easier for a hijacked747 to slide off such a dome.
    From an applicable forces perspective think safety analysis, such a dome would be much less expensive then that for a present, or near future generation designed, nuclear reactor dome.
  4. Instrumented the facility with thermocouples, CO2 detectors or what ever; all of the shelf items Add, if paranoid, for emergencies, a small external cooling plant.Why small – short of dropping a nuke on the facility or a direct hit by a well focused full strength solar flare (Science Fiction, there’s unlikely to be a way to heat the dry-ice blocks rapidly enough uncontrollably evaporate the CO2 back in o the atmosphere.
  5. Site these storage domes at every coal, oil or natural gas based power plant or generator complex, they make the CO2 they get store it. You want to generate hydrocarbon based electricity, then store the CO2 as part of your costs of operation.

The nuclear power industry does this of necessity, due to the fact the contracts with the Department of Energy to take possession of the fuel have never come close to being met.  [One more form of indirect taxation we all must pay.] This continues while the industry and consumer are simultaneously being ripped off by a tax for a virtual-cost over run plagued Yucca Mountain based nuclear repository which President Obama cancelled, but without either stopping the tariff or refunding the industry’s money.

Potential Benefits of Dry-Ice Storage

  • No requirement for trading emission credits! You create the CO2, you store it.
  • Avoids the need for carbon tax, at least on burning hydrocarbon burning power plants. No need to confuse the issue with gases released by other industries like feed lots or tailpipe emission, The make you keep!
  • Bearing the Costs of greenhouse gas-storage become part of doing business and paid by the local and regional electricity rate-payer’s. The real, not artificially subsidized cost of electricity is what you and will buy, of necessity. Thus, if politically possible, the cost of electricity become clearly visible. Not as now, snuck out of your pocket by the industry, congress and the IRS.This also levels the playing field for other energy alternatives, and we will not need pay taxes for lobbyist selected or government favorites.

Again, think Nuclear reactors where the owners-ratepayer are forced to store Spent Nuclear Fuel at the reactor sites and the storage cost seemed to be passed on to the rate-payers; a reasonable precedent.

Side Note: The average discharge in our coal-powered fleet is ca. 1.2 to 1.3 tons/MWh depending on the type of coal burned, and which reference you cite.


Am I missing something? Is our love for big-ticket technology and profitable Federal grants the driving force preventing a KISS solution? Feedback, particularly with references that negate or support my arguments would be welcomed.

A Few References in Passing

Carbon Capture and Storage, Wikipedia, 2011 and the references contained therein. []

What is Carbon Sequestration? by the Big Sky Carbon Sequestration Partnership, undated [

Carbon Sequestration, AAPGGEO-DC Blog, Dec 2008. []

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Copyright Notice: Product and company names and logos in this review may be registered trademarks of their respective companies.

Some of the articles cited or quoted in this column are copyright protected – their use is both acknowledged and is limited to educational related purposes, which this column provides.

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Appendix – Social Media eMail Feedback

Responses to the Social Media feedback on “Long-term CO2 Storage A Nuclear Resembling Quandary”

The following is a set of cut and paste copies of the information provided our bloggers, members of social media email team. I have followed each individual’s direct feedback or general subject related comments with feedback, where appropriate. All emails discussed were received before the 8:00 PM of the 28th of January

Harry, aka doc_Babad

Feedback on Social Media Comments

My colleague Bob, a senior nuclear engineer/manager and cost effective going green advocate from Greenville, SC noted:

Dry Ice is a nice idea, but we’re tilting at windmills here.  Man-made CO2 in the atmosphere is a non-problem.  In fact it’s a good thing since it makes things grow and helps feed the world.  CO2 only makes up 3% of the GHG in the atmosphere and man only contributes 2% of the CO2.

Although I have tried to get my hands around such numbers, I’ve never been comfortable that they had been subjected to peer reviewed meta-analysis, such as is sometime done for conflicting drug testing result. Therefore I’ll continue to tilt at windmills should they not prove virtual.

Robert responded:

My biggest concern with CCS is the scale.  The amounts of CO2 to be captured, transported, and stored are immense.  While I am loath to call it impossible, I would think CCS a much greater technical challenge than nuclear waste (despite the media claims of the reverse).

I agree, with the general concern that Bob shares  – that’s why both capture and storage should be located at the point of origin, the generating complex. As far as which is more difficult, I believe today’s NIMBYs are tomorrows advocates.

Jonathan, in an engineering design focused feedback, pointed out:

1.   The immediate thing that strikes is how would the CO2 be cooled to form dry ice. I don’t have any top of my head figures, but my gut instinct is that it would be energy intensive. Add on top I doubt the best insulation would keep the dry ice solid for the decades necessary without more energy intensive cooling.
Jonathan, based on reading about currently available technology for (1) capturing heat not utilized for producing electricity, and (2) perhaps less robust means of turning such waste heat into power, I thought a real functions and requirements study coupled with detailed conceptual design analysis could flesh out the specific of how and how well. One alternative might be the use waste heat as a source of energy for CO2 solidification. My intent with the article was two-fold. First a response to at why I could, in 45 minute Google and DOE OSTI search session, I could find no reference to dry-ice storage as a potential methodology for curtailing the release of greenhouse gasses. Secondly, I wanted to get broad feedback for the participants in Social Media, on the concept. Thank you – you’ve helped me achieve that latter.

2.   You would also produce just under a cubic meter of dry ice for every MWh. That’s going to be one heck of a pile of dry ice very soon.

Of course, that reality might be even enough to frustrate the building of now power plants that use petrochemical to generate electricity.  In addition, there doesn’t seem to be a shortage of land around the generating plant’s I’ve visited or lived down-wind from. Whether on the surface or for a shallow storage vault, these folks certainly have enough acreage to keep expanding large uncontrolled ash/slag piles.

3.    One KISS approach would be to pump CO2 to a deep seabed location, where the water pressure would be sufficient to solidify the CO2 as it emerged – not that I think this is environmentally sound.

I agree the pressure meets CO2 solidification requirements. Again there’s the transportation problem poised by Robert S. Margolis. In addition are you going to build such a disposal site in international waters — hmm? You could of course try to license such a site or sites in the states that have deep brine deposited associated with salt domes or bedded salt… Texas or Louisiana anyone?

4.   One difference between a nuclear repository and CO2 sequestration is that with CO2 some level of leakage could be more acceptable. In very simplified terms if we were to sequestrate 100 years of CO2 and it had a 0.1% leak rate we’d have a tenth of our GHG emissions for 1000 years. If stabilizing GHG emissions requires an 80% CO2 reduction then we’d be essentially ‘taking a loan’ on future emissions. A hundred years hence we’d have to reduce to 10% of current emissions and have the 10% emissions from sequestration.

That would be a big ask, but if leakage was only 0.01% it might become more arguable, pragmatically against the alternative of not meeting emissions targets at all.

I agree in general, but wonder whether the other alternates, other than going CO2 emission free, contain comparable potential bobby-traps. In addition, being somewhat mathematics adverse, I don’t follow how a 0.1% CO2 leak forces me to take a loan on the future. I just consider it a 0.1% additional un-captured release, but a bit time delayed. Were doing much worse than that now. I’ve seen no statistically defensible number on capture efficiency either at a power plant o a regional pipeline fed, facility. What am I missing?

5.    I personally don’t support the case above when there are already good alternatives, but I think it would be an argument made. And perhaps more significantly very low levels of leakage won’t be a showstopper for CO2 CCS in the way it is made for nuclear repositories.

Okay! However, everything I’ve studied suggests that current regulations controlling nuclear material or radiation release are based on fear mongering politics and regulatory over enthusiasm. We too long, listen to the loudest voice, safe at any costs, because the costs do not come directly and visibly out of our pockets. I’ve never been comfortable with the thesis of always safe-always multiplicatively conservative, using SciFi scenarios, rather than demonstrated actual risk. Lots of healthy folks get significantly higher doses such as the residents of (Guarapari, Brazil; Kerala, India; Ramsar, Iran; Yangjiang, China). I still can’t find, since co-authoring two textbooks with Dr. R. A Deju in 2008 and 2009, any peer reviewed data that identified meaningful differences in heath, heath compared to folks in comparable socio-economic niches.

Stephen more broadly commented

1.    I’m just amazed that CCS is regarded as a viable concept. US coal-fired power plants crank out 2 billion tons of CO2 every year, and Chinese coal-fired power emissions I believe has overtaken those of the US. Four billion tons every year from two countries — we’re just going to magically keep finding low-cost storage sites for all this stuff?

I pass; we’ve paid for stupid things since a CO2 emission free alternative like nuclear has not gained sufficient impetus to have a meaningful effect on US and China’s emissions. Additionally, the of the main green energy alternative, no system has yet been cost effectively been demonstrated to guarantee base-line power, However, my favorite science fiction based alternative, the beaming of RF radiation to desert areas, from space, might do so if the desserts selected were globally located. What you say, creating a commercially based satellite system that collects gigawatts’ worth of solar power and beams it down to Earth where it is converted to electricity. The ideas was first proposed by Dr. Isaac Asimov in 1941, and more recently evaluated by folks are diverse at the US Pentagon. For SciFi buffs, Harry Harrison and Ben Bova also expanded on the theme.

2.    Most of the cost of CCS is in the second “C” — capture. The only “proven” technology is amine-based chemical absorption. All sorts of R&D is going into other, hopefully less expensive ways of separating CO2 from flue gas, but these are early-stage R&D efforts. (And the operative word is “hopefully” — none has been proven to be effective, much less economical.) So if CCS had to be implemented today, it would be based on amine absorption.

Stephen, I am uncomfortable with your thesis about the scalability and cost effectiveness CO2 capture. Although amine technology is most often identified an s reasonable, if not yet fully test concept for capture, there are others including use of zeolites and membranes. When I have time available, I will more thoroughly search this topic and share my finding with Social Media.

3.    Which is why it hasn’t been implemented yet. Generating companies use coal because it is cheap. When it is no longer cheap, well there goes its advantage. CCS is simply not economical — it adds a cost to coal-fired power. Long before people find that out the hard way, coal-fired power generators will have gone bankrupt or switched their fleets to gas or nuclear — assuming coal generation is hit with emissions regulation or legislation. And in the near term, gas looks to be the front-runner — it’s okay to use the atmosphere as a CO2 dumps as long as the CO2 comes from gas combustion.

True, but comes the day of either a carbon tax;
… or the potential sea-level rise caused flooding of costal mega cities. There will be 20 coastal megacities (population exceeding 8 million) by 2010. The risk comes from a likely combination of sea level rise and storm surges. Lets pick a few likely targets — NYC, Bangkok, New Orleans, Mumbai, Shanghai, Manila, Caracas, Ho Chi Min City
… let’s see who pays the piper!

4.    If some use could be found for all that CO2, then maybe CO2 capture wouldn’t be such a joke. But that would depend on large-scale hydrogen production from water splitting. And the best hope for that is to use nuclear heat to split water — it’s the only way to make H production sustainable and clean. There should be way more R&D in nuclear hydrogen production.

Of course, Stephen, I agree!

Rod responded to the Social media dialog; I agree, by stating:

As a long time adherent of KISS approaches to engineering, I disagree with your interpretation. A real KISS type engineer who really works at keeping things simple would say – just don’t produce the CO2 in the first place. Then you do not need to spend any time, effort or money figuring out how to separate it from a waste stream, how to capture it after separation, where to store it or how to get it there.

The big difference between used nuclear fuel and CO2 is that the former starts off as a solid material encased in corrosion resistant cladding. It does not leak as long as you simply put it into a simple container. If the container ever shows signs of deterioration, fix or replace the container.

The only way you ever get any “leakage” from a used nuclear fuel storage area is if your computer models assume that people stop doing their jobs and that barriers magically disappear over time.

I agree with Rod but without going into politics and lobbyist support moneyed interests, let’s just always remember (to our idealistic despair) our democratic society is imperfect. But as Winston Churchill noted on November 11, 1947 “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”


1/28/11       9:26 PM