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#1 2022-05-24 06:39:33

tahanson43206
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Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 17,089

Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

For SpaceNut ... we have activity going on in various topics that relate to ** this ** topic, but ** this ** topic is offered to provide a place for members to collect and organize information, links, images, tips and "Best Practices" that will enable a future reader to construct (or supervise construction of) a working system.

Updated 2023/01/01 ... a contribution by Calliban tipped the scales toward including natural fuel in the Topic Title.  The topic has extended to include production of oils by plants, and wood or woody plant parts is a reasonable extension of the concept. All fuels proposed for this topic would be produced by solar power. The only difference is whether the production is direct or indirect. 

The chances of success for this topic, to achieve the stated result, appear favorable (to me at least) because everything included in the title has been accomplished on Earth already.

To the best of my knowledge (and of course that is limited) no one on Earth has put the entire package together.

It ** should ** be possible to assemble already proven systems to achieve nirvana .... a working solar powered system that makes synthetic fuel using air and water as inputs.

We have at least one member who reminds us from time to time of the "embedded energy" in various products.

I like to remind everyone who might see my posts, that the Sun is generating prodigious amounts of energy that we humans are wasting.

We humans are wasting vast amounts of solar energy that reaches the Earth, let alone all that energy that flies out to the rest of the Universe.

Because all tjhe technologies are already in existence, I am setting a target date of one year for someone, somewhere, to demonstrate production of one liter of synthetic liquid fuel in on Earth day using solar power.

The Carter Center
453 John Lewis Freedom Parkway NE
Atlanta, GA 30307-1406



(th)

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#2 2022-05-24 16:35:22

SpaceNut
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Posts: 28,850

Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

Since you are indicating a liter one must then gather that its in liquid form.
Sure with in limited amount of energy going into the process but that is the issue as a return on the energy investment is where it becomes practical or not.
https://afdc.energy.gov/files/u/publica … _chart.pdf
Alternative Fuels Data Center Fuel Properties Comparison

Then the starting point of the elements must be considered that will make up the chemical composition of the fuel.

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#3 2022-05-24 17:36:47

tahanson43206
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Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

For SpaceNut re #2

Thank you for your interest in and support of this new topic.

I am hoping that with help from kbd512 (in particular) and Calliban for assistance with the chemistry, this topic will live up to the potential of the title.

Whatever the investment in the land and equipment to set up this facility, it ** should ** then be able to deliver return on that investment for 40 years.

What goes into the facility is accumulated wisdom of countless human beings over centuries of pains taking learning.  The pace has picked up in recent years, but that rapid pace today is only possible because of all those years of trial and error (and occasional inspiration) in the hearts and minds of our predecessors.

(th)

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#4 2022-05-30 07:59:35

SpaceNut
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Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

The synthesis happens in a chamber of elevated pressure and temperatures along with a mix ratio to achieve the end goal.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synthetic_fuel

Indirect_conversion_synthetic_fuels_processes.jpg

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/en … production

Renewable CO2 recycling and synthetic fuel production in a marine environment

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#5 2022-05-30 17:20:57

Calliban
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From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 3,413

Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

The link below provides a wind energy chart.  Power density in this context, would be wind energy per square metre of swept area.
https://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Imag … wind_atlas

What is interesting is that most of the best resources are in places a long way from population centres and in cold waters circling the arctic.  So at present, they remain untapped.  Coincidentaly, these colder waters will also have a higher concentration of dissolved CO2.  Perhaps the Prometheus Fuels process will provide a means of tapping stranded wind a solar resources.


"Plan and prepare for every possibility, and you will never act. It is nobler to have courage as we stumble into half the things we fear than to analyse every possible obstacle and begin nothing. Great things are achieved by embracing great dangers."

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#6 2022-05-31 09:20:22

SpaceNut
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Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

the following is further reference to what can be used by a source of energy to create fuel

kbd512 wrote:

Calliban,

Can you show your work in your calculations?

In reference to your post that you linked to, if 5,920t of steel used in solar trough type concentrators produces 1TWh of electricity per year and diesel provided 17,100TWh of energy per year.  At 100% conversion efficiency, which I am well aware that we will never achieve, we would require 101,232,000t of steel.

5,920t of steel per TWh per year * 17,100TWh per year (energy supplied by diesel fuel) = 101,232,000t of steel

If our process is only 50% efficient overall, then 101,232,000t * 2 = 202,464,000t of steel (to produce 17,100TWh of diesel per year)

That's still a lot of steel, no doubt about it, but it's nowhere close to 4 billion tons.  It's about 10% of one year's worth of steel production.  Spread over 40 years, it's 0.0025% of total global production.  The alternative to not having diesel fuel is much much worse, so this is still a relative bargain, even if the steel becomes more expensive over time.  After 40 years, we can presumably recycle most of that steel into new solar trough concentrators.

National average steel price per ton in America is $220 per ton, as of 05/30/2022.  America is also very well-known for making every type of product more expensive than it needs to be.

202,464,000t * $220 = $44,542,080,000USD

$45B USD, at current US steel prices.  Spread across the entire world, that is a pitiful amount of money.  America and China are the largest consumers of all types of fuels, so most of the price tag would be absorbed by their economies.  Africa could also become opulently wealthy as a function of their proximity to the Sahara, so maybe their brain power could be devoted to better solutions about one generation down the line.  In the US federal government's yearly budget, that amount of money would be considered "noise", especially over 40 years.  It is noise when compared to our yearly GDP.  We could take some of the money we printed but still haven't spent on COVID relief and provide economic relief for all those middle class Americans that said money was supposed to go to, but didn't.  This problem of diesel depletion is a minor annoyance that brute force will overcome.

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#7 2022-05-31 09:20:42

SpaceNut
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Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

Calliban wrote:

Kbd512,

Here is the link to my calculations.
http://newmars.com/forums/viewtopic.php … 91#p194891

To produce 1TWh per year requires 233,000 tonnes steel.  Divide that by an assumed 40 year lifespan and you get 5825 tonne per TWh.  Multiply 5825 by 17,100 and you get just shy of 100 million tonnes of steel needed per year to replace worn out plants with a total of 4 billion tonnes of embodied steel.

However, this initial estimate failed to include the energy losses in manufacture of synthetic hydrocarbons, which are about 50% efficient at converting electric power into stored chemical energy.  So the total steel needed is about 8 billion tonnes for 100% of global diesel production, with about 200 million tonnes used every year in a steady state replacement scenario.  I think it is achievable.  But it is a major undertaking.  It is about the amount of steel used each year, to make all of the worlds vehicles; road, rail and shipping.  But it is still only 11% of total steel production as of 2019.  We could build up synthetic diesel production at a rate sufficient to avoud supply disruptions, without requiring huge increases in glibal steel production or prices.

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#8 2022-05-31 09:20:59

SpaceNut
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Posts: 28,850

Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

kbd512 wrote:

Calliban,

I still think something is off with your math.

At 20% thermal-to-electrical conversion efficiency, 1km^2 of panel surface area (photovoltaic or solar thermal trough) generates about 2.4TWh per year.

17,100TWh / 2.4TWh = 7,125km^2, or 84.4km per side.

4,048,000,000t of steel / 7,125km^2 = 568,140t per square kilometer / 0.56814t per square meter.

568.14kg of steel per square meter of collector area?

Even with the collector tube, space frame support structure, and a steel-reinforced concrete foundation, that figure seems astonishingly high to me.  That means each square meter of collector area requires the same amount of Iron as a pair of Chevrolet 454 Big Blocks.

What are we talking about building here, a massive electric generating plant or a synthetic fuel plant?

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#9 2022-05-31 09:21:34

SpaceNut
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Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

Calliban wrote:

Let us assume an annual solar flux of 2500kWh per year where we build our solar power station.  Peak sun on Earth surface at noon, at the equator, is about 1000W/m2.  With perfect atmospheric clarity with no clouds or dust, you therefore get just over 8kWh/m2/day and about 3000kWh/m2-year.  So a flux of 2500kWh/m2-year in the desert regions of the US is probably about right.

Let us assume a 20% conversion efficiency from thermal power into electrical power.  That means each square metre of reflector will produce 500kWh of electric power.  To produce 1TWh per year (1000,000,000kWh) we therefore need 2 million square metres of reflector panels.  The actual area covered by the plant will be more, because the panels must avoid shadowing.  According to the DoE estimates, a power plant producing 1TWh per year, will need 233,000 tonnes of steel.  That is 117kg per square metre of collector area.

I don't think that is an unrealistic estimate.  It includes the reflectors themselves and the support frames; heat transfer pipework and generation plant.  The average car contains about 1000kg of cast iron and steel.  So a single square metre of collector is about 1/9th of a cars worth of steel.

To make synthetic fuels, you must first make electricity.  You must then use electricity to electrolyse water into hydrogen, which then reduces CO2 into methanol.  That is how the prometheus process appears to work.  The neat thing about it is that methanol synthesis takes place within the electrolysis cell at the cathode.  That is neat, because it avoids having to put H2 and CO2 into a seperate chemical reactor.  But that saves capital cost rather than energy cost.

The only alternative method of producing the H2 required, is some sort of thermochemical process.  There are a number of possible processes.  But they typically require much higher temperatures than the 400°C that is achievable using trough solar collectors.

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#10 2022-05-31 09:22:30

SpaceNut
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Posts: 28,850

Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

kbd512 wrote:

Calliban,

I see what I did wrong.  I was using the Wh/m^2/year that the Earth receives at TOA.  That's what always happens when I go from memory, rather than re-verifying what numbers I'm using.

17,100TWh * 2km^2 per TWh = 34,200km^2

34,200km^2 * 1,000,000m^2 per km^2 * 117kg = 4,001,400,000,000kg / 4,001,400,000t

However, I also note that we keep fixating on producing electricity, which is not all or even most of the energy input into the fuel synthesis process.  A standard "nothing special" trough-type solar concentrator converts about 70% of the energy it receives into heat.  Our steel requirement is then 1.6 billion tons.  It's probably less than that since we're not attempting to convert most of the heat into electricity.  The US only uses about 20% of the world's energy supply, so I presume we would need 320 million tons of steel.  However, 1.6 billion tons over 40 years 40,000,000t per year.  That seems doable.

Around 90% of the total global energy consumption is supplied in the form of heat energy, so if we supply all of our gasoline / diesel / kerosene from endlessly sustainable sources, then that pretty much covers everything worth mentioning.  We still need electricity, but if we can supply all of our fuels from scratch, then that's pretty much the entire shooting match.

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#11 2022-05-31 09:23:14

SpaceNut
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Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

kbd512 wrote:

Calliban,

No, it's not perpetual motion.  It requires an enormous amount of energy input, but straight electrolysis is not the only method used to split water into H2 and O2.  In all the literature I've read about using nuclear power to electrolyze water, it's proposed that elevated temperatures are used to significantly decrease the amount of electrical energy input required.  Is there some reason why that could not also be done using solar thermal power?

If we electrolyze Hydrogen using Hysata's water electrolysis cell, then we would need 5,602.5TWh of input electrical power per year, at 41.5kWh/kg of H2, to produce 135 billion kg of Hydrogen for the 135 billion gallons of gasoline we consume each year.  That's equivalent to about 640 1GWe nuclear reactors running at maximum capacity, all year long.  Something tells me we'd have a hard time managing that, though I will freely admit that the input material requirements are bound to be much lower for nuclear power.

However...

Now I know why those numbers you provided for the weight of steel per square meter of panel surface area looked a bit high:

Eurotrough - Parabolic Trough Collector Developed for Cost Efficient Solar Power Generation

For the ET100 / EuroTrough 100 design, with 545m^2 of surface area, the weight of steel per square meter is 19kg, which is nowhere close to 117kg.  That means 19,000t of steel per square kilometer.  The ET150 design uses 18.5kg/m^2 of collector area.

Exact component mass breakdown, including total mass of steel structure and steel structure mass per square meter:

EUROTROUGH DESIGN ISSUES AND PROTOTYPE TESTING AT PSA

34,200km^2 * 19,000t/km^2 = 649,800,000t of steel or 16,245,000t of steel over 40 years.

650,000,000t * $220USD/t = $143,000,000,000USD (this amount of steel would enable the production of more than double US daily consumption of gasoline / diesel / kerosene)

Even if we used 100% electrical input power and no process heat to split every kilogram of H2 and synthesize the end product, at 50% overall efficiency, then we're not talking about insurmountable quantities of steel over 40 years.  I'm also assuming that we roll out this technology in the US first, so that other nations can learn from our experimentation.  If I presume that the US consumes 550 million gallons of fuels per day, and each gallon of fuel contains about 1kg of Hydrogen, then I need to come up with 550 million kg of Hydrogen, which equates to 23TWh/day or 8,395TWh/year.  If US requires 17,100km^2 of solar trough collectors to cover its own gasoline / diesel / kerosene consumption requirements, or 325Mt of steel.  The US produces about 105Mt annually, so over a period of 40 years that represents about 13% of domestic production.

I don't know for certain what the total installed cost would be, because the prices I've seen are so variable- anywhere between $65/m^2 and $100/m^2, total installed cost.  The costs decrease significantly as more of the same equipment is produced.  I have a document from Abengoa about total installed cost, which I'll post tomorrow.

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#12 2022-05-31 09:23:41

SpaceNut
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Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

Calliban wrote:

Easy to get lost with so many numbers flying around.  This paper examines materials requirements for two types of solar thermal power plant: tower concentration and trough concentration.
https://www.researchgate.net/publicatio … rmal_Power

Here we are examining the second.  The validity of the calculations that follow rest of the validity of data within this paper.

Whilst there are many inputs identified, two in particular will dominate the embodied energy of the plant: iron and steel.  It isn't clear from the document if iron means cast iron, or if the author is talking about mild steel, which is close to being pure iron.  Likewise, it isn't really clear in the reference if steel refers to stainless steel, low alloy steel, or some mixture of both.  But anyhow, a powerplant producing 1TWh of electric power per year will require the following ferrous inputs:

170,000 ton iron;
63,000 ton steel.

Collectively, that is 233,000 ton of ferrous metal.  One imperial ton equates to 0.9072 metric tonnes.  So that is 211,374 metric tonnes per TWh/year.

In terms of how much power we need to produce the entire world's diesel, I am going with my original estimate of a 50% conversion of electrical energy into chemical energy for the time being (more later).  If that estimate is later shown to be pessimistic, then I will adjust downward the amount of ferrous metal needed.

We need 17,100TWh per year of fixed chemical energy.  So 34,200TWh per year of electrical energy to make it.

211,374 x 34,200 = 7.23 billion tonnes.

That is about 4 years of global ferrous metal production.  If we assume a 40 year lifespan for a powerplant, we need about 10% of existing global ferrous production to be able to maintain a 34,200TWh/year generating capacity.  The plus side is that most of this ferrous metal can be recycled.  In fact, given the size of our demand, we could have dedicated electric furnaces for recycling specific types of steel.

Only 23% of ferrous input is listed as steel, with iron (mild steel?) making up the balance.  I suspect that iron refers mostly to reinforcing iron.  The interesting thing here is that pure iron is a substance that has no particular resource pressures and is easily recyclable in an electric furnace.
_________________________________________________________________________________________

Post note 1. I estimated earlier that in a high insolation climate, each m2 of collector area would generate 500kWh of electric power per year at a 20% conversion efficiency.  If we are raising steam at a temperature of 400°C, then efficiency should be closer to 30%.  So each square metre would generate 750kWh per year.

If we take steel inputs alone (55,700 tonne per TWh per year), it turns out that we need 42.5kg steel per m2 of collector area.  Assuming that some of that steel is used in the powerplant and heat transfer pipework, then we aren't far away from the 19kg/m2 in the collectors alone that you referenced.
_________________________________________________________________________________________

Post note 2.  Regarding the use of heat to reduce the electrical inputs needed to drive electrochemical reactions.  This is the basis behind high temperature electrolysis.  With rising temperature, o-h bonds lengthen, reducing the Gibbs free energy required to break them.
https://www1.eere.energy.gov/solar/pdfs/doctor.pdf

At 700K (428°C) the Gibbs free energy will be 10% lower than its value at 300K.  This implies that electricity requirements for electrolysis decline by 10%.  The other 10% of energy comes from solar heat.  If we use this process, then the solar power capacity we need will be 7% reduced.  The problem is that high temperature electrolysis is an experimental process that introduces problems of its own.  At 700K, the density of water will be much lower, which will impose limits on the current density of the electrolysis cell.  Pressures are much higher and corrosion will be more of a problem.  I suspect that HT electrolysis will achieve a slightly lower power cost at the expense of much greater capital costs at the electrolyser.

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#13 2022-05-31 09:24:03

SpaceNut
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Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

Calliban wrote:

According to the reference I used, trough solar requires 250,000 ton cement per GW capacity.  However, a powerplant producing 1TWh needs 65,000.  So we need a 260MWe plant to produce 1TWh per year.

The Solaben power plant in Spain is a 200MWe-p plant, with a reflector area of 1.2km2, covering an area of 3km2.  A 260MWe-p plant would cover an approximate area of 3.9km2.  We need 34,200 of these to make all of the world's diesel.  That amounts to a total area of 133,340km2.  About the same area as Louisiana.

I don't think land area will be a problem.  The world has an ample supply of hot, uninhabitable desert where we can build these plants.  The Sahara covers an area of 9.2 million square kilometres.  We would need to cover less than 2% of it to manufacture all of the worlds diesel.  And it is but one uninhabitable desert region that we could use.  In reality, these facilities would be spread around the Earth's sun belt.

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#14 2022-05-31 09:25:22

SpaceNut
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Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

https://www.carboncommentary.com/blog/2 … on-economy

https://www.energy.gov/eere/fuelcells/h … ectrolysis

it appears that the electrical power is converted to only 80% of it in hydrogen produced.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrolysis_of_water


Natural from oil created vs synthetic comes down to a gallon per gallon cost total for all processes and where is that break point for where one is more expensive as compared to the other under inflation conditions.

https://afdc.energy.gov/fuels/prices.html

https://dieselnet.com/tech/fuel_synthetic.php

http://egon.cheme.cmu.edu/Papers/Mertin … hgrass.pdf
Optimal use of Hybrid feedstock, Switchgrass and Shale gas, for the Simultaneous Production of Hydrogen and Liquid Fuels


Do not forget that if the source of water and co2 are from sea water that a floating unit can perform the same while providing shade for the ocean causing a cooling effect to happen from the very large platform which has the troughs on it.

That said its oriented east west with 1 axis of tilt to keep the sun at its max for the focus point.

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#15 2022-06-30 11:16:28

Void
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Registered: 2011-12-29
Posts: 7,085

Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

If this is redundant the please feel free to delete it from this conversation.

I only have a vague notion of what has been discussed here so far.

https://phys.org/news/2022-06-holy-grai … hanol.html
Quote:

Found: The 'holy grail of catalysis'—turning methane into methanol under ambient conditions using light

Because of the products they sav can come from Methanol, I would think that the above might also be good for Mars.

Done.


Done.

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#16 2022-06-30 11:34:00

kbd512
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Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

Void,

Thanks for sharing that interesting little tidbit.  Natural gas to methanol, then methanol to gasoline.

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#17 2022-06-30 12:45:40

Calliban
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From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 3,413

Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

Stranded natural gas

https://petrowiki.spe.org/Stranded_gas

'Natural gas reserves are plentiful around the world, but many are too small or too remote from sizable population centers to be developed economically. Stranded gas is essentially gas that is wasted or unused. Estimates of remote or stranded gas reserves range from 40 to 60% of the world’s proven gas reserves.[1] [2] These massive global gas reserves are largely untapped, and conventional means of development face logistical and economic barriers. The local market for gas is usually too small, or the gas field is too far from the industrialized markets. Sometimes excess gas reserves can be classified as stranded because they may result in oversupply of the market. Most stranded gas reserves are in gas fields that are totally undeveloped. It is claimed that there are approximately 1,200 such fields, of different sizes, worldwide.[3] A recent study identified approximately 450 Tcf of natural gas stranded in fields greater than 50 Bcf that can be produced and gathered for less than 0.50 U.S. $/million Btu.[4] Most larger stranded gas fields can produce gas even cheaper.'

There is plenty of natural gas around the world that falls into the category of 'stranded'.  If catalytic methane oxidation can be used to convert it into methanol, then it can be shipped to markets.

Methanol also has a secondary use in the conversion of bio-oils into useful liquid fuels.

Last edited by Calliban (2022-06-30 12:49:04)


"Plan and prepare for every possibility, and you will never act. It is nobler to have courage as we stumble into half the things we fear than to analyse every possible obstacle and begin nothing. Great things are achieved by embracing great dangers."

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#18 2022-06-30 16:51:36

kbd512
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Posts: 7,427

Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

Calliban,

If we could make a mobile mini-refinery that could transform natural gas into gasoline and diesel for easier transport, that would be a boon to the transportation industry.

So long as we're stuck on stupid, I say we shut off the gas spigot to the gas turbine electric generators since those are providing 75%+ of all electrical power.  Just buy a Tesla.  That'll solve that thorny energy problem.  What a typical "American" response.  Buy something and your problems will be solved. (double face-palm)

Everyone will quickly determine that they need oil and gas after their cell phone battery runs out, there's no internet, and young people actually start having in-person conversations to "figure things out".

It's gonna be great, at least according to tahanson43206.  Burning that stuff in engines is where we humans went "terribly wrong", at least according to him.  We'll all go back to the Stone Age for a day, most of us will figure out that that's not where we want to live, and then we can move on with the rest of life after the latest failed "thought experiment".  Camping is fun for the first few days, because it's something different than what you're used to, but then the reality of that sort of existence sets in and most people want no part of it.

Sometimes I think the people alive today are so privileged that they have no clue what life was like before all this modern stuff existed, nor why we might want to continue living in the modern world and doing the best we can do with what we have and what we know.

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#19 2022-06-30 23:59:40

Calliban
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From: Northern England, UK
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Posts: 3,413

Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

I think you are correct.  The problem is that most people are not really that interested in technology and for that reason, they never really take the time to understand where wealth comes from.  It has been my experience that people in general tend to view technology as a kind of magic, that will automatically satisfy any human desire regardless of what energy sources or other resources are available.  They expect solutions to their wants and whims to spontaneously appear, because that is what technological development often looks like to the public at large, in a world where surplus energy allows the development of fancy stuff.  Because they cannot see the hard work and surplus energy that goes into developing their miraculous new toys and because they have never known a world of shortage, they assume that the system will always continue to provide, regardless of how much they screw with it.

The absolute shortages of food and energy that we will start to see this coming winter, are going to be a rude awakening for a lot of people.  They will mean death for a lot of people in the Middle East and North Africa.  There will be anger and much finger pointing.  Some will blame Putin.  Some will blame Biden.  Some will blame central banks.  I hope at least that complacency will be amongst the first casualties this winter.  In Europe, shortages of food and energy, are going to be politically disasterous for Greens.  People are going to learn the hard way that prosperity is not something that develops out of nothing.  It is the application of surplus energy to rework natural resources.  A renewed understanding of this reality could be enormously beneficial in the long term.

Last edited by Calliban (2022-07-01 00:01:55)


"Plan and prepare for every possibility, and you will never act. It is nobler to have courage as we stumble into half the things we fear than to analyse every possible obstacle and begin nothing. Great things are achieved by embracing great dangers."

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#20 2022-07-01 02:57:59

Terraformer
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Posts: 3,816
Website

Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

There are emergency plans to save energy this winter with rolling blackouts.

At peak energy usage in the morning and evening.

It will certainly save gas, since modern boilers don't work without electricity. So no heating in the evening, no showers in the morning. It's a really really stupid plan. Especially when considering that electric heating can sometimes be more efficient than gas (gas -> electricity has ~50% efficiency at the plug, and near 100% efficiency back to heat, so if you're losing more than half your heat with gas, say trying to boil water, electricity wins out). Spending 50W of electricity to heat a person with an electric blanket is a lot cheaper than 5kW of gas on heating the whole house with a boiler, so if you're short on energy you ought to do the former.

There *are* things we can do to prepare for winter, but I don't think they're being done. Like figuring out how to convert gas turbines to petrol, or crack petrol into something that can be burned in them (does ethene work?). We have a lot more petrol than we burn gas for power, so a reduction in car use (>25% of our energy use! It's like 44% for transport as a whole, and that's mostly cars, not trucks and vans) would let us keep the lights on at least.


"I'm gonna die surrounded by the biggest idiots in the galaxy." - If this forum was a Mars Colony

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#21 2022-07-01 13:39:56

SpaceNut
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Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

More on the conversion of methane to methanol

Converting Methane to Methanol—With and Without Water

Of course, California went nuts on conversion of fuels due to exhaust.

Converting Methane to Methanol


Methane converted into methanol at room temperature – just add light

The technique could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide a cleaner way to make key products.

well you can not make everybody happy

Methane is emitted in smaller amounts but is 34 times more potent, so reducing its levels remains a priority. Excess methane from industrial processes is often burned off, but that produces CO2.
Converting methane into methanol at room temperature and ambient pressure, including a titanium and copper catalyst and ways to improve iron zeolite crystals. In tests, the solid catalyst was able to work efficiently, and could be washed and reused at least 10 times, for a minimum of 200 hours of reaction time.

Here is the big one thou as Billions of cubic feet of natural gas are burned off in U.S. oil and gas fields every year, wasting the fossil fuel and emitting greenhouse gases without actually generating energy. In Texas alone, state regulators have permitted companies to burn more than a million cubic feet of gas every day since 2019.

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#22 2022-07-01 13:48:53

Void
Member
Registered: 2011-12-29
Posts: 7,085

Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

All good points, but I am not as paranoid of Methane as a greenhouse gas, as many life forms probably evolved to consume it out of the atmosphere.  Microbes in the bark of trees do, as trees wick it up out of the ground to them.

So, there is the possibility that as Methane builds up, so also will those that consume it out of the atmosphere.

At least I suspect it can be so.

CO2 is a harder way to get Carbon and does not give water.  Methane gives Carbon, Water and Energy as consumed with Oxygen.

Evolution should have favored it as a Carbon source.

Done.

Last edited by Void (2022-07-01 13:49:05)


Done.

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#23 2022-07-09 19:00:46

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 17,089

Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

SpaceNut ... the article posted below is about Methane, but none of the topics that contain the word methane seemed (to me at least) like a good fit.

The article is not ** about ** manufacture of synthetic fuel, but it does consider the subject ...

https://www.yahoo.com/news/renewable-na … 45451.html

The author of the article at the link above seems to acknowledge the validity of the idea of making methane from CO2 and oxygen, using wind or solar power.  However, she seems to be worried that some of any such methane would leak along the way from manufacture to consumer, including incomplete combustion at the end user appliance.

Because methane is (reported to be) even more harmful to the environment than CO2, I suppose there is something to her concern, but it's difficult for me (as a lay person) to evaluate the risk.

Certainly production of fossil methane and transport of methane by pipeline seems to have leaks in the present circumstances.

In any case, if anyone is curious to see her argument, here is part of the piece..

The Conversation
'Renewable' natural gas may sound green, but it's not an antidote for climate change

Emily Grubert, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology

Sat, July 9, 2022 at 10:26 AM


Methane bubbles form in a pit digester on a dairy farm as bacteria break down cow manure. The methane can be collected and used as an energy source. Edwin Remsburg/VW Pics via Getty Images

Natural gas is a versatile fossil fuel that accounts for about a third of U.S. energy use. Although it produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants than coal or oil, natural gas is a major contributor to climate change, an urgent global problem. Reducing emissions from the natural gas system is especially challenging because natural gas is used roughly equally for electricity, heating, and industrial applications.

There’s an emerging argument that maybe there could be a direct substitute for fossil natural gas in the form of renewable natural gas (RNG) – a renewable fuel designed to be nearly indistinguishable from fossil natural gas. RNG could be made from biomass or from captured carbon dioxide and electricity.

Based on what’s known about these systems, however, I believe climate benefits might not be as large as advocates claim. This matters because RNG isn’t widely used yet, and decisions about whether to invest in it are being made now, in places like California, Oregon, Washington, Michigan, Georgia and New York.

As someone who studies sustainability, I research how decisions made now might influence the environment and society in the future. I’m particularly interested in how energy systems contribute to climate change.

Right now, energy is responsible for most of the pollution worldwide that causes climate change. Since energy infrastructure, like power plants and pipelines, lasts a long time, it’s important to consider the climate change emissions that society is committing to with new investments in these systems. At the moment, renewable natural gas is more a proposal than reality, which makes this a great time to ask: What would investing in RNG mean for climate change?


What RNG is and why it matters

Most equipment that uses energy can only use a single kind of fuel, but the fuel might come from different resources. For example, you can’t charge your computer with gasoline, but it can run on electricity generated from coal, natural gas or solar power.

Natural gas is almost pure methane, currently sourced from raw, fossil natural gas produced from deposits deep underground. But methane could come from renewable resources, too.

[The Conversation’s science, health and technology editors pick their favorite stories. Weekly on Wednesdays.]

Two main methane sources could be used to make RNG. First is biogenic methane, produced by bacteria that digest organic materials in manure, landfills and wastewater. Wastewater treatment plants, landfills and dairy farms have captured and used biogenic methane as an energy resource for decades, in a form usually called biogas.

Some biogenic methane is generated naturally when organic materials break down without oxygen. Burning it for energy can be beneficial for the climate if doing so prevents methane from escaping to the atmosphere.

In theory, there’s enough of this climate-friendly methane available to replace about 1% of the energy that the current natural gas system provides. The largest share is found at landfills.

The other source for RNG doesn’t exist in practice yet, but could theoretically be a much larger resource than biogenic methane. Often called power-to-gas, this methane would be intentionally manufactured from carbon dioxide and hydrogen using electricity. If all the inputs are climate-neutral – meaning, for example, that the electricity used to create the RNG is generated from resources without greenhouse gas emissions – then the combusted RNG would also be climate-neutral.

So far, RNG of either type isn’t widely available. Much of the current conversation focuses on whether and how to make it available. For example, SoCalGas in California, CenterPoint Energy in Minnesota and Vermont Gas Systems in Vermont either offer or have proposed offering RNG to consumers, in the same way that many utilities allow customers to opt in to renewable electricity.

Renewable isn’t always sustainable
If RNG could be a renewable replacement for fossil natural gas, why not move ahead? Consumers have shown that they are willing to buy renewable electricity, so we might expect similar enthusiasm for RNG.

The key issue is that methane isn’t just a fuel – it’s also a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Any methane that is manufactured intentionally, whether from biogenic or other sources, will contribute to climate change if it enters the atmosphere.

And releases will happen, from newly built production systems and existing, leaky transportation and user infrastructure. For example, the moment you smell gas before the pilot light on a stove lights the ring? That’s methane leakage, and it contributes to climate change.

To be clear, RNG is almost certainly better for the climate than fossil natural gas because byproducts of burning RNG won’t contribute to climate change. But doing somewhat better than existing systems is no longer enough to respond to the urgency of climate change. The world’s primary international body on climate change suggests we need to decarbonize by 2030 to mitigate the worst effects of climate change.

Scant climate benefits
My recent research suggests that for a system large enough to displace a lot of fossil natural gas, RNG is probably not as good for the climate as is publicly claimed. Although RNG has lower climate impact than its fossil counterpart, likely high demand and methane leakage mean that it probably will contribute to climate change. In contrast, renewable sources such as wind and solar energy do not emit climate pollution directly.

What’s more, creating a large RNG system would require building mostly new production infrastructure, since RNG comes from different sources than fossil natural gas. Such investments are both long-term commitments and opportunity costs. They would devote money, political will and infrastructure investments to RNG instead of alternatives that could achieve a zero greenhouse gas emission goal.

When climate change first broke into the political conversation in the late 1980s, investing in long-lived systems with low but non-zero greenhouse gas emissions was still compatible with aggressive climate goals. Now, zero greenhouse gas emissions is the target, and my research suggests that large deployments of RNG likely won’t meet that goal.

This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. It was written by: Emily Grubert, Georgia Institute of Technology.

(th)

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#24 2022-07-09 20:28:36

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 28,850

Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

Trading 1 carbon base for another is not all that helpful for global warming.
'Renewable' natural gas may sound green, but it's not an antidote for climate change
It just changes how much we will pay...

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#25 2022-07-10 04:23:05

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 7,427

Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

SpaceNut,

There's nothing else to trade.  All life on this planet is Carbon-based, all life uses energy, which is also Carbon-based, and all life dies without energy.  Intentionally hurting yourself and others for being alive and using energy is the wrong approach.

Downside to Green Energy Agenda - It Could Destroy the Planet

Right now, the United States gets about 70 percent of its energy from fossil fuels.  To go to zero over the next 20 years would be economically catastrophic and cost tens of millions of jobs.

The untold story about "green energy" is that it can’t possibly be scaled up to provide anywhere near the energy to replace fossil fuels.  (Unless we are headed back to the stone ages, which is what some of the “de-growth” advocates favor).
...

Canned climate official was right, consumers suffer the most

Remember David Ismay?

He was the state’s $130,000 a year climate change czar – a mini-John Kerry – who was forced to resign after he was inadvertently caught telling the truth.

He revealed how the Green anti-fossil-fuel movement wants to punish you to save the planet.

Ismay, speaking to a virtual meeting of the Vermont Climate Council last year on gas and oil emissions, said, “Sixty percent of our emissions that need to be reduced come from you – the person across the street, the senior on fixed income.”

If that was not damaging enough, he added, “There is no bad guy left, at least in Massachusetts, to point the finger at, turn the screws on and, you know, break their will so we have to break your will. I can’t even say that publicly.”

Unfortunately for Ismay a U.S. Naval Academy graduate and Navy Seal, his comments were recorded by the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, a conservative group opposed to Gov. Charlie Baker’s Transportation and Climate Change Initiative and offshore wind farms.

Ismay resigned after Baker took issue with his remarks.

Yet, in retrospect, Ismay was telling the truth when he talked about who would carry the burden for Joe Biden’s half-baked, premature and ill-conceived war on fossil fuel.

In his equivocating letter of resignation, he said, “Although my comments were interpreted by some as placing the burden of climate change on hardworking families and vulnerable populations, my intent was the opposite.”

The truth is that it is the hardworking families of the country who are paying for Biden’s ill-planned war on fossil fuel. They are paying for it every time they gas up or go to the grocery store.

Ismay should have stuck to his guns. He was right before he was wrong.

If there is any doubt about Ismay’s initial remarks, then all you had to do was listen to Biden at the NATO Summit in Madrid, or to Brian Deese, his progressive director of the National Economic Council.

Asked about how long gas prices would remain high Biden, blaming Russian President Vladimir Putin and his war in Ukraine, said, “As long as it takes.”

What he probably meant to say was as long as it takes until everybody is forced to buy an electric car.

Totally ignoring his shutdown of the Keystone XL pipeline on his first day in office, or his general attack on the U.S. energy industry, Biden said, “The bottom line is ultimately the reason why gas prices are up is because of Russia, Russia, Russia. The reason why the food crisis exists is because of Russia.”

People know that is not true, but Biden does not have it in him to level with the people. Not only has he attacked the big oil companies for alleged excessive profits, but he has also even gone after owners of local gas stations.

Biden even urged gas stations to cut prices. “This is a time of war and global peril,” he tweeted last Saturday. “Bring down the price you are charging at the pump to reflect the cost you are paying for the product. And do it now,” he ordered.

Biden was immediately mocked. Here, after all, was the man most responsible for high gas prices telling gas station owners to reduce prices.

Forget all of Biden’s rhetoric blaming everyone else for high gas prices. He is raising the price of gas to force you to live the way the climate change zealots want you to live. They are bent on saving the planet even if it means sacrificing you.

It was like a bolt of true lightning when Brian Deese, asked by a CNN reporter to respond to Biden’s “as long as it takes” remarks, said, “This is about the future of the Liberal World Order, and we have to stand firm.”

David Ismay could not have said it any better.

So shut up and pay.

David Ismay's exact quote:

“So let me say that again, 60% of our emissions that need to be reduced come from you, the person across the street, the senior on fixed income, right … there is no bad guy left, at least in Massachusetts to point the finger at, to turn the screws on, and you know, to break their will, so they stop emitting. That’s you. We have to break your will. Right, I can’t even say that publicly.”

Brian Gitt: Chasing utopian energy: How I wasted 20 Years of my life

I wasted 20 years of my life chasing utopian energy.

Utopian energy is an imagined form of energy that’s abundant, reliable, inexpensive, and also clean, renewable, and life-sustaining. But utopian energy is as much a fantasy as a utopian society. Seeking the fount of perfect energy allows us to pretend there aren’t real-world tradeoffs between, say, banning fossil fuels and helping people in impoverished nations or between using solar and wind power and conserving natural habitats.

For years, I chased utopian energy. I promoted solar, wind, and energy efficiency because I felt like I was protecting the environment. But I was wrong! Feeling like you’re doing the right thing doesn’t mean you are. I just couldn’t admit it. My sense of identity was tied to my false beliefs about energy—myths that blinded me to what really does—and doesn’t—help the planet.
...
I started to realize that I had accepted as true certain claims about energy and our environment. Now I began to see those claims were false. For example:

    I used to think solar and wind power were the best ways to reduce CO2 emissions. But the biggest reduction in CO2 emissions during the past 15 years (over 60%) has come from switching from coal to natural gas.
    I used to think that the world was transitioning to solar, wind, and batteries. This, too, was false. Trillions of dollars were spent on wind and solar projects over the last 20 years, yet the world’s dependence on fossil fuels declined only 3 percentage points, from 87% to 84%.
    I used to believe nuclear energy was dangerous and nuclear waste was a big problem. In fact, nuclear is the safest and most reliable way to generate low-emission electricity, and it provides the best chance of reducing CO2 emissions.

It’s now clear I was chasing utopian energy. I was using green energy myths as moral camouflage, and I was able to believe those myths as long as I remained ignorant about the real costs and benefits of different energy sources.

I’ve dedicated most of my life to protecting the environment. But I was wrong about the best ways to do it. I thought I was acting morally and protecting the well-being of people and the planet. In fact, I was harming both.

If we’re serious about tackling climate change, protecting the environment, and helping people climb out of energy poverty around the world, we need to stop chasing utopian energy. Instead, it’s time to be honest about all the costs and benefits of every energy source—wind, solar, natural gas, coal, oil, and nuclear.

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