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#51 2019-12-08 20:47:25

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 5,717

Re: Power to gas - the next step

Louis,

Yes, organic methods that make use of available environmental energy stores, without having to collect or concentrate it at very high capital cost, that also use nominal cost and complexity farming equipment and methods already in use for other agricultural purposes, have the greatest chance of producing synthetic hydrocarbon stores from both environmental and artificial CO2 sources.  The stuff we get from some of these bacteria can be easily refined into a product that's completely indistinguishable from conventional fossil fuels to a kerosene or diesel burning engine.  All tests to date have indicated that they're 100% compatible with existing combustion engines.

That said, there's another virtually undiscussed advantage of using algae.  The yield per acre is at least 40 times that of conventional crops and the waste algae product can be fed to animals.  Since this type of farming can and does work anywhere in the world, it means any country in the world can make and store their own liquid hydrocarbons, which drastically cuts transportation costs and, at least in theory, should reduce conflict due to fights over energy resources.  There is no technological reason why we can't plop down one of these farms next to a coal or gas plant and hook the tail pipe of the power plant to the algae farm.  In point of fact, one company in the US has already done this (put their algae farm next to a power plant to capture the CO2 to feed it to the algae.

When they started, it cost $30/gallon of product.  As of 2016, it was down to $2 to $3 per gallon of product, which is still too high to compete with conventional fuels, but also a massive improvement in the span of a few short years.  It'll require another set of process control innovations to take that cost down to something lower than the cost of a conventional gallon of oil, but if we can get the cost down to $1 then this compares very favorably with conventional oil.  It's even better than that when we factor in the land use cost, animal feed costs, and the fact that all of our surplus grain crops can go to feeding people instead of fuel.  I always thought turning your food into fuel was kinda dumb and shows how desperate we are for more fuel.

I think the US would require something like 15,000 to 20,000 square miles of land for algae production, but that's still less than one half of one percent of our total land area.  The UK would probably need some kind of offshore farm in the ocean because they don't have enough land.  That said, it would also breathe new life into the farming occupation.  It's gonna be a little strange to have our nation's power plants on farms, but that removes the need to store or transport CO2.  Since so much of our resources are tied into feeding everyone, maybe that's not a bad thing.  It would also drastically cut down on fertilizer and pesticide use to produce crops to feed animals or make fuel, such as ethanol.  Decentralization of the critical fuel infrastructure would mean you can't simply take out Houston with a nuke to solve your military quarrel with the US.  Maybe we should have at least one in every state so that nothing has to be trucked, shipped, or piped any significant distance, which also significantly reduces energy expenditures.

Edit:

Turns out that our corn ethanol farmers in the Corn Belt have already figured out a way to reduce land consumption by a factor of another 40 times over traditional algae pond farming methods.  A single story building no taller than a barn and shorter than most would require 500 square miles of land area, or just 10 square miles per state.  If someone actually decided to build multi-level factories, then we're talking about even less than that.  It should be possible to power the entire UK without resorting to offshore farming.  We're get 7 tons of corn per acre.  Their goal is 15 to 40 tons of algae per acre per year using the vertical farming method.  It's harvested several times per week in a more or less continuous production method.

If we built 10 level farms, then we're talking about roughly 1/2 of a GigaFactory in terms of land use per US state to supply all of the oil presently used by the US.  That seems like an imminently reasonable space claim and something that nearly every country could spare the land to implement.  However, these types of farms do require power, unlike the algae ponds.  I'll have to do some more reading to find out how much power is required.

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#52 2019-12-09 06:18:30

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 1,914

Re: Power to gas - the next step

Interesting post re algae kbd512.  I will respond in more detail later.

As an aside, I would posit that in any economy, there are hard limits on what consumers can afford to pay for energy products (gasoline, electricity, heat, etc.).  This is because, with the infrastructure and processes that the economy relies upon (I.e. roads, oil powered transportation, machinery, etc.) it takes a certain amount of energy to run the system that generates wealth (GDP).  It takes a certain amount of carbon based fuel and electricity to make a tonne of steel.  It takes more energy to turn it into a useful product and a certain amount of diesel to transport the materials and finished products to consumers.

Energy is the key enabling resource, because it is the basis of all physical work.  Energy efficiency tends to improve only very slowly, as old infrastructure is replaced - i.e. old vehicles are replaced by new ones.  It also has limits, given that a certain amount of energy is always needed to physically change matter, i.e. change its form or transport it.  This is why sudden increases in the price of oil tend to trigger recessions and oil prices tend to drop during recessions as demand is destroyed.  When the price of an non-substitutable input increases, a manufacturer must respond by either raising efficiency in some way; by increasing their prices, or by going into debt.  Improving efficiency is a slow process that is limited in its ultimate extent.  Raising prices makes the product less affordable to consumers.  Going into more debt is only possible long-term if interest rates continuously drop.

How is this relevant to algae derived oil?  Simply that the world economy appears unable to tolerate high priced oil.  Even at prices of $50/barrel, economic growth is weak; debt-GDP ratio is climbing and interest rates are dropping.  It takes x amount of energy to produce y amount of goods.  And people cannot afford to pay more than z.  That imposes limits on the sustainable price of energy.  Producing fuel from algae or wind derived hydrogen, is only useful if it can be done at an affordable price.  That is to say, a price that allows enough surplus wealth to be generated to run and maintain existing infrastructure, whilst simultaneously investing in new infrastructure.  The world economy needs cheap energy if it is to grow, because it needs surplus energy to grow.  We won't be doing energy intensive things like colonising Mars, if energy prices rise above what is needed for further economic growth without further increasing debt-GDP ratio.

Last edited by Calliban (2019-12-09 06:29:55)


"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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#53 2019-12-09 07:50:21

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 10,426

Re: Power to gas - the next step

For perspective on energy availability ...

The Earth subtends a very small section of the celestial sphere at one AU from the Sun.  From my perspective, all the discussion of lack of energy on Earth reflects the simple fact we humans are evolving from level Zero to an early level One on the Kardashev scale.

While it certainly makes sense (to me at least) to collect as much arriving energy as possible on Earth, we humans are leaving vast amounts of the Sun's output untapped.  An early manifestation of an effort to collect some of that energy would be to implement solar power satellites.   Yesterday I ran across a link that led to a report on a Japanese company which has done preliminary design for a solar power collecting facility on the Moon.  That particular design caught my eye because of its ambition.  The idea is to lay PV panels on the equator, in a band 700 miles wide, and extending around the Moon. 

I am dubious of the potential to send much (if any) of that collected energy to the Earth, but for SURE that energy could be put to productive use on the Moon, to create products and to produce fuel for transportation of people and goods around the Solar system.

While preparing this post, I found a 2006 paper from the US Department of Energy.  It summarizes the "potential of the sun to supply energy to the world".

https://www.sandia.gov/~jytsao/Solar%20FAQs.pdf

Abstract
We ask and answer a series of questions regarding the potential of the sun to supply energy to
the world. The questions are drawn in large part from the U.S. Department of Energy Office of
Basic Energy Science’s recent report on Basic Research Needs in Solar Energy Utilization (BES
2005). The answers are given in a format suitable for a lay technical audience, and are
supplemented by detailed calculations and comprehensive references.

The efficiency of various conversions may be of interest to a few forum members:

If the energy is in mechanical form (e.g., wind power), then
we assume a 33% efficiency associated with a conversion to electrical form (Merriam 1978),
followed by a 75% efficiency associated with a conversion to chemical form, for a 25% lumped
efficiency. If the energy is in heat form (e.g., ocean thermal power), then we assume a 1-Tl/Th Carnot (second law of thermodynamics) efficiency for a conversion into mechanical form (e.g.,
rotary motion of a turbine), followed by a 33% efficiency for a conversion from mechanical to
electrical form (NG 2004), followed by a 75% efficiency for a conversion from electrical to
chemical form, for a (1-Tl/Th)·25% lumped efficiency.

The authors conclude that my current favorite potential source of methane is not feasible with technology that existed in 2006.  However, I observe that progress in designing and building large deep ocean wind towers has been significant and that it will continue.

The authors also warn against drawing TOO much power from a particular resource, due to potential harm to the local environment.

(th)

Last edited by tahanson43206 (2019-12-09 08:04:18)

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#54 2019-12-09 09:39:48

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 10,426

Re: Power to gas - the next step

The article at the link below is from 2017.  It reviews the potential of deep ocean wind turbines located in the North Atlantic. A key insight from research reported is that when energy is harvested at sea level, it is (apparently) replenished from upper level winds.  The article draws a contrast from wind harvested over land with that drawn from the open ocean, with a 1:3 advantage (apparently) for ocean location.

https://insideclimatenews.org/news/1112 … l-caldeira

The authors appear to be fixated on how to deliver power to land by cable.

Edit: Setting the delivery of collected energy question aside for a moment, I find that a concern expressed by the authors has stayed with me, so that it seemed worth pointing out.   The authors pose a target energy collection goal of 15 Terrawatts (if I remember correctly).  So the question that stayed with me is:

What would be the consequences to the global climate if 15 Terrawatts is taken out of the global wind flow?

It is unlikely anyone on the forum has the computer hardware or expertise needed to model this problem, and it would (probably) be a challenge for the most advanced simulation teams in the world, but it is a question worth considering.

If 15 Terrawatts were taken out of global wind flows, it would seem reasonable (to me at least) to suppose there would be moderating effects on the weather.

In other words, insurance companies might be potential sponsors of an initiative to moderate weather by harvesting energy from global wind flows.

Edit#2: If the system under discussion delivers 15 Terrawatts to customers world wide via manufactured methane, then (by the efficiency figures estimated earlier in this topic) only 25% efficiency can be assumed, which means 60 Terrawatts would be taken out of the wind flows.  The 45 Terrawatts would necessarily be distributed as heating of the environment where the system exists. 

All of that energy would have been distributed around the globe without intervention by the harvesting system, so that in itself would not be a change. What ** would ** be a change would be release of the heating in the vicinity of the harvesting system.

An inventory of the total amount of energy contained in global wind flows might reveal that even 60 Terrawatts is a small fraction of the total.

(th)

Last edited by tahanson43206 (2019-12-09 11:05:53)

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#55 2019-12-09 15:11:02

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 1,914

Re: Power to gas - the next step

kbd512 wrote:

That said, there's another virtually undiscussed advantage of using algae.  The yield per acre is at least 40 times that of conventional crops and the waste algae product can be fed to animals.  Since this type of farming can and does work anywhere in the world, it means any country in the world can make and store their own liquid hydrocarbons, which drastically cuts transportation costs and, at least in theory, should reduce conflict due to fights over energy resources.  There is no technological reason why we can't plop down one of these farms next to a coal or gas plant and hook the tail pipe of the power plant to the algae farm.  In point of fact, one company in the US has already done this (put their algae farm next to a power plant to capture the CO2 to feed it to the algae.

When they started, it cost $30/gallon of product.  As of 2016, it was down to $2 to $3 per gallon of product, which is still too high to compete with conventional fuels, but also a massive improvement in the span of a few short years.  It'll require another set of process control innovations to take that cost down to something lower than the cost of a conventional gallon of oil, but if we can get the cost down to $1 then this compares very favorably with conventional oil.  It's even better than that when we factor in the land use cost, animal feed costs, and the fact that all of our surplus grain crops can go to feeding people instead of fuel.  I always thought turning your food into fuel was kinda dumb and shows how desperate we are for more fuel.

I think the US would require something like 15,000 to 20,000 square miles of land for algae production, but that's still less than one half of one percent of our total land area.  The UK would probably need some kind of offshore farm in the ocean because they don't have enough land.  That said, it would also breathe new life into the farming occupation.  It's gonna be a little strange to have our nation's power plants on farms, but that removes the need to store or transport CO2.  Since so much of our resources are tied into feeding everyone, maybe that's not a bad thing.  It would also drastically cut down on fertilizer and pesticide use to produce crops to feed animals or make fuel, such as ethanol.  Decentralization of the critical fuel infrastructure would mean you can't simply take out Houston with a nuke to solve your military quarrel with the US.  Maybe we should have at least one in every state so that nothing has to be trucked, shipped, or piped any significant distance, which also significantly reduces energy expenditures.

Edit:

Turns out that our corn ethanol farmers in the Corn Belt have already figured out a way to reduce land consumption by a factor of another 40 times over traditional algae pond farming methods.  A single story building no taller than a barn and shorter than most would require 500 square miles of land area, or just 10 square miles per state.  If someone actually decided to build multi-level factories, then we're talking about even less than that.  It should be possible to power the entire UK without resorting to offshore farming.  We're get 7 tons of corn per acre.  Their goal is 15 to 40 tons of algae per acre per year using the vertical farming method.  It's harvested several times per week in a more or less continuous production method.

If we built 10 level farms, then we're talking about roughly 1/2 of a GigaFactory in terms of land use per US state to supply all of the oil presently used by the US.  That seems like an imminently reasonable space claim and something that nearly every country could spare the land to implement.  However, these types of farms do require power, unlike the algae ponds.  I'll have to do some more reading to find out how much power is required.

This sounds exciting.  Do you have any information on the photosynthetic efficiency of algae, I.e. sunlight into solid biomass?

40 times more efficient does sound far fetched.  My understanding is that C4 plants like maize are already about 2% efficient at fixing sunlight into biomass.  Unless I am mistaken, this would make algae some 80% efficient.


"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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#56 2019-12-09 16:03:46

Terraformer
Member
From: Ceres
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,526
Website

Re: Power to gas - the next step

Calliban,

I wonder if this efficiency has anything to do with running year round? Half of the sunlight is wasted during the winter.


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

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#57 2019-12-09 17:21:03

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 1,914

Re: Power to gas - the next step

It would seem that algae have light saturation limits.  At 100% sun, they are 2-3% efficient; not much better than C4 plants like maize.  At 10% sun, they can convert 20% of photosynthetic active radiation into biomass.

http://algaebiomass.org/wp-content/gall … nemann.pdf

Maybe not so useful for fuel.  But good if you want to grow food at good yields far from the sun, or at high latitudes on Earth or Mars.  Provided you have a source of heat to keep the algae between 15 and 35C of course.  Assuming you do, food production could still workable on the moons of Jupiter.

Last edited by Calliban (2019-12-09 17:22:43)


"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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#58 2019-12-09 18:47:02

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 25,718

Re: Power to gas - the next step

Just another carbon capture system, a means to clean poluted water and a means to take care of human waste.
We have talked about the algea to oil in the past as well as for a food source.

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#59 2019-12-09 22:29:57

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 5,717

Re: Power to gas - the next step

Calliban,

The entire energy efficiency of the system as a whole has to be taken into consideration.  We're taking the 1/3rd of the Corn that gets burned and using the CO2 from the power plant to feed the algae and supply heat and electricity.  The total surface area of the system is what allows it to beat algae ponds.  It's extremely compact for the amount of product produced.  Within limits and provided you're willing to build vertically, it can be made as compact as it needs to be.  The US has lots of land area, but some other nations don't.  If the land costs more than constructing a single-story building, then it makes sense to build multi-story structures to house the algae.

No shipping is required.  No fuel for shipping, no fuel for drilling, no crews to pay, and no maintenance on ships that don't need to set sail.  No potential for spilling oil in the ocean and no potential for shipwrecks, both of which can get absurdly expensive.  Deep water operations are at least a million dollars a day.

No fighting over oil is required.  This can get obscenely expensive.  I can personally vouch for this.  Even if it's not oil that's going to you, someone is still paying the bill for fighting over it, which means lost economic productivity and prosperity.

Pumping through piping within a single state is all that's required if each state has its own fuel supply, which means less energy in pumping product clear across the country and back.  This may be less of a problem for smaller countries, but the closer the plant, refinery, and point of consumption are to each other, the less it costs to deliver the product to market in terms of capital, labor, energy, and the ongoing costs associated with maintaining all the necessary infrastructure.  Shorter trucking runs to deliver the product from the pipeline to the gas stations also consume less of the product you're trying to deliver, and at reduced labor costs.

Since this product is harvested several times per week, rather than once or twice per year or whenever you happen to tap into a particularly rich underground reservoir discovered through trial and error, a regular supply of product is more certain.  There's less risk to investors.  After a year of operations, there's very little question about whether or not it's going to produce.  On top of that, it's going to continue to produce at a cost known with a reasonably good degree of certainty.

The only thing the farmers noted is that this type of operation has to be run at scale to be profitable.  I say we try providing all the fuel for a single US state as our first industrial scale experiment.  I think a less populous state that still has a healthy demand for product, such as Nebraska or Iowa, is a good place to trial this technology.  We're not going to stop drilling for oil until we've exhaustively demonstrated the technology and operate it on a cost-competitive basis.  Even afterwards, since natural gas is so cheap here, essentially free, we're likely to use shale gas for heat.  Instead of dumping the CO2 or extracting / compressing / transporting for use in fracking, we're going to directly use it to produce more oil.  I want to try co-location of the farm, refinery, and power plant.

Since the US Air Force consumes so much fuel, perhaps we can get them to pay for part of it and put the facility on or near Strategic Air Command.  Any program deemed necessary to the national security infrastructure is essentially un-killable, so our military can tweak the process until they have it running like a Singer sewing machine.  Our airlines are not shy about experimenting with this technology, either, since the fuel costs essentially kill their business.  A few of them already use a blended product, especially out in Cali where they've gone buck wild with "green energy".  US DoD is the single largest consumer of petroleum products here in the US.  As much as we love our jet-powered Stealth everything here in America, it burns fuel like its going out of style.

If you were in charge of the US military or US airline, wouldn't you like to have complete control over your fuel costs by owning the entire process?

Maybe they could contract with an oil company to run the operation for them, as the airlines have already done.

I know it only makes sense if you're really using that much gas every day, but fun fact sports fans...  We are!

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#60 2019-12-10 18:46:32

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 25,718

Re: Power to gas - the next step

http://www.biofueldaily.com/reports/Sci … l_999.html
Scientists devise catalyst that uses light to turn carbon dioxide to fuel

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#61 2019-12-11 08:01:27

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 10,426

Re: Power to gas - the next step

SearchTerm:CallToAction
SearchTerm:DesignWindMethane
SearchTerm:DesignMethaneWind

There is a significant level of expertise assembled in this forum.

There is an opportunity to post facts that could be used by a well-funded entrepreneur to build and deploy one of Louis' imagined wind to methane devices.

No one in the forum needs to invest a single monetary unit.  What IS needed is donation of time and energy to addressing the design issue.

A starting point is a set of announced wind generators.

One is a sea based tower that is deployed in the ocean off Scotland.  This is an existing system with a track record.

The other is an announced plan for a 14 MW generator system, which can (apparently) be scaled up.  The 14 MW design is based upon large fan blades, which must be mounted high enough to clear the land below.  I cannot confirm any of these have been built, but I would assume that the design work must have been completed to the satisfaction of the reporting agency.

With 14 MW as a starting point, I'm hoping members of this forum will address the design issues for the subsystems needed to produce methane at a system efficiency of 25% of the 14 MW delivered by the generator.

Subsystems I am aware of include:

1) Intake of sea water and separation of water from the solution
2) Collection of valuable elements from the solution (examples would include Uranium, but there are reported to be over 40 minerals and metals)
3) Separation of dissolved CO2 from the sea water for input to the Sabatier process
4) Intake of air to collect CO2 from the Sabatier process
5) The Sabatier process itself
6) Mechanisms for compression of methane for pickup by transport vehicles (eg, Trompe as suggested by Calliban)

Suggestions for addition to this list are welcome!

Edit: All systems should be designed for a 30 year lifetime in the open ocean around Antarctica.

Edit(2): A refinement is to augment the design of the bottom weight to include a tidal generator.  The system is envisioned as being free floating in the open ocean, which means it needs a way of steering so that it remains in a bounded region specified by international treaty.  The pressure of the wind on the turbine will provide a force against the ocean water in which the system is floating, so that suggests potential value of a tidal generator subsystem in the counterweight. That same subsystem could be used to deliver motive force in case the system finds itself driven out of the boundaries of the agreed travel region.

Finally, such motive power would be handy to avoid collision between systems, which would need to navigate safely within the agreed travel region without colliding or intruding upon each other's wind access.

Edit(3): An alternative deployment plan would be to design the system to hold position with GPS.  In that case, some power derived from the wind would be employed to drive propellers to maintain station.  That would eliminate the collision avoidance problem while improving management of multiple systems operated by multiple nations.  The sections of the power band agreed upon by international negotiation could be allocated to nations as space in Geosynchronous Orbit is allocated today.


(th)

Last edited by tahanson43206 (2019-12-11 11:53:43)

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#62 2019-12-11 08:23:14

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 25,718

Re: Power to gas - the next step

The man hour upkeep of maintenance will be in the quite a bit range due to the acidic nature of salt water and being in the open for acid rain. Much restoring of protective paints and such will take place on a yearly basis to keep all pipeing and other metalic materials from being eaten away.

The sea salt will work in the electrolysis but will need constant flow of water into the system to flush excess from the tank where it will take place if not processed to remove most of it from the water to be used.

One could use solar concentration reflection to make the water evaporate in a chamber to cool to make it less filled with salt. All salts collected from the filtering process could be sold off for profit as well.

The solar evaporation would allow the releasal of co2 be captured as you indicated in the evaporation chamber.

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#63 2019-12-11 09:53:03

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 10,426

Re: Power to gas - the next step

For SpaceNut re #62

Thank you for the addition of a plan for maintenance for the deployed systems.  I am imagining satellite communication between humans located in rural parts of the world, and the vehicles in the open ocean.  The duties of the humans in their command trailers would be to monitor the operation of the system, and to direct robotic maintenance devices to perform cleaning or other work as needed.

Each generator system should thus support at least three full time employees of the management company, given 8 hour shifts, as well as supervisory and other support staff.

There should be no need for anyone to step aboard one of these vessels unless a breakdown occurs which is outside the capability of onboard robot maintenance equipment.

(th)

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#64 2019-12-11 12:36:29

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 10,426

Re: Power to gas - the next step

This is a new subtopic which flows from the concept of a free-floating wind generator located in the wind band around Antarctica. 

While landing on Antarctica itself is not anticipated or desired, it could happen if a system loses power and is driven onto the shore. For this reason, and probably for other reasons I'm not aware of, it seems advisable to learn what rules may exist for navigation by sea in the vicinity of the continent.

While there are numerous national participants in the Antarctic treaty, the UK's web site came up first when I asked Google for guidance:

Post Visit Report: Specialist Activities (ODT, 55.5KB)
How to contact the Polar Regions Department
Telephone: 020 7008 1500
Email: polarregions@fco.gov.uk
Address:
Polar Regions Department
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Room W2.80
King Charles Street
London
SW1A 2AH

(th)

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#65 2019-12-11 14:52:06

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 10,426

Re: Power to gas - the next step

Here is a bit of cross-site conversation:

Message received from Lizard King 2019/12/11

Lizard King is one of the blog authors at luf.org

This reply is in response to a question about potential investors in Texas.

Thanks for reaching out.  I think you may have a misconception about how oil is drilled at this time.  Wildcatting has been dead for probably 50 years or more.  There are very few small independent and entrepeneurial minded exploration and production firms left and they do specialized "not quite oil" tasks.  They have all been bought up by huge faceless corporations or squeezed out of the market by the same forces.  My role was as a consolidations and SEC reporting accountant for a huge faceless corporation on the services side.  The only small clients we had were drilling for water, not oil (sometimes "soft" mined resources like bituminous coal).  It's not just the economic competitive environment forcing firms to be "large."  There is a mountain of environmental regulation to be scaled that is best tackled by a firm that has enough scale to have a dozen or more compliance staff members with separate but interlocking specialties.  The boutique firms all tend to be in a service capacity not an E&P capacity.

The type of people I think you are looking for are certainly present in Texas, though I don't know them.  They are engaged in a rapidly growing wind and solar power industry in west Texas.  (New Wind and Solar capacity in west Texas is cheaper than a new coal or nat gas fired plant anywhere in the state, thus a building boom.)  In fact, that might be a better place to site such a factory as the logistics of shipping the end product is a lot simpler if you can tie into the massive amount of pipeline and storage infrastructure being built in the Permian Basin for the shale drillers.  There should soon be excess capacity again (by 2021 at latest).  That could fill up fast but it only takes about 3-5 years to install more capacity as the right of ways already exist and the state is friendly to the permitting process.  Running a pipeline from Antartica to an as yet non-existent storage, separation, refining, etc. infrastructure in Chile/Peru is going to be prohibitively expensive and doesn't resolve the problem out how you get the product out of Chile/Peru.  (Your group really needs to get its head around the hydrocarbon logistics industry.  That is an entire additional challenge that must be met).  Likewise, north Atlantic is not ideal unless you are talking Brent Sea where you can tie into existing pipelines.

You know where else there is a lot of wind and proximity to pipelines b/c of historical drilling activity?  The Dakotas.  As the Bakken shale winds down because it is no longer cost competitive against Permian, there is going to be idle transportation capacity.  The entire US Gulf Coast could be attractive also due to coastal wind effect and proximity to an enormous amount of refining capacity.

I'll also note that "gas" (methane) might not be the most economically attractive product.  Shale drilling has flooded the market with an enormous amount of product and US spot prices that were above 7 dollars in the leanest times and over 11 during good times in the 90s are now well below 3 and probably heading lower as the breakeven on what is largely a byproduct for E&P is lower yet.  "Drip" (ethane, propane, butane, and iso-butane) sell for a better price on a BTU energy density basis and are easier to ship and store.  Also, producing ethane and feeding it to a "cracker" could be a real money maker.  There are never enough crackers.

Anyway, I'm rambling a little.  I don't have any stereotypical oilfield cowboy capitalist contacts to fulfill your dream.  And in my experience with the Oil Patch, you are missing a very critical component if you haven't established how to deliver product to market.  Logistics costs are a huge part of the market price of oil and gas.

feel free to post this to your forum with or without edits.

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#66 2019-12-11 18:01:20

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 25,718

Re: Power to gas - the next step

What is the cost and requirements to own a derelict oil rig anywhere in the world as it seems that they would work just about any where.
Not sure how many are at sea https://www.oilfieldtrader.com/listings … igs/152001 but its got 155 locations for sale

https://www.quora.com/Could-one-simply- … live-there

https://www.reddit.com/r/NoStupidQuesti … e_gulf_of/

https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060051922
OFFSHORE DRILLING
Derelict rigs to remain as decommissioning costs skyrocket

image_asset_16750.jpg

https://www.latimes.com/projects/la-me-platform-holly/

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#67 2019-12-13 15:13:28

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 10,426

Re: Power to gas - the next step

This is primarily for Louis, creator and manager of this topic ...

Lizard King from luf.org has a follow up to the earlier post.

I think this is most appropriate for you because I ** think ** you are conversant in financial matters which are the focus of this reply:

A relevant article to natural gas pricing - https://finance.yahoo.com/news/chevron- … 15243.html

The oil and gas majors are being forced to write down the value of their gas (methane) assets.  With the US ramping up to liquify and ship enormous amounts of shale gas, pricing will start to crash globally soon.  See Cheniere Energy (LNG) - https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/LNG?p=L … in-srch-v1 for the biggest player in US Nat gas export.  Five other companies are building similarly sized liquifaction plants.

I expect you'll find this information to be accurate.

From my perspective, as one interested in seeing the global population find a way to move OFF of fossil fuels, this information seems to imply that investment on a very LARGE scale is underway to capitalize on the US shale operations.

Reduced prices for customers world wide ** should ** be welcome news for them, but I can imagine it is a source of discomfort to producers.

(th)

Last edited by tahanson43206 (2019-12-13 15:40:59)

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#68 2019-12-13 19:27:06

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 25,718

Re: Power to gas - the next step

Warm Winter Weather Prompts Lower Natural Gas Price Forecasts
Prices fell Monday amid fears that warmer-than-normal winter weather won’t drive enough demand to counter surging output
Some would say that a surplus will occur and the prices will drop once more if the winter does stay mild.
us-natural-gas-demand-is-at-a-record-and-prices-keep-dropping

The rise is surplus is compounded buy those trying to put off that big ticket dollar purchase while hoping that it will stay mild in temperature for the winter.
The oil fields that yield natural gas as its pumped is also having the same effect on the falling proce as its just adding to the amount which can be purchased.

1214_cover.jpg

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#69 2019-12-14 17:09:27

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 1,914

Re: Power to gas - the next step

Natural gas is very cheap in the US at present, because shale oil plays are producing huge amounts of associated gas, which is being dumped onto the US grid at a loss.  This clearly isn't sustainable long-term, as few of the shale producers are making money, even at a time when borrowing is historically cheap.


"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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#70 2019-12-19 20:54:17

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 25,718

Re: Power to gas - the next step

https://notrickszone.com/2019/12/02/sci … he-planet/

Earth’s atmosphere contains 400 ppm CO2 (0.04%). Mars has a 950,000 ppm (95%) CO2 atmosphere.

lowest point of Hellas Planitia it can get as high as 1,155 pascals (0.1675 psi).

https://www.hydrofarm.com/resources/art … enrichment

Carbon dioxide is an odorless gas and a minor constituent of the air we breathe. It comprises only .03 % (300 parts per million, or PPM) of the atmosphere but is vitally important to all life on this planet!

1,000ppm of CO2 means that if you could count a million gas molecules, 1,000 of them would be of carbon dioxide and 999,000 molecules would be some other gases.

https://www.co2meter.com/blogs/news/151 … on-defined

http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/cro … 00-077.htm

https://cdiac.ess-dive.lbl.gov/pns/convert.html

https://principia-scientific.org/human- … r-million/

co2 Amount with a volume
https://www.hydroponics.net/learn/co2_calculator.php

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#71 2019-12-20 14:52:17

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 10,426

Re: Power to gas - the next step

Here is another update from luf.org's Lizard King:

Link relevant to the ongoing discussion.  Los Angeles to build hydrogen powered plant to run off blended CH4/H2 and slowly transition to 100% H2 gas.

Los Angeles wants to build a hydrogen-fueled power plant. It's never been done before

https://www.latimes.com/environment/sto … ower-plant

But for the first time, DWP leadership committed to installing turbines capable of burning a mix of 30% hydrogen and 70% gas when the new power plant opens in 2025. Under the timeline described Tuesday, that ratio would steadily change until the plant burns 100% hydrogen in 2045, the deadline set by state lawmakers for a 100% climate-friendly electricity supply.

and later:

Globally, the market for renewable hydrogen — which is generated by using renewable energy to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen, in a process called electrolysis — is small but poised to grow rapidly, experts say.

The article describes the ongoing discussion of how soon the utility can reach 100% renewable power.

The theme I'm picking up from the article is that the long term plan is to use Hydrogen as the energy storage medium, replacing natural gas gradually as the sourcing of hydrogen becomes more stable.

(th)

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#72 2019-12-20 17:13:44

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 7,208

Re: Power to gas - the next step

Thanks for that - very interesting link...

Looks like the future to me.  I think hydrogen manufacture and handling at a few dedicated facilities is definitely feasible - it's the wider hydrogen economy that is a more problematic on Earth (probably less so on Mars while the population will be tiny for the foreseeable future).

As regards Mars, assuming Space X are the pioneers, methane remains the sensible storage medium, since you will have to produce 1000s of tons of methane and oxygen for fuel/propellant for return journeys to Mars.

tahanson43206 wrote:

Here is another update from luf.org's Lizard King:

Link relevant to the ongoing discussion.  Los Angeles to build hydrogen powered plant to run off blended CH4/H2 and slowly transition to 100% H2 gas.

Los Angeles wants to build a hydrogen-fueled power plant. It's never been done before

https://www.latimes.com/environment/sto … ower-plant

But for the first time, DWP leadership committed to installing turbines capable of burning a mix of 30% hydrogen and 70% gas when the new power plant opens in 2025. Under the timeline described Tuesday, that ratio would steadily change until the plant burns 100% hydrogen in 2045, the deadline set by state lawmakers for a 100% climate-friendly electricity supply.

and later:

Globally, the market for renewable hydrogen — which is generated by using renewable energy to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen, in a process called electrolysis — is small but poised to grow rapidly, experts say.

The article describes the ongoing discussion of how soon the utility can reach 100% renewable power.

The theme I'm picking up from the article is that the long term plan is to use Hydrogen as the energy storage medium, replacing natural gas gradually as the sourcing of hydrogen becomes more stable.

(th)


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#73 2019-12-23 11:22:26

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 10,426

Re: Power to gas - the next step

For Louis re topic ...

An article in Boomberg News caught my eye this morning.

Here is a copy of my offering to the reporter:
Note: In this copy, two spelling errors were corrected.

Begin Quotation:
To: Noah Smith at nsmith150@bloomberg.net


Dear Mr. Smith,

I appreciate your careful writing, and for the facts you have assembled in your article on recent re-evaluation of climate change risks.

There is a (tiny) little item which appears to be missing from your article, although there may be more of which I am unaware.

The key missing element is (apparent) unawareness that gas for heating and cooking can be made by renewable energy plants.

While I am interested primarily in wind generators, it seems clear that solar plants can provide power for the same purpose.

It is (in my opinion) NOT a good idea to try to convert human habitats which currently use natural gas to all-electric service.

Instead, I'd like to give you a snapshot of a system that friends and I are discussing in a forum run by the Mars Society (newmars.com/forum)

While discussion on the forum is primarily about the challenges of setting up a first tier level society on Mars (which presents many challenges) discussion frequently falls back to Earth examples of systems that might be deployed on Mars.

One individual (from London, England) is a persistent advocate of using methane as an energy storage medium, and despite criticism from other forum members, he has stubbornly held to his opinion.

This stubborn nature of his often leads to fruitful discussion, after all the criticism has worked itself out.

Here is one scenario that arose from one of these discussions:

Opening premise:

Wind generators can create methane

Opening fact:

There is a band of permanent strong wind around Antarctica

Additional fact:

Wind generators are successfully stationed at sea in the vicinity of Scotland.

Given that wind generators are able to survive at sea for extended periods, and given that methane can be made from:

1) Atmospheric CO2

2) Sea dissolved CO2

3)  Hydrogen extracted from sea water

It follows that a set of seaborne wind generators stationed in international waters around Antarctica could supply global needs for methane.

The pursuit of the goal of replacing fossil methane with the same gas produced from wind would benefit many (if not all) countries.

The pattern of allocation of space for space satellites in geosynchronous orbit provides a model for how the band of wind around Antarctica could be allocated.

I would propose that the sector assigned by the United Nations (or a subsidiary) would be sized by population (or other factors agreed upon by the parties).

The actual machinery to produce methane would be produced by a few advanced nations, but those machines would be leased to ALL nations and operated (with supervision if needed) by those nations.

Output of these systems would then be traded on the global market.

Methane could be collected by ships or air craft where appropriate, and delivered to shore installations for further processing or for use in generating power or heat.

Thank you for allowing me to offer this (hopefully brief) summary of one of the discussions on NewMars.com/forum.

tahanson43206

Forum contributor

End Quotation.

(th)

Last edited by tahanson43206 (2019-12-23 11:23:22)

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#74 2019-12-23 17:49:50

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 25,718

Re: Power to gas - the next step

Nice summary of a topic with the possibility to turning this into a front page news for mars society and for newmars home page as well...
Add in repurposing of abandoned oil rigs to the sites for building the infrastructure and we are that much closer to a finish article....Throw in the values of the wind created energy, the energy used and the output volume of fuel and thats got to be even closer at the point.
Finish up with the payback on investment for equipment, permits ect...to show a profit for the free wind, water, and co2.....

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#75 2019-12-23 19:34:15

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 10,426

Re: Power to gas - the next step

For SpaceNut re #74

Thanks for your encouragement of this initiative, and guidance for further development.

In the background of my thinking is the fact that Dr. Zubrin is an interplanetary expert on production of methane. 

That said, there are members of the forum who have already written extensively about most of the chemical processes that would be involved in the project.

If anyone is interested in writing snapshot summaries of the various technical elements of the sea based wind powered methane manufacturing facility, I'd be grateful for the support.  The author of the original piece will (most likely) draw upon resources he already knows to develop an article, if he decides to pursue it, but if the NewMars forum provides a running start I'm sure it would help.

(th)

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