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#176 2020-01-19 16:37:04

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

Re: Power to gas - the next step

Do you deny there have been huge falls in the unsubsidised cost of wind and solar energy over recent decades?  Do you deny that nearly all experts in the field agree there will be further significant falls? Do you deny the cost of chemical batteries has also fallen dramatically (by 85% between 2010 and 2018)? 

Do you think these price falls, if you accept they exist, are going to come to abrupt halt? If so, when, and - more importantly - why? 

Have I said that wind and solar energy can provide a total energy solution starting tomorrow? Er - no.

What I have said is that in many parts of the world we are getting to a situation where renewables plus storage can answer a lot of our needs.

I have made clear that the dramatic fall in wind and solar prices needs to continue to allow space for more expensive storage solutions.

We haven't yet worked out the best architecture for renewables plus storage but I am confident we will probably have that resolved in the next 10 years. 

In the interim, in many parts of the world, renewables plus chemical battery storage is coming into play, allowing operators to smooth out output over a day.

The Australian dollar is a different currency from the US dollar, so you have to shave off about 30% for the US equivalent. Australia is a big country with a small population...that makes delivering electricity to homes via a network a costly business. Moreover, Australia is a high wage economy - the average salary is over A$ 82,000 per annum - high labour costs obviously feed into electricity costs.
That's not to deny that the move to more green energy has costs.

If you're doing country-versus-country analysis, you need to take account of issues like home insulation. Many of the green energy countries support advanced home insulation and domestic solar panel installation which reduces household energy costs. Cost of electricity does not equate to net household bills.

I'm not seeking to deny moving to green energy requires high capital investment - just as the original building of canals, railroads or freeways did. But much of it is a one-off cost and then you move naturally to replacement and maintenance costs.

Being an engineer doesn't preclude error - the Soviet Union, which worshipped engineers, was a good example of that.

Engineers are not expert in levelised cost comparisons, markets, capital investment, marginal cost theory, domestic employment or balance of trade and payments.

Your main gripe with renewables seems to be intermittency.  The first successful renewables-plus-storage package (that covers an extended period) will kill the  intermittency issue stone cold dead. I believe we are a lot closer to that successful package than most people realise. You'll no doubt accuse me of indulging a religious belief - but those real and genuine dramatic falls in the cost of solar and wind energy are not the product of religious beliefs.

kbd512 wrote:

Louis,

Wind power output in the windier coastal areas of Australia, where virtually all of the wind turbines are located, varies by a factor 30.  Stare at those graphs of recorded wind power output until that simple and unavoidable point of fact finally penetrates your ideologically driven belief system!  Demand does not go down simply because wind power output falls off a cliff every single day, twice per day.  Sometimes you don't get to choose when you're doing laundry or taking a shower or on the operating table in a hospital.

Wind output ranges from gigawatts to less than 100 megawatts in the span of a single day and it does that every day, twice per day, exactly as the graphs show.  Asking you to answer a very simple question is not a personal attack.  Since you refuse to answer that question and ignore the recorded output in the graphs shown in that link, I can only surmise that neither you nor anyone else has anything approaching a reality-based answer to what's so blatantly obvious from looking at the wind power output graphs.

Australia had electricity prices that were on par with US electricity prices before they started this renewable energy silliness.  I pay 6 cents per kWh using natural gas.  I paid 12 cents per kWh using solar until last year when I decided I didn't need to fork over a car payment to the electric utility each month to be "green" (pay someone else a lot of my green to pretend I was "saving the planet").  Australia's electricity prices now, with just 10% renewable / unreliable energy, range between 25 and 40 cents per kWh.  On the low end, Australians pay 4 times as much as I do to prop up the "green energy" religion.  On the high end, Australians pay 10 times as much.  That's the result of just 10% unreliable / renewable energy.  Try to imagine how screwed they'd be with 100% unreliable / renewable energy.  Think they'd care at all if you blithely said, "Well, solar worked in Saudi Arabia and wind worked in Denmark"?

You flatly refuse to address this because you don't like what it says.  Denmark is a place in the world that happens to be consistently windy.  Denmark doesn't represent the world.  Saudi Arabia is a place in the world that happens to be consistently sunny.  Saudi Arabia doesn't represent the world.  We're not all going to move to Denmark or Saudi Arabia and very few people live in Denmark or Saudi Arabia compared to the rest of the world.

Moreover, the costs of renewable energy have not been reduced.  The costs are "hidden in plain sight" in the form of subsidies and higher rates.  My electric bills did not lie to me when I forked over my money and I did not lie to you when I told you what my electricity rates were / are.  Any assertion that the cost of renewable energy costs have come down is a big bright shining L-I-E.  It's economic sophistry foisted upon us by people with no belief in the concept of right and wrong.  You're willingly buying into their nonsense because the people doing the lying are telling you what you want to hear.  If anyone tells you anything different, you stick your fingers in your ears and scream "LA LA LA" so loudly that you don't notice how silly that looks.

There is no such thing as 2 cents per kWh cost to actual rate payers in California.  I have relatives who live in San Diego.  They know what they pay for their electricity and they pay about 3 times more than I do for their "green energy".  America is subsidizing the living hell out of wind and solar, which is the only way in which it competes with anything at all.  If the people living somewhere still can't afford energy after the subsidies, then they simply don't get any power.  That's another way of saying that the religious faithful have no problem with depriving poor people of energy.  That's the way it works in the real objective world.

Calliban,

Louis doesn't have any answer to Australia's or Germany's or California's incredibly high electricity prices.  He'll move on to the next point of economic sophistry because green religion demands it.  He will never acknowledge that people using solar and wind are paying much higher prices for electricity than those exclusively using fossil fuels or nuclear power, despite the fact that pure objective reality illustrates that point very clearly.  That's just the way religion works.  If something disagrees with your religious dogma, then you don't acknowledge that you have a problem, you simply double-down on your religion.  That's the only response I've ever seen from nearly all religious people I've encountered.  The overwhelming majority of people need a religion, for various personal reasons, and even as an ardent atheist I've come to accept that fact.  I don't fault them for their religious beliefs, so long as they don't demand that I pay for or otherwise partake in their religion.

You're an engineer.  You can see what's going on just as well as I can.  These people try something that basic math says won't work and yet they try it anyway because they're desperate to achieve a result that won't be forthcoming and predictably, it doesn't work in the real world, and even though that's not surprising at all to any engineer, all of us end up paying more as they continue to double-down on their ideology.  You know as well as I do that nuclear fission is the only practical low CO2 emission electric generating technology that can reliably supply the many terawatts of power that humanity now uses.

The mere fact that we're here arguing over means of power generation that objectively don't work when actually tried shows just how non-sensical this entire charade has become.  The green energy religious zealots make over-the-top claims about cost and resource consumption that are plainly false to any real engineer, those claims very predictably never translate into lower rates for the people who must pay for that power (And how in the hell could it ever when the resource inputs are multiple orders of magnitude greater?), and the rest of us are forced to endure the economically destructive results of their radical ideology while we move further and further away from a practical solution.


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

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#177 2020-01-19 17:09:52

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 26,347

Re: Power to gas - the next step

Some of the intermitency and cost has to do with the installer just trying to sell systems not doing the work to make the system work for the best dollar investment to output.

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#178 2020-01-19 17:55:37

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

Re: Power to gas - the next step

Very little I think.  Wind and solar are pretty reliable in terms of delivery because they are made up of thousands of units rather than say 10-20 as you might have with nuclear power. Fundamental intermittency is the issue - ie wind energy doesn't work when there is too much or too little wind and solar energy doesn't work when it's dark or very cloudy.

SpaceNut wrote:

Some of the intermitency and cost has to do with the installer just trying to sell systems not doing the work to make the system work for the best dollar investment to output.


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

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#179 2020-01-19 18:23:24

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 2,078

Re: Power to gas - the next step

louis wrote:

Very little I think.  Wind and solar are pretty reliable in terms of delivery because they are made up of thousands of units rather than say 10-20 as you might have with nuclear power. Fundamental intermittency is the issue - ie wind energy doesn't work when there is too much or too little wind and solar energy doesn't work when it's dark or very cloudy.

SpaceNut wrote:

Some of the intermitency and cost has to do with the installer just trying to sell systems not doing the work to make the system work for the best dollar investment to output.

Sadly untrue.  Wind farms are coupled to the grid as single units.  So hundreds of turbines interface with the grid at a single connection.  It wouldn't be at all affordable to have each unit connected individually.  If changes in wind speed give rise to rapid changes in frequency, then the entire wind farm can crash off the grid.  If the system is running short of spinning reserve at this point, the sudden drop in frequency may cause other producers to disconnect and the grid operator will shed load in an attempt to  dampen the frequency fluctuation.  This is exactly what happened in the UK in 2019, where a wind farm crashed off the grid and caused a cascade that resulted in a blackout covering all of southern England.  The breakers then have to be manually reset, which takes many hours.

The system is not very stable and does not recover quickly from trips.  This is why wind farm operators are now spending a fortune on battery and capacitor banks.  It isn't so much for energy storage.  It is to dampen frequency fluctuations resulting from high slew rates, which threaten to trip the entire grid.

Last edited by Calliban (2020-01-19 18:24:44)


"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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#180 2020-01-19 18:35:50

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

Re: Power to gas - the next step

That's a network issue. The units, seen as a whole, aren't letting you down.

Have you got a link for the 2019 UK blackout? I don't recall that.

Germany is much more reliant on renewables than the UK. They've had about one blackout in ten years.

Blackouts have occurred when networks were entirely reliant on gas, coal and oil.

What's your point? A regional blackout every few years is within acceptable limits I would say.

Wind turbines kept operating after the tsunami in Japan that closed down the huge regional nuclear power plant. We could play this game all night!

Calliban wrote:
louis wrote:

Very little I think.  Wind and solar are pretty reliable in terms of delivery because they are made up of thousands of units rather than say 10-20 as you might have with nuclear power. Fundamental intermittency is the issue - ie wind energy doesn't work when there is too much or too little wind and solar energy doesn't work when it's dark or very cloudy.

SpaceNut wrote:

Some of the intermitency and cost has to do with the installer just trying to sell systems not doing the work to make the system work for the best dollar investment to output.

Sadly untrue.  Wind farms are coupled to the grid as single units.  So hundreds of turbines interface with the grid at a single connection.  It wouldn't be at all affordable to have each unit connected individually.  If changes in wind speed give rise to rapid changes in frequency, then the entire wind farm can crash off the grid.  If the system is running short of spinning reserve at this point, the sudden drop in frequency may cause other producers to disconnect and the grid operator will shed load in an attempt to  dampen the frequency fluctuation.  This is exactly what happened in the UK in 2019, where a wind farm crashed off the grid and caused a cascade that resulted in a blackout covering all of southern England.  The breakers then have to be manually reset, which takes many hours.

The system is not very stable and does not recover quickly from trips.  This is why wind farm operators are now spending a fortune on battery and capacitor banks.  It isn't so much for energy storage.  It is to dampen frequency fluctuations resulting from high slew rates, which threaten to trip the entire grid.


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

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#181 2020-01-19 19:16:07

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 26,347

Re: Power to gas - the next step

Black outs are grid failures as the lines are broken or disconnected. Rolling brown outs are low line voltage to cause some devices to draw less power but that usually will cause a small blackout as the power faults.

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#182 2020-01-19 19:16:30

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 2,078

Re: Power to gas - the next step

My point is that the grid system is a precarious balance between supply and demand.  When the two get out of sync it tends to crash quickly if there is insufficient reserve generator capacity to quickly fill the gap.  It is an unstable and temperamental thing because it is complex, with inherent positive feedbacks. The UK used to maintain spinning reserve, which was provided by a coal or oil fired power station boiler that was hot and providing just enough steam to keep the turbine coasting.  In the event of sudden loss of load, spinning reserve could be brought online rapidly to fill the gap.  Some load shedding would likely still be required, but nationwide power outages were uncommon.

Thermodynamic power generation has been on a slowly declining trend in the UK for some time.  Reserve capacity is slipping, as the UK's real time power market gives priority to intermittent sources but is robbing other producers of market share.  On top of that, EU rules have eliminated most of the UK's coal powered generation.  Trouble is that these units are what provided the grid with its stability, because they were swing producers that took up the slack when intermittent generation tumbled rapidly and no longer met supply.  The capacitor and battery banks now being installed by wind farm operators, are an attempt to provide enough grid stability for the time it takes to ramp up natural gas powered CCGTs.  Strictly speaking they aren't about energy storage.  They are there to counteract the grid stability problems caused by wind power in the first place.  A cool look at the levelised cost of storage of batteries and capacitors, should lead you to the conclusion that they are not a viable solution for large volume grid energy storage.

Last edited by Calliban (2020-01-19 19:18:51)


"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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#183 2020-01-19 19:17:04

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 5,976

Re: Power to gas - the next step

Calliban,

We need to frame this argument properly so we don't waste time / energy / money on infeasible solutions.  Zero CO2 emissions means replacing our total primary energy supply with alternatives that don't emit CO2 or capture enough CO2 to offset whatever is emitted.  In pursuit of a solution to that problem, not merely replacing current electricity generation means with lower emissions alternatives, we need to start thinking about this problem in terms of the availability of natural resources that could potentially be transformed into viable solutions.

If we narrow our candidate solutions by dictating that the natural resources must presently be known to exist somewhere on Earth in quantities sufficient to make our proposed solution feasible, even without regard to economics, that immediately eliminates silicon-based photovoltaics and traditional wind turbines using rare earth metals.  There's simply not enough Silver or rare earth metals to make that work.  We have substitutes for both and those are the things that need to be developed and deployed if we're dead set on wind and solar.  If the silicon-based solar panels currently rolling off the production lines were 80% efficient rather than the 20% to 25% efficiency actually achieved, it's still an impossibility.  In 20 to 30 years, we also have to recycle and replace all of that infrastructure.  The lack of economical storage options just puts a gigantic exclamation point after that statement of fact.

100% solar requires more silver than is presently known to exist in Earth's crust:

A 100% Solar-Powered Future Is Impossible-Requires 7.2 Times More Silver Than Currently Exists

The following article shows that replacement of Silver with some Copper or Aluminum only makes it slightly less impossible:

Amount of silver needed in solar cells to be more than halved by 2028, Silver Institute says

Perhaps thin films could be made to work acceptably well, if these startups would just demonstrate economically viable industrial scale manufacturing processes:

Why Europe and the US failed to capitalize on the benefits of thin-film solar

Why have we failed to capitalize on the benefits of thin film?  Well, probably because everyone who has tried it to date has failed to capitalize on it.  We've invested huge sums of time and money into this technology, but there are no economical mass manufacturing methods for it.  Our space program can spend any amount of money to arrive at a solution and that's fine for space exploration, but not so good for commercial applications.  The spin-offs inevitably produce economical applications of the technologies developed for space exploration, but that tends to take a lot of time.

As long as the water for this combined cycle wind turbine / steam turbine power plant isn't being sourced from the local drinking water supply, which wind turbines in Canada are helping to render every bit as unusable as anything that fracking has done, then I suppose steam could work:

Wind energy may be green, but the water in Chatham-Kent is brown

Field monitoring and analysis of an onshore wind turbine shallow foundation system

Chemical contamination of ground water from fracking is bad, but contamination of ground water through leaching of heavy metals caused by vibrations produced by wind turbines is... what, exactly?

The natural materials you made mention of would ostensibly absorb any vibrations produced by the wind turbine blades instead of transmitting them into the ground like a tuning fork.  This seems to be a perennial problem with crystalline structures such as metals, though CFRP and GFRP are better than metals at absorbing those vibrations.

China now has lakes of radioactive waste water containing Thorium and a chemical cocktail of heavy metals and toxins that's nearly always present in rare earth minerals mining and separation processes.  Our scientists came up with Iron Nitride permanent magnets specifically because there's nothing rare about Iron and Nitrogen.  Whether I disagree with the Chinese government's politics or not, I'm unwilling to sacrifice millions of Chinese or African people on an ultimately futile endeavor.

In the end, apart from using abundant nuclear power, some of the most effective strategies for mitigating CO2 emissions also happen to be some of the simplest, easiest to implement, and least costly in terms of cost.  It turns out that not cutting down all of our trees really helps:

Large-scale abatement potential of the Australian land sector

According to that study, not chopping down all of the trees for useless nonsense like solar or wind power plants or marginally productive farming is every bit as effective from an emissions mitigation standpoint and doesn't cost nearly as much.  Who could have ever guessed that?

tahanson43206,

The US Navy primarily uses inexpensive low Carbon steels for the reasons Calliban already outlined.  These non-stainless steels can and do rust or corrode easily, but that problem can be overcome with paint or other protective coatings.  The hull of a ship at sea is subjected to repeated torsion and bending and wave impacts that quickly fatigue and damage structures fabricated from non-ferrous alloys in the hull or superstructure.  Constructing sturdier (heavier) structures from Aluminum defeats the purpose of making those structures substantially lighter and Aluminum is much more expensive than low carbon steel.  There was a story run in 1987 wherein the Navy stated that all 263 vessels with Aluminum superstructures or hulls (frigates, destroyers, cruisers, and amphibious ships) had experienced cracking to one degree or another.  Their decision to stop using Aluminum had very little to do with fire resistance, although fire could severely damage Aluminum as a function of its low melting point.  There's been much hay made over Aluminum catching fire, but the Aluminum structures hit by missiles or otherwise subjected to fires from fuel oil melted rather than burned.  The Navy didn't take galvanic corrosion and differences in coefficient of thermal expansion seriously enough when they tried to mate Aluminum superstructures to steel hulls.  Aluminum hulls simply do not work for warships.  If a ship's watertight structure cracks and starts taking on water, then it's done, period.  All of our ships are subjected to shock testing from underwater explosions as part of their testing during commissioning and ferrous alloys are far more forgiving than non-ferrous alloys in that regard.

Apart from low carbon steel, GFRP is the only lighter material proven to stand up to the load cycles common to high speed military vessels.  A fire would cause it to melt like butter, but it's very light and strong compared to steel.  Any load that caused a CFRP structure to yield may also cause that structure to break.  Carbon Fiber is very stiff, but that stiffness comes at great cost in terms of its ability to deflect / yield under load and return to its original shape without snapping like a glass rod.  CNT is obviously very different with respect to how the fibers behave under load, but that's not what we're talking about here.  A CFRP structure has to be so strong and stiff that no applied load will cause it to yield, which increases weight and cost to the point that it's not economical to construct ships from CFRP.  GFRP, on the other hand, is much cheaper, S-Glass is still pretty stiff if that's what you require and is actually stronger than CF, though most marine uses of GFRP use weaker E-Glass.  In any event, small deflections under load typically don't cause GFRP to snap.  All composite structures, especially anything that must be autoclaved, will require more time to fabricate than welded sheet steel.  It's possible that a simple shape like a wind turbine tower could be fabricated much faster by using automated tape laying or filament winding machines and out-of-autoclave curing processes.  Boeing fabricates CFRP aircraft fuselages for 787's using automated tape laying and autoclaving, for example.

The first two ships of the DDG-1000 class had CFRP composite (Carbon Fiber impregnated with vinyl ester resin over balsa or foam cores) deck houses / superstructures to reduce their radar signatures.  However, as a function of the extreme cost (there were some rumors of in-service failures, but I have no idea whether that's true or not), the last ship of the class will have a traditional steel deckhouse, negating much of the low-observability of that experimental class.  There were numerous design compromises made to reduce the cost of the 3-ship DDG-1000 series.  Collectively, these compromises had the effect of watering down the capabilities of these vessels to the point that they don't provide much additional capability over existing Arleigh Burke class destroyers.  The much-maligned tumblehome hull was far less of a concern than the fact that so much of the advertised capability was removed from the finished product.  No gun-launched long range guided projectiles that cost as much as Tomahawk cruise missiles to essentially deliver what a typical 155mm howitzer can deliver, little improvement in radar signature over existing designs for the last ship of the class, no PMM motors, no fuel cells and far less power for future directed energy weapon systems, no advanced power distribution, and far less shipboard automation.  The rail gun seems to have survived and continues in development, so maybe one day they'll finally have a long range gun.

The use of GFRP in smaller boats (we're still talking about craft weighing tens to low hundreds of tons) was a function of the weight and maintenance requirements of steel and the unsuitability of non-ferrous alloys.  The constant pounding of the waves on high speed raiding craft sheared the welds on Aluminum alloys after buckling of a section of the hull so fast that such craft could be rendered unusable in as little as a single mission or patrol.  The Navy's experience with Aluminum superstructures (structures entirely above the water line) was the same, no matter the method of fastening used (rivets or welds; they tried everything from MIG or TIG to electron beam welding and even explosive welding; no friction-stir, so far as I know) nor which alloys were selected.  It remains an intractable problem.

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#184 2020-01-19 19:19:16

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 26,347

Re: Power to gas - the next step

Typically aux power take a few seconds to power up where as a UPS which is what a powerwall does is nearly instantaniously...

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#185 2020-01-19 19:22:46

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

Re: Power to gas - the next step

If it "crashes quickly" because of substantial green energy why don't we see more blackouts in places where there is a high level of wind/solar input like the UK, Germany and Denmark?  We see hardly any at all, whereas I remember from the good ol' days of fossil fuel generation in my childhood we used to have lots of blackouts.



Calliban wrote:

My point is that the grid system is a precarious balance between supply and demand.  When the two get out of sync it tends to crash quickly if there is insufficient reserve generator capacity to quickly fill the gap.  It is an unstable and temperamental thing because it is complex, with inherent positive feedbacks. The UK used to maintain spinning reserve, which was provided by a coal or oil fired power station boiler that was hot and providing just enough steam to keep the turbine coasting.  In the event of sudden loss of load, spinning reserve could be brought online rapidly to fill the gap.  Some load shedding would likely still be required, but nationwide power outages were uncommon.

Thermodynamic power generation has been on a slowly declining trend in the UK for some time.  Reserve capacity is slipping, as the UK's real time power market gives priority to intermittent sources but is robbing other producers of market share.  On top of that, EU rules have eliminated most of the UK's coal powered generation.  Trouble is that these units are what provided the grid with its stability, because they were swing producers that took up the slack when intermittent generation tumbled rapidly and no longer met supply.  The capacitor and battery banks now being installed by wind farm operators, are an attempt to provide enough grid stability for the time it takes to ramp up natural gas powered CCGTs.  Strictly speaking they aren't about energy storage.  They are there to counteract the grid stability problems caused by wind power in the first place.  A cool look at the levelised cost of storage of batteries and capacitors, should lead you to the conclusion that they are not a viable solution for large volume grid energy storage.


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

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#186 2020-01-19 19:30:17

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 26,347

Re: Power to gas - the next step

The connection to the grid location and where the disconnects are is why you still have power on your side as the other guy will see the disconect black out....just dumb luck for where it breaks versus where you live.
I am on a road that can be feed power from either direction of the grid but where there persists faults on both side we are dark for days and not hours as the fuse links must be manually reset.

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#187 2020-01-19 19:36:14

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

Re: Power to gas - the next step

I agree we have to distinguish between space exploration (or early Mars settlement) and feasible/commercial systems on Earth.

Thin film (or perhaps more accurately "printable" PV film or PV on a roll) will eventually mature as a technology in my view because I have never seen anything to suggest it is breaking any thermodynamic laws...it's just a very tricky technology to get right. It took 40 years for ICE to win over electric and steam driven vehicles through incremental improvement.

Goat extermination across half of Africa would probably reverse CO2 excess emissions! I doubt there's much stopping us greening the whole of the Sahara if we put our minds to it.

But if we make use of carbon sequestration for methane manufacture (using waste green energy to power green energy) then it's probably a good deal if you believe the "carbon emissions"/AGW theory of climate change.




kbd512 wrote:

Calliban,

We need to frame this argument properly so we don't waste time / energy / money on infeasible solutions.  Zero CO2 emissions means replacing our total primary energy supply with alternatives that don't emit CO2 or capture enough CO2 to offset whatever is emitted.  In pursuit of a solution to that problem, not merely replacing current electricity generation means with lower emissions alternatives, we need to start thinking about this problem in terms of the availability of natural resources that could potentially be transformed into viable solutions.

If we narrow our candidate solutions by dictating that the natural resources must presently be known to exist somewhere on Earth in quantities sufficient to make our proposed solution feasible, even without regard to economics, that immediately eliminates silicon-based photovoltaics and traditional wind turbines using rare earth metals.  There's simply not enough Silver or rare earth metals to make that work.  We have substitutes for both and those are the things that need to be developed and deployed if we're dead set on wind and solar.  If the silicon-based solar panels currently rolling off the production lines were 80% efficient rather than the 20% to 25% efficiency actually achieved, it's still an impossibility.  In 20 to 30 years, we also have to recycle and replace all of that infrastructure.  The lack of economical storage options just puts a gigantic exclamation point after that statement of fact.

100% solar requires more silver than is presently known to exist in Earth's crust:

A 100% Solar-Powered Future Is Impossible-Requires 7.2 Times More Silver Than Currently Exists

The following article shows that replacement of Silver with some Copper or Aluminum only makes it slightly less impossible:

Amount of silver needed in solar cells to be more than halved by 2028, Silver Institute says

Perhaps thin films could be made to work acceptably well, if these startups would just demonstrate economically viable industrial scale manufacturing processes:

Why Europe and the US failed to capitalize on the benefits of thin-film solar

Why have we failed to capitalize on the benefits of thin film?  Well, probably because everyone who has tried it to date has failed to capitalize on it.  We've invested huge sums of time and money into this technology, but there are no economical mass manufacturing methods for it.  Our space program can spend any amount of money to arrive at a solution and that's fine for space exploration, but not so good for commercial applications.  The spin-offs inevitably produce economical applications of the technologies developed for space exploration, but that tends to take a lot of time.

As long as the water for this combined cycle wind turbine / steam turbine power plant isn't being sourced from the local drinking water supply, which wind turbines in Canada are helping to render every bit as unusable as anything that fracking has done, then I suppose steam could work:

Wind energy may be green, but the water in Chatham-Kent is brown

Field monitoring and analysis of an onshore wind turbine shallow foundation system

Chemical contamination of ground water from fracking is bad, but contamination of ground water through leaching of heavy metals caused by vibrations produced by wind turbines is... what, exactly?

The natural materials you made mention of would ostensibly absorb any vibrations produced by the wind turbine blades instead of transmitting them into the ground like a tuning fork.  This seems to be a perennial problem with crystalline structures such as metals, though CFRP and GFRP are better than metals at absorbing those vibrations.

China now has lakes of radioactive waste water containing Thorium and a chemical cocktail of heavy metals and toxins that's nearly always present in rare earth minerals mining and separation processes.  Our scientists came up with Iron Nitride permanent magnets specifically because there's nothing rare about Iron and Nitrogen.  Whether I disagree with the Chinese government's politics or not, I'm unwilling to sacrifice millions of Chinese or African people on an ultimately futile endeavor.

In the end, apart from using abundant nuclear power, some of the most effective strategies for mitigating CO2 emissions also happen to be some of the simplest, easiest to implement, and least costly in terms of cost.  It turns out that not cutting down all of our trees really helps:

Large-scale abatement potential of the Australian land sector

According to that study, not chopping down all of the trees for useless nonsense like solar or wind power plants or marginally productive farming is every bit as effective from an emissions mitigation standpoint and doesn't cost nearly as much.  Who could have ever guessed that?


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

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#188 2020-01-19 19:45:37

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 26,347

Re: Power to gas - the next step

Even if you do not agree with the co2 green energy one only needs to live in the wake of the exhaust, smog know that its harming you....

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#189 2020-01-19 20:02:54

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 2,078

Re: Power to gas - the next step

Kbd512, I will comment in more detail later on.  There is a huge amount to say here.

The low power density of wind and solar power leads to very large material and embodied energy requirements.  Both are problematic and you have alluded to material constraints.  But high embodied energy is a particular problem as well, as large amounts of that energy must be provided by fossil fuels.

The urgency of replacing fossil fuel as an energy source is greater than most people realise.  Whilst the climate issue is reasonably well understood, the depletion issue is not.  Whilst the Earth still has huge reserves of fossil fuels, the high grade fuels that were cheap to extract (onshore conventional oil and gas) and could be extracted with small investments of materials and energy, are now heavily depleted.  What is replacing them is increasingly unconventional sources of oil and gas that have far greater extraction costs and require very high drilling rates to stay ahead of individual depletion curves.  The declining energy return on fossil fuels is one of the main factors behind the 2008 Great Recession and the poor economic performance ever since.  The past decade, has been unprecedented in terms of central bank policies of zero effective interest rates and huge amounts of quantitative easing.  Real economic growth stopped in the Western world not long after the millennium.  Central bank policies have utterly skewed economics to the point where many traditional assumptions no longer apply.  Insolvent companies have kept going essentially by borrowing free money.  And central bank policies have made renewable energy artificially cheap.

In the face of this, an energy source that aggravates the problem of declining EROI through the need for huge infrastructure investments, will only make the situation worse.  At present the economics of renewable energy are artificially good.  Rock bottom interest rates and low bond rates make capital intensive projects easier to finance.  Falling consumer demand is leading to a glut in bulk commodities like steel, which is pushing prices down.  We have discussed before how much steel is needed in wind farms.  The Chinese are happy to dump cheap solar panels onto global markets in order to build market share.  Due to weak consumer demand, wind and solar manufacturers and installers are operating with very weak margins.  And wind and solar do have some inherent advantages in terms of simplicity and a relatively small number of moving parts.

The problem is that most of these advantages are temporary.  When the bubble will pop no one quite knows.  But the combination of free money, soaring debt, cheap commodities, razor thin operating margins and Chinese dumping, all of which have favoured renewable investments, will not continue forever.  Eventually, people that had pinned so much hope on these technologies are going to wake up to a world that is changed and their emperor is wearing no clothes.

There are innovations that could negate the need for rare earth requirements in wind turbines.  Ultimately, we could build wind turbines almost entirely out of steel (except the blades) and build very simple devices that compress air or pump fluid to central electricity generating stations.  But it is very difficult to design a low power density energy system that does not require large amounts of steel and energy investment, by it's very nature.  There aren't any easy ways around this that I can see.  Intermittency makes the problem even worse.  I don't know as much about solar, but the problems would appear to be similar.  These energy sources are terribly inappropriate for an economy that is already facing headwinds due to declining EROI of fossil fuels.

Attempts to usefully exploit wind and solar power should focus on options that reduce embodied energy.  That means avoiding storage, which trashed the net energy return of these systems, and instead trying to balance demand with supply.  It means using simple systems where possible, based on low energy materials like earth, stone and cement.  It means avoiding the need to transmit power over long distances, which would require heavy investment in transmission that is poorly utilised.  All of this brings us back to the traditional windmill, perhaps with some innovations around blade design.  The correct use of renewable energy is therefore small and local.  It will never be a good way of providing gigawatts of power to a modern grid system.

Last edited by Calliban (2020-01-19 20:27:25)


"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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#190 2020-01-19 20:33:24

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 11,350

Re: Power to gas - the next step

For kbd512 re #153

Thank you for the detailed and thorough discussion of US Navy experience with a variety of materials for ships of the fleet.

For Calliban re your discussion with SpaceNut of a design for a low pressure sealed heat engine.  It reminded me of Stirling engines, but a quick check with Wikipedia confirmed that (as I understand the article) Stirling engines are characterized by use of gas in all phases of operation.

As I understand your design as presented to SpaceNut, the engine includes a liquid water phase.

One observation that seems relevant is that since the system is sealed, it is not unreasonable to consider water for the Mars version, since the temperature range for operation appears to be favorable compared to CO2.  The water has to be secured, but after that it would appear to be "permanent".

To SpaceNut ... this forum seems to be really doing well!  I being this up because in another topic, you showed a list of Mars Society affiliated organizations and web sites.  Hopefully all are doing well, in their various specialties.

If  you decide to attempt to build the low pressure system Calliban described, I hope you will report your experiences here.  For most of its life, (as far as I can tell) this forum has been operating in theoretical discussion mode.  It would be good to see some actual hardware under development on Earth, for the educational value for sure, but also for documentation of real world results.

(th)

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#191 2020-01-19 20:48:00

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 5,976

Re: Power to gas - the next step

Louis,

Every industrialized nation that has attempted to include solar or wind as a significant part of its energy supply has seen dramatic increases in prices without storage of any kind being factored into the price.  Maybe you just can't wait to hand your money over to people for power, but I have other uses for my money.

If Solar And Wind Are So Cheap, Why Are They Making Electricity So Expensive?

You keep citing things that have no meaning in the real world to the average consumer.  If solar is only 2 cents per kWh, but people paying for solar here in Texas, land of unrelenting Sun, are actually paying 12 cents or more per kWh and I'm now paying 6 cents per kWh using natural gas, then how do you explain that?

That was the middle of last year before I finally became fed up with it and switched back to gas, not decades ago.  If your logic holds water then I should be paying more for gas or at least something similar since coal and gas are so much more expensive than wind or solar, right?

Maybe our communists can use the power of government to artificially make solar panels less expensive and gas more expensive, but in the world outside of their 3 pound universes, fossil fuels are objectively cheaper and that's why every industrialized nation consumes so much of them.

You can tell yourself whatever you want, but here in this open forum I'm going to present the actual cost of my electric utility bills using solar and gas.  These capital investment costs are going to be repeated every 20 to 30 years with wind and solar.  As such, there will never be any period of time that the rate payers experience a cost reduction and, oh by the way, they still keep those gas plants running 24/7 to provide stable power when the Sun doesn't shine and the wind doesn't blow.  At 2c/kWh, those cheap solar panels are nearly free, yet for anyone using that type of power their rates have doubled.  In California, their rates have tripled.  How high does the price of this stuff have to become for you to understand that all of this exorbitant cost associated with dilute and unreliable energy resources has to be paid by someone and that someone will inevitably be you?

I've been hearing that the storage problem would be solved by the next new technological advancement at least once a week since I was a kid.  I'm 40 years old now, Louis.  I've waited 4 decades and we're no closer to solving that problem today than when I was a child.  It's clearly not cheaper and the money left in my wallet now is as much proof as I'll ever need.  Claiming something doesn't make it real.  Ideation doesn't automatically translate into actualization.

Cost can never actually be lower than embodied energy and labor.  Ultimately, someone has to pay for all of this "new stuff" we're making that is neither "durable stuff" nor particularly "cheap stuff".  Eventually, we have to recycle at least some of that new stuff, which is loaded with scarce and expensive materials, and that's never been cheap or easy to do.

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#192 2020-01-19 20:48:50

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

Re: Power to gas - the next step

So much so wrong but I'll confine myself to this, since it's late:

" The declining energy return on fossil fuels is one of the main factors behind the 2008 Great Recession and the poor economic performance ever since. "

Nope, that was because billionaires thought they could carry on playing "pass the parcel" with bad debt dressed up as good debt. It was essentially a corrupt practice which, sadly, has not been properly punished as a deterrent to future reprobates.

If your theory were right we would have an even worse economic crisis than in 2008 by now because we have a load more green energy being fed into our grids! Instead we find our banks are now much stronger (thanks to government regulation - nothing to do with energy) and nowhere is in recesssion.

Nice try Calliban but kinda proves my theory that engineers (good, bad or indifferent) don't make good economists.

Calliban wrote:

Kbd512, I will comment in more detail later on.  There is a huge amount to say here.

The low power density of wind and solar power leads to very large material and embodied energy requirements.  Both are problematic and you have alluded to material constraints.  But high embodied energy is a particular problem as well, as large amounts of that energy must be provided by fossil fuels.

The urgency of replacing fossil fuel as an energy source is greater than most people realise.  Whilst the climate issue is reasonably well understood, the depletion issue is not.  Whilst the Earth still has huge reserves of fossil fuels, the high grade fuels that were cheap to extract (onshore conventional oil and gas) and could be extracted with small investments of materials and energy, are now heavily depleted.  What is replacing them is increasingly unconventional sources of oil and gas that have far greater extraction costs and require very high drilling rates to stay ahead of individual depletion curves.  The declining energy return on fossil fuels is one of the main factors behind the 2008 Great Recession and the poor economic performance ever since.  The past decade, has been unprecedented in terms of central bank policies of zero effective interest rates and huge amounts of quantitative easing.  Real economic growth stopped in the Western world not long after the millennium.  Central bank policies have utterly skewed economics to the point where many traditional assumptions no longer apply.  Insolvent companies have kept going essentially by borrowing free money.  And central bank policies have made renewable energy artificially cheap.

In the face of this, an energy source that aggravates the problem of declining EROI through the need for huge infrastructure investments, will only make the situation worse.  At present the economics of renewable energy are artificially good.  Rock bottom interest rates and low bond rates make capital intensive projects easier to finance.  Falling consumer demand is leading to a glut in bulk commodities like steel, which is pushing prices down.  We have discussed before how much steel is needed in wind farms.  The Chinese are happy to dump cheap solar panels onto global markets in order to build market share.  Due to weak consumer demand, wind and solar manufacturers and installers are operating with very weak margins.  And wind and solar do have some inherent advantages in terms of simplicity and a relatively small number of moving parts.

The problem is that most of these advantages are temporary.  When the bubble will pop no one quite knows.  But the combination of free money, soaring debt, cheap commodities, razor thin operating margins and Chinese dumping, all of which have favoured renewable investments, will not continue forever.  Eventually, people that had pinned so much hope on these technologies are going to wake up to a world that is changed and their emperor is wearing no clothes.

There are innovations that could negate the need for rare earth requirements in wind turbines.  Ultimately, we could build wind turbines almost entirely out of steel (except the blades) and build very simple devices that compress air or pump fluid to central electricity generating stations.  But it is very difficult to design a low power density energy system that does not require large amounts of steel and energy investment, by it's very nature.  There aren't any easy ways around this that I can see.  Intermittency makes the problem even worse.  I don't know as much about solar, but the problems would appear to be similar.  These energy sources are terribly inappropriate for an economy that is already facing headwinds due to declining EROI of fossil fuels.

Attempts to usefully exploit wind and solar power should focus on options that reduce embodied energy.  That means avoiding storage, which trashed the net energy return of these systems, and instead trying to balance demand with supply.  It means using simple systems where possible, based on low energy materials like earth, stone and cement.  It means avoiding the need to transmit power over long distances, which would require heavy investment in transmission that is poorly utilised.  All of this brings us back to the traditional windmill, perhaps with some innovations around blade design.  The correct use of renewable energy is therefore small and local.  It will never be a good way of providing gigawatts of power to a modern grid system.


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

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#193 2020-01-19 21:30:04

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 2,078

Re: Power to gas - the next step

louis wrote:

So much so wrong but I'll confine myself to this, since it's late:

" The declining energy return on fossil fuels is one of the main factors behind the 2008 Great Recession and the poor economic performance ever since. "

Nope, that was because billionaires thought they could carry on playing "pass the parcel" with bad debt dressed up as good debt. It was essentially a corrupt practice which, sadly, has not been properly punished as a deterrent to future reprobates.

If your theory were right we would have an even worse economic crisis than in 2008 by now because we have a load more green energy being fed into our grids! Instead we find our banks are now much stronger (thanks to government regulation - nothing to do with energy) and nowhere is in recesssion.

Nice try Calliban but kinda proves my theory that engineers (good, bad or indifferent) don't make good economists.

Well you are entitled to your opinion.  For the record, the IMF isn't anywhere near as confident as you are.

https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/ … depression

I wonder which one of you is wrong?

The Chinese, European and US manufacturing economies are already flirting with recession.  And stock market valuations around the world are now rising above any realistic intrinsic value based on actual earnings per share.

And global Debt-GDP ratio is at a record high.

https://www.newsmax.com/finance/economy … id/949662/

It is not surprising, given that interest rates have been lower than inflation for ten years now.  Real returns on capital are now close to zero, so why not simply borrow free cash and use it to inflate stock market valuations with share buybacks?

Rising energy cost of energy (falling EROI) has everything to do with this.  Wealth is the product of energy manipulating matter under human control.  Declining energy inputs spells trouble unless you contend that the economy is a perpetual motion machine.

Last edited by Calliban (2020-01-19 21:33:33)


"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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#194 2020-01-19 22:04:16

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 5,976

Re: Power to gas - the next step

Louis,

That's a very interesting observation you just made.

In light of your attribution of the 2008 financial crisis to rich people playing "pass on the cost" game, how long do you figure it'll be before ordinary rate payers can no longer afford their electricity as more and more of it is supplied by "cheap" wind and solar that somehow ends up costing them so much more money than coal and gas did?

Your assertion that the prices of photovoltaics and wind turbines can only continue to fall is eerily reminiscent of the notion that real estate prices could only go up.

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#195 2020-01-19 23:00:24

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 2,078

Re: Power to gas - the next step

I keep referencing this paper because its implications are so significant.

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/519e/a … 6c6658.pdf

The economically simplified boiling water reactor, contains about 30 tonnes of steel per average MW (it should have a  capacity factor of around 90%).  I calculated a few days ago, that global electric power supply amounts to about 3TW, which is 3 million MW.  Supplying that much power using ESBWRs would require an investment of some 90million tonnes of steel.  That is about 1 month of global steel production and the reactors will last 60 years.  Compare that to wind power, which would consume a couple of years worth of global steel production, for units that must be replaced every twenty years.  That's almost two orders of magnitude more steel needed for the renewable solution.  Makes me wonder just how 'renewable' it really would be.

Uranium supply may be an issue and building up supply lines for equipment may take some time.  Yet it is clear that the Earth's basic physical resources would not be challenged were we to decide to replace fossil fuel power generation with nuclear generation tomorrow.  This is strongly suggestive that the obstacles blocking nuclear power development are institutional, rather than practical.  Nuclear power has stalled, because powerful interests wanted it to and made damn sure of it.

The only real practical limit to nuclear power expansion, is lack of fissile material.  We could solve this problem using liquid metal fast spectrum reactors.  But the doubling time is measured in decades.  Gas cooled fast reactors have a harder neutron spectrum and better breeding ratio.  But there are safety problems that may be more expensive to solve.  Fusion-fission hybrid reactors could be the solution.  Fusion generates plenty of super fast neutrons that will fast fission natural uranium, yielding plenty of net energy and several neutrons that would then breed fissile material.   A single hybrid would generate power and yield enough additional fissile material to fuel 2-3 light water reactors of the same power.

Whilst there are institutional obstacles, there are clearly no physical resource limitations holding back nuclear power.  If we needed to build it up fast, we could.


"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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#196 2020-01-20 03:48:36

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 5,976

Re: Power to gas - the next step

Calliban,

That sounds like fairly reasonable resource consumption.  Here in the US, we have 50+ years of perfectly good fuel collecting dust that could be reprocessed to speed up the transition.  Whether or not SMR's are the absolute cheapest possible option or not, anything that can be delivered by truck is generally a winner in terms of cost.  Since we have so much CO2, sCO2 would be an ideal working fluid and the turbo machinery is tiny compared to steam for a given output.  A 300MWe sCO2 turbine is approximately the size of a person.

One of the interesting things about collecting Uranium from sea water is that the act of collecting it requires no energy input.  Each kilo of Uranium collected from seawater would require about 167kg worth of a special sponge material treated to selectively collect it.  The treatment is PNNL's "secret sauce".  Apart from that, it's just acrylic yarn of the type my wife uses for knitting.  There's an estimated 4 billion tons of Uranium in the ocean, so at present rates of consumption we should be good to go for at least the next 10,000 years or so.  If we throw in all that Thorium we already have, then we're more "renewable" than wind and solar will ever be.

The ocean conservation groups say we have 150Mt of plastic in our ocean, so why not replace useless plastic with yarn that collects 450,000kg of Uranium each month.  That's enough fuel for about approximately 50 1,000MW reactors.  Every 18 months, which is the average refueling cycle, we'd have enough fuel for 450 reactors.  The 449 currently operable reactors have a combined output of 394GW.  The US has 98 commercial nuclear reactors, so we'd need to build 322 new reactors between all of our existing sites to completely eliminate the use of fossil fuels for electricity production.

Uranium Seawater Extraction Makes Nuclear Power Completely Renewable

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#197 2020-01-20 05:25:35

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 2,078

Re: Power to gas - the next step

By my reckoning, 4.5GT of uranium constitutes about 15million GWe-years, assuming 5% enrichment, 0.2% left in tails and a 30te/GWe-year fuel requirement.  Enough to meet all global electricity requirements for 5000 years.

If what you say is true, and the energy and resource requirements involved in removing it from sea water are relatively modest, we might not need breeder reactors for the foreseeable future.

One of the things I like about boiling water reactors is that they operate at half the pressure of a PWR and do not need steam generators, which are a very costly component.  Lower operating pressures of 76bar (vs 160bar for PWR) make it possible to consider cheaper options for containing primary circuit pressure.  It should be possible to use pre-stressed concrete pressure vessels instead of forged steel, which are inherently resistant to catastrophic failure and are much easier to build.  It should also be possible to build pressure tube reactors, that avoid the need for heavy pressure vessels altogether.

Although the RBMK reactor was much maligned in the west, it was essentially a pressure-tube boiling water reactor.  No steam generators were required and building a larger reactor producing more power meant adding more pressure tubes to a larger core and adding a larger steam drum.  Not something that introduces any real engineering difficulties.  This allowed the Soviets to build very large and powerful reactors very quickly and cheaply.  The Soviets had plans to build units with power output up to 2400MWe at the time of the Chernobyl accident, far larger than anything built in the west even today.  To do the same thing with a PWR, would require a very large and thick walled pressure vessel that would be very difficult to engineer.  Presumably, an RBMK equipped with S-CO2 cooling circuit would not have been vulnerable to the power surges that destroyed Chernobyl Unit 4.

If we needed to build nuclear capacity very quickly, pressure-tube BWRs, using some sort of CANDU type moderator tank, would allow very large reactors to be built cheaply and rapidly.  For a long time, the UK was working on developing the steam generating heavy water reactor.  This was essentially a pressure-tube BWR with a CANDU type D2O moderator tank.  It could have been built at enormous power levels and could even run on natural uranium.  A very durable workhorse that could be set up around the world with minimal infrastructure requirements.  Sadly, it fell victim to Thatcherite cuts, along with the UKs fast reactor programme.  Had the programme been allowed to develop a commercial product, concerns over fossil fuel depletion and global warming would be far less pressing now than they actually are.

Last edited by Calliban (2020-01-20 05:47:00)


"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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#198 2020-01-20 06:06:44

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 2,078

Re: Power to gas - the next step

Kbd, from your link:
'Stephen Kung, in DOE's Office of Nuclear Energy, says that “Finding alternatives to uranium ore mining is a necessary step in planning for the future of nuclear energy.” And these advances by PNNL and ORNL have reduced the cost by a factor of four in just five years. But it’s still over $200/lb of U3O8, twice as much as it needs to be to replace mining uranium ore.'

A single kg of U3O8 contains 0.85kg of uranium heavy metal.  If 10kg of NU are required to yield 1kg of LEU fuel, then a total of 11.8kg of U3O8 (26lb) are needed to produce 1kg of fuel.  That would cost $5200.  To generate 1GWe-yr, some 30,000kg of fuel are needed at standard LWR burn-up and neutron economy.  So 1kg of fuel will produce 292,200kWh.  So fuel cost from ocean derived uranium, at present costs, would constitute 1.8cents of the cost of a kWh of electricity and would increase the cost of a unit of nuclear power by less than 1 cent.

If seawater extraction can be scaled to the required scale without any foreseeable resource constraints or bottlenecks, then there would appear to be no imminent danger of peak uranium.  From this I would posit that future nuclear design efforts should focus on producing reactors that are cheap and quick to build and easy to operate, with a focus on inherent safety.  Given the political concerns over enrichment, there may be benefit to be gained on focusing investment on reactor designs that burn natural uranium, that can be directly extracted from seawater without enrichment.

There would appear to be no resource bottlenecks that would prevent this model of nuclear power from rapidly replacing fossil power generation in the next couple of decades.  Any difficulties in achieving this are the result of political and institutional obstacles, not any basic problem with the technology.

Last edited by Calliban (2020-01-20 06:31:25)


"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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#199 2020-01-20 07:15:09

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 11,350

Re: Power to gas - the next step

For Calliban re seawater uranium ... As reported in another topic, it appears that uranium may be replaced naturally if extracted by humans ...


tahanson43206 wrote:

For SpaceNut re #32

Nice addition to the topic! 

225 MWe would serve many communities in the United States, and certainly in the world.

Recently, while investigating the potential of wind generator operation at sea, I ran across a reference to research on pulling Uranium from the ocean.

Here is a report from 2018 about progress using inexpensive reusable fiber:

https://newatlas.com/nuclear-uranium-se … ers/55033/

According to the article, the supply of Uranium dissolved in the world's oceans is inexhaustible from a practical point of view.

As Uranium is pulled from the ocean by humans, according to the article, the ocean will leach an equivalent amount out of rock, to maintain the current balance.

This technology should lead to income producing activity at some point.

However, I am looking at it as a reasonable addition to the functionality of a sea based wind power methane generator system.  The seawater has to be filtered to make hydrogen, so the useful dissolved chemicals might as well be collected.

(th)

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#200 2020-01-20 07:40:11

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 11,350

Re: Power to gas - the next step

For kbd512 re #183 and discussion of why steel remains the best ship building material overall for US Navy vessels...

 It's possible that a simple shape like a wind turbine tower could be fabricated much faster by using automated tape laying or filament winding machines and out-of-autoclave curing processes.  Boeing fabricates CFRP aircraft fuselages for 787's using automated tape laying and autoclaving, for example.

The article about boat building below includes mention of a material I've been looking for, so I decided to include it here.  It might conceivably prove useful to a forum reader down the line.

SearchTerm:gelcoat
SearchTerm:CoatingForFiberglasHull

https://www.proptalk.com/boatbuilding-b … s-and-wood

Most fiberglass boats are built from a female mold that accepts multiple layers of fiberglass cloth or matt and resin that eventually cure together to form a hull shape. First, the mold is cleaned and prepped with a mold release wax that allows what will become the fiberglass hull to be pulled from the mold without sticking. Next, a thick layer of high-quality resin called gelcoat is sprayed into the mold. This is the tough, glossy, exterior finish that protects the fiberglass from ultraviolet rays, salty spray, fish guts, beer, and abrasion.

Before the gelcoat cures, a layer of catalyzed resin (polyester resin is catalyzed using methyl ethyl ketone peroxide, while epoxy resins are usually a 50/50 mix of two parts) is applied, and then alternating layers of fiberglass cloth and catalyzed resin are laid down to build up a laminate. The resin by itself isn’t especially strong in a physical sense, but it does bond incredibly well to itself and when multiple layers of fiberglass are added you get a very strong structure.

I quoted your text above because it refers to standard practice for wind turbine construction, which is to build a cylindrical or narrow conical tower of steel.

In thinking about the deep ocean energy and matter harvesting facility I've been promoting, it occurred to me that the turbine support could be a triangular shape like a rudder on an aircraft.  The horizontal load imposed by wind could be transferred to the hull along the ridge of the triangle, instead at the root of the traditional tower.  For this application, Carbon might prove suitable for some parts of the design, while steel would remain supreme where great strength and ability to flex are needed.
(th)

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