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#126 2023-03-04 19:54:16

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 29,217

Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

I know that some are fearful of hard work for low wages but along with that were the health conditions that prevailed from doing that type of work, the likelihood of death due to accidents and collapses. Sure, not all things had those situations.
We do not need large monopoly games with power companies and poorly placed energy creation plants either.
Sure, the corporate greed to pay out the profits to the board rather than protecting the worker seems to always be the way.

On the flip side zoning to keep what others think are low class housing since many are content to have less so long as it keeps them warm and dry, has basic life support utilities and a place to lay one's head plus a means to cook food ect...

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#127 2023-03-05 07:26:03

tahanson43206
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Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

For SpaceNut re #126

This topic has drifted away from it's intended focus.  You are NOT responsible for the drift, but you ARE the forum member in Post #126 who said nothing about how to create Synthetic or Natural Fuel using Solar Power.  I am looking for practical, Real Universe information about how this idea can be turned into an industry that supplies a decent fraction of the Earth population's needs for hydrocarbon fuels.

There are reported to be actual working examples of plants designed to produce hydrocarbons from air and water using solar power.  We can fill this topic space with details about how that is done, so that a future reader would have a readily available checklist to build a plant, or to convince someone with available funds to put them into a project to build such a plant.

There are MANY Chat Topics where folks can rant away to their heart's content.  The Science Index level is NOT a good match for a rant of any kind.

(th)

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#128 2023-03-05 18:24:24

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
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Posts: 29,217

Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

The main issue for synthetic fuel is how to get sufficient carbon to make it practical as it's not just about a powerful energy source or the amounts of hydrogen that will be used in the reaction that makes the fuel. It would be one thing to collect the carbon as we burned the fuel as its fully concentrated to store even with all of the Nitrogen within the burn.

As for oil companies that have the funds to build this but that would cut into a profit that they enjoy for not doing this as the oil is a small cost to pull it out of the ground.

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#129 2023-03-05 19:51:02

kbd512
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Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

SpaceNut,

You seem to think oil company profits are endless.  Maybe you should look at net year-over-year cashflow if you think they have anywhere close to enough cash to build the synthetic fuel plants we need.  They can't get a loan from a regular bank to do anything at all, not even to build photovoltaic arrays, thanks to the ESG nonsense.  All of the capital comes from private investors or the government.

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#130 2023-04-01 11:42:51

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
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Posts: 29,217

Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

Experimental Device Converts Light and Water into Fuel

Dr. Qian Wang and Professor Erwin Reisner, along with a team of researchers from Cambridge’s Department of Chemistry, have created a device that can mimic the process of photosynthesis, processing sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide into completely clean fuel. This process doesn’t even require any external parts or electricity; just set it up and let it go. The device produces a clean, storage-safe fuel known as formic acid, which can also be processed into hydrogen. Plus, much like real plants, the process creates oxygen as a byproduct.

Appears Colbalt is the catalyst to be used in this process to convert the Co2 and water into fuel and excess oxygen.

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#131 2023-04-26 17:43:19

tahanson43206
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Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

The article at the link below is primarily about making synthetic fuel.  It ** does ** hint at wanting to draw power from renewable sources.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/small-brookl … 08753.html

Behind the scenes: This company makes jet fuel out of just air and water

Zach Wichter, USA TODAY
Mon, April 24, 2023 at 8:26 PM EDT
"Green Travel” is a six-part series focusing on what it means to be sustainable travelers, how the industry is moving the needle on greener efforts, and how consumers can reduce their carbon footprint when exploring. If you'd like to contribute to our future reporting and share your experience as a source, you can click here to fill out this quick form.

NEW YORK — Bushwick is probably not the first place that comes to mind when you think of jet fuel production, but tucked away in an industrial corner of the hipster haven of Brooklyn is an unassuming, windowless warehouse that could hold the key to a future of more environmentally friendly flying.

Air Company, which was founded in 2017, is using this Brooklyn location to experiment with making sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) out of water and carbon dioxide. The method they're using is known as power to liquid. I've heard of and written about this process before, and honestly, I don't understand why it's not getting more attention.

What is SAF?: Some say sustainable aviation fuel is the key to a greener airline industry



Reverse global warming by scrubbing the air? That's what carbon capture aims to do


Air Company's Brooklyn production facility.

I had a chance to visit Air Company's SAF production facility in March, and although the quantities it's producing now are small, in the coming years they plan to open a new plant that could produce thousands of gallons a day. However, that's still a piddling amount compared to the aviation sector's overall thirst for fuel. (For reference, U.S. airlines used 1.41 billion gallons of fuel in January 2023 alone, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.)

What is SAF?: Some say sustainable aviation fuel is the key to a greener airline industry

Still, Stafford Sheehan, one of Air Company's co-founders and its chief technology officer, told me that by the end of this decade, they hope to have a larger number of industrial-scale production facilities in operation across the country.

How does power to liquid work?

Here's how Sheehan and his colleagues explained the process.

First, Air Company draws a relatively small amount of water – "a couple gallons an hour" – from the municipal water supply. That water (which you may remember is H2O from your high school chemistry class) is broken down via electrolysis into hydrogen and oxygen. The oxygen is vented back out into the atmosphere and the hydrogen is stored at high pressure awaiting the next step.


The machine used to separate hydrogen and oxygen from water molecules.

Near the hydrogen storage tank is a much larger carbon dioxide storage tank, which is used for the crucial next phase.

Sheehan said that, for now, Air Company uses biogenic CO2 sourced from traditional ethanol fermentation, captured from another facility in upstate New York before it is released into the atmosphere, which allows the company to mitigate those emissions altogether.

How do carbon offsets work?: And are they worth your money?

"Literally, all we did was put a compressor at the end of the smokestack," he said. The captured, compressed carbon gets trucked down to Brooklyn and ultimately turned into fuel when mixed with the compressed hydrogen.

"We don't need deliveries (of captured carbon) very frequently, like less than once a month," Sheehan said.

For larger-scale production, he added, Air Company is considering locating its facilities closer to the source of the captured carbon.

Although the technology it uses can be placed anywhere, the overall lifecycle emissions of Air Company's SAF are lower when the carbon source is closer to the fuel production facility, because it eliminates the need to transport the captured carbon from the source to where the fuel is ultimately produced, which is currently one of the more emissions-intensive parts of the process.


Air Company's carbon storage tank.

Other companies are developing technology that will capture carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere to feed the power to liquid process, but Sheehan said that work is still in its infancy.

Sheehan also said that the machinery required for capturing carbon emissions is prohibitively heavy to install on airplanes, so it's not likely that your flight's exhaust will ever be directly captured and turned into fuel for the return trip.

How is sustainable aviation fuel created?

The next step is bringing the ingredients together.

Compressed hydrogen and carbon are introduced to a catalyst in a carbon conversion reactor, producing flammable paraffins, methanol, ethanol, and wastewater. Those products are then distilled and turned into fuel, among other things.

Sheehan said the exact catalyst for that reaction is proprietary, but Air Company uses a standard reaction chamber to make it happen.


The chamber where hydrogen and carbon are combined to make paraffins and other byproducts.

"Every single reactor in the chemical and the petrochemical industry is essentially the same as that: they’re tubes with rocks," he said. "Because this is the most standard reactor type in the entire chemical industry, the scale-up of it is well known. Our approach is to have as many things as possible that are similar to oil and gas or drop-in replacement because all the infrastructure in the world is made for oil and gas."

Tell us your story: Mobility device lost or damaged by an airline? USA TODAY wants to hear about it.

Even at this small scale, the efficiency of power to liquid shows promise. Lauren Riley, United Airlines' chief sustainability officer, recently told USA TODAY that she views this method as the future of aviation fuel production.


The reaction produces paraffins and wastewater, with some other byproducts that are also extracted.

Paraffins and water are the two major products of Air Company's process.

Sheehan emphasized that power to liquid's process efficiency is a major advantage over other kinds of sustainable aviation fuels, which require more refining to deploy.

The paraffins produced by the reaction are converted into aviation fuel. Through Air Company's partnerships with the Department of Defense, its product has already powered experimental jet flights and does not have to be mixed with traditional aviation fuel to be used, as other forms of SAF sometimes do.

"With the military, we fly only 100%, we don't do any blending," Sheehan said. "This can be drop-in" as a replacement for petroleum-based jet fuel.

The production process also creates wastewater, which can be recycled to make more fuel, along with methanol and ethanol, which Air Company puts into consumer products including perfume and vodka.


These tanks hold wastewater, which is recycled to make more fuel, as well as ethanol and methanol, which are used in consumer products like vodka and perfume.

How quickly can power to liquid be deployed for commercial flights?

Sheehan acknowledged that Air Company's fuel isn't going to be on your own flights any time soon, even if their current production facility is just a few miles from New York's major airports.

"The scale that we're producing here is small compared to commercial jets," Sheehan said. "But out of our next facility, that's going to be flying commercial jets," and is set to come online in the next few years.

Sustainable flying: Lufthansa introduces 'green fares' to make it easier for travelers to offset their CO2

Economic and other roadblocks are a drag on scaling up, too.

The process Air Company uses is energy intensive. At the scale they are producing fuel in Brooklyn, they can purchase renewable energy certificates to account for the power they're using from the ConEd grid, but at larger facilities, they plan to co-locate with sustainable energy producers.

"You have to buy a lot of renewable electricity and deploy a lot of costly renewable electricity," Sheehan said.


The core section of Air Company's fuel production process.

Finding enough renewable energy to make more fuel through this method is one of the major obstacles to growing Air Company's overall eco-friendly production.

The economics of the industry also complicate its growth, because SAF production by any method remains more expensive than drilling for fossil fuels, but tax credits passed by the Biden administration under the Inflation Reduction Act allow the end cost of SAF to be similar to that of traditional petroleum aviation fuel.

And as exciting as power to liquid sounds, it's just one part of the solution to climate change.


"What's evident is it's going to take a portfolio of solutions to solve climate change," Sheehan said. "We don't need to be reliant on fossil fuels. That's good for the climate and it's good for people in general because then you don't have a concentration of wealth and power in the few people and the few countries and the few groups that run oil wells."

How can the travel industry reduce its carbon footprint?
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: How can travel be sustainable? This company wants to change plane fuel

(th)

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#132 2023-05-08 08:38:19

tahanson43206
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Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 17,909

Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

This plant appears to be an alternative to soybeans ...

It has the distinct advantage of not serving as a food ingredient (according to the article).

https://propane.com/environment/podcast … ntent=4.14

https://www.gceholdings.com/investors/c … -directors

Global Clean Energy’s Richard Palmer on Camelina: Is it the wonder crop for renewable fuels?

Path to Zero

4.14 - Global Clean Energy’s Richard Palmer on Camelina: Is it the wonder crop for renewable fuels?
https://propane.com/feed/podcast-feed/path-to-zero

https://propane.com/environment/podcast … ble-fuels/


This episode features a deep discussion on the game-changing crop, Camelina, which is quickly becoming a popular feedstock for renewable fuels production. Tucker welcomes the head of the world’s leading developer of camelina. Richard Palmer is CEO of Global Clean Energy, which owns Sustainable Oils, a camelina breeding and production businesses in the U.S. Global Clean Energy also owns the largest camelina company in Europe, Camelina Company España S.L.

What is Camelina?
Camelina has been grown for centuries but recently the plant is gaining attention for biofuels because of the oil contained in its seeds. Camelina has one of the lowest carbon scores, with studies showing it can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 60% compared to petroleum fuel.

Global Clean Energy works with hundreds of farmers in the nation to grow camelina and holds the world’s largest camelina patent and IP protection portfolio. In addition to the upstream camelina business, Global Clean Energy owns a downstream refinery in Bakersfield, California. That plant is currently undergoing a retrofit to become a renewable fuels refinery to eventually process camelina into ultra-low carbon renewable fuels, including renewable diesel and renewable propane.

“The founders of our company were really at the very beginnings of renewable fuel development,” Palmer tells Tucker. “One of the things we were hyper-focused on was not using a food grade product to make fuel because of all the unintended consequences with food security.”

Benefits to Farmers

One of the many benefits to camelina is it is fast growing and requires less water than many other crops, so farmers can plant it between other crops. Camelina is also relatively pest and disease tolerant. It captures carbon not only above the ground, but also the roots don’t get harvested, which puts more carbon and organic material back into the soil.


Photo courtesy: Global Clean Energy

“We’re not asking farmers to plant our crop instead of another crop,” says Palmer. “We’re saying, plant our crop instead of no crop.”

Renewable Fuels Market

According to Palmer, the adoption and expansion of the renewable fuels market is highly dependent on feedstock availability. Most feedstocks for biofuels today are served by food products like ethanol, soybean oil and canola oil.

“By us showing that camelina is a highly scalable non-food feedstock as an option for renewable fuels, it continues to fuel interest,” says Palmer. “All we need is a large commercial adoption and we’ve proven the fact that camelina can be grown on large scale.”

Resources
Global Clean Energy Website
Sustainable Oils Website
Yahoo Finance – Global Clean Energy Holdings, Inc. Receives Funding from ExxonMobil to Advance Renewable Diesel Production and Camelina Expansion
Biomass Fuels – Sustainable Oils opens North American headquarters in Montana
ABC Montana – Montana farmers growing camelina, producing crop for renewable diesel fuel
Camelina Company España opens innovation center in Spain

(th)

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#133 2023-05-09 19:46:43

SpaceNut
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Posts: 29,217

Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

There are lots of plant sources to feed the device, but the issue is how much yield to energy input is required not only to grow but to harvest so that you can use it.

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#134 2023-05-09 19:57:47

tahanson43206
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Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

For SpaceNut re #133 ... thanks for noting the need for any renewable system to sustain it's own energy needs, as well as supply oil for customers!  The fuel described in the article is (apparently) made from a plant that is not currently consumed as a food crop. For that reason it would appear to be a better choice than peanuts or soy beens.

(th)

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#135 2023-12-18 08:55:43

tahanson43206
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Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

This topic is available for contributions that document the exact process needed to make synthetic fuel using solar power as input.

We have had discussions along these lines in the past, and there are even hints of what kind of solar power devices might be most effective.

This topic is available for contributions that go beyond wild hand waving to actual products available for purchase today, that can be assembled to make fuel.

What I'm looking for is a detailed specification an investor can follow to create a productive plant.

(th)

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#136 2023-12-18 10:00:33

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
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Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

The heat or electrical is just the needed energy input as the remaining is the content to which we are trying to convert into a fuel. They need to contain at a minimum Hydrogen and Carbon to make into ethane chains for one of the categories of fuels that we can burn with oxygen.

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#137 2024-01-01 11:04:16

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
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Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

China tests world's largest, 600,000-ton, coal-to-ethanol production plant

According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), China's annual demand for ethanol is 10 million tonnes. The country was able to produce 2.7 million tonnes of ethanol last year through fermentation of aged grain. However, the significant shortfall from its requirement meant that the country ended up importing the remaining alcohol.

The DICP has developed DMTE, a process that can generate methanol from coke oven gas, which is then made to react with other materials to generate ethanol. Coke oven gas is a by-product of coke production, which uses low-grade coal as a starting material, something China has in abundance.

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#138 2024-01-01 15:32:08

Void
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Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

At the risk of being mistaken which is highly possible in this, I would ask if acetate could be a path to what you want.  I was surprised to get hints that some work has seemed to be done to get microbes to make Ethanol out of it.

And I do stand ready to be wrong.  But the substance has been proposed for the growth of Algae, Yeast, and mycelium of Mushrooms.

In another thread I wondered if pee-bricks could be made by adding much less urine, and some acetate.  The urine might still provide certain nutrients needed such as Nitrogen and Phosphorus, maybe.  But the acetate would be an energy source.

Trying a query like: using microbes to convert acetate to ethanol, then I get this:  https://www.bing.com/search?q=using+mic … E18F74E3AF

Well, some articles seem to suggest it could be done.

Growing yeast is supposed to be 18 time as efficient as photosynthesis.  But that seems to me to indicate a lot of waste heat in the process of making the acetate.  I'm not too sure about that I am not proficient in chemistry or biology on these levels.  But the thing about waste heat on Mars is it does not have to go to waste.  It can be welcome for many things such as life support.

If what I am suggesting is not workable, then at the very least we know that biomass can be converted to some kind of methods such as digesters to make Methane or Pyrolysis.

If I have interfered, then sorry in advance.

Done

Last edited by Void (2024-01-01 15:48:16)


Done.

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#139 2024-02-14 06:21:08

Calliban
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From: Northern England, UK
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Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

A video here discussing the potential for anhydrous ammonia as a synthetic fuel.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5Y_2Z_VwFNc

The high heat of evaporation of ammonia goes some way to mitigate toxicity problems.  One problem not mentioned here is low flame speed in ammonia air mixtures.  This problem is mitigated by using ammonia in compression ignition engines, with fuel injected into a compressed and heated air charge.

Whereas synthetic hydrocarbon manufacture requires CO2 extraction from air or water, nitrogen is available everywhere as 78% of the air we breath.  Also, CO2 requires reduction to CO in order to produce syngas that can be used to synthesise methanol.  This consumes additional energy.

CO2 + H2 = CO + H2O (gas shift reaction)
CO + 2H2 = CH3OH

Overall reaction: CO2 + 3H2 = CH3OH + H20

Or for methane: CO2 + 4H2 = CH4 + 2H2O

For ammonia: N2 + 3H2 = 2NH3.

The ammonia synthesis reaction is exothermic, so will drive itself with suitable heat recovery.

I think the key to achieving this process using carbon free energy at an economic cost, is to exploit economies of scale.  As the ammonia is a liquid that can be shipped by pipeline or rail car, we can build solar thermal powerplants to enormous sizes in remote deserts.  There are steam turbines that are sized for 1650GWe powerplants now.  Chemical synthesis plants also benefit from scale economies.  If we can build facilities on a 10+GW scale we can achieve low unit production costs by exploiting these scale effects.  Another factor that significantly influences economics is capacity factor.  To achieve the best payback on capital equipment, you want it running 24/7/365, or as close to that ideal as maintenance allows.  Nuclear power has 90+% capacity factor.  Maybe solar thermal equipped with thermal energy storage can be pushed to high capacity factor as well.  We need a certain amount of direct heat to preheat reactants that are injected into the synthesis reactors.  Solar thermal power could be used here as well.

One advantage that ammonia gives us over L-H2, is that hydrogen storage is not needed.  Some concepts are able to directly synthesise ammonia from hydrogen ions in an electrolysis unit.  But even a haber-bosch process is able to route hydrogen gas from an electrolysis stack directly into an ammonia synthesis reactor.  Power density is a key concern.  Ammonia reactors operate at high pressure.  So we would ideally develop high-pressure electrolysis cells that generate hydrogen at high pressure.  This saves energy any the need for a compressor, as a centrifugal pump can be used to inject water at high pressure into the cell.

Again, scale effects are key.  If plant can be built on a sufficiently large scale, then we can replace steel pressure vessels with prestressed concrete vessels.  This will be another capital saving, but is only beneficial for large vessels.
***************************

Additional.  Ammonia reacts readily with CO2 to produce urea.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urea

This is a white solid that is heavily used as a nitrogen fertiliser.  It could also be used as a fuel.  It melts at 130°C and has lower toxicity issues than ammonia.  It is a solid however, which does complicate things.  But it can be stored as a solid for long periods, provided it is kept away from moisture.  It could be burned in boilers, to raise heat or generate steam.  One small side benefit is that urea locks up CO2 for whatever period it is stored.  Unfortunately, the CO2 is released again when it is burned or used as fertiliser.  But if society builds up a constant stock of urea for fuel or fertiliser purposes, it will sequester a limited amount of carbon for as long as maintain the stockpile at that level.

Last edited by Calliban (2024-02-14 07:50:36)


"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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#140 2024-02-15 05:50:19

Calliban
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From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 3,542

Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

Ammonia fuelled car trialled in China.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4fdc_eW9OZk

Synthetic fuel driven ICEs are arguable a better long term option than battery electric vehicles.  They are more sustainable from a resource perspective and offer far superior energy density and power density at the consumer end.  Compared to synthetic hydrocarbons, ammonia is easier and more energy efficient to synthesise.  But it is trickier on the consumer end, largely due to the toxicity and irritant properties of ammonia vapours.  It also has less than half the volumetric energy density of gasoline and only one third that of diesel.

Last edited by Calliban (2024-02-15 05:56:59)


"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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#141 2024-02-15 11:38:16

Terraformer
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Website

Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

Still, for the purposes where we currently need to use diesel, is it workable? Ammonia being used at mines and construction sites might be an easier sell, since you're not having to achieve mass market acceptability.


Use what is abundant and build to last

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#142 2024-02-15 11:59:35

tahanson43206
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Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

ForTerraformer .... I have similar questions, but regarding diesel ... the video shows a ship that is claimed to be operating with Ammonia as the fuel.

My questions are more along the lines of how (where) this system could be rolled out.

It seems to me that the infrastructure to support this fuel is not present.  The situation seems (to me at least) similar to that facing the Hydrogen proponents, or even the electric charging proponents, although ** that ** problem appears to be improving.

The energy density deficit that Calliban pointed out is a drawback. More volume for tanks would be needed to support equivalent range.

(th)

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#143 2024-02-15 17:05:49

Calliban
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From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 3,542

Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

Ships could indeed be the earliest application.  A chilled ammonia tank will experience a lower evaporation rate simply because the tanks are larger.  Most ships are powered by either GTs or low-speed, high bore diesel engines.  The low flame speed of ammonia would be less problematic in these situations.  Mining and construction equipment would be suitable if powered by compression ignition engines.  One place you don't want ammonia is a confined space with limited air volume.  Open cast mines could use it, but it isn't something you want to take underground.  Fortunately, most modern mines are open cast.

The main problem with ammonia as fuel is energetics.  We are taking high value electricity and producing hydrogen by electrolysis.  We then react the hydrogen with nitrogen to make ammonia, consuming more energy.  In the end, we burn the ammonia to generate mechanical power which we use directly or turn back into electricity.  For each kWh of electricity we start with, at least two thirds is going to be lost irreversibly as waste heat.  That makes ammonia (or synth hydrocarbons) a relatively expensive way of storing energy.  Unless the electricity used is very cheap to begin with.  There are fewer and fewer places now where electricity is cheap.  And most of the places that do have cheap power get it from coal or associated natural gas.  Using gas or coal derived electricity to make ammonia is just silly.

Last edited by Calliban (2024-02-15 17:12:12)


"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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#144 2024-02-15 18:45:05

SpaceNut
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#145 2024-02-19 10:50:22

Calliban
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From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 3,542

Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

I decided to do a few calculations on the practicality of using ammonia as a substitute for diesel.  Lets just say it is going to be difficult to produce synthetic ammonia cheaply enough to compete with diesel at $3.5/gallon.  Ammonia is produced by combining hydrogen and nitrogen at high pressures and temperatures in excess of 400°C, in tye presence of a suitable catalyst, usually iron.  It takes 1.5 mols of H2 to produce 1 mol of NH3.  The reaction is:

3H2 + N2 = 2NH3.

The reaction is exorthermic, so it should be possible for it to run without supplemental heating, if suitable heat recovery is integrated into the process, with counterflow heat exchangers.  Ammonia has mass energy density of 18.6MJ/kg.  Hydrogen has mass energy density of 141.86MJ/kg and we need 3kg H2 to make 17kg of ammonia.  If hydrogen is produced by electrysis at 80% efficiency, then each MJ of initial electrical energy, will produce 0.5944MJ of chemical energy in ammonia.

Diesel is selling at $3.5/gallon at present.  That works out at $0.925/litre.  One litre of diesel contains 38.6MJ, on average.  How much electrical energy do we need to produce 38.6MJ of ammonia?  Working:

Q = 38.6/0.5944 = 64.94MJ (18.04kWh).

If we want to make ammonia cheaply enough to replace diesel, then as minimum, the cost of electricity needed to make the energy equivelant of a litre of diesel, cannot cost more that $0.925.  How cheap must electricity be to do this?

C = 92.5/18.04 = $0.05127/kWh.

That is quite a tough target to reach.  Legacy nuclear powerplant often generate power this cheaply.  But solar thermal electricity in the US, usually averages about $0.14/kWh.  That is about 3x too expensive.  And the reality is that whilst electricity will dominate production cost, it won't be the only cost.  Maybe scale economies can bring costs down?

Last edited by Calliban (2024-02-19 11:00:25)


"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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#146 2024-02-19 10:56:06

kbd512
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Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 7,566

Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

Calliban,

Maybe you'll find this interesting:

The End of Haber Bosch

Room temperature, only 20 atmospheres of pressure, 98% to 99% Faradaic efficiency.

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#147 2024-02-19 15:50:29

Calliban
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From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 3,542

Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

kbd512 wrote:

Calliban,

Maybe you'll find this interesting:

The End of Haber Bosch

Room temperature, only 20 atmospheres of pressure, 98% to 99% Faradaic efficiency.

This is very exciting.  It has the potential to improve the efficiency of the process and reduce capital costs as well.  If electricity can be converted into ammonia with 98% efficiency instead of 59%, then breakeven electricity price increases to $0.0845/kWh.  That is well within the reach of new build nuclear powerplants, at least historically.  In recent years, costs have gone crazy.

We could likely get costs down even lower if we enter some kind of mass production regime.  Nuclear powerplants that are built for electricity supply are limited by the grid.  They cannot produce more than the local grid can absorb and it is not convenient for any single powerplant to account for more than a limited proportion of total demand in case it unexpectedly drops off load.  However, neither of these limitations apply if the electric power is being used to produce a liquid fuel locally, that can be shipped by tanker.  You can build the plant almost anywhere and could build multiple gigawatts of a single site.  This wouod be a good way of reducing nuclear build costs, because all of the build infrastructure can be created at that site and then used to produce repeatable units that can be built very quickly.  Historically, some nuclear powerplants have produced power at $0.02/kWh.  If we could do that again and convert that power into ammonia fuel at 98% efficiency, then transitioning off of fossil fuels would begin to look like a practical proposition.  At that price, ammonia would be cheap enough to undercut diesel and gasoline on an energy equivelance basis.

Last edited by Calliban (2024-02-19 15:53:18)


"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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#148 2024-02-19 18:20:04

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 29,217

Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

Here is the original discussion Power to Ammonia for Energy Storage

We may have others buried in others.

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#149 2024-04-02 14:33:20

Terraformer
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From: Ceres
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,827
Website

Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

Progress in the production of synthetic methane:

https://terraformindustries.wordpress.c … tural-gas/

First, our innovative electrolyzer converts cheap solar power into hydrogen with current production costs at less than $2.50 per kg of H2. How? To first order, our electrolyzer capex costs <$100/kW, and we’re currently baselining solar PV DC electricity at $20/MWh. There is no hand waving about economies of scale or subsidies here, though we are eligible for the full IRA 45V green hydrogen tax credit, worth $3/kg-H2.


Second, the proprietary direct air capture (DAC) system concentrates CO2 in the atmosphere today for less than $250 per ton. How? Our DAC capex costs <$600/T-year-CO2. Like the electrolyzer, this represents a substantial improvement on the state of the art.

Mental quickmaths says that to make CH2 (stand in for fuel hydrocarbons) you need 22kg of CO2 to each kg of H2, giving you 7kg of CH2. The CO2 if their prices are right would be $5.50, the hydrogen $2.50, so $8 to make 7kg of CH2. About $1.13. Not back to the era of cheap fuel by any means, but Brits already pay significantly more than that. The system is supposed to be able to operate intermittently afaict, so storage is far less of an issue.

Transport represents 44% of Britain's energy use, and a majority of its CO2 emissions. If over the next few years we can switch to synfuel produced in say America or Australia (or even Egypt, the most stable country in MENA...) that would put us most of the way to net zero. And, of course, our purchases would only be funding consumerism, not terrorism or repression...


Use what is abundant and build to last

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#150 2024-04-05 08:38:52

Terraformer
Member
From: Ceres
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,827
Website

Re: Synthetic or Natural Fuel Produced using Solar Power

Trying to get figures for the round trip efficiency of ammonia energy storage -- Ammonia for energy storage: economic and technical analysis

The figures given range from 34% (Haber-Bosch, gas turbine) to 72% (reversible fuel cell). Predicted cost for the latter is $0.24/kWh, so pretty pricey. As previously talked about, ammonia can be shipped around the world, so it can be synthesised where there is cheap power available, such as deserts with solar thermal electricity generation.

I don't see ammonia being used in road vehicles, given its toxicity, but as a fuel for ships or electricity generation where we're not expecting Average Joe to handle it it could be a contender. Pricey, even with a cheap source of electricity for producing it, but the storability makes it one of the few options to keep the grid on for the dozen or so windless weeks we have each year in Britain. Probably we'll want to have a dual/triple tariff system where the priciness is made clear to consumers, rather than trying to average it out over the year...

What I'm seeing from discussions of solar thermal power and synfuel is, whilst getting cheap energy is difficult, we can probably get cheap enough energy to keep our technological civilisation going at least if we make a few adjustments. You won't get to drive a gaz guzzeleen muscle car, but keeping an efficient (hybrid?) compact on the road will be a possibility. Electricity will be pricey but we can make up for it in part by going big on cheap hot water. Maybe we have to cut back on energy intensive materials, but we'll still have a shipping industry. The core parts will keep going.


Use what is abundant and build to last

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