May 3, 2013

Alternatives to high priced solar and wind energy

It is not that I don't think that there is a place for wind and solar, it is just that those are more expensive, the wind doesn't always blow and the sun doesn't always shine.  We need to insure we have a low cost readily available base load energy fuel source for our economy.

The environmentalist focus seems to now be shifting from "we need more renewable energy"sources to "we hate coal".  But while the group focuses on what they like and don't like, without regard for the merit or functionality of an idea there is growing support for a new method of coal based generation.

The past method for coal fired energy was to supply atmospheric air to the combustion.  However, air is only about 21% oxygen.  the other 80% of air is nitrogen and other gasses.  It is this impure mixture which creates more pollutants on in the exhaust from the combustion.  A new combustion cycle was introduced about 7 years ago in which they will purify the air supply to be almost 100% oxygen.   This improves the efficiency and reduces the emissions of NOx by up to 80%.  Other pollutants are also reduced.  While the oxygenation cycle requires some energy and reduces the overall output, it remains much much more cost effective than any other source of power generation.  The emissions are reduced by 97% below half of the current generating stations.  Think of it;  We could reduce the air pollution by about 50% and still have very low cost power.

Courtesy NETL, National Energy Technology Lab,
 http://www.netl.doe.gov/technologies/coalpower/turbines/refshelf/brochures/Brochure%209-19-05.pdf


There are several twists to the remaining Oxy-fuel cycle.  The environmentalist wants to pump the remaining CO2 into the ground, at great cost, to insure zero emissions.  One company has coupled their process with the enhanced oil extraction process.  Many tight oil fields require CO2 or other gaseous mixtures to force the oil out of formations and into the extraction process.  By siting microgeneration stations at the point of oil extraction the former problem of what to do with the CO2 becomes the solution for better and more efficient recovery of our own oil resources.  I love it when America out-smarts a problem.

Several companies have generating stations that are already online and proving the technology today.  Google oxy-fuel cycle and read more.

Read more at;
http://www.netpower.com/technology.html

http://www.netl.doe.gov/publications/factsheets/project/Proj460.pdf

http://www.netl.doe.gov/publications/factsheets/rd/R&D127.pdf

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