The Anonymous Widower

Could Drax Power Station Solve The Carbon Dioxide Shortage?

Drax Power station is the largest power station in the UK, with a  2.6 GW capacity when burning biomass.

It has also been a regular target of environmental activists complaining of the power station’s carbon dioxide and other emissions.

But could it be an unlikely saviour to replace the carbon dioxide that comes from two fertiliser plants run by the CF Industries, that have been shut down by high gas prices?

I wrote about the shortage in Food Shortages Looming After Factory Closures Hit Production.

Two and a half years ago I wrote Drax Becomes First Wood-Burning Power Plant To Capture Carbon, which was based on an article in the Financial Times.

I said this about the report.

This news has been treated in a more sensationalist way by other news media and sites, but the FT gives it very straight.

Drax power station is running an experiment, that removes a tonne of carbon dioxide a day.

But that is only the start of the process and most of it is released to the atmosphere.

They are currently, looking for profitable and environmentally-friendly ways of disposal, including selling it to beer manufacturers.

Didn’t we have a carbon-dioxide shortage a few months ago?

Now is probably a good time to dig a little deeper into what Drax is doing.

The Wikipedia entry for Drax power station has a section called Carbon Capture And Storage.

This is the last paragraph of the section.

In May 2018, Drax announced a new carbon capture and storage pilot scheme that it would undertake in conjunction with the Leeds-based firm, C-Capture. The focus of this pilot will be on capturing carbon post combustion from the biomass burners as opposed to the coal burners. Drax will invest £400,000 into the project. The company, C-Capture, is a side company of the Department of Chemistry established at the University of Leeds. This would yield about 1-tonne (1.1-ton) of CO2 stored per day from the process, which could be sold on for use in the drinks industry. The pilot scheme was launched in February 2019. The capture of carbon from biomas burners is known as Bio Energy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS).

Who are C-Capture?

Their web site is very informative and this page is called Our Story, which explains the project at Drax.

We designed, built, and installed a pilot plant and have been operating it on site, with real flue gas, since early 2019. The data gathered from this trial is feeding directly into the design process for a full-scale plant, with a target of 10,000 tonnes of CO2 per day captured from one of Drax’s four biomass fired boilers. A recent development has been the installation of equipment to bottle the captured CO2 to allow other organisations to test their own developing technologies with genuine Drax derived CO2.

That looks like a result to me for C-Capture.

This page is called Technology and has a very neat interactive guide to how the technology works.

Conclusion

This company has some very special technology, that has a lot of applications.

It is also significant that Drax and BP have taken a shareholding in C-Capture.

 

 

September 18, 2021 Posted by | Energy, World | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Is Carbon Dioxide Not Totally Bad?

To listen to some environmentalists, there views on carbon dioxide are a bit like a variant of George Orwell’s famous phrase Four legs good, two legs bad from Animal Farm, with carbon dioxide the villain of the piece.

I have just read the Wikipedia entry for carbon dioxide.

For a start, we mustn’t forget how carbon dioxide, water and sunlight is converted by photosynthesis in plants and algae to carbohydrates, with oxygen given off as waste. Animals like us then breathe the oxygen in and breathe carbon dioxide out.

Various web sites give the following information.

  • The average human breathes out 2.3 pounds of carbon dioxide per day.
  • As of 2020, the world population was 7.8 billion.

This means humans breathe out 17.94 billion pounds of CO2 per day

This equates to 6548.1 billion pounds per year or 2.97 billion tonnes per year.

And I haven’t counted all the other animals like buffalo, cattle, elephants and rhinos, to name just a few large ones.

Wikipedia also lists some of the Applications of carbon dioxide.

  • Precursor To Chemicals – Carbon dioxide can be one of the base chemicals used to make other important chemicals like urea and methanol.
  • Foods – Carbon dioxide has applications in the food industry.
  • Beverages – Carbon dioxide is the fizz in fizzy drinks.
  • Winemaking – Carbon dioxide has specialist uses in winemaking.
  • Stunning Animals – Carbon dioxide can be used to ‘stun’ animals before slaughter.
  • Inert Gas – carbon dioxide has several uses, as it is an inert gas.
  • Fire Extinguisher – Carbon dioxide is regularly used in fire extinguishers and fire protection systems.
  • Bio Transformation Into Fuel – It has been proposed to convert carbon dioxide from power stations  into biodiesel using a route based on algae.
  • Refrigerant – Carbon dioxide can be used as a refrigerant. It was used before CFCs were developed and I know of a large Victorian refrigeration system on a farm in Suffolk, used on a store for apples, that still is in regular use that uses carbon dioxide.
  • Dry Ice – The solid form of carbon dioxide has lots of applications, where cooling is needed.

Other important applications are under development.

  • Agriculture – Carbon dioxide is piped to greenhouses to promote growth of crops. It is also used at higher concentrations to eliminate pests.
  • Low Carbon Building Products – Companies like Mineral Carbonation International are developing ways of creating building products from carbon dioxide.
  • Synthetic Rubber – Research is ongoing to create replacements for synthetic rubber.

I can only assume, that the demand for gaseous carbon dioxide will increase, as scientists and engineers get more innovative about using the gas.

Solving A Shortage Of Carbon Dioxide

At the present time, there is shortage of carbon dioxide, that I wrote about in Food Shortages Looming After Factory Closures Hit Production.

In the related post, I said this.

Perhaps we should fit carbon capture to a handy gas-fired power station, like SSE are planning to do at Keadby and use this carbon dioxide.

Consider.

  • The Keadby complex of gas-fired power stations is close to a lot of depleted gas fields, some of which are in Lincolnshire and some are off-shore.
  • Some gas fields are already being used to store natural gas imported from Norway.
  • SSE plan to fit the later power stations with carbon capture.

I talk about SSE’s plans in Energy In North-East Lincolnshire.

If SSE were to build four large gas-fired power stations at Keadby, I calculated that they would produce 5.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

It could be used or stored in depleted gas fields according to demand.

But the complex at Keadby would not release any carbon emissions.

Could Carbon Capture Be A Nice Little Earner?

If demand for carbon dioxide continues to rise, I could see power companies installing carbon capture on gas-fired power stations to generate an extra income stream.

Incidentally, there are 55 operational gas-fired power stations in the UK, that can generate a total of 30 GW, which are owned by perhaps ten different companies.

Development of carbon capture systems could be helped by Government subsidy.

Conclusion

I have long forgotten all the calculations I did with gases, but I do know that when one molecule of methane combusts it produces two molecules of water and one of carbon dioxide.

So I am fairly convinced that if you took X cubic kilometres of natural gas out of a gas field, after combustion there wouldn’t be anything like as much volume of carbon dioxide to put back, specially if a proportion could be used profitably in other processes.

If we are going to use gas to generate zero-carbon power, we probably need to do it with gas fields under our control either onshore or in the seas around our coasts. This is because the depleted gas fields can be used to store the carbon.

Gas-fired power stations with carbon capture supporting industries that need supplies of carbon dioxide will become a large part of our energy economy.

 

September 18, 2021 Posted by | Energy, World | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Rolls-Royce’s All-Electric ‘Spirit of Innovation’ Takes To The Skies For The First Time

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from Rolls-Royce.

This is the first paragraph.

We are pleased to announce the completion of the first flight of our all-electric ‘Spirit of Innovation’ aircraft. At 14:56 (BST) the plane took to the skies propelled by its powerful 400kW (500+hp) electric powertrain with the most power-dense battery pack ever assembled for an aircraft. This is another step towards the plane’s world-record attempt and another milestone on the aviation industry’s journey towards decarbonisation.

Rolls-Royce also published an album of photographs, of which this is one.

Note that the motor was designed and made by Yasa.

September 18, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 4 Comments

Stratford Station Secures Funding For Plans Set To Relieve Overcrowding

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Rail Technology Magazine.

These are the first two paragraphs.

Reduced congestion at London’s Stratford station is on the table as Network Rail secure a £2m boost from the Department for Transport.

Stratford Station has seen a surge in demand – despite the impact of the pandemic – ever since the 2012 Olympics, and the forecast for this is set to grow even more as the area continues to regenerate.

Something needs to be done as it is he busiest non-terminal station in London, that before the pandemic was handling over 42 million passengers per year.

Nothing specific is said, except that more space will be created for passengers with better wayfinding.

Although the article says that this could be a five year project.

The Current Station

This is an extract from It’s Time To Detopsify Stratford Station, which was a previous look at Stratford station in May this year.

This map from cartometro.com shows the Topsy-like nature of the platforms at Stratford.

Note.

  1. The Docklands Light Railway is shown in turquoise.
  2. The DLR platforms in the North-West corner of the map are those of Stratford International station.
  3. High Speed One and the four platforms of Stratford International station are shown in black.
  4. The North London Line of the London Overground is shown in orange.
  5. The North London Line terminates in Platforms 1 and 2, which have a level link to Platform 12.
  6. Platform 12 is on the anti-clockwise platform for the High Meads Loop and has step-free access to the subway system underneath the station.
  7. Platform 11 is on the clockwise platform for the High Meads Loop and has level access to Platform 10a and full step-free access,
  8. Platform 10a is used by some services to East Anglia.
  9. Crossrail is shown in blue.
  10. The Central Line is shown in red.
  11. The Jubilee Line is shown in silver.

It is not the best passenger-friendly station layout.

What Would I Do?

These are what I would like to see.

Better Information on the Overground Platforms

If I am returning from Stratford after doing some shopping at Eastfield, I will often climb up the stairs or rise in the lift to the two Overground platforms 1 and 2. I will often find two trains there, but there is no indication to say which will be the first train to leave.

Use Of The High Meads Loop

The High Meads Loop is a double-track loop at the Southern end of the branch of the West Anglia Main Line that leads to Stratford.

  • It is mainly underneath the Eastfield shopping centre.
  • It serves Platforms 11 and 12 in Stratford station.

As the single-track loop of the Wirral Line under Liverpool can handle up to sixteen trains per hour (tph), I believe that the High Meads Loop could be used as the Southern terminus for an improved service to Cambridge, Stansted Airport and up the Lea Valley to Cheshunt, Chingford, Harlow and Hertford East.

The signage from when Stratford had a Stansted Express service is still there and shown in this picture.

 

 

This is almost symptomatic of the chaotic nature of the station.

I get the impression from this sign, that one of the original design criteria of the High Meads Loop and the Overground platforms at Stratford for the North London Line was to create an easy route for the whole of North London to Stansted Airport and Cambridge.

Or is it just a symptom of Too Many Cooks Syndrome, where everybody had their own ideas and no-one took charge and designed Stratford station properly?

Let’s hope Network Rail are fully in charge, as this is not a project to interest Sadiq Khan, as it’s not in South London and that area of London won’t benefit.

A Better Connection Between Stratford Station And Southeastern HighSpeed Services

I have just looked up how it is recommended you might travel between Richmond and Faversham.

The timetable recommends a double-change at Clapham Junction and Victoria.

I would take the Overground to Stratford and then change to the Southeastern HighSpeed services.

  • This route is a single change.
  • The change is step-free.
  • The change involves passing the best station stop in the UK; Marks and Spencer’s large store in the Eastfield Shopping Centre, where takeaway food is well placed for passing trade.

But the change is badly signposted and could be a long walk with a heavy case.

There is probably a need for some form of people mover that connects all the platforms at Stratford station to the platforms at Stansted International station.

Conclusion

Sort it!

 

 

 

September 18, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 10 Comments