The Anonymous Widower

Rolls-Royce Lists Sites For New Reactor

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on The Times.

The headline is a bit misleading, as the site is for a factory to build the reactors.

These paragraphs list the sites.

Rolls-Royce, the engineering company, has shortlisted six sites for a factory that will build its proposed small nuclear reactors.

The constituency of Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, in Richmond, North Yorkshire, is among the locations, which have been whittled down from more than 100 proposals.

The other sites are Sunderland, Deeside in Wales, Ferrybridge in West Yorkshire, Stallingborough in Lincolnshire, and Carlisle.

As Rishi Sunak resigned last night, does that rule out Richmond?

I feel that Rolls-Royce will choose this location with care, as any good company would.

I have a few thoughts.

Will Rolls-Royce Go For Zero-Carbon Manufacture?

If you intend to build large numbers of small modular nuclear reactors, it is not a good idea from a marketing or public relations point of view to release tonnes of carbon in their manufacture.

This page on the Rolls-Royce web site has a title of Destination Net Zero, where this is said.

We have already pledged to reduce emissions from our own operations to net zero by 2030, and to play a leading role in enabling the sectors in which we operate to reach net zero by 2050. Now, we are now laying out our technology pathway and setting clear short-term targets to show how we will achieve those goals.

I am sure Rolls-Royce will go for zero-carbon manufacture.

This will probably mean the site will need to have access to the following.

  • Renewable electricity from wind, solar or hydro.
  • Hydrogen
  • Zero-carbon steel, copper and other raw materials

An external supply of hydrogen may well be the least important, as they recently purchased a German electrolyser developer and manufacturer, that I wrote about in Rolls-Royce To Develop mtu Hydrogen Electrolyser And Invest In Hoeller Electrolyser.

Will The Factory Have A Rail Connection?

A rail connection could have four main purposes.

  • Bringing in raw materials like steel.
  • Delivering manufactured components to site.
  • If the factory is a major source of employment, rail is the greenest way to bring in staff from further away.
  • If large shipments are brought in and delivered by zero-carbon rail, it generally doesn’t annoy the locals.

Note.

  1. The huge Britishvolt gigafactory at Blyth will have a rail connection for the transport of lithium and finished batteries.
  2. Transport of nuclear fuel and waste around the UK is generally done by train, with perhaps the last few miles by truck.

I think it will be very unlikely, that the new factory will not have a rail connection.

Will Power Station Modules Be Transportable By Rail?

Given that in the UK, there will need to be a railhead at or near the power station for fuel and waste, I believe that if modules were transportable by rail, this could give big advantages to the roll-out of the reactors.

If a former Magnox nuclear site like Bradwell is to be home to a fleet of small modular reactors, the electrified railhead is already in place at Southminster station.

The crane and the track probably need a bit of a refurbishment, but overall, it looks in reasonable condition.

If you sell nuclear as zero-carbon, rail is the easiest way to ensure zero-carbon delivery of modules.

The standard loading gauge in the UK is W10, which is 2.9 metres high and 2.5 metres wide.

  • A standard twenty-foot container is six metres long, which must help.
  • W10 gauge allows the transport of standard Hi-Cube shipping containers, which are 9 ft 6 in. high, on flat rail wagons.
  • If the modules can fit into Hi-Cube shipping containers, this would make transport easier everywhere, as all ports and railways can handle these containers.

Would it be possible to fit all components into this relatively small space?

It could be difficult, but I suspect it is possible to achieve, as it would make the reactors easier to sell.

  • Sites would only need to be able to receive Hi-Cube shipping containers.
  • These could be trucked in from a nearby railhead.
  • Containers on a railway are a very secure way of transporting goods.
  • Rolls-Royce has masses of experience in shipping large turbofan engines in standard shipping containers. Some are shipped in very carefully controlled air conditions to minimise damage.
  • Hi-Cube shipping containers can go through the Channel Tunnel.

I am fairly sure, that Rolls-Royce are designing the power station, so that it fits into a number of Hi-Cube shipping containers. It would give other advantages.

  • Smaller components would probably speed up assembly.
  • Smaller components may also mean that smaller cranes could be used for assembly.

There may need to be some gauge enhancement to be able to access some sites in the UK.

  • This article on Rail Engineer, is entitled Showing Your Gauge, and it details how gauge is being enhanced to W10 and W12 in the UK.
  • Network Rail have also published a map, which shows where W10 gauge is possible. Click here to view.

I am fairly certain, that most railways in the world can handle Hi-Cube shipping containers.

Availability Of Staff

Rolls-Royce will obviously opt for a place, where there is good availability of staff.

Conclusion

I feel that any of the sites mentioned could be the ideal place for the factory.

If I had to have a bet, I’d put it the factory at Stallingborough in Lincolnshire.

  • It is close to the Zero Carbon Humber energy and hydrogen hub.
  • There is plenty of space.
  • There is a rail connection.
  • It is close to the Port of Immingham.
  • It is close to British Steel at Scunthorpe.

It is also not that far from Derby by road or rail.

 

 

July 6, 2022 Posted by | Energy | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Drax To Pilot More Pioneering New Carbon Capture Technology

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from Drax.

This is the first paragraph.

Renewable energy pioneer Drax has partnered with the University of Nottingham and Promethean Particles to trial a pioneering new bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) process at its North Yorkshire power station.

Normally, carbon capture from the flue gas of a power station uses a liquid solvent, which dissolves the carbon dioxide.

However, the process that Drax are trialling, uses porous compounds called metal–organic frameworks (MOFs) to absorb the carbon dioxide.

This page on the Promethean Particles web site described how their carbon-capture works.

Traditional solvent-based carbon capture systems require a significant amount of energy to regenerate the carbon-capturing material. In power generation applications, estimates put this energy penalty at up to 35% of the power station’s output. Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) capture carbon mainly through physical, not chemical means. This “trapping” process requires lower energy inputs to regenerate the MOFs and can therefore help achieve more energy-efficient carbon capture. By using MOF-based carbon capture, more of the power generated can go where it was intended, lowering the price of energy for consumers and CAPEX for the power generators.

Note.

  1. It is a physical rather than a chemical process.
  2. It is more energy efficient than traditional carbon-capture.

This Drax graphic from the press release, shows how this process can be incorporated into a power plant..

Note.

  1. The trial will last for two months and will be hosted within Drax’s BECCS incubation hub at its North Yorkshire Power Station.
  2. Metal Organic Frameworks are a unique class of solid sorbents offering lower operational costs and reducing potential environmental impacts.

Work to build BECCS at Drax could get underway as soon as 2024, with the creation of thousands of jobs.

Fifty years ago, I spent several months at ICI looking at the mathematics of different numbers and sizes of vessels of in a proposed chemical plant, to optimise the cost of the plant.

  • I suspect a similar analysis could be applied to this process.
  • It would surely be very suitable for Drax, whose main power station has four units fuelled by biomass and another fuelled by natural gas.
  • Are two columns containing MOF, the optimum number?
  • The calculation could involve a lot of permutations and combinations, which I’ve used to advantage for over fifty years.

I will follow this trial with interest.

Conclusion

This is another application of advanced physics and chemistry.

If Promethean Particles ever decide to go the crowdfunding route, I would look seriously at a small investment.

June 21, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Finance | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Affordable Blue Hydrogen Production

The title of this post, is the same as that of this page on the Shell Catalysts & Technologies web site.

This is said at the top of the page.

Natural gas producers are at a crossroads. They face a shifting regulatory landscape emphasising emissions reduction and an economic environment where cash preservation is critical. Shell Catalysts & Technologies offers resource holders a phased approach to diversifying their portfolios towards clean hydrogen fuels by leveraging proven and affordable capture technologies and catalysts.

My knowledge of advanced chemical catalysts is small, but I did work in the early 1970s on a project with one of ICI’s experts in the field and he told me some basics and how he believed that in the future some new catalysts would revolutionise chemical process engineering.

Wikipedia’s definition of catalysis, or the action of catalysts is as follows.

Catalysis is the process of increasing the rate of a chemical reaction by adding a substance known as a catalyst.

When I heard that Velocys were going to develop a catalyst-based system to turn household waste into sustainable aviation fuel, I did make a small investment in the company, as I thought the project could have legs.

Shell’s process takes natural gas and converts one molecule of methane (CH4) into two molecules of hydrogen (H2) and one of carbon dioxide (CO2) using one molecule of oxygen (O2) from the air.

In the Shell Blue Hydrogen Process, does a clever catalyst extract the carbon atom from the methane and combine it with two oxygen atoms to create a molecule of carbon dioxide? If it does, then this would leave the four atoms of hydrogen to form two molecules of H2 and the catalyst to go and repeat its magic on another methane molecule.

The video on the Shell site claims to do the conversion 10-25 % cheaper than current carbon intensive methods like steam reforming.

For every two molecules of hydrogen produced, both the Shell Blue Hydrogen Process and steam reforming will produce one molecule of carbon dioxide.

If you look at steam reforming it is an endothermic process, which means heat has to be added. The classic endothermic process is dissolving ice cubes in a glass of water.

Shell don’t say, but does their process need less energy to be added, because their clever catalyst does a lot of the work?

I wouldn’t be surprised if the reaction takes place in a liquid, with hydrogen and carbon dioxide bubbling out.

  • The two gases would be separated by using their different physical properties.
  • Carbon dioxide is heavier for a start.

Whatever Shell have done, it is probably pretty impressive and has probably taken many years to develop.

If as I suspect, it produces pure carbon dioxide, that would be an added bonus, as some uses of carbon dioxide wouldn’t want impurities.

Uses of pure carbon dioxide include.

  • Feeding it to soft fruits, flowers, salad vegetables and tomatoes growing in large greenhouses.
  • Dry ice.
  • Mineral Carbonation International can use carbon dioxide to make building products like blocks or plasterboard.
  • It can be added to concrete.

The more of the carbon dioxide that can be used rather than stored the better.

May 18, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Mathematics Of Blending Twenty Percent Of Hydrogen Into The UK Gas Grid

HyDeploy is a project, that is investigating blending hydrogen into the UK’s natural gas supply to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide produced by the burning of natural gas in power stations, industrial processes and in our homes and other buildings.

To find out more about the project, visit the HyDeploy web site.

This is a paragraph from this page on the HyDeploy web site, which describes the current progress of the project.

HyDeploy is progressing well. The HSE gave the go ahead for a live demonstration, at Keele University, of blended hydrogen and natural gas which began in Autumn 2019 and completed in Spring 2021. The HSE are satisfied that the blend of gas will be as safe as the gas we all currently use. The hydrogen content will be up to 20% and has so far reached 15%.

Note that HSE is the Health and Safety Executive, who are closely involved.

HyDeploy has now moved on to Phase 2 in the North East.

For our North East demonstration, we have contacted everyone who will be involved in that demonstration – more than 650 homes – and arranged for our engineers to carry out Gas Safe checks on their gas appliances and gather information on the range of appliances in the demonstration area. The Gas Safe checks were free of charge. Almost 90% of those homes have engaged with us.

What would be the effects of 20 % of hydrogen blended into natural gas?

Will current boilers, cookers and other gas-powered devices work on a blend of hydrogen and natural gas?

This is one for the scientists and it is one of the objectives of the HyDeploy trial to understand how every use of gas performs if instead of natural gas, the fuel is a mixture of eighty percent natural gas and twenty percent hydrogen.

I will assume that these problems are solvable.

I am not just hoping, but I can remember in the early 1970s, when our elderly gas cooker was successfully converted from town gas, which was typically a mixture of hydrogen (50%), methane (35%),carbon monoxide (10 %) and ethylene (5%), to natural gas, as North Sea gas started to flow.

This document from the UK government is entitled Fuels: Natural Gas, which contains a section entitled Material Properties Relevant To Use, where this is said.

Natural gas is a combustible gas that is a mixture of simple hydrocarbon compounds. It contains primarily methane, along with small amounts of ethane, butane, pentane, and propane. Natural gas does not contain carbon monoxide. The by-products of burning natural gas are primarily carbon dioxide and water vapour. Natural gas is colourless, tasteless and odourless. Because it is odourless, an odorant (80% tertiarybutyl mercaptan, 20% dimethyl sulphide) is added to the gas, to give the gas a distinctive smell. Other beneficial properties of natural gas are a high ignition temperature and a
narrow flammability range, meaning natural gas will ignite at temperatures above 593°degrees and burn at a mix of 4 – 15% volume in air (St. Lawrence Gas, 2015)

As ethane (C2H6), butane (C4H10), pentane (C5H12) and propane (C3H8) are all similar simple hydrocarbons to methane, which burn to produce carbon dioxide and water, I will assume in this analysis, that natural gas is all methane (CH4).

It is reasonable to assume, that currently we use a fuel which is equivalent to 100 % methane and that in the future we could use 80 % methane and 20 % hydrogen. Also in the past, we used to use a fuel, that was 50 % hydrogen and 35 % methane. The carbon monoxide is a poison, so I’ll ignore it, but ethylene (C2H4) is another of those simple hydrocarbons, which burn to release just carbon dioxide and water.

So if we were able to go from town to natural gas fifty years ago, by just adjusting gas equipment, surely we can go partly the other way in the Twenty-First Century.

I can certainly see the UK gas supply containing twenty percent hydrogen, but wouldn’t be surprised to see a higher level of hydrogen in the future.

How Much Hydrogen Needs To Be Added?

This page on worldodometer says this about UK gas consumption.

The United Kingdom consumes 2,795,569 million cubic feet (MMcf) of natural gas per year as of the year 2017.

I will now calculate the weight of hydrogen needed to be added.

  • 2,795,569 million cubic feet converts to 79161.69851 million cubic metres.
  • I will round that to 79161.7 million cubic metres.
  • Twenty percent is 15832.34 million cubic metres.
  • A cubic metre of hydrogen weighs 0.082 Kg, which gives that in a year 1,298.25188 million kilograms will need to be added to the UK gas supply.

This is 1,298,251.88 tonnes per year, 3,556.85 tonnes per day or 148.2 tonnes per hour.

How Much Electricity Is Needed To Create This Amount Of Hydrogen?

In Can The UK Have A Capacity To Create Five GW Of Green Hydrogen?, I said the following.

Ryze Hydrogen are building the Herne Bay electrolyser.

  • It will consume 23 MW of solar and wind power.
  • It will produce ten tonnes of hydrogen per day.

The electrolyser will consume 552 MWh to produce ten tonnes of hydrogen, so creating one tonne of hydrogen needs 55.2 MWh of electricity.

To create 148.2 tonnes per hour of hydrogen would need 8,180.64 MW of electricity or just under 8.2 GW.

How Much Carbon Dioxide Would Be Saved?

This page on the Engineering Toolbox is entitled Combustion Of Fuels – Carbon Dioxide Emission and it gives a list of how much carbon dioxide is emitted, when a fuel is burned.

For each Kg of these fuels, the following Kg of carbon dioxide will be released on combustion.

  • Methane – 2.75
  • Gasoline – 3.30
  • Kerosene – 3.00
  • Diesel – 3.15
  • Bituminous coal – 2.38
  • Lignite 1.10
  • Wood – 1.83

Engineering Toolbox seems a very useful web site.

I will now calculate how much carbon dioxide would be saved.

  • In 2017, UK methane consumption was 79161.7 million cubic metres.
  • One cubic metre of methane weighs 0.554 Kg.
  • The total weight of methane used is 43,855,581.8 tonnes.
  • Multiplying by 2.75 shows that 120,602,849.95 tonnes of carbon dioxide will be produced.

As twenty percent will be replaced by hydrogen, carbon dioxide emission savings will be 24,120,569.99 tonnes.

That seems a good saving, from a small country like the UK.

The UK would also reduce natural gas consumption by twenty percent or 15832.34 million cubic metres per year.

How many other countries with good renewable and zero-carbon electricity resources like Australia, Chile, Denmark, France, Iceland, Ireland, Jordan, Morocco, Norway, Sweden and the United States will take this route, as it seems a good way to save large amounts of carbon?

There is also the collateral benefit, that countries with a good supply of hydrogen can use hydrogen to decarbonise the heavy transport sectors of rail, road and sea freight transport.

The big winners would appear to be those companies like ITM Power, who manufacture electrolysers and those companies like Fortescue Future Industries, who are prospecting, developing and promoting the hydrogen resources of the planet.

The losers will be countries, who are reliant on importing large amounts of gas and other fossil fuels, who don’t have access to large amounts of renewable energy like geothermal, hydro, nuclear, solar and wind.

Germany’s energy policy of no nuclear, more coal and Russian gas seems to have been a mistake.

But I’m sure, if Olaf Sholz talked nicely to Boris, there is a deal to be made.

  • German utilities have already arranged to fund BP’s move into wind farms in Morecambe Bay and the North Sea.
  • Norfolk’s gas terminal at Bacton is less than three hundred miles from Germany’s new hydrogen terminal at Wilhelmshaven.

The biggest loser could be Vlad the Poisoner.

 

 

 

 

February 6, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Bill Gates Invests In Verdox’s Carbon Capture Technology

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on The Times.

This is the first paragraph.

Bill Gates has invested in a carbon capture start-up. His Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund has taken part in an $80 million fundraising for Verdox, a Massachusetts-based business whose technology aims to remove carbon dioxide directly from the air.

I have my doubts that this technology will ever be economic, especially as plant, trees and in particular rain forests, do a good job at using the carbon dioxide. Planting trees is also one of those feel-good community activities.

This last paragraph gives a few details of the process.

Verdox, which is a spinout from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, claims that its system is cheaper and more efficient. It uses a special plastic, which when charged with electricity, can extract CO2 from a mixture of gases. A change in voltage releases the CO2.

It is a process with a good pedigree, but you’ve still got to find a way to store or use the carbon dioxide.

Plants worked out how to do that eons ago.

 

February 4, 2022 Posted by | Energy | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts On The Cambo Oil Field

There is an article in The Times today which is entitled Sturgeon Faces Backlash After Shell Pulls Out Of North Sea Oilfield.

I have been following the technology of Carbon Capture and Use and some very good ideas have come forward in the last couple of years.

  • Carbon dioxide is becoming increasingly important in the growing of flowers, salad vegetables, soft fruits and tomatoes in greenhouses.
  • At COP26, Australian company, Mineral Carbonation International won an award for their process that turns carbon dioxide into building materials like blocks and plasterboard.
  • A big investment was also made recently in an Italian company, who are using the properties of liquid and gaseous carbon dioxide to store energy.
  • Carbon dioxide has for years made a good fire extinguisher, which can’t be said for some chemicals currently used.
  • I suspect that some clever chemists are working on using carbon dioxide to create sustainable aviation fuel.

If the number of ideas for the use of carbon dioxide continues to increase, I can see gas-fired power stations being built, that are also used to produce much-needed high-quality carbon dioxide.

It should also be noted, that many like me, live in houses that are unsuitable for the fitting of heat pumps at an economical cost.

So we must wait for better technology or for hydrogen to be piped into our houses.

In the meantime, we will have to rely on gas. Or freeze!

I don’t know whether Cambo will produce any gas, but if it doesn’t, I can’t see much point in developing it.

Perhaps, Shell would prefer to develop a gas field.

December 3, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Energy Dome Secures Funding, Partner For New CO2 Energy Storage Projects

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Renewables Now.

This is the first paragraph.

Energy Dome SpA announced on Tuesday that it has closed a funding round securing USD 11 million (EUR 9.7m) to finalise the construction of a demonstration 2.5-MW/4-MWh carbon dioxide (CO2) battery storage project in Sardinia and to speed up business growth.

Note.

  1. It appears that Energy Dome has weaponised carbon dioxide against climate change.
  2. Providing 2.5 MW for over an hour and a half is an impressive performance.
  3. I think this project has the style we associate with Italy and Italians.

I have found their website at energydome.com and behind their energy storage system is unusual technology.

Their web site says this about their choice of storage medium.

CO2 is the perfect fluid to store energy cost effectively in a closed thermodynamic process as it is one of the few gases that can be condensed and stored as a liquid under pressure at ambient temperature. This allows for high density energy storage without the need to go at extreme cryogenic temperatures.

That is breathtakingly simple!

The main tank for the gaseous carbon dioxide is an inflatable dome and the liquid carbon dioxide is stored in steel tanks.

A turbine -compressor moves the carbon dioxide between gaseous and liquid states storing it appropriately.

It is very impressive! And I suspect extremely affordable!

December 1, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , | 2 Comments

BP Plans To Turn Teesside Into First Green Hydrogen Hub

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article in The Times.

This is the first paragraph.

BP plans to build Britain’s biggest “green hydrogen” facility on Teesside to produce the clean fuel for use in new hydrogen-powered lorries and other transport.

Note.

The plans appear to be ambitious starting with a £100 million investment to build a 60 MW electrolyser by 2025, which would rise to as much as 500 MW by 2030.

The electrolyser will be paired with an upwards of a billion pound one gigawatt facility called H2Teesside, that will produce blue hydrogen.

I think there could be more to this than meets the eye.

Using The Carbon Dioxide Rather than Storing It!

I followed the carbon dioxide pipe from the CF fertiliser plant on Teesside using Google maps after seeing a film about it on the BBC. It goes to the Quorn factory and a massive greenhouse. I do wonder, if BP is talking to other companies, who also have a need for large quantities of good quality carbon dioxide.

One could be an Australian company, called Mineral Carbonation International, who have developed a process to convert carbon dioxide into building products like blocks and plasterboard. MCI won a prize at COP26, so could BP be looking at integrating one of these plants into their complex on Teesside?

The Electrolysers

Will BP be purchasing their electrolysers for green hydrogen from ITM Power in Sheffield?

This press release from ITM Power is entitled 12MW Electrolyser Sale.

The customer is not named, but could this be a starter kit for BP?

Alstom’s Hydrogen Aventras

In Alstom And Eversholt Rail Sign An Agreement For The UK’s First Ever Brand-New Hydrogen Train Fleet, I came to this conclusion.

This modern hydrogen train from Alstom is what is needed.

I also felt there could be three similar trains; electric, battery-electric and hydrogen, which would help operators hedge their bets on what type of traction to use.

Teesside must be one of the more likelier places where the Hydrogen Aventras will be carrying passengers.

I wrote about this possibility in Alstom Hydrogen Aventras And Teesside.

A deal between BP and Alstom would surely be in the interest of both companies.

  • Alstom would get a local hydrogen supply.
  • BP would get a first sale.
  • BP would get excellent publicity and a local demonstration of the possibilities of hydrogen.

It might even be possible to supply the hydrogen by pipeline.

November 29, 2021 Posted by | Finance, Hydrogen, World | , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Blue Hydrogen Is Not Clean Energy, Says Mining Tycoon

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on The Times.

This is the first paragraph.

Producing “blue hydrogen” from natural gas is not a clean energy source and is being wrongly promoted as one by the oil and gas industry, a billionaire mining mogul has claimed.

The mining mogul is Andrew Forrest, who is the second richest person in Australia.

I feel he is only partly right, as there are processes coming through that use a catalyst to split the hydrogen from the carbon.

But like the taxi in the picture at the top of the article with Mr. Forrest, his words are all good publicity.

Incidentally, I do believe that in a few years, we’ll have the technology to use so much carbon dioxide efficiently, that we may see gas-fired power stations used to create both energy and carbon dioxide.

November 6, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mineral Carbonation International Win COP26 Clean Energy Pitch Battle

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Gasworld.

I have been following Australian company; Mineral Carbonation International for a few months and I am glad to see their technology, which turns carbon dioxide into bulk solid materials like building blocks and plasterboard, has now been recognised at a high level.

This is a screen capture of their home page.

The company certainly has a dream!

Read the website.

I believe that it is technology like this that will help to save the world from climate change.

I am glad that the great and good at COP26 are thinking along the same lines as myself!

November 4, 2021 Posted by | World | , , , , , , | Leave a comment