The Anonymous Widower

What is Mineral Carbonation And How Could It Transform The Building Industry?

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Natural carbonates have been prime building materials for centuries, but synthetic carbonates are a modern, robust building material, created via mineral carbonation.

The article is a must-read introduction to this fascinating Australian technology, which could be very important in combating climate change.

There is also an explanatory video, which is worth a watch.

January 21, 2022 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

What Happens When The Wind Doesn’t Blow?

In Future Offshore Wind Power Capacity In The UK, I analysed future offshore wind power development in the waters around the UK and came to this conclusion.

It looks like we’ll be able to reap the wind. And possibly 50 GW of it! 

The unpredictable nature of wind and solar power means that it needs to be backed up with storage or some other method.

In The Power Of Solar With A Large Battery, I describe how a Highview Power CRYObattery with a capacity of 500 MWh is used to back up a large solar power station in the Atacama desert in Chile.

But to backup 50 GW is going to need a lot of energy storage.

The largest energy storage system in the UK is Electric Mountain or Dinorwig power station in Wales.

  • It has an output of 1.8 GW, which means that we’d need up to nearly thirty Electric Mountains to replace the 50 GW.
  • It has a storage capacity of 9.1 GWh, so at 1.8 GW, it can provide that output for five hours.
  • To make matters worse, Electric Mountain cost £425 million in 1974, which would be over £4 billion today, if you could fine a place to build one.

But it is not as bad as it looks.

  • Battery technology is improving all the time and so is the modelling of power networks.
  • We are now seeing large numbers of lithium-ion batteries being added to the UK power network to improve the quality of the network.
  • The first Highview Power CRYObattery with an output of 50 MW and a capacity of 250 MWh is being built at Carrington in Manchester.
  • If this full size trial is successful, I could see dozens of CRYOBatteries being installed at weak points in the UK power network.
  • Other battery technology is being developed, that might be suitable for application in the UK.

Put this all together and I suspect that it will be possible to cover on days where the wind doesn’t blow.

But it certainly will need a lot of energy storage.

Gas-Fired Power Stations As A Back Up To Renewable Power

Last summer when the wind didn’t blow, gas-fired power stations were started up to fill the gap in the electricity needed.

Gas-fired power-stations normally use gas turbines similar to those used in airliners, which have a very fast startup response, so power can be increased quickly.

If you look at the specification of proposed gas-fired power stations like Keadby2, they have two features not found in current stations.

  • The ability to be fitted in the future with carbon-capture technology.
  • The ability to be fuelled by hydrogen.

Both features would allow a gas-fired power-station to generate power in a zero-carbon mode.

Carbon Capture And Storage

I am not in favour of Carbon Capture And Storage, as I believe Carbon Capture and Use is much better and increasingly engineers, researchers and technologists are finding ways of using carbon-dioxide.

  • Feeding to tomatoes, salad vegetables, soft fruits and flowers in greenhouses.
  • Producing meat substitutes like Quorn.
  • Producing sustainable aviation fuel.
  • An Australian company called Mineral Decarbonation International can convert carbon dioxide into building products like blocks and plasterboard.

This list will grow.

Using or storing the carbon-dioxide produced from a gas-fired power station running on natural gas, will allow the fuel to be used, as a backup, when the wind isn’t blowing.

Use Of Hydrogen

Hydrogen will have the following core uses in the future.

  • Steelmaking
  • Smelting of metal ores like copper and zinc
  • As a chemical feedstock
  • Natural gas replacement in the mains.
  • Transport

Note that the first four uses could need large quantities of hydrogen, so they would probably need an extensive storage system, so that all users had good access to the hydrogen.

If we assume that the hydrogen is green and probably produced by electrolysis, the obvious place to store it would be in a redundant gas field that is convenient. Hence my belief of placing the electrolyser offshore on perhaps a redundant gas platform.

If there is high hydrogen availability, then using a gas-fired power-station running on hydrogen, is an ideal way to make up the shortfall in power caused by the low wind.

Conclusion

Batteries and gas-fired power stations can handle the shortfall in power.

January 2, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , | 21 Comments

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

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

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

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 of-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

Energy Minister Angus Taylor Launches $50 million Fund For Carbon Capture Projects

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

The federal government has launched a $50 million fund to support the growth of carbon capture projects, which will include projects that reuse carbon dioxide emissions to make new products.

The launch of the Carbon Capture, Use and Storage fund was in Newcastle at the pilot site for Mineral Carbonisation International (MCI).

The company is using carbon dioxide (CO2) captured from a nearby ammonia plant to make building products like plasterboard and cement.

This sounds like a good idea to me!

They have a web site, which contains this YouTube video.

This could be a novel solution to decarbonisation.

March 2, 2021 Posted by | World | , , , , , , | Leave a comment