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Old 04-07-2016, 04:44 AM   #1 (permalink)
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If EVs are in fact burning coal... better do it right!

Researchers at MIT claim that electricity can be generated from coal with twice the efficiency of current plants, using a combination of coal gasification and fuel cells:

http://news.mit.edu/2016/hybrid-system-could-cut-coal-plant-emissions-half-0404

Quote:
This illustration depicts a possible configuration for the combined system proposed by MIT researchers. At the bottom, steam (pink arrows) passes through pulverized coal, releasing gaseous fuel (red arrows) made up of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. This fuel goes into a solid oxide fuel cell (disks near top), where it reacts with oxygen from the air (blue arrows) to produce electricity (loop at right).

Illustration: Jeffrey Hanna
Quote:
First, the coal is pulverized to a powder ... The heat leads to chemical reactions that release gases from the coal particles — mainly carbon monoxide and hydrogen, both of which can produce electricity in a solid oxide fuel cell.
...
In the fuel cell, a membrane separates the carbon monoxide and hydrogen from the oxygen, promoting an electrochemical reaction that generates electricity without burning the fuel.
Because there is no burning involved, the system produces less ash and other air pollutants than would be generated by combustion. It does produce carbon dioxide, but this is in a pure, uncontaminated stream and not mixed with air as in a conventional coal-burning plant. That would make it much easier to ... eliminate or drastically reduce the greenhouse gas emissions.
...
Conventional coal-burning power plants typically have very low efficiency; only 30 percent of the energy contained in the fuel is actually converted to electricity. In comparison, the proposed combined gasification and fuel cell system could achieve efficiencies as high as 55 to 60 percent, Ong says, according to the simulations.

The next step would be to build a small, pilot-scale plant to measure the performance of the hybrid system in real-world conditions, Ong says. Because the individual component technologies are all well developed, a full-scale operational system could plausibly be built within a few years, she says.
“This system requires no new technologies” that need more time to develop, she says. “It’s just a matter of coupling these existing technologies together well.”
Generating electricity in a clean and efficient manner while the CO2 can easily be captured.
Coal could supply our electricity for centuries to come without the negative side effects of traditionally burned fossil fuels.
If this works out it would be a game changer.

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Old 04-07-2016, 10:22 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Hope it works out. Likely to be expensive...

While it would reduce a lot of the "tailpipe emission" problems, it would do nothing to prevent the supply side problems, like mountain top removal, damaging groundwater and those sorts of issues.
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Old 04-07-2016, 10:31 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Seems interesting and like the concept. If I were smarter I'd have more to say about it so for now I'm just intrigued in the idea of cleaner power from coal. I understand the collection of the CO2 but question what they plan to do with it once it's collected? Will gas companies buy it from the power companies to compress into smaller cylinders for sale to the public? Is there a commercial use for CO2 that I'm not aware of that could make the power company money by selling this byproduct?
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Old 04-07-2016, 11:44 AM   #4 (permalink)
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CO2 can be used in a variety of chemical processes, to boost plant growth in greenhouses, or it could be dumped in abandoned gas fields.

We have huge gas fields in Groningen which are slowly depleting; the reduced pressure is causing earthquakes and landfalls. Pumping excess CO2 into those could stop all that and possibly help extract the last bits of methane, as well as reduce emissions.

Some kinds of fuel and plastics can be made from CO2 if it gets cheap enough.
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Old 04-07-2016, 12:02 PM   #5 (permalink)
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We can't burn fossil fuels, if we want to survive. Do this with biochar, and we're good.
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Old 04-07-2016, 02:38 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spacemanspif View Post
Is there a commercial use for CO2 that I'm not aware of that could make the power company money by selling this byproduct?
Carbonated soft drinks and indoor-grown cannabis rely heavily on that COČ
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Old 04-07-2016, 04:35 PM   #7 (permalink)
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CO2 can also be injected into declining oil wells to drive the oil off the rock much more effectively than injecting water.
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Old 04-08-2016, 01:36 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Restoring our grasslands with their flora and fauna would be HUGE carbon sink - and with ALL of the world's grasslands restored, that could lower the carbon dioxide to ~350ppm in about a decade. That would be great!

Biochar is another way to get the carbon into the soil - where it becomes a huge benefit; rather than a huge problem.
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Old 04-08-2016, 04:50 PM   #9 (permalink)
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You said biochar twice. You must like biochar.

It's worth mentioning that Cool Planet jump into the middle of the biochar production (re)cycle and use a bio-reactor to produce 100-octane gas-o-line.

I agree with solarguy. Where does the embedded uranium go?
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Old 04-08-2016, 07:17 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I like the biochar for what it is, but in the current situation the world is burning coal in quite large amounts and the MIT project could change that.
Dirty coal to clean coal + using less of it for the same power + capturing carbon dioxide in addition to biochar would cover most of our electricity needs.

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Investors woes:
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"In hindsight, I should have bet more on that horse"
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