As you can tell, I have been very busy lately. I still have been lurking the same blogs and reading the comment threads so my time isn’t quite reduced to zero. Recently, an article came out regarding some Ohio State researchers who claimed to have invented a process to burn coal and emit no CO2. You don’t need to have a lot of chemical engineering chops to be skeptical of a process like that but I was interested enough to investigate it. Articles with headlines like this were common so it sounded like real progress toward retarding the global warming aspect of the pending progressive economic suicide:
DOE-SUPPORTED PROJECT ADVANCES CLEAN COAL, CARBON CAPTURE TECHNOLOGY OHIO STATE RESEARCHERS SHOW VIABILITY OF ADVANCED CHEMICAL LOOPING PROCESS
Of course every every news source I found made the fundamental assumption that CO2 emission (plant food) is actually hurting something. Plenty of readers here agree with that premise, however I don’t see any evidence for that claim. The mere fact that CO2 can alter climate, does not preclude the possibility that the climate for our existence can improve. This is beside the point though, a true zero emission technology is hard to argue against in our feelings-are-equal-to-logic world, and if it gets people moving in the right economic direction, I’m on board too.
But we deal with facts here, especially when they are not pleasant to read. Here is a link to an excellent and complete explanation of the process. It is described as follows:
Note that the resulting process on the bottom line looks very similar to the old fashioned process of actually burning coal in a fire pit. In fact, it is exactly the same, so it leaves one wondering just what “scheme” these people have invented.
This rather convoluted process has at least two advantages. It produces a pure stream of carbon dioxide that’s easy to capture and ready to be stored underground. And the burning of iron in air also takes place at lower temperatures that don’t produce nitrogen oxide.
So what we have is a process which uses Iron oxide (rust) to transport oxygen to pulverized coal. The Iron is then re-rusted with air, to recycle the material and burn more coal. The process happens slower than simply pumping air through coal so the material burns slower and the scientists separate the CO2 from the water rather than dropping it all into the sky. In a nutshell, rather than some great technological leap forward, the process is a convoluted way to transport the oxygen to burning coal. I can’t find anything of revolutionary properties that cannot already be achieved with other technologies. Separating gasses from the H20 in the emission stream of a standard coal plant and compressing it into a tank, is not technologically challenging. The emission fraction of CO2 from a standard coal plant is already 99ish percent and if you are putting the Co2 gas into a tank, why not put all of it except the water into it? Other technologies already produce a more pure CO2 stream than most coal plants (if that is actually important) and do it at a high temperature more standard process.
One would think this would be a near non-story but this isn’t a world where logic trumps sensationalism. There was plenty of money spent on it though.
The government has invested over 3 million and coal/oil companies have invested hundreds of thousands, and both of these groups have direct knowledge that the project cannot actually be successful because it doesn’t address what to do with the carbon dioxide. Worse, the reduced efficiency to capture, grind and separate the CO2, it actually produces MORE CO2 per watt than standard coal plants. I suppose that since there aren’t any good alternatives for investing green money, they have to dump the cash somewhere. It is really too bad that the givernment is stealing it from me in huge wads first, because I could have actually done something with that cash.
You would think that the project would stop there until we had a place to actually put the CO2. The scientists have shown the capability to burn stuff this way but we have nowhere to put the stupid compressed CO2 gas. That isn’t how the left
thinks feels. Instead, our glorious economic superiors are “investing” confiscated money toward actually implementing powerplants with this technology.
In a related advance, Illinois is actually building a carbon capture plant which uses purified oxygen, and apparently puts the CO2 into the ground where in the long run, we won’t actually know what happens to it.
It is unfortunate that we have to look to Hollywood for an explanation of anything, but South Park probably has the most apt description of these particular “clean burning” zero emission technologies: