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Tag Archives: Global warming and climate change

The classical example of “Entropy” which manifest itself as a waste heat and inefficiency is also an irreversible reality. Current electricity production technologies heavily depend on converting thermal energy into an electrical energy which also guarantees generation of huge amount of waste heat. It is not just the emission of greenhouse gases (GHG) and waste heat that goes along with it but also bulk of the waste heat dissipated by way of convection and radiation into the environment since the time of industrial revolution has contributed to global warming. About 59.40% of thermal energy generated so far has entered the atmosphere. For example, US consumes about 105 EJ (Exa joules) each year out of which 62EJ enters the atmosphere as a waste heat. Successfully harnessing this waste heat will be a valuable contribution in solving global warming problem. The solution for global warming and climate change lies in harnessing the available Carbon from the atmosphere and the sea but also the waste heat from the atmosphere and the sea. About 90% of heat dissipated since industrial revolution has been absorbed by the sea. Total amount of fossil fuels consumed worldwide since industrial revolution is estimated at nearly 140,000 TWH (Tera watt hours).  1 TWH is equivalent to 3.44 x 10 12 Btu. The reality is we had been heating up the atmosphere for more than 200 years by waste heat.This dissipated heat has accelerated global warming and further exacerbated by GHG (greenhouse gas) effect caused by CO2 and water vapour and triggered the change in climate worldwide. According to Flanner 2009, the contribution of waste heat to the global warming is 0.028W/m2. In contrast, the contribution from greenhouse gases is 2.9W/m2 (IPCC AR 4 Section 2.1). Waste heat is about 1% of greenhouse warming.The heat dissipated and absorbed by the sea has been distributed across the globe by ocean currents. Increasing seawater salinity caused by evaporation and concentrate discharge from seawater desalination plants world wide and cooling water from thermal power plants have retained bulk of the heat and distributed across the oceans thus elevating seawater temperature. Such warming ocean in addition to warming atmosphere have contributed to melting glaciers in the poles. Oceans are acting as a sink for both heat as well as carbon thereby acidifying the seawater. The pH value has been reduced from 8.2 before industrial revolution to 8.00 at current level which may not look like a big difference, but it has absorbed billions of tons of CO2 to cause the above reduction in pH value. In natural systems such as atmosphere and the oceans a slight variation will have a huge impact due it is vastness in area. Normal human body temperature is about 36.9 C but an increase of 1.5 C (101.12F) will cause hospitalisation. Natural world is very sensitive even to minor changes and that is why human activity has to be restricted and not to cause imbalance to the natural systems. In other words ”Entropy” is an integral part of the natural world and any irreversibility caused by  human beings will lead to unsustainability. For example burning fossil fuel is an irreversible chemical reaction which invariably lead to unsustainability. It is not only about the sustainability but also the economic viability that will determine the future of energy industry. It is a low efficiency technology that is currently predominant in electricity generation.The key is the maximum utilisation of thermal energy released by combustion of fossil fuel but also recycling released Carbon in a closed system using CRT (Carbon recycling technology) which can achieve zero emissions.

Generating electricity using fossil fuel is a well-established technology, that has been practiced over several decades all over the world, despite its low efficiency. But this technology inherited certain disadvantages even before it was commercialized such as post combustion emissions, large amount of waste heat, and water intensity. Millions of people died of Carbon pollution over decades. Large scale usage of water both inland and on shore power stations created shortage of drinking water in many parts of the world resulting in desalination technologies creating its own environmental issues. Large scale mining of coal and unsustainable exploitation of oil and gas both on shore and off shore caused enormous environmental pollution. However, such emissions were completely ignored while the world celebrated the discovery of electro-magnetism, steam engine and petrochemicals. Millions of people were employed, and industries grew worldwide. Energy became synonymous with security of a nation. Population grew exponentially. However, we have reached a point in the history of mankind and all great discoveries once acclaimed as human achievements have started a new painful chapter of warming globe and changing climate for new generations to deal with. It is a great challenge of our time, but new generation can take this challenge and convert them into opportunities. The past lessons can show them a new clean and sustainable pathway while dealing with ever increasing population growth.

The challenge for the new generation is to curtail and eliminate Carbon pollution completely while meeting the energy demand in a time bound manner because we are running out of time. Currently renewable energy generation is too low to meet these challenges within the time frame to avert disastrous consequences scientists predict. Renewable Hydrogen is a potential substitute for fossil fuel to eliminate Carbon pollution but that will not solve our current problem soon because renewable energy generation is too small and too slow while our energy demand is huge. Battery technology is only a storage technology and without a base load power generation all other forms of technologies will not meet our current challenges. I am not discounting the potential of renewable energy and its critical role in the future energy mix but that alone will not solve the current crisis. Hydrogen is a weak and unstable atom and it requires a backbone such as Carbon. That is why Hydrogen do not exist in a free state in Nature, but it exists in the form of water or natural gas. Therefore, it is only logical to convert renewable hydrogen into renewable natural gas so that it can be used as a fuel as we have been using for decades. It does not require to create a special type of infrastructure such as required for Hydrogen or any storage technologies.

Our focus should be to achieve Zero Carbon emission in the shortest time scale possible while generating a base load power of 24 x7 using a renewable energy source. It looks like a daunting task but, it is not too big a challenge to overcome. In fact, the technologies are already available, and we are almost there to achieve the above, but governments should understand the challenge and its gravity and extend all the support it requires. Government around the world should implement the following with great urgency to achieve the above objectives.

1.Tax Carbon with immediate effect and minimum tax should be $500/ Mt of CO2 emitted. It should be centrally monitored by government agencies with appropriate technology implementations.

  1. Encourage Oxy combustion technologies for coal, oil and gas-based power plants with incentives to eliminate emissions pollution and reduce the cost of Carbon capture.
  2. Encourage large scale deployment of super critical Carbon dioxide power generation technologies with liberal grants and low interest loans for research and development of super critical CO2 technologies using Brayton cycle using fossil fuels with Zero Carbon emission.

4.Encourage large scale deployment of SNG plants using CO2 and renewable Hydrogen.

By using the above steps all fossil fuel-based power plants existing and operating can be converted and continue to generate base load power 24 x7 with Zero Carbon Emission within a time frame. Simultaneously it will generate large scale renewable hydrogen and renewable synthetic natural gas which can generate base load power with Zero Carbon emission. Such Zero emission power plants can then power all electric and fuel cell cars and eliminate Carbon pollution completely from our roads. The above implementation will create millions of jobs worldwide!

The greatest advantage of these technologies is to recycle Carbon indefinitely while generating power using renewable natural gas with Zero Carbon emission and fresh fossil fuel usage will be gradually eliminated from our planet earth.

 

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