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 World has been generating electricity using fossil fuels for decades while emitting CO2 into the atmosphere. It has always been a base load power which means generating electricity 24 x7 for 365 days in a year. The name plate capacity of the plant would indicate the power generation capacity. For example, a name plate capacity of 100 MW means, it is capable of generating 100 Mw electricity in an hour or 2400 Mwh in a day or 720,000 Mwh in a year working 300 days/yr. With global warming and changing climate there is a sudden awareness about the warming potential of CO2 emission and the necessity to eliminate such an emission. If we have to continue to generate electricity the way we had been doing in the past but without any CO2 emission then there is only one option; that is to recycle CO2 again in the form of a fuel (not necessarily a solid fuel) but a gaseous fuel in the form of RSMG (renewable synthetic methane gas). CEWT has been developing this circular technology known as CRT (Carbon recycling technology) for the past few years. That means it can open up a new method of electricity generation using a fossil fuel such as coal or gas using conventional equipment such as steam or gas turbine to generate a base load power, yet, with zero emission. This is precisely the technology the world needs right now. It is opening up a new possibility  of using conventional fuel, existing infrastructure and yet capable of generating a base load power with zero emission. How wonderful is that? CRT uses Carbon that is already existing in air and sea which has accumulated over these years since the industrial revolution and a renewable Hydrogen (green hydrogen) to synthesise RSMG (renewable synthetic methane gas). This proposal uses CO2 extracted from the sea using special type of membrane using a desalination technique that allows to recover CO2 economically in a pure form. The process allows recovery of both CO2 as well as Hydrogen (green) from seawater simultaneously. It also generates pure Oxygen as a by-product for further Oxy combustion of natural gas.

Both CO2 and Hydrogen recovered above can be used to synthesise RSMG using a proprietary system using proprietary catalyst. The system generates not only RSMG but also excess heat from exothermic reaction which can be used to generate additional power using conventional steam turbine. RSMG can be used as fuel substituting natural gas using super critical CO2 gas turbine to generate electricity 24 x 7 as we had been doing for decades. The flue gas is separated into water and pure CO2 by condensation while CO2 is recycled to RSMG reactor thereby completing the cycle with net zero CO2 emission. The same process can be used to generate a base load power using even coal by simply gasifying coal with pure Oxygen generating Syngas and running a gas turbine with syngas instead of RSMG. However the resulting flue gas has got only water and CO2 which can be separated as before and CO2 is recycled into the system to synthesise RSMG and the cycle completes. It is a perfect example of a circular economy the world needs right now. The advantage of this technology is the fossil fuel can be completely eliminated by simply recycling the Carbon derived either from the sea or from the coal Indefinitely using renewable Hydrogen. Even water used in the system is completely recovered and recycled with zero emissions and zero liquid discharge. CEWT is willing to license the technology to all potential customers all over the world. All you need is a site on the seashore with good sunshine and wind and we will show case the technology generating a base load power with zero emission and with zero fossil fuel!

Countries still heavily depending upon coal as a primary source of fuel such as China,India, South Africa,Indonesia and others can use the above technology by retrofitting the above system and substituting coal with RSMG and eliminate coal completely! These countries can continue their base load electricity generation using Carbon negative fuel RSMG substituting coal in the same plant.This will allow those countries to generate their own fuel directly from seawater instead of depending on imported fuels. The above technology will allow seawater to absorb more CO2 from the atmosphere reducing CO2 in the atmosphere.It is a win situation for all the stake holders and the environment! when the world is desperately looking for a lasting solution. It is absolutely clear from the above, fossil fuels and zero emissions are completely two different issues depending upon the source of Carbon and Hydrogen. If you know the ‘art’, one can generate a base load power with zero emissions even by using coal and even without burying CO2 as suggested in CCS or CCUS methods.

In my personal opinion, CRT is the only technology that can comprehensively address all the problems of global warming and climate change that is being debated in COP 26 meetings. Yet none of the companies have offered this solution because it will stop the usage of fossil fuel for good. After all, Greta Thunberg may be right in calling COP26 is just blah blah blah.

RSMG substitutes natural gas in the above scheme
I thank all my LinkedIn followers of my blog http://www.clean-energy-water-tech.com which has now exceeded 19 million.

Poll results and the discussions: A recent poll conducted in Linkedin and the results discussed as follows:

1.According to the poll recently conducted 73% of people said, “decarbonization” means to reduce Carbon emission. How to reduce CO2 emission when every time we switch our lights on or start our car engine CO2 is automatically emitted? It is possible only when the electricity we use (lights or Electric car) have zero or substantially reduced carbon footprint. Each individual house can have roof top solar panel with storage battery just for their consumption so that they can achieve zero carbon footprint. Alternatively small house holds (hundreds to thousands) can collectively install fully automated micro grids for their power generation and distribution network using solar and wind with battery storage and not to export or import from the centralized grid meant for large power generators for industrial applications. They can also have their own gas network (mixture of 80% natural gas + 20% renewable Hydrogen) for individual CHP applications. The centralized grid should have a zero emission or substantially reduced Carbon emission highlighted in the following paragraphs.

2. Zero percent people said Carbon should be substituted entirely by Hydrogen. The top 10 GHG emitting countries can use either EV or Fuel cell vehicles or a combination of these two for transport applications provided the electricity supply have a zero or substantially reduced Carbon footprint. For power and heating/cooling requirements individual houses can install their own CHP units using gas network (a mixture of 80% natural gas + 20% renewable hydrogen). Fuel cell cars can use renewable Hydrogen generated using PV solar/ wind turbine.

3. 13% of the people voted for adding Hydrogen to carbon. A distributed power system using syngas (a mixture of CO and Hydrogen) as a fuel to generate electricity and district heating and cooling using waste heat can be installed. The resulting CO2 emission along with water vapor can be captured and recycled in the form of syngas using PEM or SOFC electrolyzers.

4. 13% of the people voted for Carbon to disappear. I guess they prefer Carbon capture and use or storage (CCUS) or Carbon capture and sequester deep underground. This technology is yet to be proven commercially on large scale especially by power plants using coal. But “making carbon disappear” is impossible because it violates the fundamental law of physics (matter can neither be created or destroyed). It can be stored temporarily deep underground, but I question the technical feasibility and economic viability of such a scheme. Coal has been used for power generation due to its cheap availability and cheap cost of power generation despite a low electrical efficiency at 32%. But CO2 content in the flue gas is only around 11% and recovery of CO2, compression, long distance transportation and sequestration may substantially increase the cost of CO2 disposal making electricity very expensive. It will be simply unviable.

Top 10 GHG (greenhouse gases) emitters in the world

(Source: World resources institute)

The top three GHG emitters- China, EU and USA contribute 41.5% of the total global emissions while the bottom 100 countries account for only 3.6%. Collectively the top 10 emitters account for over two third of the global GHG emissions according to WRI.

Chart, sunburst chart

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Summary of Life cycle GHG emission intensity (Source: World nuclear association report) 

Technology  Mean  Low  High  
tones CO2e/GWh  
Lignite  1,054  790  1,372  
Coal  888  756  1,310  
Oil  733  547  935  
Natural Gas  499  362  891  
Solar PV  85  13  731  
Biomass  45  10  101  
Nuclear  29  2  130  
Hydroelectric  26  2  237  
Wind  26  6  124  

About 84% % of the world’s energy in the year 2020 was met only by fossil fuels according to Forbes based on BP’s annual review.  Therefore, CO2 emission reduction should be targeted mainly by power generation and transportation industries two major users of fossil fuels.

Various methods of using fossil fuels for power generation and their CO2 emissions are shown below assuming Oxy combustion and gasification are used.

Fuel                  Process                      Reaction               CO2 emission by wt. percentage 

  1. Coal           combustion              C + O2 => CO2           100% 
  • Coal            Gasification        2C + H2O + O2 => CO +H2 +CO2.       97.30% 
  • Natural gas  Combustion        CH4 + 2O2 => CO2 + 2H2O              52 % 
  • Diesel   Combustion     C13H28 + 20 O2 => 13 CO2 + 14 H2O.     69.4 % 

——————————————————————————————————-  

Note: 

THE OXIDANTS USED IN ALL THE ABOVE PROCESSES ARE PURE OXYGEN AND NOT AIR

(Air oxidation will show low CO2 emission by weight percentage due to large portion of Oxides of Nitrogen, Nitrogen and excess oxygen present in the flue gas)

1.By simply closing all coal operations and switching over to natural gas for power generation the CO2 emission can be reduced by 48% compared to coal and by 17.4 % compared to Diesel.  It is critical top 10 emitters of GHG emission should close all their coal fired power plants by 2022 or impose Carbon tax at the rate of $250/Mt to force such closures. CCS or CCUS can be allowed by coal fired power plants provided such technologies are commercially proven and verifiable. Otherwise, Carbon penalty should apply retrospectively.

2 All gas fired power plants can use either natural gas or Syngas (H2 +CO mix) using Oxy combustion to generate power and achieve an electrical efficiency of at least 65% by bottom cycling with sCO2 power cycle using waste heat or 85% using CHP application. Synthetic natural gas (SNG) can substitute natural gas (fossil origin) by using DIC dissolved inorganic in the form of CO2 recovered from seawater and renewable Hydrogen so that SNG will be Carbon negative. Alternatively, CO2 recovered directly from air can be used to synthesize SNG using renewable hydrogen. Carbon pricing will encourage such Carbon negative fuels.  Fuels synthesized from captured CO2 from natural gas fired power plants and hydrogen should be treated as “Carbon neutral’ till 2022 and it should attract carbon tax beyond 2022.

3.Oxy combustion closed super critical CO2 power cycle using natural gas is to be encouraged by enabling pipeline CO2 to be recycled in the form of renewable synthetic methane gas (RSMG) using renewable Hydrogen thus achieving zero emission. It should be confined to individual location and RSMG should not be allowed to be exported but recycled within the premises.

4.CO2 emissions by transport can be reduced by 17.8% by substituting diesel vehicles with CNG by countries other than the top 10 emitters. Top emitting countries can use Fuel cell using renewable Hydrogen banning IC engine using fossil fuels or allow Electric vehicles with Fuel Cell extenders.

5. Deployment of largescale renewables such as solar and wind as well as biomass technologies substituting coal fired power plants will be the key. However renewable energy is only intermittent and will require large scale battery for energy storage. Even battery production emits 150-200 kgs of CO2 per kwh based on the energy consumption @97-181 kwh per kwh battery production (Nearly 200 times more CO2 emission than coal fired power plants). Therefore, utility scale batteries should be justified. Therefore, Bioenergy can play a major role in countries like Australia, African countries, Indonesia, India and Brazil in decarbonization especially biocrude can be converted into renewable synthetic fuels as Carbon neutral fuels.

6. Renewable energy such as solar and wind can be stored in the form of syngas by electrolysis of CO2 emissions from Oxy combustion of natural gas or by gasification of coal as shown above. Low temperature electrolysis using PEM or high temperature electrolysis using SOFC (solid oxide fuel cell) can convert CO2 into syngas. Both the processes have been already demonstrated. Syngas can be stored under pressure, and it can be used as a fuel for a continuous production electricity using Oxy combustion such as sCO2 Brayton cycle and recycling CO2 in the form of Syngas.

CO2 + H2O => H2 + CO (by electrolysis using PEM or SOFC)

7.Using Oxy combustion of natural gas in closed super critical CO2 Bryton power cycle and recycling CO2 internally in the form of RSMG using renewable Hydrogen, ZERO EMISSION base load power can be achieved. The advantage of this system it requires natural gas only for the start-up and it can generate RSMG internally using renewable Hydrogen. It can generate baseload power with zero emissions. And the electrical efficiency of such as system can be up to 65%. It runs completely using only renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Water electrolysis using PEM or Alkaline Electrolyzer have been commercially proven.

It does not require any energy storage at all. The power can be directly exported to the centralized grid as well as imported from the grid for hydrogen generation. 

By adopting CRT (Carbon recycling technology) outlined above it is possible to achieve zero emissions by power plants and supply power to all industries including transport industries. 

By the introduction of Electric vehicles and Fuel cell vehicles replacing petrol/diesel vehicles the electricity demand will sharply increase in some countries which will proportionately increase GHG emissions. CRT can eliminate GHG emissions as shown above.

The best option is to generate base load electricity with zero GHG emissions using CRT using sCO2 power cycle and recycling CO2 in the form of RSMG and converting waste heat into electricity by bottom cycling using sCO2 power cycle thus increasing the electrical efficiency to more than 70-75%. Advanced bioenergy to convert biomass directly into biomethane can play a major role in decarbonization. It will require massive plantation of high CO2 absorbing short life plant varieties all over the world but unlikely to happen.

Implementation of the above technologies will require massive amount of water especially for renewable hydrogen and for biomass production and gasification and the major source will be the sea. Advancement in seawater desalination such as high recovery, low energy consumption, better concentrate management by recovering value added chemicals and minerals and substituting solar salt by high purity brine directly from seawater desalination will be required, achieving zero liquid discharge in SWRO plants will be critical to eliminate global warming by highly concentrated effluent discharge. All SWRO plants should use only renewable energy sources sch as solar and wind or Hydro.

The above suggestions are purely based on the author’s assessment based on his personal experience in the industry for the past 40 years.

It is estimated about 2000 billion tons of anthropogenic CO2 has been emitted and absorbed by both air and sea since the industrial revolution. Therefore, it is clear there is no need to source anymore Carbon from coal, oil, and gas. This basic fact is of paramount importance in solving the emission problem moving forward to a cleaner future. Any fossil fuel-based Carbon should be penalized with Carbon tax to avoid past mistakes of Carbon emissions. This is precisely what the Carbon Recycling Technology known as Ramana Power cycle (RPC) is based on, a technology developed and patented in Australia. It generates a Carbon negative renewable synthetic fuel known as RSMG (renewable synthetic methane gas) using Carbon dioxide and renewable Hydrogen both extracted from the sea. The process extracts not only Carbon dioxide and Hydrogen from seawater, but also pure Oxygen required for combustion along with de-ionized water for steam and condensers. The process uses only sun and seawater to solve one of the toughest problems of global warming and climate change humanity has ever faced. There can be no better technology than RPC that can solve not only global warming and climate change but also guarantees sustainable base load power generation with zero emissions!

The advantage of this process it uses existing power generation technology such as Allan-Fetvedt cycle using supercritical CO2 gas turbine in closed cycle mode. The only difference is it uses RSMG a renewable fuel instead of natural gas and Oxygen from seawater not from the air using ASU. About 99% of CO2 emitted from this power cycle is captured and converted into RSMG internally for recycling and the process continues to generate a baseload power (24 x 7) with Zero emission.

RPC thus solves the problem of CO2 emission, global warming, and climate change without using any fossil fuel and without any emissions at all. There is no need for energy storage like a huge stack of batteries for few hours of storage at an enormous cost. We can set up such baseload power plants at various parts of the world to cater to hundreds of homes, businesses, Cars (both electric and Hydrogen) and to continuous (24 x 7) process industries such as Steel, Aluminum and Caustic soda, etc

The above Zero-emission power plant can also be installed using LNG at the site as a start-up fuel and subsequently substituted with RSMG. The entire plant will be operated using only renewable energy and locally available water source in the absence of seawater. CRT offers the highest electrical efficiency of 65% of LHV of RSMG and above (more than that of the fuel cell) thus offering the lowest Levelized cost of power. An interesting fact about RSMG is it is an ideal fuel for Space X of Elon Musk with highest heating value, with no CO2 or Sulfur compounds and it is a Carbon negative fuel and it is RENEWABLE. CRT will be the first power plant to achieve a circular economy in a true sense setting an example for future energy projects.

CRT will be the first power plant to achieve a circular economy in a true sense setting an example for future energy projects.The biggest advantage of CRT is it does not require CO2 capturing for every cycle because the same CO2 is being recycled indefinitely (except for a make-up of any losses). In my personal opinion all other technologies such as CCS (carbon capture and storage) and CCUS (carbon capture, utilization and storage) will not be the real solution. They are being promoted only for one purpose, namely to keep the existing and operating fossil fuel based plants running till end of their life. Otherwise it will serve no real purpose because there is no concrete use for CO2 on a larger scale. Products made out of captured CO2 will eventually emit CO2 back into the atmosphere at the point of application. It will only help to shift CO2 emissions from one place to another place and eventually into the atmosphere.

The above process can be readily demonstrated on a pilot scale to validate the concept for further commercialization and technology licensing.

# Zero emissions # Renewable Hydrogen # Carbon recyclingReport this

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Status is onlineAhilan RamanPrincipal Consultant at Clean Energy and Water TechnologiesPublished • 2w19 articlesLikeCommentShare

The above process can be readily demonstrated on a pilot scale to validate the concept for further commercialization and technology licensing.

 

RPC is a newly developed patent (pending) technology from Australia to generate a base load power (24 x 7) using Renewable Hydrogen and CO2 with Zero emission,

The process discloses a method and system to generate CO2 from seawater along with Hydrogen using any renewable energy source to produce synthetic methane gas known as renewable synthetic methane  gas (RSMG) to generate a base load power. The CO2 can be from various sources apart from sea such as power plants using fossil fuel, steel, cement, coke oven gas, or any syngas generated from various known methods from various sources such as steam methane reformer etc. The process can use any Oxy-combustion CO2 power cycle such as CES, Graz cycle, Allam cycle (using super critical CO2 as a working fluid) or a conventional combined cycle power plant using air combustion to generate a base load power 24 x 7 with ZERO EMISSIONS. The cost of power is estimated to be competitive even in the absence of Carbon pricing or Carbon tax. Needless to mention the unit cost of power can be further reduced by using Carbon pricing or Carbon tax. It is up to individual governments to introduce such a mechanism in order to deploy RPC on a larger scale.

The advantage with the system is it can generate electric power from RSMG with the highest electrical efficiency up to 70% while achieving Zero emissions. It effectively solves the global warming and climate changes problems using existing technologies and infrastructure without a need to develop a new power technology from scratch.

It can be retrofitted with any existing and operating fossil fuel-based power plant OR any large-scale renewable energy plant. It does not require storage batteries or any energy storing devices. The minimum viable capacity starts with 100 Mw and can be scaled up to 500 Mw and beyond and power can be exported to the grid directly through a substation. Optionally the process requires only sun and sea (ocean is the largest reservoir of Carbon, Hydrogen and heat to generate a base load power along with potable water with Zero Carbon emission and achieves circular economy).

Fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas have helped transformed our power and transport industries for decades till now. But recent geo-political situations, depleting fossil sources and Carbon pollution, global warming and climate change have raised serious questions about the future of fossil fuels. However, countries who have massively invested in fossil fuel infrastructure and who have been heavily relying on supply of fossil fuels have started realizing an inescapable truth that they are running out of time to find an alternative to fossil fuels. Recently Hydrogen has been suggested as an alternative source of energy and many countries are gearing up to promote Hydrogen on a massive scale. The countries who have been traditionally using fossil fuels are now focussing on generating hydrogen from fossil fuels as an easier option. But the basic problem with this approach is they still depend on fossil fuels which means they still contribute to Carbon emission and climate change. They can conveniently dispute or deny the fact that man-made Carbon emissions cause global warming in order to score political points among the ‘gullible public’. Democracy is all about numbers and as along as these number stack up the political parties will take advantage of the system and try to push their agenda. But all these efforts are only short term and they still cannot escape the truth that man made Carbon emission is transforming our world for the worst and the future looks bleak.

However, there is a silver lining in the dark clouds of global warming and climate change in the form of renewable Hydrogen. It is now possible to generate Hydrogen using renewable energy sources such as Hydro, solar, wind, geothermal and OTEC (ocean thermal energy conversion systems) that can used not only decarbonize our present economy and also has the capacity to transform future energy and to a cleaner and more sustainable environment. It is now possible to achieve a circular economy in energy sector which means the CO2 emission from existing and operating power plants using fossil fuels can be reversed using renewable Hydrogen so that one can continue to generate power but with Zero Carbon emission. This is a huge transformation.

However, the usage of fossil fuels will continue in other industries such as petrochemicals, polymers and additives, and other synthetic materials. But one can take advantage of using renewable Hydrogen even in such industries using Green Chemistry initiatives so that they can become more sustainable.

However Renewable Hydrogen is a currently very expensive though it is generated from abundantly available natural resources such as sun, wind and water because PV solar panels are made from high purity silicon material again made from simple sand. We cannot afford to take natural resources lightly because they are precious commodities. With limited usage of renewable energy at current levels the cost of PV solar panels is still very expensive but likely to come down as we deploy more and more solar panels in the future. We should also be careful how we use renewable Hydrogen. Our first and foremost usage of renewable Hydrogen should be to decarbonize the fossil economy and achieve a circular economy. It means we must convert CO2 emissions into renewable natural gas (RNG) suing renewable Hydrogen so that the Carbon can be recycled indefinitely with Zero Carbon emission while power plants using fossil fuels can continue to generate a base load power. By this way we will be able to address two issue namely meeting the rising energy demand at a cheaper price while eliminating global warming and climate change. All other use of renewable hydrogen such as Hydrogen vehicles for transportation using fuel cell etc will be secondary because they are not our priority. If we can generate a base load power (24 x7) using renewable Hydrogen with zero Carbon emission, then that should be our focus whether we believe it climate science or not. This will also help us conserve fossil fuels that may be rarely used to meet certain critical needs while substantially reducing the carbon emission.

Renewable hydrogen will require massive deployment of renewable energy projects all over the world. One can generate renewable energy and use it directly for domestic or commercial use. But they are intermittent and require large scale energy storage. Moreover, all HT transmission lines are old and designed for transmitting base load power. Such an approach will not help decarbonizing fossil economy currently widely used. That is why renewable Hydrogen will have to play a key role in the future energy mix. Renewable hydrogen can be used as a fuel for transport industries using fuel cell and Japan is leading the way in this field. But such an application has along way to go and it requires massive investment and creation of infrastructure by way of filling stations. Countries like Japan do not have vast land area for solar industries, and they are likely to use cheap nuclear power and sea water to generate large scale hydrogen infrastructure. By this way they can supply power to both hydrogen as well as electric (battery) vehicles. Alternatively, they are looking to import liquified hydrogen (LH2) from countries like Australia who are ready to use cheap brown coal to generate Hydrogen by gasification despite CO2 emissions. Currently Australian government is not very keen about cutting CO2 emissions, but they are keen to encourage LH2 from cheap coal. They have already approved a pilot plant in the state of Victoria and only future can tell whether such a decision is prudent or not. Japanese companies may prefer to invest in Australia to generate and export clean liquid hydrogen leaving behind all emissions including CO2 in Australia. They may generate LH2 from natural gas and export it to Japan, but it may not be acceptable by Japanese companies because it has a potential to poison the Platinum catalyst used in their Fuel cell cars. In fact, Australia has an enormous potential to generate renewable hydrogen and then use it locally as well as to export. This will be more sustainable in the long run.Toyota mirai layoutToyota mirai power supplyToyota miraiCO2 cloud

CRT Carbon Recycling Technology known as “Ramana Cycle” is a new patented concept and system that addresses current problems faced by energy industries with a single solution.

Current problems:

1.Renewable energy is only a fraction of total energy generated world-wide. Fossil fuel especially natural gas in the cleanest and most widely accepted fuel for base load power generation. However, it emits CO2 a greenhouse gas causing climate change.

  1. Electric and Fuel cell cars can eliminate Carbon emission from our roads, but it will dramatically increase the electricity requirement which cannot be met by renewable energy sources alone. Eventually the electricity demand will have to be met by fossil fuels which will sharply increase CO2 emissions in a short span of time thus exacerbating global warming.

3.Grid connected renewable energy has many problems due to intermittent nature of renewable energy such as synchronicity, electronic interface with HT lines, metering etc. There is at least 22% loss while transmitting renewable energy into the grid creating dispatchability issues. Power is transmitted 24 x 7 on HT lines.

Solution:

CRT addresses all the above issue with a single solution as described below.

CRT synthesizes a synthetic fuel CH4, a Hydrocarbon known as SNG (synthetic natural gas) using Carbon from CO2 emissions of gas based power plants and renewable Hydrogen generated using renewable energy sources such as Hydro/solar/wind /biomass/geothermal etc. Once SNG is generated then it can substitute natural gas currently used in power generation. It means one can generate their own SNG and need not depend on oil and gas industries and use conventional gas turbine and generate base load power and transmit using existing transmission lines. This power can be used by electric as well by Fuel cell cars. There will be a net Zero Carbon emission. Additionally the system can supply Hydrogen to Fuel cell cars as an option.

CRT can be implemented using existing systems supplied by internationally known companies with proven technologies and systems. There are absolutely no commercial risks whatsoever. These systems can be deployed immediately, and they are commercial ready.

Each plant is designed specifically based on the capacity, location and purpose. This technology is the first of its kind in the world and it can end the Carbon emission from power plants as well as from automobile industry for good. CRT flow diagram

 

 

 

 

 

Brine dischage in Gulfchemical usage in desalinationDesal capacityDesalination capacity in the worldsalinity levels in Gulf regionwater cycle

Water and energy are two critical issues that will decide the future of humanity on the planet earth. They determine the security of a nation and that is why there is an increasing competition among nations to achieve self-sufficiency in fresh water and clean energy. But these issues are global issues and we need collective global solutions. In a globalised world the carbon emission of one nation or the effluent discharged into the sea from a desalination plant changes the climate of the planet and affects the entire humanity. It is not just a problem of one nation but a problem of the world. The rich and powerful nations should not pollute the earth, air and sea indiscriminately, hoping to achieve self-sufficiency for themselves at the cost of other nations.  It is very short-sighted policy. Such policies are doomed to fail over a time. Next generation will pay the price for such policies. Industrialised countries and oil rich countries should spend their resources on research and development than on weapons and invent new and creative solutions to address some of the global problems such as energy and water. With increasing population and industrialisation the demand for energy and water is increasing exponentially. But the resources are finite. It is essential that we conserve them, use them efficiently and recycle them wherever possible so that humanity can survive with dignity and in peace. It is possible only by innovation that follows ‘Nature’s path.

The earth’s climate is changing rapidly with unpredictable consequences .Many of us are witnessing  for the first time in our lives unusual weather patterns such as  draughts, flash flooding,  unprecedented   snow falls, bush fires, disease and deaths. Although we consider them as natural phenomena there is an increasing intensity and frequency that tells us a different story. They are human induced and we human beings cause these unprecedented events. When scientists point out human beings cause the globe to warm there were scepticism. We never believed we were capable of changing the entire weather system of the globe.

We underestimate our actions. By simply discharging effluent from our desalination plants into the sea, can we change the salinity of the ocean or by burning coal can we change the climate of the world? The answer is “Yes” according to science. Small and incremental pollution we cause to our air and water in everyday life have dramatic effects because we disturb the equilibrium of the Nature. In order to restore the equilibrium, Nature is forced to act by changing the climate whether we like it or not.

Nature always maintains“equilibrium” that maintains perfect balance and harmony in the world. If any slight changes are made in the equilibrium by human beings then Nature will make sure such changes are countered by a corresponding change that will restore the equilibrium. This is a natural phenomenon. The changes we cause may be small or incremental but the cumulative effect of such changes spanning hundreds of years will affect the equilibrium dramatically.

We depend on fossil fuels for our energy needs. These fossils were buried by Nature millions of years ago. But we dig deep into the earth, bring them to surface and use them to generate power, run our cars and heat our homes. Our appetite for fossil fuels increased exponentially as our population grew. We emitted Carbon into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels for hundreds of years without many consequences. But the emissions have reached a limit that causes a shift in Nature’s equilibrium and Nature will certainly act to counter this shift and the consequences are changes in our weather system that we are now witnessing. The only way to curtail further Carbon emission into the atmosphere is to capture the current Carbon emissions and convert them into a fuel so that we can recycle them for further power generations without adding fresh fossil fuel into the system while meeting our energy demands.

We can convert Carbon emissions into a synthetic natural gas (SNG) by using Hydrogen derived from water. That is why I always believe ‘Water and energy are two sides of the same coin’. But cost of Hydrogen generation from water will be high and that is the price we will have to pay to compensate the changing climate. Sooner we do better will be the outcome for the world.

In other word the cost of energy will certainly go up whether we price the Carbon by way of trading or impose Carbon tax or pay incentives for renewable energy or spend several billions of dollars for an innovative technology. There is no short cut. This is the reality of the situation. It will be very difficult for politicians to sell this concept to the public especially during election times but they will have no choice.

Similarly serious shortage for fresh water in many parts of the world will force nations to desalinate seawater to meet their growing demand. Saudi Arabia one of the largest producers of desalinated water in the world is still planning for the highest capacity of 600,000m3/day. This plant will discharge almost 600,000 m3/day of effluent back into the sea with more than double the salinity of seawater. Over a time the salinity of seawater in the Gulf region has increased to almost 40% higher than it was a decade ago. What it means is their recovery of fresh water by desalination will decrease or their energy requirement will further increase. Any increase in salinity will further increase the fossil fuel consumption (which they have in plenty) will increase the Carbon emission. It is a vicious cycle and the entire world will have to pay the price for such consequences. Small island nations in pacific will bear the brunt of such consequences by inundation of seawater or they will simply disappear into the vast ocean. Recent study by NASA has clearly demonstrated the relationship between the increasing salinity of seawater and the climate change.

According to Amber Jenkins Global Climate Change Jet Propulsion Laboratory:

“We know that average sea levels have risen over the past century, and that global warming is to blame. But what is climate change doing to the saltness, or salinity, of our oceans? This is an important question because big shifts in salinity could be a warning that more severe droughts and floods are on their way, or even that global warming is speeding up...

Now, new research coming out of the United Kingdom (U.K.) suggests that the amount of salt in seawater is varying in direct response to man-made climate change.  Working with colleagues to sift through data collected over the past 50 years, Peter Stott, head of climate monitoring and attribution at the Met Office in Exeter, England, studied whether or not human-induced climate change could be responsible for rises in salinity that have been recorded in the subtropical regions of the Atlantic Ocean, areas at latitudes immediately north and south of Earth’s tropics. By comparing the data to climate models that correct for naturally occurring salinity variations in the ocean, Stott has found that man-made global warming — over and above any possible natural sources of global warming, such as carbon dioxide given off by volcanoes or increases in the heat output of the sun — may be responsible for making parts of the North Atlantic Ocean more salty.

Salinity levels are important for two reasons. First, along with temperature, they directly affect seawater density (salty water is denser than freshwater) and therefore the circulation of ocean currents from the tropics to the poles. These currents control how heat is carried within the oceans and ultimately regulate the world’s climate. Second, sea surface salinity is intimately linked to Earth’s overall water cycle and to how much freshwater leaves and enters the oceans through evaporation and precipitation. Measuring salinity is one way to probe the water cycle in greater detail.”

It is absolutely clear that the way we generate power from fossil fuels and the water we generate from desalination of seawater  cannot be continued as business as usual but requires an innovation. New technologies to generate power without emitting Carbon into the atmosphere and generating fresh water from seawater without dumping the highly saline effluent back into the sea will decide the future of our planet. Discharge of concentrated brine into sea will wipe out the entire fish population in the region. The consequences are dire. Oil rich countries should spend their riches on Research and Developments to find innovative ways of desalinating seawater instead of investing massively on decades old technologies and changing the chemistry of the ocean and the climate forever.

 

PV solar is expanding as a potential renewable energy source for each house, and the cost of solar panels are slowly coming down as the volume of production increases. However, the intermittent nature of solar energy is still an issue, especially for off grid and remote locations. Now solar energy is stored using lead acid batteries for such applications and inverters become part of the system. The capacity of the battery bank is designed to meet the electrical demand and to absorb the fluctuation of the energy generated by solar panels and it varies from place to place. This method stores the electrical energy generated by PV solar in the form of DC current and delivers it in the form of AC current. Though this method is the simplest one for remote locations, storing solar power in the form of Hydrogen is more economical and environmentally friendly in the long run.

Solar energy can directly be used to generate Hydrogen using solid polymer electrolyzers and stored in cyclinders.The stored Hydrogen can then be used to fuel a stationary Fuel cell to generate power on site. One can design a system by integrating various components in such a way; the Hydrogen generated by solar energy is used to generate power on site as and when required. By this method one can generate required power throughout the day 24×7 irrespective of the availability of sun. The system integration involves various components supplied by various manufacturers with various specifications and the success of a system depends on the careful design using data acquired over a time on a specific location.

Many winds to Hydrogen projects also have been tested in locations around the world.NREL (National renewable energy laboratory, USA) has conducted number of tests by integrating various components such as PV solar and wind turbines with Electrolyzers (both PEM electroylzers and alkaline electrolyzers) and Hydrogen IC engines for remote power generation as well as for fuelling vehicles with Hydrogen. Though the cost of this system is still expensive, such integration offers enormous potential as a clean energy source for remote locations without any grid power. When one takes into account the fluctuating oil prices, cost of global warming, cost of power transmissions and losses during long distance power transmission from fossil fuel power plants, Renewable Hydrogen offers the best and sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. Such a system offers complete independence, energy security, reliability and fixed power tariff.

System integration of renewable energy sources for Hydrogen production and on site power generation using Fuel cell or Hydrogen engine is the key to a successful deployment of solar and wind energy for rural electrification and to remote islands. Such system will offer greater return on investment even to supply power to the grid based on power purchase agreements with Government and private companies. Renewable Hydrogen is the only practical solution for clean power of the future and sooner we embrace this integrated solution better for a cleaner future. Government and private companies investing on oil and gas explorations can focus their attention in developing renewable Hydrogen based solutions so that the cost of Hydrogen can become competitive to fossil fuel. Once the cost of Hydrogen reaches parity with cost of fossil fuel then, it will set the beginning of a green revolution in clean energy.

Nature has a wonderful way of capturing Carbon and recycling it through a process called ‘carbon cycle’ for millions of years. The greenhouse gases in the atmosphere were restricted  within certain limits when it was left to Nature. But when human being started burning fossil fuels to generate power or to run cars, the GHG emission surpassed the limit beyond a point where global warming became an issue. The GHG level has increased to 392 ppm level for the first in our long history. Many Governments and companies are exploring various ways and means to reduce greenhouse emissions to avoid global warming. Some Governments are imposing taxes on carbon emission in order to reduce or discourage such emissions. Others are offering incentives to promote alternative energy sources such as wind and solar. Some companies are trying to capture Carbon emission for sequestration.

While we try to capture Carbon and store them underground, there are many potential commercial opportunities to recycle them. This means the Carbon emission is captured and converted into a commercial fuel such as Gasoline or Diesel or Methane so that future sources of fossil fuels are not burnt anymore. But this is possible only by using ‘Renewable Hydrogen’. Hydrogen is the key  to reduce carbon emission by binding carbon molecules with Hydrogen molecule, similar to what Nature does.

When NASA plans to send a man to Mars they have to overcome certain basic issues. Mars has an atmosphere with 95% Carbon dioxide, 3% Nitrogen, 1.6% Argon and traces of oxygen, water and methane.Nasa is planning to use Carbon dioxide to generate Methane gas to be used as a fuel and also generate water by using the following reaction.

CO2 + 4H2—–CH4 + 2 H2O

2H2O——-2H2 + O2

The water is electrolyzed to split water into Hydrogen and Oxygen using solar power. The resulting Hydrogen is reacted with Carbon dioxide from Mars to generate Methane gas and water using a solid catalyst. This methanation reaction is exothermic and self sustaining. How this can be achieved practically in Mars in those conditions are not discussed here. But this is a classical example on how the Carbon emission can be tackled to our advantages, without increasing the emissions into the atmosphere. There are several methods available to convert Carbon emission in to valuable products including gasoline. The  reaction of the methane with water vapor will result in Methanol.

2H2 + CO——– CH3OH

On Dehydration, 2CH3OH —– CH3COCH3 + H2O.Further dehydration with ZSM-5 Catalyst gives Gasoline 80% C5+ Hydrocarbon. Gas to liquid by Fischer-tropic reaction is a known process.

Carbon dioxide is also a potential refrigerant to substitute CFC refrigerants that causes Ozone depletion. Carbon recycling is a temporary solution to mitigate Greenhouse gas emission till Hydrogen becomes an affordable fuel of the future. It depends upon individual Governments and their policies to make Hydrogen affordable. Technologies are available and only a political will and leadership can make Hydrogen a reality.

We live in a carbon constrained world where carbon emission is considered as the biggest challenge of the twenty-first century. We unearthed fossil fuel which Nature buried for millions of years and burnt them for our advantage to generate power and to run our cars. Scientist pointed out that the unabated emission of greenhouse will cause the globe to warm with dire consequences. However this came as an ‘inconvenient truth’ to industries and Governments around the world. The economic consequences of stopping fossil fuels weighted more than the global warming. Governments were in a precarious situation and unable to take a concrete policy decision. Popular Governments were not willing to risk their power by taking ethical decisions and opted for popular decision to keep up their growth. Then the financial crisis became an issue, which has nothing to do with greenhouse emission or global warming. Yet, the economic and industrial growth stumbled in many developed countries and unemployment skyrocketed. Governments are caught in a situation where they need to take a balanced view between an ethical decision and economic decisison.The overwhelming evidence of global warming and their consequences are slowly felt by countries around the world by natural disasters of various sizes and intensities.

Some scientist suggested that there is nothing wrong using fossil fuels; we can continue with greenhouse emission without risking the economic growth by  capturing  the carbon emission and burying  them underground. Carbon sequestration and clean coal technologies became popular and more funds were allocated to them than renewable energy development.Countires like India and China are not in a hurry to discontinue fossil fuels but continue to make massive investments on coal-fired power plants. They neither tried to capture carbon nor bury them, but continue to emit carbon claiming that it is their turn of economic growth and right to emit carbon emission. The chief of UN panel on climate change headed by an Indian has no sayin the matter.Politicians push scientists into the background when the truth is inconvenient to them.

How feasible in the carbon sequestration technology and what is the cost? Even if we can come up with a successful technology of capturing carbon and burying them underground, there will be a cost involved. This cost will invariably be passed on to the consumer which  will  eventually increase the cost of energy. Constraining carbon emission without incurring a cost can only be a dream. Capturing carbon emission is nothing new; Carbon dioxide is absorbed by solvents like MEA (Monoethanolamine) in many chemical industries. The absorbed carbon dioxide can be stripped free of solvent and the solvent can be recycled. This carbon dioxide can be treated with Ammonia to get Urea, a Fertilizer. But the source of Hydrogen can come only from renewable energy sources. That is why ‘Renewable Hydrogen ‘is the key to solve global warming problem. We can produce Urea from “captured Carbon” and ‘Renewable Hydrogen’ so that we can cut a real quantity of greenhouse emission. Carbon recycling is a sustainable solution than Carbon capturing and burying. Countries like India who depend upon import of Urea for their agriculture production should immediately make Carbon recycling into Urea production mandatory. It is a win situation for everybody in the world.

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