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The Gung Ho approach to Fossil Fuels

 
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Cycloloco



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
Posts: 192
Location: London, UK.

PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2007 4:31 am    Post subject: The Gung Ho approach to Fossil Fuels Reply with quote

Before posting this message I searched for the name Klaus Lackner on Powerswitch and couldn't find it. There are lots of records for this man on Google including at least one on the Oil Drum.
nyc.theoildrum.com/story/2006/9/12/122230/624
His work is also found by searching New Scientist, Scientific American or Science.

On Weds Dec 5th 2007 there was a joint meeting of the Royal Society of Chemistry, Institute of Physics and Institute of Biology, at the Royal Society's premises in London. Admin was done by the IoP and the meeting was described as a seminar. I haven't found a report but there was a press release:
http://www.iop.org/News/news_27037.html

The subject was Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) with three speakers. First was a geologist, Peter Styles, who suggested possible sites for CCS and its combined operation with coal gasification. Extra methane released from the coal would be collected as a fuel. Second was a biologist/ecologist, Carol Turley, who is concerned to stop acidification of the oceans and possibly use marine photosynthetic organisms to fix carbon. Third was Klaus Lackner who has a hand in lots of things.

Lackner is an American connected to the big coal producers and supporting the use of coal for energy production. There was no mention of peak oil but there was an acceptance that the earth is a finite size with finite fossil reserves so coal would be the primary fuel for 100-200 years. No one queried the reserve figures.

Lackner takes a strictly practical view that people will want to continue to live and work as now with liquid fuels for vehicles so he supports the Fischer-Tropsch process for making liquid fuels. He also assumes we will use all other carbon fuels including methane from coal mines and methane clathrates.

Because Lackner accepts the need to stop global warming he supports CCS by two main methods. One is to bury CO2 if sites are available including in unworkable coal seams where CO2 displaces methane which can be captured and used as fuel. For areas where there are no sites for CCS Lackner supports turning silicate rocks into carbonate rocks and silica in order to immobilise the carbon. If energy is needed to complete any process then he would use surplus heat from power stations and not more fuel. The power stations would naturally be using CCS.

For motor vehicles and other small users of fossil fuels capturing the effluent CO2 is impractical so Lackner and others have devised a method of capturing CO2 from the atmosphere by simply passing air over alkalis to absorb CO2 and later regenerating the alkali by surplus heat from a power station. The regenerated CO2 would be sequestered as for any other bulk CO2. He estimates about 250,000 of these units round the whole world would slowly lower atmospheric CO2. The cost could be covered by adding 25 US cents to the price of a US gallon of petrol (across the whole world).

Using more methane as fuel would probably put more methane into the atmosphere by accident but Lackner wasn't bothered about that although it is a greenhouse gas. The long-term prognosis for methane is to be oxidised to CO2 with a lifetime of 9 years in the upper atmosphere. As long as we can reduce atmospheric CO2 Lackner isn't bothered.

There were no serious objections to any of this work at the meeting and Lackner has had these ideas in print for a few years. It looks like a package that would be attractive to the "business as usual" supporters and I expect coal mining groups to take these ideas forward.
...............

My view is that coal reserves and resources are in dispute and we need to debunk the reserves figure if possible. For example no one at the meeting mentioned the German report in early 2007 of coal reserves and resources being revised downwards for nearly all countries. Apart from that I don't see any way of debunking the general approach of Lackner if there is surplus coal and methane clathrates can be used slowly etc. If atmospheric CO2 can be lowered then I expect support to grow for this.
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kenneal - lagger
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Joined: 20 Sep 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 4:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Albert Bartlett has got the coal reserves down to about 40 years assuming an exponential growth rate in replacing oil and the losses in the F-T process
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RGR
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Joined: 07 Dec 2007
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Location: Rocky Mountains, USA

PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2008 2:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kenneal wrote:
Albert Bartlett has got the coal reserves down to about 40 years assuming an exponential growth rate in replacing oil and the losses in the F-T process


Last edited by RGR on Thu Oct 22, 2009 11:15 pm; edited 1 time in total
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kenneal - lagger
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Joined: 20 Sep 2006
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Location: Newbury, Berkshire

PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2008 5:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RGR wrote:
kenneal wrote:
Albert Bartlett has got the coal reserves down to about 40 years assuming an exponential growth rate in replacing oil and the losses in the F-T process


Apply Albert Bartletts equations to American growth in wind power and we won't need any coal at all by 2030 or so.

So...do we believe him when he says we're toast, or do we believe him when his work says we're saved?


I don't think Bartlett is contradicting himself. He is saying, I think, if we rely on coal we are toast but if we use wind and other renewables and stop exponential growth we could be OK. In his opinion it is the growth which is the killer in any scenario.
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