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Biofuels from smokestack gas.

 
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skeptik



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
Posts: 2969
Location: Costa Geriatrica, Spain

PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2006 10:52 pm    Post subject: Biofuels from smokestack gas. Reply with quote

Take the smokestack gas from a fossil fuel electricity generating plant. bubble through algae and water (obviously not quite that simple!) . Result - up to 40% reduction in CO2 content and 86% reduction in NOx in the exhaust gas, plus biodiesel and ethanol

news report
http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/2006-01-10-algae-powerplants_x.htm

"GreenFuel has already garnered $11 million in venture capital funding and is conducting a field trial at a 1,000 megawatt power plant owned by a major southwestern power company. Next year, GreenFuel expects two to seven more such demo projects scaling up to a full production system by 2009."

Greenfuel Technologies Corporation web site. "Waste not. Profit more."
http://www.greenfuelonline.com/
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mikepepler
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Joined: 24 Nov 2005
Posts: 2906
Location: Rye, UK

PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2006 8:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice idea, but here's the problem:
Quote:
A prototype is capable of handling 140 cubic meters of flue gas per minute, an amount equal to the exhaust from 50 cars or a 3-megawatt power plant, Greenshift said in a statement.

For his part, Berzin calculates that just one 1,000 megawatt power plant using his system could produce more than 40 million gallons of biodiesel and 50 million gallons of ethanol a year. That would require a 2,000-acre "farm" of algae-filled tubes near the power plant. There are nearly 1,000 power plants nationwide with enough space nearby for a few hundred to a few thousand acres to grow algae and make a good profit, he says.

The nearest coal station to me is Didcot A, with an output of 2GW. There is no space for a 4000 acre algae farm next to it. Just to put the volume of gas into perspective, the Didcot A smokestack has 4 flues in it, which are several metres wide (I've not climbed up to measure them!), and when I visited, they told us that the flue gases leave the top of the chimney at 60mph! This algae scheme sounds like a nice idea, but I think it would be difficult to build on a suitable scale, and it would also sap some energy from what the power station produces.

Also, from the CO2 point of view, if you turn the flue gases into biofuels and put them through a car, they still get to the atmosphere in the end anyway. You've just displaced some oil use - so allowing our destructive lifestyle to struggle on a little longer when the post-peak oil shortages start to bite.

Now if you could use this on a small scale, say with the flue gas from your wood-chip fuelled home heating, and spread the algae directly on your vegetable garden, then it might be more interesting...
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