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An improved and less confusing data table combining the 2017, 2018, and 2019 WEO reports.

Looking at the table in this post, which I plan to use for reference, whether it is of much interest to others or not, I realized that the table was confusing, especially with respect to biomass, where the trends were not clear.

As noted in the post itself, in 2019, the IEA decided to break biomass into two sections, "solid biomass," the combustion of wind and straw, defined as "Solid biomass includes its traditional use in three-stone fires and in improved cookstoves" and "modern bioenergy" which is presumably mostly biologically derived ethanol and biodiesel from plant oils and fats.

In this updated table, I have summed "solid biomass" and "modern bioenergy" and deducted the total from the 2000 and 2017 figures to show the change in biomass use. Overall, the use of "renewable" biomass has declined slightly between 2017 and 2018, probably because of the improvement in meeting the UN's "human development goals," that is, in reducing poverty.

I have also combined changes and totals, all in units of exajoules or in "percent talk" in a single table. If it proves difficult to read, enlarge the view on the browser. Although it is a graphics object, it should be readable.

The new table is this one:

I apologize to any interested readers for any confusion.

Have a nice day.

Material Flow Analysis from Origin to Evolution

The paper I'll discuss in this post is this one: Material Flow Analysis from Origin to Evolution (Thomas E. Graedel, Environ. Sci. Technol. 2019, 53, 21, 12188-12196).

The author is a pioneer in the field of "Industrial Ecology." His biography, included in the paper, bears repeating:

Professor Graedel joined Yale University in 1997 after 27 years at AT&T Bell Laboratories and is currently Professor Emeritus of Industrial Ecology at Yale. One of the founders of the field of industrial ecology, he coauthored the first textbook in that specialty and has lectured widely on industrial ecology’s implementation and implications. His characterizations of the cycles of industrially used metals have explored aspects of resource availability, potential environmental impacts, opportunities for recycling and reuse, materials criticality, and resources policy. He was the inaugural President of the International Society for Industrial Ecology from 2002-2004 and winner of the 2007 ISIE Society Prize for excellence in industrial ecology research. He has served three terms on the United Nations International Resource Panel, and was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering in 2002.

Here's his picture:


He looks like a nice guy. Looks can be deceiving, but I'd expect given his focus on humanity, that he is a nice guy, and were he a creep, he would still be important to humanity.

Any effort to address environmental issues on a planetary scale, most notably but not limited to climate change, that does not consider this topic, industrial ecology, is bereft of any intellectual respectability and represents pure garbage thinking.


Here is a picture of a 55 square mile (144 sq. km) wind farm, Walney Extension wind farm, off the coast of England:

Here is a blurb about this wind farm from National Public Radio:

Standing in the Irish Sea, the turbines make up the new Walney Extension, a project led by Danish energy company Orsted. It officially went into service on Thursday, producing 659 megawatts of power — topping the 600 megawatts of a standard coal plant, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.

A 55-Square-Mile Wind Farm Is Now Operating Off England's Shore

This statement is effectively meaningless, since as is typical of the Trump scale lies associated with destroying the future with unwarranted faith in so called "Renewable Energy," it confuses energy and power. It does not matter how much power this 55 square mile monstrosity produces when the wind is blowing. What matters is for how long and when the wind blows. The full description by NPR also includes the misleading and frankly stupid unit of energy that appears in the media, the unit "homes."

Each of its 87 turbines stands more than twice as tall as the entire Statue of Liberty. Together, they generate enough electricity to power nearly 600,000 homes, in what's being called the largest offshore wind farm in the world, off the coast of northwestern England.

This sentence - regrettably it rears its head in all kinds of news stories about so called "renewable energy" - shows that you cannot get a job as a journalist if you have passed a college level science course.

Here is a picture of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant in San Luis Obispo in California, California's last operating nuclear plant:

Each of the twin reactors on the site is capable of producing 1100 MWe of electricity. In 2018, the two reactors combined, in two small buildings, produced, according to the California Energy Commission's Website, in units of energy, GWh (93.0 PetaJoules) of energy. This represented 9.38% of California's in state electricity production, produced in two small buildings. Thus the average continuous power, which is a unit of energy divided by the number of seconds in a year, was 2084 MW, meaning that the power from the plant, it's capacity utilization, was available 94.7% of the time, irrespective of whether the wind was blowing, the sun was shining, whether their was run-off from the Sierra Nevada mountain snow melts.

We do not know for how long and when the wind is blowing over the Walney Extension wind farm, and how often it produces 659 "Megawatts" of power, but if it did so 100% - it hasn't; it doesn't; it won't; - the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant produces, again in two buildings, 316% as much enegy as the Walney Extension wind farm produces in 55 square miles, 142 square km.

The Diablo Canyon Nuclear plant, is due to be closed by appeals to fear and ignorance, a result that will kill people, since nuclear power saves lives. Some of the people who will be killed will probably result from fires, since California is now laced with an extensive array of high voltage power lines designed to service it's so called "renewable energy" infrastructure, and, since wind power can do nothing to address climate change, and since it takes a lot of money to maintain power lines, and - the point of this discussion of industrial ecology - a lot of copper, aluminum and steel, as well as petroleum to fuel trucks, and chemicals to make herbicides - a lot of materials to do so.

Both reactors came on line in 1985, built using technology developed in the 1960's and 1970's, after huge protests involves appeals to ignorance in a state where huge numbers of people die from air pollution, and both will shut in 2024, again, killing people. They will not close because they will be inoperable. They will close because of appeals to ignorance.


Based on data from the Danish Energy Agency's master database of wind turbines, and my most recent analysis of it, which I last completed on May 13, 2018, according to my files, the average lifetime of a wind turbine is 17.77 years. 17 years and 283 days. (At the time of that analysis, the 2017 average continuous power of all the wind turbines in Denmark was 1907 MW, again less than the two buildings in the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant.) This lifetime data - the Walney Extension wind turbines are of Danish manufacture - suggests that in 20 years or less, the average wind turbine in the Walney Extension will be a rotting hulk, needing to be hauled away for dumping, recycling, or else rotting at Sea.

By the way, it takes huge amounts of energy to recycle huge amounts of materials.

This brings me to the paper, which is a summary paper with some nice illustrative graphics.

From Dr. Graedel introductory paragraphs:

Modern society housing, food, transport, medicine, and so forth is built on the back of materials. Until about 20 years ago, however, little quantitative information was available concerning rates of material use, material loss to the environment, efficiency of recycling, and other parameters of interest. Material flow analysis (MFA) has evolved to provide such information.

Material flow analysis is one of the central methodologies of industrial ecology. It is through MFA that an “industrial metabolism” (the flows of resources into and from a particular entity of human society) can be mapped and quantified, much as an accountant determines and quantifies monetary deposits and withdrawals. Dynamic MFAs (those that treat a specific region or system over time) go further; they permit a determination of the in-use and “hibernating” stocks of materials in an industry or society (the material version of the accountant’s “assets and liabilities”).
Unlike the accountant, however, who deals only with stocks and flows generally well-reported in monetary terms, the MFA analyst faces a wide diversity of commodities biomass, polymers, metals, minerals whose transactions often deal with inadequately described categories (e.g., “iron and aluminum alloys”), lumped categories (e.g., “plastics”), or resource flows that are seldom or never measured (many of the discard flows). MFA-related information quality may vary, from data to rough estimates to conjecture. The MFA analyst also needs to address flows that are of little import to the accountant because they are not monetized, such as waste flows not captured or emissions to the environment. The MFA specialist must therefore be part detective, part archivist, part extractor of information from experts, and part bold estimator, in order to build the internally consistent database needed to
achieve a useful material flow analysis.

In principle, MFA approaches can be applied to any material or combination of materials. In practice, metal stocks and flows have thus far proven to be the most suitable for analysis, largely because they can often be relatively easily tracked, and because data are commonly available for at least some parts of their life cycles. However, MFAs can also treat groups of materials, such as construction minerals (sand, crushed stone, cement) or summed material flows into and from a country or region.

Dr. Graedel proceeds to give a nice overall background of his discipline, covering it's strengths, limitations, and techniques of the materials scientists working with it.

Another excerpt:

A list of attributes necessary to the designation of a MFA could well include the following;

i An MFA is the study of a clearly designed material flow system, not merely the study of a particular material flow.

ii An MFA includes a detailed description of each flow in the system (e.g., the physical and chemical state of each material), regardless of whether the flows are physical or monetary.

iii An MFA quantifies all flows of significance in the system. Conservation of mass constraints apply at each of the system nodes.

iv The presentation of MFA results is generally diagrammatic as well as numeric.

v An MFA analysis includes a discussion (or, better yet, a detailed analysis) of the reliability of the results.

An example of a typical well-characterized material flow system is shown in Figure 1: a regional-level cycle of copper. In this diagram the material flow from ore in the mine begins at the left and proceeds through ore processing, metal preparation, employment in product manufacture, use, eventual discard, either loss to landfill or recycling into the scrap market, and back into use. Because what is pictured in Figure 1 is for a specified geographical area (not global), import and export flows are included.

Figure 1:

The caption:

Figure 1. Regional level flows of copper (Europe, 1994).(1) The units are Gigagrams (thousand metric tons)

The caption:

Figure 2. 2010 Zn cycle for Asia.(44) The line widths are proportional to the magnitudes of the zinc flows from one node of the diagram to the next. The colors indicate flows of zinc during ore processing (yellow), fabrication (blue), manufacturing (tan), and discard, recycling, and loss (green). Min = mining, S = smelting, F = fabrication, Mfg = manufacturing, U = use, W = waste management. The units are Gg/a.

The caption:

Figure 3. Saturation of per capita iron stocks, as revealed by country-level MFA analyses.(45)

The caption:

Figure 4. Earth’s biogeochemical copper cycle, ca. 1994. Arrows indicate flows to and from reservoirs that are not in a state of mass balance, and are either accumulating or losing copper.(46)

The caption:

Figure 5. An example of a Sankey diagram resulting from a material flow analysis (this for iron on a global basis).(66) In this diagram, the line width indicates the flow magnitude, while the color indicates the level of uncertainty in the flow.

Excerpts on classes of materials:

4.1.1. Metals and Metalloids. As the protocols and approaches of MFA became reasonably well-structured in the early part of the 21st century, the applications were largely to three metals: iron, aluminum, and copper. In the past two decades a large number of other elements have been studied by MFA approaches - in a 2012 review,7 more than 350 MFA papers were listed, addressing 59 different elements. Work over the past several years has deepened that level of information for major element cycles, as well as adding a few other elements to the list. (In Supporting Information Table SI-1, notable MFA papers that have appeared within the past halfdozen years are cited.) Coverage remains incomplete, however: there are no published cycles for scandium, ruthenium, osmium, thorium, and most of the heavy rare earths...

...4.1.4. Construction Minerals. Most modern construction employs minerals: cement, crushed stone, sand, and ornamental stone such as marble. The amounts used are very large−larger even than food or fossil fuels.28 Most of these materials have low value and are mined and used locally, which tend to limit the availability of data. Unlike other minerals, however, data for cement seem well enough established to enable cement MFA analyses to be generated.29,30 In fact, estimates of the annual production of concrete are generally produced by utilizing cement data in combination with average ratios of cement to crushed stone and sand.
Two decades ago, some national material cycles6 attempted to quantify the flow of materials such as soil and rock that was mobilized by farm tilling and road building. The quantities proved difficult to quantify, however, and their usefulness was uncertain, so the effort has not been expended in recent years...

The paper is regrettably not open sourced, but an interested party who really cares about the environment and the future is encouraged to travel to a good library to access it. If one is not interested in the environment and the future, one can always cruise to websites about how great solar and wind and Tesla electric cars are, or simply watch television.

OK (fellow) Boomer?

History will not forgive us, nor should it.

I trust you'll have a pleasant Sunday. I know I will. This evening I get to pick up my son, the developing Materials Scientist, from the airport, and chat with him about, um, materials science.

World Energy Outlook, 2017, 2018, 2019. Data Tables of Primary Energy Sources.

On this website, quite justifiably since it is a political website where science is simply a backwater, great attention is being paid to the historic level of criminality in the present administration.

However, over the long run, even if this historic criminality has the potential destroying the United States, or at least destroying its prestige and standing in the world, there is a greater criminality before which US political criminality pales, and that is the destruction of the planetary.

In another context, Abraham Lincoln wrote:

We say we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The world knows we do know how to save it.

If we substitute, speaking of the members of our party and not all Americans, clearly, "environment" for "Union" the statement should hold, but frankly, while I am confident that the environment can be saved, I'm not sure that "we" really have the courage and openness to know how to save it.

The data isn't pretty, but there is no technical reason that it need be as ugly as it is, but it will be ugly as long as appeals to fear and ignorance both on the right and on the left, are allowed to prevail. Let's be clear, fear and ignorance are prevailing where environmental issues are concerned.

For the last three years, I have kept spreadsheets of the data contained the International Energy Agencies "World Energy Outlook" (WEO) reports reflecting all sources of energy. In my personal electronic library I have copies of every report issued every year since 2006, and also have in my library, for amusement (giggling at a tragedy), the 2000 and 1995 issues.

I will reproduce some of these tables, those I use personally for calculations, and original tables from the last three editions of the WEO. Necessarily, the WEO data is the data from the previous year of the edition, 2017 refers to 2016 data, 2018 refers to 2017 data...and so on. Several years ago this lag time was actually two years, but reporting mechanisms have improved apparently.

The unit utilized in the World Energy Outook is the unfortunate unit "MTOE" which stands for "Million Tons Oil Equivalent."

The SI unit for energy is the Joule. The IEA offers a table of conversion factors including the TJ, the TeraJoule, one trillion joules. It is found on page 772 of the 2019 World Energy Outlook. Here it is:

Use of the TeraJoule to represent world energy production gives unwieldy numbers. When thinking about world energy supplies and production I have preferred, for the last 20 years, to think in exajoules, which gives in general two digit or three digit numbers.

Here are the conversion factors I use regularly to think in terms of exajoules and in terms of energy resources.

KgPuEq is a unit that only I use, and as it seems it is "kilograms of plutonium equivalent." Ignoring neutrinos since they don't interact well with matter and thus their energy cannot be captured, a kilogram of plutonium fully fissioned, represents about 80.3 trillion joules, or 80.3 TJ. Thus a million tons of oil is the equivalent of a little over half a ton of plutonium.

It is interesting that people are quite willing to accept the death toll associated with the combustion of a million tons of oil - seven million deaths per year from air pollution - and yet will engage in paroxysms of agony over the discovery of an object coated with trace plutonium that might have been laying around for decades without harming a single sole. Such people are Trumpian in their ignorance; Trumpian in the stupidity of their assertions, Trumpian in the perniciousness of their effect on history.

Anyway, the tables, first my own calculation tables for the years, 2016, 2017 and 2018, covered by the WEO's of the subsequent years.

Here is what I compiled in MTOE for the three years:

Here is what I compiled in the SI unit ExaJoules, EJ:

Notes: In the 2019 edition of the World Energy Outlook, the EIA broke the category "bioenergy" into two separate groups. One is "traditional" bioenergy, which is generally the open combustion of biomaterials such as wood, sticks, and straw, the majority of which is utilized by the poorer 2/3 of humanity, although in some places, for example, Vermont, it is also used for home heating. The second category is "modern bioenergy" which may be taken for things like corn ethanol, which is responsible for the complete destruction of the Mississippi River delta ecosystem, and biodiesel, which is responsible for the destruction of vast swathes of the South East Asian rain forest to make palm oil plantations. "Modern bioenergy" is almost totally related to the use, by rich people, of cars and trucks. It is generally known that the combustion of biomass, traditional and modern, is responsible for a little less than half of the seven million air pollution deaths that occur each year.

In previous editions, both forms of bioenergy, traditional and "modern" were included in the same category. This accounts for the blank spaces in these tables. Bioenergy is by far, the world's largest, and by far its most dangerous and destructive, form of so called "renewable energy."

In these tables, the headings, "Current Policy Scenario," "Stated Policy Scenario" and "Sustainable Development Scenario" are the terms utilized in the 2019 WEO edition. They are similar, but not identical, to terms used in previous editions. Finally the projection figures assembled by the large international team are for 2030 and 2040 as in the 2019 WEO. The projections in the 2018 WEO were for 2040 and 2025. In the 2017 edition, several different tables were utilized for each scenario.

Predictions about energy are usually bull, by the way, whether it's intellectually and morally contemptible drivel "studies" from Greenpeace about 100% "renewable energy" by 2050, or 2075 of 2100 or whenever the predicting party will be dead, or whether it was drivel produced by the tiresome fool Amory Lovins in the 1970's, or for that matter the EIA.

There is always the hope we will wake up.

This table, also mine, shows the changes in primary energy use in this century:

This table uses the "percent talk" by which anti-nukes misrepresent the complete and total failure of so called "renewable energy" to save human lives and the ecosystem of the entire planet, which is being destroyed by dangerous fossil fuel waste. It also shows absolute numbers, again in ExaJoules.

In Trumpian scale lying represented by "percent talk," so called renewable energy is - one hears this Trumpian Scale Lie alot - has been the fastest growing source of energy on the planet in this century.

In absolute numbers, exajoules, the fastest growing source of energy on this planet in this century has been coal. Coal use grew in the world at large between 2017 and 2018, despite what one may have heard in the American provinces.

In absolute numbers, dangerous natural gas was the second fastest growing source of energy in this century.

In absolute numbers, dangerous petroleum was the third fastest growing source of energy on this planet.

In this century, world energy demand grew by 179.15 exajoules to 599.34 exajoules.

In this century, world gas demand grew by 50.33 exajoules to 137.03 exajoules.

In this century, the use of petroleum grew by 34.79 exajoules to 188.45 exajoules.

In this century, the use of coal grew by 63.22 exajoules to 159.98 exajoules.

In this century, the solar, wind, geothermal, and tidal energy on which people so cheerfully have bet the entire planetary atmosphere, stealing the future from all future generations, grew by 9.76 exajoules to 12.27 exajoules.

A note on the only sustainable form of energy there is, nuclear energy:

In the days where I used to write over in the E&E forum, which is less about science as it is about sarcasm in the face of what may yet prove to be the most destructive deliberate consequence of human action, outstripping even the spread of the bubonic plague, and even World War II, climate change, there was a certain set of people who appealed to the logical fallacy of Appeal to Popularity

These people were decidedly not intellectuals in any shape, manner, or form, and there were a number of them whose intellects were so weak that they generally expressed themselves with emojis, since they lacked the intelligence to use words. Their arguments to support the unsupportable proposition that so called "renewable energy" was a good and viable way to address climate change.

These were not people who actually gave a rat's ass about climate change, nor people who gave a rat's ass about the massive death toll from air pollution and, increasingly, extreme weather. Their target was, and is I suppose, were I still listening to their tortuous claptrap, nuclear energy, which I'm not doing.

Like those television ads that try to get you to buy a car or a soft drink or any other consumer junk by using the term "best selling," in the ad, these people loved to announce that so called "renewable energy" was good because someone was building a massive wind farm in previously pristine wilderness, or solar cells were selling like hot cakes in Southern California.

The inverse was of course, to gloat, because nuclear plants were being shut. The fallacy was that since the idea of shutting nuclear plants was popular, it was therefore a good idea.

This represents another popular idea that killed people, since nuclear plants save lives.

Now these are stupid people, these gloating antinukes, and their ignorance extends beyond their vast technical ignorance. Since they would rather engage in the circle jerk of equally stupid people quoting one another - it's sort of like the Republican party, isn't it - than actually find things out, if by nothing else, by reading and contemplating data, they would note that nuclear energy has consistently produced a constant amount of energy for almost two decades without many new nuclear plants being added to the fleet. This means that nuclear plants are reliable and long lasting. This consistent amount of energy was produced despite a constant stream of screaming marketing that is reminiscent of similar anti-science appeals, anti-vaxxing and anti-GMO.

It is a fact that almost all of the world's operating nuclear plants were built using technology developed in the mid 20th century. It is a fact that they have produced more than 3 times as much energy as the forms of so called "renewable energy" represented by solar and wind, even as trillions of dollars resulting from appeals to popularity were squandered on billions of tons of this future electronic landfill.

Since the people applauding this state of affairs are ignorant of just about everything they do not know a damned thing about industrial history. The country that built the most nuclear reactors is the United States. It built almost all of them in a 25 year period lasting from about 1960 to 1985, this while producing the lowest price electricity in the industrial world.

But appeals to ignorance are the key to marketing, as we can see as we have a criminal in the White House and there are still people who worship the criminal fool.

There are still people who accept seven million air pollution deaths per year by claiming that "nuclear power is dangerous!"
Their strategy was the "Gym Jordan" strategy of "look there goes a squirrel." If you try to discuss the seven million deaths a year with these moral idiots, they'll come up with some idiot statement asking how much "hot steel" there is in the world, even though "hot steel" has never killed as many as the 19,000 people who will die today from air pollution. They'll point to some mildly radioactive material at the Hanford nuclear weapons plant as if it was some kind of tragedy requiring international attention, while the aforementioned 7 million who will die this year from air pollution require no attention.

There is no technical reason that nuclear energy cannot be expanded at the same rate it expanded in the 20th century, at a rate of ten exajoules per decade. This has already been done, with primitive technology In fact there is no technical reason that it can't be expanded at four or five times that rate. Our used nuclear fuel contains enough plutonium, in a breed and burn scenario to produce all of the world's energy indefinitely, using uranium and thorium already mined.

The issue is not technical. The issue is the plausible lie, and the international embrace of the plausible lie. But a lie is a lie, plausible or not.

The data is here; the data is no lie. I will shortly paste some original tables from the WEO editions in my files.

Let me say this, though, since rightly, the issue of the appalling stupidity of my generation, the consumer generation, the distracted baby boomers is coming to world attention: We grew up in the shadow of nuclear war. We heard static from giant nuclear weapons tests. When I was a child I thought that the element that has so fascinated me as an adult, cesium, had no non-radioactive isotopes. We lived in fear of nuclear Armageddon.

None of this is an excuse for what we have done. We announced ourselves as young people as the generation of "peace and love" but later only included "love" in "sex, drugs, and rock and roll." We have partied ourselves to death, not just our own deaths, but the death of a planet.

OK Boomers. We're done. Let's move aside and let the real grown ups, the millennial, work to undo what we have done. If we can't think, and clearly we can't, let's get out the way.

Some tables from the original WEO reports:

Table 1.1 page 38 World Energy Outlook 2019:

Table 1.1 page 38 World Energy outlook 2018:

Table A.2 (partial) page 647 World Energy Outlook 2017:

Table 3.2 pg 79 World Energy Outlook 1995 (Predicting 2010):

Table 2.1 Page 51 World Energy Outlook 2012 (Data from 2010):

I trust you're having a nice weekend.

The 2019 IEA WEO Is Out: Solar and Wind Energy Grew By 15.35% From 2017-2018.

The 2019 World Energy Outlook, put out by the International Energy Agency is out; I downloaded it this afternoon. I've been calculating from the figures provided in table 1.1 on page 38, (interestingly the same page and table number as in the 2018 edition.)

For some time, relying on the 2018 Edition, I have been including the following text in many of my posts in which I address our belief that solar and wind energy will save the day:

In this century, world energy demand grew by 164.83 exajoules to 584.95 exajoules.

In this century, world gas demand grew by 43.38 exajoules to 130.08 exajoules.

In this century, the use of petroleum grew by 32.03 exajoules to 185.68 exajoules.

In this century, the use of coal grew by 60.25 exajoules to 157.01 exajoules.

In this century, the solar, wind, geothermal, and tidal energy on which people so cheerfully have bet the entire planetary atmosphere, stealing the future from all future generations, grew by 8.12 exajoules to 10.63 exajoules.

10.63 exajoules is under 2% of the world energy demand.

2018 Edition of the World Energy Outlook Table 1.1 Page 38 (I have converted MTOE in the original table to the SI unit exajoules in this text.)

This is not going to popular, but, sorry, for the record, I'm a scientist, and as one, I do not elevate my pet theories over experimental results. Solar and wind did not save the day; they are not saving the day; they won't save the day. This week we went past 410 ppm of the dangerous fossil fuel waste carbon dioxide concentrations in the planetary atmosphere; we will surely approach or pass 418 this May.

If you want someone to tell you what you want to hear, I'm not the guy to do it.

To me, facts matter.

The title of this post is an abuse of language, deliberately, because it is what I call "percent" talk. It is an abuse of language since it is a very different thing to say that I have increased my wealth by 200% if I had a dollar and now have three, than if I am Bill Gates and I announce that I have increased my wealth by 200%.

It is true that solar and wind energy (with a little geothermal and tidal energy thrown in - the IEA calls all 4 categories "other" ) grew by 15.35% but the total in 2017 was 10.63 exajoules, and in 2018 was 12.27 exajoules, thus 15.35% is an increase of just 1.63 exajoules.

The reason that solar and wind can grow so seemingly large in "percent talk" is that they have both been consistently been trivial, all through half a century of wild cheering for them, and the expenditure of trillions of dollars on them. In "percent talk" however, they cracked 2% this year, and now represent 2.05% of world energy output.

For comparison purposes, the fastest growing source of energy from 2017 to 2018 was, unsurprisingly, dangerous natural gas, which grew by 6.95 exajoules to 130.08 exajoules. Dangerous petroleum grew by 2.76 exajoules to 188.45 exajoules. Dangerous coal, which decreased moderately from 2016 to 2017 actually (to my surprise) grew by 2.97 exajoules to 159.98 exajoules.

World Energy Demand grew by 14.36 exajoules to just shy of 600 exajoules, to 599.34 exajoules to be exact, or in "percent talk," 879.49% faster than solar, wind, geothermal and tidal energy combined. When I started writing here on Energy and the Environment and hearing how the world would be saved by renewable energy and conservation, that figure was under 450 exajoules. If this sounds like Schadenfreude, there's no happiness in it for me; I would have rather been wrong than right.

There is popular enthusiasm for "phasing out" the world's only sustainable form of energy, nuclear energy, an idea that represents mass insanity, mass ignorance, and mass hysteria.

To my surprise, while under constant attack by uneducated and, in my opinion extremely stupid people who obviously can't think, the production of nuclear primary energy rose by 0.88 exajoules to 29.68 exajoules. This is almost certainly connected with Chinese nuclear plant construction.

This rise in nuclear output is not enough, not even close to being enough, but we'd rather have California burn to the ground in darkness, laced with all those extra required power lines required to connect to wind turbines and solar cells, than open science or engineering books.

(I actually saw a person from San Francisco who writes here, complain about PSEG's last nuclear plant while bashing that company for having poorly maintained power transmission lines all over the state. The IEA, which represents solar and wind energy as "sustainable" although they are no such thing, has also written publications about the increased requirement for transmission lines (with the resultant requirement for copper, aluminum and steel) to make us all "renewable." There is simply no addressing ignorance.)

Along side all of this, seven million people will die this year, 19,000 today, from combustion wastes from dangerous fossil fuel and dangerous biomass combustion waste, also known as "air pollution."


History will not forgive us, nor should it.

OK Boomers?

Have a nice evening.

My son is living in the world I want, courtesy of the Italian Government.

Because of some research my son did this summer at Oak Ridge as an intern, he was advised to apply for the "Italian Tech Award."

He seems to have won it.

His mother and I were not entirely happy about it, since it involved traveling to Italy for a week at the expense of the Italian government and is taking place now, right in the middle of the semester.

Nevertheless, he spoke with all of his professors, and they advised him to go, and to learn about some cutting edge Italian scientific research, at the expense of their government.

Well he's there, so I texted him to see how it was going. He's pretty thrilled. He told me that he got to speak Spanish, Italian, Russian and Chinese with native speakers all in the same day, had a wonderful conversation with an Iranian scientist on the subject of piezoelectric clothing, which converts body motions into electricity, made very good friends with a Mexican chemical engineering student, and met with people from Uzbekistan, Russia, Italy (of course) and China and is apparently being exposed to some wonderful science.

This is the good world, where people get together to admire one another. This is the world I want, one built on respect all humans for other humans.

I really didn't get why the Italian government was doing this for foreigners, but it occurs to me that all these winners, for the rest of their lives, will have a positive view of Italy, Italian science, and Italian business. My son is twenty years old, and hopefully will lead a long and productive life, always with Italy in the back of his mind, with fondness.

Governments can do great things, in spite of having occasions where they are led by vicious fools, like that corrupt ass in the White House.

SpaceX Launch Highlights Threat to Astronomy.

This is a news item from Nature. I believe it's open sourced, since I didn't need to login to access it.

It's here: SpaceX launch highlights threat to astronomy from ‘megaconstellations’

Nature News November 11, 2019.

It's another way how present day consumers are denuding the future of humanity for mere amusement, demonstrating contempt for all future generations, now by foreclosing the night sky.

A graphic:

Some text:

Spaceflight company SpaceX is set to launch 60 communications satellites into orbit today as the basis for a web of spacecraft designed to provide global Internet access. But many astronomers worry that such ‘megaconstellations’ — which are also planned by other companies that could launch tens of thousands of satellites in the coming years — might interfere with crucial observations of the Universe. They fear that megaconstellations could disrupt radio frequencies used for astronomical observation, create bright streaks in the night sky and increase congestion in orbit, raising the risk of collisions.

SpaceX aims to launch its second set of these satellites — called Starlinks — from Cape Canaveral, Florida, just before 10 a.m. local time; the first 60 went up in May. But these launches are just the beginning: by the end of 2020, there could be hundreds of Starlinks in orbit, and SpaceX envisions thousands in the years to come. Other companies such as Amazon, headquartered in Seattle, Washington, and London-based OneWeb are planning launches that altogether could more than double the number of existing satellites. They are meant to bring fast, reliable Internet to underserved communities worldwide, with other potential applications, including improved satellite Internet service for military planes.

Although it’s not clear how many of the planned megaconstellations will actually be built, several researchers have begun to analyse how the satellite networks could affect astronomy. The situation doesn’t seem as bad as initially feared, but might still dramatically shift how some astronomers do their jobs...

...Within the next year or so, SpaceX plans to launch an initial set of 1,584 Starlink satellites into 550-kilometre-high orbits. At a site like Cerro Tololo, Chile, which hosts several major telescopes, six to nine of these satellites would be visible for about an hour before dark and after dawn each night, Seitzer has calculated.

Most telescopes can deal with that, says Olivier Hainaut, an astronomer at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Garching, Germany. Even if more companies launch megaconstellations, many astronomers might still be okay, he says. Hainaut has calculated that if 27,000 new satellites are launched, then ESO’s telescopes in Chile would lose about 0.8% of their long-exposure observing time near dusk and dawn. “Normally, we don’t do long exposures during twilight,” he says. “We are pretty sure it won’t be a problem for us.”

But an upcoming, cutting-edge telescope could be in bigger trouble. The US Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) will use an enormous camera to study dark matter and dark energy, asteroids and other astronomical phenomena. It will survey the entire visible sky at least once every three nights, starting in 2022. Because the telescope has such a wide field of view, satellites trailing across the sky could affect it substantially, says Tony Tyson, an astronomer at the University of California, Davis, and the LSST’s chief scientist.

He and his colleagues have been studying how up to 50,000 new satellites — an estimate from companies’ filings with the US government — could affect LSST observations. Full results are expected in a few weeks, but early findings suggest that the telescope could lose significant amounts of observing time to satellite trails near dusk and dawn.

I know...I know...I know. Here on the left this asinine billionaire child Elon Musk is some kind of hero, because, on a planet where over 1 billion people lack access to any kind of improved sanitation, he makes electric car playthings for billionaires and millionaires.

Personally, this mentality appalls me.

I'll chalk up the worship of this tiresome fool as yet another example of why history won't forgive us, and again, there's no reason it should.

"OK boomer..."

I trust you're having a nice evening.

Considering an Alternative Hybrid Allam Heat Engine Cycle for the Removal of CO2 from the Air.

In this post, I will consider two papers from the primary scientific literature. Both are about a form of energy I oppose but nonetheless has proved to be the fastest growing source of energy on the planet in this century: Coal. I trust my discussion of these papers will not in any way distract from my often stated position that coal is unacceptably dangerous and should be phased out, along with the other two dangerous fossil fuels, dangerous petroleum and dangerous natural gas, beginning immediately, on an emergency basis.

The papers are:

Parametric study of a direct-fired supercritical carbon dioxide power cycle coupled to coal gasification process (Zhang, Wang, Chi, Xiao, Energy Conversion and Management 156 (2018) 733–745).

Atomistic Simulation of Coal Char Oxy-Fuel Combustion: Quantifying the Influences of CO2 to Char Reactivity (Yongbo Du,†,‡ Chang’an Wang,†,‡ Haihui Xin,‡,§ Defu Che,† and Jonathan P. Mathews, Energy Fuels 2019, 33, 10, 10228-10236).

Coal, of course, is nothing more than sequestered carbon, carbon that was sequestered over hundreds of millions of years from biomass. In a few generations, roughly in two centuries, humanity has more or less de-sequestered the bulk of it, producing the dangerous fossil fuel waste carbon dioxide which is dumped into the atmosphere without charge, is rapidly destroying the entire planetary atmosphere.

The largest single contributor to the 7 million air pollution deaths that take place while dumb guys carry on about how dangerous nuclear energy is, almost certainly derive from coal. Since coal is nothing more than sequestered and carbonized biomass, it is unsurprising that the second largest contributor to these air pollution deaths is likely to be fresh biomass, probably followed by deaths from air pollution related to dangerous petroleum.

Thus the relationship to historical fossil biomass, coal, and modern fresh biomass is close, with coal being somewhat more dangerous than "renewable biomass" since aqueous solutions of certain toxic metals, for example lead, mercury, uranium and cadmium have leached through coal resulting in their extraction from water and their concentration in coal formations. This is why the other toxic coal waste, coal ash, is such a toxicological nightmare, because the ash contains these metals, concentrated over thousands upon thousands of millennia.

Although in general I oppose so called "renewable energy" because it is not environmentally sustainable, and because it is rather dirty and destructive to both wildlife and to pristine wilderness rendered into industrial parks, it is nonetheless true that one form of so called "renewable energy" represents an opportunity to re-sequester the carbon released by the combustion of dangerous coal. This is of course, biomass. I personally believe that it is feasible to engineer away some of the more odious and baleful effects of the use of biomass to produce energy, hence my interest in the Allam cycle.

The earliest commercial nuclear reactor in the Western world, unlike the bulk of nuclear reactors operating today (with some exceptions), did not use a water/steam system as the working fluid to drive turbines in order to generate electricity. This reactor was the Calder Hall nuclear reactor in Great Britain, which began construction in 1954 and came on line in 1956, and operated until 2003. The Calder Hall Reactor used carbon dioxide as a working fluid. As Great Britain was at the time a nation which generated the bulk of its electricity from coal, the Calder Hall reactor ran for almost half a century saving human lives that otherwise would have been lost to air pollution.

The Calder Hall reactor was a very innovative device in its time, built largely on 1940's and early 1950's technology, but one of the first devices not only to be powered by nuclear fission, but also to use as a working fluid carbon dioxide, thus offering certain thermodynamic advantages to be discussed below in an excerpt of the paper cited above by Chinese authors.

The Allam Cycle is a thermodynamic cycle, a modification of the Brayton cycle by which jet engines and a number of dangerous natural gas power plants operate. It developed by an Englishman, Rodney Allam, and is being piloted and developed by a company called "8 Rivers Capital" in North Carolina. It also uses carbon dioxide as a working fluid, but with a twist, the working fluid is also the combustion gas, with the combustion taking place not in air, but rather in pure oxygen, that is an oxyfuel setting.

I believe I have discussed the environmental advantages of oxyfuel combustion here and elsewhere on the internet. By substituting pure oxygen for air the combustion chamber, one can achieve very high combustion temperatures, high temperatures being an condition which always raises the Carnot efficiency of power plants and also allows for certain types of industrial chemical processing, in an extreme case, for example, the production of concrete precursors. (The manufacture of concrete is a huge contributor to climate change.) The other advantage is the near elimination of nitrogen oxides as a component the combustion of dangerous fossil fuels (and for that matter, biomass) waste, said nitrogen oxides being currently a huge environmental problem. The largest advantage is however, is that the combustion gas is almost pure carbon dioxide, greatly simplifying the recovery of the gas. Disadvantages of oxyfuel combustion are largely related to corrosion effects in the materials of the combustion chamber. The temperatures are high enough to volatilize salts, among other things, and any steam resulting from the combustion will likely be (depending on pressure) in a supercritical state, where water it quite acidic, pH ≈ 3, and thus corrosive.

On some level, the Allam Cycle is obvious - I've certainly had similar ideas over the years - and it's quite possible that materials science issues will impact the viability. Nevertheless it seems quite possible that variants might be of interest for issues in climate change.

As being developed by 8 Rivers Capital the Allam Cycle is clearly focused on continuing the use of dangerous fossil fuels, with the lipstick on the pig being the idea of sequestering carbon dioxide in giant carbon dioxide dumps that are frequently discussed as a potential "solution" although in reality they have not been built, are not being built and hopefully never will be built on any appreciable scale. This said, carbon dioxide is being utilized to produce more dangerous fossil fuels, for example in "Enhanced Oil Recovery" operations and similar fracking type dangerous natural gas recovery operations.

The construction and photographs of the construction of pilot Allam cycle plants can be found in a paper co-authored by Sir Rodney himself. It is here: Demonstration of the Allam Cycle: An Update on the Development Status of a High Efficiency Supercritical Carbon Dioxide Power Process Employing Full Carbon Capture☆ (Allam et al, Energy Procedia 114 ( 2017 ) 5948 – 5966) The pictures in this paper, which I will not reproduce here, show plants being constructed in partnership with Toshiba. The marketing goals that 8 Rivers Capital are exploiting to raise money for this enterprise are also listed, they are these:

1. The global market for new and replacement fossil fuel plants through 2025 [24]
2. The global market for new and replacement fossil fuel plants through 2040 [24]
3. The needs for CO2 for enhanced oil recovery [25].
4. The needs for CO2 for enhanced coal bed methane recovery [26].

The realization of any of these marketing goals with the possible exception of part of goal 2, would represent a continuation of the ongoing disaster for humanity, although the money raising aspect should not obscure the potential real value for doing what the conference at which it was presented stated was supposed to endorse. The conference was called "13th International Conference on Greenhouse Gas Control Technologies, GHGT-13, 14-18 November 2016, Lausanne, Switzerland"

Building carbon dioxide dumps in lieu of the one now being used, the planetary atmosphere, is not controlling carbon dioxide by the way. It is very much the same thing as what we are doing now, dumping the costs and responsibility for cleaning up after our lifestyle on future generations. In any case it won't happen. We are dumping more than 35 billion tons of carbon dioxide each year. Thus the idea that we can contain this gas forever, this possibility often being raised by ignoramuses who contend that we cannot contain 75 thousand tons of largely solid (and generally valuable) used nuclear fuel, assembled after half a century of operations without costing a single human life, is so absurd as to be considered insane, but somehow isn't so considered.

In any case, the Energy and Management paper gives a nice overview of the reasons for the thermodynamic superiority of carbon dioxide in comparison to water, after a burst of truth about the fact that, despite what you may have heard, coal is not dead, far from it. The data from the 2018 IEA World Energy Outlook report shows that despite much ballyhoo offered by provincials in the United States, where the coal industry is declining and being replaced by "only" half as bad dangerous natural gas, coal has been the fastest growing source of primary energy on this planet in the 21st century. (The 2019 World Energy Outlook will come out on November 13; I personally don't expect it will produce a significantly different result - coal experienced a very modest decline between 2016 and 2017, but the decline was completely and totally trivial, and easily erased by increases in the use of dangerous petroleum and dangerous natural gas.)

The nice overview from the introduction, despite the grammatical artifacts of its translation from Chinese into English, to the Energy Conversion and Management paper:

Coal is one of the most important primary energy sources in the world. According to statistics by the International Energy Agency (IEA), 28.6% of the world’s total primary energy is supplied by coal and 40.8% of the world’s electricity is generated from coal in 2014 [1]. In China, coal plays a more vital role as 72.6% of the electricity is produced from coal in 2014. However, burning coal has caused serious environmental problems, such as the notorious fog and haze in north China in recent years [2]. Another problem is the global warming caused by the excessive CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels, especially from coal. CO2 emission from the coal is the highest among the three main fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas), accounting for 45.9% of the total CO2 emissions in the world in 2014 by statistics of IEA. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a possible solution to this problem, but significant efficiency penalty and increased price of the electricity have precluded its application in the near future [3]. An efficiency penalty of at least 10 percentage points is generally acknowledged when CCS is applied, no matter what kind of CCS technologies are considered: pre-combustion, oxy-combustion or post-combustion [4]. Therefore, novel methods that generate electricity from coal and reduce CO2 emissions while keeping high efficiency is needed.

The direct-fired supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) power cycle is one such promising candidate. By combustion of the fuel gas with stoichiometric oxygen and recycling CO2 as the combustor temperature moderator, the working fluid of the power cycle is highly enriched in CO2, with its molar concentration well above 90% [5]. The sCO2 based power cycles are well known for their high efficiency potentials [6]. The high efficiency comes from the superior physical property of CO2—the moderate critical point at 30.98 °C and 73.8 bar [7]. The much lower critical point of CO2, compared with that of water, facilitates the utilization of the unique thermodynamic advantages brought by the supercritical fluid. On the one hand, as a consequence of the low critical temperature, the compression of the sCO2 power cycle could occur near the critical point, an area where the physical property experiences abrupt variation, especially the density [8]. The working fluid in this area behaves more like liquid rather than gas. The compression work can thus be much reduced and the efficiency enhanced. On the other hand, owing to the low critical temperature again, the isothermal evaporation or condensation process of the working fluid is avoided in the cycle.

The Allam cycle is not particularly different than a “normal” Brayton cycle plant, in which an exhaust gas, derived from the combustion of fluidic dangerous fossil fuel directly drives a turbine except that in the Allam cycle the carbon dioxide component is compressed rather than exhausted to the air, and then recycled back into the fuel.

The recycling of carbon dioxide back into the fuel has the property of slightly cooling the fuel while simultaneously “dry reforming” the dangerous natural gas. This is because at high temperatures, carbon dioxide becomes and oxidant for methane in an endothermic reaction in which three carbon dioxide molecules react with a molecule of methane to give two molecules of water and four carbon monoxide molecules. If the conditions are correct from a mass balance and energy perspective, two of the carbon monoxide molecules can be reoxidized to carbon dioxide while the water is reduced to hydrogen gas; this is the water-gas-shift reaction, the water gas shift reaction being the reaction by which almost all of the world’s hydrogen is produced using dangerous natural gas.

The resultant hydrogen/carbon monoxide mixture is known as “syngas.” Basically any large scale organic commodity in the world obtained using dangerous petroleum can more or less be synthesized using syngas. A common use, run at various times in the 20th century on an industrial scale (and once proposed by Jimmy Carter for US government support when he was President to break the stranglehold of OPEC) is for the Fischer-Tropsch reaction the “FT reaction.” This reaction can make synthetic gasoline and/or synthetic diesel fuel and synthetic jet fuel, fuels which burn slightly cleaner than petroleum-based diesel. Of course, saying “slightly cleaner” about these dangerous fossil fuels or a putative substitute is like saying that it is better to have lung cancer than pancreatic cancer, since lung cancer patients live slightly longer than pancreatic cancer patients, but no matter. The main Fisher-Tropsch application today is to make synthetic motor oil which is designed to run in cars for very long periods is generally made using Fischer-Tropsch type chemistry. The synthetic motor oil lasts longer than motor oil refined from dangerous petroleum because its chemical constituents can be more tightly controlled.

The carbon source need not be dangerous natural gas. The original Haber process for the preparation of hydrogen to make ammonia – a reaction on which until this day the world food supply depends – and the Fischer-Tropsch fuels that drove the Nazi war machine in the latter parts of World War II, used coal as the carbon source.

This brings me back to the first paper, from which the introduction was excerpted, in which syn gas and electricity is produced using dangerous coal.

Here, for convenience is a table listing many, but not all, the abbreviations utilized in the text.

Here is some text about the CO2 capture option being explored for this dangerous coal plant, with reference to earlier considerations:

When the direct-fired sCO2 power cycle is applied in the fossil energy applications, not only the advantages stated above can be inherited, but the carbon capture process will also be significantly simplified since high pressure and high purity CO2 can be directly separated from the power cycle, eliminating the associated auxiliary equipment and energy consumption. In this sense, the direct-fired sCO2 power cycle provides a solution of inherent and more elegant carbon capture. Coal needs to be gasified into clean and ash-free syngas prior to feeding into the direct-fired sCO2 power cycle. Research work concerning the coal-fueled direct-fired sCO2 power cycle is still limited in the literature but has begun in recent years along with the booming development of the closed indirect-fired/heated sCO2 power cycle. The Allam cycle proposed in 2013 is a direct-fired sCO2 recuperative Brayton power cycle [12]. The impressive reported net efficiency of the coal version Allam cycle is 51.44% (LHV) with near 100% carbon capture at a turbine inlet temperature of 1150 °C. Key cycle design and integration considerations, optimization and reheat options of the Allam cycle were discussed in a successive paper [13]. Lu et al. made further introduction of the coal version Allam cycle, concerning the unique considerations, possible hurdles, and advantages of integrating a commercially available gasifier with the Allam cycle [14]. Performance of the coal version Allam cycle with different combinations of various gasifier types, coal types and heat recovery schemes were reported, ranging from 43.3% to 49.7% (HHV, or about 45% to about 51–52% on the LHV basis [15]). However, as part of the proprietary intellectual property, detailed flow sheet, component assumptions and boundary conditions achieving the above efficiencies have not been disclosed in the literature yet. Hume studied the effect of gasifier transport gas and oxygen purity on the performance of an sCO2 coal gasification power plant [16]. The predicted net efficiency is 39.6% (HHV, which is 42.9% on the LHV basis) with a carbon capture rate of 99.2%. Weiland proposed a conceptual flow sheet of the direct-fired sCO2 cycle based on coal gasification. A net efficiency of 37.7% (HHV, which is 39.1% on the LHV basis) was reported by Weiland’s research [17]. The effect of key cycle parameters on the cycle performance was investigated by sensitivity analysis in Weiland’s study. However, Weiland’s study assumed a CO2 turbine model without blade cooling, which may overestimate the cycle performance. In a recently published study by Weiland [18], the turbine cooling model is added and by improved process heat integration, the net efficiency has increased to 40.6% (HHV, which is 42.1% on the LHV basis).

An interesting aspect of this paper caught my eye, which is concerned with the topic of materials science implications of a very high temperature gas expanding against a turbine.

My personal view is that clean power plants should be designed to last for a period approaching a century, and the extent to which they do so is very much dependent on individual components. Great advances have been made in recent years in understanding that it is possible, in a what is called a "breed and burn" setting to build nuclear reactors that will not require fueling for many decades of operations, that can run at full power for periods of at least half a century, and it does seem to me that longer periods are conceivable. Since the number of nuclear plants required would be reduced by raising efficiency, and the use of nuclear power to remove carbon dioxide from the air and to reduce it, to reverse climate change, would necessarily require very high temperatures - cerium based carbon dioxide splitting requires for part of the cycle temperatures of approximately 1400°C - the issue of the temperature of gases and their effect on the integrity of turbines is always on my mind. This is why this paper, which is about a form of energy I hate, is of so much interest to me.

A diversion on turbines: The Brayton cycle is in wide use and they have very much depended on the temperature resistance of turbines, both in every jet engine on the planet and in "combined cycle" dangerous natural gas plants. Almost all of these turbines are manufactured using nickel based superalloys that, while being designed to function at high temperatures, routinely encounter gases that are at temperatures that are significantly higher than the melting point of these alloys. This problem is overcome by the use of thermal barrier coatings. An excellent paper discussing this subject was written by the interdisciplinary scientist (and Dean of the Engineering Department) Dr. Emily Carter of Princeton University on the occasion of her induction into the National Academy of Scientists: Atomic-scale insight and design principles for turbine engine thermal barrier coatings from theory (Kristen A. Marino1, Berit Hinnemann2, and Emily A. Carter3, PNAS April 5, 2011 108 (14) 5480-5487) (A major theoretical paper where all three authors are women, each of them with intellectual power that people having pig brains - I'm talking about you Brett Kavanaugh and Donald Trump - are too ignorant and stupid even to imagine! Cool!)

(Regrettably, the dependence of hafnium as a the solution suggested by Dr. Carter to the binding issue of the thermal barrier coating to superalloys is probably not sustainable simply because hafnium may be regarded as a "critical element" subject to depletion as we steal the future from future generations.)


The maximum allowable turbine blade temperature assumed in the paper now under discussion is 860°C, lower than the melting points of many available superalloys, but no matter, this is not the real point of the paper in any case. (The performance of superalloys is not entirely connected with melting, the solvus point, in which the components of the solid solutions, that the alloys represent, separate is also important. Temperatures approaching 1400°C but still below it are observed among a few commercial superalloys - at least as of 2010 - for example CMSX-10, which reportedly has a solvus temperature of 1345°C. cf. Table 4.3, page 45, Geddes, Leon, Huang, Superalloys: Alloying and Performance.)

Again, this is a paper about coal, and the application to which I would like to see this technology applied (and not necessarily involved with combustion so much as reforming using nuclear heat) is biomass. In this paper, it actually turns out that there is a way - important for materials science considerations - in which the coal under discussion is actually cleaner that biomass. Here is the elemental composition of the Chinese coal under consideration for the purposes of this evaluation, Datong bituminous coal:

Here, for comparison, is the elemental composition of Maize Straw Ash (also Chinese) from a paper I discussed in a recent post in this space:

cf: Influence of Sewage Sludge on Ash Fusion during Combustion of Maize Straw (Liu et al, Energy Fuels 2019, 33, 10, 10237-10246)

The big difference is the presence of chlorine, which in the scanning electron microscopic/energy dispersive analysis of the ash contained at least one particle that was clearly almost pure potassium chloride. A big problem with corrosion induced by the combustion (or reforming) of biomass is connected with volatile chloride salts, both sodium and potassium chloride. This problem is not observed in the Datong bituminous coal, which is not to say that the coal is acceptable; it isn't.

Anyway, from the paper, here is the process flow engineering diagram of the full Allam cycle plant under consideration:

Fig. 1. Schematic of the coal-fueled direct-fired supercritical carbon dioxide cycle power plant.

Some interesting features of this plant include the cyclone, to separate the dangerous coal ash from the gasification of dangerous coal, the fact that the syngas is burned, and not separated for use to make materials or portable fuels, and the ASU, which is an air separation unit, with the air separation requiring additional energy.

There is another way to obtain pure oxygen other than air separation, which is the thermochemical splitting of either water or carbon dioxide or both. (The thermochemical splitting of carbon dioxide into CO and O2 gas is indirectly capable of splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen via the water-gas reaction, by which almost all the hydrogen on Earth is currently made, using dangerous fossil fuels as the source, although clearly high temperature nuclear reactors can do the same thing in an almost infinitely cleaner way.)

Some commentary on the turbine limitations (in this study):

3.2.2. Turbine model The turbine inlet temperature in this study is in excess of 1000 °C, which is higher than the allowable blade temperature TW—860 °C [20], considering the current technical level. Cooling the turbine blade is necessary for the safety operation of the CO2 turbine. A detailed turbine cooling model for direct-fired sCO2 turbine is included in this study according to literature [21]. The turbine model is briefly described here for completeness. For more details, please refer to literature [21]. The turbine cooling model is developed based on the continuous expansion model proposed by El-Masri [22]. According to whether blade cooling is needed or not, the turbine is divided into two parts, see Fig. 2 (reproduced based on literature [21]). The first part represents the cooled section of the turbine, which is further divided into N expansion steps. The second part represents the adiabatic expansion section of the turbine, which is shown as the last expansion step in Fig. 2. Mixing the turbine main stream and the turbine coolant will incur total temperature drop and total pressure drop. This model regards the two effects that happen at the same time as independent. The temperature drop is first determined through the mixer (MIX-i) at constant pressure. The pressure drop is then determined through the valve (VALVE-i) at constant total enthalpy. The efficiencies of all expanders (expansion step) are assumed to be the same. The first N expanders have the same pressure ratios which are iterated so that TI,N+1 = TW (main stream temperature at the inlet of the uncooled section equals to the allowable blade temperature TW). The pressure ratio of the uncooled section depends on the total turbine pressure ratio and the pressure ratio of the cooled turbine section. The mass flow rate mC of each coolant stream is calculated according to the following equation:

where K1 is a parameter that reflects the turbine geometry and operation condition, which needs calibration according to the working fluid and the turbine operation condition; TIi is the inlet temperature of each expander i; TCi is the temperature of coolant stream i; WEXP−i is the power generated by expander i. The pressure drop is calculated according to the following equation:

where pOi−pIi+1 is the pressure drop caused by mixing the main stream with the coolant; K2 and K3 are similar with K1 that need calibration;mCi is the mass flow rate of the coolant; VHi is the volume flow rate of the working fluid at the inlet of VALVE i. The values of K1, K2 and K3 are directly taken from literature [21]. The allowable turbine blade temperature TW is assumed as 860 °C. The number of the cooled expansion steps N should be a reasonably large number, as a requirement of the continuous expansion model. The recommended value of N is 15 by literature [21]. However, the influence of N on the estimated coolant mass flow rate is not provided. In this study, the influence of N is investigated using data (see Table 2) of the working fluid and coolant for the CO2 turbine presented in literature [21]. The result is shown in Fig. 3.

Figure 2:

Fig. 2. Turbine cooling model (number of cooled expansion steps N equals to 2).

Figure 3:

Fig. 3. Variation of the turbine coolant mass flow rate.

The turbine cooling is provided apparently by expansion of the gases, but there are certainly other options, including a heat exchange network, a topic widely discussed in the literature in many papers that I come across. Heat recuperation is a feature discussed in this paper. Here's a figure of about heat recuperation:

Fig. 4. Recuperator model.

There is considerable discussion in the text of the effect of pressure drops (part of the adiabatic expansion) on the overall thermodynamic efficiency of this system as well as with other components of the system, for instance pumps. Engineering graphics produced below willshow the results of these calculations, the effect of pressure and inlet temperature on efficiency, but perhaps will be of interest only to people with either an engineering or scientific background.

We say on the left that we care about climate change, but given the importance of the problem, we are entirely too glib about it. As a scientist, I am frankly appalled by our unwillingness to seriously consider the problem beyond cruising to silly websites about solar and wind power. Solar and wind power are nothing more than lipstick on the dangerous fossil fuel pig. They have done nothing to address climate change, are doing nothing to address climate change, and will never do anything to address climate change.

Anyone who really cares about the tragedy of climate change and the appalling consequences of what it will do to all who come after us, should be interested in science and engineering, or if they can't be, should at least step out of the way of those who are so interested.

To further make this point I'd like to turn to what should be a disturbing table from this paper saying something about mass flows. This is it:

This power plant is a 1400 MW thermal power plant. At the stated efficiency that the paper estimates in the conclusion, 38.21%, this suggests that the plant would produce about 535 MW of electricity.

According to the International Energy Agency's 2019 Electricity Information Statistics the world produced in 2017, 25606.25 TWh of electricity. This works out to 92.2 exajoules of pure electricity. Electricity demand and production fluctuates widely and thus it is somewhat disingenuous to speak in terms of "Watts" although this terminology is widely used - in a completely dishonest fashion - by advocates of so called "renewable energy," the lipstick on the dangerous fossil fuel pig. Nevertheless, for arguments sake I will do just this, speak in terms of average continuous power, as if I were not discussing an inherently variable system 25606.25 TWh, again 92.2 exajoules, breaks down to an average continuous power demand of 2.92 TW. This means to produce this energy using Allam cycle coal plants modeled in this paper, 5,460 plants would need to operate.

The table above indicates that the coal required to run this plant would be 64.93 kg per second. For 5,460 plants, this would amount to 357.2 tons per second or 11.3 billion tons per year of coal. Since the atomic weight of carbon is 12 and the molecular weight of carbon dioxide is 44, and the carbon content of the Datong coal in this example is 56.75% carbon, the "captured" carbon dioxide for which something must be done permanently forever, would be 23.5 billion tons per year, just for electricity.

It is useful to compare the plutonium requirements to do exactly the same thing at exactly the same efficiency, although personally I have convinced myself that nuclear plants can be built that have much higher efficiency. A kg of plutonium contains about 80.3 trillion joules of neutrino free energy. A nuclear plant producing 1400W of thermal energy would thus fission 17.4 micrograms of plutonium per second or in the "percent talk" so favored in the abuse of language so widely utilized by advocates of so called "renewable energy" 0.00002665% as much mass as the coal plant. 5,460 nuclear plants operating at 38.21% efficiency and 1400 MW thermal energy would produce 1.5 kg of fission products per day per plant, which works out to about 3,000 tons per year.

Which is easier to contain or deal with 23.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide gas, or 3,000 tons of largely solid fission products, only a portion of which would actually be radioactive, and many of which would actually have high value?

How is it that we are so abysmally stupid as to not grasp these simple facts?

Above I promised to discuss a second paper, this one, Atomistic Simulation of Coal Char Oxy-Fuel Combustion: Quantifying the Influences of CO2 to Char Reactivity (Yongbo Du,†,‡ Chang’an Wang,†,‡ Haihui Xin,‡,§ Defu Che,† and Jonathan P. Mathews, Energy Fuels 2019, 33, 10, 10228-10236), which is also relevant to the case, since it concerns the behavior of char. Char is available from dangerous coal (and for that matter from dangerous petroleum) of course, but it is also available from heated biomass. In the latter case, this biomass char in an Allam cycle could be utilized to capture carbon dioxide from the air, which is what this post's title suggested.

Before I was banned at Daily Kos for telling the truth, which is that opposing nuclear energy is simply murder, since this truth flies in the face of our dogma on the left, I used to include mildly amusing polls with all of my posts, one choice always being a variant on the statement "NNadir is a liar and..." with the and being a negation of whatever subject my post explored and my assertions connected with it.

(They're cute over there at Kos when they pretend to actually care about science. The science forum over here is far more interesting than anything written there now.)

Today, the "NNadir is a liar" statement will be the statement that I will discuss the paper just cited about char, coal char. I'm not going to do so now.

Perhaps I will discuss it in the future, but I've run out of time, and have already wasted too much time trying to make a point about which perhaps no one really cares. Nevertheless, all this stuff about Donald Trump is trivial inasmuch as it is ephemeral. In less than 20 years, Trump will be almost certainly dead and more useful than he is alive, and will be a footnote to history, a sad footnote, an appalling footnote, but still a footnote.

Climate change will still be with us in 20 years, quite possibly its effects lasting forever, long after Don Jr, Ivanka, Jared and the rest of those terrible people have died, hopefully in prison.

It's well to consider this.

It's not a totally wasted exercise, for me to write this post, however, because every time I write one these posts I learn quite a bit. The Allam cycle is a topic about which I hope to think in the future. My son is in Italy though, picking up some kind of academic award from the Italian government, and the logistics of getting him from school and putting him on the plane has worn me out, and I'm running out the ability to think clearly.

So are we all, all running out of the ability to think clearly.

At least as a result of this exercise, I'll be able to chat up the Allam cycle with my son, since the future is his and since he's smarter than I am, and however many ideas with which I can leave him to explore, will help him to use his talents to do right by his generation, since my generation has done so much wrong to his.

Some engineering graphics from the paper I did discuss in this post:

The efficiency implications of temperature and pressure for various scenarios:

Fig. 5. Calculation results-part I.

Fig. 6. Calculation results-part II.

The pumps also exhibit effects on efficiency:

Fig. 7. Effect of the inlet temperature and pressure of the carbon dioxide pump on cycle performance.

Fig. 8. Effect of turbine coolant preheat temperature on cycle performance.

The air separation to produce oxygen also produces an energetic penalty - this can be overcome in a high temperature nuclear thermochemical water or carbon dioxide scheme and actually raise the efficiency of the overall system.

Fig. 9. Effect of air separation unit specific energy on cycle performance.

Some aspects of heat networks and heat recovery:

Fig. 10. T-H diagram of the low temperature heat recovery process before modification.

Fig. 11. Schematic of the low temperature heat recovery process modification.

Fig. 12. T-H diagram of the low temperature heat recovery process after modification.

Fig. 13. T-H diagram of the recuperator of CASE-3.

Some tables from the paper:

I hope you're having a very pleasant Sunday afternoon.

My semi-rural township was pure Republican when I moved in. Yesterday the last Republican...

... town council member was defeated. (He'd been on the town council for more than 20 years, and made it a point that he was also the last farmer on the town council.)

The Republicans were so moderate - even endorsing the "solar will save us" meme to prevent a gas line coming through even though this is not a workable scheme (since solar entrenches gas use) - that my son thought of voting for one. (The Democrats here are not as strong on opposing development in this town as we would like and are allowing the creep of suburbia into places it shouldn't go.)

I told him I once thought of voting for a Republican when I was around his age (Jacob Javits) but didn't do so because saying you are a Republican says, more than ever, what your ethical and moral views are, which is to say, non-existent.

He agreed, and has not yet voted Republican in his life.

Great day! Great day!

Everything must change.

LC-HRMS for Qualitative and Quantitative Analyses of Oligonucleotides

A bit of an ad, but I nice quick overview of a cutting edge development in therapeutics:


I'm referring to the lecture by Dr. Lin-Zhi Chen which can be reached at the link above.
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