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Member since: 2002
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Analysis: Expensive winter ahead as Europe's power prices surge

It seems that despite all this "green" so called "renewable energy" taking over Germany - we hear time and time and time again that it's "cheap" - and that offshore oil and gas drilling hellhole, Denmark, electricity prices in Europe are surging.

It seems there is a shortage of the dangerous fossil fuel dangerous natural gas to burn followed by unrestricted dumping of the dangerous fossil fuel waste carbon dioxide directly into the atmosphere.

Analysis: Expensive winter ahead as Europe's power prices surge

Short article, but here's a few excerpts:

FRANKFURT/LONDON/PARIS Sept 10 (Reuters) - A record run in energy prices that pushed European electricity costs to multi-year highs is unlikely to ease off before year-end, pointing to an expensive winter heating season for consumers.

The key benchmark EU and French power contracts have both doubled so far this year due to a confluence of factors ranging from Asia's economic recovery - which sent related coal and gas prices soaring - to political will to drive up European carbon emission permits, higher oil prices and low local renewable output.

The benchmark EU power contract, German Cal 2022 baseload power , on Friday set a new contract record of 97.25 euros ($115.09) a megawatt hour (MWh), while its French equivalent was just off a record 100.4 euros/MWh...

"As soon as the market realises there is a real flow going through it, the gas market will go down," said Slavov.

...Gas demand from power stations has been high due to lower than average wind speeds in Europe, curbing power generation from wind farms.

Analysts ICIS Energy said wind generation in Germany over the next two weeks is expected to average only 5 gigawatts (GW) a day compared to an average of over 10 GW for the three previous Septembers...

...European steam coal prices for power generation are at 12-year highs, and at 13-year peaks in Asia.

At least one factor, nuclear availability in major power exporter France, should bring peace of mind as engineers have worked hard to improve the fleet - though Europe-wide, the picture for nuclear is mixed, as power stations in big markets like Britain and Germany close.

Current French daily nuclear availability is seen at between 45 GW and 47 GW for September, which is about 73-75% of the installed total and between 6 and 7 GW above the five-year average, according to ICIS and data from grid company RTE.

November and December availability should be near 90%.

The reason for this is clear despite all the hoopla we hear about how "cheap" wind and solar are, but almost always escapes attention.

The reason can be made obvious by asking the following question: How expensive is wind energy when the wind isn't blowing?

So one of the books I'm reading is "Robert E. Lee and Me, A Southerners Reckoning with the Lost...

...Cause Myth."

A Southerner's Reckoning with the Lost Cause Myth, Robert E. Lee and Me.

It's by Gen. Ty Seidule (Ret.) Emeritus History Professor at West Point. He received his bachelor's degree at Washington and Lee University, which includes a chapel dedicated to, um, Robert E. Lee.

In it, General Seidule confronts the racism of his youth, growing up White in Virginia in the 1960's and 1970's, speaking about he was raised to racism and how now, as a man, a soldier, a historian, a scholar and an officer how he needs to confront it, hold it up in the light, and understand how tragically ugly it is.

I grew up in New York, and was raised to praise some distant ancestor who fought for the "Union." General Seidel perceptively announces in the early pages that there was no such thing as a "Union Army." It was the United States Army fighting armed traitors who were killing US Soldiers in order to retain a right to enslave, rape, and torture other human beings on what General Seidule insists should not be called "plantations" but rather what they were, "Enslaved Labor Farms."

But reading of General Seidule's youth, I see, with more than minor squeamishness, striking parallels to my own. After all, I watched the same Disney Movies he decries and read the same Disney books, loving, as he loved it Uncle Remus.. Perhaps I did not read the children's history books on the "Noble" Robert E. Lee, but it took me a long time to really see Lee entirely clearly for what he was, a cruel, vicious slaveholder, who betrayed an oath he took before his God, to kill his fellow Americans to preserve and perpetuate human slavery.

Any white man of my age who wants to face who he is, would do well to read this book. This is not a book for Southern White Men. It is a book for American White Men who came of age in the mid 20th century.

Yesterday my sons took my wife and me to a Meadery.

I thought he and his brother were joking with me (a lactovegetarian) by saying they were going to a "meatery."


A meadery is a place where they serve mead, an alcoholic beverage made from honey. They had a "flight of meads" where you got to sample 5 meads for 10 bucks.

It was very interesting I have to say. Some very interesting tastes, exotic in a playful way.

We had a wonderful time.

Inside MIT's Nuclear Reactor.

I've been spending part of the day at MIT's Nuclear Engineering Department where I came across this cool video:

MIT's TEPCO Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering

My son, a Materials Science Engineer, has expressed a strong interest, after finishing a two semester Masters under a scholarship award, in pursuing his Ph.D. in nuclear engineering.

As he is very busy in the lab, his course work, and the need to write a thesis on his metallurgical work, I have offered, and he has honored me by accepting, my help in reviewing the faculties of the remaining American Nuclear Engineering Schools to give advice and a survey of my thinking of what faculty members are doing to help save the world. This consists simply of a spreadsheet with the institution, the web address of the faculty members, and a brief discussion, one to ten sentences, in what the faculty laboratory is engaged, and my personal views on the technical details of a putative sustainable nuclear future to provide the energy necessary to clean up the mess we've made of the entire planet.

The idea is to give a quick survey into which he can drill for greater depth as he considers his personal future and target schools.

So I came across this guy, who on the surface level seems like he'd be an excellent advisor from whom one could learn an enormous amount of important information: Jacopo Buongiorno

His description on his web page above:

Jacopo Buongiorno is the TEPCO Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the Director of Science and Technology of the MIT Nuclear Reactor Laboratory. He teaches a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses in thermo-fluids engineering and nuclear reactor engineering. Jacopo has published 90 journal articles in the areas of reactor safety and design, two-phase flow and heat transfer, and nanofluid technology. For his research work and his teaching at MIT he won several awards, among which the ANS Outstanding Teacher Award (2019), the MIT MacVicar Faculty Fellowship (2014), the ANS Landis Young Member Engineering Achievement Award (2011), the ASME Heat Transfer Best Paper Award (2008), and the ANS Mark Mills Award (2001) Jacopo is the Director of the Center for Advanced Nuclear Energy Systems (CANES). In 2016–2018 he led the MIT study on the Future of Nuclear Energy in a Carbon-Constrained World. Jacopo is a consultant for the nuclear industry in the area of reactor thermal-hydraulics, and a member of the Accrediting Board of the National Academy of Nuclear Training. He is also a member of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB) Space Working Group, a Fellow of the American Nuclear Society (including service on its Special Committee on Fukushima in 2011–2012), a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, past member of the Naval Studies Board (2017–2019), and a participant in the Defense Science Study Group (2014–2015).

I highlighted with bold two points of interest, one being an area in which I hope my son will develop, two phase flows, and of course, heat transfer, since I am very fond of heat networks to obtain high energy efficiency, a key to addressing, safely, world poverty.

The second is reference to TEPCO, the Japanese power company that built and operated the the now infamous Fukushima reactors. TEPCO is a much maligned company because the reactors failed to withstand a 9.0 earthquake because the back up diesel generators failed.

I used to write quite a bit over at Daily Kos, which is a website devoted to our end of the political spectrum, although as far as energy and the environment is concerned, is overtly antinuclear, embracing the popular, but absurd idea that if nuclear energy is "too dangerous," it follows that climate change is not "too dangerous." Antinuclear rhetoric is, in my long held opinion, our equivalent of the right's creationism, and, even more graphically and explicitly, the right's recent anti-vax, and anti-mask rhetoric. Taking a vaccine can and does involve risks, however the risks are vanishingly small when compared to the risk of dying or being permanently disabled because one has not taken, or worse, refused a vaccine.

The reactionary "renewable energy will save us" fantasy - reactionary because the world abandoned an existing total reliance on "renewable energy" in the 19th century for a reason - has played out. It did not save us, it is not saving us, and it won't save us. Nuclear energy is not risk free, nor does it need to be, to be preferred to all other options when it comes to saving lives that might otherwise be lost to producing energy, any more than vaccines need to be risk free to save lives.

For a time, I was tolerated at Daily Kos, possibly because the polls I wrote, which often involved references to King Kong and lutefisk, were amusing, but ultimately I was banned, as I like to say, "for telling the truth."

I was writing there at Daily Kos when the Fukushima "accident" - it was no accident, it was an unprecedented natural disaster involving the flow of seawater - took place, and in a post I wrote there (they're called "diaries" over there) I offered my impression of the TEPCO engineers addressing the disaster. I did so in response to a correspondent there named George, who, if I have this right and memory serves me well, actually held a Ph.D in geology, but abandoned the field to take up surfing in Hawaii.

This is no surprise to me. I've known quite a number, probably numbering in the hundreds, of holders of Ph.D degrees who are quite useless. Hopefully my son, should he get a Ph.D. will reflect well on that degree and will do something more important than surfing.

By the way, I was nowhere near as well educated about energy and the environment in 2011 as I am now, and actually included a few statements that were wrong. For instance I wrote in 2011 the following:

The World Health Organization reports that 2 million people die prematurely each year from air pollution, which is about one person every 15 seconds, with almost all of this pollution resulting from dangerous fossil fuel and "renewable" biomass burning.

While this may be what the World Health Organization was saying at the time - which makes my statement directly true but indirectly false - the understanding of air pollution mortality has advanced considerably. The current understanding of the mortality associated with air pollution is, according to the most recent Lancet Survey of global mortality and risks, is around 7 million per year (6.8 million being the most probable amount) meaning one death every 5 seconds, not 15 seconds, from air pollution.

I've made an enormous effort to further educate myself in the last ten years, picking up my pace.

"George" the Surfer wrote a post saying the nuclear engineers at TEPCO, were incompetent, because they built nuclear plants near a fault line. In my post, indirectly addressed to George the Surfer, I asked if this meant that people who built cities near fault lines were incompetent.

I began this line of reasoning thusly:

If a single structure is rebuilt in the path of the 2011 tsunami, even one structure of any kind, say a solar PV plant containing oodles of chemicals known to be toxic (in some cases highly toxic), will the builder of said structure be declared "incompetent?"

In 1923, the city of Tokyo was struck by an earthquake which killed roughly between 100,000 and 150,000 people in a matter of about 10 minutes. Almost all of these people were killed as a result of falling buildings - no nuclear power plants were involved since, um, the world class scientists who first built nuclear plants, men like Nobel Laureates Wigner, Seaborg, Fermi, Bethe, etc, were very early in their careers and were, in some cases, um, children. Incredibly, the 1923 Tokyo earthquake produced no internet fetishes about banning, um, buildings. In fact, Tokyo was rebuilt, only to be completely destroyed by dangerous fossil fuels diverted to weapons purposes some 22 years later.

Even more incredibly, the city was rebuilt again and even more incredibly, there were no calls among the Japanese (or anyone else) for phasing out dangerous fossil fuels because they not only could be used to destroy entire cities, but are used to destroy entire cities as the observed destruction of scores of cities in the last 70 years or so has repeatedly demonstrated.

Yet because two cities were destroyed in a period of less than a week more than 5 decades ago by nuclear weapons, everyone wants to talk about the possibility of nuclear war to the exclusion of the day-to-day reality of dangerous fossil fuel war, even though nuclear wars are no longer observed and dangerous fossil fuel wars powered by dangerous fossil fuel weapons are almost continuously observed.


Wasn't it just a few years back that one of cities in one of the oldest civilizations on earth was mostly destroyed - including artifacts almost 5,000 years old - in a dangerous fossil fuel war using dangerous fossil fuel weapons to effect such destruction?

By the way, the overwhelming number of deaths in the Earthquake/Tsunami at Tohoku involved buildings and seawater.

Consider this publication, published about a year after the Tohoku Earthquake which is often described by anti-nukes, who I personally, again, regard as the precise equivalents of anti-vax types, refer to as "Fukushima" as if the reactors, and only the reactors were worthy of consideration in the event:

Nobuhito Mori, Tomoyuki Takahashi & THE 2011 TOHOKU EARTHQUAKE TSUNAMI JOINT SURVEY GROUP (2012) Nationwide Post Event Survey and Analysis of the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake Tsunami, Coastal Engineering Journal, 54:1, 1250001-1-1250001-27

It contains the following text:

The Tohoku region comprises several prefectures ranging from north to south: Aomori Prefecture, lwate Prefecture, Miyagi Prefecture, and Fukushima Prefecture, which border the Pacific Ocean. Sendai is the largest city in the region. The southern part of Tohoku is relatively fiat, especially the Sendai Plain, but the coastal geomorphology of northern Tohoku features ria coasts, which are steep, narrow bays. The northeastern part of Tohoku is known as the Sanriku region. The tsunami inundated over 400 km2 of land. As of January 13 in 2012, official fatalities were 15,844 with an additional 3,394 missing. The major cause of death was the tsunami, and most fatalities occurred in Tohoku: 58% in Miyagi Prefecture, 33% in Iwate Prefecture and 9% in Fukushima Prefecture, respectively. The number of totally and partially damaged houses, buildings, and bridges were 128,530, 230,332, and 78, respectively.

Before this event, the risk of an earthquake and tsunami off the Tohoku coast was believed to be high. The Japanese government reported that a magnitude 7.4 earthquake along a 200 km fault offshore of Sendai was expected to occur with 99% probability within 30 years. The 1896 Meiji Sanriku earthquake (Mw 8.2-8.5) and tsunami caused 21,915 deaths, the 1933 Showa Sanriku earthquake (Mw 8.1) and tsunami caused 3,064 deaths, and smaller tsunamis have occurred roughly every 1{}--50 years. Thus, earthquake and tsunami disaster countermeasures, such as offshore and onshore tsunami barriers, planted trees as a natural tsunami barrier, vertical evacuation buildings, and periodic evacuation training were implemented and practiced in these areas. Therefore, we emphasize that Tohoku was an area highly prepared for a tsunami. Nevertheless, the tsunami disaster countermeasures were insufficient against the 2011 event. Tsunami barriers were severely damaged, some reinforced concrete buildings were totally destroyed, and the extent of inundation was underestimated in several areas.

There is, of course, very little consideration ten years later of the 19,278 (if the missing remained missing) deaths from seawater, presumably including deaths in the 128,530 totally or partially damaged houses. They don't matter in the minds of anti-nukes; anti-nukes would much rather discuss the possibility that someone, perhaps multiple people might die from (gasp) radiation. The text suggests that only 9% of the deaths recorded took place in the Fukushima Prefecture, and that they were from seawater. If this 9%, which works out to 1735 human beings had all died from radiation instead of seawater - they didn't - this would amount, in units of time, the number of people who will be killed by air pollution in the next two hours and 20 minutes roughly.

In my Daily Kos Diary, I wrote in defense of the outstanding job done by TEPCO engineers under these extraordinary places.

To wit:

...The Fukushima nuclear plants were designed and built beginning in the 1960's and came on line in the 1970's, and operated for decades largely without incident. Dumb people like to lay around day after day after day pretending that wind and solar toys and junk were a realistic alternative to these plants, but when doing this, they're completely full of shit, and were especially full of shit in the 1960's and 1970's, not that they're much less full of shit now.

Suppose the supposedly "incompetant" engineers had built coal plants instead of nuclear plants instead?

The result would have been many tens of thousands of premature deaths, although there would be no fetishists burning lots and lots and lots of electricity to caterwaul about this point...

The figures for the number of lives saved by nuclear energy in Japan are, I think, higher than what I wrote in 2011 when I wrote, "tens of thousands."

I continued a consideration of the TEPCO engineers the surfer called "incompetent."

Now we have people running around saying that the response of the TEPCO engineers and workers after the tsunami struck was incompetent.


Compared to what?

Contained within the confines of the Fukushima plant were operating reactors. Also there were reactors in which all of the used fuel, maybe decades worth of such fuel, although Japan correctly has reprocessed at least some of its fuel. TEPCO engineers addressed a situation in which much - if not most, if not all - of its equipment was destroyed. As was the case with everything else in the country, they had to manage a situation in the presence of a completely destroyed infrastructure. Moreover some of the reactors were built using technology developed nearly half a century ago.

As was the case with every single other bit of infrastructure in the path of the earthquake and tsunami, the events exceeded the design parameters.

Now, the TEPCO engineers did not succeed in making the impact of the extreme damage to their plant zero. Neither in fact did any other industry. Refineries exploded, after all, bridges collapsed or were swept away, semi-conductor plants were destroyed. It is very unlikely that any industry in the highly industrialized nation of Japan was able to prevent injury or the risk of injury to the public from their plants to be zero in an earthquake and tsunami.

Nevertheless the TEPCO engineers were able, within a matter of weeks, to address a situation never before encountered anywhere, easily exceeding any rational design parameters, assess the situation and stabilize it so that the ultimate loss to either the environment, or to human life measures as not even a blip compared to a single day's normal operations of dangerous fossil fuel facilities around the world.

In the last four months, these engineers have built one of the world's largest ion exchange systems, built robots to investigate facilities remotely, moved huge pumps and equipment through a ravaged landscape - destroyed by a, um, natural disaster, dealt with a stupid and hostile media consisting largely of people who have never opened a science book in their pathetic lives. They stabilized the so called "waste" products that represented billions of person years out energy output. The plant has a capacity for water treatment and cesium removal of 1200 m3 (317,000 gallons) per day. The recovered water is reused for cooling the damaged cores. The total volume of water available for such reuse is around 110,000 cubic meters. Thus the engineers at TEPCO, working under difficult circumstances were able to construct a closed system that effectively will extract and concentrate the extracted leachates into easily managed small containers. (If so desired, the properties of these resins allow the collection of pure radiocesium.)

Now, as it happens, I have been around lots of projects involve industrial scale use of functionalized resins - not nuclear applications unhappily - that are similar to the ion exchange resins used at Fukushima - and rapidly scaling them, as been done there, is hardly simple, although it must be said that these resins are now commercially available on relatively large scales. For instance, one can buy 250 gallon drums of a product called "SuperLig® 644" which is a proprietary resin that has high selectivity for the absorption of cesium from aqueous solutions in the presence of potassium and sodium, a situation that is observed in waste tanks at the Hanford nuclear weapons processing facility near Richland Washington.

(cf. Adu-Wusu et al, Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry, Vol. 267, No.2 (2006) 381–388)

In actuality TEPCO is using two technologies, the American technology, as well as a technology utilized by France at its reprocessing plants for decontaminating cesium from water.

Even though these types of products are commercially available, it is no small feat to build a plant to utilize them on a large scale, to build connections, pumps, columns, filters, supports, etc on such a scale as to be able to process thousands of cubic meters of water, especially in an area that is largely inaccessible.

Yet the TEPCO engineers have done precisely this and the ion exchange plant is operating. Moreover they did in in four months in a destroyed area, parts of which were radioactive.

I note that American engineers at Hanford are still only operating pilot plants doing this sort of thing, although they have had decades to address this problem in an area with intact infrastructure. (In fairness to the Americans, their research in this area is largely responsible for the commercial availability of such resins.)

Similarly, TEPCO engineers were able to quickly coat the ground surrounding the failed plants with a polymer that prevents the volatilization of dust. This also was a remarkable accomplishment, although probably less remarkable than the building of the ion exchange plant.

Finally, several engineers and workers risked their lives by entering the plant at various times, nine of them receiving very high doses of radiation. Of course, except for the fact that nuclear is spelled with an "N" and building is spelled with a "B" these people are not qualitatively different than the many thousands of Japanese who risked their lives to enter collapsed buildings, even if the duimbells at the New York Times have yet to announce the events associated with the Sendai earthquake as the "death of the construction industry."

While accomplishing these difficult unprecedented acts - some, as the numbers above suggest involved great personal danger - these TEPCO engineers had to endure the oppressive catcalls, insults, vituperation, suspicion, and fear of a largely illiterate and unhelpful international community, some of whom seemed to take a kind of twisted schadenfreud motivated not by concern for humanity, but rather to engage in a resounding chorus that was a paen to fear, ignorance, and superstition...

It seems that my son has a reasonable shot at getting into MIT's Nuclear Engineering Department. From my review of the faculty and research staff, I would consider doing so would be something like dying and going to Heaven, if in fact there were such a thing as Heaven. No one should consider acceptance to that august institution a "slam-dunk" but it's reasonable to assume he might be admitted on strong credentials. If he did, would I advise him to take a serious look at working with Dr. Buongiorno's group, run by the TEPCO Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering?

Damn straight I would, although again, the department is filled with outstanding engineer/scientists working to save the world from itself.

I think the TEPCO guys did a very good job containing and limiting the damage, despite the contempt, fear and ignorance with which they were addressed.

The DailyKos post I wrote in 2011 is here: Were the Japanese Engineers Who Built Fukushima Incompetent?

It's interesting to see that this document contains a paraphrase of the true statement, the repetition of which ultimately got me banned at Daily Kos later on, where nuclear energy is "too dangerous" and climate change isn't:

The decision to close nuclear plants around the world - mostly in bourgeois countries - is, and there's no polite way to put this, is murder, since people will be killed by the use of replacement dangerous fossil fuel plants and irrevocable and irreversible damage will be done to the planetary ecosystem.

I stand by that statement.

I trust you're having a nice afternoon.

Addressing Color and the Ongoing Failure of PET Plastic Recycling.

The paper I'll discuss in this post is this one: Simple But Tricky: Investigations of Terephthalic Acid Purity Obtained from Mixed PET Waste (Lelia Cosimbescu, Daniel R. Merkel, Jens Darsell, and Gayaneh Petrossian, Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research 2021 60 (35), 12792-12797). The scientists who authored this paper all work at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, just outside of the Hanford Nuclear Complex. (Much of the work at PNNL is directed at handling and treating radioactive materials from the nuclear weapons manufacturing industry that operated in the 20th century. This industry left many of these radioactive materials in poorly contained conditions. This paper is not about radioactivity though; it's about a much worse problem, as it is on a much more massive scale, and more widely distributed, plastic contamination.)

Although this is fine scientific work, I can't say I endorse the scheme I'll briefly discuss related to this paper. My preferred technology for dealing with plastic pollution, including but no limited to microplastics and plastic waste allegedly recycled is steam or supercritical water reforming or dry reforming in a reverse Allam cycle. Thus, my chief interest in posting reference to this paper is with the statistics therein and the elucidation of an issue about which I've not thought much, if at all, the issue of color as a problem in the widely held belief that we can, and even worse, do recycle plastics.

I will bold the sections of the introduction to the paper, which follows, to highlight the interesting statistics and information.

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is a thermoplastic polyester mainly used in textiles and single-use packaging due to its physicochemical properties such as good thermal and chemical resistance, mechanical properties, durability, and lightweight. The majority of the world’s PET is utilized for synthetic fiber production (over 60%), while bottle production accounts for about 30% of global demand.(1) Mechanical recycling of PET is cost-efficient and already implemented in plants with capacities of 5000–20,000 tons/year. However, chemical contaminants and degradation products generated during first processing and usage represent the main source of quality depreciation and rise of impurities in the recycling stream. Recycled materials are increasingly introduced into manufacturing processes, but require efficient sorting, separation, and cleaning processes for production of high-quality recycled polyester. As a result, recycling rates for colored bottles and films are significantly lower due to the broad range of colors, additives, multilayer structure, labels, and adhesives.(2) Just 2% of plastic packaging, which is largely composed of PET, is recycled annually into products of similar quality.(3) Fiber-grade PET, often called “polyester”, for textile material production has a molecular weight of 15–20 kg mol–1 and intrinsic viscosity between 0.4 and 0.75 dL/g, while bottle-grade PET has a higher molecular weight (>20 kg/mol) with an intrinsic viscosity above 0.95 dL/g. The different grades of PET cannot be blended because their properties are incompatible in the respective processing methods and/or give poor properties in the recycled product.(4) Therefore, often, the bottle-grade PET which cannot undergo mechanical processing for recycling due to color or mixed media PET is mainly disposed in landfills or incinerated. Mechanical recycling of PET in the United States converts only about two-thirds of the collected bottles to clean flake with the remaining one-third (531 million lbs) being landfilled.(5) Chemical recycling of PET circumvents this barrier and provides pathways to not only monomers but feedstock for other chemical products and high-performance polymers such as polyaramids.(6)

The added italics are also mine.

We all dutifully put our plastics into the recycling bins at home, at work, and in many commercial establishments, without thinking what happens to them afterwards. Much of the plastic nonetheless, ends up in landfills, and some certainly escapes into bodies of water, into land, and as is increasingly clear, into the flesh of living things including, but hardly limited to, humans.

The authors of this paper have proposed a method of plastic recycling by heating colored waste plastics in solvents, investigating ethanol and ethylene glycol - generally made from dangerous fossil fuels - for the process both in the presence of strong base, sodium hydroxide.

The conditions utilized are shown in this table from the text:

Some pictures from the text:

The caption:

Figure 1. Hydrolysis of mixed PET waste to obtain pure TPA in ethylene glycol/water: (a) mixed PET starting material; (b) reaction after 30 min; (c) reaction after 6 h; (d) water added to the clearing point to dissolve TPA salt; (e) filtration products of non-PET waste and unreacted PET; (f) basic mother liquor of TPA sodium salt after filtration; (g) solid TPA in aqueous solution at pH 4; and (h) isolated TPA via vacuum filtration. This example illustrates TPA3.

The caption:

Figure 2. Hydrolysis of mixed PET waste to obtain pure TPA in ethanol/water: (a) reaction after 2 h; (b) waste impurities and PET removed from mother liquor; (c) mother liquor during acidification with HCl; and (d) solid obtained by filtration. This example illustrates TPA4.

The caption:

Figure 3. DSC of TPA2 (a), TPA3 (b), TPA4 (c), and a commercial TPA denoted as TPA std (d) at a 5 °C heating/cooling rate.

DSC is differential scanning calorimetry, a method relying on the how flow, absorption, or release of heat takes place as a material is heated.

The caption:

Figure 4. Powder XRD pattern for TPA2, TPA3, TPA4, and TPA std (commercial material). Also shown are expected peak locations (as + signs) for the TPA tetragonal phase from the XRD reference file (ICDD PDF card 00-031-1916).

XRD is X-Ray Diffraction of the samples as compared to files in a database comprising standards.

From the conclusion:

Both ethylene glycol and ethanol solvents in an aqueous base are efficient at depolymerizing mixed PET. The concentration of NaOH in water does not appear to affect the reaction if it is at least 20% (compare entries 4 and 5 in Table 1). While the ethylene glycol system appears to be less efficient in terms of temperature (110 °C vs 80 °C) and the time required to achieve the same conversion as the ethanol system (6 h vs 2 h), it provides an advantage in the recovery of the organic solvent if desired. Ethylene glycol can be easily separated from the mixture via distillation of water, whereas ethanol will azeotrope with water and hinder such separation. Ethylene glycol when used with mixed PET appeared to generate a nearly white solid, probably less prone to dissolve pigments in the by-waste, while ethanol produced a much more pink colored product. For reasons not yet understood, the ethylene glycol products appear to display a melting point transition above 280 °C versus the ethanol product, which did not...

Again, this is not in my opinion, the ideal approach to dealing with this problem. To my thinking, the entire petrochemical industry, including polymers but clearly not limited to them, should begin and end with carbon monoxide/dioxide and hydrogen as starting materials. I have convinced myself this is feasible, not easy, perhaps not really popular, but feasible.

The Hanford site, outside the PNNL site where this work was conducted, was constructed and operated under paranoid conditions of perceived emergency beginning in the Second World War and proceeding through the "cold war," to isolate nearly isotopically pure (Pu-239) plutonium. The conditions were primitive and sloppy, but need not be so any longer if we want - and we should want - useful plutonium. Much of the plutonium isolated in the 20th century at Hanford remains in nuclear weapons which should, in the mind of sane people, remain useless. It is available however, in a sane world, for use to generate heat, heat being the key intermediate for producing carbon monoxide/dioxide and hydrogen.

Have a pleasant Sunday.

JAMA Internal Medicine Editorial on Vaccination Rates Among Low Paid Nursing Home Workers.

I'm on the JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) news feed. This editorial appeared this morning in my email:

COVID-19 Vaccination Coverage Among Nursing Home Staff (Eric Ward, MD1,2; Kenneth E. Covinsky, MD, MPH3,4 JAMA Internal Medicine, September 16, 2021, Editorial.)

It's two paragraphs long, and is produced in full:

In this issue of JAMA Internal Medicine, McGarry et al1 show that COVID-19 vaccination rates among nursing home staff are unacceptably low, falling considerably behind that of nursing home residents. At less than 50%, the rates are lowest among certified nursing assistants (CNAs), who provide the most direct care. Certified nursing assistants bathe, dress, and groom residents. They help them eat. Physical distancing is impossible. A CNA with a positive SARS-CoV-2 test result is highly likely to transmit COVID-19 to a resident. For this reason, nursing homes would be the most sensible place to introduce a vaccine mandate, because unvaccinated nursing home staff present an imminent risk to the vulnerable residents in their care. A recent Biden administration initiative that would make federal funding for nursing homes contingent on the vaccination of their employees is an important step.2

Certified nursing assistants work extremely hard and have an immense positive influence on the care of nursing home residents. In general, CNAs are sorely underpaid and receive inadequate benefits, including sick leave.3 We believe low voluntary vaccination rates among CNAs suggests a failure of nursing home owners to effectively partner with their most essential workers and provides one more indication of the need to improve the pay and working conditions of this group.

I added the bold, although the statement speaks for itself.

Note the Biden policy, an excellent policy.

Nature Editorial Bemoans the Departure of the Scientist/Politician Merkel, With Some Caveats.

Angela Merkel, who will step down from the role of German Chancellor in less than two weeks, is a highly trained scientist, and holds a Ph.D. in Quantum Chemistry.

This editorial appears in the current issue of the scientific journal Nature: Politics will be poorer without Angela Merkel’s scientific approach

Subtitle: The departing German chancellor’s support for science and rigour in policymaking has proved transformative — except on climate change.

From the text:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a theoretical quantum chemist from the former East Germany, will stand down after federal elections on 26 September. This will mark the end of 16 years in the post and a 30-year political career.

Merkel leaves behind a powerful legacy for research and for evidence-based thinking. Over the years, her administration has strengthened and internationalized German science. Every government is imperfect when it comes to protecting peoples’ rights, promoting security and well-being, and administering justice, but Merkel brought compassion and an insistence — unusual among politicians, even in the time of COVID-19 — that decision-making benefits from evidence. All of this will make her a hard act to follow.

The secret to Germany’s scientific excellence

Merkel’s passion for science is spurred, in part, by her grasp of the value scientific research and innovation holds for societies and economies. In interviews with Nature, Germany’s researchers have talked about how, as chancellor, Merkel prioritized regular meetings with working scientists and research managers. Every few months, she presided over informal science soirées focused on different fields. She set the agenda for the sessions, with a particular interest in up-and-coming fields such as hydrogen technology, quantum computing and artificial intelligence.

Researchers were advised to prepare carefully for their presentations at these meetings, because Merkel would be ready with expert-level questions. These ‘innovation’ talks, as they became known, became the nucleus for initiatives such as a 2-billion (US$2.4-billion) programme for quantum computing and related technologies.

But Merkel was just as committed to curiosity-driven research. In a speech to London’s Royal Society in 2010, she urged her audience to be sceptical of politicians who claim to be able to predict the course of scientific discovery.

I added the bold. There has been a lot of politically popular thinking that if we throw enough money at a subject and hire enough high powered scientists the result will be positive. Often the people who make these decisions based on politically popular ideology, for example that the world will run on electric cars powered by wind turbines - an official German policy throughout Merkel's tenure - are defeated by something called reality. This would make Merkel's comments in 2010 somewhat amusing were the consequences not so dire.

The editorial comments on her work as a scientist, before she became a politician:

Merkel obtained a PhD in quantum chemistry in 1986 from the Academy of Sciences in Berlin–Adlershof in East Germany. She worked in the Prague laboratory of quantum chemist Rudolf ZahradnÍk, studying the quantum mechanics of gas-particle collisions, and co-authored several papers (for example, A. Merkel et al. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 110, 8355–8359 (1988); Z. Havlas et al. Chem. Phys. 127, 53–63; 1988). “She was pushing the limits of accuracy using the data and computational tools available to researchers in the 1980s,” says Alán Aspuru-Guzik, a quantum chemist at the University of Toronto in Canada. “Merkel’s research was state of the art for its time.”

A picture of Merkel when she was the Minister of the Environment and still a working scientist:

The caption:

Angela Merkel, pictured in 1995, when she was Germany’s Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.

However, and this certainly matters to anyone concerned about climate change reality, the reality being that nothing effective is being done to address climate change other than the failed and silly posturing represented by Energiewende.

From the editorial:

Although Merkel maintained close ties with the research world, there is one crucial policy area in which her decisions have not always been backed up by science. Germany is not a leader when it comes to phasing out fossil fuels. In the past, Merkel has even shown irritation at warnings of dangerous climate change from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. And she has stuck by the construction of Germany’s controversial gas pipeline from Russia, Nord Stream 2, which was completed just last week.

Moreover, Merkel’s decision, immediately after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, to phase out nuclear power in Germany by 2022 has made decarbonization even harder to achieve. In April, Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court ordered the government to explain how it will reach its climate targets of cutting emissions by 88% by 2040 and becoming greenhouse-gas neutral by 2045.

Unless Germany reverses the nuclear policy, it and every other nation following this awful lead, will fail miserably to address climate change.

There is one, and only one, form of energy that has the energy density to address climate change without ripping the land to pieces with mines, wires and waste. It is precisely the one Merkel chose to abandon, nuclear energy.

I suspect that for this, history will not forgive her, nor should it.

A Different Perspective on How Many Billions of Tons of CO2 Equivalents We Dump Each Year.

The working figure for CO2 emissions I often use in my posts is 35 billion tons per year dumped into the atmosphere while we all wait for the grand so called "renewable energy" nirvana that did not come, is not here, and won't come.

This evening, catching up on my reading - I'm way behind for various personal reasons - I came across this paper: Alkalinity Generation Constraints on Basalt Carbonation for Carbon Dioxide Removal at the Gigaton-per-Year Scale (Benjamin M. Tutolo, Adedapo Awolayo, and Calista Brown Environmental Science & Technology 2021 55 (17), 11906-11915.)

This is a paper about the limits of one much discussed scheme for dumping the dangerous fossil fuel waste carbon dioxide in a way such as it doesn't destroy climatic stability, that is via mineralization, the formation of solid carbonates from rocks. This would be in lieu of not burning dangerous fossil fuels at all, something that has been difficult, not because it is impossible, but because we have lots of people running around saying that nuclear energy is "too dangerous" which implies that climate change is not "too dangerous" even though climate change is destroying vast areas of territory and causing untold economic destruction because...because...because...Fukushima.

History will not forgive us, nor should it.

From the paper's introductory text:

This study highlights the differing carbonation efficiencies expected during gigaton-per-year scale CO2 injection into basalts versus those inferred from lab and pilot-scale studies.


Atmospheric CO2 concentrations are expected to double during the latter half of the 21st century unless aggressive action is taken to reduce anthropogenic emissions.(1) The 2015 Paris Agreement was set to curb greenhouse gas emissions and limit anthropogenic warming to 1.5–2 °C, which is the largely cited threshold above which many of the most severe consequences of global climate change would become inevitable.(2,3) However, the International Panel on Climate Change has noted that even if emissions are kept to the levels prescribed by the Paris Agreement, global temperature increases would still be expected to exceed 1.5 °C.(4) Thus, restricting emissions alone will likely be insufficient, and carbon dioxide removal (CDR) techniques such as mineral carbonation coupled to direct air capture (DAC)(5) of CO2 will be required to prevent the most dire consequences of global climate change.(2)
Mineral carbonation mimics Earth’s so-called silicate weathering “thermostat”, in which the weathering of silicate rocks converts atmospheric CO2 gas into carbonate minerals.(6) Mineral carbonation is thus a method for “mineral trapping”, which is the most stable CO2 trapping mechanism (in order of increasing stability, these are structural/stratigraphic trapping, residual trapping, solubility trapping, and mineral trapping(5,7)). The carbonation process is heavily dependent on the presence of divalent cations (Mg2+, Ca2+, and Fe2+) such that ultramafic and mafic rocks, i.e., peridotite and basalt, respectively, are ideal for mineral carbonation.(5,8,9) Due to their abundance on Earth’s surface (they underlay all of Earth’s oceans and are commonly exposed in continental settings), high concentrations of cation-rich silicate minerals and generally favorable porosity, permeability, and injectivity of basaltic rocks have become ideal target lithologies for the rapid injection and mineralization of large volumes of CO2.(5)

While many people turn into Ayn Rand when, and only when discussing nuclear energy, and whine insipidly about cost, please note that this scheme implies cost for no value added. Dumps are money holes. They provide no value, and in fact destroy value. The need for dumps is a hidden cost of the complete and total failure of the reactionary so called "renewable energy" scheme tp address climate change, just as the need to construct redundant systems is a hidden cost, while everyone carries on, again insipidly with very selective attention about how "cheap" so called renewable energy is. Energy prices in Europe hit record highs this week in mid September 2021 because the wind isn't blowing in the North Sea. Either they turn out the lights everywhere except France - which runs on nuclear electricity generally - or they burn dangerous natural gas and dump the dangerous natural gas waste, carbon dioxide, directly into the planetary atmosphere because they ignore the question of whether climate change is "too dangerous."

I'm not going to discuss the cited paper in any great length. There is a nice discussion of the thermodynamics of this scheme and a few remarks on some tiny pilot programs that are very late in the game, since industrialization of the dumping scheme - assuming the money can be found for it, which it won't be - is sure to be way to late as climate change has arrived already, big time, not that this has had any effect on our belief that the return to the 18th century, where all the energy on Earth was allegedly "renewable," is a good idea.

The pilots discussed in the paper were in Iceland, where CO2 is released by the use of geothermal energy, and Wallula, Washington, where CO2 was injected as supercritical fluid, the creation of the supercritical fluid itself an energetically expensive proposition. One may refer to the paper if one has access.

Here's a nice little graphic from the paper about rocks used in the experiments to check out whether mineralization waste dumps would work, even if we could find the money to build them:

The caption:

Figure 3. Masses of minerals present in the system during CO2-driven basalt dissolution into the Site 1301 aquifer fluids (Na+ = 463 mmol/kg) and into otherwise identical fluids with initial alkalinity adjusted by increasing the initial Na+ by 5 and 10% and charge-balancing on HCO3–. Calculations assume a constant fCO2 = 100 bar and a water-to-rock mass ratio of 100. Mineral abundances plotted at 25 °C (a, c, d) and 60 °C (b, e, f) demonstrate that aquifer alkalinity and temperature have a dramatic effect on the amount of carbonate (dolomite and ankerite) precipitated and thus the amount of CO2 mineralized. Note the differing y-axis scales at 25 °C versus 60 °C due to the larger amount of carbonate precipitation at 60 °C.

60 °C, for those who don't know, is a fairly high temperature, 140°F, meaning one needs to find energy to use these temperatures, energy that does not come from dangerous fossil fuels, even though the use of dangerous fossil fuels as an energy source is rising, not falling, despite all those wind turbines and solar cells on which we've bet the planetary atmosphere, a bet we lost.

Before providing the conclusion of the paper, I note that "DAC" - direct air capture of carbon dioxide - is also energetically expensive, since it involves recovering a considerable portion of the energy produced when the carbon dioxide was dumped in the first place; we're talking at approaching on some level, a kind of perpetual motion machine, a perpetual motion machine being a violation of the immutable laws of thermodynamics.

The conclusion of the paper:

If direct air capture (DAC) coupled to basalt carbonation is implemented at the gigaton-per-year scale, it is likely that many offshore CO2 injection operations would inject free-phase CO2 in order to maximize per-well capacity of CO2 injection. In these situations, our thermodynamic and kinetic calculations show that carbon mineralization will be less efficient than suggested by many published experiments and field demonstration projects due to the heightened solubility of carbonate minerals under free-phase CO2-buffered conditions. Simply put, more basalt will need to dissolve in order to yield comparable amounts of carbonation when free-phase CO2 sets the pH and solubility of carbonate minerals at representative values of solution alkalinity and water-to-rock ratio. Assuming similar rates of basalt dissolution, carbonation is likely to take longer in these systems because it will take longer to dissolve enough basalt to generate enough alkalinity to exceed the thermodynamic saturation of carbonate minerals. These results imply that serious consideration should be given to alternating CO2 injection with water injection (i.e., water-alternating-gas (WAG) injection), even if dissolved CO2 injection is not feasible, in order to promote CO2 dissolution and increase carbonation efficiency. Nevertheless, our simulations demonstrate that, given time and the ability of the impermeable sediments overlying subseafloor basalts to prevent leakage as the free-phase CO2 dissolves and converts to carbonates, significant mineral carbonation can be expected.

Oh well then.

The motivation for looking into this paper was the figure in the abstract in the text for the amount of carbon dioxide we add to the atmosphere each year while we all wait for the grand "renewable energy" nirvana that is not here and won't come. This figure is 51 Gigatons per year, higher than the working figure I often use, 51 Gigatons/year.

In the text of the paper it says:

The world adds about 51 billion tons (1 gigaton (Gt) = 1 billion tons) of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere each year.(43)

Reference 43 is this one: 43. Christiansen, L.; von Kursk, O.; Haselip, J. A. UN Environment Emissions Gap Report; 2018. 2018

It is open sourced, anyone can read it: Emissions Gap Report 2020

The difference between my 35 gigaton/year figure and the 51 gigaton/year cited in the paper is that the UN authors used carbon dioxide equivalents as opposed to the fossil fuel waste that is carbon dioxide, which some people seem to think is not "too dangerous" even though in their ignorance, they claim that so called "nuclear waste" is "too dangerous" even though used nuclear fuel has had a spectacular record over half a century of killing very, very few people, if, in fact, anyone has died as a result of its accumulation as an object of fear and, again, ignorance.

For convenience, a graphic from the open sourced UN report, breaking down the carbon dioxide equivalents graphically:

I'd like to note the role of land use changes, which is a huge contributor, second only to dangerous fossil fuel waste (including methane), to climate change. As I noted earlier in another post in this space, just one of the California Wind Turbine Areas, the Tehachapi "Wind Resource Area" is spread over 800 square miles, laced with access roads for diesel trucks for the purpose of servicing the turbines over their 18 to 25 year lifetime.

Busbar Electricity Prices at the Tehachapi Wind Farm This Evening

In that post I compared land footprint of the Tehachapi wind turbine area with that of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, which is due to be shut in 2025, prematurely, as part of a vast crime against the future of humanity. I wrote:

The Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant operates as a physical plant, on 12 acres, (0.018 sq miles or 0.049 sq km) on a plot of around 700 acres (1.1 sq miles or 2.2 sq km), most of which is undisturbed marine chaparral. The plant has been producing between 2261 MW (low) and 2267 MW (high) consistently and reliably all day long, as of 18:30 PDT, July 12, 2021. In other words, the land footprint of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant is 0.1% that of the Tehachapi Wind Resources Area.

I've been monitoring at the CAISO website the output of all the wind turbines in California, including but not limited to the Tehachapi Wind Resources area. All of them.

California has been experiencing, over the last week or so, an incident of wind Dunkelflaute. For a significant periods of this week, all the wind turbines in California have been producing less power than Diablo Canyon was producing in two buildings located on 12 acres of land.

I plan to discuss some of the data in a subsequent post, should I find the time to do so.

This dramatic information will not induce wisdom on the part people who even at this late date, with the coasts of major continents burning or burned, incredible weather events causing huge destruction and death, still think that wind turbines and solar cells will save the world. They haven't, they aren't, and they won't.

The power of ignorance is not limited to the anti-vax types. There are many other examples of similar rhetoric in other areas, and some of us need to take a good hard look in the mirror. I don't expect we will, but we need to do so.

Have a nice day tomorrow.

Trinidad and Tobago For the Love of the Music.

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