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NNadir

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The Growth of Solar Capacity In California, Capacity Utilization, and Solar Energy Production.

This post, about solar energy in California, is rather similar to the one I wrote yesterday about Wind Energy in California, with some differences. The remarks on nuclear energy capacity utilization are repeated verbatim here, but as California is one of the rare places where solar energy produces more energy than wind energy, I will compare the total energy produced by solar means in California, with the total energy demand of the State, using the figures from 2019, since these are the most recent available.

Accessed today (7/28/21), the amount of energy consumed by California in 2019, for all purposes, was 7082 trillion BTU according to the EIA Web Page devoted to California. I will use SI units throughout the rest of this post. The SI unit of energy is the Joule (J), and the prefix "Peta" (P) refers to 10 raised to the 15th power, and "Exa" (E) to 10 raised to the 18th power.

A BTU = 1055 J. Thus California's Energy Consumption in 2019 was 7.472 EJ.

In 2019, total US energy consumption was 106 EJ

As of this writing, 17:02 (5:02) PDT 7/28/21, California is under an electrical energy alert:

CAISO Grid Restricted Maintenance Operations [202102558]

The California ISO is declaring CAISO Grid RESTRICTED MAINTENANCE OPERATION for the period
from 07/27/2021 12:00 through 07/28/2021 21:00.

Reason:
The ISO is anticipating high loads and temperatures across t|he CAISO Grid. Transmission Operators and Generation Operato|rs will be contacted if any currently scheduled outages need| to be cancelled or revised.

Refer to the ISO System Emergency Fact Sheet (http://www.caiso.com/Documents/SystemAlertsWarningsandEmergenciesFactSheet.pdf)
for additional detail.

Restricted Maintenance Operations, as detailed in ISO Operating Procedure
4420, will be in effect.

Market Participants are cautioned to avoid actions which may
jeopardize generator and/or transmission availability.

Monitor system conditions on Today's Outlook (http://www.caiso.com/TodaysOutlook/Pages/default.aspx)
and check with local electric utilities for additional information.

Notice issued at: 07/23/2021 12:34


California's energy demand peak will occur just about at the time the sun is going down. At that time, solar energy will be essentially useless.

The data in the table in post comes from a web page of the California Energy Commission in table to which one can scroll down on this page: Solar PV and Solar Thermal Electricity Production (Annual Totals; Includes Imports)

I have imported the table into Excel, and then did some calculations using this data. Solar plant power ratings, which are often cited by advocates of this form of energy which has failed spectacularly to address climate change after half a century of cheering, are cited as peak power, which is the maximal power the turbine would manage under perfect windy conditions, which in practice are never observed.

It is dishonest - not that anyone cares anymore about dishonesty - to represent a solar plant, which is dependent on whims of weather as well as the time of day as a plant that can, in theory run continuously at full power, such as a gas plant or a coal plant, or even a plant of a type that has been observed to run at 100% (or better) of capacity, something observed only in nuclear plants.

For example, one can find the capacity utilization of all of the nuclear reactors operating in the United States as of 2020 here: EIA Nuclear Energy Page by clicking on the 2020P Excel File in the table on the right. Of 94 nuclear reactors operating the in the United States in 2020, 70 operated at 90% capacity utilization or better, and of these, 24 operated at 100% of capacity or more. Five operated at capacity utilization of less than 80%. One of these was Diablo Canyon reactor #2, which operated at 74.8% of capacity, apparently for refueling and maintenance. It produced 7,348,123 MWh of electricity, or 26.5 PetaJoules of electricity (0.0265 EJ) in one small building. Diablo Canyon #2 operated at 90.4% capacity utilization, producing 8,910,575 MWh of electricity, or 32.1 PetaJoules, or (0.0321 EJ).

In the table below, I have included a theoretical amount of energy that solar plants would produce if they operated at 100% of capacity utilization, using the SI unit of energy, the Joule. I have also converted the power actually produced from MWh to Joule in order to calculate the ratio of the latter to the former to give capacity utilization. I have then calculated the average continuous power of all the solar plants in California, by the number of seconds in a sidereal year, 86400 seconds/day*365.24 days/year = 31,556,736 seconds. This gives the average power in Watts, but the spreadsheet divides this number by 1,000,000 to give a MW. Theoretically, ignoring the inherent lumpiness in wind power which produces what it produces without respect to demand, this gives a feel for the capacity of a nuclear powerplant that could produce more energy than all the solar plants in California. The next two columns give the growth or decline in name plate capacity compared to the previous year, as well the growth or decline in actual energy produced by all the solar plants in California.

I have also included a column for the size of a putative plant, operating at 100% capacity utilization, that would represent the growth in solar energy output, which has increased monotonically since 2007. For example, building a small 100 MW power plant of any type, would match the increase in solar power output from 2019 to 2020. This too, is misleading, since solar plants do not produce energy - in fact the wires connected to them draw power out of the grid, at night. Thus solar plants always require a redundant system to back it up. The fantasy - and it is certainly not a clean fantasy since battery production is neither environmentally benign nor sustainable - is that batteries can deal with this issue. As a practical matter, however, it is dangerous natural gas combustion, with the waste dumped directly into the waste dump, the planetary atmosphere, that is the redundant system.

The table of California's Solar Energy performance in the 21st century:



Comparison of the total production of all of the solar installations in the State of California with the State's overall energy demand, as well as the sum of all solar energy produced in the 21st century by this popular form of energy:



In this entire century, from 2001 to 2020, all of the solar facilities in California, the state having the largest solar capacity in the United States, have not produced even one exajoule of energy, this on a planet where humanity is consuming each year about 600 exajoules of energy.

By the way, I moved to California three times in my life, the first being in 1974. I left the State for good in 1993. The whole time I lived there, everyone was cheering, myself included, for an expected solar energy nirvana. It's not like California was producing just 1.58% of its energy by solar means when people began cheering for it. On the contrary, it's after half a century of cheering.

Some people, myself included, think that the outbreak of massive fires on the West Coast of the United States, as well as in many other parts of the world, Siberia, Sardinia, Australia, etc...etc...etc... ad nauseum are related from climate change.

This should - although it won't - produce some dose of reality about how effective all this cheering, endless cheering, for a putative solar nirvana has been at addressing climate change.

The Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant, due to shut because of appeals to fear and ignorance, has been producing today, in California, between 2,262 and 2,267 MW of electricity reliably all day long in two small buildings, the footprint of which, including its parking lot, is about 12 acres of land, located on a 700 acre plot of land that is mostly undisturbed marine chaparral. In terms of average continuous power, two such plants could produce more energy, more reliably, and more predictably, than all of the solar energy facilities in the State of California as well as solar plants in neighboring states that export electricity to California.

The Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant is something of an antique, having been designed around 1970's technology. Its thermodynamic efficiency is around 33%.

I was telling my son, who visited briefly yesterday, about a path, via heat networks, by which the thermal efficiency of a nuclear plant with a slightly larger foot print, might achieve or approach efficiencies of approximately 80%, via a network of Brayton, reverse Allam, thermochemical hydrogen production, supercritical water, and rankine cycles, all run off the same heat stream, albeit not necessarily in this order. The little brat engineer found this argument credible.

By the way, if one spends a lot of time reading the primary scientific literature about displacing the chemicals obtained by using fossil fuels utilizing putative solar thermal plants, like the one at Ivanpah in California, which fries birds in flight, about 6,000 per year. There are thousands upon thousands of papers about solar furnace liquid fuel production published, too many in fact to count. The only chemical energy produced by Ivanpah is the chemical energy available from the combustion of charred birds.

The poor performance of the Ivanpah plant, which sometimes ends up burning dangerous natural gas to improve it's poor performance, may account for the years in which California's solar capacity utilization fell below 20%.

These papers are not, however, useless. They are probably structured the way they are to appeal to popular enthusiasm, insipid popular enthusiasm, but nonetheless real popular enthusiasm, for solar energy to get research grants. The heat source need not be solar however. Nuclear heat is more reliable, and more environmentally sustainable, since it is continuously and reliably available. Continuous processes are almost always economically and environmentally superior to batch or discontinuous processes.

I regard opposition to nuclear energy as morally and intellectually equivalent to opposition to Covid vaccines. Both kill people by appeal to popular ignorance.

Solar energy has not addressed or even slowed climate change; it is not addressing or slowing climate change; it will not address or slow climate change. It may be time to wake up.

The rate of climate change is climbing not falling. It is worse than ever. People are literally dying in the streets from excessive heat.

That's a fact. Facts matter.

Have a nice day tomorrow.

Capacity Changes, Capacity Utilization, Energy Production: Wind Power in California 2001-2020.

The source data from the table below can be found by scrolling down this page from the California Energy Commissions Web Page:

Electricity From Wind Energy Statistics and Data

It is the table labeled, Total Wind Production (Annual Totals; Excludes Imports)

I have imported the table into Excel, and then did some calculations using this data. Wind turbine power ratings, which are often cited by advocates of this form of energy which has failed spectacularly to address climate change after half a century of cheering, are cited as peak power, which is the maximal power the turbine would manage under perfect windy conditions, which in practice are never observed.

It is dishonest - not that anyone cares anymore about dishonesty - to represent a wind turbine, which is dependent on whims of weather as a plant that can, in theory run continuously at full power, such as a gas plant or a coal plant, or even a plant of a type that has been observed to run at 100% (or better) of capacity, something observed only in nuclear plants.

For example, one can find the capacity utilization of all of the nuclear reactors operating in the United States as of 2020 here: EIA Nuclear Energy Page by clicking on the 2020P Excel File in the table on the right. Of 94 nuclear reactors operating the in the United States in 2020, 70 operated at 90% capacity utilization or better, and of these, 24 operated at 100% of capacity or more. Five operated at capacity utilization of less than 80%. One of these was Diablo Canyon reactor #2, which operated at 74.8% of capacity, apparently for refueling and maintenance. It produced 7,348,123 MWh of electricity, or 26.5 PetaJoules of electricity (0.0265 EJ) in one small building. Diablo Canyon #2 operated at 90.4% capacity utilization, producing 8,910,575 MWh of electricity, or 32.1 PetaJoules, or (0.0321 EJ).

In the table below, I have included a theoretical amount of energy that wind turbines would produce if they operated at 100% of capacity utilization, using the SI unit of energy, the Joule. I have also converted the power actually produced from MWh to Joule in order to calculate the ratio of the latter to the former to give capacity utilization. I have then calculated the average continuous power of all the wind turbines in California, by the number of seconds in a sidereal year, 86400 seconds/day*365.24 days/year = 31,556,736 seconds. This gives the average power in Watts, but the spreadsheet divides this number by 1,000,000 to give a MW. Theoretically, ignoring the inherent lumpiness in wind power which produces what it produces without respect to demand, this gives a feel for the capacity of a nuclear powerplant that could produce more energy than all the wind turbines in California. The next two columns give the growth or decline in name plate capacity compared to the previous year, as well the growth or decline in actual energy produced by all the wind turbines in California. Where declines occur, this reflects the short life time of wind turbines and the failure to replace those decommissioned. Renewable energy advocates love "percent talk" and so, since I'm so familiar with their patois, I've put in "percent."

The table:




There you have it folks, the total energy, produced in two small buildings, in 2020 with a total in use footprint of about 12 acres, on a 700 acre plot of largely undisturbed marine chaparral, produced 16,258,698 MWh of electricity, or 58.5 petajoules of electrical energy, more than all of wind plants in California, distributed over thousands of square km.

For reference, as of 2019, humanity was producing and consuming on the entire planet was consuming about 600 ExaJoules (EJ) of energy, dominated by an increasing share of dangerous fossil fuels.

If there's any sense to shutting the Diablo Canyon nuclear reactor, this when the entire West Coast is laced with fires, droughts, and extreme temperatures, I'm missing it.

From where I sit, anti-nukes are the exact equivalent of anti-vaxxers, inasmuch both assert arrogant ignorance to do harm.

Have a nice evening.

Even in Sacremento, Sacramento of all places, they're waking up.

While Nuclear Energy has proved to be, beginning in the 1990's, the cleanest reliable form of energy, and is the only one that can be scaled to eliminate dangerous fossil fuel use, there were a number of nuclear power plants that were operated poorly. Probably the worst operated nuclear reactor in the United States outside of Three Mile Island - which has long served as an inspiration for people to ignore the routine and massive death toll associated with fossil fuels - was the Rancho Seco Nuclear Reactor, operated by SMUD (Sacramento Municipal Utility District.) The performance of this reactor was so bad, that its reliability was only slightly better than the very best wind parks in the world. In the period which it operated, from April 1975 to June 1989, when it was shut by public referendum, it's capacity utilization was less than 40%.

A former head of SMUD, David Freeman referred to nuclear energy as the "most expensive and dangerous source of energy on Earth."

This may be an indication of why Rancho Seco was so poorly run. Apparently SMUD was incapable of hiring senior engineering staff that could do math. It's rather absurd to call nuclear power the "most dangerous source of energy on Earth" when between six and seven million people die each year from air pollution, caused by combustion of dangerous fossil fuels. It appears that SMUD engineering supervisors can't count.

Freeman "replaced" the 913 MWe nuclear reactor with an 11 MWe solar farm that probably at best, meets recent solar capacity utilization in California, about 24%, meaning it's really, in terms of average continuous power, 3 MW at best. Then quietly, SMUD built a 600 MWe dangerous natural gas plant Cosumnes Power Plant, which has now operated for 17 years, spewing, without restriction the dangerous fossil fuel waste carbon dioxide into the planetary atmosphere, where it causes droughts, fires, heat deaths, extreme weather, what have you and so on...

Given the hostility to nuclear power in California, and Sacramento in particular, it was somewhat surprising to read this editorial in the Sacremento Bee:

To fulfill promises of Diablo Canyon closure, California ignores fossil fuel emissions

Excerpts:

The pitch to close PG&E’s Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant was hard to refuse. It sold California on the best version of itself, where environmentalism and public safety harmonized with our goals for powering the grid exclusively with renewable sources.

The twin-reactor facility along the San Luis Obispo coast powers millions of homes, and the lost output is supposed to be substituted with sources that do not emit greenhouse gases. That was a highlight of the agreement with labor and environmental groups when PG&E announced in 2016 that it would not renew the plant’s license and decommission it by 2025. It was also a key selling point for Californians outside the SLO community.

Five years later, that promise has become obsolete. As California absorbs the constant gut punches from global warming’s quickening pace, the added stress on the power grid has increased the state’s reliance on fossil fuels — even with Diablo Canyon’s 2,200 megawatts of energy still online. California is facing unnerving realities with its power supply that are undermining the transition to a 100% green energy grid by 2045. Recurring heat waves have hiked electricity demand statewide to the point where we experienced rolling blackouts last summer for the first time in almost two decades. That’s forced California to burn cheaper carbon-emitting sources to keep the lights on. Natural gas accounted for over 48% of in-state power generation last year, up from 43% in 2019, according to the California Energy Commission...

...The extreme weather this summer has only deepened our dependence on it...

...In a cruel twist, California needed to burn excess fossil fuels to meet the electricity demand caused by extreme heat that experts say would have been impossible without climate change. That’s right — we need fossil fuels to protect us from the environmental dangers that grew more severe because of our over-reliance on them...


Don't worry, be happy, batteries, batteries, batteries.

Screw those cobalt digging slave children in the "Democratic" "Republic" of Congo, and don't pay attention to the source of all those ketones, or all those lithium mines. Screw the laws of thermodynamics.

It's a shame that the people at SMUD never hired competent engineers, since they helped give nuclear energy a largely undeserved bad name, giving anti-nukes, masters not of engineering, but masters of selective attention, all the more power to dig more dangerous natural gas, more wires to connect unreliable so called "renewable energy" facilities in order to cause more fires, more heat deaths, and faster climate change, all the time, in Trumpian scale mendacity, declaring themselves "green."

Astronomers push for global debate on giant satellite swarms

This is a news item in Nature: Astronomers push for global debate on giant satellite swarms (Alexandra Witze, Nature, News, July 16, 2021.)

I believe it may be open sourced and not behind a fire wall.

A rather disturbing, and in my ethical purview, obscene picture from the text:



Some excerpts from the text:

Aerospace companies have launched about 2,000 Internet satellites into orbit around Earth over the past 2 years, nearly doubling the number of active satellites. This has sparked concerns among astronomers and other skygazers, who worry about interference with observations of the night sky.

Now, in what would be the biggest international step yet towards addressing these concerns, diplomats at a United Nations forum next month might discuss whether humanity has a right to ‘dark and quiet skies’. The debate could initiate a framework for how scientists and the public would deal with the flood of new satellites — with many more expected.


How satellite ‘megaconstellations’ will photobomb astronomy images

Tens of thousands of satellites could be added to Earth orbit in the next few years to provide broadband Internet, if companies and governments build and launch all the networks, or ‘megaconstellations’, they have publicly announced. The sheer number of these could mean that hundreds are visible all night long, affecting the sky like never before in human history. “These constellations are changing dramatically the way space has been used,” says Piero Benvenuti, an astronomer at the University of Padua in Italy and a former general secretary of the International Astronomical Union (IAU)...

...Many astronomers were caught by surprise in 2019, when the first batch of Starlink Internet satellites launched by SpaceX of Hawthorne, California, turned out to be brighter than expected in astronomical images. In response to complaints, SpaceX tested several strategies to darken the satellites; it now launches all of its Starlinks with sunshades attached, to make them less visible when sunlight reflects off them. Astronomers and representatives of several companies, including SpaceX, have settled on a brightness threshold for satellites that is slightly fainter than the human eye can see in a dark sky. Starlinks are close to that brightness threshold but do not currently meet it, says Meredith Rawls, an astronomer at the University of Washington in Seattle.

The threshold is a goal and not a requirement. Even if companies adhere to it, the satellites will be visible in telescopes. They are particularly disruptive to telescopes that survey large swathes of the sky. Up to 40% of images to be taken by the Vera C. Rubin Observatory, a major US telescope that is under construction in Chile, could be marred by satellite streaks near twilight and dawn1. Transmissions from some satellites could also interfere with radio telescopes such as the Square Kilometre Array, a major international observatory being built in South Africa and Australia.


If anyone is familiar with my writings, I never hold back on my contempt for that ethical Lilliputian Elon Musk, who reminds me of characters in that paean to moral indifference, the appallingly dull book by that very dull woman Ayn Rand, in the dry and barely readable novel/treatise Atlas Shrugged.

He just throws his money around to do whatever the fuck he wants at the expense of the rest of humanity and wants to be worshipped for doing so.

I note that the same people who worship the hedonistic errant intellectual homunculus Donald Trump are also prone to worship the dullard narrow minded Ayn Rand.

This kind of disregard for the future of human vision has got to stop.



I was somehow inspired to get "The Big Lebowski" out of the library. I never saw it. Should...

...I actually watch it?

People have told me I should.

Would time spent otherwise be better used?

A racist scientist built a collection of human skulls. Should we still study them?

This a news item from a recent issue of Science: A racist scientist built a collection of human skulls. Should we still study them? (Lizzie Wade, Science July 8, 2018).

I'm not sure if it's open sourced. A pop up appeared, and I just logged in using my AAAS membership.

Some excerpts:

They were buried on a plantation just outside Havana. Likely few, if any, thought of the place as home. Most apparently grew up in West Africa, surrounded by family and friends. The exact paths that led to each of them being ripped from those communities and sold into bondage across the sea cannot be retraced. We don’t know their names and we don’t know their stories because in their new world of enslavement those truths didn’t matter to people with the power to write history. All we can tentatively say: They were 51 of nearly 5 million enslaved Africans brought to Caribbean ports and forced to labor in the islands’ sugar and coffee fields for the profit of Europeans.

Nor do we know how or when the 51 died. Perhaps they succumbed to disease, or were killed through overwork or by a more explicit act of violence.

What we do know about the 51 begins only with a gruesome postscript: In 1840, a Cuban doctor named José Rodriguez Cisneros dug up their bodies, removed their heads, and shipped their skulls to Philadelphia.

He did so at the request of Samuel Morton, a doctor, anatomist, and the first physical anthropologist in the United States, who was building a collection of crania to study racial differences. And thus the skulls of the 51 were turned into objects to be measured and weighed, filled with lead shot, and measured again.

Morton, who was white, used the skulls of the 51—as he did all of those in his collection—to define the racial categories and hierarchies still etched into our world today. After his death in 1851, his collection continued to be studied, added to, and displayed.

In the 1980s, the skulls, now at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, began to be studied again, this time by anthropologists with ideas very different from Morton’s. They knew that society, not biology, defines race. They treated the skulls as representatives of one diverse but united human family, beautiful and fascinating in their variation. They also used the history of the Morton collection to expose the evils of racism and slavery, sometimes using skulls in lectures and exhibits on those topics.

Then, in summer 2020, the history of racial injustice in the United States—built partly on the foundation of science like Morton’s—boiled over into protests. The racial awakening extended to the Morton collection: Academics and community activists argued that the collection and its use perpetuate injustice because no one in the collection had wanted to be there, and because scientists, not descendants, control the skulls’ fate...

...WHEN THE SKULLS of the 51 were sent to Morton, he was already the world’s leading skull collector. Active in the esteemed Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, Morton had an extensive network of scientifically minded contacts who responded enthusiastically to his requests to send skulls from every corner of the world. Rodriguez Cisneros wrote that he “procure[d] 50 pure rare African skulls” for Morton’s collection. The doctor claimed the Africans had recently been brought to Cuba, but some skulls may have belonged to enslaved Africans born on the island, or to Indigenous Taíno people, who were also enslaved in Cuba at the time. (Whether Rodriguez Cisneros sent 53 skulls or 51 is also somewhat unclear.)...

...Morton sought a diverse collection of skulls because his life’s work was to measure and compare the cranial features of what he considered the human races. Like many scientists of his time, Morton delineated five races: Caucasian, Mongolian, American, Malay, and Ethiopian. Their geographic origins are jumbled to modern eyes, showing how social categories determine race. For example, “Caucasians” lived from Europe to India; the Indigenous people of northern Canada and Greenland were considered “Mongolian,” like the people in East Asia; and the “Ethiopian” race included people from sub-Saharan Africa and Australia.

Morton thought skulls could reveal telltale differences among those races. When a skull arrived, he carefully inked a catalog number on its forehead and affixed a label identifying its race; many of the 51 still bear the words “Negro, born in Africa.”...


The article contains a quote from one of the three great Americans who started the all too slow process, obviously still uncompleted, of freeing the United States from virulent racism, at that time, in it's most vicious form, human slavery, Frederick Douglass. (The other two would be Lincoln and Grant, who defined their contributions in the political and military/political field, whereas Douglass defined it in the moral sphere.)

"It is strange that there should arise a phalanx of learned men—speaking in the name of science—to forbid the magnificent reunion of mankind in one brotherhood." Fredrick Douglass


Interesting article, I think.

Have a nice weekend.

Hydrogen Production by Reforming of Sodium Alginate in the Liquid Phase over Pt/C Catalysts

The paper I'll discuss in this post is this one: Hydrogen Production by Reforming of Sodium Alginate in the Liquid Phase over Pt/C Catalyst (Vinayak N. Kalekar and Prakash D. Vaidya Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research 2021 60 (27), 9755-9763)

We have, as people paying attention have noted, a real problem with algae overgrowth, much of it connected with run off from agricultural and landscaping fertilizers, as well as climate change.

Whether at sea, as in the case of the now dead offshore Mississippi Delta region, once a rich source of seafood, the Red Tides of Florida, where rotting fish are piling up on the beaches or the the famous cases of microcystin in Lake Erie area which rendered the water supply of major cities toxic, these algae blooms kill by the following mechanism: The photosynthetic algae experience a burst of growth so thick that lower layers of the algae mats lose access to light and die. The dead algae sinks or rots in place. As a result bacteria multiply to feed on the dead algae, consuming oxygen at a level which makes it impossible for large organisms, like fish, or shellfish to survive. Everything then dies, pretty much.

In theory, this process might be stopped by removing the algae before it gets thick enough to kill lower layers, either by filtration, skimming, or similar mechanisms.

If this is done in a timely or continuous fashion, it can actually be a carbon negative approach, in particular when the carbon is recovered and put to use in carbon based materials such as alloys, certain polymers, carbon fibers, nanotubes, etc. Such use may allow for the displacement of the use of dangerous fossil fuels to the extent that they, notably dangerous petroleum and dangerous natural gas, but also albeit more limited, dangerous coal, are used to produce industrial chemicals.

This particular paper describes the utilization of water as an oxidant; however carbon dioxide oxidants may offer certain advantages in situations that I call "the reverse Allam cycle." A problem with biomass reforming is that it is wet, but if the drying is conducted at high temperatures, such as might be produced with nuclear energy, with a mixture of steam and carbon dioxide, "syn gas" - from which any petroleum commodity chemical (or its equivalent) can be made - with adjustable hydrogen to carbon oxide ratios reflecting the ultimate target for synthesis.

From the paper's introductory text:

Macroalgae (or seaweeds), which are large multicellular plants growing in salty or fresh water, represent an attractive renewable energy resource.(1) They are especially promising because they are productive, fast-growing, and easily cultivated and harvested. They are cultivated in many Asian countries for making chemicals, pharmaceuticals, food products, and cosmetics. Even so, they are relatively untapped for making biofuels. Traditional biomass conversion processes such as pyrolysis and gasification are not suited for wet macroalgae, due to high water content and drying energy constraint. Preferably, water should be used as the reaction medium for conversion of such wet biomass. Marine macroalgae are classified as brown, red, or green seaweeds. Although they do not contain lipids or lignin, they are rich in carbohydrates. Alginate is a carbohydrate that is abundantly found in the outer cell wall of brown macroalgae. It comprises mannuronic and guluronic acid units linked by β-1,4-glycosidic bonds. Alginate is used in textile printing, drug delivery system, and food industry. There are a few reports suggesting alginate conversion into organic acids by hydrothermal treatment. For instance, Aida et al.(2) reported the formation of organic acids (lactic, malic, and succinic acids) in the 150–400 °C range. It was found that an increase in temperature favored alginate conversion and acid yields. Jeon et al.(3) found that glycolic acid and furfural were formed in acidic medium, whereas fumaric, lactic, and malic acids were formed in alkaline solutions.

Catalytic aqueous-phase reforming (APR), which reforms biofeeds in the liquid phase,(4) represents a further option for the valorization of seaweeds. Dumesic’s APR process is CO2-neutral because this co-product is utilized in biomass growth. APR produces higher-quality H2 (with less CO) and CO2 from weak solutions of biocarbohydrates in a single reactor at low temperatures near 225 °C. Water is maintained in the liquid state by applying high pressures. The energy constraint is low because the feed is not vaporized. The water gas shift (WGS) reaction is thermodynamically favored under such conditions, and an extra WGS reactor is avoidable. Extra H2 is produced through WGS, and the CO content of the product is lowered...


The authors report the work of others using different approaches. In their work, they use a platinum catalyst supported on carbon. Platinum is an expensive and relatively rare element falling into the critical element category. Notably, they also discuss ruthenium and palladium catalysts. These elements may be more readily available to future generations inasmuch as they are constituents of used nuclear fuel, and thus access to them may not be strictly limited to ores.

From my perspective, a carbon support in a reforming system is less than ideal, and they do report some associated difficulty with catalyst degradation, but anyway, some pictures from the text:



The caption:

Figure 1. Typical product gas profile for a trial over Pt/C (at T = 225 °C, t = 3 h, alginate = 1 wt %, catalyst loading = 2 kg/m3).


Characterization of the catalyst included the use of a scanning electron micscrope:



The caption:

Figure 2. SEM images of the unused Pt/C catalyst.


The catalyst was noted to have significant porosity by use of imaging and BET (Brunauer–Emmett–Teller) nitrogen adsorption device, and the active sites characterized by ammonia desorption experiments.

Two tables from the paper touch on the efficacy of two elements other than platinum:



While the ruthenium and palladium experiments gave lower hydrogen yields, they were explored only at one temperature. Modern materials science gives access to higher temperatures. This would justify exploring the use of more readily available - over many generations - palladium and ruthenium catalysts, albeit on different supports than porous carbon.

As it is, the platinum catalyst loses activity, and various analytical techniques show the changes to unused catalysts by use:



The caption:

Figure 3. XRD patterns of the unused and spent Pt/C catalysts.


IR:



The caption:

Figure 4. FTIR spectra of the unused and spent Pt/C catalysts.


X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy:



The caption:

Figure 5. (a) XPS wide spectra of the unused Pt/C catalyst. (b) Carbon (C 1s) spectra of XPS. (c) Oxygen (O 1s) spectra of XPS. (d) Platinum (Pt 4f) spectra of XPS.




The caption:

Figure 6. TEM image of the unused Pt/C catalyst.


Ammonia desorption (TPD = "temperature programmed desorption) shows the loss of acidic sites on the catalyst upon use:



The caption:

Figure 7. Results of NH3-TPD analysis of the unused and spent Pt/C catalyst.


Finally, reaction pathways leading to the products, mostly by decarboxylation reactions.:



The caption:

Figure 8. Reaction pathway for alginate reforming.


This is just one of many thousands, tens of thousands, of papers along these lines, the reforming of biomass. I mention it only as a signpost along the way for the reversing of climate change, turning a pollutant, algae, into a resource. The added benefit is the recovery of phosphate, which is decidedly not a renewable resource.

The paper's conclusion:

Alginate is a major constituent of the outer cell wall of brown macroalgae. Using this carbohydrate as feedstock, the aqueous-phase reforming (APR) process was investigated using Pt/C catalyst. APR trials were performed in the 200–230 °C range at 2.5 MPa pressure in a stirred batch reactor. The gaseous (H2, CO, CO2, and CH4) and liquid (acetic, propionic, lactic, and succinic acids) reaction products were identified. The effects of reaction variables (such as temperature, reaction time, alginate concentration, and catalyst loading) on the carbon conversion to gas (X), hydrogen selectivity (S-H2), and hydrogen yield (Y-H2) were studied. Using Pt/C catalyst, the carbon-to-gas phase conversion and H2 selectivity after 3 h were 9.7 and 35.5%, respectively. Other catalysts such as Ru/C and Pd/C were less selective to H2. The Pt/C catalyst was comprehensively characterized, and probable alginate conversion pathway was discussed.


A fun little paper, not necessarily the best paper on this subject, but worth reading if one has the chance.

Have a pleasant Friday.

You do realize, don't you, you can access something called "data" for free?

No?

I do it all the time. Try it some time.

If one were to have a sense of honor, one might look at data before offering weakly trying to insult people who access and use data, but no matter. I've been studying energy seriously for more than 30 years in the primary scientific literature, and I am fully aware of people who are disinterested in facts. In fact, it's a popular thing these days, so much so, that my AAAS tee shirt had printed on it the tautological statement, "Facts are facts." That shouldn't be controversial, but it is.

For an example of readily available data, the CAISO supply page provides data for all the solar facilities in the State of California in real time in 5 minute increments. If one has not joined Greenpeace, and therefore is not excluded from being able to do mathematics, one could, if one gave a shit, do simple calculations using low level Excel formulas. If one is interested, one can readily calculate the capacity utilization of all the solar, and for that matter, all of the wind facilities in that gas dependent State, which is the largest producer of solar energy in the world.

One can choose any date, by using the dropdown menu in the upper right hand of any graphic, and download a CSV file of the actual data using the dropdown menu in the upper left hand menu.

The 2020 capacity of solar facilities in the State was 15,637.7 MW.

Many days, for example today, I download the CSV files for both so called "renewable energy" and total energy for the previous day which are available on the supply.

If one is not a handwaving fool who expects to make unsupported and unreferenced Pablum announcements thus demonstrating the Dunning Kruger effect being operative, one can use this data to support or refute one's statements using such data.

Of course, I could mimic Dr. Fauci's remark to Senator Paul in this context, but why bother?

The people who have lazily bet the future of humanity on their solar energy fantasies, piss me off, because their ignorance is destroying the future. We hit 420 ppm of the dangerous fossil fuel waste carbon dioxide in the planetary atmosphere because people are too lazy to open science books, or peruse data sites, many of which are freely available.

They're not worth the blood pressure spike to engage them, and they all end up on my ignore list. We have enough delusional people with whom we must deal in the Republican Party, and it is disheartening to see similarly delusional people in our Party. The flaws of one's own are always worse than external flaws.

Before I wish you a nice life, some data analysis, using simple Excel functions operated on the CSV files, from the 7/20/21 24 hour data available at the CAISO website:

In the entire State of California, over the 24 hour period of 7/20/21 the output of the "15,637.7 MW" of solar capacity varied between a high of 11,835 MW, observed in the 5 minute period beginning at 13:35 PDT (1:35 PM PDT), and a low of -50 MW, which represents the energy losses associated with powering the connectors when the solar cells are producing zero energy.

The number of five minute periods in the 288 data points in which the capacity utilization was 100% was zero. In fact, the number of 288 periods where all the solar plants supplying California were functioning at 90% of capacity utilization was zero. In fact, the number of 288 periods where all the solar plants supplying California were functioning at 80% of capacity utilization was zero. The number of 5 minute periods out of 288 where the capacity utilization was more than 70% is 47 representing 235 minutes, or a little under 4 hours of a 24 hour day. In fact, the number of 288 periods where all the solar plants supplying California were functioning less than 10% of capacity utilization was 139, representing 695 minutes, a shade under 12 hours.

The highest capacity utilization was at the aforementioned peak, 13:35 PDT (1:35 PM PDT) which was 75.80%. The standard deviation for all 288 five minute periods in the 24 hours was an enormous 31.0% (as measured in the percent talk that solar advocates use to misrepresent the "success" of their useless and expensive fantasy.)

This is the data for the whole damned State of California, plus solar imports from Arizona and Nevada.

Great job!

Have a nice life; I wish I could say I enjoyed this interaction, but I can't; nevertheless surely and thankfully, it will be the last between us.

Just picked a bowl of wild raspberries, and poured them on some vanilla ice cream

It's a sort of guilty pleasure to live where I live. I'm a suburban asshole with a car and lawn, although I detest both lawns and cars. When I first moved in, my neighbor, and older gentleman, an accomplished birder with a very long life list, now passed, stopped by and defined for me, a first time home owner, what was and what was not a "weed." "If you want it there, it's a plant," he said, "If you don't want it there, it's a 'weed.'"

I have lived by his wisdom since.

I have almost no weeds, only lots of kinds of mysterious plants, other than poison ivy, which I kill by burying it under clippings.

Some years ago, I either attended a lecture by or read an editorial by the former Editor of one of my favorite Scientific Journals, Environmental Science and Technology, Jerald L. Schnoor, in which he said that the common suburban practice that he found to be the most odious was applying fertilizers - phosphate is a non-renewable resource, and even it wasn't, fertilizer run-off is killing our fresh water reservoirs - to suburban lawns. Food is one thing, chemical lawns another. He's right.

So I don't fertilize my lawn.

I also don't use weed killers; I do mow all the species - there are a lot of them - except certain interesting flowers when they bloom, I wouldn't want to make my neighbors even more unhappy with me than they already are.

For the last for years, as they began to grow in from the surrounding woods, wild raspberry bushes began appearing in the middle of the yard, and all around the edges patches appearing in the middle of various places in the yard. They don't get mowed.

For the last few years, I've been harvesting them. They're small, and after a rain, incredibly delicious. There's about a three week period when they're available. It's always a competition with the birds; and they do get their share. You wait too long and "their share will be 100%, not counting the drop offs. We share. It's bird droppings that have spread these raspberry weeds.

We've had generous rains, and only a few instances of oppressive heat. After many years of spreading raspberry bushes, we have a bumper crop, the birds and I.

I harvested a bowl this afternoon. It's a good way, by the way, to appreciate what farm workers go through. A package the size of the bowl I picked would probably cost about $7 in a supermarket around here. It makes you appreciate what the wages must be.

Anyway...

I had a little vanilla ice cream that I smuggled in out of sight of my wife.

Wild raspberries and vanilla ice cream...

What good have I done to deserve this? Heaven in New Jersey!

Life is astoundingly beautiful and then you die.

UK's First Gas-Fired Allam Cycle Power Plant Taking Shape

This is a news item from Power magazine, to which I have a free subscription, owing to my interest in trends in engineering the electrical grid: UK’s First Gas-Fired Allam Cycle Power Plant Taking Shape

Let me preface my remarks by clearly stating, that in my view, 100% of "let's build carbon dioxide dumps" (sequestration) are unsustainable lipstick on the dangerous fossil fuel pig, just as wind power and solar power are unsustainable lipstick on the the dangerous natural gas pig.

This news item involving the Allam cycle, in which I've had considerable interest in a highly modified form that I call "the reverse Allam cycle," is involved in the unsustainable fantasy of building carbon dioxide dumps the consequences of which will fall on future generations.

The Allam cycle, as generally described, is essentially an oxyfuel combustion cycle designed to convert dangerous natural gas into a pure stream of carbon dioxide. Pure streams of carbon dioxide may have seriously important industrial uses, and there are many reasons that having them is desirable, but obtaining such a waste stream from a dangerous fossil fuel, any dangerous fossil fuel is in my view a crime against all future generations, and in fact, all living things.

From the news item:

The inventor of the Allam-Fetvedt Cycle, a novel power cycle that uses supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2), is collaborating with a subsidiary of Singapore-based Sembcorp Industries to potentially develop the UK’s first 300-MW natural gas–fired NET Power station at an existing site at Teesside, northeastern England.

Zero Degrees Whitetail Development Ltd. (ZDW), a subsidiary of North Carolina-based 8 Rivers Capital, and Sembcorp subsidiary Sembcorp Energy UK (SEUK) on July 13 said they will collaborate to set up the 300-MW Whitetail Clean Energy NET Power project at SEUK’s Wilton International site. While the companies did not provide a potential start date, 8 Rivers said the project may be the first of “multiple 300-MW facilities in the UK,” and that it could commission a NET Power station in the UK “as soon as 2025.”

The project is another notable prospect for 8 Rivers, which has been developing its potentially revolutionary power plant based on the Allam-Fetvedt Cycle (AFC) since 2012 under NET Power, a business arm it holds jointly with heavyweight industry backers Exelon, McDermott, and Occidental Low Carbon Ventures.

As POWER has reported, the AFC is essentially a specialized Brayton cycle that is directly fired with oxy-fuel and uses supercritical CO2 instead of steam as its working fluid. The cycle also recycles its exhaust heat and eliminates all air emissions, including traditional pollutants and CO2. As a byproduct, the cycle produces pipeline-quality CO2 that can be sequestered. NET Power has said these attributes could make it more cost-competitive and efficient than traditional gas power plants...


A picture from the news item:



It's probably open sourced, so anyone interested can read the whole news item herself or himself.

Oxyfuel combustion that does not involve separation of oxygen from air, either by membrane, pressure swing or other energy wasting schemes, would be available as a side product of thermochemical water splitting, and as such, might produce very pure carbon dioxide streams associated with the combustion of say, waste biomass.

A reverse Allam cycle would use carbon dioxide, rather than oxygen, as the oxidant. This would also produce enormous environmental benefits in a case where a future generation chooses to clean up, via what would essentially amount to air capture, after the waste produced by our generation and dumped indiscriminately into one of our favorite waste dumps, the planetary atmosphere, while we all waited, like Godot, for the grand so called "renewable energy" nirvana that did not come, is not here, and won't come.

I trust you're having a nice weekend.

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