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  • richardmitnick 11:21 am on February 24, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Picosecond Lasers and Avalanche Reactions Generate 1 Billion Times Fusion Reactions", , Clean Energy, , Newzlab,   

    From UNSW via Newzlab: “Picosecond Lasers and Avalanche Reactions Generate 1 Billion Times Fusion Reactions” 

    U NSW bloc

    From University of New South Wales

    via

    1

    February 24, 2020

    HB-11 Energy has published its progress towards generating commercial nuclear fusion using a dual laser method.

    the University of New South Wales reports that HB11 Energy has been granted patents for its laser-driven technique for creating fusion energy.

    They would use a largely empty metal sphere, where a modestly sized HB11 fuel pellet is held in the center, with apertures on different sides for the two lasers. One laser establishes the magnetic containment field for the plasma and the second laser triggers the ‘avalanche’ fusion chain reaction.

    The alpha particles generated by the reaction would create an electrical flow that can be channeled almost directly into an existing power grid with no need for a heat exchanger or steam turbine generator.

    2

    3

    Nextbigfuture covered the HB11 Energy work in 2017.

    HB11 Energy will use the reaction between hydrogen H and the boron isotope 11 (HB11) as uncompressed solid-state fuel within an extremely high trapping magnetic field. Both of these conditions have been demonstrated by experiments and following predictions from computations.

    • a 1 kilojoule laser boosts a magnetic field to 4500-10000 tesla for over one nanosecond. About 100 times stronger than powerful superconducting magnets
    • a second laser causes a nuclear fusion chain reaction
    • lab experiments have been performed which indicate fusion yields increase by a billion times.
    • energy production with a proposed system would be four times cheaper than coal

    The ultra-powerful picosecond CPA laser pulses have just reached the necessary condition for producing a turning point to generate electricity from nuclear fusion reactions.

    Ablation compression of spherical HB11 fusion usually arrives at five orders of magnitudes lower energy gains than the DT reaction. However, applying the computations of plane wave ignition with picoseconds laser pulses on solid density fusion fuel, the resulting need of an energy flux E* of 400 million joules per square centimeter for DT was nearly the same as for HB11. This was a surprising gain increase for HB11 by five orders of magnitudes though only binary nuclear reactions as in the case of DT were used for comparison. The reaction producing three 4 He (alpha particles) resulted in an avalanche reaction and using elastic plasma collisions for the exceptionally preferred energy range around 600 keV resulting in a further increase of the energy gains by four orders of magnitudes. These are all together one billion times higher reaction gains than the classical HB11 fusion as measured.

    The very first measured HB11 reaction with picosecond CPA laser pulse irradiation resulted in a thousand reactions. Irradiating a laser pulse together with a second one for producing an intense particle beam resulted in more than one million reactions and experiments with a single laser beam of entirely few dozens of ps arrived at billion reactions which agreed with the calculated just mentioned gain increases. In all experiments, the temperature could be estimated below values of 100 eV, or at least many orders of magnitudes lower than of the thermal equilibrium pressures above 100 Million.

    Using the knowledge of numerously elaborated and experimentally confirmed cases of interaction of CPA laser pulses in the sub-picosecond range and powers above petawatt, the ignition of fusion of hydrogen with the boron isotope 11 (HB11 fusion) is of high energy gain. Experiments indicated energies above one trillion joules per cubic centimeter for non-thermal pressures. This is the basis for the design of an environmentally clean, safe, low-cost and abundant generator of electricity. The equation of motion for the ignition is dominated by the non-thermal term of the nonlinear force fNL for avoiding the thermal pressures that are in the range above temperatures of 100 million °C.

    High Energy Density Physics – Pressure of picosecond CPA laser pulses substitute ultrahigh thermal
    pressures to ignite fusion.

    Nuclear reactions produce ten million times more energy than the chemical reactions e.g. from burning carbon, but the equilibrium thermal pressures for chemical reactions need temperatures of hundred °C while nuclear burns need many dozens of million °C. This is on the level for ITER or at NIF with using nanosecond laser pulses. In contrast, non-thermal pressures can be higher by lasers using nonlinear forces of picoseconds or shorter duration as computer results of 1978 had demonstrated by non-thermal plasma-block acceleration. This is in full agreement with the ultrahigh acceleration measured by Sauerbrey since 1996 thanks to his use of ultra-extreme powers of picosecond CPA-laser pulses. Even the very inefficient classical fusion of hydrogen with the 11B can be used for the non-thermal reaction with sufficiently modest heating in a reactor for generation electricity.

    Background

    Nature Communications– Fusion reactions initiated by laser-accelerated particle beams in a laser-produced plasma (2013)

    Lasers and Particle Beams – Fusion energy using avalanche increased boron reactions for block-ignition by ultrahigh power picosecond laser pulses (2015)

    Journal of Fusion Energy – Kilotesla Magnetic Assisted Fast Laser Ignited Boron-11 Hydrogen Fusion with Nonlinear Force Driven Ultrahigh Accelerated Plasma Blocks (2014)

    Lasers and Particle Beams – Road map to clean energy using laser beam ignition of boron-hydrogen fusion (2017)

    SOURCES: HB11 Energy, University of New South Wales, Nature Communications, High Energy Density Physics, Heinrich Hora, Lasers and Particle Beams, Journal of Fusion Energy
    Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture

    See the full article here.

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    U NSW Campus

    Welcome to UNSW Australia (The University of New South Wales), one of Australia’s leading research and teaching universities. At UNSW, we take pride in the broad range and high quality of our teaching programs. Our teaching gains strength and currency from our research activities, strong industry links and our international nature; UNSW has a strong regional and global engagement.

    In developing new ideas and promoting lasting knowledge we are creating an academic environment where outstanding students and scholars from around the world can be inspired to excel in their programs of study and research. Partnerships with both local and global communities allow UNSW to share knowledge, debate and research outcomes. UNSW’s public events include concert performances, open days and public forums on issues such as the environment, healthcare and global politics. We encourage you to explore the UNSW website so you can find out more about what we do.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:13 am on February 21, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Clean Energy, , , HB11 Energy, , Laser-driven technique for creating fusion energy.,   

    From University of New South Wales: “Pioneering technology promises unlimited, clean and safe energy” 

    U NSW bloc

    From University of New South Wales

    21 Feb 2020
    Yolande Hutchinson
    UNSW Sydney External Relations
    0420 845 023
    y.hutchinson@unsw.edu.au

    Dr Warren McKenzie
    HB11 Energy
    0400 059 509

    Professor Heinrich Hora
    UNSW Physics
    0414 471 424

    A UNSW spin-out company has secured patents for its ground-breaking approach to energy generation.

    1
    HB11 Energy, has been granted patents for its laser-driven technique for creating fusion energy. Picture: Shutterstock

    UNSW Sydney spin-out company, HB11 Energy, has been granted patents for its laser-driven technique for creating fusion energy. Unlike earlier methods, the technique is completely safe as it does not rely on radioactive fuel and leaves no toxic radioactive waste.

    HB11 Energy secured its intellectual property rights in Japan last week, following recent grants in China and the USA.

    Conceived by UNSW Emeritus Professor of theoretical physics Heinrich Hora, HB11 Energy’s concept differs radically from other experimental fusion projects.

    “After investigating a laser-boron fusion approach for over four decades at UNSW, I am thrilled that this pioneering approach has now received patents in three countries,” Professor Hora said.

    “These granted patents represent the eve of HB11 Energy’s seed-stage fundraising campaign that will establish Australia’s first commercial fusion company, and the world’s only approach focused on the safe hydrogen – boron reaction using lasers.”

    The preferred fusion approach employed by most fusion groups is to heat Deuterium-Tritium fuel well beyond the temperature of the sun (or almost 15 million degrees Celsius). Rather than heating the fuel, HB11’s hydrogen-boron fusion is achieved using two powerful lasers whose pulses apply precise non-linear forces to compress the nuclei together.

    “Tritium is very rare, expensive, radioactive and difficult to store. Fusion reactions employing Deuterium-Tritium also shed harmful neutrons and create radioactive waste which needs to be disposed of safely. I have long favored the combination of cheap and abundant hydrogen H and boron B-11. The fusion of these elements does not primarily produce neutrons and is the ideal fuel combination,” Professor Hora said.

    Most other sources of power production, such as coal, gas and nuclear, rely on heating liquids like water to drive turbines. In contrast, the energy generated by hydrogen-boron fusion converts directly into electricity allowing for much smaller and simpler generators.

    The two-laser approach needed for HB11 Energy’s hydrogen-boron fusion only became possible recently thanks to advances in laser technology that won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics.

    2
    Schematic of a hydrogen-boron fusion reactor.

    Hora’s reactor design is deceptively simple: a largely empty metal sphere, where a modestly sized HB11 fuel pellet is held in the center, with apertures on different sides for the two lasers. One laser establishes the magnetic containment field for the plasma and the second laser triggers the ‘avalanche’ fusion chain reaction.

    The alpha particles generated by the reaction would create an electrical flow that can be channeled almost directly into an existing power grid with no need for a heat exchanger or steam turbine generator.

    “The clean and absolutely safe reactor can be placed within densely populated areas, with no possibility of a catastrophic meltdown such as that which has been seen with nuclear fission reactors,” Professor Hora added.

    With experiments and simulations measuring a laser-initiated chain reaction creating one billion-fold higher reaction rates than predicted (under thermal equilibrium conditions), HB11 Energy stands a high chance of reaching the goal of ‘net-energy gain’ well ahead of other groups.

    “HB11 Energy’s approach could be the only way to achieve very low carbon emissions by 2050. As we aren’t trying to heat fuels to impossibly high temperatures, we are sidestepping all of the scientific challenges that have held fusion energy back for more than half a century,” Dr Warren McKenzie, Managing Director of HB11 Energy, said.

    “This means our development roadmap will be much faster and cheaper than any other fusion approach,” Dr McKenzie added.

    See the full article here .


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    U NSW Campus

    Welcome to UNSW Australia (The University of New South Wales), one of Australia’s leading research and teaching universities. At UNSW, we take pride in the broad range and high quality of our teaching programs. Our teaching gains strength and currency from our research activities, strong industry links and our international nature; UNSW has a strong regional and global engagement.

    In developing new ideas and promoting lasting knowledge we are creating an academic environment where outstanding students and scholars from around the world can be inspired to excel in their programs of study and research. Partnerships with both local and global communities allow UNSW to share knowledge, debate and research outcomes. UNSW’s public events include concert performances, open days and public forums on issues such as the environment, healthcare and global politics. We encourage you to explore the UNSW website so you can find out more about what we do.

     
      • richardmitnick 2:40 pm on February 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Many people could not find this article. I had over 2000 views on the article in the blog. But not one signed up to receive the blog. I notified UNSW of the problem.

        Like

    • Mark Peak 10:11 am on February 24, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Richard,
      I’m happy to receive your blog. There did not appear to be link to request it. I am very interested in seeing the advances in more environmentally friendly forms of energy and being kept abreast of what is discovered and can be made available globally.

      Like

      • richardmitnick 10:43 am on February 24, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Mark- Thank you so very much for taking the blog. The events around this article are very strange. Apparently somehow the original article disappeared even though I found a copy. I am in the U.S. but for my blog I follow a lot of universities and institutions in Australia, which as a country is a hotbed of Basic and Applied Scientific Research, just up my alley. UNSW is a very important center for research. I generally do about ten blog posts per day and get around 250 views per day. For this post from UNSW I have received over 3,000 views. I did write to UNSW to let them know about this set of events. I am sure I am not the only person who notified the university. Again, thanks for your interest and your comment.

        Like

  • richardmitnick 9:50 am on February 18, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Generating electricity 'out of thin air'", Air-gen, , Clean Energy, , , , , Using a natural protein to create electricity from moisture in the air.   

    From UMass Amherst via COSMOS Magazine: “Generating electricity ‘out of thin air'” 

    U Mass Amherst

    From UMass Amherst

    via

    Cosmos Magazine bloc

    COSMOS Magazine

    18 February 2020
    Nick Carne

    Researchers unveil a new device powered by a microbe.

    1
    Graphic image of a thin film of protein nanowires generating electricity from atmospheric humidity. UMass Amherst/Yao and Lovley labs.

    Scientists in the US have developed a device they say uses a natural protein to create electricity from moisture in the air.

    Writing in the journal Nature, electrical engineer Jun Yao and microbiologist Derek Lovley, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, introduce the Air-gen (or air-powered generator), which Lovley describes as “the most amazing and exciting application of protein nanowires yet”.

    Air-Gen has electrically conductive protein nanowires produced by the microbe Geobacter, which Lovley discovered in the Potomac River three decades ago and has been working with ever since, in particular investigating its potential for “green electronics”.

    The Air-gen connects electrodes to the protein nanowires in such a way that electrical current is generated from the water vapour naturally present in the atmosphere.

    It requires only a thin film of protein nanowires less than 10 microns thick. The bottom of the film rests on an electrode, while a smaller electrode that covers only part of the nanowire film sits on top.

    The film adsorbs water vapour from the atmosphere. A combination of the electrical conductivity and surface chemistry of the protein nanowires, coupled with the fine pores between the nanowires within the film, establishes the conditions that generate an electrical current between the two electrodes.

    Developed in Yao’s lab, Air-gen is low-cost, non-polluting and renewable, and needs neither sun nor wind, the researchers say. It can work indoors, or in extremely low humidity of the desert.

    The current generation can power only small electronics, but they hope to bring it to commercial scale soon. Beyond that is the idea a small Air-gen “patch” that can power electronic wearables such as health and fitness monitors and smart watches. And then, maybe, there are mobile phones.

    “The ultimate goal is to make large-scale systems,” says Yao. “For example, the technology might be incorporated into wall paint that could help power your home. Or, we may develop stand-alone air-powered generators that supply electricity off the grid.”

    Lovley also is working to improve the practical biological capabilities of Geobacter. His lab recently developed a new microbial strain to more rapidly and inexpensively mass produce protein nanowires.

    “We turned E. coli into a protein nanowire factory,” he says. “With this new scalable process, protein nanowire supply will no longer be a bottleneck to developing these applications.”

    The Royal Institution of Australia has an education resource based on this article.
    You can access it here.

    See the full article here .

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    John Schaefer


    For new music by living composers

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    Please visit The Jazz Loft Project based on the work of Sam Stephenson
    Please visit The Jazz Loft Radio project from New York Public Radio

    U Mass Amherst campus

    UMass Amherst, the Commonwealth’s flagship campus, is a nationally ranked public research university offering a full range of undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees.

    As the flagship campus of America’s education state, the University of Massachusetts Amherst is the leader of the public higher education system of the Commonwealth, making a profound, transformative impact to the common good. Founded in 1863, we are the largest public research university in New England, distinguished by the excellence and breadth of our academic, research and community outreach programs. We rank 29th among the nation’s top public universities, moving up 11 spots in the past two years in the U.S. News & World Report’s annual college guide.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:19 am on January 29, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "UW researchers win combined $5.9M from Department of Energy to advance solar technologies", , BlueDot Photonics, Clean Energy, , Solar panels,   

    From University of Washington: “UW researchers win combined $5.9M from Department of Energy to advance solar technologies” 

    From University of Washington

    1

    January 24, 2020

    Electrical & computer engineering professor Brian B. Johnson will develop power electronics to integrate solar with grid; BlueDot Photonics will develop new solar manufacturing technology

    2

    University of Washington (UW) clean energy researchers won a combined $5.9 million from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for two projects that will make solar-generated electricity more affordable. The DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) made a total of 75 awards in late 2019 in a $128 million effort to lower solar electricity costs, boost U.S. manufacturing, reduce administrative red tape, and make solar energy and the grid more resistant to cyberattacks.

    Power electronics to integrate solar with the grid

    Brian B. Johnson, Washington Research Foundation (WRF) Innovation Assistant Professor of Clean Energy and Electrical & Computer Engineering (ECE), leads a team receiving $4.9 million over the next three years to develop new control strategies to integrate solar photovoltaic systems and energy storage systems into the power grid. The proposed controllers will ensure grid stability at any level of renewable energy utilization. The team includes ECE professors Daniel Kirschen and Baosen Zhang, and partners at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Minnesota, Enphase Energy, and the Electric Power Research Institute. The team will contribute an additional $2.1 million in cost share, bringing the project total to $7 million. This work will enable grid operators to add increasing amounts of solar power onto the grid in a cost-effective, secure, resilient, and reliable manner.

    Johnson has led another DO­E-backed project since 2018, collaborating with Kirschen, researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the University of Colorado to halve the cost of inverters for solar systems — devices that convert solar-generated dc power into ac power that is usable by the power grid.

    Manufacturing next-generation solar panels

    UW spinoff BlueDot Photonics is a clean technology startup building next-generation solar panels and other photonic devices. The company was co-founded by UW CoMotion Commercialization Fellow Daniel Kroupa, named to Forbes’ “30 Under 30: Energy” list in 2019, UW alum and WRF Postdoctoral Fellow Matthew Crane (Ph.D. chemical engineering ’17), UW alum Jared Silvia (B.S. chemistry & biochemistry ’05), and UW chemistry professor Daniel Gamelin. BlueDot’s DOE-backed team will receive $1 million over the next 18 months to develop vapor deposition hardware for thin-film perovskite solar cells. Project partners include UW associate professor of materials science & engineering and mechanical engineering J. Devin MacKenzie and researchers at NREL.

    BlueDot’s unique vapor deposition technology is a fast and cost-effective technique in which powder is turned directly to vapor to be evenly coated onto a surface — in this case, perovskites onto the base of a solar cell. Perovskites are an emerging class of materials that can be inexpensively made from common elements and engineered to have high-performing photovoltaic properties. BlueDot will be working at the Washington Clean Energy Testbeds, where MacKenzie is technical director.

    BlueDot is one of seven companies backed by the DOE SETO for innovations in manufacturing. The awardees are expected to develop robust hardware prototypes that will attract follow-on private investment. BlueDot will contribute an additional $300,000 in cost share, for a project total of $1.3 million.

    1
    One of BlueDot Photonics’ coupon-sized solar module prototypes, fabricated at the Washington Clean Energy Testbeds.

    See the full article here .


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    u-washington-campus
    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.
    So what defines us —the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:08 am on January 3, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Integrating Input to Forge Ahead in Geothermal Research", , Clean Energy, , ,   

    From Eos: “Integrating Input to Forge Ahead in Geothermal Research” 

    From AGU
    Eos news bloc

    From Eos

    1.3.20
    Robert Rozansky
    Alexis McKittrick

    A road map for a major geothermal energy development initiative determines proposed priorities and goals by integrating input from stakeholders, data, and technological assessments.

    1
    The road map for one U.S. geothermal energy initiative provides a methodology for integrating stakeholder input and priorities with information from research and technical sources to provide a set of common research priorities. Credit: iStock.com/DrAfter123

    Scientific communities often struggle to find consensus on how to achieve the next big leap in technology, methods, or understanding in their fields. Geothermal energy development is no exception. Here we describe a methodological approach to combining qualitative input from the geothermal research community with technical information and data. The result of this approach is a road map to overcoming barriers facing this important field of research.

    Geothermal energy accounts for merely 0.4% of U.S. electricity production today, but the country has vast, untapped geothermal energy resources—if only we can access them. The U.S. Geological Survey has found that unconventional geothermal sources could produce as much as 500 gigawatts of electricity—roughly half of U.S. electric power generating capacity. These sources have sufficient heat but insufficient fluid permeability to enable extraction of this heat [U.S. Geological Survey, 2008]. One approach to tapping these resources is to construct enhanced geothermal systems (EGS), in which techniques such as fluid injection are used to increase the permeability of the subsurface to make a reservoir suitable for heat exchange and extraction (Figure 1).

    2
    Fig. 1. A geothermal power plant produces electricity from water that has been injected (blue pipe at center) into a subsurface reservoir, heated, and then pumped back to the surface (red pipes). Enhanced geothermal systems use techniques such as fluid injection to enhance the permeability of underground reservoirs that might otherwise not be accessible for geothermal heat extraction. Credit: U.S. Department of Energy.

    The United States and other countries have conducted experimental EGS projects since the 1970s. However, engineering a successful heat exchange reservoir in the high temperatures and pressures characteristic of EGS sites remains a significant technical challenge, one that must be overcome to enable commercial viability [Ziagos et al., 2013].

    Because of the great potential of this technology, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is driving an ambitious initiative called the Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE) to accelerate research and development in EGS. The FORGE initiative will provide $140 million in funding over the next 5 years (subject to congressional appropriation) for cutting-edge research, drilling, and technology testing at a field laboratory and experimental EGS site in Milford, Utah, operated by the University of Utah [U.S. Department of Energy, 2018].

    Assessing Challenges of Enhanced Geothermal Systems

    DOE’s Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) asked the Science and Technology Policy Institute (STPI) to develop a methodology for collecting input from the EGS community to produce a FORGE road map with strategic guidance for the managers and operators of the site. STPI is a federally funded research and development center established by Congress and operated by the nonprofit Institute for Defense Analyses, which provides analyses of scientific issues important to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and to other federal agencies.

    EGS faces numerous technical challenges. These include developing drilling equipment that can withstand the heat, pressure, and geology of the EGS environment; improving the ability to isolate specific targets in the subsurface for stimulation (called zonal isolation); and learning to better mitigate the risk of induced seismicity during operations. The EGS community has a variety of ideas for how FORGE can address these challenges and for the balance needed between conducting research that is novel, though potentially risky, and efforts that will maintain a functioning site for continued use.

    The time frame for FORGE is also relatively short, about 5 years, especially given the substantial effort required simply to drill and establish an EGS reservoir. In light of this, STPI designed and conducted a process to capture the community’s ideas for how FORGE can advance EGS, process this information methodically and impartially, and distill it into a document that is reflective of the community’s input and useful for planning research at FORGE.

    STPI’s process was designed specifically for the FORGE road map, but the general approach described here, or specific elements of it, could prove valuable for other efforts seeking to leverage collective community feedback to move a research field forward. Using this approach, a community struggling to make progress can prioritize research and technology needs without focusing on the individual approaches of different researchers or organizations.

    A Road Map for Geothermal Research

    The FORGE road map, published in February 2019, is intended to offer input from the EGS research community to help the managers of FORGE craft funding opportunities, operate the site in Utah, and work toward achieving DOE’s mission for FORGE: a set of rigorous and reproducible EGS technical solutions and a pathway to successful commercial EGS development.

    The document outlines discrete research activities—and highlights the most critical of these activities—that the EGS research community proposed for FORGE to address technical challenges. The road map also categorizes all research activities into three overarching areas of focus: stimulation planning and design, fracture control, and reservoir management.

    Engaging the Community

    In developing the road map, STPI, in coordination with DOE, first determined categories of information that could serve as building blocks for the road map. They did this by analyzing U.S. and foreign EGS road maps and vision studies from the past 2 decades. These categories included the major technical challenges facing EGS, such as developing optimal subsurface fracture networks, and the specific areas of research that could be investigated at FORGE to address those challenges, such as testing different zonal isolation methods.

    Higher-level questions included determining how progress or success could be recognized in these research areas and what accomplishments could serve as milestones for the FORGE project. Examples of potential milestones include drilling a well to a predetermined depth and measuring subsurface properties to a target resolution.

    STPI then conducted semistructured interviews with 24 stakeholders from DOE, national laboratories, industry, and academia to validate and expand the initially identified technical challenges, understand the barriers that researchers were facing when trying to address these challenges, and discuss technology that could overcome these barriers.

    STPI summarized the results of these interviews, including technical challenges and potential research activities for FORGE, in an informal memorandum. This memorandum served as a preliminary, skeletal draft of the road map, and it provided the starting point for discussion in a community workshop.

    In August 2018, STPI hosted a FORGE Roadmap Development Workshop at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo. Nearly 30 EGS subject matter experts from across academia, national laboratories, industry, and government attended and provided input. In a series of breakout sessions, attendees reviewed the technical challenges and research activities identified in STPI’s interviews, generated a list of technical milestones for FORGE’s 5 years of operation, discussed the dependencies among the research activities and milestones on the FORGE timeline, and produced qualitative and quantitative criteria to measure progress in each of the research activities.

    The steps in this process—a literature review, interviews with subject matter experts, and a stakeholder workshop—represent a progression of inputs that helped elucidate EGS community perspectives on current challenges to commercial EGS development and research activities that would help FORGE solve those challenges.

    After this information had been collected, STPI worked with DOE on the technical content of the road map in preparation for its publication last February. STPI and DOE consolidated, structured, and prioritized this content to provide the greatest utility to the FORGE managers and operators.

    The Way Ahead

    Clean, geothermal energy has the potential to make up a much larger share of the U.S. energy portfolio than it does at present, but to get there, the field of EGS will have to make substantial progress. The FORGE road map is designed to help the FORGE initiative move toward this goal as effectively as possible, especially given the variety of viewpoints on what research is most important with the limited funding and time available.

    The fundamental difficulties faced by the EGS community in charting a path forward are hardly unique, and so the successful process used in developing this road map could be applicable to other research communities. Collaborative processes such as the one described here look beyond literature reviews and individual research projects, and they build on themselves as they progress. Such processes can incorporate diverging viewpoints to bring out the common challenges and potential solutions that might help a research community gain consensus on how to move forward. Although a community may not agree on the exact path to success, having a common end point and a set of research priorities can help everyone forge ahead.

    References

    U.S. Department of Energy (2018), Department of Energy selects University of Utah site for $140 million geothermal research and development, https://www.energy.gov/articles/department-energy-selects-university-utah-site-140-million-geothermal-research-and.

    U.S. Geological Survey (2008), Assessment of moderate- and high-temperature geothermal resources of the United States, U.S. Geol. Surv. Fact Sheet, 2008-3082, 4 pp., https://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2008/3082/.

    Ziagos, J., et al. (2013), A technology roadmap for strategic development of enhanced geothermal systems, in Proceedings of the 38th Workshop on Geothermal Reservoir Engineering, pp. 11–13, Stanford Univ., Stanford, Calif., https://pangea.stanford.edu/ERE/pdf/IGAstandard/SGW/2013/Ziagos.pdf.

    See the full article here .

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    Eos is the leading source for trustworthy news and perspectives about the Earth and space sciences and their impact. Its namesake is Eos, the Greek goddess of the dawn, who represents the light shed on understanding our planet and its environment in space by the Earth and space sciences.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:44 am on December 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Stanford Researchers Have an Exciting Plan to Tackle The Climate Emergency Worldwide", , Clean Energy, ,   

    From Stanford University via Science Alert: “Stanford Researchers Have an Exciting Plan to Tackle The Climate Emergency Worldwide” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    via

    ScienceAlert

    27 DEC 2019
    TESSA KOUMOUNDOUROS

    1
    (Thomas Richter/Unsplash)

    Things are pretty dire right now. Giant swaths of my country are burning as I write this, at a scale unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Countless animals, including koalas, are perishing along with our life-supporting greenery. People are losing homes and loved ones.

    These catastrophes are being replicated around the globe ever more frequently, and we know exactly what is exacerbating them. We know we need to rapidly make some drastic changes – and Stanford researchers have come up with a plan [Cell One Earth].

    Using the latest data available, they have outlined how 143 countries around the world can switch to 100 percent clean energy by the year 2050.

    This plan could not only contribute towards stabilising our dangerously increasing global temperatures, but also reduce the 7 million deaths caused by pollution every year and create millions more jobs than keeping our current systems.

    The plan would require a hefty investment of around US$73 trillion. But the researchers’ calculations show the jobs and savings it would earn would pay this back in as little as seven years.

    “Based on previous calculations we have performed, we believe this will avoid 1.5 degree global warming,” environmental engineer and lead author Mark Jacobson told ScienceAlert.

    “The timeline is more aggressive than any IPCC scenario – we concluded in 2009 that a 100 percent transition by 2030 was technically and economically possible – but for social and political reasons, a 2050 date is more practical.”

    Here’s how it would work. The plan involves transitioning all our energy sectors, including electricity, transport, industry, agriculture, fishing, forestry and the military to work entirely with renewable energy.

    Jacobson believes we have 95 percent of the technology we need already, with only solutions for long distance and ocean travel still to be commercialised.

    “By electrifying everything with clean, renewable energy, we reduce power demand by about 57 percent,” Jacobson explained.

    He and colleagues show it is possible to meet demand and maintain stable electricity grids using only wind, water, solar and storage, across all 143 countries.

    These technologies are already available, reliable and respond much faster than natural gas, so they are already cheaper. There’s also no need for nuclear which takes 10-19 years between planning and operation, biofuels that cause more air pollution, or the invention of new technologies.

    “‘Clean coal’ just doesn’t exist and never will,” Jacobson says, “because the technology does not work and only increases mining and emissions of air pollutants while reducing little carbon, and their is no guarantee at all the carbon that is captured will stay captured.”

    The team found that electrifying all energy sectors makes the demand for energy more flexible and the combination of renewable energy and storage is better suited to meet this flexibility than our current system.

    This plan “creates 28.6 million more full-time jobs in the long term than business as usual and only needs approximately 0.17 percent and approximately 0.48 percent land for new footprint and distance respectively,” the researchers write in their report.

    Building the infrastructure necessary for this transition would, of course, create CO2 emissions. The researchers calculated that the necessary steel and concrete would require about 0.914 percent of current CO2 emissions. But switching to renewables to produce the concrete would reduce this.

    With plans this big there are plenty of uncertainties, and some inconsistencies between databases. The team takes these into account by modelling several scenarios with different levels of costs and climate damage.

    “You’re probably not going to predict exactly what’s going to happen,” said Jacobson. “But there are many solutions and many scenarios that could work.”

    Technology writer Michael Barnard believes the study’s estimates are quite conservative – skewing towards the more expensive technologies and scenarios.

    “Storage is a solved problem,” he writes for CleanTechnica. “Even the most expensive and conservative projections as used by Jacobson are much, much cheaper than business as usual, and there are many more solutions in play.”

    The authors of the report stress that while implementing such an energy transition, it is also crucial that we simultaneously tackle emissions coming from other sources like fertilisers and deforestation.

    This proposal could earn push-back from industries and politicians that have the most to lose, especially those with a track record of throwing massive resources at delaying our progress towards a more sustainable future. Criticisms of the team’s previous work [Cell Joule] have already been linked back to these exact groups.

    The report has been published in the journal One Earth[above].

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Stanford University campus. No image credit

    Stanford University

    Leland and Jane Stanford founded the University to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” Stanford opened its doors in 1891, and more than a century later, it remains dedicated to finding solutions to the great challenges of the day and to preparing our students for leadership in today’s complex world. Stanford, is an American private research university located in Stanford, California on an 8,180-acre (3,310 ha) campus near Palo Alto. Since 1952, more than 54 Stanford faculty, staff, and alumni have won the Nobel Prize, including 19 current faculty members

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  • richardmitnick 8:39 am on November 8, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Clean Energy, , NREL-National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Paul Veers, Wind Farms   

    From National Renewable Energy Laboratory: “Wind Pioneer Paul Veers” 

    NREL

    From National Renewable Energy Laboratory

    Nov. 6, 2019
    Ernie Tucker

    From Farm to Wind Farms, He’s Aloft as New Senior Research Fellow.

    1
    Paul Veers (right) at NREL’s Flatirons Campus with Eric Lantz, Katherine Dykes, and Tyler Stehly, who together developed WISDEM, the wind-plant integrated system design and engineering model. Photo by Dennis Schroeder, NREL

    Tending cows on a Wisconsin dairy farm taught Paul Veers the value of hard work—and also that he didn’t want to be a farmer.

    “The routine starts at 6 a.m. and ends at 8 p.m., seven days a week,” said the newly appointed research fellow at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

    As Veers was finishing his bachelor’s degree, his father offered him a chance to take over the 160-acre farm, saying he’d keep the 35 cows around until his son decided. “I thought about it for a millisecond,” Veers laughed. “I said, ‘Go ahead and sell the herd. I’m going elsewhere.’”

    After studying engineering mechanics at the University of Wisconsin (a degree that, he says, “allows me to not do anything practical whatsoever—it’s really fundamental, the mechanics of engineering”), he earned his Ph.D. from Stanford University.

    In 1980, a rural connection helped launch his career in science and wind energy research when Veers interviewed for his first job in operations at Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico. He met with “an old Tennessee farmer” who was impressed with Veers’ background. “He knew that on a farm, when the machinery breaks, the farmer had to get out there and fix it. There’s nothing else you can do.”

    Yet Veers’ experience was different.

    “My family wasn’t very mechanical,” Veers admitted. “I got the job under false pretenses” because his family relied on a friend who had a garage who could fix machines much more quickly.

    Nonetheless, Veers joined Sandia’s applied mechanics department, which consulted on projects across the laboratory. While he worked on a large assortment of technologies that included nuclear reactors, he also encountered wind turbines.

    His future career took off. “Wind energy was hands down the most interesting,” he said. “The field was wide open.”

    Back in the early 1980s, the question was: Why are these machines breaking, and how do we figure out how to build them so they don’t break? “No one really knew how to do that,” Veers said. “That’s what drew me in.”

    The Turbulent World of Wind

    Heading into the field of wind energy for a career wasn’t exactly a safe choice at the time. Veers recalled that, early on at Sandia, he was introduced to a senior staffer in nuclear weapons research at a cocktail party. “He asked me what I was focused on, and I said wind energy,” Veers said. The would-be mentor paused a moment, then said, “Oh, that is truly, truly trivial. You ought to find something worthwhile. That is never going to turn into anything.”

    Doubters did not deflect him. Veers persevered in the wild days of wind, when researchers did “dangerous stuff” with these balky new machines. And when federal funding became iffy for renewable energy development, he stayed put even as managers suggested staffers look elsewhere for secure jobs.

    “I wasn’t bright enough to realize this could be a problem,” he said. Still, he was not convinced that wind energy was the solution.

    “I really did not know if wind would become a major player,” Veers said. “I did not have a passion. Originally, I thought wind energy was an amazingly interesting problem to solve.”

    Gradually, his viewpoint shifted. “The more I learned, the more I thought this could work,” he said. “This could make a difference.”

    At that time, the general vision was that someday wind power might provide 5% of U.S. electricity. “Wouldn’t that be a wonderful success?” he recalled thinking. Now, it’s surpassed that figure and keeps climbing.

    “Our sense is we’re going to hit 10% easily,” Veers said. “The goal is 50%. We now have the vision, if we keep pushing the frontiers with the technology, that it is going to increase to 20% or 30% globally.”

    For Veers, it is “amazingly satisfying to see that this work we’re doing is paying off.”

    2
    NREL Associate Laboratory Director for Mechanical and Thermal Engineering Sciences Johney Green welcomes Paul Veers as a new NREL research fellow. Photo by Dennis Schroeder, NREL.

    Early Contacts with NREL

    While based at Sandia, Veers had frequent contacts with NREL. “I worked with NREL from day one,” he said.

    Early on, he established himself as an expert in vertical-axis wind turbines (VAWTs) and wind inflow analytical modeling tools. Sandia operated one of the largest research VAWTs in the world, and Veers was one of the lead research engineers in that program.

    Brian Smith, partnership manager for the National Wind Technology Center (NWTC) at NREL, recalls meeting Veers in the 1980s. “Unfortunately, VAWTs never reached the commercial promised land,” Smith said. “And Paul, always taking the long view, adeptly switched to horizontal axis wind turbines without a hitch in his recognized expertise.”

    Still, Veers did make a trip up to NREL’s Flatirons Campus to check on the one vertical axis wind turbine located there.

    Also while at Sandia, he investigated wind turbine fatigue because he realized the assumptions regarding turbulence were inadequate. As a result, Veers developed one of the first analytical tools that modeled upwind flow characteristics. He also contributed to wind turbine system design tools that predict aerodynamic and structural dynamic performance.

    The system to simulate turbulence can be applied to wind turbine computational models, an approach often referred to as the “Veers Method.” Variations of it are still in use today.

    Aside from his technical talents, colleagues and peers value Veers’ communication skills.

    “Paul has the uncanny ability to understand the physics of wind energy across many scientific disciplines and communicate the complexities to non-experts in writing and in words,” Smith said. “This skill set is truly unique in the world and extremely valuable.”

    Take his explanation of a wind turbine for example: “It is a big piece of machinery that takes energy in one form and makes electricity.”

    For a variety of reasons, Veers impressed many at NREL early on. NREL Fellow Bob Thresher met Veers at a wind turbine dynamics workshop in 1984. “Even then, as a young researcher working at Sandia, he stood out as a clear and careful thinker with great ideas to drive wind energy research forward,” Thresher said.

    “Over the years, Paul has tirelessly worked across the national laboratory complex, contributing to the advancement of wind energy science and technology development,” he added.

    Thresher describes Veers as an enthusiastic collaborative partner in the creation of the North American Wind Energy Academy. Veers skillfully brought university researchers together with national laboratory and industry researchers to address the longer-term research issues facing wind energy today.

    Veers made it a point to reach out. “I was trying to make the other labs successful,” he said. “Unless we do that together, we’re not going to have a mission that’s fruitful.”

    With his ability to network, as well as his connections to NREL, it was only a matter of time before he headed north to Colorado.

    3
    Paul Veers holds a photo of his four daughters—who provide one reason that he’ll continue to explore wind power and keep his job, he joked. Photo by Ernie Tucker, NREL.

    An Innate Affinity for NREL

    When NREL’s chief engineer position opened up in 2010, Veers jumped at the chance. United with old friends such as Thresher and Smith, as well as Sue Hock and Mike Robinson, Veers was set to join an established group. In his view, a major draw was, and is, NREL’s close-knit wind energy workforce.

    “We all have to work together to make something that’s useful,” he said. “That’s often why this group is like a family. The teamwork that goes on here is really exceptional.”

    Veers tackles leadership roles. He represents NREL on DOE’s Atmosphere to Electrons (A2e) Executive Management Committee. And for 12 years he was chief editor for Wind Energy, an international journal for progress and applications in wind power.

    Recently, he was the lead author of a Science article analyzing three challenges to wind energy potential. It followed NREL convening more than 70 wind experts representing 15 countries in 2017 to discuss a future electricity system where wind could serve the global demand for clean energy.

    “People think that because wind turbines have worked for decades there’s no room for improvement. And yet, there’s so much more to be done,” Veers said. “We distilled all the information into three big things connected to wind energy: the atmosphere, the machine, and the grid and [wind farm] plant.”

    The possible upside of such innovation is clear.

    “Addressing these challenges by taking an interdisciplinary wind energy science and engineering approach will lead to solutions that advance the state of the art in wind plant energy output,” said article co-author and NREL Associate Laboratory Director for Mechanical and Thermal Engineering Sciences Johney Green.

    For Veers, the challenge is real. It keeps him showing up for work—although he also jokes that the fact that he and his wife Karen have four daughters born over a span of five years is also an incentive to keep his job.

    Veers remains modest about his achievements. “I have many faults. I’m not very outgoing, and sometimes not very articulate,” he said. His colleagues back him up. Smith joked that Veers had an unbroken record of beginning presentations with a joke—that falls flat.

    Whatever his attributes, Veers believes the key to success is the team. “It is an attitude that attracted me to NREL and this wind group in the first place,” he said. “That attitude is where the mission is much more important than personal glory or success.”

    For Veers, choosing wind farms over dairy farms provided the best harvest of his talents.

    See the full article here.

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    3

    The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), located in Golden, Colorado, specializes in renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is a government-owned, contractor-operated facility, and is funded through the United States Department of Energy. This arrangement allows a private entity to operate the lab on behalf of the federal government. NREL receives funding from Congress to be applied toward research and development projects. NREL also performs research on photovoltaics (PV) under the National Center for Photovoltaics. NREL has a number of PV research capabilities including research and development, testing, and deployment. NREL’s campus houses several facilities dedicated to PV research.

    NREL’s areas of research and development are renewable electricity, energy productivity, energy storage, systems integration, and sustainable transportation.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:58 am on November 6, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "New technique lets researchers map strain in next-gen solar cells", A new type of electron backscatter diffraction, , Clean Energy, , , FOM Institute for Atomic and Molecular Physics in the Netherlands, , ,   

    From University of Washington: “New technique lets researchers map strain in next-gen solar cells” 

    U Washington

    From University of Washington

    October 31, 2019
    James Urton

    1

    People can be good at hiding strain, and we’re not alone. Solar cells have the same talent. For a solar cell, physical strain within its microscopic crystalline structure can interrupt its core function — converting sunlight into electricity — by essentially “losing” energy as heat. For an emerging type of solar cell, known as lead halide perovskites, reducing and taming this loss is key to improving efficiency and putting the perovskites on par with today’s silicon solar cells.

    In order to understand where strain builds up within a solar cell and triggers the energy loss, scientists must visualize the underlying grain structure of perovskite crystals within the solar cell. But the best approach involves bombarding the solar cell with high-energy electrons, which essentially burns the solar cell and renders it useless.

    Researchers from the University of Washington and the FOM Institute for Atomic and Molecular Physics in the Netherlands have developed a way to illuminate strain in lead halide perovskite solar cells without harming them. Their approach, published online Sept. 10 in Joule, succeeded in imaging the grain structure of a perovskite solar cell, showing that misorientation between microscopic perovskite crystals is the primary contributor to the buildup of strain within the solar cell. Crystal misorientation creates small-scale defects in the grain structure, which interrupt the transport of electrons within the solar cell and lead to heat loss through a process known as non-radiative recombination.

    3
    Image of a perovskite solar cell, obtained by the team’s improved method for electron imaging, showing individual grain structure.Jariwala et al., Joule, 2019

    “By combining our optical imaging with the new electron detector developed at FOM, we can actually see how the individual crystals are oriented and put together within a perovskite solar cell,” said senior author David Ginger, a UW professor of chemistry and chief scientist at the UW-based Clean Energy Institute. “We can show that strain builds up due to the grain orientation, which is information researchers can use to improve perovskite synthesis and manufacturing processes to realize better solar cells with minimal strain — and therefore minimal heat loss due to non-radiative recombination.”

    Lead halide perovskites are cheap, printable crystalline compounds that show promise as low-cost, adaptable and efficient alternatives to the silicon or gallium arsenide solar cells that are widely used today. But even the best perovskite solar cells lose some electricity as heat at microscopic locations scattered across the cell, which dampens the efficiency.

    Scientists have long used fluorescence microscopy to identify the locations on perovskite solar cells’ surface that reduce efficiency. But to identify the locations of defects causing the heat loss, researchers need to image the true grain structure of the film, according to first author Sarthak Jariwala, a UW doctoral student in materials science and engineering and a Clean Energy Institute Graduate Fellow.

    “Historically, imaging the solar cell’s underlying true grain structure has not been possible to do without damaging the solar cell,” said Jariwala.

    Typical approaches to view the internal structure utilize a form of electron microscopy called electron backscatter diffraction, which would normally burn the solar cell. But scientists at the FOM Institute for Atomic and Molecular Physics, led by co-authors Erik Garnett and Bruno Ehrler, developed an improved detector that can capture electron backscatter diffraction images at lower exposure times, preserving the solar cell structure.

    The images of perovskite solar cells from Ginger’s lab reveal a grain structure that resembles a dry lakebed, with “cracks” representing the boundaries among thousands of individual perovskite grains. Using this imaging data, the researchers could for the first time map the 3D orientation of crystals within a functioning perovskite solar cell. They could also determine where misalignment among crystals created strain.

    4
    The thin lines show the grain structure of a perovskite solar cell obtained using a new type of electron backscatter diffraction. Researchers can use a different technique to map sites of high energy loss (dark purple) and low energy loss (yellow).Jariwala et al., Joule, 2019

    When the researchers overlaid images of the perovskite’s grain structure with centers of non-radiative recombination, which Jariwala imaged using fluorescence microscopy, they discovered that non-radiative recombination could also occur away from visible boundaries.

    “We think that strain locally deforms the perovskite structure and causes defects,” said Ginger. “These defects can then disrupt the transport of electrical current within the solar cell, causing non-radiative recombination — even elsewhere on the surface.”

    While Ginger’s team has previously developed methods to “heal” some of these defects that serve as centers of non-radiative recombination in perovskite solar cells, ideally researchers would like to develop perovskite synthesis methods that would reduce or eliminate non-radiative recombination altogether.

    “Now we can explore strategies like controlling grain size and orientation spread during the perovskite synthesis process,” said Ginger. “Those might be routes to reduce misorientation and strain — and prevent defects from forming in the first place.”

    Co-authors on the paper are Hongyu Sun, Gede Adhyaksa, Adries Lof and Loreta Muscarella with the FOM Institute for Atomic and Molecular Physics. The research was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. National Science Foundation, the UW Clean Energy Institute, TKI Urban Energy, the European Research Council and the Dutch Science Foundation.

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    u-washington-campus
    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.
    So what defines us —the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:52 am on November 4, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Stanford study casts doubt on carbon capture", , Clean Energy, , Focusing on renewables,   

    From Stanford University: “Stanford study casts doubt on carbon capture” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    October 25, 2019
    Taylor Kubota

    Current approaches to carbon capture can increase air pollution and are not efficient at reducing carbon in the atmosphere, according to research from Mark Z. Jacobson.

    1
    Research by Mark Z. Jacobson, professor of civil and environmental engineering, suggests that carbon capture technologies are inefficient and increase air pollution. Given this analysis, he argues that the best solution is to instead focus on renewable options, such as wind or solar, replacing fossil fuels. (Image credit: Getty Images)

    One proposed method for reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere – and reducing the risk of climate change – is to capture carbon from the air or prevent it from getting there in the first place. However, research from Mark Z. Jacobson at Stanford University, published in Energy and Environmental Science, suggests that carbon capture technologies can cause more harm than good.

    “All sorts of scenarios have been developed under the assumption that carbon capture actually reduces substantial amounts of carbon. However, this research finds that it reduces only a small fraction of carbon emissions, and it usually increases air pollution,” said Jacobson, who is a professor of civil and environmental engineering. “Even if you have 100 percent capture from the capture equipment, it is still worse, from a social cost perspective, than replacing a coal or gas plant with a wind farm because carbon capture never reduces air pollution and always has a capture equipment cost. Wind replacing fossil fuels always reduces air pollution and never has a capture equipment cost.”

    Jacobson, who is also a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, examined public data from a coal with carbon capture electric power plant and a plant that removes carbon from the air directly. In both cases, electricity to run the carbon capture came from natural gas. He calculated the net CO2 reduction and total cost of the carbon capture process in each case, accounting for the electricity needed to run the carbon capture equipment, the combustion and upstream emissions resulting from that electricity, and, in the case of the coal plant, its upstream emissions. (Upstream emissions are emissions, including from leaks and combustion, from mining and transporting a fuel such as coal or natural gas.)

    Common estimates of carbon capture technologies – which only look at the carbon captured from energy production at a fossil fuel plant itself and not upstream emissions – say carbon capture can remediate 85-90 percent of carbon emissions. Once Jacobson calculated all the emissions associated with these plants that could contribute to global warming, he converted them to the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide in order to compare his data with the standard estimate. He found that in both cases the equipment captured the equivalent of only 10-11 percent of the emissions they produced, averaged over 20 years.

    This research also looked at the social cost of carbon capture – including air pollution, potential health problems, economic costs and overall contributions to climate change – and concluded that those are always similar to or higher than operating a fossil fuel plant without carbon capture and higher than not capturing carbon from the air at all. Even when the capture equipment is powered by renewable electricity, Jacobson concluded that it is always better to use the renewable electricity instead to replace coal or natural gas electricity or to do nothing, from a social cost perspective.

    Given this analysis, Jacobson argued that the best solution is to instead focus on renewable options, such as wind or solar, replacing fossil fuels.

    Efficiency and upstream emissions

    This research is based on data from two real carbon capture plants, which both run on natural gas. The first is a coal plant with carbon capture equipment. The second plant is not attached to any energy-producing counterpart. Instead, it pulls existing carbon dioxide from the air using a chemical process.

    Jacobson examined several scenarios to determine the actual and possible efficiencies of these two kinds of plants, including what would happen if the carbon capture technologies were run with renewable electricity rather than natural gas, and if the same amount of renewable electricity required to run the equipment were instead used to replace coal plant electricity.

    While the standard estimate for the efficiency of carbon capture technologies is 85-90 percent, neither of these plants met that expectation. Even without accounting for upstream emissions, the equipment associated with the coal plant was only 55.4 percent efficient over 6 months, on average. With the upstream emissions included, Jacobson found that, on average over 20 years, the equipment captured only 10-11 percent of the total carbon dioxide equivalent emissions that it and the coal plant contributed. The air capture plant was also only 10-11 percent efficient, on average over 20 years, once Jacobson took into consideration its upstream emissions and the uncaptured and upstream emissions that came from operating the plant on natural gas.

    Due to the high energy needs of carbon capture equipment, Jacobson concluded that the social cost of coal with carbon capture powered by natural gas was about 24 percent higher, over 20 years, than the coal without carbon capture. If the natural gas at that same plant were replaced with wind power, the social cost would still exceed that of doing nothing. Only when wind replaced coal itself did social costs decrease.

    For both types of plants this suggests that, even if carbon capture equipment is able to capture 100 percent of the carbon it is designed to offset, the cost of manufacturing and running the equipment plus the cost of the air pollution it continues to allow or increases makes it less efficient than using those same resources to create renewable energy plants replacing coal or gas directly.

    “Not only does carbon capture hardly work at existing plants, but there’s no way it can actually improve to be better than replacing coal or gas with wind or solar directly,” said Jacobson. “The latter will always be better, no matter what, in terms of the social cost. You can’t just ignore health costs or climate costs.”

    This study did not consider what happens to carbon dioxide after it is captured but Jacobson suggests that most applications today, which are for industrial use, result in additional leakage of carbon dioxide back into the air.

    Focusing on renewables

    People propose that carbon capture could be useful in the future, even after we have stopped burning fossil fuels, to lower atmospheric carbon levels. Even assuming these technologies run on renewables, Jacobson maintains that the smarter investment is in options that are currently disconnected from the fossil fuel industry, such as reforestation – a natural version of air capture – and other forms of climate change solutions focused on eliminating other sources of emissions and pollution. These include reducing biomass burning, and reducing halogen, nitrous oxide and methane emissions.

    “There is a lot of reliance on carbon capture in theoretical modeling, and by focusing on that as even a possibility, that diverts resources away from real solutions,” said Jacobson. “It gives people hope that you can keep fossil fuel power plants alive. It delays action. In fact, carbon capture and direct air capture are always opportunity costs.”

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Stanford University campus. No image credit

    Stanford University

    Leland and Jane Stanford founded the University to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” Stanford opened its doors in 1891, and more than a century later, it remains dedicated to finding solutions to the great challenges of the day and to preparing our students for leadership in today’s complex world. Stanford, is an American private research university located in Stanford, California on an 8,180-acre (3,310 ha) campus near Palo Alto. Since 1952, more than 54 Stanford faculty, staff, and alumni have won the Nobel Prize, including 19 current faculty members

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  • richardmitnick 9:10 am on October 26, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "‘Artificial leaf’ successfully produces clean gas ", , , Clean Energy, , , ,   

    From University of Cambridge: “‘Artificial leaf’ successfully produces clean gas “ 

    U Cambridge bloc

    From University of Cambridge

    21 Oct 2019
    Sarah Collins
    sarah.collins@admin.cam.ac.uk

    1
    Artificial leaf. Credit: Virgil Andrei

    A widely-used gas that is currently produced from fossil fuels can instead be made by an ‘artificial leaf’ that uses only sunlight, carbon dioxide and water, and which could eventually be used to develop a sustainable liquid fuel alternative to petrol.

    The carbon-neutral device sets a new benchmark in the field of solar fuels, after researchers at the University of Cambridge demonstrated that it can directly produce the gas – called syngas – in a sustainable and simple way.

    Rather than running on fossil fuels, the artificial leaf is powered by sunlight, although it still works efficiently on cloudy and overcast days. And unlike the current industrial processes for producing syngas, the leaf does not release any additional carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The results are reported in the journal Nature Materials.

    Syngas is currently made from a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide, and is used to produce a range of commodities, such as fuels, pharmaceuticals, plastics and fertilisers.

    “You may not have heard of syngas itself but every day, you consume products that were created using it. Being able to produce it sustainably would be a critical step in closing the global carbon cycle and establishing a sustainable chemical and fuel industry,” said senior author Professor Erwin Reisner from Cambridge’s Department of Chemistry, who has spent seven years working towards this goal.

    The device Reisner and his colleagues produced is inspired by photosynthesis – the natural process by which plants use the energy from sunlight to turn carbon dioxide into food.

    On the artificial leaf, two light absorbers, similar to the molecules in plants that harvest sunlight, are combined with a catalyst made from the naturally abundant element cobalt.

    When the device is immersed in water, one light absorber uses the catalyst to produce oxygen. The other carries out the chemical reaction that reduces carbon dioxide and water into carbon monoxide and hydrogen, forming the syngas mixture.

    As an added bonus, the researchers discovered that their light absorbers work even under the low levels of sunlight on a rainy or overcast day.

    “This means you are not limited to using this technology just in warm countries, or only operating the process during the summer months,” said PhD student Virgil Andrei, first author of the paper. “You could use it from dawn until dusk, anywhere in the world.”

    The research was carried out in the Christian Doppler Laboratory for Sustainable SynGas Chemistry in the University’s Department of Chemistry. It was co-funded by the Austrian government and the Austrian petrochemical company OMV, which is looking for ways to make its business more sustainable.

    “OMV has been an avid supporter of the Christian Doppler Laboratory for the past seven years. The team’s fundamental research to produce syngas as the basis for liquid fuel in a carbon neutral way is ground-breaking,” said Michael-Dieter Ulbrich, Senior Advisor at OMV.

    Other ‘artificial leaf’ devices have also been developed, but these usually only produce hydrogen. The Cambridge researchers say the reason they have been able to make theirs produce syngas sustainably is thanks the combination of materials and catalysts they used.

    These include state-of-the-art perovskite light absorbers, which provide a high photovoltage and electrical current to power the chemical reaction by which carbon dioxide is reduced to carbon monoxide, in comparison to light absorbers made from silicon or dye-sensitised materials. The researchers also used cobalt as their molecular catalyst, instead of platinum or silver. Cobalt is not only lower-cost, but it is better at producing carbon monoxide than other catalysts.

    The team is now looking at ways to use their technology to produce a sustainable liquid fuel alternative to petrol.

    Syngas is already used as a building block in the production of liquid fuels. “What we’d like to do next, instead of first making syngas and then converting it into liquid fuel, is to make the liquid fuel in one step from carbon dioxide and water,” said Reisner, who is also a Fellow of St John’s College.

    Although great advances are being made in generating electricity from renewable energy sources such as wind power and photovoltaics, Reisner says the development of synthetic petrol is vital, as electricity can currently only satisfy about 25% of our total global energy demand. “There is a major demand for liquid fuels to power heavy transport, shipping and aviation sustainably,” he said.

    “We are aiming at sustainably creating products such as ethanol, which can readily be used as a fuel,” said Andrei. “It’s challenging to produce it in one step from sunlight using the carbon dioxide reduction reaction. But we are confident that we are going in the right direction, and that we have the right catalysts, so we believe we will be able to produce a device that can demonstrate this process in the near future.”

    The research was also funded by the Winton Programme for the Physics of Sustainability, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Cambridge Campus

    The University of Cambridge (abbreviated as Cantab in post-nominal letters) is a collegiate public research university in Cambridge, England. Founded in 1209, Cambridge is the second-oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world’s fourth-oldest surviving university. It grew out of an association of scholars who left the University of Oxford after a dispute with townsfolk. The two ancient universities share many common features and are often jointly referred to as “Oxbridge”.

    Cambridge is formed from a variety of institutions which include 31 constituent colleges and over 100 academic departments organised into six schools. The university occupies buildings throughout the town, many of which are of historical importance. The colleges are self-governing institutions founded as integral parts of the university. In the year ended 31 July 2014, the university had a total income of £1.51 billion, of which £371 million was from research grants and contracts. The central university and colleges have a combined endowment of around £4.9 billion, the largest of any university outside the United States. Cambridge is a member of many associations and forms part of the “golden triangle” of leading English universities and Cambridge University Health Partners, an academic health science centre. The university is closely linked with the development of the high-tech business cluster known as “Silicon Fen”.

     
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