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By Robert Rapier on May 31, 2010 with 64 responses

Examining Calera Corporation’s Claims

The following is a guest post by Dr. Jerry Unruh. Jerry is a Ph.D. chemist that I had the pleasure of working with for several years. (More on Jerry in A Conversation on Energy Issues). Below Jerry presents his concerns that Calera’s claimed process for carbon sequestration may be grossly exaggerated. Calera responded to Jerry’s initial letter to the editor of High Country News, but unfortunately they provided no calculations to refute what Jerry has presented. Jerry’s analysis was quantitative, but Calera’s response was qualitative.

Calera Corporation’s presumed Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) Process

by Dr. Jerry Unruh, May 31, 2010

Calera Corporation has made several high profile statements recently about their process to capture carbon dioxide (CO2), particularly from coal-fired power plants using seawater.  These reports (e.g., in the NYT and High Country News) have been highly positive. Calera claims to produce a mixture of calcium and magnesium carbonates (limestone, dolomite, aragonite, etc) from the calcium and magnesium in seawater. Presumably the product can be used as a substitute for Portland cement. I am concerned that the performance of the CO2 capture part of the process has been exaggerated. Specifically, I think much more energy may be required than has been indicated, which could negate the value of the process.

The Calera website is more nuanced than the news articles, but the energy balance problems remain.  This concerns me for two basic reasons.  First, if my concerns are correct, it leaves the public with a false sense of security that the greenhouse gas problem is solved.  Second, public money, if sought, takes funds that could be used for other energy/climate change solutions that have the potential for solving both our energy and climate issues. For these reasons I urge Calera Corporation to do a “black box” energy and material balance around the carbon capture part of their process so it can be fairly judged.  A potentially simple way to do that balance is around production of 1 kWh of electricity.  My concerns using this method are listed below.

A coal-fired power plant consumes approximately 10,000 Btu of energy per kWh of electricity produced and produces approximately 1 kg (2.2 lb) of carbon dioxide/kWh. Only about 1/3 of this energy is converted to electricity; the rest (6,600 Btu) is waste heat.  The waste heat is enough to vaporize less than a gallon of water (about 8,000 Btu are required to evaporate a gallon of water) or raise the temperature of 100 gallons of water about 8 degrees F.

The concentrations of calcium and magnesium in seawater are fairly constant and are 0.411 g and 1.29 g respectively (Handbook of Physics and Chemistry, 64th Ed and/or http://www.seafriends.org.nz/oceano/seawater.htm#salinity).  If absolutely all the calcium and magnesium in seawater reacted with carbon dioxide to produce the respective carbonates, it would take approximately 95 gallons of seawater to remove the carbon dioxide for just 1 kWh.  A 500 MW plant would require about 415 billion gallons of seawater/year under this scenario.  If only CaCO3 is precipitated, about 600 gallons of seawater would be required to remove byproduct CO2 from 1 kWh of electricity production!

A coal-fired power plant with cooling water towers consumes about 1 gallon of water for cooling with about two thirds evaporated and one third blown down (see for example “WaterReport_IGCC_Final_August2005.pdf”, pp.62 ff).  Once through cooling using ocean water is used in a number of power plants along the California coast.  These appear to require about 20-45 gallons/kWh and may be phased out for environmental reasons, both from federal and state government mandates.  In any event the cooling water use in such plants is one fifth to one half of what would be required for capture of CO2 from a coal-fired power plant (assuming precipitation of all the Ca and Mg).  At least one plant, El Segundo, has already converted to air-cooling (see below).

I think it important to make a short digression here.  The April 26, 2010 issue of High Country News contains my letter to the editor and Brett Constanz’s (Calera corp) response.  In the Calera response Dr. Constanz indicates that for power plants along the coast, there is already seawater cooling that exceeds their process requirements.  Therefore I tried to find once-through cooling requirements for coastal plants in California.  Unfortunately, I could not find direct data so I used the information in: http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/Environment/info/esa/divest-edison/tables/tab4_4_1.pdf and calculated the flow rates/kWh based on published information for the plants shown in the table.  My calculated rates varied from 18 to 48 gallons, but none came close to the 95 gallons above.  In addition, once through seawater cooling may well be phased out in California (http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2010/03/23/1077678/state-plan-would-end-seawater.html).  The plants listed are natural gas fired, but the efficiencies should be close to the same for coal-fired plants.  I cannot reconcile these numbers with Dr. Constanz’s comments.

The calcium, magnesium carbonates can be precipitated in several ways, one of which is evaporation of the water.  Given the chemical equilibria involved, significant water would probably have to be evaporated, but there is only enough waste heat to vaporize less than one gallon of water.  Further evaporation would require more heat input, and if this comes from fossil fuels, the energy balance could rapidly become negative. For example, seawater is evaporated to produce sea salt with calcium carbonate precipitating as the first half of the water is evaporated (http://www.seafriends.org.nz/oceano/seawater.htm#salinity).  Simply heating the seawater could precipitate some calcium carbonate, but more than a 8-9 degree F heat rise would be required (the amount the waste heat could raise the temperature of 95 gallons of seawater).

One can also add base, e.g. sodium hydroxide (NaOH), to raise the pH high enough to precipitate calcium, magnesium carbonates (> ~ 9).  Calera Corp presumably has an electrochemical process that can produce sodium hydroxide at ½ to ¼ the electrical energy of the current chlor-alkali process, but even at ¼ the energy usage it would still require about 0.025 kWh/mole of NaOH = ~0.6 kWh/kg.  In addition equimolar quantities of HCl are produced – more about this later.

In world patent WO2009006295A2 assigned to Calera Corporation, the patent examples indicate that about 5 moles of NaOH are required to precipitate 1 mole of CaCO3 from seawater treated with CO2.  This is outrageous since approximately 1 kg of CO2 is produced/kWh from a coal-fired power plant.  Therefore, approximately 2.7 kWh of electricity would have to be consumed to produce enough NaOH to trap 100% of the CO2 byproduct from 1 kWh of electricity!  There must be better examples than those presented in the above patent.

The Calera website also indicates that inland power plants could use calcium-containing brines for capture of CO2 from power plants.  In general, calcium concentrations in groundwater are relatively low.  However, there are brines in the U.S. that contain more than 4% Ca as CaCl2 or about 1 mole/liter (Kirk-Othmer, Concise Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology, Fourth Ed, John Wiley 7 Sons, NY, 1999, p. 392).   However, it is hard to imagine that CaCl2 could trap CO2; reaction of the CaCl2 with 2 moles of NaOH would convert it to Ca(OH)2, which could than capture the CO2.  Under this scenario, the full 1kWh would have to be consumed to produce the NaOH required to capture the byproduct CO2.  Of course, pumping costs would have to be considered here as well.

There is also the problem of HCl byproduct from the Calera process to produce NaOH.  The annual world production of HCl is about 20 million tons, most of which is captive (about 5 million tons on the merchant market).  The new 750 MW Comanche 3 addition to the Xcel’s Comanche coal-fired power plant complex in Pueblo, CO will generate almost 6 million metric tons of CO2/yr (assuming 90% capacity factor).  Assuming stoichiometric consumption of NaOH, this one plant would produce half the world’s entire annual demand for HCl – clearly a problematic issue.

In summary, my analysis may be way off base, but it is not obvious to me how.  Given the importance of energy and greenhouse gas problems, I again suggest that Calera Corp. treat the carbon capture part of the process as a “black box”, but show all energy and material flows in and out so the technology can be fairly judged.  I submit that this can be done without providing proprietary information.  My concerns are due to Calera’s high profile promotion of its process that can lull the public into a false sense of security.

Sincerely,

Jerry D. Unruh, Ph.D.

  1. By rrapier on June 1, 2010 at 12:13 am

    The superscripted “0″ for degrees came out as a normal zero. 6,600 Btu is enough to raise 100 gallons of water about 8 degrees F not 80 F.

    I just changed it to read “degrees”. When I preview it, it looks fine. It only reverts to a zero when I publish it. So I just changed to degrees.

    Let me know if you spot anything else.

    Thanks, Robert

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  2. By Rufus on May 31, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    The only problem I see is a CO2-Deficient atmosphere. If we could double it we would increase our crop yields by at least 20% (and, in some – most? – cases much more.)

    We might even get a little “warming” out of it which would just be “icing on the cake.” :)

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  3. By Kit P on May 31, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    I am sure that Jerry is a nice guy for
    someone who has ‘earned his doctorate in organic chemistry’.

     

    “First, if my concerns are correct,
    it leaves the public with a false sense of security that the
    greenhouse gas problem is solved.”

     

    It has for making electricity. It is
    called nuclear power Jerry.

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  4. By Jerry Unruh on May 31, 2010 at 11:13 pm

    I noted a problem with the translation from my communication to Robert’s blog. The superscripted “0″ for degrees came out as a normal zero. 6,600 Btu is enough to raise 100 gallons of water about 8 degrees F not 80 F.

    For those who doubt that anthropogenic climate change is real, I suggest reading David Archer’s book: “Global Warming, Understanding the Forecast” or listen to his lectures at http://geoflop.uchicago.edu/fo…..tures.html. This is a course for non-science major undergraduates at the U. of Chicago.

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  5. By russ on May 31, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    Good post Jerry – Thanks

    The two fellows that replied so far wouldn’t believe in climate change if the description and analysis came down from the sky scribed on a stone tablet – accompanied by lightning and a low voice.

    This is one of the startups supported by Khosla and the guy behind Serious Materials isn’t it?

    The Serious Materials guy has given a couple of loony speeches in the political field about green jobs, the benefits of his windows and on. Seems he is aiming for knighthood but doesn’t realize he is in the wrong country.

     

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  6. By Perry on May 31, 2010 at 11:44 pm

    Jerry, I’m one of those guys who believes the warming is real, but I also believe the higher CO2 levels are beneficial. Why should we have multi-trillion dollar carbon schemes when deflecting a little sunlight will reverse the warming, while keeping the benefits of higher CO2 levels?

    Here’s a plan that would cost $9 billion dollars. Compare that to the $250 billion annual price tag the UN is seeking.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/ear…..rming.html

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  7. By Jerry Unruh on June 1, 2010 at 12:19 am

    Perry, I don’t share your enthusiasm for higher CO2 concentrations. Despite higher growth rates from some plants, that is not true for all, so diversity is decreased. In addition, there are limits to how much CO2 plants can tolerate and what other nutrients are limiting. Much of this is due, not to the concentration itself, but to the rate of change since it may be faster than plants and animals can adapt.

    In the short term there will be both winners and losers, but in the longer term, there will probably only be losers.

    As to geoengineering solutions, I am hardly and expert. There are now scientific papers conferences on what might work. However, keep in mind that such solutions as in the article you mentioned are short term whereas CO2 have an effective lifetime in the range of centuries to thousands of years. Thus, such solutions must be maintained and they give folks a false sense of security. I suggest you read some of the comments on realclimate.org relative to geoengineering + some of the scientific papers on the subject. There are certainly pros and cons, but what I have read so far makes me think the cures may be worse than the disease. I suppose this may depend on how bad the disease gets.

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  8. By paul-n on June 1, 2010 at 1:42 am

    Leaving aside the (genuine) issue of the lack of real data put forward by Calera, the real problem I have with this, and other schemes like it, is that it achieves nothing other than CO2 sequestration.  

    For any project to justify its existence, it must actually provide some other, real benefit.  Whatever else may be said about ethanol, it does actually do something useful, as do all other biofuels.  Whether they car commercially viable, i.e. the benefits exceed the costs, varies with each fuel, but with this scheme it is all cost and no (tangible) benefit.  The only way it will happen is if it is government paid, or mandated, in which case the electiricyt customers pay for it, and still get no real benefit in return.

    $9bn would buy one hell of a lot of efficiency projects, be it efficiency improvements at generation plants, , or demand side efficiency improvements, or transmission.

    There are so many other better ways to spend $9bn that it is not funny.

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  9. By Perry on June 1, 2010 at 3:41 am

    “In addition, there are limits to how much CO2 plants can tolerate and what other nutrients are limiting.”

    I can’t buy into that Jerry. In geologic time, periods with CO2 levels under 1000 ppm are anomalous. Plant and animal life first appeared during the Cambrian Period, when CO2 levels were as high as 7000 ppm. CO2 levels stayed well above 1000 ppm during the Jurassic Period, which is known for its dinosaurs, as well the lush jungles that covered most of the planet. I won’t claim that all plant life will thrive with increased CO2 levels. But, since most plant life evolved during periods with much higher CO2 levels, it does stand to reason.

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  10. By Perry on June 1, 2010 at 3:50 am

    “There are so many other better ways to spend $9bn that it is not funny.”

     

    We could even splurge for a days’ worth of oil consumption. 

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  11. By takchess on June 1, 2010 at 6:43 am

    Jerry, thanks for writing this.

    Hopefully, we will not be handing out money willy nilly for co2 sequestration. The potential for wasted investment is huge. If this process does not save energy, it is not particularly interesting.

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  12. By moiety on June 1, 2010 at 7:11 am

    Jerry Unruh said:

    In the short term there will be both winners and losers, but in the longer term, there will probably only be losers.

    …..

    that such solutions as in the article you mentioned are short term whereas CO2 have an effective lifetime in the range of centuries to thousands of years.


     

    On this point is this not the problem with carbon disposal technologies? People advocate for example ‘storing’ or ‘disposing’ of the carbon in e.g. aquafirs without realiable long term data on leakage rates and that if these leakages became significant in the future; consequences could be seen?

    For all the money we try to spend on this technology we are still left with the CO2 somewhere. We have examples of previous storage disasters from the nuclear industry. In this case however the disaster is rather limited as the total uranium waste for the last 50 years amounts to around 50,000 metric tonnes + other contaminated materials. With CO2 we are talking about much larger volumes.

     

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  13. By Rufus on June 1, 2010 at 8:15 am

    All “Real-World” Experiments have demonstrated “higher CO2 levels = higher crop yields.”

    Also, if you go straight to the Thermometer Data, and avoid the GISS “Homogenizing,” Temperatures in most U.S. states have been, essentially, flat for the last hundred years.

    This is but a “Scam,” building on a Scam. We are facing a Serious shortfall in liquid transportation fuels in the coming years; we don’t have time for such nonsense as this. For $9 Billion we could build the biorefineries to provide, maybe, 3 Billion Gallons/Yr of Cellulosic Ethanol. That could be as much as 3% of our needed personal transportation fuel.

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  14. By Jerry Unruh on June 1, 2010 at 8:35 am

    I can’t buy into that Jerry. In geologic time, periods with CO2 levels under 1000 ppm are anomalous. Plant and animal life first appeared during the Cambrian Period, when CO2 levels were as high as 7000 ppm. CO2 levels stayed well above 1000 ppm during the Jurassic Period, which is known for its dinosaurs, as well the lush jungles that covered most of the planet. I won’t claim that all plant life will thrive with increased CO2 levels. But, since most plant life evolved during periods with much higher CO2 levels, it does stand to reason.

    Perry: Once again, a great deal of the problem is the rate of change. We are adding CO2 to the atmosphere at the rate of about 2-3 ppm/year. I cannot say how life will evolve over the course of millions of years. My concerns are for where we are now. Many plants and animals are having trouble adapting or moving quickly enough. We live in the world that exists now; not one that existed a 50 million to 1 billion years ago.

    There are, of course, the issues of more erratic weather (more droughts, floods), loss of land to sea level change, loss of fresh water in areas that receive water from glaciers, etc.

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  15. By Jerry Unruh on June 1, 2010 at 8:51 am

    Moiety: My understanding is that CO2 has such a long term life in the atmosphere due to the ocean/atmosphere coupling. It takes centuries for the overturning of oceans and atmospheric and ocean CO2 is in equilibrium. Of course, we could also choose poor storage choices if we try to go that route.

    Very long term (tens of thousands of years), volcanic activity and weathering helps balance CO2. All of this is nicely laid out in the David Archer book and lectures I mentioned earlier.

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  16. By Rufus on June 1, 2010 at 9:22 am

    Sea Level Rise? Sea levels haven’t risen a millimeter since 2006.

    Btw, 3 millimeters are about the width of two pennies. How much farmland do you suppose is being “flooded” by that?

    Submariners routinely spend 3 months, or more, working/living in 3,000 ppm+.

    Vegetation, globally, is up about 6% in the last 20 years. The Sahel is turning green. This is all nonsense of the highest (lowest?) order.

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  17. By Perry on June 1, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    I wouldn’t call it nonsense Rufus. Modern man hasn’t dealt with CO2 levels this high. We know plants will do well with high carbon. We don’t know much else, because we had tails and swang from trees the last time CO2 ppm were above 400.

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  18. By Rufus on June 1, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    Perry, we’re talking parts per Million, here. It’s a “non-poisonous” gas (see CO2 concentrations in submarines.) It’s totally benign. It’s effect on temp. is logarithmic. The only effect is “plants must have it to grow.”

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  19. By petes on June 1, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    russ said:

    The two fellows that replied so far wouldn’t believe in climate change if the description and analysis came down from the sky scribed on a stone tablet – accompanied by lightning and a low voice. 


     
    Not even from a Charlton Heston with a blue rinse? :-)

     

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  20. By Wendell Mercantile on June 1, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    loss of land to sea level change…

    Why is that a problem? Most of what is now land has been under water at some point in the past, and we survived that. Where I now live is underlaid by a vast layer of limestone stretching for hundreds of miles (the Niagara Escarpment) that could only have been formed at the bottom of a sea or ocean. In fact, anywhere you now find sedimentary rocks is an area that was once under water.

    When you look at the geologic rocks under the states of Utah, Wyoming, and Montana, it is also obvious they were once under water.

    If that much of just the United States was once under water, why is unreasonable to expect it to happen again?

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  21. By paul-n on June 2, 2010 at 2:38 am

    Well, while all this hot air is vented over what looks to be a useless project to capture carbon, here is an update on a real project to capture phosphorous, something Rufus is (rightly) concerned about.

     

    http://www.cnn.com/2010/TECH/i……solution/

     

    Lots of cities and towns along interior rivers could make use of this…

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  22. By takchess on June 2, 2010 at 7:23 am

    re:loss of land to sea level change… Why is that a problem?

    Over half of the American population lives within 50 miles of the coast.That’s why.

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  23. By Rufus on June 2, 2010 at 9:32 am

    Paul, thanks for the link. Phosphorous Depletion, unlike the CCC silliness, is a “Real, Quantifiable Problem” – One that has to be solved. Solutions like the one from your link will help a lot.

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  24. By Wendell Mercantile on June 2, 2010 at 9:42 am

    Over half of the American population lives within 50 miles of the coast.That’s why.

    Takchess,

    You don’t get the point. Much of what is now the United States has been underwater in the past. The earth survived that quite nicely. Our planet would survive it again. Have you heard of Capitol Reef National Park in Utah? It’s called a “reef” because it formed in the Permian Era when the Kaibab Sea covered all of Utah.

    Have you ever been in North Dakota, Montana, or Wyoming and seen how empty they are? If the Tidewater area of Virgina, South Carolina, Georgia, or Florida (all areas that have been underwater in the past) were to go underwater again, there is plenty of room for those people in ND, MT, and WY.

    If events like that happened in the past and the earth survived, why are you so alarmist about them now?

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  25. By takchess on June 2, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    Wendell,
    I don’t disagree that we/the earth would survive it and it would happen over a period of years. Not overnight.

    My point is if there are things we can do to not promote this change we should. I like the New England Shore line to still be located in New England.

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  26. By Wendell Mercantile on June 2, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    Climate change has forced migration across continents in the past. Why should we expect it never to happen again?

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  27. By Rufus on June 2, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    The Sea Level, according to the Jason satellite, hasn’t budged a millimeter in 4 years. Going to be hard to get “flooded out” at that rate.

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  28. By Wendell Mercantile on June 2, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    Rufus~

    Do you really think a satellite is capable of measuring sea level with millimeter resolution?

    I agree, we shouldn’t get our panties in a twist worrying about rising sea levels, but don’t be hyperbolic when you make claims about what a satellite is capable of measuring.

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  29. By Perry on June 2, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    Even apart from the stunning species extinctions currently underway — at a rate unseen in the last 65,000,000 years — some dramatic changes are already beginning to reshape the landscape of human life. In March 2009, for example, the world’s first climate-change refugees will leave their homes for a nearby Papua New Guinean island. The migration is the first wave of Carteret Island natives to abandon the atoll in response to steadily rising sea levels, which are expected to fully submerge the place by 2015.

    http://www.mnn.com/earth-matte…..e-holocene

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  30. By Wendell Mercantile on June 2, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    Perry,

    People have always had to move because of climate change. Why do you think the Anasazi had to abandon the Mesa Verde cliff dwellings in what is now Colorado?

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  31. By Perry on June 2, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    Wendell, we don’t know the extent of changes we’ll see, but the Halocene Climatic Optimum could offer clues. World average temperatures were actually a bit cooler than today, but the north pole was several degrees warmer. Temperatures at mid-latitudes were virtually unchanged, but the weather changed pretty dramatically. The Sahara desert was green. So were the desert regions of Central Asia. The planet today is only a few degrees warmer than it was during the last ice age. We don’t know what a few more degrees will do, but I’m glad I won’t be around to find out.

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  32. By JN2 on June 2, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    Rufus, according to Colorado Uni, Jason satellite readings show a 3.2mm per year rise in sea level: http://sealevel.colorado.edu/

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  33. By Kit P on June 2, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    JN2

     

    What was the rate of change shown by
    satellites from 1400 to 1500?

     

    That is kind of like the ‘stunning
    species extinctions currently underway’. No one can actuality name a
    species that has gone extinct because of AGW because AGW is a
    predictions about the future.

     

    The only constant in nature is change.
    Humans are nomads. We adapt by moving. Getting wiped out by
    natural calamities is just part of the risk of living. Get over it
    and trade your flip flops in on a good radio with weather band.

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  34. By Rufus on June 2, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    JN2, that’s if you go back to the days when they were using the old Topix satellite. It’s a bit, “iffy.” As I said, the last four years have rendered “nada.”

    However, you are aware that 3.2 millimeters is about the thickness of two pennies, stacked. A century of that would give you about a foot of rise.

    Those S. Sea Islanders dug way too many wells for their little island, causing their island to subside. The “Sea” is right where it’s been for decades.

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  35. By Perry on June 2, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    Some of you guys have no idea what’s at stake here. There’s a reason humans were around for a million years, but only got their groove on about 6000 years ago. The Halocene Period,which started 12,000 years ago, is also known as the age of man. But, we didn’t really get our feet on the ground until the Halocene climatic optimum was over. What we’ve had since then is a climate perfectly suited for humans. A few degrees one way or the other brings the good times to an end. Weather patterns will change in ways we can’t begin to comprehend. Maybe enough to return humanity to the stone age. As ridiculous as that sounds, try to imagine life for 7 billion people in a world where large scale agriculture is no longer feasable.

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  36. By Rufus on June 2, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    Perry, the Halocene Optimum was warmer than the Roman Period, which was warmer than the Medieval Warm Period, which was warmer than “Present.”

    Agriculture thrived during all of the above Warm Periods, and people starved in the intervening Cold Periods. Wheat, and Corn love Warm, hate Cold.

    All that having been said, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation has turned negative, and we have quite likely “topped out” for the next 40, or 50 years, or so.

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  37. By Perry on June 2, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    “Perry, the Halocene Optimum was warmer than the Roman Period, which was warmer than the Medieval Warm Period, which was warmer than “Present.”

    That’s not right Rufus. The Halocene optimum was slighly cooler on average than what we have today. Even so, the Sahara was green, as were deserts across central Asia. Slight temperature changes can mean drastic climate change.

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  38. By Jerry Unruh on June 2, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    Wendell Mercantile said:

    Climate change has forced migration across continents in the past. Why should we expect it never to happen again?


    In the past migrations across continents didn’t have to contend with 6.8 billion people.  Where would one go and not encroach on others?

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  39. By Rufus on June 2, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    Not according to NOAA, and the IPCC, Perry.

    http://biocab.org/Holocene.html

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  40. By Rufus on June 2, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    What “migrations” can be set off by a “One Foot/Century” sea level rise?

    This nonsense is coming unwound, folks. Time to find another “Crisis.”

    Actually, the “warmers” should just go home and pop a “cold one.” We really do have some serious problems coming up, and we need you out of the way so the grown-ups can get to work.

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  41. By Kit P on June 2, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    “There’s a reason humans ..”

     

    Yes, Perry it is called civilization.
    There is a problem with Perry’s theory. Modern man did not evolve to
    where we are today until sometime during the last ice age. While our
    brains require more energy, we learned to use tool and animal skins
    for clothing. Modern man spread out of Africa to the rest of the
    world adapting to a wide variety different climates.

     

    The interglacial warm period of the
    last 12k years isolated different populations. The same climate Rome
    enjoy is the same as California. North America did not become
    agriculture dominated region because of lack of climate and
    fertility.

     

    “Weather patterns will change in ways
    we can’t begin to comprehend. Maybe enough to return humanity to the
    stone age.”

     

    I have no problem comprehending future
    patterns controlled by the laws of thermodynamics. Furthermore, I
    see no reason for man to forget producing energy. Producing and
    storing food for whatever population exists is not a problems that
    can problems that can not be overcome.

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  42. By Aaron on June 2, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    Hmmm. I read all the patents I could find, and it seems like a viable process to me. A private company does not have to dilvuge their intellectual properties just because you demand it. Khosla is not stupid (according to his life-long success). If he believes it, then I believe it, and you should too. He knows the all the facts. With that said, can you name one failure he’s ever been associated with? Thanks

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  43. By rrapier on June 2, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    Aaron said:

    Hmmm. I read all the patents I could find, and it seems like a viable process to me. A private company does not have to dilvuge their intellectual properties just because you demand it. Khosla is not stupid (according to his life-long success). If he believes it, then I believe it, and you should too. He knows the all the facts. With that said, can you name one failure he’s ever been associated with? Thanks


     

    First, they aren’t being asked to divulge intellectual property. This is basic science, and what Jerry appears to have shown is that the laws of chemistry do not allow what they propose.

     

    Second, Stephen Hawking is a smart man as well, but I venture he wouldn’t know how to remove my appendix. But this is exactly what has gotten some of these VCs into trouble. They presume that they are smarter than people who have been around the business for a long time, and they are slowly learning that this isn’t the computer business. I put my faith in no man just because he says it. I believe in data.

     

    Finally, can you name one success that he’s been associated with in the energy business? I don’t mean success at raising money; I mean success at producing the cheap energy that he has been promising for years. I can name several failures. Cello is an easy one. Range Fuels hasn’t gone at all as promised. He also abandoned one or two of his early cellulosic ethanol investments that weren’t panning out as he thought (e.g., Altra). Cilion didn’t deliver on the hype. He failed on Prop 87.

     

    Your turn. Any successes?

     

    RR

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  44. By Aaron on June 2, 2010 at 11:22 pm

    You made my point exactly. They don’t pan out, and he drops them. He is extremely smart and has a lot of smart people working for him (I’d know). Knowing Khosla from his Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers as well as the technical due dilligence that him, Peabody Coal, and Bechtel have obviously pursued allows me to deduce the fact that you don’t know as much as they know. Get over it.

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  45. By rrapier on June 2, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    Aaron said:

    You made my point exactly. They don’t pan out, and he drops them. He is extremely smart and has a lot of smart people working for him (I’d know). Knowing Khosla from his Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers as well as the technical due dilligence that him, Peabody Coal, and Bechtel have obviously pursued allows me to deduce the fact that you don’t know as much as they know. Get over it.


     

    You asked for failures. I gave them to you. You reply “they weren’t failures since he dropped them as they were failing.” LOL. Well in that case he can’t fail by definition. But I would point out that he hasn’t dropped all of them, and he pursued Prop 87 until the end. It failed. Range was the prize in his portfolio, and they have fallen far, far short of the promises before even starting up.

    So what sort of due diligence did he do on Cello, Cilion, Altra, and Range? I will point out that I threw early warning flags on 2 of those before they proceeded to burn through investor cash and deliver no results. So they are certainly wasting a lot of money with little to show for it for folks who know more about all of this than I do.

    Further, you didn’t answer my question. I gave you a handful of Vinod’s failures in the energy field. The pattern is one of hype, overpromise, and underdeliver. I asked for a success. You haven’t given me one. Can you?

    You remind me of the guy who showed up here once declaring that because Bill Gates was a billionaire and investing in Pacific Ethanol, it was obviously a brilliant move and that I was an idiot for suggesting they would go bankrupt. Funny thing is that he didn’t show up to eat his crow after they went bankrupt and Bill Gates lost 50% of his investment.

    RR

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  46. By Bingo on June 3, 2010 at 12:18 am

    You made my point exactly. They don’t pan out, and he drops them. He is extremely smart and has a lot of smart people working for him (I’d know).

    I had investments in many tech stocks during the dot-com bubble, and have never forgiven my broker for all the money he caused me to lose. But thanks to you, I now know that he is an extremely smart man, since he always dropped the failures once they didn’t pan out.

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  47. By Wendell Mercantile on June 3, 2010 at 12:24 am

    In the past migrations across continents didn’t have to contend with 6.8 billion people. Where would one go and not encroach on others?

    There are vast tracts of the earth that have almost no people living in them. Siberia, Montana, Wyoming*, the Dakotas, Nevada, Greenland, almost all of Canada from about 300 miles north of the US-Canada border, much of Australia, the Gobi Desert, et al.

    The earth is dynamic. There is no rule that says the earth’s climate must remain like it was in the 1960s or 1970s for the rest of eternity. If the climate becomes unliveable at one spot, chances are it will become liveable at another place. (Global warming may be just the ticket for Greenland and Siberia.) Some of those 6.8 billion people will just have to move. That has happened in the past. The people on the Maldives may have to pack up and move, just as the Anasazi had to move away from Mesa Verde 800 years ago.

    ________
    * Wyoming is our tenth largest state, but with only 530,000 people. I once lived in Cheyenne. Leaving Cheyenne, the first gas station north was at Chugwater, ~50 miles away; the first gas station west at Laramie, ~40 miles; the first gas station east was at Pine Bluffs, ~45 miles; and the first gas station south at Wellington, CO, ~30 miles. Driving across central Wyoming it was possible to go for miles without meeting another car or seeing any houses.

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  48. By Aaron on June 3, 2010 at 12:49 am

    Robert you can appear to be “Bingo” as to make it look that others actually agree to your unimportant points of view that sadly your bills. Fortunately, I can trace IP addresses and can clearly see you are the same person. The fact that you fake avatars like this in such an unimportant conversation allows one to decide that your blog is based on made up facts as well. I fortunately made a ton during the tech boom, but because my due dilligence is obviously more to the core of science. Do your background work next time, and your investments might work. Don’t depend on some unknowledgable banker who knows nothing about science just like you are depending on Jerry’s science and dilligence of the company’s patents. Keep up the good work on making up other names to make it appear people agree with you. Get a life in addition to getting over it.

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  49. By rrapier on June 3, 2010 at 1:01 am

    Aaron said:

    Robert you can appear to be “Bingo” as to make it look that others actually agree to your unimportant points of view that sadly your bills. Fortunately, I can trace IP addresses and can clearly see you are the same person.


     

    Sorry, but I must call you on your incompetence/dishonesty. If you trace IP addresses like you claim to do due diligence, then I can see why we have a problem. If you think I am the same person, then clearly you don’t know nearly as much as you think you do.  Since you supposedly can trace IP addresses (which you clearly can’t), where do you think I am posting from (which you assert was the same IP that “Bingo” posted from)? Come on, I am calling your bluff. Post the IP address, or admit you lied. And I will take silence as an admission that you are simply a troll trying to smear. Of course you are posting anonymously, so you can run and hide when you make such foolish mistakes. Anonyously, albeit from an IP address not far from the headquarters of both Khosla and Calera. So I think it is you who is pretending to be something he isn’t.

    I have NEVER posted as anyone other than myself. You sir, are a liar and a troll. Please retract your accusation. And while you are at it, tell us about one of Khosla’s energy successes. After all, as you say “Khosla has a lot of smart people working for him. You would know.” So tell us about one of his successes, and then let me know if you are interested in discussing some science. To this point, the pattern from Calera defenders has been to avoid discussion of science.

    The fact that you fake avatars like this in such an unimportant conversation allows one to decide that your blog is based on made up facts as well.

    Given that your premise is wrong, what are we to make of the rest of your post? And the fact that 1). You lied about the IP addresses; and 2). Are posting from an IP address not far from Calera headquarters? Is this SOP for Calera/Khosla defenders? Make up things, and do not address the science?

    I fortunately made a ton during the tech boom, but because my due dilligence is obviously more to the core of science.

    This from someone insisting that I am posting as a sock puppet. Yes, your due diligence is awesome.

    Do your background work next time, and your investments might work.

    This is a classic! Actually, I tend to invest in energy, and have done quite well because I invest in things I understand. Check my blog, and you can see I have been public with my investments. It is an open book (unlike your anonymous boasts).

    Don’t depend on some unknowledgable banker who knows nothing about science just like you are depending on Jerry’s science and dilligence of the company’s patents.

    Two problems there. First, you are mixing up two people. Second, I am not depending on Jerry’s science. In your haste to lie about me posting as a sock puppet, perhaps you didn’t notice that nowhere have I said that I agree with Jerry’s assessment. I can’t see where he is wrong, but I am just waiting for a Calera defender to point out Jerry’s mistake. Can you? Will you show us where Jerry is in error (after you admit that you lied about the me posting as a sock puppet?)

    Keep up the good work on making up other names to make it appear people agree with you. Get a life in addition to getting over it.

    I will keep that in mind.  Clearly you are a genius, and your post has made my day. I also appreciate the advice to “get a life” from someone posting at almost 1 a.m. in his time zone, and posting nothing but false accusations, hollow boasts, and avoiding the direct questions he has been asked.

    RR

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  50. By Kit P on June 3, 2010 at 8:40 am

    “allows me to deduce the fact that
    you don’t know as much as they know.”

     

    It not what you know it is how you
    apply what you know. Jerry and RR may be really good at chemistry
    but they do not do a very good job of applying that to the issue of
    mitigating the environmental impact of making electricity with coal.

     

    Since nuclear competes with coal, new
    nukes will mitigate AGW if that is what you are concerned about.
    However, it is going to take 30 years to build new nukes to replace
    coal and at the same time replaces 60 year old nukes.

     

    In the mean time, the coal industry is
    looking for solutions. Failure is part of engineering. The only way
    I know to avoid is to not try. In which case, you will fail by not
    doing.

     

    When I worked for GE, Jack Welsh was
    CEO. GE spent a ton of money on some venture that failed. He was
    asked if the group that failed would be fired. Of course not, and
    lose all that knowledge gained in failing.

     

    The US coal industry has done a very
    good job of surviving by rising to the challenge of meeting tougher
    environmental standards. People from the oil industry should spend
    more time figuring out how to clean up their act or farmers and
    electricity makers will keep gaining market share.

     

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  51. By DarwinOrBust on June 3, 2010 at 9:33 am

    I definitely agree with Kit. There is always going to be doubters which is fine as long as it does not prevent creative thinking/trying. I also agree with Aaron in a way. If these other companies, such as Peabody and Bechtel, are joining forces with this company, and they had to go through several series of technical dillogence, I’m sure the same doubts and concerns were addressed. Until you get inside info like they have, you are going to have to wait like the rest of us to see if it works. With regards to everyone’s doubt about global warming and the raise of CO2 in the atmosphere, do your homework. This is in fact happening. Thanks

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  52. By russ on June 3, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    Look at the history of iron ore direct reduction processes. İn the early 70′s US Steel, Davy McKee, Exxon, Purofer, and many others were building plants based on their in house engineering (probably plus aquisitions). By 1980 they were all gone having gloriously failed.

    They did not do their due dilligence? ‘Due Dilligence’ simply means CYA by taking one more look before jumping – not that jumping is really a good idea – you only learn that when you do/don’t hit the bottom. İt certainly is no guarantee. İt is an over used and misused word really.

    A big company is not the ideal candidate for new tech – remember IBM and the first PC. A separate group totally outside the loop was set up and it was a success. Later when the PC was drawn back into the IBM company culture it went down the toilet. 

    İt takes, like Kit P mentioned, a CEO with rather big gonads and vision to take on challenges like new tech as it usually don’t work and you blow a bundle. When you make it you are a hero but all those other times?

    Probably the best bet is to check what Khosla is on to and go the opposite way.

     

     

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  53. By rrapier on June 3, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    Kit P said:

    “allows me to deduce the fact that

    you don’t know as much as they know.”

     

    It not what you know it is how you

    apply what you know. Jerry and RR may be really good at chemistry

    but they do not do a very good job of applying that to the issue of

    mitigating the environmental impact of making electricity with coal.

     


     

    Kit, your stupidity at times just boggles my mind. Maybe it isn’t stupidity; maybe there is some other malfunction in the way your brain is wired that makes you say stupid things. I have asked you before that if you are going to make charges, you have to back them up. But you can’t back them up, because you don’t know much about what I actually do. I don’t write much about what I actually do. You don’t know what Jerry does. But you have diarrhea of the mouth which causes it to run and run and make conclusions based on zero evidence. It is clear why you couldn’t make it as an engineer. Cleaning toilets at an East Coast nuke plant doesn’t qualify you as an authority on anything.

    Some of my major projects are directly related to mitigating that very environmental impact by displacing coal. Now I know that you don’t know what you are talking about. A number of others who do know what I do know that you don’t know what you are talking about. But one thing I have learned from you is that ignorance has never prevented you from speaking up and letting some of us know just how ignorant you are. I am just trying to understand what would possess someone who has not a clue about what another person does suggesting that they don’t do it well.

     

    RR

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  54. By Wendell Mercantile on June 3, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    They did not do their due diligence?

    Russ~

    Due diligence can only apply for those things that are known. When jumping into an are of unknown technology, someone has to make a decision and go. Sometimes you’re right, sometimes you’ll fail. But as Kit P. pointed out, you can’t know until you try.

    As Orville Wright famously said, “If we worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true really is true, then there would be little hope for advance.”

    As Wilbur Wright once said about flying safety, If you are looking for perfect safety, you will do well to sit on a fence and watch the birds.

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  55. By rrapier on June 3, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    DarwinOrBust said:

    I definitely agree with Kit.


     

    Strike one. And the irony of someone suggesting the coal industry can give advice to the oil industry about cleaning up their act is just too rich with the Massey disaster still in the headlines. Seriously, Kit is someone who thinks he knows far more than he does, and he proceeds to try to convince everyone else of that. He is a wannabe engineer who didn’t make it through school for whatevever reason, but still tries to convince people that, yes, he is an engineer too.

    There is always going to be doubters which is fine as long as it does

    not prevent creative thinking/trying.

    It is one thing to be a doubter. It is another to point out that one’s chemistry or assumptions don’t work as advertized. I have done this many times with companies well before they failed. A healthy scientific skepticism is warranted in most of these cases. That is different than just hearing someone’s claims and saying “I doubt it.” An example is that of an algae company claiming a hundred thousand gallons per acre. It isn’t being a doubter to show that not enough sun falls on an acre to enable that possibility. So once this is pointed out, the onus is on the company making the claim to demonstrate that it works.

    I also agree with Aaron in a way.

    Strike two. Aaron showed up here from an IP address not far from both Khosla headquarters and Calera Headquarters, and proceeded to make an ass of himself. He came in via a Google search of “Calera Corp.” He said “Hey, I have read their patents and it works. You should trust Khosla. Has he ever failed?” I pointed out 4 failures and asked for a success. In his response, he changed the definition of failure such that when one fails, it isn’t a failure if you move one. But he wouldn’t give me a success (because he can’t). He also refused to address the science at all. That should have been easy for him, since he implied that he works with Khosla (maybe he is part of that organization or part of Calera’s, which would explain his responses). 

    Worse, he accused me of posting as a sock puppet. For the record, the IP addresses of me and the person who posted as Bingo are 6 time zones apart. Yet he tried to smear me by lying and saying 1). That he can trace those IP addresses; 2). The IP addresses were the same. Since I called his bluff, I doubt we will be seeing him again. Like Kit, I don’t know if it is stupidity or stupid arrogance that caused him to make a claim like that, but he then proceeded to hurl venom my way – based on his false charge over the IP address. I put up with a lot of things around here, but lies are one thing I don’t tolerate. So Aaron is the worst kind of ass in my opinion. He contributed zero to the conversation. He injected lies into it and avoided the science.

     

    If these other companies, such as Peabody and Bechtel, are joining

    forces with this company, and they had to go through several series of

    technical dillogence, I’m sure the same doubts and concerns were

    addressed.

     

    Strike three. Good thing this isn’t baseball I suppose. Russ already did this, but shall I give you a long list of companies who supposedly did due diligence before investing in a technology that failed miserably? Tell me about the due diligence Khosla’s organization did before investing in Cello, later convicted of fraud. You know what they said in court? “Well, we didn’t really have time for due diligence. The guy was pressuring us.”

     

    RR

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  56. By Wendell Mercantile on June 3, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    Strike three. Good thing this isn’t baseball I suppose.

    RR,

    But if it were, you just pitched a perfect game. ;-)

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  57. By savro on June 3, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    Wendell Mercantile said:

    Strike three. Good thing this isn’t baseball I suppose.

    RR,

    But if it were, you just pitched a perfect game. ;-)


     

    Not if the ump screws it up. Wink

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  58. By Kit P on June 3, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    “Strike one. And the irony of someone
    suggesting the coal industry can give advice to the oil industry
    about cleaning up their act is just too rich with the Massey disaster
    still in the headlines.”

     

    Like the umpire in Detroit, the instant
    replay show this was a bad call. While I have yet to find the coal
    industry pointing a fingers at those who drill holes in the ground
    and pipe fossil fuels out. The natural gas industry in particular
    spends lots of time pointing fingers. I think that NG has a lot to
    offer and only needs to continue to improve.

     

    This is another case of RR no liking
    what he thinks I wrote rather than what I did write.

     

    “Some of my major projects are
    directly related to mitigating that very environmental impact by
    displacing coal.”

     

    I would be interested in reading about
    that. It would be refreshing to learn bout new ideas. RR blog seems
    to dedicated to trashing how others do things.

     

    I have deep respect for those who go
    underground to extract energy. You are not getting KitP on a helo to
    an oil rig. In my younger days, I would have thought climbing to the
    top of wind turbine was a great way to make a buck.

     

    The point being there are many
    honorable ways to to produce energy. Doing it better every day is
    part of the job. Acceptance of honest criticism, is part of that. I
    was at a power plant where we broke a bunch of stuff during testing.
    We had a meeting that opened with a round of finger pointing by the
    different groups. The plant manger stood up and said he would be in
    his office when we came with a recovery plan. Finger pointing was a
    waste of time.

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  59. By Kit P on June 4, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    Jerry U wrote, “For those who doubt that anthropogenic climate change is real, I suggest reading David Archer’s book: “Global Warming, Understanding the Forecast” or listen to his lectures at …”

     

    Finally got done listening to Dr Archer spending lot of time discussing how to understand in the forecast but he only mentions the forecast briefly which is 3 degrees C and 0.5 increase in sea level over 100 years. 

     

    I suppose the reason AGW alarmists do not get specific very often is that using words like ‘cooked’ would sound rather silly in the context of the actual impact.

     

    Of course CO2 is ‘band saturated’ so all those who like to worry about how many ppm CO2 is increasing should stop worrying.  A little CO2 in the atmosphere is a very good thing for life on the planet.  The worry is not how warm it will get but how cold it could get.  

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  60. By west on June 4, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    This blog used to have a good following.  Now it seems most of the comments are by cranks.  I feel bad for Robert who puts together excellent articles, that the discussions have de-materialized.  There used to be commenters who know what they were actually talking about.  I think PR shills and hacks have take over.

     

    Jerry’s article was excellent.  The point of this analysis which needs to be done for more process companies is putting together a framework and calculations for an energy balance.  

     

    Could Jerry be wrong?  Yes.  He could have made incorrect assumptions.  I could not find any errors however.  Furthermore the calcs show that some of the fundamental chemistry proves very hard to work.   But he outlined his argument clearly and did it in a step-by-step manner.  If anyone was actually experienced and had a background in chemical processes can point to a particular figure/assumption in his article and address it.

     

    But not a single commenter has done so.  That is quantitative evidence which is how energy decisions should be made.  

     

    I applaud Calera for doing innovative work and I hope they rebut Jerry’s claims.  I want solutions like theirs to be able to work efficiently, cost effectively and in a scalable manner.

     

     

     

     

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  61. By russ on June 5, 2010 at 3:24 am

    @ west – Still the same basic group with some new add ins. Some of the new guys have added excellent posts while some of the old bunch are chasing a single viewpoint to the exclusion of all else. Some are just plain fools with a computer – everyone can decide to their own satisfaction who is what. Once in a while there is an Arron type that seems to have a definite agenda but zero knowledge.

    Robert’s site is one of several that I check each morning looking for a new post by him – quality posts by others are just icing on the cake. 

    There is another group, Skyonic, that is looking to treat stack gas to use the CO2 and S to make various products – links at  Greentech

    http://www.greentechmedia.com/…..dia:+News)

    http://www.greentechmedia.com/…..oda-works/

     

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  62. By paul-n on June 5, 2010 at 4:09 am

    while some of the old bunch are chasing a single viewpoint to the exclusion of all else.

    Russ, surely you jest?  

    I can’t think of any regular here who would always propose the same solution to every problem, even when that solution still isn’t even in commercial production!

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  63. By rrapier on June 15, 2010 at 8:59 am

    I was hoping our friend Aaron would come back and face the music after I called his bluff on the sock puppet thing. But I never got the impression that he had come here to debate facts; he only seemed interested in trying to cast doubt on the doubters without actually addressing any of the science. Pity.

    RR

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  64. By Paul Fennell on January 28, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    Hi All,

    I’m just reviewing CCU (let’s say I have an open mind, but I require facts before promoting a technology as feasible). You may all be interested in the article here, as I was interested in Jerry’s article (I haven’t gone so far as to check the figures, but I can’t see any obvious errors).

    http://www.igsd.org/climate/documents/Synthesis_of_Calera_Technology_Jan2011.pdf

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