Consumer Energy Report is now Energy Trends Insider -- Read More »

By Robert Rapier on Nov 14, 2010 with 166 responses

Inside Shell’s Bintulu GTL Plant

Bintulu. For many people involved with gasification, that word often invokes a specific image. In fact, colleagues know when I say “Bintulu” that’s shorthand for Shell’s Bintulu, Malaysia gas-to-liquids (GTL) facility (officially, the Shell Middle Distillate Synthesis plant).

I recently traveled to Malaysia on business, and I learned that I would be in Bintulu (the airport code for Bintulu, by the way, is BTU) for two days. I contacted Shell to see if they could accommodate a visit for the purpose of writing a story about their facility, and they were indeed able to get me into the plant.

Introduction

I met my hosts, Mark Pattenden (General Manager, Manufacturing), Joseph Balan (Advisor, Media Relations and Corporate Communications), and Khaty Rapaie (Communications Executive) for breakfast. I then rode to the plant with Mr. Pattenden, a transplanted Kiwi in the middle of a transfer to Houston. As we drove up to the facility, I was reminded of a fortress. There is an enormous berm out front next to the security station, and you can’t see much of what is behind it. I was later told that this wasn’t really by design; that the facility was built out of rock and that berm was just a part of the original rock.

Safety Culture

One of the things I am always interested in is a company’s safety culture. There are many hazards inherent in handling flammable or explosive materials, especially when they are subjected to high temperatures and pressures. We read of explosions, fires, and casualties every year in the oil and gas industry. You will find some companies in the news more than others, and one reason for that is that not all companies put the same real emphasis on safety.

In my experience, Shell has had a good reputation as a company that values personal safety and process safety (making sure those flammable materials stay in the pipes and tanks). But I have seen companies that applied their safety standards differently when operating in the West versus the East. So I was especially curious about this aspect.

As we entered Mr. Pattenden’s office, the first thing he did was brief us on the safety procedures in case of an emergency. Following the briefing on the response to an emergency, Mr. Pattenden added “And be sure to keep your hands on the handrails; quite a few people are hurt each year falling on stairs.” I consider myself someone who values safety at a very high level, and I could see the same sort of attitude in Mr. Pattenden.

When we sat down in the office to review the plant and its history, you could see the results of a real safety culture. Until March 2010, they had gone nearly 3 years and 5.7 million hours without a lost time injury. (Until June 2006 they had a streak of 14 million hours without a lost-time-injury). Early in my career I worked in plants where we would have a lost time injury every month or so, so this is definitely a feat worth mentioning.

History, Facts and the GTL Process

Following the safety briefing, we had a discussion about the plant’s history. Shell’s Bintulu facility is the largest GTL facility in the world[*] at 14,700 barrels of products per day, but will soon be dwarfed by their 140,000 barrel per day Pearl GTL facility in Qatar.

The plant is actually a venture composed of four shareholders: Shell (72%), Mitsubishi (14%), Petronas, the national oil company of Malaysia (7%), and Sarawak State (7%).

The plant was originally completed in 1993 with a capacity of 12,500 bbl/day at a cost of $850 million. That is a capital cost of $68,000 per daily barrel, more expensive than a conventional oil refinery but far less than the costs often cited for coal-to-liquids (CTL), biomass-to-liquids (BTL), or any number of alternative fuel technologies. The plant has since expanded to the present capacity of 14,700 bbl/day and the total investment is over $1 billion.

Production was interrupted for two years starting in 1997, when particulate matter from forest fires in the area caused an explosion in the air separation unit. However, they used the downtime to also increase the plant capacity from the initial 12,500 bbl/day to the present capacity of 14,700 bbl/day. Other than this extended outage, plant reliability has been excellent. The numbers I was given for 2001 to 2009 were mostly over 98%.

Plant staff consists of 380 people, 93% of whom are Malaysian, with 80% from Sarawak state. The plant consists of a number of separate units, including units for air separation (to provide oxygen for the gasifier), the gasification unit (I explain gasification in some detail here, and describe the different versions of distillate substitutes here), a synthesis unit where the Fischer-Tropsch reaction takes place, a separation unit where the products of the FT reaction are separated, and a conversion unit. The plant also makes hydrogen for use in the hydrocracking reaction (to break the long-chain waxes into shorter hydrocarbons) and has a wastewater treatment facility that produces water that I was told was clean enough to drink. Primary products of the reaction include chemicals, waxes, naphtha, kerosene, and gasoil.

Efficiency, Product Distribution, Future Plans and Scalability

Plant efficiency has improved over time. In 2001, the facility needed just over 106 million BTUs (MMBTU) of natural gas to produce a metric ton of product, and by 2004 that had fallen to 92 million BTUs. According to my calculations, that means that in 2001 39% of the BTUs in the natural gas ended up in the product, and by 2004 that percentage was up to 45%. I was told that design changes to the upcoming Pearl facility would increase the efficiency of production even further.

The site itself is 100% devoted to the GTL process. Shell sells their GTL products to 46 different countries, but most of the deliveries are within Asia. Perhaps surprisingly, only 40% of the products are fuels; the other 60% are specialty chemicals and waxes. GTL products have certain advantages over the same products made from petrochemical feedstocks; namely that there is virtually no sulfur or aromatics in the product. This results in a colorless, odorless, and clean-burning product. (I have actually seen people drink fuel produced by a GTL process to show that it is non-toxic, but I wouldn’t recommend doing it).

Some of the product from the Bintulu plant is shipped to Europe and Thailand and is used to produce Shell’s V-Power Diesel. Their waxes are sold for use in a wide variety of products, from hot melt adhesives, printing inks, and matchsticks to crayons and candles.

I asked about the scalability of the technology, and was told that the main limitation is the physical size of the reactors and being able to transport them. Their biggest challenges, I was told, were: (1) maintaining the focus on personal and process safety; and (2) competition for talent. The plant is presently undergoing an $85 million project that will double the overall solid wax production from the plant while leaving the the overall gas throughput the same. The profitability of the plant has been good; due to the unique properties of GTL liquids and waxes, they do command premium pricing.

I was impressed with emphasis on safety at Bintulu from the moment I drove through the plant's entrance until the conclusion of my visit.

After the discussion in Mr. Pattenden’s office, we took a drive around the plant. As soon as we all were in the vehicle, Mr. Pattenden checked to make sure we were all buckled up. Other than moss growing on some pipes (someone joked that if you leave your car parked for a week in one location, it will grow moss in that climate), the plant was very clean. There was a lot of construction activity going on around the new wax plant. I was looking for safety hazards as we drove around, but I didn’t see anything obvious. As we traveled around the facility, I saw familiar slogans about safety. I asked about their emergency response; whether they had to call the local fire department in case of a fire. They indicated that they have very sophisticated emergency response capabilities. They even have their own fire training ground for the emergency response team.

Back in Mr. Pattenden’s office, we finished up with a few questions. One of the things I asked was why the plant hadn’t been expanded more, given the obvious profitability. I was told that the company was expanding GTL, but in Qatar. However, there was also mention that they design equipment to last for 20 years, so perhaps there is uncertainty about gas supplies or prices that far out.

Conclusion

When people ask me about alternative fuels, I often steer them toward gasification as a possible solution in certain situations. For years, I have pointed to Shell’s GTL plant in Bintulu and Sasol’s CTL facilities in South Africa as examples of the scalability and workability of the technology. There are many technologies out there that are speculative; i.e., they have worked at small scale in the lab, and people envision scaling them up to thousands of barrels per day. But gasification has already demonstrated that it can operate at those scales. For this reason, I expect gasification to assume an important role in mitigating declining oil supplies.

In fact, I think that role that many envision for cellulosic ethanol — supplying a respectable amount of fuel from biomass — can actually be filled by gasification followed by the Fischer Tropsch reaction. It was a pleasure for me to finally see firsthand this example I have used so often, and I want to extend my thanks to Shell for allowing me to visit.

—-

*A representative from PetroSA in South Africa has since contacted me and offered up the following clarifications:

The PetroSA GTL plant in Mossel Bay, South Africa; previously called Mossgas was the first commercial GTL plant commissioned in the world (1992) and was the largest until the Oryx plant in Qatar was commissioned in 2007. The PetroSA GTL capacity is 22,000 bbl/day from Gas and produces another 14,000 bbl/day from associated condensate.

  1. By Wendell Mercantile on November 14, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    (the airport code for Bintulu, by the way, is BTU)

    Oh, the irony. I love it.

    Thanks for the update RR. As we discover we have more and more exploitable NG resources in the CONUS than we ever thought possible, it’s surprising none of our energy companies are expanding into GTL.

    [link]      
  2. By Benny BND Cole on November 14, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    Fascinating report from RR.
    BTW, I am chronically puzzled by reports of skilled labor shortages in huge fossil fuel plants. I suspect this reflects a culture bias–that a lawyer can charge $300 an hour, but an engineer only gets $100 at best.
    It seems that large fossil fuel industries could attract more people to the industry by paying more, but have to get over the idea that skilled technical talent is worth less than skilled legal or accounting talent.
    Given epic and global supplies of natural gas, the GTL process is important. At what price can a GTL plant produce oil, and make money? Can it be scaled down, so that smaller plants make money?
    As ever, I am deeply impressed with the inventiveness of man, and the incredible skill and discipline shown in the construction and operation of such vast facilities. Hats off to the Bintulu folks.

    [link]      
  3. By Duracomm on November 14, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    Good, informative article.

    [link]      
  4. By biocrude on November 14, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    Wow, I just went to Shell’s website (link above) and learned about the Pearl GTL plant in Quatar.  Wow, that is a feat of human engineering, and I wish them the best.  Those are big numbers they are projecting.  

    A couple questions for RR:

    • How easily could one modify one of these GTL plants to accept different forms of feedstock, mainly biomass?  Would the same be true of a CTL plant?  
    • With the existing petrochemical refineries in the US, how hard would it be to “convert” one of those refineries to gasification?
    • Is the hemp feedstock analysis still in the pipeline?  I look forward to an honest look at it, and whether the hype can once and for all be silenced.  

    Thank you again RR for the objective look at the Bintulu plant and I second that the airport code BTU is hilarious.  

    [link]      
  5. By savro on November 14, 2010 at 11:36 pm

    Biocrude said:

    Wow, I just went to Shell’s website (link above) and learned about the Pearl GTL plant in Quatar.  Wow, that is a feat of human engineering, and I wish them the best.  Those are big numbers they are projecting.  


     

    We have a followup interview scheduled with the folks at Shell about their Pearl project in Qatar. Look for a post about that here in the not-too-distant future.

    RR is currently traveling so I don’t know when he’ll be able to check in on this next, but from a conversation I had with him it seems that Shell is taking what they’ve learned from Bintulu to help improve on efficiency and scale for the ten-times larger Pearl plant.

    [link]      
  6. By russ-finley on November 15, 2010 at 12:23 am

    We read of explosions, fires, and casualties every year in the oil and gas industry.

    Gallon for gallon, I suspect that corn ethanol has more fires because more of it per unit volume is moved via tanker.

    Someone joked that if you leave your car parked for a week in one location, it will grow moss in that climate

    That’s not a joke here in Seattle. That’s a reality …

    I have actually seen people drink fuel produced by a GTL process to show that it is non-toxic, but I wouldn’t recommend doing it.

    I’ve seen people do the same thing to promote biodiesel made out of soy oil. I wouldn’t recommend doing that either. On the other hand, I’m drinking some grape derived ethanol as I type.

    …particulate matter from forest fires in the area caused an explosion…

    Those annual forest fires are why Indonesia is the third biggest GHG emitter on the planet.

    [link]      
  7. By perry on November 15, 2010 at 1:51 am

    “According to my calculations, that means that in 2001 39% of the BTUs in the natural gas ended up in the product, and by 2004 that percentage was up to 45%.”

    At the risk of sounding like an ethanol lobbyist, I’d like to point out that 230% of fossil fuel btu’s used to make corn ethanol end up in the final product. GTL may have the advantage in places like Qatar, but it’s better in the long run if we can use energy from the sun to stretch those finite supplies of NG. The NG used to make those 14,700 bpd with GTL could make 75,000 bpd with some corn feedstock.

    [link]      
  8. By moiety on November 15, 2010 at 3:20 am

    Benny BND Cole said:

    BTW, I am chronically puzzled by reports of skilled labor shortages in huge fossil fuel plants. I suspect this reflects a culture bias–that a lawyer can charge $300 an hour, but an engineer only gets $100 at best.

    It seems that large fossil fuel industries could attract more people to the industry by paying more, but have to get over the idea that skilled technical talent is worth less than skilled legal or accounting talent.


     

    There are multiple issues but I have seen striking examples of technical talent shortages here in the Netherlands. My job allows very limited contact with some of the technical universities where I would meet chemical, process or mechanical engineering students (a guest lecture or two). In some cases I have seen ratios of foreign (outside EU) to Dutch students as high as 10 to 1 (3 Dutch students in a class of 35). Most of the foreign students are from Asia though a high number are from Mid East. These numbers are not reflected everywhere I see but always a significant proportion is foreign.

    This has two consequences

    1. Less local engineers
    2. Less foreign engineers at their country meaning a smaller critical mass there.
    [link]      
  9. By rrapier on November 15, 2010 at 8:56 am

    Given epic and global supplies of natural gas, the GTL process is important. At what price can a GTL plant produce oil, and make money? Can it be scaled down, so that smaller plants make money?

    They wouldn’t discuss the prices at which they make money, but it is all about the price differential between natural gas and oil. At today’s natural gas and oil price spread, I think GTL plants would make money. But they are really expensive operations, so someone has to risk a lot of capital and project that the price spread will remain.

    As far as scalability, the bigger the more economical, but the more natural gas supplies that will be needed over time. I don’t think a micro-GTL plant will be economical, but again if oil shoots up to $200 and natural gas is still where it is, then a smaller plant could make money.

    RR

    [link]      
  10. By rrapier on November 15, 2010 at 9:02 am

    Biocrude said:

    A couple questions for RR:

    • How easily could one modify one of these GTL plants to accept different forms of feedstock, mainly biomass?  Would the same be true of a CTL plant?  
    • With the existing petrochemical refineries in the US, how hard would it be to “convert” one of those refineries to gasification?
    • Is the hemp feedstock analysis still in the pipeline?  I look forward to an honest look at it, and whether the hype can once and for all be silenced.  

     

    The gasification section would be different. A biomass gasifier is more complicated than a natural gas gasifier. You also have to have biomass handling equipment. But the downstream is the same. That is the basis for Choren’s plant in Germany. In fact, the back-end FT of that plant is provided by Shell.

    There would be a lot of synergies with existing refineries, but there has to be a large supply of natural gas that can be contracted at reasonable prices.

    Yes, the hemp article is just turning out to be more complex than I thought. I was trying to do it in Malaysia, but I kept having trouble accessing various websites. I suspect they were being censored (when I was landing in Malaysia, they said that the death penalty applies to drug dealers, and many websites don’t distinguish between hemp and marijuana). Just to give away the plot, I think the key finding is that hemp is legal to grow in places, and yet no biodiesel industry has developed around it. That, I think, is telling.

    Cheers, Robert

    [link]      
  11. By Kit P on November 15, 2010 at 11:10 am

     

    Interesting post RR!  Do have any idea which is a more economical product of cheap  stranded natural, HB ammonia or FT GTL?  

    [link]      
  12. By russ-finley on November 15, 2010 at 11:12 am

    Perry said:

    At the risk of sounding like an ethanol lobbyist, I’d like to point out that 230% of fossil fuel btu’s used to make corn ethanol end up in the final product.


     

     

    Coupling gas fired peaking power plants with solar would dwarf corn ethanol when it comes to energy efficiency, but you would need to replace a lot of ICE cars with electric to put that huge efficiency leap to use for transport.

    [link]      
  13. By perry on November 15, 2010 at 11:50 am

    That works for me Russ. Better yet, we could use the EV’s for load balancing. This is from Wikipedia.

    Peak load leveling

    The concept allows V2G vehicles to provide power to help balance loads by “valley filling” (charging at night when demand is low) and “peak shaving” (sending power back to the grid when demand is high). It can enable utilities new ways to provide regulation services (keeping voltage and frequency stable) and provide spinning reserves (meet sudden demands for power). In future development, it has been proposed that such use of electric vehicles could buffer renewable power sources such as wind power, for example, by storing excess energy produced during windy periods and providing it back to the grid during high load periods, thus effectively stabilizing the intermittency of wind power. Some see this application of vehicle-to-grid technology as a renewable energy approach that can penetrate the baseline electric market.

    It has been proposed that public utilities would not have to build as many natural gas or coal-fired power plants to meet peak demand or as an insurance policy against blackouts. Since demand can be measured locally by a simple frequency measurement, dynamic load leveling can be provided as needed.

    [link]      
  14. By Wendell Mercantile on November 15, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    Coupling gas fired peaking power plants with solar would dwarf corn ethanol when it comes to energy efficiency…

    Russ and Perry~

    Just think what would happen if every new roof built in the U.S. was required to have solar panels installed as part of the roof; and every replacement roof also had to have PV panels.

    How much energy would that feed back into the grid?

    Certainly, it would take some type of government program to make that happen, but I could be more enthusiastic about that than what we’ve spent on corn ethanol subsidies over the last three decades.

    [link]      
  15. By rrapier on November 15, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    Interesting post RR! Do have any idea which is a more economical product of cheap stranded natural, HB ammonia or FT GTL?

    We looked at all of these options when I was with ConocoPhillips (including methanol) and concluded that in most cases GTL would make the most sense. However, there are instances where the ammonia fertilizer option would win out. One of those potential instances that I am studying now is in Hawaii, which needs fertilizer and pays a lot for it.

    RR

    [link]      
  16. By perry on November 15, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    Wendell Mercantile said:

    Just think what would happen if every new roof built in the U.S. was required to have solar panels installed as part of the roof; and every replacement roof also had to have PV panels.


     

    Another of my pet peeves Wendell. More homeowners would go green if it could be financed with a traditional mortgage. Instead, a solar company has to come give an estimate, and do its best to line up financing. Even if the homeowner has good credit, he won’t get anywhere near the low rate a mortgage loan would give him. Solar equipment has 30-40 year lifespans. There’s no good reason it can’t be folded into a mortgage.

    [link]      
  17. By Kit P on November 15, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    Thanks for the info.

     

    “One of those potential instances that I am studying now is in Hawaii, which needs fertilizer and pays a lot for it.”

     

    I think you will find that anaerobic digestion of waste biomass (especially if it can mixes with dairy farm manure) produces more fertilizer which is less likely to run off than chemical ammonia.

    [link]      
  18. By Wendell Mercantile on November 15, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    However, there are instances where the ammonia fertilizer option would win out.

    RR~

    Ammonia also makes a fine fuel for internal combustion engines, one that has no carbon emissions since there are no carbon atoms in an ammonia molecule — just nitrogen and hydrogen. And there is already an ammonia distribution network — of sorts. The problem of course is the time it would take to convert cars with ICE engines so that they could use ammonia. Ammonia as fuel

    Ammonia (NH3) as a fuel would be another way — besides methanol (CH3OH) — to take advantage of the vast resources* of exploitable natural gas we are discovering.

    ________
    * The CEO of Chesapeake Energy was on 60 Minutes last night claiming we now have twice the energy in exploitable NG reserves as Saudi Arabia has in petroleum. If true, being the Saudi Arabia of both coal and natural gas should give us a leg up.

    [link]      
  19. By Wendell Mercantile on November 15, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    I’ll also add that handling and storing anhydrous ammonia is much easier than handling hydrogen either under high-pressure, or super-cooled to a liquid. Farmers and farm co-ops all across the Midwest handle ammonia regularly, and most farm communities already have anhydrous storage tanks that could serve as filling stations.

    What’s not to like about anhydrous ammonia as a fuel? No carbon emissions, an existing distribution network, and a fuel with many of the advantages of hydrogen, but without the handling and storage problems of hydrogen.

    [link]      
  20. By biocrude on November 15, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    Regarding solar panels on roofs, is everyone familiar with California’s SB 1 aka the Million Solar Roof Plan?   

    http://www.energy.ca.gov/sb1/p…..index.html

    Looks like there is still almost $600 million left for financing.  

    [link]      
  21. By Wendell Mercantile on November 15, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    Looks like there is still almost $600 million left for financing.

    How can that be when California’s budget deficit is more than $25 billion? California budget can’t wait for Jerry Brown

    [link]      
  22. By perry on November 15, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    Wendell Mercantile said:

    * The CEO of Chesapeake Energy was on 60 Minutes last night claiming we now have twice the energy in exploitable NG reserves as Saudi Arabia has in petroleum.


     

    He’s right Wendell. 2500 TCF of natural gas is equivalent to 430 billion barrels of oil, by btu value. If we built a boatload of GTL plants with optimum conversion efficiencies of 50%, we could produce 12M bpd of oil equivalent for 48 years. True energy independence, if it could be done.

     

    Of course, we do have other uses for natural gas. That wouldn’t be possible in the above scenario. Also, only 10% of those 2500 TCF are proved. The other 90% is inferred. Still, it seems pretty obvious that GTL could cut our dependence on imported oil. Believe it or not, the US only has 3% of world NG reserves, even with enormous shale additions. The Middle East has 10X as much. Iran alone could handle 100% of our current oil demand with GTL for 120 years.

    [link]      
  23. By perry on November 15, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    Biocrude said:

     is everyone familiar with California’s SB 1 aka the Million Solar Roof Plan?   

     


     

    Why don’t they just require solar roofing on new homes, as Wendell suggested earlier? Then, it could be financed with a traditional mortgage. Homeowners would see immediate savings.

    [link]      
  24. By Optimist on November 15, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    I don’t think a micro-GTL plant will be economical, but again if oil shoots up to $200 and natural gas is still where it is, then a smaller plant could make money.

    Would a modular design get you around that concern? I always thought Velocys made sense. RR? I would imagine with a modular design, having the technical know-how on site would become the bottleneck.

    Kit, I like you comment about anaerobic digestion. A wastewater treatment plant can produce ~12,000 scf of biogas/mil gal of influent. There are several 100+mgd facilities in the US, where the available biogas would be in the >1 million cf per day range. That should be enough to make quite a bit of GTL fuels and chemicals. Of course, biogas (~600 BTU/cf) is not quite the same as natural gas (~1,000 BTU/cf), but there seems to be much potential there.

    Also: RR, have you heard of carbon dioxide reforming of methane (CDR)? It seems like that would be a great concept for biogas where you have ~50:50 mixture of methane and carbon dioxide.

    [link]      
  25. By Wendell Mercantile on November 15, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    Then, it could be financed with a traditional mortgage.

    ’tis difficult to understand why solar panels on a newly constructed house aren’t part of the mortgage. The furnace or geothermal heating, A/C, light fixtures and wiring, water heater, etc. are part of the house package, so why shouldn’t solar panels also be considered part of the initial cost of a house and be covered by the mortgage?

    [link]      
  26. By Rufus on November 15, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    At the very least require that all new construction have a “south-facing roof” capable of 7, or 8 kilowatts of solar. Just get in your car, and drive around. Keep track of the ratio of houses with acceptable roofs vs those without same.

    I did that this morning, and I was glad I wasn’t trying to sell solar add-ons in N. Mississippi.

    [link]      
  27. By Kit P on November 15, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    “Why don’t they
    just require solar roofing on new homes, as Wendell suggested
    earlier?”

     

    That will not be
    necessary Perry, young families have already been priced out of homes
    in California by fruity regulations.

     

    I am hearing lots of
    ideas. To be a ‘good’ idea it has to meet some criteria.

     

    First it has to be
    safer than how we already do things. RR discussed how Shell has a
    safety culture at their GTL plant.  GTL passes criterion #1.

     

    Second you have to
    stay focused on your goal. In this case, stranded natural gas is
    converted to transportation fuel that can be transported to market
    using existing infrastructure. Co-producing higher value products is
    a bonus.  GTL passes criterion #2.

     

    In the US, we have a
    well developed pipeline & storage system system natural gas. To
    keep up with demand, it takes about a 1000 drilling rigs working. At
    $4/MMBTU, NG is not cheap compared to coal and nukes. It is down
    from the OMG level when the world economy was booming. NG also has
    other uses other than fuel. Because of the high cost of NG, many US
    ammonia plants sit idle. In other words, NG is is not stranded in
    the US.

     

    So when it comes
    done to using anhydrous ammonia for fuel, Wendell do you remember 911
    when some terrorist were not very effective at killing Americans. If
    you get my drift Wendell? I would just as soon not go into detail
    because I like my front door and I do not want home land security to
    get the wrong idea. I can drive a truck large tank farms of
    petroleum products. An truck accident could cause a nasty fire.

     

    It is a little
    convoluted but one of the reason I am an advocate of anaerobic
    digestion, it reduces the demand for anhydrous ammonia on the farm.
    If you check the Iowa state agriculture website on the topic of farm
    safety, you will notice that 200 -300 serious injuries a year
    resulting from mishandling anhydrous ammonia.

     

    “Ammonia also
    makes a fine fuel for internal combustion engines, ..”

     

    Maybe so, but it is
    really and bad idea becused it fails GTL fails criteria #1 &2.

    [link]      
  28. By savro on November 15, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    Wendell Mercantile said:

    Thanks for the update RR. As we discover we have more and more exploitable NG resources in the CONUS than we ever thought possible, it’s surprising none of our energy companies are expanding into GTL.


     

    With the recent natural gas rush, perhaps the energy companies will begin to expand into GTL too.

    Oil companies increasingly eye natural gas

    NEW YORK – Pretty soon, Big Oil will be more like Big Gas.

    The major oil companies are increasingly betting their futures on natural gas, with older oil fields producing less crude and newer ones either hard to reach or controlled by unfriendly nations.

    They are focusing more than ever on natural gas because it burns cleaner than oil and is gaining traction as a fuel for transportation. The latest move came Tuesday, when Chevron made a $4.3 billion deal to buy up natural gas fields in the Northeast.

    Earlier this year, Exxon Mobil bought XTO Energy to become America’s largest producer of natural gas. And Royal Dutch Shell expects natural gas to make up half its total global production in two years.

    “If you look at most of the big developments now, they’re not about oil, it’s gas,” said Oppenheimer & Co. analyst Fadel Gheit.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/201…..il_big_gas

    [link]      
  29. By Walt on November 15, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    I was one of the speakers at the GTL Conference in London where Shell released its most data yet (in my view) on their progress, and the staff from NNPC released some of its time table on Escravos.  Oryx GTL seems to have resolved their problems and is turning nice revenues.

    The ‘best-in-class’ small scale technologies being pilot/demo scale funded by Petrobras seems to be coming along nicely.  Both Velocys and CompactGTL have Brazil leading these technologies into commercialization to a large degree…both having invested to-date upwards of $150 million and $30 million in R&D if my research is correct.  The pilot/demo plants are upwards of $30-50 million for each of them as they are at different scales.  Nevertheless, small scale GTL will make economic sense with these technology if one can bank $150-200 million per plant and get no or low cost gas.

    Shell Pearl will be a major cash flow machine, but one must consider all of the upstream costs are part of the project, and the midstream LPG/condensate which are major cash flow generators.  The gas price is not disclosed, but with Shell drilling all the wells there is some sort of upstream/midstream/downstream mechanism going to Qatar Petroleum/Qatar government that makes it work.  I’ve run numbers inside and out for all sorts of scale GTL/methanol plants and when you can integrate upstream/midstream/downstream it is a totally different game.  It is a cash flow machine that is entirely different than trying to make these deals work on paying $5.00/mcf for gas…which is low if you ever get a call from Cheseapake who wanted to sell me their gas at $12.00/mcf and take a share of the downstream “profits”.  I would say in 6 years in this business, it was about the most offensive comments I’ve heard as a technology provider trying to bring this to the market with gas operators.

    The question was asked above:

    ———————————-

    Would a modular design get you around that concern? I always thought Velocys made sense. RR? I would imagine with a modular design, having the technical know-how on site would become the bottleneck.

    ———————————-

    My answer is yes, but it will never get into the marketplace on a small scale with operators think they can get $5-12/mcf gas on the front-end, and then take more “profits” on the downstream.  There is a major gap that exists between what operators want for their gas, and they think that if they can sell it to a pipeline at $3.50 and the pipeline/marketer goes to sell it to a chemical plant for $5.00+ then they should be able to get $10+ without all the middle men at the inlet.

    My suggestion to anyone in this sector…follow the lead of Shell.  Buy the gas reserves, control the gas, operate the midstream and downstream and let the Chesapeake / Encana / major indpendents continue to play the hedging market to expand their gas sales.  It takes far too much time and energy to argue with operators over gas prices.  Better to buy the stranded or low cost reserves, and then integrate everything as one.

     

     

    [link]      
  30. By Wendell Mercantile on November 15, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    Maybe so, but it is really and bad idea becused it fails GTL fails criteria #1 &2.

    Anhydrous ammonia as a fuel fails neither No. 1 or 2.

    1. A truckload of anhydrous ammonia is no more dangerous than a tanker load of gasoline. Farmers and their ag co-ops haul truckloads of anhydrous along the roads in the Corn Belt regularly. One shouldn’t breathe anhydrous ammonia or let it get on the skin, but one shouldn’t do that with gasoline either. Perhaps the biggest danger is that meth cookers like to tap into anhydrous storage tanks and pipelines to steal it.

    2. An anhydrous distribution system already exists.

    [link]      
  31. By Walt on November 15, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    By the way, if there are any serious operators out there who read Robert’s blog, and want to see our latest testing phase, contact me at walterb@gastechno.com.  An older video is here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…..8xv8ZGGsfA

    I’ve just completed construction of a mobile trailer plant that started operational testing 3 weeks ago…a week before I left for London and Abu Dhabi to attend several conferences.  We put out our first test results to our email list last week showing results which most “experts” said we could not obtain, and we reached those in the first week.  Not to say we did not face obstacles, but what is one suppose to expect with less than $200K in the entire mobile trailer and lots of no cost blood, sweat and labor.  We should applaud the grit to work night and day to get results which only the largest global companies in the world take credit for when the plant cost is $1 billion to $20 billion.  Watch their video’s on Pearl…it will make tears come to your eyes at how amazing the project is in comparison to other massive projects, but they did not do it for free.

    Mobile/modular plants can be possible with good engineering, dedicated people and a little bit of money.  Of course the criticism is going to make the front pages of the media, and the major companies, but after a while you will get numb to the criticism.  I told them in London everything was built in the garage and we started our testing.  Many were very kind afterwards, but there were some who thought it was a joke.  Laugh…but when all the engineers working in these major companies want is the data and the information to do it themselves and make bonuses…it is not so difficult to see why they laugh.  When you got someone else’s money to spend, and you get a weekly paycheck whether it works or fails…it is ok to snicker at the guy in the garage.

    Don’t think Shell and the others got all their ideas from inside their companies…you would be surprised at how much time they spend taking patented ideas and figuring out all the best ways to work around those claims.  Good marketing, good engineering and lots of money has become the best way to support technology innovation…however…in the end it is all about lawyers who will disclose how they got the research and the information.  Once you start pouring through patent litigation case studies…you learn how all this works.

    If that is not bad enough, look at what came out of the New York Times today:

    “Most important, a venture capital firm will often provide investment
    capital for a short, preset period. The V.C.’s thus control the company
    by ensuring that the founders will need to return for more capital…Worse yet, preferred-share provisions that give venture firms shares
    that are senior to the common shares could leave the founder with
    nothing.” For Entrepreneurs, a Lesson in Keeping Control, Steven M. Davidoff

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11……html?_r=1

    Keep innovation alive…like Gates working out of the garage, or Zuckerberg out of the dormroom…we need to let these guys dream big (or small in modular designs) without listening too closely to all the experts.  No offense RR…I just don’t know any better yet that it cannot be done.

    [link]      
  32. By perry on November 15, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    Walt said:

     My answer is yes, but it will never get into the marketplace on a small scale with operators think they can get $5-12/mcf gas on the front-end, and then take more “profits” on the downstream.   

     


     

    Nice work Walt. It seems like it would be a good fit for landfill gas operations. Those guys don’t expect a small fortune for their gas.

    [link]      
  33. By paul-n on November 16, 2010 at 2:11 am

    Fascinating stuff.  What is clear from the Bintulu plant is that they are not making their money by making fuel, but specialty petrochemicals.  The Qatar plant may be a different story, but the fact that this is the only large scale plant in the world suggests that GtL , for fuel, is just not economic, at present, unless, as Walt points out, you control the resource, and the ags is almost free.  

    Even then, GtL is not necessarily the bets thing to do.  When it comes to gas to anything (other than to a pipeline) the market has firmly voted on LNG.  There are over 100 LNG plants around the world.

    Australia is a significant LNG exporter, and the LNG price is now linked to the oil price.  India has become the latest buyer of Australian LNG, and the price is set at “12% of the Japan crude price” (per million btu).  There are 5.8 million btu in a barrel of oil, so energy parity would be 17.2% of the crude price.  So by liquefying the stranded gas, the producer can get 2/3 of the crude price, for much less capital than GtL.  The major partner in this Australian project is – Exxon Mobil!  

     

    While anaerobic digestion of municipal waste, sewage sludge and animal manure (dairy farms/feedlots) is a great thing, it is not nearly on the scale needed for a GTL process.  The Bintulu plant uses about 200,000 million btu /day.  If that was being used for electricity with CCGT, it would be about 1200MW – similar to one of Kit’s nuke units!

    Most AD projects are in the 0.5 to 10MW range, which would be the equivalent of 6 to 120 barrels a day of oil production!

    The City of Calgary (1.1m people Alberta, Canada) has AD at all three of its sewage treatment plants, about 3MW in total, and they each generate about half the energy used to run their respective plants.

    The City of Edmonton (similar size, but not nearly as nice a city as Calgary, and much colder) has a landfill gas operation that makes 4.8MW.

    There are numerous feedlot operations in Alberta that have AD plants, from as low as 0.35MW, good summary here

    AD projects are great, they produce electricity right where it is used, and nutrient rich biosolids, and should be done wherever there is organic “waste” – but they are not nearly of the scale needed for an industrial GtL process.  A further complication for landifll gas is siloxane (siliconised alkanes) contamination of the gas, which can require expensive filtering before feeding an engine, and likely even more expensive to before feeding an F-T process.

     

     

     

     

     

    [link]      
  34. By moiety on November 16, 2010 at 3:29 am

    Walt said:

    ———————————-

    Would a modular design get you around that concern? I always thought Velocys made sense. RR? I would imagine with a modular design, having the technical know-how on site would become the bottleneck.

    ———————————-

     

     


     

     

    The certainly have interesting presentation data. However I am always sceptical with micro-channel reactors and this has to be overcome (something that will not happen based on presentation data). The issue with micro-channels is that you are trying to do three things at once

    1. Heat transfer
    2. Selectivity (chance of getting desired compound)
    3. Yield (simply amount of desired compound you get/what you could get theoretically)

    Quite often the heat transfer rate is too low so additional inputs are required or the reaction does not develop as well as its should or you get very expensive. Not only that but the latter two can often compete so a critically good understanding of the temperatures generated in the micro channel is needed. Scale up complicates this due to left over heats being used or absorbed and due to differences especially in the catalyst distribution. In other words the process can be easily upset in my view.

    Further micro-channels require large amounts of material and more intricate construction so while the units can be much smaller, they are more dense and that trade off (cost/saving of density versus cost of status-quo) has to be designed. What you are left with is intricate design versus simple desing which means that parameter 2 and 3 have to be improved significantly without hurting the other so as to be able to deal with the extra payback required.

    That said micro-channels are definitely the closest we can get conceivably to an ideal geometry. This reaction is probably the best starting point to use micro-channels as well so as a topic of interest (i.e. research to demo), there is potential.

     

    [link]      
  35. By Optimist on November 16, 2010 at 3:34 am

    AD projects are great, they produce electricity right where it is used, and nutrient rich biosolids, and should be done wherever there is organic “waste” – but they are not nearly of the scale needed for an industrial GtL process.

    As I said, for the large (100+mgd; 1 million+ cf/d; 1 billion+ BTU/d) wastewater plants GtL is a real option. Start with those and work your way down.

    Cogen is NOT so great IMHO: you get green electricity, yes, but the country remains reliant on imported liquid fuels. By contrast, we are not strategically vulnerable wrt fuels used for producing power.

    The limit of AD is that is only uses about 50% of the energy available in the feedstock. If energy ever becomes really expensive, gasification will outcompete AD, due to the ability to chase 100% of the feedstock carbon.

    [link]      
  36. By paul-n on November 16, 2010 at 4:31 am

    As I said, for the large (100+mgd; 1 million+ cf/d; 1 billion+ BTU/d) wastewater plants GtL is a real option. Start with those and work your way down

    Optimist, you are still missing the point, the scale just is not there.  LA’s Hyperion plant is one of the largest, at 1.6 million cu.m/day (464 million gal/day)

    They have used AD for quite some time, from this description of the plant;

    The methane-rich biogas produced during decomposition is collected and piped to a nearby power plant, which partially offsets the WWTP’s energy purchase costs. Rational energy usage has been a central part of the plant’s operating policy from the start and it was one of the first in the world to harness the energy potential of sludge treatment.

    See the pattern- larger plants = larger energy requirements, and still the AD cannot make them self sufficient.

    You could design an STP to maximise production of methane, by not doing aerobic digestion before the anaerobic, but then you have to find some other way to concentrate the biomass, and that is very energy intensive.

    The primary purpose of sewage treatment is to remove all the contaminants from the water and leave it clean – energy production is a bonus, but no conventional treatment plants have achieved “energy independence”.

    An interesting side note about Hyperion – it does contribute to petroluem refining.  The the effluent water is further treated at a separatewater recycling facility, where some of it goes through reverse osmosis to provide feedwater for boilers at the nearby Chevron refinery.  The high pressure boilers need water so pure that they do double pass RO – but still cheaper doing this on effluent than seawater!

    Cogen is NOT so great IMHO: you get green electricity, yes, but the country remains reliant on imported liquid fuels. By contrast, we are not strategically vulnerable wrt fuels used for producing power.

    Only if you use liquid fuel for cogen, and who does that?  In fact, who even suggested that in this thread?

    Cogen is great, if you are not using oil, and have a beneficial use for the heat.  Those Alberta feedlots use the heat from the AD powered engines to heat the animal barns – I’m sure the cows and pigs appreciate that when it is -30C.  many European cities have small-medium coal fired electricity plants that are cogen, some are partly biomass fired too.

    The limit of AD is that is only uses about 50% of the energy available in the feedstock. If energy ever becomes really expensive, gasification will outcompete AD, due to the ability to chase 100% of the feedstock carbon.

    Not so fast.  The benefit of AD is that you can do it with very wet feedstock – in fact, it only works with wet feedstock.  For gasification, you need dry feedstock, less than 50% water by weight, and ideally less than 20%.  Sewage sludge going to AD is 97% water, by weight.  You can dewater sludge of course, by centrifuge, which, consumes lots of electrical energy.  I comissioned a centrifuge at a small treatment plant, and it needed 30kW to run, and could produce a cubic metre of 20%solids sludge per hour (that is still 80% water!) The 200kg of dry matter has an energy content of about 10MJ/kg, so there is 2000MJ available.  To get gasification dryness, you need to use a plate and frame press, or a belt press, and more energy (and cost) Assuming we use 50%  more energy (15kW) to dry it ) and 75% gasification efficiency, and then 33% for the engine, you can get 500MJ/hour – there are 3.6MJ per kWh, so you can produce 140kW, for a net output of 95kW.  BUT, you only got to run the centrifuge for an hour a day – that was all the sludge produced.  The plant used 25kW around the clock, so our 95kW for one hour is all of  16% of what the plant used.  

    You do get ash from the gasification (containing potassium and phosphorous) but the nitrogen content has been lost, so it is much less valuable as a fertiliser.

    The energy used to run the drying process is of the same order as the energy used by the bacteria doing the AD, but can be much more.

    Sewage sludge is about as ideal a dewatering material as you will get – the water is not tightly bound – it is harder to dewater distillers grains, for example, and even harder to ‘dewater” woody biomass, though with some air drying time it becomes dry enough.

    The general rule of thumb is AD for wet stuff, gasification for dry stuff (e.g municipal waste, wood waste).  Even if oil becomes really expensive, it still won;t be worth trying to convert the gas to liquid by conventional means.  What is needed then is some other method that can do it on a small scale – which is what Mark and Walt are working on with gastechno.

     

     

    [link]      
  37. By Kit P on November 16, 2010 at 7:05 am

    “Cheseapake who
    wanted to sell me their gas at $12.00/mcf”

     

    Cheseapake will also
    tell you that electricity is affordable with NG. Sure it is at
    $2.00/mcf. Lots of CCGT got built when NG was cheap. Replacing old
    SCGT with CCGT lowers the prices of making electricity. However,
    increase NG share of making electricity by 10% and that changes the
    market. Now that $2.00/mcf. is gone. So is low cost home heating
    and all those jobs making plastics, anhydrous ammonia and other
    chemicals.

     

    “but one shouldn’t
    do that with gasoline either”

     

    Wendell, I have
    spilled gasoline and had skin contact thousands of times. Never came
    to with people asking how many figures were the holding up.

     

    Wendell, you are
    simple wrong about anhydrous ammonia. You did not do any research
    before suggesting something. Anhydrous ammonia is very, very toxic.

     

    It is irresponsible
    to recommend something with doing the research. I have worked with
    hydrogen and ammonia for 40 years. Neither can be brought to the
    market as fuel. Not sure that gasoline could be brought to the
    market under today’s regulation either but that is a different
    debate.

     

    Anhydrous ammonia as
    a fertilizer is a different matter. It only should be handled by
    trained personal. The safety record of the agriculture community
    is not very good. The more they get into the energy production
    business, the more the agriculture community will have to consider
    how their operations affect their neighbors.

    [link]      
  38. By Walt on November 16, 2010 at 7:13 am

    Paul N said:

    Fascinating stuff.  What is clear from the Bintulu plant is that they are not making their money by making fuel, but specialty petrochemicals.  The Qatar plant may be a different story, but the fact that this is the only large scale plant in the world suggests that GtL , for fuel, is just not economic, at present, unless, as Walt points out, you control the resource, and the ags is almost free.  

    Even then, GtL is not necessarily the bets thing to do.  When it comes to gas to anything (other than to a pipeline) the market has firmly voted on LNG.  There are over 100 LNG plants around the world. 


     

    Paul, to clarify a little bit.  I think GTL is economic on scales down to 50 mmscfd feed if the gas is cheap/free and the customer is willing to be happy with a 20% annual return on their investment.  CompactGTL on their website mentions they can scale down to 10 mmscfd, but I think this is mostly directed at offshore platforms that need to handle the associated gas.  The $150-200 million dollar plant would be included in the cost of the overall project and buried so the CEO is not trying to figure out how much money he will make in return for his $150-200 million investment off selling syncrude into the crude line.  That is not the economic model.  At 50 mmscfd feed under the right conditions it will make money…as oil prices rise above $80 or a bit less that scale can drop lower, etc.  This is a rule of thumb only from my studies…and has many moving variables that can improve or destroy the economics.

    Further, what I learned overseas is that everyone is really pulling away from LNG due to the long-price views of global gas.  Their were some pretty strong critics of any new LNG projects coming out due to the enormous and massive costs increases in LNG and the remainging few companies willing to take the risk.  I saw a quote from the CEO of Chesapeake recently where he was not so bullish on new LNG as well.

    My view is that small scale (50 mmscfd) will go mini-scale (100,000 cfd to 30 mmscfd).  That takes some really difficult economic conditions.

    The EPA is promoting (using our tax dollars) the installation of methanol plants by Davy Process Technology Limited in the UK, and the foreign controlled Methanol Institute based in Washington, to be installed in coal mines in China where they can afford $200 million for a small plant.

    ——————————–

    Some Facts about Methanol Production…
    • 1 mcf (28.32 m3) of methane will produce 10 gallons (38 liters) of methanol.
    • Production costs are $US 1.00–$1.30/gallon ($US 0.26–$0.34/liter), assuming natural gas prices of
    $5.00–$6.00/mcf ($1.88–$2.10/thousand m3). At $5.00/mcf, natural gas typically accounts for about
    half of production costs at small plants.
    • Typical 2010 methanol prices are around $US 1.05/gallon ($US 0.28/liter). Methanol prices can be
    volatile.
    • Gassy mines are often located near methanol markets, potentially reducing transportation costs.
    • Small plants produce 25–30 million gallons (95–114 million liters) per year.
    • Methane requirements for small plants range from 7–8 million ft3 (200–226 thousand m3) per day.
    • Startup costs are approximately $US 6.7 million for each million gallons of annual plant capacity ($US200 million for a 30 million gallon/yr plant).
    • Ideally, gas quality should be high in methane and low in nitrogen, but can contain other trace impurities such as oxygen at low levels.

    • CO2 levels as much as 25 percent are beneficial, providing capital and energy saving.

    ——————————–

    The document is called “Coal Mine Methane Use in Methanol Production” July 2010.  Our costs for the same plant is $50 million dollars CAPEX.

    The mini-scale promoted by the EPA/Davy/Methanol Insitute in China at 7-8 mmscfd and about US$200 million is astounding…but you can be almost assured there will be some grant money, or some other tax incentives, or some help to put British methanol technology into China with US tax payer funding of some sorts.  I’ve pounded on the doors of the EPA and Methanol Institute to look for “hey, like ethanol, let’s promote methanol technology here in America”, but as long as Methanex controls this market and the Methanol Institute…we will need to be patience.

    The oil and gas industry is NEVER going to pay $200 million for a 7-8 mmscfd methanol plant in America.  And no funding from US tax payers will pay for it either…that will need to be done in China out of sight…out of mind.

    For a $50 million dollar CAPEX that can do about the same thing…it will only happen when people wake up to methanol in America is not evil, and all the negative stories coming out of the biofuels and ethanol industry changes.  Until then…we will stay in the garage and look at very mini-scale plants that can make enough methanol and chemicals very cheap without any subsidies or support.

    I was thinking about it last night…I guess it is good RR is doing a story on GTL.  It will likely end up “pro-big oil” in the end (being formerly in the club), and anti-small scale/new technologies, but at least it will bring some awarness to the GTL industry.  That is good in my view, because there are some real potential advances in technologies that could break the small scale (50 mmscfd) barrier and there is some interesting stuff coming out of Russia, and there is something here in Michigan.  China is also doing a great job of spending billions on new R&D into GTL and gas/coal conversion technologies, and I expect (as I fight through our patent filings there), I will see more really great ideas scaling down.

    Take what is negative in the small scale debate and let the industry prove up CompactGTL and Velocys to get us to 50 mmscfd, or even lower, that will make money (provided crude prices continue to rise).  Then see the EPA promote $200 million for 7-8 mmscfd in China (proven technology = no criticism except economic incentives).  Beyond this…I believe “mini-scale” will come through innovation soon enough.  It might not have the $140 million R&D budget of Velocys, or multi-millions of CompactGTL, but it will come…whether stolen from the innovator into the hands of the super majors, or through local community support where high gas prices and high corn prices get people frustrated.

    Time to go to work.  Join me!…

    [link]      
  39. By Kit P on November 16, 2010 at 7:41 am

    “The limit of AD
    is that is only uses about 50% of the energy available in the
    feedstock. If energy ever becomes really expensive, gasification will
    outcompete AD, due to the ability to chase 100% of the feedstock
    carbon.”

     

    PaulN did a really
    good job of explaining this but let me add N to the mass and energy
    balance. Soils need energy! AD provides organic fertilizer with the
    C:N ratio that is needed to increase productivity of crops along with
    P&K and other micro nutrients. What one farmer told me is that
    a crop that needs 200 lbs N/acer will get the same crop yield as 25
    lbs N/acer from organic fertilizer 75 lbs N/acer from chemical
    fertilizer. I have verified this from different independent sources.
    Reducing 100 lbs N/acer is a 100% efficiency improvement.

     

    Since the US is now
    importing energy in the form of chemical fertilizer, we are imports
    Optimist.

     

    When you consider
    the environmental impact of producing chemical fertilizer and the
    reduced air and soil erosion, producing energy in the form of
    biosolids is a huge improvement.

    [link]      
  40. By Wendell Mercantile on November 16, 2010 at 9:24 am

    Not sure that gasoline could be brought to the market under today’s regulation either…

    Kit P.

    We agree totally on that. Had the early proponents of gasoline as an ICE fuel had to do a full environmental impact assessment and get approval from some 1910-version of the EPA, gasoline would have never become an approved fuel for internal combustion engines.

    Of course there are drawbacks with anhydrous ammonia as a fuel, but there are also safety issues with gasoline and diesel fuel. Every year we read about some train derailment in a Midwest farming town where a turned over tank car of anhydrous causes the entire town to be evacuated. But the same happens with gasoline, not to mention the many fires that result at automobile crash scenes when two or more cars ram into each other at high speed, nor the billions of tons of carbon that gasoline ICEs put into the atmosphere each year.

    Would we have to use precautions with anhydrous ammonia as a fuel? Of course. But anhydrous also offers big advantages: We can make it from the huge reserves of natural gas we are discovering, and it is a fuel with no carbon emissions. One could say the same about hydrogen as a fuel, except that hydrogen has severe limiting factors with respect to storage and distribution.

    Whatever fuel we use will have trade offs. In my opinion, anhydrous ammonia is a fuel worth considering. Would there be risks with anhydrous? Yes. Would there be benefits with anhydrous? Yes, huge benefits. It’s just a matter of weighing the risks against the benefits.

    [link]      
  41. By Kit P on November 16, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    Not that I think for a moment the risk of can be mitigated for anhydrous ammonia as an affordable transportation fuel lets humor Wendell by letting him continue dig a hole.

     

    “Would there be benefits with anhydrous ammonia? Yes, huge benefits.”

     

    What would those be?   Wendell wrote earlier,

     

    “No carbon emissions”

     

    Methane or coal is used to make anhydrous ammonia.  For each ton of NH3 you get 1.2 tons of CO2 (if memory serves me right) if methane is used.  EPA (Air Chief) has emission factors for lots of processed.

     

    If you want to make transportation fuel from fossil fuels use Shell’s GTL process.  

    [link]      
  42. By Optimist on November 16, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    See the pattern- larger plants = larger energy requirements, and still the AD cannot make them self sufficient.

    PaulN, why is energy self-sufficiency of wastewater treatment plants a priority? Won’t it be better if they produced renewable liquid fuels, and got their electricity from the grid?

    You could design an STP to maximise production of methane, by not doing aerobic digestion before the anaerobic, but then you have to find some other way to concentrate the biomass, and that is very energy intensive.

    In the era of membrane treatment biomass concentration is not the challenge, HRT (or slow reaction rate) is. Until somebody solves it.

    For gasification, you need dry feedstock, less than 50% water by weight, and ideally less than 20%.

    Current technology, yes. Hopefully something better is coming down the pike. Like the Hydrothermal (i.e. Wet) Gasification that the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is working on. These guys claim they can process solids down to 0.2%! Hard to believe.

    Also: you can build a lot of gasification plant with the money you save from not having to build a 15+ day HRT AD and all its ancillary equipment.

    PaulN did a really good job of explaining this but let me add N to the mass and energy balance. Soils need energy! AD provides organic fertilizer with the C:N ratio that is needed to increase productivity of crops along with P&K and other micro nutrients. What one farmer told me is that a crop that needs 200 lbs N/acer will get the same crop yield as 25 lbs N/acer from organic fertilizer 75 lbs N/acer from chemical fertilizer. I have verified this from different independent sources. Reducing 100 lbs N/acer is a 100% efficiency improvement.

    Since the US is now importing energy in the form of chemical fertilizer, we are imports Optimist.

    When you consider the environmental impact of producing chemical fertilizer and the reduced air and soil erosion, producing energy in the form of biosolids is a huge improvement.

    That’s a fair comment, Kit. However, it appears that your farmer friend is in the minority: wastewater treatment plants have difficulty giving “organic fertilizer” away, as opposed to having people clamor for the product.

    Maybe there is a business opportunity there: take solids from the plants, get your marketing spiel going with your farmer friend, and sell the solids for a nice profit. All while saving the environment!

    [link]      
  43. By paul-n on November 16, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    Walt, 

    The  30mgpy methanol plant is the equivalent of 1000barrels/day, so the cost is $200k per barrel/day – no wonder it won’t get built here, and I am surprised it would get built anywhere else!

    Even at $50m, you are at $50k/barrel/day, which is not much less than oilsands ($60-80k), and you still have to buy the feedstock.

    I would love to see small scale stuff come about, because then you could do it at the AD plants, and at biomass gasification plants, but then you face the low selling price for methanol.   Better if you have a dedicated use for the stuff.  Interestingly, one type of sewage treatment process uses methanol as an input, to aid in nutrient removal.

    If there is a worldwide slowdown for LNG, it hasn’t reached Australia yet.  China, India, Japan and Korea will buy as much as Australia can produce, so Australia is producing as much as it can, and I expect will keep doing so.

     

    Kit/Wendell – I am in Kit’s camp here, I think the risks with ammonia outweigh the benefits, for widespread use. There may be some specialised niches, though I can;t think of any, and the OH&S requirements would likely make it just not worth the effort.  On an energy balance, I would think you are better off to use CNG/LNG, though that has its own issues for widespread (i.e. consumer) use, though LNG is an ideal industrial fuel, and would also be good for trains.

    And for GtL, I would be interested to see a comparison of doing F-T oils to making methanol, as to which is the better use of NG for making liquid fuels.

    That said, as Kit pointed out, there are plenty of uses for NG without turning it into oil.  The only real candidate in North America for GtL would be northern Alaska/northern Canada, where there are huge reserves of stranded NG. Though, with the cold weather there, doing LNG might be cheaper than elsewhere.

    In any case, I doubt we’ll see a rush for GtL in this part of the world.

     

    [link]      
  44. By perry on November 16, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Wendell Mercantile said:

     But anhydrous also offers big advantages: We can make it from the huge reserves of natural gas we are discovering, and it is a fuel with no carbon emissions.


     It’s probably a mistake to think one fossil fuel can come to the rescue when another is dwindling. A BTU is a BTU. Heating oil prices go up and propane follows, along with NG, wood pellets, and any other method of keeping the house warm. While more natural gas is recoverable than we thought just a few years ago, supplies are still finite. To transition from crude oil to fuels made from NG would mean increasing consumption of NG by 400% or more. We’ve got 10 years of proved reserves at today’s level of consumption. Yes, there’s more where that comes from, but how much more is anyone’s guess.

     

    Maybe the figures for ammonia are more favorable than GTL. Using a 50% conversion rate from GTL. it would take 80 TCF annually to replace 20M bpd of crude oil. We currently use about 22 TCF annually.

    [link]      
  45. By Wendell Mercantile on November 16, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    Methane or coal is used to make anhydrous ammonia. For each ton of NH3 you get 1.2 tons of CO2 (if memory serves me right) if methane is used.

    Certainly true. But anhydrous ammonia would have no carbon out the vehicle tailpipe. It would be much easier to capture, contain, and control the carbon emissions at the point of conversion in centralized Fischer-Tropsch plants than from millions of gasoline, ethanol, and diesel-burning vehicles roaming the roads.

    While your argument is true, it is hardly a nail in the coffin were we to seriously consider using anhydrous ammonia as a fuel.

    [link]      
  46. By Kit P on November 16, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    “wastewater treatment plants have difficulty giving “organic fertilizer” away, as opposed to having people clamor for the product.”

     

    Good point!  The farmers I knew could not get enough biosolids thanks to a shortage of big cities.  NYC has a problem of stranded biosolids.  Too many people not enough farms.  If it takes more energy to transport biosolids than you recover in fertilizer energy, recover the energy.

    [link]      
  47. By Kit P on November 16, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    “While your argument is true, it is hardly a nail in the coffin were we to seriously consider using anhydrous ammonia as a fuel.”

     

    What are the other ‘huge’ benefits you were talking about Wendell?  I will be happy to nail the coffin closed one benefit at a time.  Wendell made a claim without researching it.    ‘Huge’ benefits are easy to find and we all know what they are.  Diesel, gasoline, methanol, ethanol, LPG, LNG, and CNG are used as transportation fuel.  Pick one that fits your needs.

     

    Just because you can anhydrous ammonia to fuel an ICE does not mean there is any benefit in doing that.   

     

    Pual wrote,

     

    “There may be some specialised niches, though I can;t think of any, and the OH&S requirements would likely make it just not worth the effort.”

     

    I know of use of anhydrous ammonia but after 911, they found an alternative.  The city gave it the environmental project of the year award.  The nuke plant has a big think concrete building around and was 12 miles away but emergency planners were more worried about the anhydrous ammonia tank.  

     

    [link]      
  48. By paul-n on November 16, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    why is energy self-sufficiency of wastewater treatment plants a priority? Won’t it be better if they produced renewable liquid fuels, and got their electricity from the grid?

    Optimist, I am not obsessed with powering the plant, but just want to get the point home as to how little energy, really, is produced.  if there is a process that can turn them into liquid fuels, on site or close by, then great, but there is nothing, yet, that is economic at these scales.  But even if there was, why do 45% conversion from methane into fuels, with all the post processing, when you can get up to 48.7% conversion into electricity  with this engine from Kit’s old company.

    Keep in mind that Bintulu and other places are “stranded” NG, where there is no cheap way to get it to market.  At a sewage plant, the “NG” is produced right there, with no transmission costs, and the electricity is used right there, with no transmission costs, and offsetting buying it an industrial rates, instead of selling to the grid at wholesale rates.  If you can sell the diesel at $3/gal (150% of current price), you get the same $/btu of gas as if you sell the electricity for  7.9c/kWh.  And the engine is much cheaper than what the GtL equipment will be.

    So what I’m getting at is that the even if GtL is available, unless liquid fuel is way expensive, economics will show the better alternative is still to go electricity.  Electricity is not an alternative for stranded NG.

     

    In the era of membrane treatment biomass concentration is not the challenge,

    It is still very much the challenge – biomass separation and concentration is thew whole objective of sewage treatment.  If membrane treatment for sewage was that simple, it would be being used.  There are some cases where it is used as the tertiary treatment of effluent, in place of sand filters, but by then the water is already very clean, and it is more expensive than sand filtering.

     

    Like the Hydrothermal (i.e. Wet) Gasification that the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is working on. These guys claim they can process solids down to 0.2%! Hard to believe.

    Not hard to believe, you can do pressure cooking of all sorts of things.  That process is at near the critical point of water – you need a lot of energy to heat up 99.8 units of water to “steam reform” the remaining 0.2. It is used for certain chemical processing, but for energy you can see that you use a hell of a lot just heating water.  You can recover some of this energy, of course.  A slightly milder version of this treatment is the weak acid hydrolysis of cellulose to break it into glucose for ethanol fermentation – well known technology, just not economic.

    wastewater treatment plants have difficulty giving “organic fertilizer” away, as opposed to having people clamor for the product.

    Depends on where you are.  The City of Kelowna, BC (pop 130,000) doesn’t do AD, they just compost the stuff with woodchips, and sell that.  Each year they sell out their entire year’s production before the mid point of the gardening season.  Note the word “sell”, the sales cover 1/3 the cost of operating the compost operation.

    If there is one things Americans are really, really, good at it is marketing something.  I am sure someone can take on the challenge of selling recycled s—!  It is very good fertiliser for energy crops…

     

    [link]      
  49. By Wendell Mercantile on November 16, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    What are the other ‘huge’ benefits you were talking about Wendell?

    I could provide the link again to the Ammonia Fuel Network website — which if you had looked at you would not have asked that question. But instead of doing that, here is a compact list of the benefits from the AFN website. I realize this is from an association marketing and promoting ammonia in their self-interests, so some of their claims may be hyperbolic, but for the purposes of discussion, it’s a fair starting point:

    * Ammonia is an ultra-clean, energy-dense alternative liquid fuel. Along with hydrogen, ammonia is the only fuel that does not produce any greenhouse gases (GHG) on combustion.
    * Ammonia (anhydrous, NH3) is 18% hydrogen by weight
    * Ammonia is a liquid fuel at ambient temperatures and moderate pressures (~125 psi)
    * Ammonia has 52% of the energy density of gasoline, and is over 50% more energy dense per gallon than cryogenic liquid hydrogen
    It can be used directly to drive fuel cells, or directly in internal combustion engines (ICE), it can also be used in combustion turbines
    * Conversions of gasoline and diesel ICEs to run on ammonia are relatively straightforward
    * Ammonia is easy to store and deliver in large quantities
    * Ammonia represents a sustainable, carbon-free fuel for back-up and peaker capacity generation
    * Ammonia fuel can help free us from dependence on imported oil
    * Current worldwide annual production of ammonia is ~130 million tons, primarily from natural gas and coal; China is the #1 producer at 30 million tons annually
    * ~ 20 million tons of NH3 and NH3-based fertilizers are consumed annually in the US as fertilizer (equivalent in energy to ~3.5 billion gallons of gasoline)
    * A storage and delivery infrastructure of pipelines, barges, rail and truck already exists for ammonia, with 3000 miles of pipeline in the US heartland; retail ammonia outlets exist in practically every state, 800 outlets in Iowa alone
    * Ammonia can be produced cleanly from coal and natural gas with carbon sequestration, and also from biomass, renewable energy sources and nuclear power, using nitrogen from the air
    * Ammonia can also be recovered from agricultural animal waste
    * Ammonia is also produced naturally in legumes by nitrogenase bacteria
    * Ammonia is covered as an alternative fuel under the Energy Policy Act of 1992, so ammonia vehicles qualify for fleet sale requirements
    * Ammonia is comparable to or lower in price than gasoline on an equal energy basis
    * Ammonia made using renewable or nuclear source electricity will be more stable in price and will grow increasingly cheaper per Btu versus fossil based fuels
    * Ammonia contains no carbon, so releases no GHGs on combustion; also any NOx is easily neutralized
    * In accident scenarios, ammonia is not flammable and is lighter than air so will dissipate into the atmosphere
    * Ammonia is not itself a GHG in the atmosphere
    * Ammonia will not damage the ozone layer
    * Anhydrous ammonia itself is used as the active chemical reactant in NOx reduction, and CO2 and SO2 capture

    [link]      
  50. By Kit P on November 16, 2010 at 10:51 pm

    That is a long list
    Wendell. I did not ask for a long list of BS. How about telling
    what you think would be ‘huge’ benefit. Are you sure you are not
    a lawyer? Lawyers come up with long list at $200/hr so other lawyers
    can refute the list $200/hr. Welcome to environmental law! I will
    refute one on Wendells list, which has already been discussed.

     

    “Ammonia fuel can
    help free us from dependence on imported oil”

     

    So we can depend
    imported ammonia? The US now imports ammonia.

     

    What I am trying to
    get you do to Wendell is evaluate something for yourself and be able
    to back up something. Wendell makes off the wall statements that are
    ridiculous. Sure you can find a web site and people that will agree
    that I am a troll but what is your goal to understand an issue or
    reach consensus with others who do not make an effort to learn?

     

    So pick another
    ‘huge’ benefit and explain why Wendell thinks it is huge in the
    contest of transportation fuel. I have been to the been AFN web site
    and was not impressed but this about Wendell backing up a statement
    not passing along something Wendell read on web site

     

    “which if you had
    looked at you would not have asked that question.”

     

    Wendell provided the
    link, I went. The question Wendell must ask himself is how many web
    sites are there promoting something but the energy industry does not
    see a ‘huge’ benefit?

    [link]      
  51. By paul-n on November 17, 2010 at 12:53 am

    I can’t see any benefits of ammonia over methanol, from that list,and many drawbacks.  The difference is that the carbon stays in methanol, and as a non pressurised liquid, it is far easier and safer to store and handle.

    When Indy car has a 30 yr record on ammonia, then let’s talk about it as a vehicle fuel.

     

     

     

    [link]      
  52. By perry on November 17, 2010 at 1:55 am

    Ammonia does have an advantage over hydrogen as an energy carrier. It’s easier to transport and store, and like hydrogen, can be burned in fuel cells. Liquid ammonia actually contains more hydrogen than liquid hydrogen. As weird as that sounds….. Like hydrogen, it can be made through electrolysis. From what I’ve read, we’re more likely to have an “ammonia economy” than a hydrogen one in the next generation. From that standpoint, Wendell is probably onto something. Anhydrous ammonia will make an excellent fuel cell choice.

    Doubt we’ll ever see it burned in ICE’s though.

    [link]      
  53. By paul-n on November 17, 2010 at 5:38 am

    Well, almost anything is a better, safer, and cheaper to manufacture fuel carrier than hydrogen.

    Not only ammonia, but all alcohols, including methanol, and all straight chain hydrocarbons, contain more hydrogen, and more energy, per gallon than hydrogen.

    The only good things about hydrogen are that it burns clean, and has the best power to weight (not volume) ratio – hence it;s use in rocketry.  Otherwise, it’s manufacturing and handling make it a lousy fuel – far more trouble than it is worth.

    You can get fuel cells that will run directly on liquid methanol, and you can get solid oxide fuel cels that will run on vapor phase of any hydrocarbons or alcohol, so neither ammonia or hydrogen has any great advantage there.

    We are not likely to have either an ammonia economy or a hydrogen economy, any time soon.  It will either be hydrocarbons (mineral and XtL and LNG), alcohols, or electric, and probably in that order.

     

    I can’t even imagine what a car maker would have to go through to get approval for an ammonia powered vehicle, let alone who would want to buy one.

     

    [link]      
  54. By perry on November 17, 2010 at 10:23 am

    Paul N said:

     You can get fuel cells that will run directly on liquid methanol, and you can get solid oxide fuel cels that will run on vapor phase of any hydrocarbons or alcohol, so neither ammonia or hydrogen has any great advantage there.

     


     

    Ammonia and hydrogen can be made from water. That’s a huge advantage. We can make unlimited quantities until the end of time. Right now, the costs are exhorbitant. Electrolysis will always cost more than simple transmission of electricity. But, the cost of fuel cells can be brought down. If they can be made as cheaply as batteries, we could do away with range anxiety, and have all the clean energy we could ever want.

    [link]      
  55. By Wendell Mercantile on November 17, 2010 at 10:54 am

    Paul and Perry~

    I too doubt we will see autos running down our roads powered by anhydrous ammonia. But sometimes you have to let your imagination run and consider other than traditional possibilities. Were I a betting man, I would put my money for a CTL or GTL process to replace gasoline on methanol and not on ammonia.

    One possible niche for ammonia might be to power farm machinery. Apparently ammonia makes a pretty good compression ignition fuel. Since many farms already have ammonia storage tanks and farmers are used to handling ammonia, it might make sense for them to also run their tractors and other equipment on ammonia instead of petrodiesel. Makes me wonder if John Deere, Case-IH, or any of the big farm equipment makers have ever looked into that.

    So we can depend imported ammonia? The US now imports ammonia.

    Kit P.

    It would be folly to switch to fuel ammonia if we were going to import it — the same as we do two-thirds of our oil. Were we to use fuel ammonia, the point would be to have domestic Haber-Bosch plants making ammonia from our own natural gas and coal, thus breaking our link to imported oil.

    Do I think it will happen and that we will become an “ammonia-based” economy? Not really. But sometimes it’s interesting throwing out an idea just to watch you go into a tailspin of negativism trying to shoot it down.

    [link]      
  56. By Kit P on November 17, 2010 at 11:21 am

    I suppose I was too
    subtle!

     

    You can not store
    significant quantities of anhydrous ammonia around large populations
    of people. Community emergency planners will just not let you do it
    any more. It is just too dangerous. Some times we do not advertise
    potential terrorist targets. If you take anhydrous ammonia off of
    prescribed routes police will assume you are a terrorist and use
    deadly force if necessarily to stop you.

     

    Anhydrous ammonia is
    very very toxic!

     

    Anhydrous ammonia is
    very very toxic!

     

    Anhydrous ammonia is
    very very toxic!

     

    The small anhydrous
    ammonia tankers that Wendell referred to that farmers you can not
    come down my street but similar sized propane tanks are on on both
    sides of my backyard. People use propane all the time for heating
    but it is not toxic.

     

    “We are not likely
    to have either an ammonia economy or a hydrogen economy, any time
    soon.”

     

    We already do.
    Ammonia economy and hydrogen have many uses in industry, power
    generation, and agriculture. Without chemical fertilizer the earth
    would not be supporting the current population and none of you would
    not worried about peak oil. Ammonia and hydrogen are more expensive
    than fossil fuels because they are made from fossil fuels. Ammonia
    and hydrogen are very expensive to handle. Many regulations must be
    followed to protect the public and workers.

     

    I am not going to
    provide a link because I know this from experience. I have authored
    many documents that are referenced in submittal to regulators.

     

    “Ammonia and
    hydrogen can be made from water.”

     

    This is true
    assuming the source of energy is nuclear power but the energy will be
    used as input to a facility like Shell that RR descried . Gen IV
    reactors that can supply hydrogen and process steam to refineries but
    they are 25 years away from being commercial. They will never be a
    need for them as long as there is stranded natural gas for Shell to
    make GTL.

    [link]      
  57. By perry on November 17, 2010 at 11:26 am

    We wouldn’t need to import anything if we ever went with fuel cells. And we wouldn’t need fossil fuels. The energy equivalent of a gallon of gasoline can be produced from water for $1.90 today. A windmill and a little water could get us down the road…..if we can only get the cost of fuel cells down to affordable levels.

     

    http://www.qsinano.com/white_p…..l%2007.pdf

    [link]      
  58. By perry on November 17, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Kit P said:

     

    Anhydrous ammonia is
    very very toxic!

     

     


     

    Only if you are a fish. It’s no more toxic to people than gasoline. In some ways, it’s safer. Unlike gasoline, you can’t light it with a match.

    [link]      
  59. By paul-n on November 17, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    Ok, enough about hydrogen and ammonia – neither is going to be a widespread fuel anytime soon.

     

    BUt back to the topic at hand of GtL.

    There has long been discussion about doing a Gas to Liquids plant in Alaska, to take advantage of the huge quantity of stranded natural gas.  The North Slope is estimated to hold 40 trillion cu.ft of gas, with 24tcf being recoverable.  At a market price of $3/MMBTU, this reserve is worth around $75bn

    There have been proposals since the 70′s for a gas pipeline, to connect the lower 48, through Canada.  Currently, such projects are priced at about $26bn, and are stalled

    Using the Bintulu future conversion efficiency of 50%, the 24 tcf could become 2.1 billion barrels of oil.

    Just for reference, the North  Slope is estimated to have held 25 billion barrels of oil in place, with 13bn being recoverable.  As of the end of 2005, 11billion barrels had been produced.  The field opened in 1977, peaked in 1979 at 1.7mbd and has been declining ever since, and is currently around 600,000bpd.  When the the flow decrease to around 300,000 bpd, the 48″ Trans Alaska pipeline will no longer be able to function. It will either need to be replaced with a smaller pipeline, or shut down altogether, leaving the remaining oil stranded.  

    Most of the exploration efforts in the north have been coming up gas, not oil, so gas reserves are increasing while oil reserves are decreasing – hence the interest in some kind of GtL project for Alaska, to use both  the gas, and the existing pipeline.

    It has been proposed to do both LNG and methanol at the north slope, and use the pipeline to send the product to Valdeez for shipping, but either one would require ending the shipment of oil through the pipeline.

    A Shell type GtL process has the advantage of producing oil, and allowing the existing oil production and pipeline to continue.

    The current estimated cost for the Qatar facility is $20bn, or $142,000 per barrel/day of capacity.

    A 200kbpd plant for Alaska would thus cost $28.4bn – similar to the pipeline, and would have a gas supply for 29 years, at current reserves.  Keep in mind though, that entire reserve of 2.1bn barrels, and the $28bn plant, is enough to supply the equivalent of just 100 days of current US oil consumption!

    2007 study by the national Petroleum Council, looked at the potential for GtL around the world, including Alaska.  Their conclusion was that GtL is unlikely to be a major component of global supply in 2020, and maybe not even in 2030.

    So, for the US’ largest stranded gas reserve, with an oil infrastructure already in place, GtL is not economic.  If it is isn’t there, where will it be?

    Meanwhile, for the Alaska pipeline, and the 300,000bpd shutdown, the clock is ticking…

     

    [link]      
  60. By perry on November 17, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    Paul N said:

    Meanwhile, for the Alaska pipeline, and the 300,000bpd shutdown, the clock is ticking…

     

     

     


     

    Not that big a deal. Alaska already ships oil to Hawaii. They can ship it there and elsewhere when the pipeline shuts down.

    [link]      
  61. By Optimist on November 17, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    It is still very much the challenge – biomass separation and concentration is thew whole objective of sewage treatment. If membrane treatment for sewage was that simple, it would be being used. There are some cases where it is used as the tertiary treatment of effluent, in place of sand filters, but by then the water is already very clean, and it is more expensive than sand filtering.

    No – biomass separation is just an everyday part of wastewater treatment. Not as hard as you make it sound.

    And membranes are routinely used for secondary treatment – ever heard of MBRs? The innovators are looking at using membranes for primary treatment. That would be the way to maximize energy recovery.

    A slightly milder version of this treatment is the weak acid hydrolysis of cellulose to break it into glucose for ethanol fermentation – well known technology, just not economic.

    Except that wet gasification produces a gas, for easy separation from the feedstock. Your ethanol fermentation only looks good until you factor in the energy needed to distill the product out.

    If there is one things Americans are really, really, good at it is marketing something. I am sure someone can take on the challenge of selling recycled s—! It is very good fertiliser for energy crops…

    Not happening just yet. OTOH at least we are now doing toilet to tap. So perhaps common sense is coming, afterall.

    [link]      
  62. By Kit P on November 17, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    “Only if you are a
    fish.”

     

    Perry you are
    confusing weak solutions of ammonia hydroxide with anhydrous ammonia.
    From wiki

     

    “Ammonia, as used
    commercially, is often called anhydrous ammonia. This term
    emphasizes the absence of water in the material. Because NH3 boils
    at -33.34 °C, (-28.012 °F) the liquid must be stored under
    high pressure or at low temperature. Its heat of vapourization is,
    however, sufficiently high so that NH3 can be readily handled in
    ordinary beakers, in a fume hood (i.e., if it is already a liquid it
    will not boil readily). “Household ammonia” or “ammonium
    hydroxide” is a solution of NH3 in water.

     

     

    ….(OSHA) has set a
    15-minute exposure limit for gaseous ammonia of 35 ppm by volume in
    the environmental air and an 8-hour exposure limit of 25 ppm by
    volume. NIOSH recently reduced the IDLH from 500 to 300 based on
    recent more conservative interpretations of original research in
    1943. IDLH (Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health) is the level to
    which a healthy worker can be exposed for 30 minutes without
    suffering irreversible health effects.

     

    ….definition of a
    material that is toxic by inhalation and requires a hazardous safety
    permit when transported in quantities greater than 13,248 L (3,500
    gallons).”

     

    For people from
    Dumass Texas, that means screwing up with anhydrous ammonia will get
    you killed. It is true that if you screwing up with gasoline while
    smoking that could get you killed too.

     

    Perry, I am thinking
    that you should avoid the the self service island at gas stations.
    You may not be smart enough to pump gas.

     

    Anhydrous ammonia is
    very very toxic!

     

    Anhydrous ammonia is
    very very toxic!

     

    Anhydrous ammonia is
    very very toxic!

     

    [link]      
  63. By paul-n on November 17, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    Alaska already ships oil to Hawaii. They can ship it there and elsewhere when the pipeline shuts down.

    No, they can’t.  Without the pipeline to Valdeez (the northernmost ice free port in N. America) , the only way you can get the oil is to send the tankers through the Bering Strait into the Beaufort Sea, to Prudhoe Bay.  And you only have an ice free season of a few months to do it, and you have to dodge the icebergs along the way.

    Hmm, icebergs and oil tankers – does that sound like a recipe for trouble or what?

     

     

    [link]      
  64. By Wendell Mercantile on November 17, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    So is chlorine.* The last time I drove I-80, we followed a truck tanker carrying chlorine for several miles, and I routinely see chlorine tankers as part of freight trains.

    You can not store significant quantities of anhydrous ammonia around large populations of people. Community emergency planners will just not let you do it any more.

    The same would be true of gasoline had we not gotten complacent from being constantly around it and routinely using it over the last 100 years.

    If gasoline were a rare and little used commodity, emergency planners would have a cow at the idea of huge tanker trucks of such dangerous stuff rolling through their towns and down our highways.

    _____________
    * Germany even used it as a poison gas in WW I.

    [link]      
  65. By paul-n on November 17, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    No – biomass separation is just an everyday part of wastewater treatment. Not as hard as you make it sound.

    Yes, separating the biomass is the part of wastewater treatment.  I didn’t say it was hard, it is well known how to do it, it just takes big treatment plants and lots of energy. 

    And membranes are routinely used for secondary treatment – ever heard of MBRs? The innovators are looking at using membranes for primary treatment. That would be the way to maximize energy recovery.

    Yes, I am thoroughly familiar with MBR.  When we were evaluating our options to expand the STP I used to manage, that was one of them.  Our consultants were building an MBR plant elsewhere at the time, and basically said “never again”, and after seeing the plant I had to agree.  It is a very expensive way to treat water, that is why no large city systems use it.  If is popular for smaller “package” treatment plants, as it can have a smaller footprint than conventional treatment to achieve the same effluent quality.  It does produce very high quality effluent, which is why it os often used for water recycling treatment.  But for many cases it is much higher quality than is needed.

    Have a look at GE’s site (http://www.gewater.com/product…..br/mbr.jsp) they bought out Zenon some years ago.  After more than 15 yrs, the total worldwide installations of that system are just equal to LA’s Hyperion treatment plant.  

    Yes, you can use them for primary tmt, and then it becomes even less robust and shorter membrane life.  And, they do not separate out dissolved organics, or ammonium  - these are taken care of in the secondary treatment, and then the membranes deliver clean water.

     

    Except that wet gasification produces a gas, for easy separation from the feedstock. Your ethanol fermentation only looks good until you factor in the energy needed to distill the product out.

    Yes, both are true.  You can even tweak the gasification process further so that the product gas is H2/CO, or even just H2, instead of methane.  BUt you have had to heat a lot of water in the process.

    As for ethanol, I am not saying that we should do the weak acid hydrolysis to ethanol- I did point out that it is just as uneconomic as it has ever been.  Though a source of free heat will change that.

     

    As for the sludge/biosolids, it is getting used more and more, but you have to be careful.. Depending on how “clean” the sewage is, and the treatment process, you can end up with certain undesirable things, like heavy metals and pharmaceuticals, being concentrated in the sludge, and if there is too much, you don;t want to use it for fertiliser.

    I was involved in a trial of an electrolysis treatment trial last year.  It did such a good job of cleaning the raw sewage of heavy metals and pharmaceuticals that the sludge produced could not be used for land application.  The only thing to do is to burn it for energy recovery, in a place that has appropriate flue gas treatment, and ash disposal, like a cement plant or a pulp mill.  Most treatment process leave this stuff in the water, to have “clean” biosolids.  The better your treatment, the “dirtier” your biosolids become!

     

    [link]      
  66. By Kit P on November 17, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    What Perry said,

    “The energy
    equivalent of a gallon of gasoline can be produced from water for
    $1.90 today.”

     

    What the report
    Perry links says ,

     

    The
    cost per gge is anywhere from $1.90 to $9.25 depending on whether the
    cost of electricity is the industrial rate in Georgia or California.”

     

    I
    am a little skeptical of the report but I am not up to date on the
    topic. When ever folks talk about electricity being the source of
    transportation fuel, I wonder what the source will be.

     

    “A windmill and a
    little water could get us down the road…”

     

    The normal response
    to such replies is “what do you mean ‘we’ kemosabe?”? In other
    words you have to get some troll like me to make the electricity for
    you. Perry if you want to more to North Dakota to make electricity
    for your POV, good luck with that!

    [link]      
  67. By perry on November 17, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    Kit, the report was very clear. They produced hydrogen from water by electrolysis. And they did it with 93% efficiency. An 85% efficiency would mean a cost of $1.90 per gallon of gasoline equivalent at industrial rates paid in the state of Georgia OR the typical cost of production from windmills. About .05 per kwh.

    Even a Dumass like myself can read.

    [link]      
  68. By moiety on November 18, 2010 at 4:22 am

    Paul N said:

    If is popular for smaller “package” treatment plants, as it can have a smaller footprint than conventional treatment to achieve the same effluent quality.  It does produce very high quality effluent, which is why it os often used for water recycling treatment.  But for many cases it is much higher quality than is needed.
     

    …….

    Yes, you can use them for primary tmt, and then it becomes even less robust and shorter membrane life.  And, they do not separate out dissolved organics, or ammonium  - these are taken care of in the secondary treatment, and then the membranes deliver clean water.

     


     

    Aside Norits x-flow system could be worth a look but I would generally only use MBR for direct water reuse like they do in Australia.

    [link]      
  69. By Walt on November 18, 2010 at 6:54 am

    I see that Methanex is again in
    the news yesterday. 

    ———————————————————————–
    Methanex CEO Aitken sees robust future
    Collapsing natural gas
    prices prove to be a boon for global methanol producer
    By Scott
    Simpson, Vancouver Sun November 16, 2010

    Your Medicine
    Hat plant was shut down for 10 years. I never imagined it would open
    again. What happened?

    We didn’t imagine it was going to reopen either. It’s been the
    change of natural gas prices in North America. When we shut down the
    plant in 2001, natural gas prices went over $10 a unit for a period.
    Today they are in the $3 to $4 a unit range. At those sort of prices,
    making a product like methanol makes a lot of sense. Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/bu…..z15dJD6okx

    —————————————————–

    Yesterday I had two discussions with people on this same topic. 
    Why is GasTechno not able to find any interested investors or customers in
    America…until just recently have we been getting a lot more
    interest.  My answer has been exactly on the same line of thinking as
    above.

    The issue has been that in all our discussions here in
    America we cannot make money at $10/mcf or even $3/mcf gas prices. 
    However, with the major supply of gas now in the market, and most of it
    going into storage costing companies millions in storage fees, there is a
    lot more interest in “selling cheaper” and sharing in the
    profits, or just a simple joint venture where the operator provides the
    gas supply, and GasTechno provides the equipment/processing.

    The timing is certainly changing here in America.  Maybe I won’t
    have to do so much international travel now to find interested customers
    in Russia, China and Nigeria.  Maybe the time is finally starting to
    shift to where this can gather interest here in America!!!

    I
    hope so.  Why import 90% of the methanol into America?  I see the White House and DOE gave export permission for billions of cubic feet of LNG a couple weeks ago.  Export the gas, import the methanol…hmmm.  Sounds like the timing might be right to fill the gap.

    [link]      
  70. By Walt on November 18, 2010 at 8:47 am

    17 November 2010

    Aviation industry ‘ditches’ hydrogen

    By Michael Fitzpatrick Science and technology reporter

    Aircraft landing Is the sun setting again on hydrogen-powered aviation? 
    It took just 32 seconds to extinguish faith in the airship and the
    hydrogen that once buoyed the Hindenburg, which erupted in a fatal
    inferno 73 years ago.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/scie…..t-11707135

    [link]      
  71. By perry on November 18, 2010 at 10:13 am

    I think it’s gonna happen Walt. The whole tenor of the article was wrong. So were many of the facts.

     

    “The energy costs of making hydrogen are enormous,” Professor Ian Poll, head of technology for the UK government-funded sustainable aviation Omega organisation tells the BBC.

    “Currently it has to be created with an awful lot of energy. We need a source of electricity to make hydrogen that does not emit CO2, and there are not many of those around.”

     

    It takes 58 kwh to produce a gge (gallon of gasoline equivalent) of hydrogen with the average industry efficiency of 66%. That’s $2.90 using .05 kwh wind power. Pretty darned close to what gasoline is going for today. Wind turbines don’t emit CO2, and the US has enough wind potential to replace gasoline usage with hydrogen….. a couple of times over. Using renewable energy, we can produce 8X the btu’s we burn in our cars today. From water. Here’s a neat study that was done on US hydrogen potential from green sources. They seemed to be shooting for realistic estimates. BTW, a modern windmill can produce 85,000 gge’s annually with a 25% capacity factor.

     

    http://www.afdc.energy.gov/afd…../41134.pdf

     

     

    [link]      
  72. By perry on November 18, 2010 at 10:36 am

    Francois Isaac de Rivaz designed in 1806 the first internal combustion engine, which ran on a hydrogen/oxygen mixture. Étienne Lenoir produced the Hippomobile in 1863. Paul Dieges patented in 1970 a modification to internal combustion engines which allowed a gasoline-powered engine to run on hydrogen.

    Mazda has developed Wankel engines that burn hydrogen. The advantage of using ICE (internal combustion engine) such as wankel and piston engines is that the cost of retooling for production is much lower. Existing-technology ICE can still be used to solve those problems where fuel cells are not a viable solution as yet, for example in cold-weather applications.

    Recently, BMW tested a supercar, fueled by a hydrogen ICE, which achieved 187 mph in tests. At least two of these concepts have been manufactured.

    The power output of a direct injected hydrogen engine vehicle is 20% more than for a gasoline engine vehicle and 42% more than a hydrogen engine vehicle using a carburetor.

     

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H…..ne_vehicle

     

     

    [link]      
  73. By Kit P on November 18, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    “Even a Dumass like myself can read.”

     

    It is not your reading skill that is a problem Perry.  It is the wild leaps of logic you make because you do not understand the basic concepts.   

     

    “at industrial rates paid in the state of Georgia OR the typical cost of production from windmills. About .05 per kwh.”

     

    Industrial rates and generating costs are two different things.  

     

    Using Dumass, Texas and Atlanta as examples; I will explain the concepts that Perry does not understand.  Look at Figure 1&3 of the DOE reference, Dumass has wind potential Atlanta does not.  From Figure 4 that Dumass has wind potential to supply enough hydrogen for the populations.  From Figure 14, all renewable energy has very little potential where people live.

     

    Perry’s DOE report does not cover cost but I would guestimate that retail fuel cost for H2 Dumass $10/gallon equivalent and $20/gallon in Atlanta.  To provide energy where and when people need it in a useful form cost money too.  

     

    As it turns out, RR is discussing Shell’s GTL technology that can produce fuel at a lower cost. When fossil fuels start to run out, we will build HTGCR next to refiners to provide whatever H2 is required to make a good hydrocarbon fuel for ICE.

     

    “I think it’s gonna happen Walt.”

     

    For something to happen it has to be a better choice.  You can not change the physical properties of H2 to make it a good transportation fuel but you can make a hydrogen-carbon compound that is a good transportation fuel.  

    [link]      
  74. By Wendell Mercantile on November 18, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    you can make a hydrogen-carbon compound that is a good transportation fuel.

    Such as methanol.

    [link]      
  75. By perry on November 18, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    Kit P said:

     

               Industrial rates and generating costs are two different things.   

    Perry’s DOE report does not cover cost but I would guestimate that retail fuel cost for H2 Dumass $10/gallon equivalent and $20/gallon in Atlanta.  To provide energy where and when people need it in a useful form cost money too.  

     


     

    I don’t know if you’re a mean drunk, or if you’re really that slow Kit. If the industrial rate of electricity in Georgia is .05 per kwh, there’s no way in hell a retail gallon of hydrogen would cost $20 in Atlanta. It would cost less than $3 plus profit margin. What business has a profit margin of 600% Kit? Name one. A typical refiner will make 15-30 cents on a gallon of gas, and there’s a LOT more work than electrolysis involved.

     

    As for what good “hydrocarbon fuel” we can make from hydrogen, none of them are perfect. Ammonia and methanol are corrosive. Neither has more energy in liquid form than hydrogen. Ammonia is better, because it doesn’t release CO2 into the atmosphere. Still, hydrogen pumps are being installed around the world. Ammonia and methanol pumps aren’t. Any Dumass worth his salt knows that much.

    [link]      
  76. By perry on November 18, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    Here’s a list of hydrogen fuel stations around the world. Note that many of them make the H2 with electrolysis from wind or solar on site.

     

    http://www.fuelcells.org/info/…..ations.pdf

    [link]      
  77. By Kit P on November 18, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    “Such as methanol.”

    That is the simplest example.  Wendell you may want to go back and read RR’s original post a few follow posts. Each sentence that has the word safety in should be read twice.

     

    I like synthetic diesel because it is essentially non toxic, has low volatility and high flash point, and is biodegradable.  I want clever chemical engineers to provide product that does not require clever safety professionals. 

     

    “emergency planners would have a cow”

     

    Cows on the highways are a hazard too.  If you hit one at 70 mph it can ruin your alignment. If you ride one to work, you can fall off and get kicked.  Just saying alternative may sound interesting but if we do not do something it is because there are many reasons for not doing it.  

    [link]      
  78. By Optimist on November 18, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    Aside Norits x-flow system could be worth a look but I would generally only use MBR for direct water reuse like they do in Australia.

    Australia? I think you’re mistaken. Australia has just built some of the largest seawater desalination plants in the world. In the time it takes to do the first (of several reviews) of the EIR for a desal plant in CA.

    Direct potable water reuse is limited to Singapor and Namibia, AFAIK. Indirect. of course, happens everywhere. Luckily or unluckily, few realize it.

    Yes, separating the biomass is the part of wastewater treatment. I didn’t say it was hard, it is well known how to do it, it just takes big treatment plants and lots of energy.

    What? Are you calling gravity expensive power?!? An big is a relative term.

    Yes, I know, everybody LOVES the idea of an MBR. But if you don’t need that extra treatment is NOT very cost effective, at least not for large plants. Nonetheless, many believe that’s the future of wastewater treatment.

    Depending on how “clean” the sewage is, and the treatment process, you can end up with certain undesirable things, like heavy metals and pharmaceuticals, being concentrated in the sludge, and if there is too much, you don;t want to use it for fertiliser.

    Sounds like a good argument for doing gasification of the solids. Once we optimize the technology.

    [link]      
  79. By paul-n on November 18, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    using .05 kwh wind power.

    Perry, can you show us where you can buy (not produce, but buy) wind power, reliably (i.e. x amount per day) at that price?

    If that is so, then why are wind companies asking for transmission lines to be built, at someone else’s expense?

    This article seems to be a more realisitic picturew of the real price of wind energy;

    The newspaper noted TransCanada, which owns 44 wind turbines in Maine, could sell its wind electricity for 41 percent less than Cape Wind’s 18.7 cents per kilowatt hour seen for the project’s first year in 2013.

    National Grid has chosen to use Cape Wind’s energy because “it was the fastest and most efficient way to comply with renewable-energy quotas,” the Boston Herald reported. 

    So, even the established operator, in Maine, is at 11c/kWh, and that is selling into the grid, and the transmission cost to get it back out and you are higher still.

    And, there is more to producing H2 than just the electricity cost – the equipment is very expensive, and you must purify and compress or liquefy the hydrogen, and then store it in expensive tanks.

    That is quite the list of H2 filling stations most experimental or “demonstration” – I suspect there are more H2 stations than there are privately owned H2 cars.

     

    Leaving all that aside, if H2 could be produced at anything close to even $6/gal, they would already be producing it – in Europe, where gasoline is $7.  But they are not .

    The round trip efficiency of electricity – electrolysis to H2 then H2 as fuel in fuel cell or ICE – work out – is less than 25% – it makes BEV’s look good!

     

    H2 is a utopian dream for clean energy, and it can be done, but it is the equivalent of making three right turns to go left, when you are on an empty road.  

    The car companies have voted with their feet and are doing EV’s, which, despite their limitations, do not need a completely new infrastructure to make, distribute and store a very hard to store (safely)product.

     

    [link]      
  80. By paul-n on November 18, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    Australia? I think you’re mistaken.

    No, he is not.  They  do have some MBR plants where the water is recycled, just not for potable use.  Nothing wrong or unusual about that, and if water is expensive/scarce enough, then this is worth the expense.  And, in many parts of Australia, water is scarce enough.   This does not make MBR any cheaper, it just means that getting more water is more expensive or impossible.

     

    Yes, Australia has built and is building some large desal plants – Perth has a world class one (powered by a wind farm), because they had no choice (and steady, on shore winds from the Indian Ocean) . Actually, Perth could have done desal on their sewage effluent, but no one wants to drink that.  And we Aussies have no interest in wasting time and money on California style lawyer driven/diverted permitting processes.  There is a clear set of rules, and things either get done, or not, but don’t get stalled for years.  

    This doesn’t mean desal plants are slam dunk, either.  It is always the most expensive water source, so it is the one you want to use the least.  If you have good rain and/or good efficiency programs and don;t need the desal, then what? if it was built by a private company, they want to operate it to make a return, so you end up with people paying for the most expensive water when they don;t need to.  if it is built by govt, then it is a white elephant.  If it is needed, then the water becomes more expensive and everyone complains that they are subsidising the new developments the desal was needed to serve.  It is a political hot potato, and the best thing is to avoid needing it for as long as possible.  Once it is done, there is no turning back, and everyone has to pay the cost, and that is the cost of having a reliable water supply when your other sources are unreliable.  It is the water equivalent of hydrogen by electrolysis – plenty of feedstock available, proven process and equipment, but very expensive to do, and should only be the last resort.

    What? Are you calling gravity expensive power?!? An big is a relative term.

    Have you toured a sewage plant recently?  There is a lot of work involved to get the sewage treated to a point where you can gravity separate the biosolids, from clean(ish) water, and even then, your water still has other stuff dissolved in it that needs to be removed (nitrates and phosphates, in particular).  It is like using gravity to separate the wheat from the chaff in a combine – it is a gravity process, but you need some serious equipment to make the process happen the way you want, at the rate you want.  Still, having done the treatment, gravity is the cheapest way, that is why MBR is only used when it is really needed.

    yes, big is a relative term, and most sewage treatment plants will be one of the largest single non-commercial items in any city.  They are larger than a stadium, town hall, most schools  etc.  You have to compare them to city things because they have to be in or close to the city.  There are some industrial complexes that are larger (e.g refineries, some factories) but not all cities have those, but they all have a sewage plant or three.

    many believe that’s the future of wastewater treatment.

    I’ll bet most of those are involved in selling/building MBR plants.  The industry professionals I know and have worked with will tell you otherwise, for mainstream applications.

     

    Sounds like a good argument for doing gasification of the solids. Once we optimize the technology.

    For the electrolysis process, yes, once it is optimised – it has been over 15yrs in development already.  You do get energy, but no useful bio products from it.  I think, ultimately, the bio products are of greater value, but where you have sewage or biosolids too “dirty” for land application, then energy is the way to go, and yes, you might as well dry and gasify so you only have a small, concentrated ash remaining to dispose of.  

    [link]      
  81. By Kit P on November 18, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    “If the industrial rate of electricity in Georgia is .05 per kwh”

     

    That is right, but the source of electricity in Georgia is not a windmill in Texas.  To get electricity at $.05/kwh you have to have existing nukes and coal plants making electricity at $.02/kwh.  Do you know that the delivered cost of electricity is going to be from the new nuke and coal plants?

     

    Perry, you made a statement about the cost H2 from renewable energy and provided a link to justify.  Again the link did not support Perry’s claim. 

     

    “Still, hydrogen pumps are being installed around the world. Ammonia and methanol pumps aren’t. Any Dumass worth his salt knows that much.”

     

    All paid for with tax dollars as part of some feel good demonstration project.  There were methanol pumps a mile from house in Washington State to fuel DOE cars, another government demonstration project.  I have no problems with government demonstration projects.  My company does government demonstration projects too.  That is the role of government, to do things that are not profitable.  But what did we learn with all those tax dollars?  

     

    What I liked about RR post was he told us what Shell learned with the GTL and made predictions based on what they learned.  Shell’s next GTL will be ten times bigger.  RR wrote,

     

    “The plant also makes hydrogen for use in the hydrocracking reaction (to break the long-chain waxes into shorter hydrocarbons)  …”

     

    Shell has smart people, they will fuel cars with the best choice based on regulations.  When it cost less to produce, H2 with nukes then that is what they will do.  After the  government demonstration projects shows them what the cost is.  

    [link]      
  82. By perry on November 18, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    I don’t know where to start Paul. First of all, you’re going to see wind farms turn to hydrogen, because they DON’T have transmission lines. H2 is just an energy carrier. There’s a 30% loss with electrolysis, but there’s also loss in those transmission lines. Couple that with the fact that wind doesn’t blow all the time and hydrogen is a no-brainer for wind farms. The only thing stopping them now is the fact that hydrogen from methane is dirt cheap. That won’t always be the case.

    The cost of H2 isn’t the reason it hasn’t been adopted. A gge(about a kilogram) can be had for $1.00 or less. Of course, that isn’t possible in Europe, where the air you breathe is taxed by the number of times it’s been previously inhaled. H2 hasn’t been adopted by the public, because the infrastructure isn’t there, and the cars they drive wouldn’t burn it anyway. It hasn’t been adopted by Detroit, because the fuel cell isn’t ready. Once fuel cells come down in price, H2 will be a huge success.

    [link]      
  83. By Kit P on November 18, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    “I don’t know
    where to start Paul. First of all, you’re going to see wind farms
    turn to hydrogen, because they DON’T have transmission lines.”

     

    What is your plant
    Perry? You are going to make hydrogen, compress it, and put it in a
    pipeline?

     

    Good theory however,
    H2 is the most difficult industrial gas to handle. After about 700
    miles, you have used up all the hydrogen moving it. That is why you
    need transmission lines.

     

    Stranded renewable
    energy can be used to make anhydrous ammonia which is used as
    fertilizer in the wind belt. Of course you could build the wind
    farms someplace the electricity is needed.

    [link]      
  84. By perry on November 18, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    It’s not rocket science Kit. The US already produces, transports, and consumes 6 billion kgs. of hydrogen each year. FCV’s get 75 miles per kg., so we would only need 40 billion more kgs. annually to replace gasoline.

    Fuel Cell Vehicles cost upwards of a million dollars 10 years ago. Toyota promises one in 2015 that will cost under $50,000. Hyandai says their’s will be cheaper. Honda will probably beat them both on price. It wouldn’t bother me if hydrogen cost $7 a kg. at the pump. Not if it took me twice as far as gas. I doubt it will cost half that though. The DOE is targeting $2-$3 a kg.

    [link]      
  85. By Wendell Mercantile on November 18, 2010 at 10:58 pm

    The cost of H2 isn’t the reason it hasn’t been adopted. H2 hasn’t been adopted by the public, because the infrastructure isn’t there,

    Perry~

    The primary reason hydrogen will gain slow acceptance is because it such a difficult element to store and transport. (Not to mention the energy that would be consumed breaking the bonds that tie hydrogen atoms to carbon or oxygen or whatever the hydrogen is locked to since hydrogen is never found as a free element in the earth.)

    In the gaseous form, it has a low energy density unless stored at very high pressures. Those high pressures mean heavy, robust storage tanks which only increase the weight of any car they are in, and are also a ticking time bomb in the event of a crash.

    In the liquid form, energy density is high, but liquid hydrogen also means dealing with extremely low temperatures, and heavy, insulated pipes and tanks.

    Hydrogen is also the smallest atom, and has a tendency to permeate almost all barriers — it can even go through the walls of stainless steel tanks. Those tiny hydrogen atoms just wiggle their way through the matrix of large iron-carbon-chromium atoms in the stainless steel alloy. There are such things as hydrogen permeation coatings, but are still in their infancy.

    Hydrogen as a gas also tends to turn metal pipes and containment vessels brittle. Not a good thing in a car that could be in a high-speed crash.

    No question, hydrogen is an excellent fuel, but the logistics of hydrogen as an everyday fuel are rather daunting — not impossible, just daunting.

    [link]      
  86. By perry on November 18, 2010 at 11:32 pm

    As bad as all that sounds, hydrogen will look pretty good to most folks when gasoline hits $5 a gallon. Honda has had a FCV on the roads since 2002. The latest model has a range of 280 miles and refuels in 5 minutes. That’s where hydrogen has an advantage over EV’s. Not everyone is willing to wait 8 hours for a 100 mi. charge. The Chevy Volt addresses those with range anxiety, but it still burns gasoline. That could be a problem when peak oil hits. We’ll never have a hydrogen shortage. It’s the most abundant element in the universe.

    [link]      
  87. By moiety on November 19, 2010 at 2:57 am

    Wendell Mercantile said:

    No question, hydrogen is an excellent fuel, but the logistics of hydrogen as an everyday fuel are rather daunting — not impossible, just daunting.


     

    I have to agree with this; storage will be difficult. Production without using natural gas as a source still needs much development.

     

    Aside: Liquid hydrogen can have two forms/isomers; ortho and para. Ortho is unstable.

    [link]      
  88. By perry on November 19, 2010 at 8:03 am

    Moiety said:

    I have to agree with this; storage will be difficult. Production without using natural gas as a source still needs much development.

     


     

    The Danes are doing it. The Hydrogen Challenger is a tanker that goes out to sea and makes hydrogen with wind power. Then, it comes back to port to deliver the cargo. No land use issues. No resource issues. No pollution. Pretty darned cool if you ask me.

    [link]      
  89. By Wendell Mercantile on November 19, 2010 at 9:02 am

    We’ll never have a hydrogen shortage. It’s the most abundant element in the universe.

    True, but we live on the earth, and here hydrogen is always bonded to other elements such as oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon and it takes lots of energy to break those bonds freeing the hydrogen atoms so we can use them as fuel.

    Hydrogen cracking plants embedded with large wind farms next to bodies of water could be one solution. Hydrogen production plants next to clean fusion reactors might be another.

    Or, here’s an idea for you Perry. There’s lots of free hydrogen on the Sun, just ripe for the taking. Why not go into hydrogen shipping business and send fleets of interstellar tankers to the Sun to fill their holds with hydrogen and bring it back to earth? Of course, you could only go in the daytime when the Sun is out.

    [link]      
  90. By perry on November 19, 2010 at 9:39 am

    It takes too much energy to escape the atmoshere Wendell. Besides, there’s no need to look elsewhere as long as we have water and electricity. Since 70% of the planet is covered with water, and we have dozens of ways to make electricity, that may be a long, long time from now.

     

     

    [link]      
  91. By Kit P on November 19, 2010 at 10:34 am

    “It’s not rocket
    science Kit.”

     

    Actually it is ,
    liquid H2 fuels rockets. Remember the shuttle disaster or are you
    too young. You can tell how old people are by the defining moments
    in their lives. Like yesterday I remember the Kennedy when they
    announced over PA that Kennedy had been shot, I was at work when the
    phones started ringing when the shuttle had a hydrogen explosion, and
    of course 911.

     

    I did the FMEA on
    the 0-ring for a new design of shuttle rocket booster. That is
    rocket science.

     

    “The US already
    produces, transports, and consumes 6 billion kgs. of hydrogen each
    year.”

     

    Yes, but not for
    transportation fuel for POV. H2 is used to cool large generators at
    most power plants. I truck driver was killed and 5 workers seriously
    injured at one of the coal plants that make my electricity. There
    have been many accidents that did not kill anyone. The reason H2 is
    used is low air resistance, high thermal conductivity, and low
    electrical conductivity. Smaller generators are air cooled.

     

    The nuclear industry
    injects H2 into the reactor coolant to reduce O2 leading to stress
    cracking corrosion. When making enriched uranium fuel pellets, H2 is
    used as a reducing agent. Boomlets have occurred making missiles out
    of parts but none have hit anyone yet. I lead the integrated safety
    analysis team that shut that product line down until design changes
    could be made. Along with normal hazards, enriched uranium can go
    critical if you are not careful. A product line that used H2,
    ammonia. nitric acid could not meet new safety standards because of
    the hazard from H2.

     

    For theses
    applications the cost H2 does not matter. There is no other
    alternative.

     

    Nuclear fission also
    produces H2 because the intense energy field breaks the bonds in H20.
    This nuclear physics not rocket science.

     

    Most of the O2 &
    H2 is reformed. I am an expert in both PWR and BWR systems that the
    small amount of ‘waste’ gas.

     

    What I am trying to
    tell you Perry that there is a lot of science involved. Perry does
    not understand the basic concepts which can get you killed in my
    business.

     

    “FCV’s get 75
    miles per kg”

     

    The concepts here
    that Perry does not understand is that it takes energy to move H2.
    The energy to compress and move H2 700 miles in a pipeline is equal
    to the energy in the hydrogen.

     

    H2 produced minus H2
    used to move it, equals H2 available for for the POV. Fro a tank of
    fuel:

     

    5 kg produced – 5
    kg used = 0 kg.

     

    Perry do know what
    zero means. You have no H2 to fuel from renewable energy. That is
    what Wendell was telling you.

     

    “It’s the most
    abundant element in the universe.”

     

    Move to the universe
    Perry. Free H2 is very rare on the planet earth. It takes a lot of
    energy to break H2O bonds.

     

    “The Danes are
    doing it.”

     

    You mean the Germans
    are doing it?

     

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H…..Challenger

     

    “The total storage
    and transportation capacity is 1,194 m³ (42,000 ft3), it is
    stationed in the German Bight or near Helgoland (where the most wind
    is) and docks in Bremerhaven where the produced hydrogen is delivered
    to the market.”

     

    Perry wrote

     

    “Pretty darned
    cool if you ask me.”

     

    No mention of cost
    and maybe Perry can tell me about the ocean tankers in Dumass Texas.

     

    Once HFCV are not
    going to happen. Hydrogen is to hard to handle and synthetic diesel
    is easy to handle. When you are using a large amount of energy, cost
    matters.

     

    So Perry please stop
    comparing apples and oranges.

    [link]      
  92. By OD on November 19, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Hydrogen cracking plants embedded with large wind farms next to bodies of water could be one solution

    Funny enough, that was one of Matt Simmon’s solutions, at least for the east coast.

    [link]      
  93. By Wendell Mercantile on November 19, 2010 at 11:26 am

    It takes too much energy to escape the atmosphere Wendell.

    Perry~

    Not to mention escaping the Sun’s gravity on the return trip and the impossibility of flying into and surviving a continuous fusion reaction.

    Actually, I was just kidding about sending hydrogen tankers to the Sun and back. But then again, if you make the trip at night…

    [link]      
  94. By perry on November 19, 2010 at 11:43 am

    Kit P said:

     

    The concepts here
    that Perry does not understand is that it takes energy to move H2.


     

    The concept here that Kit does not understand is that the world is moving forward, and it could care less about Kit’s Dumass advice not to. What Kit or his Corolla did 30 years ago is a good way to bore the grandkids. It’s not going to stop progress though. What Kit says can’t be done, is being done. FCV’s are being built, as is the infrastructure to fuel them. Someday, our descendents will be able to view Kit’s Corolla at the Smithsonian. His vision for the future will astound and confound them.

    [link]      
  95. By perry on November 19, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    The Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited costs $43,000. It gets 28 MPG. The same vehicle with a fuel cell gets 68 MPG. It will come to market in 2015, and will cost less than $50,000. Early adopters will have to have one. And gas stations will therefore want to install H2 pumps. As gas moves up in price, and H2 becomes cheaper, one of those pumps will become a relic from the past. Any guesses which it will be?

     

    Toyota Fuel Cell Vehicle Demonstration Program Expands

     

    http://pressroom.toyota.com/pr…..51146.aspx

    [link]      
  96. By Wendell Mercantile on November 19, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    The same vehicle with a fuel cell gets 68 MPG.

    There are also methanol fuel cells, and using them would avoid all the logistical problems that come with making, storing, and moving around hydrogen.

    [link]      
  97. By perry on November 19, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    It’s already been demonstrated that those logistical problems can be overcome Wendell. All we’re waiting on now is an affordable fuel cell, and those are on the way. Methanol would work, but hydrogen is cleaner. And we’ll never run out of it.

    [link]      
  98. By Wendell Mercantile on November 19, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    It’s already been demonstrated that those logistical problems can be overcome

    Of course they can be overcome, but at what expense? In 1969 we sent men to the Moon on a rocket fueled with liquid hydrogen. But that required an extraordinary effort. We were determined to get to the Moon no matter how expensive and technically difficult. Going to the Moon was a Government project with a bottomless well of money on which to draw. Making a profit was not a concern.

    But you’re talking about using hydrogen commonly as an everyday thing for profit-making companies, where expense and difficult logistics make a huge difference in whether a business will be successful.

    Methanol as a spark ignition fuel, converted to DME for compression ignition engines, and used in fuel cells would be more likely to have a successful business model.

    [link]      
  99. By perry on November 19, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    Don’t forget that a hydrogen fuel cell was used on the Apollo mission too Wendell. It provided electricity and clean water. Shell has been making hydrogen for decades. Shell has gas stations all over the country. Shell has shown a willingness to install H2 pumps at some of those stations. The last I heard, the fuel is still free for those who can use it.

    Shell hasn’t expressed any concern about their ability to supply H2. Until that happens, let’s just assume they’ve got those logistics under control.

    [link]      
  100. By Kit P on November 19, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    “What Kit says can’t be done, is being done.”

     

    Did not say it can’t be done, I said it won’t be done because of what we have learned by showing that it did not work very well.

     

    For all those who hate the ICE let me point out that it works and that is why there is so many doing so many things.  Powering things with HFC is a very good thing in enclosed spaces where carbon monoxide is a concern.  This assumes you are in an industrial setting with trained operators.

     

    “grandkids”

     

    That’s the deal Perry, I think my vision of the future is brighter than yours.  My vision is based on the laws of physics.  Perry’s vision is based on science fiction and pictures on the internet.

     

    Maybe it is really boring but when RR talked about the plant manager mentioning the handrail, I thought that was really cool.  Something you might teach your grandkids.

     

    Perry things tankers full of hydrogen are cool.  Well Perry you are not going to do it around me or my grandkids unless you can show that it meets safety standards.  Perry can’t, I can’t, RR can’t. 

     

    How many have seen a LNG taker up close?  There are places that LNG takers can go and places they can not go.  Someone proposed building a CCGT power plant fueled with a LNG taker that had to pass under the Golden Gate Bridge.  For those not familiar with SF bay, it is surrounded by millions of people.  You just can not bring a loaded LNG taker near millions of people.

     

    Why?

     

    Because the EIS that would be required can show that there are many other alternatives to make electricity where an accident or act of terrorism will not kill millions of people. 

     

    I do not think Perry understands the enormity of providing fuel for transportation.  Oil routinely comes into SF Bay for refineries.  Hydrogen tankers is not going to replace that.

     

    Perry obvious thinks HFCV are better.

     

    “All we’re waiting on now is an affordable fuel cell, and those are on the way. Methanol would work, but hydrogen is cleaner. And we’ll never run out of it.”

     

    Perry my air quality is pretty good. What is air quality like where you live Perry? My 20+ year old PU ICE with California smong control is pretty clean too.  Not much incentive to spend $50k for cleaner.  Clean is clean!

     

    Perry keeps say that we never run out of hydrogen but I have shown every step of the way that he will run out before he starts.      

    [link]      
  101. By perry on November 19, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    Shell Hydrogen is a global business of the Shell Group with headquarters in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and regional bases in Houston and Tokyo. Shell Hydrogen was set up in 1999 to pursue and develop business opportunities related to hydrogen and fuel cells.

    The goal of Shell Hydrogen is to provide safe, reliable and affordable hydrogen fuel to customers when and where they need it and to create value from developing technologies that enable fuel cells to come to market.

    To accomplish this, we are bringing hydrogen capability to select Shell stations in the New York and Los Angeles metro areas to demonstrate the viability of a fuel infrastructure. Working with the respective state governments to demonstrate that we can produce the infrastructure and car manufacturers can produce the vehicles, we hope to see ever-increasing numbers of fuel cell vehicles on the road in these two cities.

     

    http://www.shell.us/home/conte…..fuels_co2/

     

    Nothing in there about logistical problems.

    [link]      
  102. By perry on November 19, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    Kit P said:

     

    I do not think Perry understands the enormity of providing fuel for transportation.  Oil routinely comes into SF Bay for refineries.  Hydrogen tankers is not going to replace that.

     


     

    Don’t tell me Kit. Tell Shell Oil. They’re the ones gearing up to provide H2 at your corner station. I’m sure they’ll be glad to know it can’t be done. Will save them a ton of time and effort.

    [link]      
  103. By perry on November 19, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    Another quote from that Shell link….

     

    “Leaders at Shell are working with major automotive manufacturers and other major oil companies to develop a hydrogen infrastructure to support a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. Automobiles powered by hydrogen are on their way to becoming a commercial reality in the next 10 to 15 years.”

     

    Apparently, they have yet to hear from Kit.

    [link]      
  104. By Wendell Mercantile on November 19, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    Don’t forget that a hydrogen fuel cell was used on the Apollo mission too. It provided electricity and clean water.

    Perry~

    As I said, price was no object. We had virtually unlimited funds to make Apollo work.

    [link]      
  105. By perry on November 19, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    That was over 40 years ago Wendell. The cost of an automotive fuel cell has dropped more than 95% in the last 10 years. From over a million to less than $50k. Size has been halved, and range has more than doubled. Fuel cells are almost ready for prime time.

    [link]      
  106. By Kit P on November 19, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    “Apparently, they have yet to hear from Kit.”

    Perry all you are doing is not understanding press releases that do not support your wild claims.  Providing energy when and where people need it is a complex chain.  It only takes one weak link.  The weakest link is the source of energy. Shall we start again?

    So Perry, where is the H2 going to come from?  What is the source of the energy?

    [link]      
  107. By Wendell Mercantile on November 19, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    Leaders at Shell are working with major automotive manufacturers and other major oil companies to develop a hydrogen infrastructure to support a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.

    Argh. Of course they are working to develop the infrastructure. They would be worthless as the managers of a company if they weren’t doing R&D in that direction. But we have also had scientists and technicians working towards a practical fusion reactor for the last 50 years or so, and are hardly any closer to that goal.

    We must have goals and be working towards them, but one also has to be pragmatic about how the possibility of those goals turning into a profitable business model.

    (I can’t believe it. It seem that Kit P and I are on the same side of an issue.)

    [link]      
  108. By Kit P on November 19, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    “I can’t believe it. It seem that Kit P and I are on the same side of an issue.”

     

    It is such a compelling idea if you do not understand the second law of thermodynamics.  I know exactly how I would do too, if money was not an object.  Renewable energy is great fun but it is very frustrating when the very folks who demand ‘clean’ and ‘sustainable’  refuse to pay for the added cost.  

    [link]      
  109. By paul-n on November 19, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    It is such a compelling idea if you do not understand the second law of thermodynamics.  

    Which, unfortunately, is 90+% of people.

    I know exactly how I would do too, if money was not an object.  

    I’ll bet it would NOT involve doing demonstration trials in NY and LA.  why are they doing them there – because they get the greatest amount of publicity.  Give an H2 powered BMW to  a movie star and you will get lots of press.  But what are they trying to demonstrate – how much publicity you can get, or that the system works?

    If they were serious about demonstrating the system, they would be doing things like corporate vehicle fleets, or going to a “closed” system, like  an island, military base, etc where you can control more things, to evaluate the performance, costs, etc.

    Renewable energy is great fun but it is very frustrating when the very folks who demand ‘clean’ and ‘sustainable’  refuse to pay for the added cost.

    Indeed -if it is too expensive (i.e. consumes too many resources, both human and material) then it is not sustainable, and that would apply to fuel cells.  They have  been the next  big thing since they were invented 163 years ago, and still are.  The auto companies are not close to a saleable FCV vehicle.  Even Ballard Fuel Cells, one of the market leaders, has given up on doing automotive (hydrogen) fuel cells, recognising that they can’t compete with battery electric vehicles.

    Using stranded wind to make hydrogen and then turning hydrogen into methanol or other useful products may have a future, but H2 as a portable fuel has no future – the costs simply exceed the benefits.

    If we are happy for BEV’s with 100 mile range, they are about to be available (for a price, of course), to use a fuel cell to replace the battery to give 300 mile range is an extra $50k, for the car, plus the H2 infrastructure – is that really worth it?

    Of course Perry, if you won;t take Kit or Wendell’s or my word for it, how about Nobel prize winning scientist, and US Secretary of Energy, Dr Steven Chu, who on 7 May last year said this;

    U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced yesterday that his department is cutting all funding for hydrogen car research, saying that it won’t be a feasible technology anytime soon. “We asked ourselves, ‘Is it likely in the next 10 or 15, 20 years that we will covert to a hydrogen car economy?’ The answer, we felt, was ‘no,’” Chu said [CNET].While innovative new cars are a high priority, Chu declared that his department will focus on efforts that may pay off sooner, like plug-in electric cars

    Full story here

     

    So even the body that does not need to make a profit (gov’t) said it is not worth it.  And even if they are wrong, if they are not going to support it, then it is not going to happen.

    We have plenty of alternatives that have as good or better an energy return, without the safety and material handling headaches of hydrogen.  Hydrogen may be the best “fuel” (and that is debatable) but it is far from being the best “fuel system”.

     

     

    [link]      
  110. By Walt on November 19, 2010 at 8:09 pm

     

    “Inventor Frederick W. Wood, and his associate, David Seigler, from
    Future Energy Concepts, Inc., give a video tour of the pickup truck that
    they claim to have converted to run on nothing but hydroxy gas,
    electrolyzed on-board, and on-demand, via a super-efficient electrolysis
    (from water) method they have developed. Their system allegedly
    produces 55 liters per minute on 55 amps. They also say the truck
    recently completed a road trip of more than 3000 miles, running on this
    set-up.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v….._embedded#!

    [link]      
  111. By Wendell Mercantile on November 19, 2010 at 10:23 pm

    Hydrogen may be the best “fuel” (and that is debatable) but it is far from being the best “fuel system”.

    Well put Paul.

    [link]      
  112. By perry on November 20, 2010 at 1:04 am

    Paul N said:

    Perry, if you won;t take Kit or Wendell’s or my word for it, how about Nobel prize winning scientist, and US Secretary of Energy, Dr Steven Chu, who on 7 May last year said this;

     


     

    Chu doesn’t have a clue. Less than a year after he proclaimed hydrogen fuel cells dead on arrival, Toyota announced it would have one on the market in 2015 for less than $50,000. Mercedes came out with a new model wednesday. Maybe they didn’t get Chu’s memo? The article gave an estimated cost of $200 billion for installing an H2 infrastructure. Chump change. Americans spend that much on oil and gas every three months.

     

    What the three of you don’t seem to grasp is, hydrogen doesn’t have to be transported anywhere. If water, wind, sunshine, natural gas, or propane is available, the fuel can be made on site. If, by some weird confluence of events. none of those are available at the corner gas station, H2 can even be made with gasoline. A gallon of gasoline will produce a kg. of hydrogen, with a few hydrogen molecules to spare. That kg. of H2 will then take a FCV 2-3X as far.

     

    I made hydrogen in 7th grade science class. Any Dumass can do it.

    [link]      
  113. By OD on November 20, 2010 at 2:01 am

    Secretary Chu is not saying there will never be a hydrogen economy, just that PHEVS, BEVS, etc will have a greater share of the market first and that’s why they will focus on those. With at least half a dozen hybrid and electric cars making there way to the market in the next few years, I’d say he is absolutely correct. He obviously does have a clue. He is also an advocate of nuclear power, which we will definitely need more of in the future.

    [link]      
  114. By paul-n on November 20, 2010 at 5:40 am

    OD,  those are seriously “disruptive” words – do you know what it mens for PHEV/BEV to take a slice of the market – why, too much of that would lead to anarchy!  At the very least, reduced oil company profits – which we all know is a Very Bad Thing.

    The carmakers are still playing with their hydrogen fuel cell toys, because they are great…toys.  The engineers love them, the sexiest, most expensive cars you can get, and when do engineers get to do anything sexy?

    Also the most useless, and expensive, from a mass market perspective.  An entire new fueling infrastructure is needed, whereas ICE, and even BEV, have the infrastructure already.

    At least batteries are not subject to catastrophic explosions.

    The best we can hope for with hydrogen is a “methanol economy”as methanol can be made by many methods and inputs, hydrogen being one.  it only requires minimal changes to engines and fuel storage, and there is  a fuel cell available that can use it directly.

     

    A place like the Bintulu GtL plant can produce more methanol  per unit gas than it can oil, so it makes better use of the feedstock.  And the liquid can be transported and handled at atmospheric pressure, unlike hydrogen or DME.  And methanol can be made from any biomass feedstock too.

    As Mark (Carbonbridge) would say, alcohols are such a better fuel than float-on-water oils that it is not funny, and he is right.  They are better than H2 also,  because the effort required to keep H2 in the can eclipses any benefits obtained from hydrogen fuel.

    It is complex, expensive and unsafe way to solve a simple problem – let’s move on.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    [link]      
  115. By Kit P on November 20, 2010 at 8:36 am

    Potassium hydroxide

     

    “Chu doesn’t have
    a clue.”

     

    I see that Perry is
    back is going to avoid my question!

     

    “What is the
    source of the energy?”

     

    After more rambling
    Perry states,

     

    “What the three of
    you don’t seem to grasp is, hydrogen doesn’t have to be transported
    anywhere. If water, wind, sunshine, natural gas, or propane is
    available, the fuel can be made on site.”

     

    A grand sweeping
    statements but lets pick one piece apart.

     

    “natural gas”

     

    This energy chain
    requires about 1000 drilling rigs in the US to maintain the supply of
    fossil fuel. There is an extensive pipeline and distribution
    systems. There is POV that you can buy. The greenest alternative is
    a Honda Civic CNG. With the rig to charge from your house NG supply,
    the whole thing is about 10K more expensive. I think the pay back in
    savings is about 50K miles yet it has not gained popularity in the
    US.

     

    If natural gas is
    the source of the energy why pay a lot more for a HFCV?

    [link]      
  116. By Kit P on November 20, 2010 at 8:52 am

    SCAM ALERT!!!

     

    Walt when you post
    something that is so obviously a scam, you should warn people.

     

    “hydroxy gas”

     

    The video does
    demonstrate that ICE runs fine on H2. However, if I saw these clowns
    drive that truck through a active school zone where I live I would
    call the sheriff. If you want to drive a grenade with a tanks of
    hazardous chemicals around fine but do it on a test track and not in
    a school zone.

     

    The best way to spot
    an energy scam is they start by telling you they are giving the
    information for free but when they go to the web site they do not
    explain the source of the energy. I do not care how ‘via a
    super-efficient electrolysis’ it is, you still need a source of
    energy or your are violating the second law of thermodynamics. Five
    minutes after not wanting any money, the mention in passing next
    week’s ‘preinvestor’ meeting.

    [link]      
  117. By Walt on November 20, 2010 at 8:57 am

    Paul N said:

    A place like the Bintulu GtL plant can produce more methanol  per unit gas than it can oil, so it makes better use of the feedstock.  And the liquid can be transported and handled at atmospheric pressure, unlike hydrogen or DME.  And methanol can be made from any biomass feedstock too.

    As Mark (Carbonbridge) would say, alcohols are such a better fuel than float-on-water oils that it is not funny, and he is right.  They are better than H2 also,  because the effort required to keep H2 in the can eclipses any benefits obtained from hydrogen fuel.

    It is complex, expensive and unsafe way to solve a simple problem – let’s move on.


     

    Paul, you must admit that the hydrogen truck in the YouTube video above was impressive.  I guess I have a fondness for those who build their technologies on the ground, in the garage and take it into the field before the major’s take it and turn it into a massive budgetary overrun.

    I had a chance to visit with the former technology lead at Marathon and asked him about what ever happened to the “most disruptive” GTL process that Marathon bought out of Silicon Valley that I’ve been waiting to see “blow GasTechno away” in CAPEX and OPEX.  It is a long story, but I am happy to say he left Marathon frustrated it may never go to market, and is now the CTO for CompactGTL.  He seems like a fantastic guy, and you can tell he wants to see this market move forward.  I hope he is successful with CompactGTL and getting them major volume of business as it would only help us transition to other sources of fuel besides oil.

    The point is again…all the best inventions do not originate in these big companies, and when these large companies (I have my own problems right now with two supermajors) do get control of the technology it either will never see the light of day, or it will turn into a massive costly project that only massive economies of scale can save in getting cheap fuels or chemicals.  I’m by no means saying that large companies like Shell are not world class developers (like what they are doing with Pearl as few if any companies can do what Shell does…by far world class to understake such a project), but getting technologies to that stage is not easy.  The number of hands that want the technology inside a large company to push it through the levels is not easy….quarterly reports can kill a deal quarterly. 

    I hope those two guys in that Hydrogen truck video really did get their funding, and are able to make progress, but if one of the large American car companies get it…we likely won’t see it for many years, if ever.  They make some pretty serious claims on their efficiencies.  If they are true, I would guess they have something pretty significant…again…started in the garage.

    Of course, I think methanol is the best…why?  Because it is the perfect intermediary chemical to diesel, gasoline, jet fuel, formaldehyde, acetic acid, DME, etc. etc.  Fuel and chemical grade methanol is far superior in my opinion than Syngas as an intermediary used by GTL.  However, you cannot convince many of this fact except China, Japan and the French group Total S.A.  They were asked at the GTL conference why they did not announce any GTL projects, and he told the audience he did not believe they were economical.  If you look at what they have announced recently, it is their methanol MTO process with UOP.  I can only guess others will follow when they look at the numbers more closely.

    http://www.icis.com/blogs/asia…..s-big.html

    [link]      
  118. By Walt on November 20, 2010 at 9:08 am

    Kit P said:

    The best way to spot

    an energy scam is they start by telling you they are giving the

    information for free but when they go to the web site they do not

    explain the source of the energy. I do not care how ‘via a

    super-efficient electrolysis’ it is, you still need a source of

    energy or your are violating the second law of thermodynamics. Five

    minutes after not wanting any money, the mention in passing next

    week’s ‘preinvestor’ meeting.


     

    Kit, sorry about that.  I thought they were using water as their source of energy.  I did not visit their website.  We have been working on our own water based (since we produce water in our reaction) hydrogen production to integrate with the methanol and formaldehyde.

    I did not pay close attention as the video was sent to me.  I did not know it was a scam like you say it is…so if it is a scam and those guys are frauds that absolutely people should be avoiding their claims.  Making hydrogen from water is not what I thought they were doing more efficiently.  Sorry about the mistake….and of course the energy source was left out of the video.  Nice catch.  I agree it is the hurdle.

    [link]      
  119. By Walt on November 20, 2010 at 9:16 am

    Kit P said:

    SCAM ALERT!!!

     

    Walt when you post

    something that is so obviously a scam, you should warn people.

     

    “hydroxy gas”


     

    Kit, let me get this straight…as I just got a little pissed off…if I might be so blunt.

    Are you saying these guys are frauds and this is a scam because you have investigated their claims, or completed the same level of research they have done and it is a all a fraud in your experience.  I’m not so easy to take what they have openly shown on their website as a pure scam and fraud as you seem to imply.  Do you think this work they are doing costs nothing?  Would you like to see these guys put in prison for their claims, and their disclosures?  Tell me exactly what you are saying.  Innovation is not something fully exposed, dislcosed so easily on a website.

    http://www.futureenergyconcept…..drogen-hog

    It looks like these guys are trying and being pretty open.  No I’m upset with your comments.  Please be specific what you mean.  When people tell me I’m promoting a scam, or a fraud, I will immediately apologize and retract my statement.  But, I need now much more information if you are accusing me publicly of something here that I have not intened.

    [link]      
  120. By Kit P on November 20, 2010 at 11:48 am

    “Are you saying
    these guys are frauds …”

     

    Yes, and the scam is
    not a new one at that. I have seen it before, it moves around the
    county and goes by different names. One of many such scams the prey
    on the people who want to do the right thing for the environment.

     

    It is not like solar
    PV which might be a poor investment but is not a scam if properly
    disclosed.

     

    “Would you like to
    see these guys put in prison for their claims, and their
    disclosures?”

     

    Yes, I will testify
    as an expert witness. They should also be charged with reckless
    endangerment.

     

    Walt if you had just
    done just a little research before posting:

     

    “Fringe science
    and fraud

     

    Oxyhydrogen is often
    mentioned in conjunction with devices that claim to operate a vehicle
    using water as a fuel, or that burn the gas in torches for welding
    and cutting at extreme temperatures, sometimes under the name
    “Brown’s Gas” after Yull Brown who advocated such devices,
    or “HHO gas” after the claims of fringe physicist Ruggero
    Santilli.

     

    The most common and
    decisive counter-argument against using the gas as a fuel is that the
    energy required to split water molecules exceeds the energy recouped
    by burning it, and these devices reduce, rather than improve fuel
    efficiency.”

     

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxyhydrogen

     

    “The claims for
    these devices have been found to be incorrect and some were found to
    be tied to investment frauds.”

     

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W…..uelled_car

     

    Walt writes,

     

    “Innovation is not
    something fully exposed

     

    Furthermore, Walt
    this scam is not very innovative. Any engineer who has taken college
    level chemistry and thermodynamics should see right through it.   A
    interesting arrangement of tubing but please who are they kidding. I have seen such scams
    that are much harder to figure out.

     

    “It looks like
    these guys are trying and being pretty open.”

     

    Don’t feel bad Walt,
    that is what scam artist do!  They tell you what they want you want to believe if the first place. What could be more compellling than water fuel cars? I once paid a parking attendant $10 to
    park my car at the ferry in Spain. Then I notices the signs said 15
    minute parking. I went back to the entrance and the attendant was
    gone with my $10. Oh well!

    [link]      
  121. By perry on November 20, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    Don’t any of you guys see the benefits of a hydrogen fuel fell? We’ve got hydrocarbons out the yin yang. The hydro is flammable. The carbons aren’t. How many billions does a GTL plant cost? To do what, produce 40 or 50,000 bpd? Much easier to strip the hydrogen molecules from the NG. It’s done every day, all over the world. It’s much cheaper to make hydrogen from coal than to build a CTL plant. It can be reformed from methane produced at landfills.

    Producing the hydrogen isn’t a problem. The US already makes enough hydrogen to run 50 million FCV’s. H2 can be made a dozen different ways, and can even be made at the point of use. The ONLY thing holding H2 back is an affordable fuel cell. Once that milestone is reached, we’ll have transportation that can use whatever hydrocarbon is available locally. For those countries without vast hydrocarbon resources, like Japan, hydrogen can be made from water. NOT as expensive as some would have us believe. Multiply your electric rate by 50 to find out your cost. At .08 kwh, the cost is $4.00/kg. Not bad, since it would get you twice as far as an efficient ICE. My own residential rate is .11 kwh. Of course, I’ve also got a NG pipe coming into my house. Even cheaper.

    [link]      
  122. By perry on November 20, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    Kit P said:  

     I once paid a parking attendant $10 to
    park my car at the ferry in Spain. Then I notices the signs said 15
    minute parking. I went back to the entrance and the attendant was
    gone with my $10. Oh well!


     

    You gave a thief $10 and your car, and he left the car. Think about that for a moment Kit.

    [link]      
  123. By Walt on November 20, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Don’t feel bad Walt, that is what scam artist do!  They tell you what they want you want to believe if the first place. What could be more compellling than water fuel cars?


     

    Kit, ok, if it is a scam I stand corrected.  I’m not familiar with their claims…but rather only what I see in the video.  I have never believed research or development on any technology is a scam unless clearly people are taking other people’s money without using their own money and time.  I do also believe time is money, and so contribute time toward costs of the R&D budget…whether by a founder or by an employee.

    I guess I’m not familar with these hydrogen or solar scams in the marketplace.  Thank you for correcting me.  Sorry for getting upset.

    [link]      
  124. By Kit P on November 20, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    “Don’t any of you
    guys see the benefits of a hydrogen fuel fell?”

     

    We have tried to
    explain it to you Perry but you do not want to listen. What you
    perceive as a benefit is not in fact a benefit. You are wrong about
    the science. You are making stuff up. When you provide a source,
    you show that you do not understand what you read. Perry response is
    to suggest I can not read rather than counter with better
    explanation.

     

    “Much easier to
    strip the hydrogen molecules from the NG. It’s done every day, all
    over the world. It’s much cheaper to make hydrogen from coal than to
    build a CTL plant.”

     

    Yes, coal and NG are
    common sources to make industrial hydrogen. So what? Liquid
    hydrocarbons make excellent transportation fuel that can be used
    safely with minimal public education. On the other hand the
    properties of hydrogen make it a terrible transportation fuel. I can
    not train Perry to use hydrogen safely; therefore Perry can not be
    allowed to use it. Do not feel stupid either Perry, it is very
    complex. I have had a environmental engineer who works for a ‘green’
    city transit authority tell me the same thing.

     

    “Producing the
    hydrogen isn’t a problem.”

     

    Just how many times
    are you going to say that Perry and then ignore the answer?

     

    “The ONLY thing
    holding H2 back is an affordable fuel cell.”

     

    No Perry. just how
    many times are you going to say that Perry and then ignore the
    answer?

     

    “For those
    countries without vast hydrocarbon resources, like Japan, hydrogen
    can be made from water. NOT as expensive as some would have us
    believe.”

     

    No Perry. just how
    many times are you going to say that Perry and then ignore the
    answer?

     

    Everything you state
    Perry is from your imagination. Saying it over and over will neither
    make it true or convince anyone.

     

    It easy Perry to
    convince me. Pick one of your statements you think is true and
    provide a reference. For example Perry wrote,

     

    “My own
    residential rate is .11 kwh. Of course, I’ve also got a NG pipe
    coming into my house. Even cheaper.”

     

    I need a reference
    for the equipment that will convert either the electricity or NG to
    H2. The manufacture will have to certify that it meet safety
    standards (I have done several preliminary review of such documents).
    Now Perry I expect the installed capital costs will between $10k
    &$20k. If you tell you will pay the up front cost, I will then
    calculate the operating cost based on the energy cost that you
    provide.

     

    So Perry tell me
    about your CNG Honda Civic. Kit P wrote,

     

    “The greenest
    alternative is a Honda Civic CNG. With the rig to charge from your
    house NG supply, the whole thing is about 10K more expensive. I
    think the pay back in savings is about 50K miles yet it has not
    gained popularity in the US.”

     

    Perry does not have
    one. It is interesting that folks who tell you what they are going
    to do in the future do not pay the freight on what is available
    today. Of course Perry nobody else has gotten past the CNG Honda
    Civic demonstration project either.

     

    What can be done,
    and what we actually do is a concept the Perry does not understand.

    [link]      
  125. By Kit P on November 20, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    “You gave a thief
    $10 and your car, and he left the car.”

     

    I just want point
    out Perry how you read into something that was not said. I paid a
    parking attendant $10. When I realized the that I gave the money to
    a con artist and not a parking attendant, I moved the car. In the
    context of the point I was making to Walt, appearances my not be what
    they seem and a con artist will use mindsets to trick a mark. The
    point for Perry is that he might check his assumptions on HFCV before
    making predictions.

    [link]      
  126. By perry on November 20, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    Kit, do you really expect me to drive 2000 miles to purchase a car that can’t be serviced locally? Really?

    We talk a lot on this blog about alt-fuel cars. Methanol, CNG, LPG, propane, nat gas, and wood-gasification are just a few that come to mind. The beauty of a hydrogen fuel cell is that ALL of those alt fuels can be used. Whatever is locally available. If no hydrocarbons or biomass is available, water can be used. It can be done renewably.

    How many fuel sources can the everyday ICE make use of? Exactly one. Oil.

    [link]      
  127. By Rufus on November 20, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    How many fuel sources can the everyday ICE make use of? Exactly one. Oil.

    Three

    Oil, Alcohol, Veg. Oil

    Not enough time for all this. Ethanol is compatible with existing structure, and readily available (at a reasonable cost.) The Decision was made quite some time ago; we’re going with ethanol. Sorry.

    [link]      
  128. By Thomas on November 20, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    Rufus, we went with ethanol. Despite the billions of dollars spent every year the consumer is largely indifferent to this less efficient liquid fuel.  Car companies admit that E85 compatibility is not a selling point and thug state oil producers don’t care if their oil is used by farmers or consumers.  Nor should they.  Hybrids and electrics are carving out their own consumer hype and demographics. Plus, they actually reduce the foreign oil consumption of their users. 

     

       There are already more hybrids on the road than vehicles using E85 and by decade’s end there will be more all electric-road miles.  The consumer is ultimately going to decide, and the stats demonstrate that they like hybrids and electrics.  24,228 Hybrids were sold last month, 2.55% of total new car sales.  How many consumer started using ethanol in their vehicles last month? Sorry. 

    [link]      
  129. By perry on November 20, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    Rufus said:

    The Decision was made quite some time ago; we’re going with ethanol. Sorry.


     

    Ethanol isn’t an energy source Rufus. The biomass used to make the ethanol is the source. Biomass can be used to make hydrogen. Ethanol can also be used to make hydrogen. If your Buick Regal will get 25 MPG on ethanol, it will get 50 MPG or more with the hydrogen from that ethanol using a fuel cell. What part of that don’t you have time for Rufus?

    [link]      
  130. By perry on November 20, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    Ethanol yields hydrogen

    Fuel cells that convert the chemical bonds between hydrogen atoms to energy are about three times more efficient than combustion engines that burn hydrocarbons. And fuel cells powered with pure hydrogen carry out the conversion cleanly.

    The trick is finding a cost-effective way to produce hydrogen without polluting the environment.

    Researchers from the University of Minnesota and the University of Patras in Greece have devised a way to extract hydrogen directly from ethanol, which would make for a renewable energy cycle. Ethanol is produced by converting biomass like cornstarch to sugar, then fermenting it.

     

    http://www.trnmag.com/Stories/…..22504.html

    [link]      
  131. By perry on November 20, 2010 at 10:31 pm
    That improvement — getting four hydrogen molecules instead of just three from the conversion process — was a major breakthrough for the Minnesota engineers. Reacting ethanol alone would yield three hydrogen molecules because that’s all the hydrogen ethanol has. But doing so would cause the ethanol to catch fire — fine for heating an engine, not fine for creating hydrogen.

    So the team took a fairly obvious step to reduce flammability: They added a dash of water. This, conversely would not be fine for a gas-powered car because even a drop of water in the ethanol could freeze in the pipeline. But for creating hydrogen, water added a bonus to the ethanol — instead of getting the typical three hydrogen molecules, there are actually five available (thanks to the two in H2O).

    So far, the Schmidt team has harvested four hydrogen molecules per ethanol molecule, the 33 percent improvement referred to by Svedrup. While the percentage itself may be significant, in context its value becomes even grander.

    “If you extrapolated that to the transportation sector, hundreds of billions of gallons of fuel a year,” he said. “We need to see what is the most efficient.”

    http://www.wired.com/science/d…..z15ssZMCJL

    [link]      
  132. By Wendell Mercantile on November 20, 2010 at 11:45 pm

    The biomass used to make the ethanol is the source.

    Perry~

    The biomass is not the source either. The source is the solar energy and fertilizer the biomass uses to grow.

    [link]      
  133. By Rufus on November 20, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    240 Million cars X .09 = 21,600,000 X 0.80 efficiency = 17,280,000 Cars, give or take, running on ethanol.

    What was that number for batteries, gain?

    Anhydrous Ammonia? Hydrogen Fuel Cells? In Cars??

    Comeon.

    [link]      
  134. By perry on November 21, 2010 at 12:23 am

    A hydrogen economy would be a huge boon for ethanol Rufus. While a fuel cell can double or triple the efficiency of hydrocarbons, the ultimate goal is renewable fuel made sustainably. When ethanol is converted to hydrogen, there will be no more blending limits. And, since we need hydrogen to make ammonia fertilizer, a corn field will be producing food, fuel, AND fertilizers. All those arguments against ethanol would go out the window.  

     

    The Bloom Box is nothing but a fuel cell that doubles the efficiency of natural gas. The company can’t keep up with demand.

    [link]      
  135. By perry on November 21, 2010 at 1:17 am

     

    Scientists from Ohio State University have developed a very cheap non-precious metal catalyst that converts biofuels like ethanol into hydrogen with an efficiency of up to 90%. This development opens up a future of decentralised, on-the-spot hydrogen production for use in fuel cell cars. What is more, it makes the prospect of a carbon-negative transportation fuel more realistic.

    The rationale behind converting biofuels to hydrogen is simple: you no longer need an expensive hydrogen transportation infrastructure, because you can transport the fuel safely in the form of the biofuel and turn it into hydrogen wherever you want; using hydrogen in fuel cells is also far more efficient than using biofuels in internal combustion engines.

     

    http://news.mongabay.com/bioen…..t-for.html

    [link]      
  136. By Rufus on November 21, 2010 at 1:38 am

    For cars?

    Too Heavy, Too Hot, Too Fragile, Too Expensive – and, nobody mentions “life of product.”

    Impractical – at least, for the foreseeable future. We have to have something, Now. In 2012 people will be wanting 40 mpg in a comfortable car they can “fuel-up” down at the corner.

    Something like the Regal’s new engine, but considerably smaller (1.4L or such.) There’s only one fuel that can get us there in any reasonable time-frame. And, “Time-frame” is Extremely Important.

    [link]      
  137. By perry on November 21, 2010 at 1:53 am

    Rufus said:

    Too Heavy, Too Hot, Too Fragile, Too Expensive 

     


     

    Ever think you might be getting Too Old Rufus? Everything changes, my man. 40 mpg sounds nice, but a 68 mpg SUV sounds nicer. Toyota has some cruising Southern California today. They will be mass produced in 2015. Other manufacturers plan to enter the market in 2015 as well. That’s not tomorrow, but it’s not THAT far into the distant future.

    [link]      
  138. By OD on November 21, 2010 at 2:03 am

    As Mark (Carbonbridge) would say, alcohols are such a better fuel than float-on-water oils that it is not funny, and he is right

    I have not read a lot about using alcohols for fuel. If we decided to take that path, would they be able to use any of the exsisting pipelines and infrastructure or is that something we would have to start from scratch with?

    [link]      
  139. By Rufus on November 21, 2010 at 2:10 am

    Ever think you might be getting Too Old Rufus?

    :)

    Very, very likely, Perry. Very, very likely.

    68 mpg? Here’s hoping you’re right, and I’m wrong. :)

    [link]      
  140. By Rufus on November 21, 2010 at 2:13 am

    Ethanol can be shipped through existing pipelines, OD. Kinder Morgan has been doing it for a year, or so. You do have to clean’em up, and tighten’em up, a bit. Replace a few parts, and whatnot.

    [link]      
  141. By Thomas on November 21, 2010 at 2:35 am

    “240 Million cars X .09 = 21,600,000 X 0.80 efficiency = 17,280,000 Cars, give or take, running on ethanol.”

    Efficiency? 

    According to the DOE, there are 8.35 million E85 cars on the road in the U.S.  Now what really matters is how many of those drivers fill up with E85 regularly.  Usage estimates vary from 1% to 10%.  There are about 1900 ethanol retailers nationwide.  After tens of billions of dollars over more than three decades, this represents a resounding failure. E85 has had its chance. 

     Again by 2020, electric road miles > E85 road miles.

    [link]      
  142. By paul-n on November 21, 2010 at 2:52 am

    The Bloom Box is nothing but a fuel cell that doubles the efficiency of natural gas. The company can’t keep up with demand.

    The Bloom Box is nothing triumph of marketing hype.  Doubles the efficiency of nat gas compared to what?

    Bloom Box spec sheet says net electrical efficiency of over 50% – but a CCGT can get 60.

    A large nat gas engine can get 49%

    And then there is this home sized unit called BlueGen from Australia that gets 60% efficiency.

     

    But, did you notice that the 100kW Bloom Box weighs ten tons!  100kg per kW of power.  That makes large diesel gensets look like featherweights.   The Blue Gen unit, 2kW is 200kg – exact same ratio, and is the size of a dishwasher.   Granted, both of these are stationary units, not optimised for low weight. But even if you halve the unit weight, for a 50kW car sized unit, it would weigh 2.5 tons!

     

    At least you have given up on liquid hydrogen, now you just have to give up on automotive fuel cells.   

    ICE engines, even at car size can get into the 40% range for efficiency.  An optimised series hybrid (Volt style) drivetrain can capture most of that efficiency.  The real problem is that cars today are oversized and overweight, regardless of what powers them – this will change, slowly.

    We are seeing a three corned battle between traditional ICE, flex fuel and electric, but the efficiency of all are improving, and prices are decreasing, though electric has some more work to do there.   But fuel cells, are off that scale.

    And Perry, you said this;

    At .08 kwh, the {hydrogen} cost is $4.00/kg. Not bad, since it would get you twice as far as an efficient ICE.

    Let’s look at some real numbers, since you didn’t provide any.

    Honda has a demo fuel cell car on available, the FCX clarity, which, if you live in LA, where the demo hydrogen stations are, you can lease for $600/month .

    This is a state of the art hydrogen car, so what sort of mileage does it get>

    It gets 280 miles on 4.1kg of H2, or 70 mile on one kg.  There are 142GJ in a kg of H2, and 120MJ in a gallon of gasoline, so 1kg=1.18gge, or 1 gal gasoline =0.85kgH2.

    So, it gets 70*0.85=59.5miles on the equivalent energy of a gallon of gasoline.  A Prius officially gets 50, though many drivers average higher than that.   Some of the Euro diesel cars can get  50 mpg.

    So how much advantage, really, are we gaining for the astronomical cost.

    Let’s compare to a BEV, like the Leaf.  The FCX does 70 miles on 142MJ, which is 39kWh, so it is getting 1.8 miles per kWh of input energy.  The Leaf gets 4 miles per 1kWh of plug power, better than double the FCX.  Of course, in your scheme, the hydrogen is made from electricty, with 90% efficiency, so we actually only get 1.62 miles per kWh of plug electricity.

    It is a half the efficiency, and several times the cost, of a BEV, so what is the point?

    If we are looking for oil alternatives, and we are, then H2 is looking the worst of  the bunch on every criteria;

    • it is more expensive
    • it is less efficient
    • it is not market ready
    • it needs a complete new fueling infrastructure.
    • its reliability is unknown in automotive use

    if we stay with the ICE, manufactured H2 is inefficient compared to almost any other non oil fuel

    If we are using electricity, manufactured H2 loses out to BEV, except on range.  And that is a hell of a lot of expense for the luxury of range.  For long range we use ICE running on whatever, but not hydrogen.  

    There is a reason why this dream remains a dream – because it is not a practical solution.

    And if it’s not practical, it’s not worth the time of day.

    [link]      
  143. By perry on November 21, 2010 at 3:08 am

    That’s a lot to respond to Paul. Someone put up a quote by Energy Secretary Chu yesterday. Some smack about hydrogen not making a difference in the next 20 years, and how Chu wanted to cut funding. Well, it didn’t happen. Here’s a few of the reasons it didn’t happen.

     

    “DOE analysis has shown that fuel cell vehicles using hydrogen can reduce oil consumption in the light-duty vehicle fleet by more than 95% when compared with today’s gasoline internal combustion engine vehicles, by more than 85% to more than 95% when compared with advanced hybrid electric vehicles using gasoline or ethanol, and by more than 80% to more than 95% when compared with advanced plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.”

     

    http://www.solutionsforalterna…..ntent=2541

     

    As for the Bloom Box, they have customers like Walmart and Google lining up around the block for their $750,000 gadget. I would call that a success.

    [link]      
  144. By perry on November 21, 2010 at 3:31 am

    Paul N said:

     And then there is this home sized unit called BlueGen from Australia that gets 60% efficiency.

    Very impressive Paul. But, I already knew fuel cells were very efficient. That was my whole point, as a matter of fact.

    [link]      
  145. By Rufus on November 21, 2010 at 3:41 am

    Thomas, you can’t just look at E85. You have to look at E10, also. Especially since that’s where 99% of the ethanol is burned.

    There are, at present, 2426 stations, nationally, that sell E85, and Vilsack (Ag Secretary) is pushing for 10,000.

    You can get 110 HP from an “advanced” 1.0L flexfuel engine operating on E85, with virtually the same mileage as a 1.0L “gas optimized” engine.

    That gives you a Power/Weight Ratio that’s just plain crazy.

    And, it’s “here, and now,” and you don’t have to worry about the wife and kids getting stranded on the side of the road in a snowstorm. The Deal’s Done.

    [link]      
  146. By moiety on November 21, 2010 at 6:17 am

    Paul N said:

    Some of the Euro diesel cars can get  50 mpg.


     

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V…..po#Lupo_3L

     

    You could probably bump that figure up a bit.

    [link]      
  147. By Thomas on November 21, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    Rufus, Ok lets look at E10.  It is mandated by most states and metro areas. It reduces the fuel efficieny of the vast majority of its users. If those mandates were pulled  most of the E10 would go away.  Its an artificial market or as you would say “the deal”.   That’s why the ethanol lobbyist want government mandates for E20, the consumer is agnostic about their product. 

    Meanwhile, car companies and third parties are investing billions in gas-electric hybrids ,BEVs, and charging infrastructure.  There will be more public charging stations by mid decade than ethanol retailers. A car that uses less gasoline or uses no gasoline has a selling point.  That’s been shown in the sell figures.  We’ve yet to see that a car optimized for E85 has one.   Lets look at the 2011 turbo charged Buick Regal. Do you really think the new car buyer gets excited by the fact that instead of losing 20% of its fuel efficiency on E85, it loses only 10%?  GM doesnt think so, if you read their promotional material that fact is barely mentioned.  Most of the buyers will pick it up to have a little American luxury on the outside, while enjoying Germany engineering under the hood. As usual about 1%-5% of those new owners will power the Regal with E85. Thats about the same number of people who will be driving around in Volts next year.

    [link]      
  148. By paul-n on November 21, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    As for the Bloom Box, they have customers like Walmart and Google lining up around the block for their $750,000 gadget. I would call that a success.

    No, I would call that a marketing success.  These are companies that are doing this to improve their image, and/or have a specialised need for onsite continuous backup power/power conditioning.  Now show me an electric utility (i.e. a company that makes electricity for a living), or minesite, or an oil facility with stranded NG that is installing bloom boxes, in real numbers, for supplying energy to the grid, and then we can call it a success.  At 10x the capital cost of CCGT, why would they?

    My point on efficiency is that the bloom box does not double it, it does not even match the industry leading equipment (CCGT), so this is afalse claim.  You could say that it double it compared to an automotive ICE, but the bloom box is not an automotive powerplant – and when they do have one, then they can compare to that.  

    Of course an H2 vehicle can achieve a 90+% oil reduction, but so can any non-oil vehicle, be it ethanol, CNG,BEV, etc.  And compared to any of these alternatives, H2 is uneconomic.

     

    @ Moeity – The Lupo is a bit of an outlier, and is  not even in production any more.  BUt there are plenty of other efficient diesels around – but you can’t use the euro testing numbers as a comparison for US vehicles – the mileage drops about 20-25% under the US testing systems.  Still, they are all very efficient, and is most unfortunate that they are not available here.

     

     

     

    [link]      
  149. By perry on November 21, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    Paul N said:

     Of course an H2 vehicle can achieve a 90+% oil reduction, but so can any non-oil vehicle, be it ethanol, CNG,BEV, etc.  And compared to any of these alternatives, H2 is uneconomic.

      


     

    That might be the case now Paul, but not for long. Toyota says the FCV cost has dropped 90% in the last 5 years, and will drop another 50% by the time it goes to commercial production in 2015. Eight automakers have pledged to be production ready by 2015. Hydrogen refueling is 10% less costly than gasoline today, and should be half the cost by 2020.

     

    http://blogs.edmunds.com/green…..-says.html

     

    Put a Chevy Volt next to a comparably priced Toyota Highlander FCV and see which one sells quicker.

    [link]      
  150. By Wendell Mercantile on November 21, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    Something like the Regal’s new engine, but considerably smaller (1.4L or such.) There’s only one fuel that can get us there in any reasonable time-frame.

    Rufus~

    Not true, methanol could also fill the bill nicely. The means to produce methanol from coal and natural gas are tried and true. If necessary — and if it were a national priority — we could ramp up methanol production in short order.

    [link]      
  151. By paul-n on November 21, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    if it were a national priority

    And there is the problem – it is not a national priority.  If the same effort was put into alt fuels (of all sorts) as was put into Iraq, the problem would be solved.

    It would appear to be a priority only to do enough that the people think something is being, or will be, done, without having to change their lives in even the smallest way.

     

    Since Rufus is back around, what’s with the ethanol exports?  300million gallons to be exported in 2010.  That could be used here and save 200 million gallons of oil.  Ethanol is not a solution to oil imports of it is being exported!

    [link]      
  152. By Thomas on November 21, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    Perry,

    The big difference is where are people going to get the hydrogen?  Your article points out that at lack of infrastructure has all but stopped the development of FCEVs. 

     

    “Eight automakers have pledged to be production ready by 2015.”

    Incorrect, your article actually says : “Toyota is one of at least eight automakers that have signed a “letter of understanding” to develop and introduce to the market (but not necessarily sell) fuel-cell cars within the next five years.”

     

    I wouldn’t call a test fleet of 100 “production ready”.

    It goes on:

    “Due to a lack of hydrogen infrastructure investment, some automakers have either halted or slowed hydrogen-related fuel programs. For instance, BMW said late last year that it would stop its on-road testing of 100 hydrogen-burning 7-series sedans after more than 2 million miles of real-world driving because of the lack of infrastructure.

    Additionally, Honda, whose FCX Clarity is the only ready-for-production hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicle, said in mid-2008 that it planned to lease about 200 of the vehicles over the ensuing three years, but has leased out less than two dozen since then because of a combination of a slowing economy and a lack of fueling stations.”

    This article isn’t harkening the coming of the hydrogen economy, in fact it illustrates that automakers arent going to go long on fuel cells until/if hydrogen infrastructure is on the horizon.  

    The reason why Toyota is going to have a BEV Rav4 and Prius on the market by 2012, is that electricity is much easier to supply. 

     From an energy perspective using NG to produce hydrogen, to produce electricity in a single car’s fuel cell, is less efficient than burning NG at a powerplant transmitting electricity  to a home and then charging a car’s battery. If the end goal is electricity, why add in hydrogen conversion and a fuel cell?  Hydrogen stations make a $60K ethanol tank  look cheap.  Fuel cells could become cheaper than ICEs, but moving hydrogen around is prohibitive.

    [link]      
  153. By Rufus on November 21, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    Paul, the ethanol exports have caught everyone by surprise. Corn Ethanol wasn’t supposed to be able to compete with Brazilian Sugarcane Ethanol, remember? Heck, we’re even exporting ethanol to Brazil. Also, several countries have instituted Renewable Fuel Standards w/o enough domestic renewable fuel.

    I guess Congress could pass some form of “Export Controls” on ethanol. There is precedent, I believe. I don’t think GOM natural gas can be exported.

    We’re not going to do Methanol, Wendell. Rightly, or Wrongly, for better, or worse, there just isn’t any “push” for it. Ford, GM, and Chrysler tried methanol back in the eighties, and decided they’d rather have ethanol. Add in the votes from the Ag states, and it just isn’t going to happen.

    [link]      
  154. By paul-n on November 21, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    I don’t think there should be export controls, they do have a right to carry on such a business if there is a market for it – but please tell me that the exported ethanol does not get the VEETC?

    I guess it really illustrates that ethanol has hit the wall for domestic volume.  Time for the RFA to get off its A and work on developing more markets for E85 and diesel co-fuelling.  I am sure it would not take  too much to work with John Deere, Cummins, Caterpilllar to come up with an approved ethanol “fumigation” kit for their engines.  Provide 10-40% ethanol (by fuel value) in the air intake – would actually be quite helpful in hot weather.  Similarly for city buses.  CNG is great, but conversions are very difficult – you pretty much need a whole new bus.  But the ethanol add on would be easy to do, and the somewhere like say Des Moines, could run their existing buses on 30-50% ethanol.

    There are off the shelf water/methanol injection kits available for diesel PU’s, these could easily be tested on the tractor/bus engines.  The farmer and the bus company could still claim the VEETC!

    I wouldn’t write off methanol just yet.  It’s biggest marketing advantage is that it can be mixed with ethanol, seamlessly, and once we have “approval” to run engines on E20, E30 etc, they can be done with E-M20, 30 etc. Of course, none is produced domestically at present, but with natural gas getting cheaper every day, it is only a matter of time before someone does it on a stranded NG source.  And for fuel use the methanol need not be purified to the same extent as for chemical use.

    Methanol is presently $1.08/gal, which works out to $2.35 per GGE (gasoline gallon equivalent).  Ethanol is currently $2.10/gal which is $2.90/GGE, and gasoline is $2.20/gal on Friday.   More importantly, at $1.08/gal, methanol works out to $19.30 perMMBTU, and the natural gas it was produced from is currently as low as $3/MMBTU at the wellhead.

    And with NG being produced in some of the ag states (e.g. the Dakotas) making methanol there wouldn’t be all bad.  In fact, I’d bet that N/S Dakota would jump at that, as they want to become real players in the energy industry, not just corn states.

    The problem here isn’t the supply of E or M, the fact that ethanol is being exported shows there is plenty of supply.  The problem is developing new markets and making people want to use alcohol fuels.  That in my opinion, is an area where the ethanol industry has not paid nearly enough attention.  If nothing else, losing the VEETC might get them focused on that.

     

     

     

     

    [link]      
  155. By Wendell Mercantile on November 21, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    From an energy perspective using NG to produce hydrogen, to produce electricity in a single car’s fuel cell, is less efficient than burning NG at a powerplant transmitting electricity to a home and then charging a car’s battery.

    Well put Thomas, and if I may add, it is much easier to move around electricity around than either tanks of high-pressure gaseous or super-cold liquid hydrogen.

    [link]      
  156. By perry on November 22, 2010 at 3:24 am

    Thomas said:

      From an energy perspective using NG to produce hydrogen, to produce electricity in a single car’s fuel cell, is less efficient than burning NG at a powerplant transmitting electricity  to a home and then charging a car’s battery. 


     

    I want something to pull my boat. Something bigger than a Barbie car. Can a BEV do that? A full size pickup wouldn’t get 10 miles on battery power. A big rig wouldn’t get down the driveway. H2 from coal is already cheaper than gasoline. H2 from natural gas is on par with gasoline. By the time the Highlander FCV hits the market, H2 from water will be cheaper than gasoline. And it will have a 500 mi. range.

     

    A hydrogen fuel pump costs $500,000, because only one or two are installed a year. A Ford Fiesta would cost just as much if they only sold two a year. If crude oil was used in quantities like H2 currently is, gasoline would probably cost $50 a gallon. All of these extraordinary costs will decline as  H2 gets adopted. That, or those Barbie cars will will have some grunting and groaning to do.

    [link]      
  157. By paul-n on November 22, 2010 at 3:48 am

    A big rig wouldn’t get down the driveway.

    No, but it will carry 22 Tesla cars for 50 miles

    Seriously though Perry, if you need a heavy duty towing vehicle, then an energy efficient solution already exists – a diesel.

    And if you insist on driving said heavy duty truck for your daily commute,then you are a good example of why the US is in the oil predicament it is in.

    H2 from coal is already cheaper than gasoline. H2 from natural gas is on par with gasoline.

    Really – just where can I buy it then, as a ready to use fuel, like gasoline is?  Can you give an example where H2 is being made from coal, for use as fuel?

    I think you have been breathing H2 or something – you haven’t been able to talk about anything else, or listen to reason, for days!

    [link]      
  158. By perry on November 22, 2010 at 4:45 am

    Paul N said:

    Really – just where can I buy it then, as a ready to use fuel, like gasoline is?  Can you give an example where H2 is being made from coal, for use as fuel?


     

    What would you charge to deliver a cup of coffee to Los Angeles each morning Paul? Several thousand maybe? H2 for cars is expensive for the same reason. Making hydrogen from oil, natural gas, and coal is actually cheap. A gallon of anhydrous ammonia( made from hydrogen) is about $1. Once H2 is required at service stations in volume, you’ll see costs drop like a rock.

    [link]      
  159. By perry on November 22, 2010 at 10:04 am

    This guy might be a little crazy. Or, he could be a genius. He’s opening 10 Solar-H2 service stations in the next 2 years. He’s selling the fuel for $4.50/gge. FCV’s won’t be sold until at least 2015. But, gasoline could easily be more than $4.50 a gallon by then, and solar fuel may sound pretty darned good once peak oil hits.

     

    http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-1…..45-48.html

     

    Yes, it’s true that solar charging stations could also be built. They could even install wide screen tv’s, so folks could enjoy a movie while refueling. The first Chevy Volt concept had a hydrogen fuel cell that kicked in after the initial charge was used up. PHEV’s with hydrogen back-up make a lot of sense once the fuel is available.

    [link]      
  160. By Wendell Mercantile on November 22, 2010 at 11:17 am

    From the article you linked to: While the station is designed to run off of solar power, it’s still tied to the grid.

    Perry~

    They had better stay linked to the grid. Connecticut is not exactly known for its days of sunshine each year. With optimum sunlight he can produce all of 2.6 kg of hydrogen per hour. How many cars per day would that refuel?

    Once again, you are confusing something that is technically possible with something that becomes logistically very difficult when scaled up. An actual solar power-to-hydrogen refueling station capable of refueling the number of cars a typical highway gas station services each day would require many tens of acres of solar panels, not just some mounted on the roof of the building.

    [link]      
  161. By perry on November 22, 2010 at 11:27 am

    The station in the article is at the company headquarters Wendell. It doesn’t have to refuel many cars. Future stations built for the public will have more capacity. I think the guy has balls. He’s building these stations before the need is present. And, he’s demonstrating that clean energy can be had for $4.50/gge. That will be pretty compelling in a few short years.

    [link]      
  162. By Wendell Mercantile on November 22, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    Future stations built for the public will have more capacity.

    Then those future stations will need to be surrounded by many tens of acres of solar panels if they are to operate on solar power alone — and will work best if built in Arizona, Texas, or New Mexico.

    [link]      
  163. By Kit P on November 22, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    “Now show me an electric utility (i.e. a company that makes electricity for a living), or minesite, or…”

    Paul we use good old ICE on either NG or diesel for backup power.  Also batteries for uninterruptible power until the ICE is running full bore at 10 seconds.   When it comes to making electricity reliability is much more important than efficiency.  Someday in the future we might use FC when they are reliable.  What have we learned about FC’s so far?  Here is a list of what screws them up: everything!

     

    “I want something to pull my boat.”

     

    Perry wants something very efficient so he can have more fuel to waste in his power boat.  Since I was young once, I understand the desire to go fast, make lots of noise, and make the air smell bad while enjoying nature.  I do not care if Perry wants to have expensive toys, it is the inconsistent logic he applies.

     

    High capital cost is often the result of high efficiency.  If you are commuting short distances BEV, HFCV, and diesels are a waste of money.  If you drive a lot, the cost of high efficiency will also be an economical choice.   When public transit authorities start buying HFCV because they are economical and reliable, Perry will find a reason not to like them.  

    [link]      
  164. By Ibrahim on August 2, 2011 at 10:19 am

    Dear Robert, I would like to congratulate you for such a beautiful carreer. I have B. Eng (Hons) Chemical engineering and currently doing my masters in Oil & Gas Management at Coventry University, UK. I am writing my dissertation on the future markets of Liquefied natural gas and gas-to-liquid. I will be very happy if you send me your email so that I can send just two questions for your views
    Many thanks.

    [link]      
  165. By rrapier on August 2, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    Ibrahim said:

    Dear Robert, I would like to congratulate you for such a beautiful carreer. I have B. Eng (Hons) Chemical engineering and currently doing my masters in Oil & Gas Management at Coventry University, UK. I am writing my dissertation on the future markets of Liquefied natural gas and gas-to-liquid. I will be very happy if you send me your email so that I can send just two questions for your views

    Many thanks.


     

    Ibrahim, if you click on my resume in my profile above, my e-mail is in there. I keep it tucked away from the spam bots.

    Cheers, Robert

    [link]      
  166. By Mohammad Moghaddasza on October 10, 2011 at 1:27 am

    Dear Robert
    Very useful report indeed, I am doing PhD in standardisation of Oil and Gas Construction Projects at the university of manchester(UK). My research methodology is site visit and more interview base, I do really appreciate if you reply to my email regarding to your visit.
    Many thanks

    [link]      
Register or log in now to save your comments and get priority moderation!