Wednesday, 18 February 2009

First clean coal to be extracted

(click headline for original article)
Great, it all sounds good.

Is there anybody out there who can explain how this works?

Coal gasification was used to supply town gas in the 18th and 19th century; this process is known, to make it deep down under ground makes it more complicated but less damaging – does it? The essential question remains the same today as over the past 200 years – only then nobody understood or had at the very least seriously defined that question; that is why we now have a problem.

So how does the carbon capture and sequestration of the generated CO2 work in this case? How is it done and is it sustainable, where is it stored and in what ratio?

Thornton’s website offers the schematic overview shown below.

So the gas, the unprocessed Syngas, coming up is the “first clean coal extracted”, as the headline suggests. Clean of CO2, but then coal is +70%carbon and emits lots of CO2 when burnt. “Hmm?” Okay.

It is then mechanically separated from raw materials, probably the wet and dirty coal-stone-soil mix, which is gasifĂ­ed directly; obviously no CO2 emissions here, “Hmmm?” Okay.

The filtered Syngas is then cleaned up, the CO2 extracted and pumped down into some kind of airtight cavity to be sequestered: that problem solved, fine.

It would be interesting to know how that is done, what the pressure is, the capacity and the expected life-span – after all this is supposed to be a one way road for the CO2.

The now clean towngas, sorry Syngas, as it obviously contains a lot of hydrogen, is cracked to make diesel; CO2 free diesel obviously, ultra-clean; or is it the process is ultra clean? “Hmmmm?”

And on top of that there is a zero emission hydrogen power plant. Great!

I forgot: to start the process one needs lots of energy for lots of steam, 300°C to 400°C hot, and for pressurising the system.

It looks promising; the Chinese will pay top dollar for this technology. That is if the energy output minus energy input allows for efficiency not too far off the efficiency of a standard coal fired power plant. They will also want to understand the conglomerate of the complicated processes behind above overview. Surely, Thornton has already answered all questions and is in a position to define the
footprint of this innovative technology and especially of the project under and on Fife - to great detail. Asking is free.

Carpe diem!


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