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The Terminator Terminates car emmissions.....

Post in 'The Green Room' started by webbie, May 18, 2009.

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  1. DBoon

    DBoon Minister of Fire

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    I've read this thread for the first time just now...

    It has struck me how many people are advocating a limited range of options. In fact, if the "problem" is defined either as too much CO2 or too much dependence on foreign fuel sources, or more electricity for transportation, then we need nearly every option - no one option will work or work fast enough. Anything done today will be based on what is known and proven today, not what was just published in some technical publication last week. It takes a lot of time to bring technologies to market on a mass-produced, reliable basis.

    For the record, the overall US efficiency of turning a fossil fuel into a delivered kWh is ~40%. Others have reported on combustion efficiency of automobile engines. Overall, I agree with their assessment (gas ~20%, diesel ~30%).

    Also, at any given moment in time, a kWh generated must be consumed. Demand must be balanced exactly. Utilities can play around a little with voltage variations to balance generation with demand, but at some point, they have to increase or decrease generation. It's a tricky balance. Therefore, they have "base load" sources (run all the time) and "peak load" sources (run just when needed). With solar/wind, they now have "intermittent" sources.

    Nuclear - currently ~20% of US electricity production. A good "base load" (not peaking) source. Need to double it, but that would require 100 new nuclear plants. Currently there are "talks" about 2-5 in the next 10 years. What happens when the current ones are shut down? It makes me laugh when the northern NY City metro area citizens want to "shut down" the nuclear plant there - who else is going to produce the 2000 MWh that that produces? We need to keep the current plants open and open a lot more than 2-5 more in the next 10 years. The reality is that there has not been a lot of new nuclear construction in the last 30 years, so there is not a lot of capacity available to manufacture the specialized parts needed to ramp construction up today. It will take 10+ years to do this.

    Coal - hard to see it going away completely, but we shouldn't build new plants with current dirty and inefficient technology. If someone wants a new coal plant, it should only be the most efficient and clean (SO2, NOx, Mercury emissions) plant we can get - no more obscenely dirty coal, and then only to replace an existing dirtier coal plant that will be shut down as it is "replaced". We need to find a way to "scrub" the emissions of not just mercury and sulfur, but also CO2. Maybe we can use the CO2 from these plants to grow algae to turn into biodiesel (not out of the question, and being discussed, but it won't happen in the next 25 years either).

    Natural Gas - Fairly clean, and at the right price, there is plenty here in the US. Can be somewhat dirty to extract, depending on the location. A good fuel for peaking power plants since a natural gas generation plant can be brought on-line quickly in response to demand changes. Not cheap. Note that the "right price" isn't what the price is today, but about 3x today's price. Something to think about.

    Hydro - The only "green" renewable that can be controlled, somewhat. Unlikely to grow in MW generating size in the future.

    Solar/Wind - Intermittent, so need to be supplemented with non-intermittent sources (see Nuclear, Coal, Natural Gas). The Smart Grid needs to be developed to support the channeling of intermittent power sources to loads that can take advantage of it, and to shut off loads that can allow interruption as a way to "smooth" out variations in demand. We should keep adding as we can, and the ~30% yearly growth in these areas will compound quickly. The key to making these a bigger part of the mix is not to allow more coal-based production to be added, and as demand is reduced, close the most polluting power plants.

    Conservation - Yes, you can reduce demand, and we should work aggressively to do this. I hate the use of anecdotes to prove a point, but since everyone else seems to be using one, I'll use one also. My wife and I use electricity for lighting and appliances, have an electric hot water heater, a clothesline for clothes drying, and an electric range/stove. We use <400 kWh/month for everything. My father-in-law lives alone in a similar sized house and he uses electricity for lighting and appliances, heats his hot water with oil, uses a clothesline, and has a propane range/stove. He uses 400 kWh/month also, but he doesn't have the hot water load we have (200 kWh/month) or the range/stove load either! We have similar quality of life (i.e. my wife and I don't bump into walls in a dark house eating spoiled food from a 55 degree fridge), but he uses 4x as much electricity as us (1 person versus two people, and twice the usage for similar things). I think we represent two ends of the extreme, but it shows you what is out there and available for demand reduction.

    So I'll probably piss off all the greens who are rah rah solar and wind only (won't work, ever), and the "there is no choice but the path we have been on for 50 years" believers won't like what they read above either. The fact is, the era of 5 cent/kWh electricity is over because the era of cheap fossil fuels is over, and nobody in their right mind would ever want to live near a coal plant or coal ash dump (yes, I've seen both, and they are not pretty or healthy). All the options above will increase kWh electricity costs. Your costs can be mitigated through more efficient use of electricty (see example above), but anyone expecting a return to the cheap costs of the past is not facing current realities. This is not something that we can control.

    So, for the record, my personal "goal" is no fossil fuel use for heating, and on-site generation of all electricity that is needed by my household (incl. transportation). Am I there today? No. Am I making progress? Yes, slowly - first through new appliances and insulation and conservation, next through a wood stove, with plans for solar panels in the future. And in the meantime, I'm supporting wind power through purchase of wind/hydro energy through my local utillity. I'd like to depend on fossil fuels and nuclear for none of my energy needs, but I don't think I represent the "typical" US citizen, and the solution should be crafted with them in mind, and not me.

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  2. Hakusan

    Hakusan New Member

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    Good for you. I am right behind you. What would happen to our power equation if the majority of households and businesses around the country produced their own energy, even in part of their needed consumption.

    You are right, the solution is not an all or nothing problem. We need to use multiple sources of power. This is the brilliance of the Prius. Toyota could not make a 100% electric car, but instead of simply giving up, they made a 50% electric. (GM took that and made a Hybrid Yukon, which was a stupid idea and application of technology.) And changing our energy habits is a big piece of the puzzle--no point in heating with wood and then not insulating the building.

    Naturally, if the lead singer of one of the best hardcore bands of the 80s can be resurrected, our energy problem should be easily solved. (The naysayers are just a Flock of Seagulls.)
  3. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    Glad to hear it. Mine is a similar goal. Heat from wood only. This year I should generate more electricity than I use, from a 25,000 watt diesel gen-set, burning vegatable oil (free so far) and heating the home and workshop on the days I run it. For the eventuality that I will no longer be able to get vegatable oil, I am building a wood chip gassifier. Hopefully, by the time I can no longer aquire wood chips, I will have sufficient Solar-Thermal capacity. Will we eliminate the grid in this fashion? No. Can we reduce CO2 emisions and reliance upon foriegn oil, Yes.
  4. Hakusan

    Hakusan New Member

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    Anyone use a wood-burning steam engine as a backup generator?
  5. rowerwet

    rowerwet Minister of Fire

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    In most states to use steam you would need a steam engener license, the tecnology is there but a practical application would be very expensive and ineffecient. I have friend at church who is making his own steam engine for his backyard train set, due to the small size of the "live" steam (based on cubic feet) he doesn't need all the licenses and inspections. If you want to make a steam engine the size of the a 2 footer (Maine narrow guage railway has trains that run on 2' spread of rail) you need an operators license, and repetitive inspections of the pressurized area of live steam with an ultrasonic inspection.
    There are some ways of getting around all this hassle by using other "steam" substitutes, if you look into those rare guys who still run small steam launches you will find those who use another system (don't recal how it operates, but they get around most of the regs this way)
    Beside all that bother I am not sure how much wood you would need to burn to produce enough steam to make enough electricity, very few trains were run on wood for just that reason, unless you were running for a wood camp, the density of coal, and the heat generated meant you burned many more times the amount of wood.
  6. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    If you are interested in this, check out the Phoenix Turbine Builders Club. Plenty of info there.
    http://tinyurl.com/q2nwnz

    I love being able to post links finaly. Thanks Craig!
  7. karl

    karl Minister of Fire

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    My sister scored a 36 on the ACT, and she worked at a wholesale bank doing risk anylisis on deratives. She also speaks 5 languages. And not easy ones either. Lanugages like cantonese. Anyway, I say the same thing about her.

    The energy problem has been largely solved in other parts of the world. They have proven and effective means of generating energy in an environmentally way, and in using it wisely. In the U.S. we don't generated it cleanly, in most cases, and we don't us it wisely. Now Obama wants to DEVELOP clean forms of energy and spur conservation. Why should we waste time and money developing new technologies when there are existing technologies that can be used now? If he is as smart as you say, he's sure not showing it in his decision making.
  8. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    Come on Karl. In the U.S., we are energy pigs. Big Auto and Big Oil have gone to bat with massive lobby
    operations for decades to keep it that way. You can't blame Obama for that. Bush II was like an ostrich in response to most of the problems we are facing today.
    What Obama wants to develop is a manufacturing base for clean energy sources. Are you against manufacturing also?
  9. Hakusan

    Hakusan New Member

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    I don't think a large steam engine is needed to generate power--torque is not the main problem. Especially if you have intermediate battery storage:

    http://home.earthlink.net/~dlaw70/12stmng.htm

    There are other folks playing with the same idea. During the war, the British built a portable steam engine to run a radio. (WWII)
  10. Hakusan

    Hakusan New Member

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    There is not a single country that has solved its energy problem. As far as I know, Obama is using existing sources of energy. Since clean energy and conservation is important to solving our energy demands, it is good to develop. "Dirty" energy is not solving anything.
  11. karl

    karl Minister of Fire

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    Ok solved their problem may be too strong of a word but they are dealing with it very well. In Europe they already have cars that excede the CAFE standards Obama is putting into effect. Obama said we need to develop new technologies (plug in hybrids) so we can have more fuel efficient cars. Bull chit. These cars already exist without needing to be plugged in. Why not just let them sell those cars here?

    He was against nuclear power in the first part of his campaign, then he was for it when McCain started hurting him on it. Yet, now he doesn't want to build any. Also in this country we have alot of nuclear waste from power plants because we aren't aloud to rework out fuel rods. In France they have been reworking them for decades. This creates much less nuclear waste and much less need to mine for uranium. Why not change this?

    I'm all for manufacturing. Unfortunately, people in this country don't even know what it is anymore. They think that when GM or Ford or the Toyota here in West Virginia, puts a bunch of parts together to make a car, that's manufacutering. It's not. It's assembly. They bring the parts here because they pack tighter in shipping containers and thus saves them money. We don't do any casting or machining in this country anymore. At best we bolt a bunch of foreign parts together.

    I will bet you money that the batteries for these plug in hybrids aren't made in the U.S. The hybrid car batteries aren't. The EPA is too strict on them. Obama has sold out the unions worse than Clinton ever did.
  12. TMonter

    TMonter Minister of Fire

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    You should tour a modern coal plant, they are not as dirty as you think. Most modern coal plants also sell their ash to cement operations.
  13. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Or drywall mfgs. Almost 50% of all drywall made today is considered synthetic. It uses the coke from coal powered plants. Strangely, this product can now claim to be "green" because it is using a recycled material. Who woulda thunk!!
  14. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    Whats clean, the windows in the bathroom? The carpet on the lobby floor? Selling flyash is nothing new. Neither is dumping mercury into the atmosphere.
  15. TMonter

    TMonter Minister of Fire

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    The amount of mercury that makes it in the atmosphere and water from coal plants in the US is lower than other sources of contamination such as older landfills, CFL's and such.

    Modern coal plants emit very little in comparison to previous years and their stack when operation will have little or no opacity, almost no SO2, NOx or CO.

    No other source of power currently is capable of replacing coal in any timely fashion.

    Wind and Solar are not viable options unless some storage method can be devised to store the power.
  16. Delta-T

    Delta-T Minister of Fire

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    have to agree with TMonter, coal not going anywhere soon. Energy is a funny animal, it moves in "baby steps". We may have 100+ years of coal available to us, but that doesn't mean we need to burn it like it'll last forever. Coal does keep getting cleaner. Carbon Dioxide sequestration is certainly extending its viability here in the US. I think China and India have a much larger problem with coal. Right now I think about 50% of our electric is from coal, China 85%+ and India 75%+. At the rate they are growing that # will likely increase before it decreases.
  17. karri0n

    karri0n New Member

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    Solar Two, a "power tower" electricity generating plant in California, is a 10-megawatt prototype for large-scale commercial power plants. It stores the sun's energy in molten salt at 1050 degrees F, which allows the plant to generate power day and night, rain or shine. Construction was completed in March 1996, and it is now in its three year operating and testing phase. (source: Southern California Edison)
  18. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    You could not possibly be more incorrect in your statement regarding mercury emmisions.

    Sources of Atmospheric Mercury Emisions by percent:

    Manufacturing 1
    Municipal waste combustion 8
    Medical waste incineration 11
    Industrial Boilers 18
    Electrical generation 62

    As to your well worn talking point about storage, again, every solar thermal plant under construction (and there are many) incorperate storage. Additonaly, solar electric is provided when the demand is highest anyway.
  19. karl

    karl Minister of Fire

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    Come down to West Virginia. I live about 30 miles from the John Amos power plant. It' about 3000 megawatts. I few years ago they intalled desulphurization scrubbers on them. This did help. When you drove buy it you had to roll the car windows up because of the smell. Now the smell is gone. However, the opacity is still there. Big huge plumes of it. It's still more opaque than the steam coming off of the cooling towers, and that stuff creates a cloud. We have had the local weatherman report thunderstorms near the plant do to the cooling towers.
  20. WoodMann

    WoodMann Minister of Fire

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    If it can work, great. When ya think about it, the sun is all we need if we could absorb from it 24hrs a day.............
  21. TMonter

    TMonter Minister of Fire

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    If a plant emitted that much opacity they would be shut down not to mention it indicates poor combustion which would be wasting money which no plant would allow. If they installed FGD scrubbers you're seeing water vapor from a saturated gas stream, not actual opacity.

    And can only generate power for 4-6 hours at half load after the sun goes down. The salt is actually used during daytime operations as a thermal flywheel and for keeping the turbine loop hot at night. Like I said, not viable. I've toured Solar two actually, very cool technology, but at least 20-25 years from being commercially viable. (IE Competitive cost wise with other technologies).
  22. TMonter

    TMonter Minister of Fire

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    I said US, not world. Almost all US plants have FGD scrubbers many of which also removes more than 85% of mercury.

    You also forgot forest fires:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071017131817.htm
  23. DBoon

    DBoon Minister of Fire

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    Something is not right about your math on US coal-fired power plant mercury emissions. If US power plants already scrub out 85% of mercury, why do emissions still have to be reduced from 48 tons a year to 15 tons a year by 2018. Your numbers don't add up. See my sources below.

    This source took me about 20 seconds find on the internet: http://www.epa.gov/camr/basic.htm

    Text pasted below, for convenience. My emphasis in bold text:

    "On March 15, 2005, EPA issued a rule to permanently cap and reduce mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants.

    The Clean Air Mercury Rule was built on EPA’s Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) to significantly reduce emissions from coal-fired power plants -- the largest remaining sources of mercury emissions in the country. The goal of these rules regarding mercury was to reduce utility emissions of mercury from 48 tons a year to 15 tons, a reduction of nearly 70 percent.

    The Clean Air Mercury Rule establishes “standards of performance” limiting mercury emissions from new and existing coal-fired power plants and creates a market-based cap-and-trade program to reduce nationwide utility emissions of mercury in two distinct phases. The first phase cap is 38 tons. In the second phase, due in 2018, coal-fired power plants will be subject to a second cap, which will reduce emissions to 15 tons upon full implementation.

    New coal-fired power plants (“new” means construction starting on or after Jan. 30, 2004) will have to meet stringent new source performance standards in addition to being subject to the caps.
    Mercury is a toxic, persistent pollutant that accumulates in the food chain. Mercury in the air is a global problem. While fossil fuel-fired power plants are the largest remaining source of human-generated mercury emissions in the United States.

    The Clean Air Mercury Rule is expected to make reductions in emissions that are transported regionally and deposited domestically, and it will reduce emissions that contribute to atmospheric mercury worldwide."

    In this document www.nescaum.org/documents/rpt031104mercury.pdf/, it is stated:

    "A 91% reduction in the mercury contained in the combusted coal would result in annual mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants of approximately 7 tons (as compared to the current emissions of 48 tons from the industry)"

    So, the first phase of the mandated EPA reductions will result in coal-fired power plants reducing mercury emissions from 48 tons to 15 tons, which will mean that your ~85% capture will be achieved by 2018.

    Please explain your math.
  24. TMonter

    TMonter Minister of Fire

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    Because the baseline for Mercury for many plants is calculated off of what the plants currently emit, not what is in the coal, and not all plants have the same FGD systems either. Certain FGD systems are more effective in removing mercury than others.

    Trust me if you think you're getting a cut and dried picture off of the EPA website check out the new CFR on mercury.
  25. TMonter

    TMonter Minister of Fire

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    Don't get me wrong, mercury is horrible stuff but it boggles my mind when they still allow mercury laden dental fillings and vaccines while hammering on power plants. People get as much exposure to mercury in these two items compared to power plants.
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