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Topic Title: What energy crisis?
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Created On: 26 January 2013 10:25 PM
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Related E&T article: How to... solve the energy crisis
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 26 January 2013 10:25 PM
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NicholasTaylor

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Joined: 25 November 2009

A crisis is defined as a crucial stage or turning point. I don't think we are there yet. Business as usual, steady growth in population GNP and consumption, and opening up new sources of fossil fuels like fracked gas and deep undersea oil, doesn't seem to me to be turning anything. If there is a crisis now, it may be one we don't know is happening, after which it may be too late to turn, but seeing the present clearly is almost as difficult as predicting the future.
 11 February 2013 03:40 PM
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JR21

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Joined: 11 February 2013

Any interesting thought. My view is due to projects stalling and finance issues it's probably more likely that we can't get the energy extracted and processed quick enough due to projects being delayed and possibly a few years behind schedule due to the after shock of the recession.

Although even in some countries there hasn't really been a recession so in those cases maybe its linked more to availability of resources of manpower & raw materials.

Would be interested in other peoples thoughts.

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 11 February 2013 03:54 PM
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Ipayyoursalary

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Hi Nicholas. There was a guy called Thomas Malthus who was making similar predictions of doom and gloom in the 1790's. Every one of his predictions has been proved wrong thanks to man's ingenuity and the ability of the free market to foster and refine new technologies. So cheer up. Better to be a rational optimist than an irrational pessimist.
 22 February 2013 08:46 PM
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ReSusTech

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Joined: 21 February 2013

The renowned engineer Buckminster Fuller once said

There is no energy crisis, just a crisis of ignorance


I tend to agree with him, especially after the reply I had today (22Feb13) from one of our ministers regarding some questions and comments I put to him on a new combined power generation and carbon capture technology. He, and his advisors, had apparently not herd of the technology in question even though it has received about £1M in funding from the EU via UKERC for UK(scotish) university research!

To précis his reply, "DCFC (a technology with 80% carbon to electricity conversion efficiency and CO2 capture built in), I note the Chinese are taking it seriously (5 Uni's working on it) but here in the UK no one is bothering with it. Any way, our version of CCS is brilliant; it's going to save a lot of our coal & fossil power stations so we're chucking billions at it with lots of projects".

Edited: 23 February 2013 at 08:42 AM by ReSusTech
 23 February 2013 01:00 PM
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jarathoon

Posts: 1040
Joined: 05 September 2004

ReSusTech,

Regarding Direct Carbon Fuel Cell (DCFC) Systems I notice that some research on this was funded by EPSRC on this in 2008/2009 (the money [£142,473] went to a chemical research group led by Professor John Irvine, University of St Andrews)

http://gow.epsrc.ac.uk/NGBOVie...GrantRef=EP/F062435/1

http://chemistry.st-andrews.ac...Members/jtsi/jtsi.htm

I don't know what the results of this research work were, however your statement that no one is bothering with it is a slight exaggeration.

Although I do accept that if you take the £1 billion that was on offer to CSS researchers and put it a long side the money that Professor Irvine's group got

1000,000,000
142,473

The figure is zero by comparion allowing for a 0.015% margin of error.

James Arathoon


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James Arathoon
 23 February 2013 05:23 PM
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ReSusTech

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Joined: 21 February 2013

James,

Your quite right regarding Prof John Irvine, in fact I keep in touch with him and his progress. He is of the same opinion as me that, the only really viable route for CCS currently is by using DCFC.

Where I wrote "no one is bothering with it" I was paraphrasing the contents letter I received from the Government Department for Energy & Climate Change, no one there thinks were bothering, I know John is and so am I, albeit I'm currently un-funded.

Prof. Irvine has also recently received €2.03M for 2012-2013, €1.22M of from the EU, which was the figure I was actually using for comparison.

Development of commercial DCFC if applied in the right way could also have massive benefits for renewables too. It could underpin many renewable technologies that suffer with medium to long term intermittency and variability, e.g. wind, wave and solar, this is my particular interest.

Nick Cook
 23 February 2013 09:14 PM
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jarathoon

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Nick,

With Direct Carbon Fuel Cells (DCFC) even if they can be made to work reliably, don't you just end up with a logistics and maintenance nightmare; as there will be lots of cells in series to generate significant power outputs. (I've seen figures quoted of between 0.5 and 1 volt per cell with current densities of around 50mA/cm2.)

The DC output then needs to be converted to AC, which will lower the system efficiency a little, and add to overall system costs.

I suppose if you could replenish the carbon electrodes with an automatic electrode charging and maintenance cycle that acts on all cells in a series chain simultaneously (are carbon slurry feeds possible?), without disturbing the CO2 outflow piping, the logistics problem is tamed and downtime minimised.

James Arathoon


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James Arathoon
 23 February 2013 09:56 PM
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ReSusTech

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Joined: 21 February 2013

James

The problem of lowish cell voltages is common to all fuel cell technologies whether hydrogen or carbon based; it's just a matter of series connection, the o/c voltage for a HFC is 1.23V, operating is about 1V. In fact there are commercial direct methane high temperature cells that use molten carbonate membranes, similar to some DCFC configurations, that are commercially available in multi MW sizes which must have a considerable number of stacked cells.

However; having a solid, rather than a gas or liquid, as a fuel does pose some challenges for the cell design and operation but there are benefits too. DCFCs do have some significant advantages over HFCs, in particular, H2 poses substantial storage and transport challenges and by comparison C is easy and cheap. Also the efficiency of DCFCs is about 20% higher than HFS, about 80% vs 60% practical, 100% vs 83% theoretical.

Nick Cook
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