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Old King Coal has a Texan hole?

By JW Dowey - 18 Jul 2014 16:50:0 GMT
Old King Coal has a Texan hole?

Tell the Australians and the Chinese. Unless we keep the coal seams, the gas and the oil underground, our weather systems are going to be much more changeable. Australians, Asians, Americans and Europeans all have the rapidly-advancing technologies to replace coal, at least. Let’s do it ; coal seam image; Credit: © Shutterstock

It’s crazy but it seems to work in theory. With the news this week that the UK is to be funded by the European Union for carbon capture projects, it’s time we considered the whole shebang from an engineering point of view, but with simple maths too.

The Petra Nova Carbon Capture plant to be built using technology from Mitsubishi and Kansai Industry also involves NRG Energy and JX Nippon. As its name means “New Rock” plant, we could hope it would be tejas or “friendly” to the Texas rocks, but we doubt it. Here is the rocky situation for the coal fired power stations, situated 27 miles SW of Houston.

Due for delivery in 2016, with work already started, 90% of the coal burned in the power station will be absorbed by amines. Steaming out the gas from the amines will involve another process, keeping about 1.4 million tons of carbon dioxide pa. pafor “sequestration.” Absorption and particularly extraction will require the use of a gas turbine that naturally emits more carbon dioxide, to the tune of 785,000 tons. No mention of what the plant intends to do with that. Perhaps they intend to give local trees and flowers extra gas as “photosynthesis food.”

Now to the sequestration of the extracted gas: it will be injected into the rocks below an inefficient oil well to encourage the oil to be pressured upward. Let me get this right. So far we have used coal gas and now oil. It looks suspiciously fossilised business to me. Certainly the oil will be burnt to release yet more carbon, while the freed gas will have to be trained to “stay.” If it were to escape from the oil well, Texaco forbid, we would have even more carbon dioxide. This time, it would be the very same gas that we have spent good Texas money on disposing of.

Somebody somewhere is making money here, but could someone else do the math. On a muddle-headed basis, I make this about:

1.4 million tons (from coal),

minus 785,000 tons (from gas),

minus the CO2(from oil),

minus the sequestered gas, free to leave the oil well, which MIGHT be small.

The sum is 615,000 tons, which would simply be given out when the oil is burned up, probably within a year and could even escape, especially if the ground subsides or the oil well is actually deserted, as seems possible.

We hate to say it, but this seems like jobs for the boys, companies who enjoy gobbling up coal, gas and oil, leaving the rest of us to wonder why the planet is warming. There is a troublesome drought in Texas, but this we predict will be accompanied by a severe brainstorm and the loss of groundwater, clean air and any hope of stopping the next business - fracking !

And the world (and the UK) sits and waits and wonders why carbon sequestration is not taking off. More Energy details at the World’s Largest Post-Combustion Carbon Capture Project Begins Construction.