Energy is the blood of modern life
Energy. Food. Water. Shelter. The big four. Even if you live in cave with running water and a greenhouse full of plants, you will need fire to cook with, to heat with, to sterilize water, boil medicinal plants for healing, for tool making. In other words, even in its most primitive form, energy is essential and critical for human life. And while energy is life-sustaining on this planet, the wrong application of that energy can also be life-threatening.
The finger-of-blame has been pointed. Fossil-based resources being used for energy, heat, fuels and manufacturing are the culprits and must be eliminated at all costs. Somehow the blame-finger overlooks that these elements have been on earth for millions of years - they are part of the natural environment in fact. The human element, however, is the one out of sync with the natural rhythms of this planet. It's not the "what" so much as it is the "how." This human-use factor is what is causing the problems - how we use extract, transport, store, and use these natural resources. The good news is this is something we can absolutely change.
To be blunt, our endless and increasing hunger for energy cannot be satiated. Our power needs will always be one of massive consumption as the world population grows exponentially. If we examine this population growth over the last two centuries and compare that increasing curve to the amount of energy consumed - we see a direct correlation between growth and consumption of fossil-based fuels. The Oil and Gas and Power companies did not just decided to start consuming more fossil fuels for kicks. This is a demand and supply issue.
Humans are consuming thousands of terawatt hours of power and hundreds of billions of gallons of fossil fuels to travel by plane, train, or automobile. The need for power, AC and heat in our homes, and the insatiable need for everything right now via Amazon shipments sent our GHG and CO2 emissions skyward around the world. The power industry responded to growth pressures predictably.
Can we and should we do a better job of extracting, transporting and utilizing these resources? Absolutely!
Can we shift 100% of our power production needs to intermittent and unreliable solar and wind and still enjoy the growth we're experiencing? No we cannot.
As we have pointed out numerous times on this site, we question the logic of putting all our energy-production eggs into the hands of an increasingly unreliable and erratic, changing weather in order to "fix" the erratic, and changing weather.
For 200 years the formula for power has been quite simple: Coal for example sits in the ground - we dig it up - pulverize it, and haul it to the power plant where it is injected into a massive seven-story high furnace. That powder form of coal instantly ignites to heat the thousands of thick-walled water tubes coursing with water inside its inner diameter. This high heat turns millions of gallons of water into high temperature super-steam that is then injected into the steam turbine causing it to rotate. The 100 foot long multi-stage turbine is connected to a massive generator that creates the electricity that is sent into the high voltage transmission lines arriving miles away - finally tuned down by a substation to 110 volts that is sent to homes, schools, commercial and public buildings, factories, warehouses, airports and cities. During this coal pathway from ground to power lines that keeps our lights on - the burning of coal powder creates toxic emissions - carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxides (NOx), sulphur oxides (SOX), dust and mercury (Hg) and large amounts of particulate matter. These emissions were, for the most part, simply ignored.
In 1970 the "Clean Air Act" was passed and gave the newly formed EPA the authority to regulate emissions being generated from all forms of transportation. On December 16, 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the first national standards to reduce mercury and other toxic air pollution from coal and oil-fired power plants. More than 20 years after the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, some power plants still do not control emissions of toxic pollutants, even though pollution control technology is widely available.
On July 17, 2020 the EPA finalized minor revisions to the 2012 Coal- and Oil-Fired Electric Utility Steam Generating Units National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants, known as the Mercury Air Toxics Standards (MATS) establishing new higher standards and regulations governing power plant emissions. Many power plants across the US and around the world have installed several stages of emissions capturing and control systems that greatly reduce emissions that would normally have been sent spewing into the atmosphere.
For the past 25 years, the world has shifted toward the guidance outlined Renewable Energy Resources as the solution to the increasing carbon base and toxic emissions pouring into our atmosphere from power plants, transportation sector(s), factories and manufacturing. But this transition also comes at a steep price both economically and environmentally. The land mass required to construct Renewable Energy generation is astronomical compared to conventional power plants of modern day. A typical 1 GW power plant will consume 1 - 1.5 square miles. A combination of wind and solar in power generation equivalency - without backup establishing any backup - will require 80 times that land mass - 80 square miles. This massive land consumption is an absolute disruption of our environment and the natural order of nature. Where the world gains in one resource - it loses in another.
Re-tooling coal-fired power plants into a pro-environmental manufacturing centers?
The thermal energy content of coal is 6,150 kWh/ton. Although coal-fired power generators are very efficient, they are still limited by the laws of thermodynamics. Only about 40 percent of the thermal energy in coal is converted to electricity. So the electricity generated per ton of coal is 0.4 x 6,150 kWh or 2,460 kWh/ton. That 2,460 kWhs of electricity is what pulses through high voltage frequencies activating the electrons down the copper transmission lines right into your wall sockets and charging stations for charging batteries of BEVs.
The down side of conventional power for your homes, buildings, industries and EVs is the emissions generated to keep up with our thirst for electricity, heat, power, fuel - now charging vehicles - and conveniences. BUT - if that same amount of coal burned to produce electrons to power our modern-life or that same BTU of natural gas was able to be used to fire gas turbine power plants without the emissions due to new technology that captures 100% of all emissions, then the actual fossil based feed stock is no longer a contributor to the CO2 levels in the atmosphere. All the power assets stay in place, we don't over-consume our landscapes with thousands of miles of wind and solar farms, and we can enjoy the reliable and constant power to meet our growing energy demands. Imagine a power plant with no smoke stacks except for a steam release stack. Possible? Yes.
And there's much, much more on the horizon. The power plants of the immediate future will not just supply electrons, but will encompass a wider role as we reconfigure what is possible. Now imagine power plants that can grow 100% organic vegetables year round. These once-maligned plants can also manufacture fire-proof building materials along with producing the new environmentally healthy Hy-fuels we drive our autos, planes, trains, and ships with. Energy independence can easily co-exist with our environment while being aligned to our national security interests, and while giving a much-needed boost to our economy AND clean up emissions. Can we really do all that? Yes. All this and much more is possible if we quite limiting our thinking and embrace a much larger power archetype.
The climate is changing
That third hurricane that just tore through your hometown doesn't care what you believe in. Nature does not recognize geopolitical boundaries. It can't see skin color. There is no vocabulary designating rich from poor inside a bomb-cyclone. The tornado doesn't care who you just voted for. The weather is not fair. It is not compassionate, or evil, or bad, or good. These are human attributes we assign to an exceedingly complex and vast subject matter that encompass the entire planet and extends far out into space to include cosmic interactions with the sun, cosmic energy, and the occasional interloper. No need to tell the dinosaurs that the cosmos plays an important part of what happens here on the surface.
To understand this dynamic, global-wide phenomenon, we have built armies of satellites, weather balloons, radar, buoys, specialized aircraft and sophisticated research ships and vehicles crisscrossing the globe collecting raw data. We have built massive data collection centers, created and staffed entire agencies employing thousands to analyze the data. We use the fastest super computers on the planet to crunch the data and make predictions about the weather.
Everyone is a consumer of weather. From city planners to farmers, and couples planning a picnic, from the bowels of government-run emergency management agencies, to military commanders strategizing combat operations -we all depend on knowing what kind of weather the future will bring. Our personal fortunes and national security interests are intertwined with weather. We do this, not to score political points, but because our very lives depend on understanding the now, so we can predict and survive the future.
Despite this glaring "language barrier" between human civilization and the earth's enormously powerful weather system, we CAN understand it through the language of non-politicized science. These science-based predictions change over time. Critics might point out these changes in thinking are evidence that science is wrong. In reality, this is what science is supposed to do. Change. Become more accurate over time. Theories are tested, results analyzed, new theories are put forward, tested, and the entire process repeated -- all in an effort to understand what we do not know.
Science gives us the ability to understand, and in our understanding, we gain the opportunity to avoid future "unpleasant" outcomes. IF we pay attention.
Element One Technologies is paying attention.
As leaders in the field of hydrogen production, clean energy technology development, hybrid HyFuels, and hydrogen power plant design and construction, we are building today with our eyes firmly on the future. And our vision of the future is a bright one. Over 35 countries have pledged to be carbon-neutral by 2025. Billions of dollars of investments are cuing up to bring this vision into a reality. And we will be there, at the forefront, bringing our expertise in creating this exciting new hydrogen-based reality.
With our focus on the present and visions of the future coupled with our scientific approach, engineering abilities, mechanical know how, visual creativity, and access to our expansive R&D lab equipment located at the San Rafael Energy Research Center in Utah, we are able to prove out concept to working model. We can quickly produce batches of biofuels from different feed stocks that are environmentally friendly solutions for ICEs applications. We can test these fuels on our numerous engine configurations, rework them - if needed - for final efficiencies, flow-through, and emissions output per engine application(s) for the entire line up of different HyFuels (Hydrogen, Hythanol® and HythanolPLUS). On the mechanical and technical side, we are able to configure modern day technology to operate on our Hy-Fuels and run operational tests of these modifications to prove out the flexibility of gaseous hydrogen and hydrogen based liquid fuels to prove the scalability of usage from the ground up to utility scale operations.
It's not everyday you get to change the world - unless you work for Element One Technologies. Then, it's just what we do...