Monday Message Board

Back again with another Monday Message Board.

Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please. If you would like to receive my (hopefully) regular email news, please sign up using the following link


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39 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. Is there any political strategy that will stop the harassment and violence against women? It’s wonderful to see the demonstrations across Australia today – but I’m not sure how change will happen.

  2. Reports are varied but some are suggesting a lack of appetite among private investors for risky ventures in Australia over the medium to long term. There are opportunities out there in many industries. If venture capitalists are not tapped by Australian entrepreneurs then they will take their risk capital overseas. This would be detrimental to Australia’s economic development. Long term projects are needed to keep the best and brightest Aussie minds engaged here in their own country. International borders will open up soon and another brain drain out of this country would be devastating to the viability of future infrastructure projects. If we have our best workers, with a high levels of human capital, back from overseas, yes I know that is a big IF; then we should try and keep them here by involving them in joint ventures and long run infrastructure projects. This may involve some government incentives, but the near zero interests rates on official money markets gives such large scale projects a unique window of opportunity. Now the trick is to find just the right infrastructure project for development of Australia’s capital base.

  3. The hydrogen bubble

    Useful debunk by Mike Bernard at CleanTechnica (https://cleantechnica.com/2021/03/13/hydrogen-folly-grows-55-used-in-oil-refineries-demand-will-drop-not-rise/). From the IEA (https://www.iea.org/reports/the-future-of-hydrogen#), current demand is 74 mt a year, essentially for ammonia fertiliser (31 mt) and oil refining (38 mt). Numbers eyeballed from the chart, tables are paywalled. Barnard reasonably asks: since oil refining is heading for zero by 2050, where is the new hydrogen demand going to come from?

    I had a look myself at steelmaking, or rather ironmaking as the final stage is in electric arc furnaces with negligible direct emissions, Hydrogen DRI works (Hybrit pilot in Sweden) and the big steel companies are piling in, so let’s assume full conversion. Current pig iron production is 1,25 billion tonnes a year (Statista), heading slowly down as more cheap scrap becomes available. This paper (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959652618326301) gives 51 kg hydrogen per tonne of DRI steel, so a green steel industry will need 11 mt hydrogen a year.

    What about shipping? A quick and dirty calculation is that shipping is responsible for 2.5% of he world’s carbon emissions against steel’s 5%. On the other hand, propulsion is going to be less efficient than heating. So to a first approximation, full conversion of shipping to hydrogen or ammonia would add another 10 mt a year or so to global hydrogen demand. We still haven’t replaced the lost demand in oil, or anything like.

    Ms Rosy Scenario can only envisage a net increase in hydrogen by resorting to very risky bets. One is hydrogen in land transport. This duck already looked dead, and every year that passes reinforces its flourishing rival, battery propulsion. Hydrogen requires two lossy additional conversion steps, an expensive and hazardous new distribution network, and a reversal of the Betamax problem (network effects impose a standard regardless of merit). It’s just not happening. Hydrogen or ammonia for long-term storage is a better option, but not by much. You would need (a) a policy of overbuild of wind and solar to create lots of dirt cheap offpeak power (b) really cheap electrolysers (c) convenient underground salt caverns. Also note that this is long-term storage, rarely called on, so the annual volume won’t be great; and hydrogen faces a perfectly workable and tested rival in pumped hydro storage.

    To sum up: a switch from black to green hydrogen is useful and a necessary if minor part of the transition. There won’t be a boom.

  4. Oops. major arithmetic fail (I think). At 51 kg hydrogen per tonne of steel, that’s 1: 20. So 1.25 bn tonnes of DRI pig iron needs 64 mt of hydrogen. That’s much more than current oil refining demand, so yes, a possible hydrogen boom. But 50kg/tonne may be wrong, as may 1.25 bn tonnes from dematerialisation and scrap. In any case, these numbers need serious professional estimates, don’t take my word for it.

  5. James, about 2.5 billion tonnes of iron ore is dug up per year. That’s about 1.7 billion tonnes of iron, About 56 kg of hydrogen are required to get a reduced tonne of iron, so that’s around 93 million tonnes of hydrogen to reduce it all.

    Of course, world iron production is likely to go into decline as countries become developed and construction slows.

  6. “51 kg hydrogen per tonne” (of iron) – I am very surprised it is not a LOT more than that.

    It IS quoted correctly – I had to check (and still wonder if that could be a mistake, like maybe a zero left off).

    That ton of iron would take a ton of coke, ie about 1.5 tons of coal, which would produce nearly 4 tons of CO2 (from the use of coke) and leave the coal gas (from making the coke) to still burn and add yet more emissions. That would appear to make even dirty brown coal Hydrogen, of the sort spruiked by the Minister for Emissions, a cleaner way to make iron than coke made from coal – which I find hard to believe.

    Anyone able to offer clarity – ie offer serious professional estimates?

  7. 1. I never realised oil refining was a major use for hydrogen.

    2. I was as sceptical as commenters above on the low hydrogen requirement. One relevant point is that hydrogen has very high energy density 120-140MJ/kg compared to 24MJ/Kg for coal. That doesn’t explain all the difference, but it gets part of the way there.

  8. Wikipedia tells me:

    “As of 2020, the majority of hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels by steam reforming of natural gas, partial oxidation of methane, and coal gasification.”

    It’s still part of the jolly big merry-go-round of the fossil fuel industry. Green methods of hydrogen production seem minor so far: biomass gasification and electrolysis of water. Unless the hydrogen used for making (reducing) steel is of a green method of production then there will be no reduction in CO2 emissions from that cause. There may even be an increase.

    The fossil fuel industry is the gordian knot that ties our whole industrial system together in energy terms, in chemical process terms and in ptro-chemical product terms meaning plastics, paints, industrial etc. etc. I am not sure we can untie this knot. It is not just an energy issue.

    Simply worrying about EROEI might be to still underestimate the real problem many times. On the other hand, quitting the fossil fuel fuels-and-chemicals stream might increase the benefits many times. De-sulferizing sour oil leaves huge sulfur stores that are an unsaleable, unusable problem. Consider the sulfur pyramids of Alberta:

    https://boingboing.net/2016/07/05/the-great-sulphur-pyramids-of.html

  9. Very little hydrogen, by mass, is required to reduce iron because, you see, a hydrogen atom is what we doctors call ‘very, very small’. So small, it could not possibly have made off with the whole leg.

    Sorry, Monty Python flashback. Anyway, an iron atom is 55 times more massive than a hydrogen atom. It takes an average of 3 atoms of hydrogen to strip the oxygen away from one atom of iron. (Example: iron oxide Fe2O3 + 6H becomes 2Fe and 3H2O.) So three grams of hydrogen will leave behind 55 grams of iron.

    The process heat, required to make sure the process doesn’t take forever, may have to come from somewhere else. But you’d have to ask someone else about that.

  10. The DRI chemical reaction goes, in several steps we can ignore, see Wikipedia:
    3.Fe2.O3 + 9.H2 –> 6.Fe + 9.H2.O
    Substituting atomic weights, this is:
    (3.2.56) + (16.9) + (9.2) –> 6.56 + 9.(2.1)+ 9.16
    or 336 + 144 + 18 –> 336 + 162
    The weight ratio in the reduction is 336 kg of iron to 18 kg of hydrogen, or 18.7:1, or 53.5 kg of hydrogen per tonne of iron. That looks like the lower limit imposed by chemistry. Feel free to check.

    Ronald: there is no contradiction between your 1.7 bn tonnes of iron ore and my 1.25 bn tonnes of iron. The difference is the 30% oxygen in the ore.

  11. One possible use for all that sulphur could be in lead carbon batteries…

    🙂

  12. You were. I was probably oversensitive after discovering my howler
    JQ: I suspect the surprising volume of hydrogen used in oil refining may be partly due to the mismatch between supply and demand for lighter and heavier fractions. What people want is kerosene and gasoline, not diesel or heating oil, while the supply of nice light crude is limited. So refiners resort to adding hydrogen chains artificially. This costs money and energy, so the fall in hydrogen demand may be even faster than that for oil overall. Refiners will always prefer the sweet crude oil that’s left.
    Iko: outside India, DRI is not attractive to steelmakers at current prices. They will switch to hydrogen DRI, writing off their coke blast furnaces, iff: it’s cheaper, with or without a carbon price; or they are forced by regulation. All the pathways assume green hydrogen.

  13. Boconnor: should we feel bad that no other commenter here picked up your opener on gender violence? I think not. We can’t have informed opinions on everything, let alone contribute to a useful discussion. You could try another blog, like CT, and look for an OP by an expert on crime statistics. Is violence against women going up, or simply being better reported?

  14. So what is left out there that can’t be done properly (quite possibly cheaper than we do it now with petrol or coal soon) using electricity and batteries?

    Most shipping, mid to long distance planes, steel, cement?, the fertilizers (of which i’ve just learned that they use lots of hydrogen). What else?

  15. hix,
    Add to your list:
    Petrochemicals – plastics, soaps and detergents, solvents, drugs, fertilizers [you already mentioned this one], pesticides, explosives, synthetic fibres and rubbers, paints, epoxy resins, and flooring and insulating materials.

    Tars, bitumen in asphalt

  16. If you include fuel consumed by ships — fossil fuels are apparently over half of seaborne tonnage. So getting of coal, most oil use, and the majority of natural gas use, will massively reduce emissions from shipping.

  17. The intractable problem with (ordinary Portland) cement is that turning limestone into OPC emits CO2. So even if you could fire the calcining process with electricity, you are still left with 50% of the emissions. Either you need to store the CO2 somewhere (in the ground or maybe other building materials) or change the chemistry of the cement significantly.

    Also, probably more use focusing on the big stuff, rather than a giant laundry list of tiny stuff.

    https://ourworldindata.org/emissions-by-sector

  18. JQ: Suggestion for a post on the abuse of the “precautionary principle” by gutless European politicians over the AZ vaccine. Read as “when in doubt, do nothing”, it’s obvious nonsense.

    My commonsense take: it’s all about “compared to what”: Take a traditional case, approval of a new pesticide. The status quo is loss of a proportion of a crop to a pest, a known and hitherto tolerated economic cost. The pesticide has uncertain risks to human health and biodiversity. Caution makes sense. Now change the assumptions: the bug is a mutation and threatens catastrophic losses to a staple crop, say potatoes in 1840s Ireland or rice in Asia today. The calculus changes drastically. If nothing is done, millions will die. Of course regulators should accept much higher risks: novel pesticides, GM seeds. trade bans, try anything.

    It seems to me that the covid pandemic is much more like the second scenario than the first. It has already led to 2.7m deaths worldwide, a massive failure of public policy. Stronger action should have been taken, and more risks accepted, both medical and economic.

  19. The inaction of Macron on covid vaccination remind me of an anecdote from the French defeat in 1940. German front-line radio communications were usually en clair. So it went like this,
    – Rommel by radio to lead tank and Panzergenadier units: bypass the village, seize the bridge at such-and-such.
    – French army frontline signals unit captures signal.
    – Signal is translated, enciphered, and sent to HQ,
    – HQ deciphers signal, passes to staff.
    – Staff ponders signal, decides to abandon village and reinforce defence of bridge,
    – New orders drafted, enciphered, and sent to front-line commander
    – Front-line signals unit deciphers order, passes it to commander.
    – Commander orders units to bridge,
    Meanwhile, the Panzergenadiers have captured the bridge and Rommel’s lead tanks ave moved on.

  20. “Also, probably more use focusing on the big stuff, rather than a giant laundry list of tiny stuff.” – Ben McMillan.

    I’m going to have a bob each way on this by using the cricket score card analogy. Sometimes, it is clear that a couple of big scores are key to a big team total. Other times, despite even one of two big scores it is clear that the rest plus sundries add up to a big part of the total score in their own right. For sure, tackle the big ticket items like transport but also go down the laundry lists and find and deal with all the small causes of emissions. Indeed, we will find that big ticket items are only big by aggregation into a category. Break them down and they are a laundry list too.

  21. Ben: I thought the point with calcium cement is that it re-absorbs almost all of the chemical-reaction-CO2 when it turns back into concrete. Not immediately, but after a year it’s basically done. So if we can carbon-neutral the heating process then cement manufacture becomes a temporary emitter.

    This article suggests that “green” MgO cement might actually emit more net CO2:
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/303534345_Is_magnesia_cement_low_carbonLife_cycle_carbon_footprint_comparing_with_Portland_cement

    (sorry for focussing on the fine print)

  22. I am not happy about having to take (sooner or later) a vaccine rushed in development because of the “massive failure of public policy” [1] in the first place. I would have preferred the early full lock-down to eradication globally. That is what J.Q. argued for. That is what I and several other commenters on this blog argued for. That is what every sensible epidemiologist and every sensible economist on the planet argued for. Instead, we now have this ongoing disastrous global cluster****.

    However, although I am not happy, I do recognize that all the evidence to date is that taking the AstraZeneca or other approved vaccines is still much, much safer than catching COVID-19. The key phrase is “evidence to date”. We have to keep watching that space. I don’t expect this fact to change but we cannot absolutely assume it will not change. And when known facts change, one does have to change one’s mind.

    I still fear we will face annual shots indefinitely as COVID-19 mutates and becomes a permanent scourge of humanity more serious than pandemic flu. I much doubt that the globe can keep up annual shots to 8 billion people indefinitely. More likely, we will see continuous failure to manage the disease over the long term except in some advanced or well organized countries and regions. The EU clearly does not meet that second criterion (well organized) and is going backwards at a rate of knots. The US after complete incompetence in prevention now appears repetitively competent at manufacturing and applying vaccines to the population. I am very surprised by that. The USA is a riddle wrapped in an enigma etc. etc. Australia, after competence at suppression, lock-downs and testing / tracing is now showing incompetence at getting the vaccine out. I am not surprised by this. I was surprised that we avoided big outbreaks in the first place. Lock-downs, testing and tracing appear to be our areas of competence thus far except for hotel quarantine outbreaks. Plus, we had lots of plain, dumb luck.

    I find it strange that we are now shutting down flights from and to P.N.G. Huh? How come we had flights at all? I was not aware that we had a (de facto?) travel bubble with P.N.G. when we were arguing about whether to have a travel bubble with much safer N.Z. Methinks the public is not being told the whole truth. I do understand why people have lost faith in corporate controlled government. They need to stop blaming the middle man and simply lose faith in corporations.

    1. James Wimberley – March 17, 2021 at 11:49 pm.

  23. Moz, the amount of CO2 absorbed by cement during curing is reduced by adding fly ash from coal power stations. Reducing the amount of fly ash used should be a relatively easy way to reduce net emissions and only requires a fairly low carbon price.

    So step one should be the reduction of fly ash use, step two should be capture and sequestration of CO2 released from cement manufacture.

    (Note: Chemistry of cement is weird, so take everything I say with a grain of carbonate.)

  24. Ben McMillan: – “…probably more use focusing on the big stuff, rather than a giant laundry list of tiny stuff.”

    I think humanity needs to focus on deploying the **easier** technologies to enable human-induced GHG emissions to be dramatically lowered as fast as possible, while also working on the more difficult problems to find solutions. We/humanity cannot now afford to ignore any sectors.

    The latest Scripps Mauna Loa Observatory CO2 daily average reading was 416.84 ppm (on Mar 16).
    On 5 Feb 2021, the daily average reading spiked to 419.45 ppm.
    Atmospheric carbon dioxide measured at Mauna Loa Observatory reached a seasonal peak of 417.1 ppm for 2020 in May, the highest monthly reading ever recorded in modern human history.
    I’d suggest there’s a reasonable probability that CO2 readings at Mauna Loa will briefly breach the 420 ppm level this year.
    https://keelingcurve.ucsd.edu/

    The CO2 + non-CO2 GHG CO2e level in 2020 breached 500 ppm.
    https://www.co2.earth/annual-ghg-index-aggi

    Unless humanity gets ALL its GHG emissions to net-zero in ALL sectors in a timely manner then there’s a good chance of a cascade of ‘tipping points’ occurring that pushes the Earth’s climate system to a ‘point of no return’ where further warming become self-sustaining.

    Tipping points that have already tipped:
    * Coral reefs – e.g. GBR
    * Arctic sea ice
    * West Antarctic Ice Sheet

    There’s growing evidence that a large change may have been initiated in:
    * Wilkes Basin East Antarctic Ice Sheet
    * Greenland Ice Sheet
    * Atlantic Ocean Circulation
    * Amazon Rainforest

    Changes occurring in:
    * Permafrost
    * Boreal forests
    http://www.climatecodered.org/2021/02/matters-of-fact-that-we-ignore-at-our.html

    The warmer the oceans become, the less capacity to absorb more CO2.

  25. Never enough, 2 much Hydrogen. 
    Preface to next comment.
    1. Letter by Professor Scott Donne
    2. Star Scientific submission. 
    Apologies for flowery words and no eroi! May be a year or three early to post this. I’d have to start searching patents to get detail. See next comment.

    Yet “Congratulations to the 1st World Hydrogen Awards Winners!

    “The Hydrogen Industrial Application award went to Star Scientific for their Hydrogen Energy Release Optimiser HERO® technology which can be used in power generation, heating, off-grid, industrial heat and desalination.”.
    ****

    1. “Re: Star Scientific Limited – Catalytic oxidation of hydrogen

    “To whom it may concern,
    The purpose of this letter is to verify the scalability of Star Scientific’s materials and system for the catalytic oxidation of hydrogen to produce heat and water.

    “As a recap, energy production is of key concern to future society. One of the key fuels for the future is hydrogen because of its ability to produce energy cleanly, with only water as the final product.

    “Hydrogen can be used a fuel conventionally via either combustion, to produce thermal energy, or via a fuel cell, to produce electrical energy. Of relevance here is its ability to produce thermal energy.

    “The conventional approach to producing energy from hydrogen is its combustion with oxygen to produce heat and water; i.e.,
    2H2(g) + O2(g)  2H2O(g) H = -242 kJ/mol of H2O produced (25C)

    “Combustion processes like this to produce thermal energy are typically inefficient because of the need for a number of energy transformation steps, each of which leads to losses, as well as hazardous due to the use of explosive gases like hydrogen.

    “An alternative is the catalytic oxidation of hydrogen, using the exact reaction described above, although with a catalytic surface used to carry out the hydrogen oxidation process rather than a spark to initiate combustion. Just to reiterate, a catalytic surface is used to generate water and energy from a mixture of gaseous hydrogen and oxygen. No combustion is involved.”..

    “1. Star Scientific have developed a catalyst that facilitates the rapid oxidation of hydrogen.
    2. The catalytic process has the capability to release the heat associated with the oxidation of hydrogen in the complete absence of combustion.
    3. The absence of combustion renders this process much safer than conventional combustion processes.
    4. The heat output from the catalytic oxidation of hydrogen can be controlled by adjusting the relative flow rates of hydrogen and oxygen entering the reaction chamber. Furthermore, the heat output can be controlled by adjusting the total pressure in the reaction chamber.
    5. As has been demonstrated with the latest experiment, the process is scalable meaning that similar outcomes were observed on a 7 cm diameter and a 40 cm diameter catalyst coated substrate. Consequently, the total heat output will scale based on the available catalyst area.

    6. This catalytic process is much more efficient than combustion at generating and utilizing the heat”

    From:
    Professor Scott Donne
    Head, Discipline of Chemistry
    newcastle.edu.au
    11 March 2019
    Email shared to me via Star Scientific. Yes I rang them.
    ****

    2. Star Scientific submission:
    “Development of a Hydrogen Industry in New South Wales

    “Submission to the Legislative Council Standing Committee on State Development

    ““Taking Energy Off the Table” By Star Scientific Ltd February 2021

    “Please note: Where this submission refers to hydrogen, it is green hydrogen – sourced from sustainable energy, unless specifically referred to as blue or brown hydrogen.

    “HERO® is unique, it has been patented globally and has no competitor.”…

    “When hydrogen and oxygen are introduced to the HERO® catalyst, it can generate temperatures of up to 800 degrees Celsius, without combustion.

    “The catalyst is not used up in the catalytic process and once the feed gases are removed it quickly reverts to its inert state with zero combustion.

    “Contemporary thinking limits the application of hydrogen for industrial purposes to combustion, blending with other gases and combusted, via fuel cell technology or as a feedstock in the form of ammonia. All have their limitations for large-scale, continuous, scalable application.

    “HERO® is the missing link in the hydrogen supply chain, turning hydrogen into continuous industrial heat without combustion.”…

    “Commercial Pathways
    “In Australia, Star Scientific has conducted a study, through our consultant Arup, with one of Australia’s major energy utilities on retrofitting one of its key coal-fired power stations to hydrogen via HERO®.
    “The results demonstrate that the application of HERO® provides the power station with a new lease on life in a post-fossil fuel environment, and that the retirement of coal-injection infrastructure, pollution control infrastructure and reclamation of parasitic energy provides significant capital savings to the owners of the facility.
    “The retrofitting of existing fossil-fuelled infrastructure to green hydrogen is therefore a key commercial pathway. Cambridge Econometrics has valued the worth of potentially stranded fossil-fuel assets as up to US $4 trillion globally.
    Having said that, HERO® is not restricted to large scale power generation. Any industrial process that requires heat can use a HERO® system. Star Scientific sees a particular application to desalination processes and large industrial applications.
    “The beauty of HERO® is its scalability. When mated with technology such as the new generation of super-critical sCO2 turbines, HERO® can be utilised for small-scale, off-the-grid power generation purposes, particularly in regional and remote locations. It can also be scaled up to develop stand-alone smart grids of up to 400MW, taking large industrial users off the main grid. For example, this will ameliorate the strain placed on the main grid from the rise of 5G wireless networks and the Internet of Things (IOT), which will use over three times the energy of the current 4G network. Data centres and other IOT infrastructure can be taken off the grid.”… [don’t tell bitcoin miners!]

    “The first centres around the debates on climate change or sustainable energy, and much of the government policy thinking – including in New South Wales – that is based on a false premise of an either/or approach, or rather a zero-sum game in relation to sustainable energy infrastructure versus fossil fuel powered systems.
    The orthodox thinking is that the former must replace the latter and the policy challenge we need to confront is to have in place base-load energy from sustainable energy sources before the power stations close.
    It is our contention that power stations need not close.

    “If the answer to reliable, sustainable baseload power is spinning mass via turbines (and it is), then the question needs to be asked; why do we need to dispose of those assets including the transmission systems to which they are attached and render them “stranded”? If the issue is the fuel source, then why not simply change the fuel and keep the turbines spinning?

    “Hydrogen, and HERO® provide us with that alternate fuel source – and it is inexhaustible, continuous, and does not produce emissions. Now is the time to explore this as a viable solution for a zero-emissions energy source.

    “Australia’s approach to hydrogen is too small and based on incorrect assumptions.

    “Even the best hydrogen policy in Australia (arguably, Tasmania’s) is orders of magnitude too small in its thinking. In order to be “fair dinkum” about a hydrogen economy, we need to vastly lift our aspirations for hydrogen production and use. Recently, Star Scientific, through its consultants Arup, concluded a theoretical study into retrofitting a coal-fired power station in New South Wales to hydrogen via a HERO® system.

    “The conclusion was that while it is easily done and will provide substantial capital and recurrent savings to the power station, it would necessitate the production of two million tonnes of green hydrogen annually.

    “This brings us to the first of the two major errors in the orthodox thinking impacting hydrogen policy in Australia.

    “The first centres around the debates on climate change or sustainable energy, and much of the government policy thinking – including in New South Wales – that is based on a false premise of an either/or approach, or rather a zero-sum game in relation to sustainable energy infrastructure versus fossil fuel powered systems.
    The orthodox thinking is that the former must replace the latter and the policy challenge we need to confront is to have in place base-load energy from sustainable energy sources before the power stations close.

    “It is our contention that power stations need not close.

    “If the answer to reliable, sustainable baseload power is spinning mass via turbines (and it is), then the question needs to be asked; why do we need to dispose of those assets including the transmission systems to which they are attached and render them “stranded”? If the issue is the fuel source, then why not simply change the fuel and keep the turbines spinning?

    “Hydrogen, and HERO® provide us with that alternate fuel source – and it is inexhaustible, continuous, and does not produce emissions. Now is the time to explore this as a viable solution for a zero-emissions energy source.

    “The second, is the blind faith that electrons generated by wind, solar and pumped hydro injected straight into the grid is the preferred, and seemingly only viable model for energy supply. As recent reports have found, the problems of intermittency and over-supply at certain times are yet to be addressed, creating actual stability issues for the grid and uncertainty in energy markets.

    “Hydrogen addresses this in two ways.
    Firstly, green hydrogen is, in one respect, a “better battery” than the lithium-ion subset, with problems of longevity, rarity of core components and carbon debt in their production. In the last two decades there had been a “gold rush” in the sustainable energy sector, and many wind and solar assets have been rushed to the market, with poor business models, and are now under financial distress.

    Hydrogen offers a better business model for these assets, allowing them to turn their spilled electrons to the production of green hydrogen, regardless of the time of day and the weather conditions.”…

    25+pgs.
    Email to me from Star Scientific.

  26. Want heat? Zero carbon (!? ). Zero ignition, (but still potential for explosion???) Never replace catalyst. Better than “that of the commercial Pt/C catalyst under alkaline conditions”.[^4.] Replacement fuel for coal and gas – leave spinning mass the same, just change fuel.

    ** As this is proprietary I’m having a hard time understanding and getting info. Perhaps you experts may clarify. Seems like a 3yr old proof now needing to scale up. Lots of interest – Twiggy?? So apologies for train of thought and “blurb”, but too much to absorb and clarify. ymmv but interesting. Eroi???????? 

    Too much hydrogen…
    Hydrogen evolution reaction(HER) [^1.] has, it seems to me** been harnessed by an Australian company Star Scientific based in Gordon, NSW. And “Star Scientific has won an award for its HERO technology at this year’s World Hydrogen Summit.” [^3.] (Apologies for ref numbers out of order.)

    Star Scientific seems to be suitably vague, as they were “working to advance muon-catalysed fusion when a breakthrough discovery occurred. We discovered a breakthrough technology to convert hydrogen into heat without combustion. This became our HERO® – the Hydrogen Energy Release Optimiser.” [^2.]

    See below for details of HER,  but not necessarily the HER or ‘O’ptimizer coined by Star Scientific. 
    ****
    ^3.
    “World Hydrogen Award for NSW company
    11 March 2021

    “Star Scientific has won an award for its HERO technology at this year’s World Hydrogen Summit. The NSW company received the Sustainable Energy Council’s inaugural World Hydrogen Awards’ Industrial Application category.

    https://www.energy.gov.au/news-media/news/world-hydrogen-award-nsw-company

    [https://www.energy.gov.au/search?keys=eroi returns “No matching items found. Try changing your search criteria.”! Same result for “Hydrogen evolution reaction”]

    ****

    “World Hydrogen Awards
    Celebrating Excellence in the Global Hydrogen Industry

    “Congratulations to the 1st World Hydrogen Awards Winners!

    “The inaugural World Hydrogen Awards took place on 9th March 2021 as a virtual ceremony during the 2nd World Hydrogen Summit, with 6 winners recognised in different categories for their contribution to the hydrogen industry.

    “In the Hydrogen Transport category, H2Haul was named the winner for 2021 for their hydrogen fuel cell trucks for heavy duty zero emissions logistics.

    “The Green Hydrogen Project award went to NEOM, Acwa Power and Air Products, for their Neom city power-to-hydrogen-to-ammonia facility.

    “The Port of Rotterdam won the Port of the Future award for their strides in establishing a large-scale hydrogen network across the port complex including production, import, application and transport.

    “The Hydrogen Industrial Application award went to Star Scientific for their Hydrogen Energy Release Optimiser HERO® technology which can be used in power generation, heating, off-grid, industrial heat and desalination.

    “Heidi Genoni, Programme & Project Manager, Hydrogen & Energy Advisory at Arup won the Woman in Hydrogen award for her key role in a wide range of projects supporting the progression towards a hydrogen economy, including the recognised Hydrogen for Heating (Hy4Heat) programme.

    “The Hydrogen Person of the Year award went to Noe van Hulst, Chair of IPHE and Hydrogen Advisor to International Energy Agency and Gasunie, for his significant contribution to the industry by advocating for hydrogen to the public, companies and governments over the years which has served to persuade, raise awareness and propel hydrogen to the global stage.
    https://www.world-hydrogen-summit.com/awards/
    ****

    HERO funders
    https://thecomingsfoundation.org/styled-32/
    ****

    ^1.
    Ruthenium Ion-Complexed Graphitic Carbon Nitride Nanosheets Supported on Reduced Graphene Oxide as High-Performance Catalysts for Electrochemical Hydrogen Evolution

    “Carbon-based materials are promising, low-cost electrocatalysts toward hydrogen evolution reaction(HER), although the catalytic performance needs to be further improved before commercialization.”…
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/322080770_Ruthenium_Ion-Complexed_Graphitic_Carbon_Nitride_Nanosheets_Supported_on_Reduced_Graphene_Oxide_as_High-Performance_Catalysts_for_Electrochemical_Hydrogen_Evolution
    December 2017ChemSusChem 11(1)
    DOI: 10.1002/cssc.201702374
    ****

    ^2.
    Star Scientific – suitably vague. $100m funding it seems.

    “Our story
    “A hydrogen research and development company dedicated to creating safe, reliable, affordable energy with zero emissions.

    “Our Mission
    We offer a unique way to deliver safe, affordable energy with zero emissions. Backed by philanthropists and scientists who share our passion for solving this problem, we’ve invested $100 million in Australian research and development (R&D) to deliver on this ambitious but achievable goal and we will be investing much more in the future.

    “Our History
    Star Scientific Limited was founded and set up by Andrew Horvath. Our early years were spent working to advance muon-catalysed fusion when a breakthrough discovery occurred. We discovered a breakthrough technology to convert hydrogen into heat without combustion. This became our HERO® – the Hydrogen Energy Release Optimiser.

    “Our Group
    Star Scientific is a global group made up of Star Scientific Limited, Star Scientific Singapore, Star Scientific Europe, Planet Power Systems and Planet Power Finance.”
    https://starscientific.com.au/about-us/
    https://starscientific.com.au/applications/

    Blurb…
    “The time for HERO is now” 

    ****

    ^4.
    “Heterostructured Electrocatalysts for Hydrogen Evolution Reaction Under Alkaline Conditions

    …” At present, the activity of the most active known heterostructured catalysts surpasses (platinum-based heterostructures) or approaches (noble-metal-free heterostructures) that of the commercial Pt/C catalyst under alkaline conditions, demonstrating an infusive potential to break through the bottlenecks. This review summarizes the most representative and recent heterostructured HER catalysts for alkaline medium.”…
    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40820-018-0229-x

    Recent Advances in Electrocatalytic Hydrogen Evolution Using Nanoparticles
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31657904/
    ****

    Law & … 
    ” “The Colors of Hydrogen: Simple or Oversimplified?
    24 February 2021

    “Sandra Safro and David Wochner welcome IHS Markit’s Alex Klaessig to the podcast to discuss the color taxonomy of hydrogen and the benefits and challenges that a simplified nomenclature presents.”

    “Check out The H2Handbook, a comprehensive guide of the legal, regulatory, policy, and commercial issues impacting the future of hydrogen around the globe.”
    https://www.klgates.com/Hydrogen-Rising
    ****

    I like the idea of just replacing coal with hydrogen as fuel. But where is two million tonnes of green hydrogen annually? 

    “Star Scientific, through its consultants Arup, concluded a theoretical study into retrofitting a coal-fired power station in New South Wales to hydrogen via a HERO® system.

    “The conclusion was that while it is easily done and will provide substantial capital and recurrent savings to the power station, it would necessitate the production of two million tonnes of green hydrogen annually.”.

    Hmmm… discuss pls.

  27. KT –

    “It is our contention that power stations need not close.

    “If the answer to reliable, sustainable baseload power is spinning mass via turbines (and it is), then the question needs to be asked; why do we need to dispose of those assets including the transmission systems to which they are attached and render them “stranded”? If the issue is the fuel source, then why not simply change the fuel and keep the turbines spinning?”

    Why not? It is likely not so simple. Limited to only the generator end of the proposed hydrogen production, transport and electricity generation plan, is the issue only the fuel source? It is an issue, but in context don’t the financial costs related to aging plant also doom these coal fired electricity generators. To the replacement of fuel and solid waste stream systems and boiler plant due to age add refurbishing/replacing the gen sets themselves.

    This proposal has the smell of vested coal interests with an angle on extending the life of old and pushing new construction of coal fired generation capacity just until, they’ll spin it, the overall green hydrogen infrastructure can do the job. That will also be delayed by a brown hydrogen phase as the coal mines are so close to the current generators… aren’t they? Next, the plant to replace the thermal input of the old coal fueled boilers may be clean safe modular breeder nuke boiler plant having virtually inexhaustible fuel too. So keep current and similar new plant operational until the thermonukes are ready to be dropped at the old generator sites…

  28. Moz: for thick bits of concrete that process is more like hundreds of years, so that in practice it only reabsorbs all of it when the building has been demolished and broken up into gravel-sized chunks. But a decent fraction of cement is in things like mortar between bricks, which indeed reabsorbs CO2 pretty fast.

    If you use the right aggregates, they will also tend to absorb CO2, so there are various tricks you can play to potentially lower emissions associated with concrete.

  29. Ikonoclast: of course, you can break things up conceptually or lump them together. Normally if you are interested in the big picture, a long list is not a helpful way of seeing things.

    E.g. it might be more useful to say that ‘plastics’ are a problem rather than list 10 things made of plastic.

    Actually the vast majority of the problem is ‘energy’ (and most of the rest is agriculture).

    ‘Energy’ is roughly speaking for moving things and stationary things, and for stationary things almost all of the energy need turns out to be electricity or heat (or both). And you can then see what the solutions will look like in rough terms without breaking things down further.

  30. Also: the carbonation process in concrete drops the pH, which means reinforcing steel is no longer chemically protected against rust. Hence the finite lifespan of steel reinforced concrete structures, despite Roman concrete lasting thousands of years.

    You can use other kinds of reinforcement (basalt or stainless) which might be better for structures that are meant to last.

  31. KT2, quoting Star Scientific: ” .. many wind and solar assets have been rushed to the market, with poor business models, and are now under financial distress.” IIRC corporations have a variety of quite onerous legal duties of veracity when they make public statements about their own products, personnel and operations. When it comes to competitors, they can more less make stuff up, as long as they stay clear of defamation (“Boggs puts chalk in his flour”). I suggest this is what is happening here. You are better off listening to Mike Barnard, who is independent.

  32. @ James Wimberley

    In parliament Churchill berated the then govt for inaction over the growing threat of a militarised Germany.

    He referred to the huge sums spent by both Belgium and France and included a mention of the Maginot line and weaponry.

    As we all know these expensive preparations were for nought, the Germans just drove around or avoided these defence structures and carried on, virtually unchecked.

  33. Hydrogen as a distraction:
    Upon some cross reading and reflection, my position is now too, that hydrogen, or worse the hope to develop some easier to handle synthetic fuel is often (note: often, not always) used as a distraction from doing the sensible thing which would be committing to 100% electricity from a very green grid in all new application. The most obvious one of those is household heating. Denmark already moved into that direction.

    Sometimes the culprits are even relatively innocent: Engineers who just like the tech side of it so much that they ignore how much cheaper the relatively boring alternative is. The cleavage seems to partially run within companies (looking at you VW ), not just outside. Sometimes the reasoning is pretty blunt, outright admitting the main reason they like h20 is that their company got a competitive edge at conventional technology (looking at you Bosch), while the competition has one with electric alternatives. That is still understandable up to a point when we talk about trucks, even passenger cars up to a point: If you take a Tesla monster and a dirty coal grid as point of reference, the lifetime co2 output could still be favourable for the Diesel Mercedes S class (you probably know my general disdain for big cars, independent of fuel by now, there is no excuse for driving those monsters, no matter what the fuel is).

    But pushing for fairytale h20 as an alternative to heat pumps in new buildings, seriously Bosch? https://www.welt.de/wirtschaft/article228674935/Bosch-misstraut-dem-Waermepumpen-Hype-und-forciert-Wasserstoff.html Those new buildings will be in use much longer than cars and as you pointed out yourself retrofitting them later is a very costly mess.

    Politicians seem to resist pressure to subsidize the more outlandish application at a large scale so far.
    They should do more: Commit to heat pumps only in all new construction now. OH, and just shut down those damn coal power plants yesterday, because then, the heat pumps will have a huge environmental edge now, not just in a decade.

  34. In Addition: Worth pointing out that being a fast electrification supporter in a car company might just mean one thinks scaling up electric cars is the cheapest way to fulfil fleet co2 targets while selling lots of profitable SUVs.

    Toyota should be interesting. Still the best company when it comes to building cars, as opposed to status symbols. Toyota made some outlandish self-serving sky is falling claims regarding fast full electrification recently, and they also seem most committed to the likely dead end fuel cell cars. Do not underestimate Toyota for those reasons. The hybrid product line is still doing a lot more for the environment than splashy Musk-Monsters right now and Toyota is also preparing to go big on electric cars with the next battery generation.

  35. In response to tweets from The Australia Institute re their Nov 2019 report “Hy-trojan: Is hydrogen the next “clean coal”?”, energy advisor Tim Forcey tweeted on Mar 12:

    “Definitely some Trojan Horse running around!
    My article:”

    The Driven article “Why electric trucks, not hydrogen, will corner semi market and replace diesel”, dated 29 Apr 2020, begins with:

    “Dutch electric vehicle expert Auke Hoekstra has taken to Twitter to explain why he believes electric trucks such as the Tesla Semi, rather than hydrogen-powered trucks, will corner the majority of the 40-tonne semi trailer and trucking market and replace diesel.”
    https://thedriven.io/2020/04/29/why-electric-trucks-not-hydrogen-will-corner-semi-market-and-replace-diesel/

    Air sourced heat pumps with CoPs of the order of 4 to 5 at at around 25 °C ambient temperatures, and near 3 even at 0 °C ambient, will always be more energy efficient than combustion of any fuel for heating for just about anywhere on this planet.

    There is no need for hydrogen (or fossil gas) in residential applications. Air sourced heat pumps for space heating/cooling, and water heating, and all-electric cooking are cheaper, far cleaner, and more energy-efficient solutions.
    https://renew.org.au/research/are-we-still-cooking-with-gas/

  36. Heat pump hot water makes so much more sense than off peak or solar, the energy required to heat water is far less than solar and using panels to generate power to run the heat pump makes more sense than selling power back to the grid

    They also make fossil fuel power stations less competitive as off peak power becomes redundant.

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