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Topic: Ersatz for Natural Gas?  (Read 6891 times)

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Offline Enthalpy

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Re: Ersatz for Natural Gas?
« Reply #30 on: March 06, 2022, 09:05:49 AM »
I believe storing electricity for 2 weeks is still too expensive, until someone has an idea. The Powerwall is meant for night-to-day storage.

But if electricity is transported across the EU, there is no calm period. The EU is just too big for that. If a calm is over Denmark, Sweden and even Scotland, then we have wind in Spain, Greece or Romania. The EU spans about the half-distance between two depressions. Overcapacity and limited storage then flatten out the remaining fluctuations.

Power lines work already between the countries and sufficed to supply whole Belgium when all nukes were halted for planned maintenance or unplanned worries. Stock exchanges for electricity operate already. But we need stronger lines to carry more power over longer distances with reasonable losses. Brazil did it for 13GW over 700km from Itaipú to São Paulo forty years ago. Canada did it for 16GW over 1000km from Bay James to Montreal and New England.

Imagine that we want to transport up to 50GW over 2000km in Europe. One (rather several) DC 1MV line carries then 50kA. Accepting 5% losses at full power means 0.5+0.5Ω. The aluminium conductors need 11+11dm2. 2000km weigh 1.2Mt and cost 3G€. Pylons cost as much in an optimized design, so the line costs only 6G€, half as much as a single 1.6GW EPR. Mean 3% losses at 30GW cost 0.4G€/year so the balance with the investment is meaningful. The price tag for electricity production is many times 100G€, for comparison.

Such lines must resist sabotage and to some extent war. The line from Itaipú failed after I met Brazilians in Munich, that's no reasonable risk. Burying the lines needs insulator, just 2m2 polypropylene cost already 8G€ and oil >4G€. High-pressure air in steel tubes is doubtful. Or overhead lines must take many paths so not all fail simultaneously.

Offline rolnor

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Re: Ersatz for Natural Gas?
« Reply #31 on: March 06, 2022, 01:15:46 PM »
I think also this problems will be even more impartant for SaudiArabia and other dessert nations where you can generate enormous amounts of solar power, this need to be transported somehow if you want to export it. The powerwall was just an example of storage that allready exists and is closing in to what you need for a few days in a normal house.

Offline Enthalpy

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Re: Ersatz for Natural Gas?
« Reply #32 on: March 06, 2022, 03:13:43 PM »
Here's a glimpse at present methods to harvest forests:
  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvester_(forestry)
  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxDFdcGfEjE
productivity improved since the dwarves with an axe on the shoulder.

Chipping is done on branches, bark or complete trees:
  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAcG7Xeg3ug

Where possible, the best tree parts should become construction wood and the leftovers heating chips. A power plant can cleanly burn chips of lower quality, something a single house doesn't afford. Then the biomass is even cheaper.

Efficient harvesting, chipping, biomass for combined electricity and heat are already common practice, done at hotel or town size for being much cheaper than gas. I just claim that Finland and others have the spare forest production to do it at GW scale. Rosatom being now undesired and EDF's EPR extremely expensive, biomass is the clear alternative.

Offline Enthalpy

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Re: Ersatz for Natural Gas?
« Reply #33 on: March 06, 2022, 03:29:14 PM »
I think also this problems will be even more impartant for SaudiArabia and other dessert nations where you can generate enormous amounts of solar power, this need to be transported somehow if you want to export it. The powerwall was just an example of storage that allready exists and is closing in to what you need for a few days in a normal house.

Companies and banks, many of them German, had a many-GW project to produce electricity from sunlight and wind in North Africa and transport most of it to Europe
  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desertec
Cheap oil killed the initiative.

Presently, Namibia builds capacity to produce hydrogen from sunlight (and wind?) and export it. What I like less: the videos show solar cells feeding electrolysers, which is costly and inefficient. The proper way is the Zn-ZnO cycle
  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zinc–zinc_oxide_cycle

Offline rolnor

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Re: Ersatz for Natural Gas?
« Reply #34 on: March 06, 2022, 04:59:38 PM »
If 3,27% of the US was covered with solarpanels this could power the whole world. It depends on how much sunlight you have, its an ideal situation probably. With the ZnO-system less is needed I guess. It will be a revolution for the dessert nations, they have so much sun, to make hydrogen seems good. https://www.axionpower.com/knowledge/power-world-with-solar/

Offline Enthalpy

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Re: Ersatz for Natural Gas?
« Reply #35 on: March 06, 2022, 06:53:49 PM »
As France's Macron got the EU presidency, just before the war in Ukraine, several EU politicians argued that Europe should build nuclear power plants again (... and use natural gas too). But figures tell that nuclear electricity is extremely expensive.

Two Japanese companies had bought US developers of nuclear power plants. Meanwhile, both companies have abandoned their projects in the UK. Rosatom is presently out of the run. This leaves essentially EDF with its infamous EPR, over 10 years belated, which costs whopping 12G€ per 1.6GW reactor even at the sixth unit.

The deal between EDF (Electricite de France) and the UK government guarantees 92.50 gbp/MWh for EPR's electricity for 35 years, rising with inflation while UK offshore wind farms get 57.50 gbp/MWh for 15 years.
https://www.ft.com/content/8307c266-066b-11e8-9650-9c0ad2d7c5b5
In March 2022, that's 112€/MWh and 70€/MWh. The free market pays around 50€/MWh thanks to coal and dams, while oil and gas aren't interesting presently.

EDF claims production costs around 50€/MWh too, but only because its nuclear reactors are old and the company didn't save money to replace them. The French accounting office estimated at 100G€ or 62€/MWh the coming maintenance just to use the old reactors even longer, plus the dismantling costs
https://www.lemonde.fr/economie/article/2016/02/10/centrales-nucleaires-des-couts-de-maintenance-estimes-a-100-milliards-d-euros_4862575_3234.html

Offline rolnor

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Re: Ersatz for Natural Gas?
« Reply #36 on: March 06, 2022, 10:45:34 PM »
Finlands latest reactor has been called "the most expensive building ever" and was heavily delayed. Now Russia is attacking nuclear reactors in Ukraine at big risc and this shows the danger with nuclear energy. No radiation has been detected yet but this is dangerous. Wind or wood-power has non of these drawbacks.

Offline rolnor

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Re: Ersatz for Natural Gas?
« Reply #37 on: March 06, 2022, 10:47:50 PM »
As France's Macron got the EU presidency, just before the war in Ukraine, several EU politicians argued that Europe should build nuclear power plants again (... and use natural gas too). But figures tell that nuclear electricity is extremely expensive.

Two Japanese companies had bought US developers of nuclear power plants. Meanwhile, both companies have abandoned their projects in the UK. Rosatom is presently out of the run. This leaves essentially EDF with its infamous EPR, over 10 years belated, which costs whopping 12G€ per 1.6GW reactor even at the sixth unit.

The deal between EDF (Electricite de France) and the UK government guarantees 92.50 gbp/MWh for EPR's electricity for 35 years, rising with inflation while UK offshore wind farms get 57.50 gbp/MWh for 15 years.
https://www.ft.com/content/8307c266-066b-11e8-9650-9c0ad2d7c5b5
In March 2022, that's 112€/MWh and 70€/MWh. The free market pays around 50€/MWh thanks to coal and dams, while oil and gas aren't interesting presently.

EDF claims production costs around 50€/MWh too, but only because its nuclear reactors are old and the company didn't save money to replace them. The French accounting office estimated at 100G€ or 62€/MWh the coming maintenance just to use the old reactors even longer, plus the dismantling costs
https://www.lemonde.fr/economie/article/2016/02/10/centrales-nucleaires-des-couts-de-maintenance-estimes-a-100-milliards-d-euros_4862575_3234.html

Yes, all experts agree, nuclear energy is expensive, its just a fact. The large steel producers here in Sweden want electricity from wind to make the new fossil-free steel. Its just good business.

Offline Enthalpy

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Re: Ersatz for Natural Gas?
« Reply #38 on: March 07, 2022, 06:28:36 AM »
[...] The large steel producers here in Sweden want electricity from wind to make the new fossil-free steel. Its just good business. [...]

I suggested to first roast the iron ore Fe2O3 or Fe3O4 to FeO using concentrated sunheat, there
  https://www.chemicalforums.com/index.php?topic=100275.msg351914#msg351914
I believe sunlight is abundant at the Baltic side of Sweden, and room is available too. That would save hydrogen hence electricity and cost to produce Fe.

Offline rolnor

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Re: Ersatz for Natural Gas?
« Reply #39 on: March 07, 2022, 07:11:27 AM »
Its very little sun here in wintertime, in the north the sun does not show att all during the darkest period. Maybe a dessert nation could pre-treat the ore for us with sun-heat?

Offline Enthalpy

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Re: Ersatz for Natural Gas?
« Reply #40 on: March 07, 2022, 07:33:53 AM »
As the USA press to stop importing Russian oil but the EU doesn't clearly see how to live without, I should like to remind that the C3-C4 fraction is still available at gas and oil wells. It has always been torched at the wells for being too cheap to transport, but at present gas and oil prices and if refusing Russian supplies, we could make good uses of these fractions. Already suggested there
  http://www.chemicalforums.com/index.php?topic=79403.msg289485#msg289485

It can't replace natural gas in the networks, as the uses need at least some tuning. At most, mix a bit in the natural gas.

But power plants could be converted in months to burn C3-C4 instead of natural gas. Some boats can carry both. The fraction must be transported between the wells, the ports, the power plants. Trains?

Oil refineries can process the fraction easily into polypropylene or antiknocking gasoline additives. This takes little or no modification. At 100$/barrel it can even be profitable. Maybe they can produce gas-oil and kerosene ersatz from this fraction, less easy.

Needs more time and efforts: combine the fraction with coal or tar to synthesize liquid fuels somehow. Heating fuel is little demanding.

OPEC countries don't increase their output presently, but the USA (and Canada?) have this means to alleviate the lack of Russian oil.

Offline Enthalpy

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Re: Ersatz for Natural Gas?
« Reply #41 on: March 07, 2022, 07:52:11 AM »
[...] Maybe a desert nation could pre-treat the ore for us with sun-heat?

It depends on where the ore comes from. Shipping it from Sweden to Spain and back looks too expensive. But Australian, Brazilian, Indian ore can be pre-treated before transport. It saves weight too.

Or in Sweden, pre-treat the ore in summer when daylight lasts long, and store for the winter? This needs a big storage area.

Offline Enthalpy

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Re: Ersatz for Natural Gas?
« Reply #42 on: March 07, 2022, 07:34:53 PM »
The association for biogas wants subsidies to produce 35×109m3 gas in 2030
  n-tv.de
Don't they read the Press? Business as usual is exactly what we don't need.

==========

Maybe the C3-C4 fraction can replace a higher proportion of natural gas in the network if supplemented with N2 or CO2 or both, so the burners adjusted for methane still provide a good proportion of oxygen.

==========

Known processes for coal gasification output a mixture very different from natural gas, unsuited for use in the general gas network. But I hope power plants can be adapted in few months to be fed by coal gasification. The answer would then be: increase at once the production of coal mines even if not extremely cheap, feed the power plants by coal gasification, inject the natural gas obtained from other countries in the general network, don't rely on Russian gas any more (... depending on what proportion the power plants consume).

At a gas turbine, the adaptation isn't trivial.

Offline rolnor

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Re: Ersatz for Natural Gas?
« Reply #43 on: March 07, 2022, 11:52:33 PM »
Coal gasification, is that when you treat it with heat and watervapor? That gives the CO-containing gas then? C3-C4 seems very good, thats just "Gasol"

Offline Enthalpy

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Re: Ersatz for Natural Gas?
« Reply #44 on: March 08, 2022, 07:01:10 AM »
Coal gasification, is that when you treat it with heat and waterv apor? That gives the CO-containing gas then?

CO isn't necessarily the last step. Operations can go on to H2 or to hydrocarbons.
  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal_gasification

When I checked the state of the art a few centuries ago, gas-fired power plants burned liquid natural gas in a gas turbine and used the exhaust to heat water send to a vapour turbine, so-called "combined cycle". H2 wouldn't fit easily there, CO less badly, cryogenic or liquid hydrocarbons would be nice.

C3-C4 seems very good, thats just "Gasol"

The C3-C4 fraction contains propane, propene, butane, isobutane, butene, isobutene and minor components. Plans to use it are regularly abandoned when oil is cheap, so it uses to be torched at the oil and gas wells, and refineries produce again ethylene and propylene by cracking heavy fractions. Propylene isn't any more a cheap by-product as polypropylene demand has grown. Refineries produce it on purpose and transform ethylene into propylene. So in the present context of prices and embargoes, catching and transporting this fraction from the wells would make sense. It wouldn't even emit more CO2.

This fraction is more easily liquefied than methane, it's easier to burn too: denser, lower autoignition. Adaptation from methane is essentially a burner with adapted mix ratio. While gas turbines are more demanding, I hope the adaptation can go in few months and be reversible.

Other uses too are reasonably easy, daily operations of a refinery. The alkylation unit can makes high-octane additives of it. Feeding Diesel and jets is less obvious: they need a low autoignition temperature, hence some straight tails in the molecule, while standard alkylation produces branched molecules. But refineries make long 1-alkenes from ethylene, that's nearer to a synthetic kerosene or gas-oil.

I suggested trialkylamines as a fuel, easy to produce, good liquid range, tailored combustion properties, there
  https://www.chemicalforums.com/index.php?topic=56069.msg362592#msg362592
  https://www.chemicalforums.com/index.php?topic=103039.msg362089#msg362089
that step would follow the 1-alkene synthesis. Or maybe the complete raw C3-C4 fraction can react with ammonia, to produce the trialkylamine fuel and leave alkanes useful elsewhere, with easy separation?

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