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Fossil fuel technology that does not emit carbon into the free air

Engineers are trying to develop technologies capable of economically converting fossil fuel and biomass into useful products, including electricity, without emitting carbon dioxide into the open air

A technique for burning fossil fuel without emitting carbon into the air using oxidized iron particles. Photo: Ohio University
A technique for burning fossil fuel without emitting carbon into the air using oxidized iron particles. Photo: Ohio University

[Translation by Dr. Nachmani Moshe]

In the first of two papers long overdue in the scientific journal Energy & Environmental Science, Ohio State University engineers report that they have succeeded in developing a process capable of converting shale gas into products such as methanol and gasoline, all while reducing carbon dioxide emissions. This process can also be applied for coal and biomass.

Under certain conditions, the technology utilizes the entire amount of carbon dioxide it produces along with all the amount coming from external sources. In the second paper, the researchers report that they have found a method capable of significantly extending the shelf life of the particles that allow the chemical reaction to convert coal or other fuels into electricity and useful products.

In addition, the team of researchers discovered and patented a method that has the potential to reduce the capital costs of producing fuel gas called synthetic gas by about fifty percent compared to conventional methods. The technology makes use of particles of metal oxides that are at high pressures inside a gas tank, and these allow fossil gas and biomass to be burned without the presence of oxygen gas. It is the metal oxide that provides oxygen for the reaction. This method could provide clean electricity until renewable energies, such as solar power and wind power, become available and cheap enough, the researchers say. "Renewable resources are the future," said Liang-Shih Fan, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, who led the study. "We need a bridging method that will allow us to produce clean energy until we get there - something available that we can take advantage of over the next thirty years, until solar and wind energies become cheap enough."

Five years ago, the research team demonstrated a combustion technology during which the researchers were able to obtain energy from coal while capturing more than ninety-nine percent of the carbon dioxide emitted during the chemical reaction, an amount that would otherwise have reached the open air. The progress in this method lies in the iron oxide particles that provide the oxygen needed for the combustion reaction that takes place inside the backing. After the end of the reaction, the particles reabsorb oxygen from the air, and the cycle of reactions begins again.

The challenge now, explains the lead researcher, is to keep the particles from being eroded and losing their activity over time. While five years ago, the innovative particles were active for 100 cycles during eight days of continuous activity, the engineers were able to improve them so that today they are active for more than 3000 cycles, equivalent to more than eight months of continuous use in laboratory experiments. "The particle itself is a kind of carrier and it is the one that captures and releases the oxygen in the process, and in the end it breaks down. Similar to the truck carrying goods on the roads, the carrier particles will eventually undergo wear and tear. We claim that we have succeeded in developing a particle capable of performing this route in the laboratory 3000 times and still maintaining its integrity," says the researcher. This is the longest lifetime ever reported for an oxygen carrier, he adds.

The next step is to test the efficiency of the carrier in a complete chemical process within the framework of burning coal. In addition, the process makes it possible to produce synthetic gas which in turn provides the building blocks for a wide range of useful products including ammonia, plastic and even carbon fiber. Thus, the method provides a possible industrial application in carbon dioxide as a raw material for the production of everyday consumer products. Today, when carbon dioxide is emitted from the stacks of power plants, it is designed to be captured and buried to prevent it from reaching the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas. Under the new method, part of the amount of carbon dioxide emitted from the chimneys will not have to be heat-treated - instead it can be converted into useful products.

The news about the study

4 תגובות

  1. This publication raises three main reflections for me:
    1. The particles that oxidize the biomass can be oxides and hydroxides of a huge variety of metals, while the material that most "winks" for use here is of course iron rust - which can finally be used as it is as a reagent, and not as a material that needs to be disposed of or buried in waste sites that only Increasingly, because according to my understanding the oxidizing particles mentioned here are not catalysts but only a source of oxidizing material! In this way, it is possible to recycle a huge variety of corroded metals that will be used as reagents and there will be no need to get rid of them or recycle them in expensive and wasteful processes, and the resulting clean metals (with oxidation level 0) will be raised for further use! This is a win-win-situation, when the oxidized metals will be a raw material, and after they finish their role in the process explained in the article, they will return to their previous use as clean metals. The result: a green, cheap use cycle (less mining of the metals and no need to bury the products) = less waste!
    2. However, after further reflection, it must be remembered that these processes have very low efficiencies, and sometimes you can get a conversion of a few percent and no more - which definitely raises the question of the economic viability of this whole process.
    3. In a final reflection, I have to wonder about the point that even today, in all the industrial processes (especially in the low-tech industries) that release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as an unwanted by-product - why is it not bubbled directly into aqueous solutions, in order to obtain carbonic acid (H2CO3) Which is an important raw material in many industries? After all, upgrading a factory that currently releases CO2 into the atmosphere on a regular basis to a factory that is greener, that can thus capture CO2 and then sell its carbonic acid solutions does indeed require an initial financial investment, but the revenue due to the sale of the solutions with H2CO3 will return this investment quickly, and an important bonus will also be received No less: protecting the environment in terms of reducing air pollution in the factory area (in the immediate term) and slowing down global warming (in the near future)?

  2. It turns out that in Wikipedia, only the borrowed (meaning the military) interpretation was brought to Magov which, as mentioned, is originally an agricultural tool - and according to the Milog site (which forgot the two more accepted interpretations...) Magov is a reactor in general. Life is difficult for new immigrants and Hebrew speakers...

  3. Lasaf: Magov and Morg are agricultural tools. The first is for collecting the oats and the second for threshing. The army borrowed these names for mine handling tools.

  4. What is "backed up"? ? ?
    I looked for a spread for "magov" and the only one I found is:
    Magov is an engineering device installed on an armored combat vehicle
    such as tanks, amphibious vehicles and mechanical engineering equipment whose role is to clear a road free of mines,
    and allow other vehicles to follow it.
    There are several types of backups:
    Continuous backhoe - a kind of V-shaped bulldozer shovel that sticks into the ground and moves mines to the side or turns them over.

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