Jan 022012
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The only product of combustion is water; in fact, ultra-pure, newly-minted “virgin” water!

As I mentioned in a comment in the Beyond Coal Team blog, converting coal-fired steam generation infrastructure to natural gas is more or less a misnomer.  Virtually none of the steam-generation power plant can be used for natural gas-fired power generation, save the substation connecting it to the grid.  Moreover, such a conversion will take a year or more to complete, during which time power generation ceases.

That the Sierra Club has been able to stop 162 (is that the current total?) coal-fired plants from either beginning or continuing operations is a testament to local activism and persistence.

About a year ago, I completed an international patent application covering technology I had developed, burning a hydrogen/oxygen fuel-mix to generate ultra-critical temperature, high-pressure steam.  The system is scalable to volumes capable of driving gigawatt-scale steam-turbine power plants.

The immediate ramifications of this breakthrough are compelling…

The only product of combustion is water; in fact, ultra-pure, newly-minted “virgin” water!

Conversion to hydrogen-fueled steam-generation can proceed in parallel to continued coal-fired operations until the conversion is complete in less than six-months, allowing uninterrupted power generation for the benefit of downstream consumers.

Once completed, the new steam-generation infrastructure continues to drive the existing power generation infrastructure, albeit with zero carbon-footprint, and zero mercury emissions.

Operating in closed-cycle mode, deploying an integrated electrolyzer-generated hydrogen-cycle system, there are no emissions at all, as even the spent steam is re-routed into holding tanks for re-conversion to fuel components.

Operating in closed-cycle mode and using off-peak renewable energy (either wind or hydro-electric) represents the first commercially-available, gigawatt-scale renewable energy storage and retrieval system on the planet.  All power generation produced in such a system qualifies for carbon-credits, and is contributory to the renewable energy portion of a state’s energy portfolio.

Optimum temperature and pressure conditions can be achieved at the turbine HP inlet within about 1.5 seconds, facilitating a broad spectrum of ancillary services uses, including black start, bootstrap, and rolling ready-reserve at very competitive cost-levels.  The system is limited only by manufacturer-recommended turbine warm-up times.

This is an opportunity to offer coal-fired steam plant operators an option to cessation of operations, and shutting down the plant, thereby saving hundreds of local jobs.  It is also an opportunity to bring an “atmospheric electrolyzer” manufacturing facility to that same community, creating new green-collar jobs in the process.

Read more . . .

Bookmark this page for “coal to hydrogen” and check back regularly as these articles update on a frequent basis. The view is set to “news”. Try clicking on “video” and “2” for more articles.

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  One Response to “A Breakthrough Technology for Converting Coal-Fired Power Plants to Hydrogen-Fired Steam-Generation”

    – Environmental Studies –
    6870 Frontage Road
    Lucerne, CA 95458, USA
    E-mail: [email protected]

    Re: Toward a No Carbon Burn Energy Future Without Stranded Fossil Fuel Resources
    I am writing concerning a subject which I feel is not getting enough attention and I believe it has the potential to be a very important transformational part of our smooth transition to a no carbon burn world.
    To avoid further climate warming, by necessity we must move quickly toward a no carbon burn future. This can be greatly aided by using fossil fuel’s hydrogen energy without burning its carbon. This can be achieved through fossil fuel pyrolysis, thermal cracking, which releases the hydrogen leaving elemental carbon as a useful by-product. The carbon may be used in many applications from soil amendments to aeronautical light weight structural elements depending on its form.
    The energy required for pyrolysis is no more than the necessary energy used to separate carbon dioxide from flue gasses, clean and compress it then pipeline pumping it to sequestering storage, CCS (1. Steinberg, 1997). The elemental by-product carbon can be safely stored or used without the inherent uncertainties of CCS possible releases or other environmental impacts. Various forms of carbon may be produced including less expensive nano carbons depending upon the pyrolysis system used and the various catalysts (2.&3. Ren, 2015 ).
    There are many good research papers on fossil fuel pyrolysis and its ability to produce clean hydrogen and carbon without carbon dioxide emissions. There are a few companies pursuing commercial applications, including Basf, Eden and Monolith Materials. Appended are four abstracts from papers for your further review which have demonstrated hydrogen production from methane, propane, gasoline and diesel fuels as well as carbon dioxide producing various forms of carbon including nano carbon. The energetics are shown to be equivalent when you consider the energy loss in carbon dioxide CCS and the uncertainties or the availability of permanent subsurface storage. The 4. abstract discusses Professor Licht’s power plant applications and his paper is attached with his application to gas, oil and coal. These applications can make the fossil fuel industry part of the climate change solution instead of the cause.
    The pyrolysis systems are shown to be practical, can be designed to be used portably and for transportation applications. These fossil fuel hydrogen production procedures with no burn carbon have been demonstrated sufficiently that they should be considered for a wide range of applications representing BACT and/or LAER for carbon dioxide emission control. Applications include converting coal fired power plants to methane fueled hydrogen fired clean burn plants. These procedures will allow use of what are now considered “stranded fossil fuel resources” smoothing societies’ move to 100% renewable energy. Monolith Materials, Inc. has an informative video that shows the basic process for a coal fired plant modification: https://youtu.be/0IYLeRT18qM
    I appreciate the opportunity to share these thoughts with you and hope that they can stimulate your ideas for future applications.


    Wilson B. Goddard, Ph.D.
    Principal, Research Engineer

    1. BNL- 65452 Informal Report
    NATURAL GAS DECARBONIZATION TECHNOLOGY FOR MITIGATING GLOBAL WARMING, Meyer Steinberg Brookhaven National Laboratory Upton NY 11747 1997 – 1998
    It has been understood that production of hydrogen from fossil and carbonaceous fuels with reduced CO2 emission to the atmosphere is key to the production of hydrogen-rich fuels for mitigating the CO2 greenhouse gas climate change problem. The conventional methods of hydrogen production from fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas and biomass) include steam reforming and water gas shift mainly of natural gas (SRM). In order to suppress CO2 emission from the steam reforming process, CO2 must be concentrated and sequestered either in or under the ocean or underground (in aquifers, or depleted oil or gas wells). Up to about 40% of the energy is lost in this process. An alternative process is the pyrolysis or the thermal decomposition of methane, natural gas (TDM) to hydrogen and carbon. The carbon can either be sequestered or sold on the market as a materials commodity or used as a fuel at a later date under less severe CO2 restraints. The energy sequestered in the carbon amounts to about 42% of the energy in the natural gas resource which is stored and not destroyed. A comparison is made between the well developed conventional SRM and the less developed TDM process including technological status, efficiency, carbon management and cost. The TDM process appears to have advantages over the well developed SRM process. It is much easier to sequester carbon as a stable solid than CO2 as a reactive gas or low temperature liquid. It is also possible to reduce cost by marketing the carbon as a filler or construction material. The potential benefits of the TDM process justifies its further efficient development. The hydrogen can be used as a transportation fuel or converted to methanol by reaction with CO2 from fossil fuel fired power plant stack gases, thus allowing reuse of the carbon in conventional IC automobile engines or in advanced fuel cell vehicles.
    2. The Minimum Electrolytic Energy Needed To Convert Carbon Dioxide to Carbon by Electrolysis in Carbonate Melts
    Jiawen Ren, Jason Lau, Matthew Lefl er, and Stuart Licht * Department of Chemistry, The George Washington University, Washington, D.C. 20052, United States: pub Oct 2, 2015 American Chemical Society
    One pathway to remove the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide to mitigate climate change is by dissolution and electrolysis in molten carbonate to produce stable, solid carbon. This study determines critical knowledge to minimize the required electrolysis energy, the reaction stoichiometry in which carbon and O2 are the principal products, and that CO 2 can be electrolyzed inexpensively. Thermochemical and experimental results indicate that the principal carbon-deposition reaction in molten Li 2 CO 3 or Li 2 O/Li 2 CO 3 electrolytes at 750 ° CisLi 2 O+ 2CO 2 ? Li 2 CO 3 +C+O 2 . The reaction occurs at high Faradaic efficiency of the 4e ? reduction of CO 2 to carbon and oxygen at an electrolysis voltage as low as <1 V. Electrolytes without lithium carbonate but containing calcium and/or barium carbonate can also be employed as reaction media for successful carbon deposition, e.g. in an Na/BaCO 3 melt. However, the electrolysis reduction in pure Na or K or Na/K carbonate eutectics at 1 atm of CO 2 forms Article pubs.acs.org/JPCC metals and/or gases, i.e., CO.
    3. One-Pot Synthesis of Carbon Nanofibers from CO 2
    Jiawen Ren, † Fang-Fang Li, † Jason Lau, † Luis Gonza lez-Urbina, † and Stuart Licht * † † Department of Chemistry, The George Washington University, Washington, DC 20052, United States; pub Aug 3, 2015 NANOLETTERS
    Carbon nanofibers, CNFs, due to their superior strength, conductivity, flexibility, and durability have great potential as a material resource but still have limited use due to the cost intensive complexities of their synthesis. Herein, we report the highyield and scalable electrolytic conversion of atmospheric CO2 dissolved in molten carbonates into CNFs. It is demonstrated that the conversion of CO2 ? C CNF +O2 can be driven by efficient solar, as well as conventional, energy at inexpensive steel or nickel electrodes. The structure is tuned by controlling the electrolysis conditions, such as the addition of trace transition metals to act as CNF nucleation sites, the addition of zinc as an initiator and the control of current density. A less expensive source of CNFs will facilitate its adoption as a societal resource, and using carbon dioxide as a reactant to generate a value added product such as CNFs provides impetus to consume this greenhouse gas to mitigate climate change.
    KEYWORDS: Carbon nanofibers, carbon composites, carbon capture, climate change, solar energy
    4. Carbon Nanofiber (from fossil fuel) Electric Power Plants: Transformation of CO2 Exhaust to Stable, Compact, Valued Commodities
    Stuart Licht, Department of Chemistry, George Washington University Washington, DC USA
    Modes of power plant operation are presented which remove the greenhouse carbon dioxide from fossil fuel plant power station exhausts and transform the carbon dioxide into a valuable carbon nanofiber product. The first mode uses the emissions from a natural gas CC power plant to provide hot CO2 to a molten electrolysis chamber which generates both carbon nanofiber and oxygen. The valuable carbon nanofiber product is removed, heat from the carbon nanofiber and oxygen products is transferred into heating steam for the steam turbine, and the pure oxygen is blended into the air inlet to allow the gas turbine to operate at higher temperature and higher efficiencies. A second mode converts a conventional coal power plant to a STEP coal CNF power plant by directing the hot carbon dioxide combustion emission into carbon nanofiber production electrolysis chamber, and transforming the carbon dioxide to carbon nanofibers with the use of renewable or nuclear energy. Other intermediate modes of fossil fuel carbon nanofiber electric power plants with partial solar input are also evident, as well as a simplified, smaller version (for heating/cooking) rather than electrical production.

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