Energy From Thorium Discussion Forum

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PostPosted: Aug 11, 2016 4:22 pm 
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There are better things to do with cellulosic biomass than simply gassifying it - for example microwave assisted acid hydrolysis is extremely promising to liberate sugars which have a variety of industrial purposes (such as manufacture of xylitol or as feedstock for industrial fermentation of value added products). That would lead to only lignin being left - which could be directly hydrogenated or electro-cracked to various products. Only a high carbon low functionality char left after those processes should be gassified - to do otherwise is a waste of valuable functionality.


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PostPosted: Aug 11, 2016 4:35 pm 
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E: Fascinating! What to do with abundant energy is a long list. And very interesting for numerous reasons. I believe our goal here in this forum is the source of that energy rather than what is done with it, yes?

I'm more interested in the proposed liquid-liquid extraction of FPs and DPs from hot FLiBe using reductive molten bismuth. Is such a thing running anywhere in industry do you know?

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PostPosted: Aug 11, 2016 5:09 pm 
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As far as I know there is nothing like that anywhere that I know of.

We are looking at a ~60% end-to-end efficiency from these high pressure alkaline electrolysis cells followed with the hydrogen being burned in an existing CCGT unit.

Hydrogen storage would be 24kWh(e) per kilogram of stored gas.

EDIT:

ETI Hydrogen Insights in the Cheshire Basin would cost ~£336m [shallow so have lower energy costs] - for 300,000 cubic meters of storage. At a pressure of ~100bar(a) - 30 million cubic meters at STP. That is roughly 2400t of hydrogen gas. That is 57.6GWh - that is 57.6 million kWh. That is £6/kWh - $8.40/kWh

With a ~60% end-to-end efficiency its not terrible. CCGT Capital cost is $920/kW? $830/kW(output) for electrolysers.


Last edited by E Ireland on Aug 11, 2016 5:37 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Aug 11, 2016 5:24 pm 
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Thanks for answering my bismuth question, E. How much stored hydrogen in the plan? Is hydrogen energy storage in use anywhere?

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PostPosted: Aug 11, 2016 5:38 pm 
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Hydrogen storage is used in a variety of places for chemical plant and refinery buffering. There is a storage cavern on Teeside I believe for this purpose, associated with a nylon plant. See above for a cost analysis.

EDIT:
Turns out there are 18 active caverns storing a wide variety of material, and almost a hundred unused caverns of various sizes on Teeside alone.


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PostPosted: Aug 11, 2016 6:16 pm 
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Thanks, E, and for the paper. Great info. How do feel about the safety of using hydrogen for storing energy?

Energy storage is part of the big energy picture no matter where the energy is coming from. Regular folks uninitiated and lacking experience in large-scale power operations (me) do not know how the big grids operate. Do they load shift and move it around so they don't need storage? Anyway . . .

I love the subject of energy. Loading up our atmosphere with carbon seems an unwise global experiment. I do not understand why the big carbon companies aren't leading the charge. They're some big stakeholders in this game.

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PostPosted: Aug 11, 2016 6:53 pm 
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It should be relatively safe, the hydrogen is stored several hundred meters underground and can only escape through the loading/unloading shaft, so there is a limit to how fast gas can escape.

It is likely that a catastrophic failure would lead to a massive gas torch rather than a huge silent escape and explosion.

I have calculate dusing some handy estimates of heat demand over half hourly periods in the UK (assuming all excess power is stored in the summer and burned off in winter with no mid season recharges, so its conservative) that at a weighted average COP of 2.25 (for domestic and commercial space heating obviously) that you woudl require roughly 65TWh(e) of storage in combination with a 100GWe reactor park.

IN this system you would require ~2.7 million tonnes of hydrogen storage with ~100GWe of hydrogen fired CCGTs. That actually sounds surprisingly reasonable, but it is very conservative as I assumed top heat demand was a triangle when it is actually a curve with a far lower 'fill factor'.
And the CCGTs would likely be able to fire natural gas in an emergency, or could be made to be so capable.


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PostPosted: Aug 11, 2016 7:03 pm 
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Gratitude for your answers, calculations, links, and overview, E. Do you know about the U.S. situation for H2 storage? I don't, just asking. I haven't studied this.
Technologies making hydrogen from methane, such as steam methane reforming (SMR) and auto thermal reforming (ATR) need to improve if they are to be competitive in power production from 100% hydrogen storage configurations—much of this improvement is already in hand in national clean fossil fuel, Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and turbine technology development programs.
This is excellent!

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Last edited by Tim Meyer on Aug 11, 2016 7:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Aug 11, 2016 7:13 pm 
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Unfortunately no - most of my information is derived from UK specific surveys that I have obtained copies of, especially the British Geological Survey's Mineral Planning Factsheets.

Additionally there is a lot of material available in the public domain from the 60s and 70s connected to the nationalised electricity and gas industries, back when the state used to establish commissions to look into these issues with some regularity.


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PostPosted: Aug 11, 2016 7:19 pm 
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No worries. Something for me to root around in over the pond from you in the States. Thanks, E.

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PostPosted: Aug 11, 2016 7:34 pm 
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So I ran the numbers again

100GWe reactor park
56GWe of CCGTs burning hydrogen for a total of 33.6TWh(e) over ~1200 hours -> 1.68 million tonnes of hydrogen stored

~44GWe of energy storage with 4400GWh of storage over ~100 hours -> sounds like a job for pumped storage but finding that much is a real challenge. However spikes tend to come over multiple days with lulls in between as even on very cold days heat demand falls off drastically at night - which means a few hundred gigawatt hours should be enough, which lines up nicely with estimates of available storage in the UK.
~100GWh of seawater pumped storage should be feasible
~100GWh of pumped storage available from conversion of Scottish Hydro is easily achievable.
~100GWh from new conventional schemes is achievable

And that is the generating plant - now I just have to calculate how much excess summer generating capacity is left.


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PostPosted: Aug 12, 2016 2:15 am 
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E Ireland wrote:
So I ran the numbers again

100GWe reactor park
56GWe of CCGTs burning hydrogen for a total of 33.6TWh(e) over ~1200 hours -> 1.68 million tonnes of hydrogen stored

~44GWe of energy storage with 4400GWh of storage over ~100 hours -> sounds like a job for pumped storage but finding that much is a real challenge. However spikes tend to come over multiple days with lulls in between as even on very cold days heat demand falls off drastically at night - which means a few hundred gigawatt hours should be enough, which lines up nicely with estimates of available storage in the UK.
~100GWh of seawater pumped storage should be feasible
~100GWh of pumped storage available from conversion of Scottish Hydro is easily achievable.
~100GWh from new conventional schemes is achievable

And that is the generating plant - now I just have to calculate how much excess summer generating capacity is left.


A bit of gas can go a long way. This is the demand I'm profiling for 2050 based on 2015 weather, supplied with a pure nuclear and gas infrastructure:
http://prntscr.com/c4mljd

This assumes that intra-day variations are evened out with demand management and bit of storage. Demand can vary from 44GW to 110GW.

But 85GW of nuclear still runs at 82% annual capacity, and the 36GW of gas capacity only provides 3.2% over the year - unless summer nuclear maintenance bumps into a random cold spell.

So some form of seasonal energy storage helps, but is not essential. If you are looking at using renewables, then gas ends up at about 14% unless you can store about 30TWh.


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PostPosted: Aug 12, 2016 4:09 am 
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E Ireland wrote:
There are better things to do with cellulosic biomass than simply gassifying it - for example microwave assisted acid hydrolysis is extremely promising to liberate sugars which have a variety of industrial purposes (such as manufacture of xylitol or as feedstock for industrial fermentation of value added products). That would lead to only lignin being left - which could be directly hydrogenated or electro-cracked to various products. Only a high carbon low functionality char left after those processes should be gassified - to do otherwise is a waste of valuable functionality.


I think that gasification of biomass is better anyway because convert all (or almost all) the carbon in biomass into useful hydrocarbon-based liquid fuels (again, particurally with external hydrogen and low temp heat), unlike fermatation (for example, fermantation of corn or sugar cane to get ethanol) or hydrolysis and it's basically a process that is quite simple, pratical and available still today, unlike many other exotic proposals, including final products infrastructures


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PostPosted: Aug 12, 2016 6:16 am 
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Alex P wrote:
I think that gasification of biomass is better anyway because convert all (or almost all) the carbon in biomass into useful hydrocarbon-based liquid fuels (again, particurally with external hydrogen and low temp heat), unlike fermatation (for example, fermantation of corn or sugar cane to get ethanol) or hydrolysis and it's basically a process that is quite simple, pratical and available still today, unlike many other exotic proposals, including final products infrastructures


I Was proposing fermentation to value added products, not commodity chemicals like bioethanol - I mean things like Pruteen and Quorn, or fine chemicals, or even humulin. Even humble xylitol (produced by hydrogenation of the xylose fraction) is worth well over $1000/t - which is an enormous value for its carbon and non water hydrogen content.

And lignin cracking can produce fine chemicals like vanillin and whatnot that are all worth considerably more per tonne than simple hydrocarbon fuels.


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PostPosted: Aug 12, 2016 6:19 am 
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alexterrell wrote:
A bit of gas can go a long way. This is the demand I'm profiling for 2050 based on 2015 weather, supplied with a pure nuclear and gas infrastructure:
http://prntscr.com/c4mljd

This assumes that intra-day variations are evened out with demand management and bit of storage. Demand can vary from 44GW to 110GW.

But 85GW of nuclear still runs at 82% annual capacity, and the 36GW of gas capacity only provides 3.2% over the year - unless summer nuclear maintenance bumps into a random cold spell.

So some form of seasonal energy storage helps, but is not essential. If you are looking at using renewables, then gas ends up at about 14% unless you can store about 30TWh.


That model is quite nice - but the problem is that it is very difficult to do demand side management with heat pumps, whilst if you go for storage heaters that allow for massive demand side management you end up with a cold year peak-day requiring something like 135GWe for heating alone. I've found a PhD thesis that mentions synthesising a half hourly heat demand model - which I am attempting to reconstruct so that I can feed data into it (as he does not publish his whole data set).
If I do manage to create such a model I will share it with the forum. I can then input last years temperature data, adjust for COP and superimpose it on the electricity demand to create an overall heat demand model.

My own studies suggest that in a cold winter, if all heat was being provided by heat pumps with the weighted average COP of 2.25 then we would end up with 135GWe peak heating demand and an average around 60GWe for the day. So around 100GWe average total demand.
So a 100GWe reactor park with those ~37TWh of storage can handle the entire thing.


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