Climate: Removing CO2 from the air no longer optional

By Marlowe HOOD

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There is a better way. A VHTR (very high temperature nuclear reactor) uses helium coolant that enables it to operate at temperatures of upto 1000 degrees celcius. This high temperature allows us to efficiently produce hydrogen from seawater using the sulfur-iodine cycle. We can then combine H2 with CO2 sequestered from air using excess baseload power from another reactor to produce methanol very economically. This methanol can be processed to completely replace aviation fuels and and deisel fuels for heavy vehicles.

But alas money is being wasted away on the renewable pipe dream that is failing spectacularly in Europe right now. It's a shame but people have to suffer painfully for them to fully realise the consequences of ditching nuclear power.

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As usual this can change very importantly with development of new technology, betting on it is costly, because money and resources have to be spent in research that maybe end up in nothing, but if a new method comes up that can capture CO2 efficiently, then this option comes back to the table.

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Currently, in the world, there are about 440 operating reactors with a combined electrical capacity of 390 GW. Additionally, there are 55 reactors under construction and 109 reactors planned, with a combined capacity of 63 GW and 118 GW, respectively, while 329 more reactors are proposed.

Only 30 countries have reactors. 20 of them have less than 10 reactors.

This is unfortunate but the way our nuclear industry is today is becuase it was born and bred through the cold war. Governments wanted uranium thermal reactors becuase they could work in tandem with nuclear weapons programs to get the bomb. If circumstances were diffrent in the 1950's we could have gone the route of LFTR reactors which are safer, more effective, cheaper and ploriferation resistant. That is the struggle that the nuclear industry is going through today. They are trying to recreate that panacea that should have been taken 70 years ago. If LFTR became the mainstream back in the 60's then 60% or more of the worlds electricity mix could have been nuclear. We would not be talking about global warming becuase a solution to that problem would be right in our hands. But alas, that is in another time, in another life.

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Thanks for the response zichi

When will Gen IV reactors become available.

That is when the first commercial LFTR reactor in China will come online. The prototype at Wuwei will acheive first criticality this month. The first one was built at Oak Ridge National Laboratories in the US in 1967. It was cancelled becuase it had no use for the military. Probably one of the worst decisions made in history.

The current costs are high. $10,000 per kW. Times that by 1000MW and then by 400 reactors.

For which country is this price. Have you compared this to nuclear kWh prices in France and China which are much cheaper than prices in North America and other European countries due to overregulation.

iii. Where are the trained resources to construct and operate them?

Currently only in China.

 Who will pay for the poor countries to construct them?

It is not the poor countries that need them. Its the developed and highly industrialised countries that need them as they are the biggest CO2 emitters.

Which countries will be allowed to produce the high-assay, low-enriched uranium, or HALEU for those reactors?

Can you elaborate more on this point?

Coal-fired plants are operating and can be converted to ammonia. Gas-fired plants can run in hydrogen.

Your kidding. You know what else can fill that role? Nuclear power. Add to that nuclear seawater desalination, nuclear based methanol production, fertiliser production etc.

Still no answer to the energy storage and transmission problem.

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@ zichi

You seem far too fixated on the costs. What matters more to the energy grid? Costs or reliablity.

The world spends $2 trillion every year on military expenditure. With that money we can easily fund commericalisation of Gen 4 reactors, especially since the technology is mature and has been tested since 1967.

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The article discusses going carbon-neutral by 2050.

Going carbon-neutral is a laudable goal, but even if we were somehow able to do it in the year 2021, it might be too late to stop a runaway greenhouse effect. The warming that we have already caused in the atmosphere is enough to cause a massive amount of melting of permafrost in the formerly frozen north, which melting in turn releases massive amounts of methane and CO2. Couple melting permafrost with melting methane hydrates in the ocean and lakes, and one gets an idea of the size of the problem. This problem is not hypothetical, it is occurring right now, and going carbon-neutral in 2050, or even in 2021, will not stop it.

Exploring ways to artificially remove CO2 from the atmosphere would be hugely helpful, but so far it is not possible.

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Yours is an impossible and expensive pipedream.

Which part are you reffering to? Completely remove all CO2 in the atmosphere? Or the part about achieving carbon nuetral goals by replacing aviation fuels with processed methanol derived from excess nuclear power?

There are none in operation.

Becuase of the lack of political will to fund and build them. But maybe a global energy crisis will force people to reconsider?

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Your entire statement can be summarised as what I replied earlier: lack of political will to fund and build them.

All those reactors would have to be replaced.

No zichi we only need to replace the ones that are at the end of their service life.

Those 440 reactors will need replacing and if new built to increase the numbers to 1,000, still less than 25% of world power demand will be generated.

Hey that's good enough. I would prefer if it was 40%. But that is a good enough proportion of baseload nuclear power to sustain future civilisation. The remaining 60% can be supllied by a combination renewable energy coupled with advanced energy storage systems (that have yet to be developed) and maybe 10% natural gas.

But yes we need to make GEN IV reactors but it won't help with the current CO2 problem for many decades and might be too late.

So this is what I have been trying to ask from you in other threads as well. What is the plan for renewable energy supporters to acheive 100% green energy? Especially in light of the recent events taking place in the world today. Unlike all theoretical concepts like fusion, all Gen 4 nuclear concepts are proven, they only need go ahead for funding and commercial operation.

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Hey zichi

Germany wants to temporarily burn more coal this year. Shutting down all those nuclear powerplants may not have been a good idea in hindsight right? And just think. This is happening in Europe, which already benefits from a bounty of very windy climate and shallow North Sea coasts that make it easy to build offshore fixed support wind turbines. If wind rich Europe is struggling to wean off its dependance on coal and gas how do you expect India, China, South Korea and Japan to go coal/gas free whilst decomissioning nuclear power plants?

Awaiting you answer zichi

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Is there a methane removal plan? I thought methane was worse than CO2. Mobius is not wrong that nuclear is by far the most practical emissions free tech.

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Governments wanted uranium thermal reactors becuase they could work in tandem with nuclear weapons programs to get the bomb.

Commercial reactors are not suitable for making nuclear weapons materials. Any U239 created during use rapidly changes to U240 in the type of pressurized water reactors used for power generation. This kind of reactor would have to be shut down and refueled at two week intervals to harvest U239 before it picked up another neutron and became U240, which has no use in nuclear weapons. One of the reasons the nuclear powers of the world are happy to see states that do not have nuclear weapons build such reactors is they are no good for producing materials necessary for nuclear weapons and if, say , some nation tried they would be shutting them down every two weeks to refuel and that would be clearly observable.

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Carbon capture is a weak band aid. The only long term solution is to produce much less carbon dioxide overall. That is where the emphasis needs to be.

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Hydrogen and ammonia might be a quicker intermediate stage. Many companies looking at those.

We have yet to develop fuel cell technology to efficiently convert excess renewable energy and store it as chemical fuel like ammonia. And then it begs the question, what are the practicalities of transporting ammonia fuel from countries like Australia and North Africa which have excess renewable energy and getting them to rapidly industiralising countries like China, India as well as the US. Why go to all that trouble when you could build a LFTR reactor in the middle of the desert or pretty much anywhere in the world, even next to a volcano.

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@ zichi

nope. I am a first year civil engineering student.

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Carbon capture by natural means is an easy low hanging fruit that merely requires a little political will and application. Wetlands and peat beds capture more carbon than trees by land size though appropriate tree planting has other benefits as well.

Carbon capture if applied directly to the “chimney” can be effective and there is a market for the product, reducing the financial cost. More general stripping from the atmosphere is a technology that is not yet mature or proven to be generally effective and may well prove energy expensive.

Heavy industrial eg cement and steel, heavy transport and aviation are perfect candidates for replacing the energy source with Hydrogen, and proof of concept plants are I believe either in operation or planned.

All of which is pointless as long as the heavy polluters India, China and other developing countries continue to use coal etc and throw up their spurious “right” to industrial development is more important than the destruction of the environment.

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at the time of this post the UK is generating 53% of its electricity from wind, 20% from nuclear, 0% from coal, 16% from LNG

Nope. Wind produces 32% of power demand. Nuclear is 13%. You can see UK buys power from other nations who may be producing that power from coal fired power plants. More recently UK plans to buy surplus hydropower from Norway via a newly installed undersea cable.

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if wind speeds in Europe continue to stay low due to the changing climate then we have to build many more wind turbines to meet baseload supply. Like three times as much.

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if wind speeds in Europe continue to stay low due to the changing climate then we have to build many more wind turbines to meet baseload supply. Like three times as much.

Locate them near major European capitals to take advantage of the prevailing hot air blowing from them. And a whole bunch around Brussels and The Hague.

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Re “Removing CO2 from the air no longer optional” in the title, I have just understood the meaning!

(Not one of the options any more, I was thinking. But why? What’s wrong with it?)

So, it is imperative.

On another note, just recently the slaughterhouses and sparkling water bottlers in Europe were complaining about a lack of CO2!

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Volcanoes cause the most C02. There are thousands under the sea venting all the time.

Incorrect. Human activity emits about 60 times more CO2 each year into the atmosphere than volcanos do.

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Volcanoes cause the most C02. There are thousands under the sea venting all the time.

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Direct CO2 capture is used to pump more oil. It increases CO2 in the air.

Waste Biochar can draw down 13 Gt (Gigatonnes) per year, displace fossils fuels and chemicals and double the productivity of poor soils. It's already profitable and fairly widespread. It can scale fast.

We can use it to clear the forest of all the debris too.

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 is equivalent to three seconds' worth of current global emissions (40 billion tons)

I think the 40 billion figure is the annual amount and not three seconds worth.

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Just let the plants and algae take care of it. All of this scare mongering is to push for measures that just end up making things worst.

The images here are quite frightening:

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