Click to visit:

Carbon Standard 300/30 Story part 3

Carbon Standard 300/30 Story part 5

Carbon Standard. The Basic Requirements.

1. Activity needs to balance carbon release to carbon capture.
2. Everyone needs to have a carbon account.
3. Carbon account produces a net result by subtracting capture from release producing a profit or loss.
4. Cash only, no credit within the system. E.g. You cannot offset todays emissions by planting a tree that takes fifty years to mature and capture the carbon that was released. You could only allow for growth in the past year.

What are the areas that industrial activity can behave more like natural activity ?

All activity requires some form of power or energy, the basis of our industrial activity is burning fossil fuels, plus some nuclear power. So in order to keep our civilisation functioning we need a source of power. The common link to power generation is to create a temperature difference that can be tapped to be able to siphon of the energy available into a form we want, such mechanical or electrical.

The current systems we use are inefficient, which in natural thinking we would call unstreamlined. This lack of streamlining produces drag, which we generally overcome by using more power. What we fail to do is develop a streamlined design to do the job in the first place.

A muscle is streamlined, because it, like all things in nature does more than one job at a time. A muscle as well as providing mechanical power to move a limb, by its action pumps blood and generates heat to maintain body temperature within the narrow limits necessary for satisfactory human performance. So in this example three jobs.

In our quest for the power to run our civilisation, the first thing to do is to look for a temperature difference to tap into. Being discerning we observe that the air is warmed by the sun during the day and cools down at night. We also note that the sea warms in the summer and cools during the winter but on a daily basis the fluctuations in temperature are minimal. So for most of the day and night there is a temperature difference between air and water, the temperatures being equal at dawn and dusk.

So we have identified a common temperature difference that exists for twenty out of twenty four hours. The fact that the highest temperature fluctuates between the two mediums of air and water is a benefit as the thermal pollution is negligible. Which is better than a conventional power stations, coal or nuclear which have fairly large thermal footprints, that can disturb surrounding ecosystems.

One of the most ecosystem disturbing forms of power generation is hydro-electric, where you dam up a river, flood a valley to make a lake, power up the turbines and hope that it does not stop raining further upstream. Hydro-electric has a good press though, as it does not produce smoke !! It does however produce methane from the rotting vegetation in the flooded valley.
The question of how much power you get after all that building effort is also worth casting a discerning eye over. To make things simple and the numbers not too incomprehensible let us use a very small example.

Imagine a small river where the flow is an average of 200 litres per second. And you build a small dam that is 3.05 metres high, the mechanical energy available for conversion to generate electricity is 5.97 kilowatts per second, as shown on the first line. If you factor in an efficiency of eighty percent conversion to electricity, which is what a good hydroelectric plant will deliver. The available power is 4.78 kilowatts per second as shown in line two.

Comparison of mechanical energy versus heat energy

Comparison of mechanical energy versus heat energy

If you reduced the temperature of the water by one degree Celsius and measured the energy collected as shown in the third line it is 836.77 Kilowatts per second, i.e.140.16 times greater.

Even collecting the energy at a low efficiency of say twenty percent, produces a significant advantage of167.35 kilowatts per second i.e. 35.01 times the 4.78 kilowatts per second shown in line two for our hydro-electric plant, without the need to build a dam.

Let us now look at the air side of the equation and see what wind turbines can do. Wind energy cannot build the atmospheric equivalent of a dam, so it has to use sites where it is usually windy, also there is no storage of power that can be accessed in times of need, unlike the reservoir of water that exists behind a dam. The engineering involved includes designing a turbine to operate most efficiently at a certain wind speed, which produces a power generation curve as shown below.

This then leads us to look at how much air needs to flow past the turbine to generate a certain amount of power. There are water turbines that operate in the same way using tidal flows such as in the Bristol Channel.

The wind turbine in this illustration is a typical 600 KW with a rotor diameter of 44 metres. With an optimum wind speed of 19 metres per second or 42.5 mph it will produce 600 KW/sec.

The area of the rotor is 1520.7 square metres, when we multiply the area by the wind speed of 19 metres per second we get 28,894 cubic metres of air per second entering the turbine, which in weight is the same as thirty six cubic metres of water or 1271 cubic feet.

If we compare like for like then our hydroelectric power plant produces 0.68 kilowatts per cubic foot and our wind turbine produces 0.47 kilowatts per cubic foot. Finally if we look at the heat energy rather than the mechanical energy and use our twenty percent efficiency rating we get 23.75 kilowatts per cubic foot a considerable improvement.

Electricity is a versatile form of energy, but because we have always generated it from mechanical means that are generally speaking powered by heat from burning fossil fuels, habit based on past experience leads us to assume that electricity is more expensive than fossil fuels. The point that I ask you now to consider is that if electricity was the cheapest form of energy, how could this alter the way we do things ?

Electricity has one disadvantage over fossil fuels, in that it is difficult to store. And although there have been improvements over the years, batteries are still big, heavy and expensive for the amount of energy they store when compared to a petrol tank.

This leads to the observation that, if we could store our electricity in a petrol tank, it could be a useful facility to have. Conveniently for us there is a piece of kit that will do just that and it is called a fuel cell. Fuel cells were developed in the 1950s and have the ability to work in both directions, i.e. they can turn electricity into fuel or fuel into electricity. Fuel cells can currently work with Hydrogen, Carbon Monoxide, Methane and Methanol.

The basic point is that with cheap electricity you can synthesise the fuels that power our buildings and transport systems. This approach means that no one country can have a monopoly that forces another country to be dependent on it for its energy supplies. This is an issue that has been the cause of wars, poverty and disease in the past and present. Our western system of honouring contracts is not accepted in many parts of the world, to some degree this is the Wests fault in making them too onerous for the other party to honour, without undue hardship.

The idea that electricity and liquid fuels can become interchangeable deserves a new term which I shall call liquitricity.

This brings us back to Peak Oil. There are acres and acres of cyberspace devoted to peak oil and its consequences, but a quotation from Dr Samsam Bakhtiari, who was formally a senior energy analyst with the National Iranian Oil Company, who began his career in 1971, gives us a taste of things to come.

"The decline of global oil production seems now irreversible. It is bound to occur over a number of transitions, the first of which I have called T1, which has just begun in 2006. T1 has a very benign gradient of decline, and it will take months before one notices it at all. But T2 will be far steeper...My World Oil Production Capacity model has predicted that over the next 14 years, present global production of 81 million barrels per day will decrease by roughly 32%, down to around 55 million barrels per day by the year 2020.

"Thus, in the face of Peak Oil and its multiple consequences, which are bound to impact upon almost all aspects of our human standards of life, it seems imperative to get prepared to face all the inevitable shock waves resulting from that. Preparation should be carried out on individual, familial, societal, and national levels as soon as possible. Every preparative step taken today will prove far cheaper than any step taken tomorrow."

The general consensus of those people in the know, is that they are a bit spooked !!!

You can also find a huge acreage in cyberspace about the shortage of fresh water that will be faced in the very near future. This will have major effect on agriculture and therefore food supplies. If however you have cheap Liquitricity, you can also have desalination plants.

Finally there are hectares of cyberspace devoted to money, and even though there is an unlimited supply of money, this fact makes the financial system, “ Not fit for purpose.” To quote the home secretary when referring to his department, which does not know how many people there are in the U.K., just the sort of information you would think they should know !!

So to define the problem in simple terms:
“ We live on a planet that is overheating, with too many people, chasing too few resources, with too much funny money.”

So to define the solution in also in simple terms:
“ We need to cool the planet, reduce the amount of funny money, not waste resources and allow people to move off of their home planet.”

This can be done with one simple principle:

The Carbon Standard.

There is a finite amount of Carbon on Planet Earth, This Carbon exists in many forms, but in the first instance we choose Carbon Dioxide, which is present in both air and water, and any measurement must include both the atmosphere and the oceans. If we fail to do this by focusing purely on the level in one medium, say the atmosphere, then it would be like running through a doorway, without checking that the door was in the open position !!

The oceans appear to act as a buffer to the fluctuation of Carbon Dioxide levels in the atmosphere. As CO2 levels rise in the atmosphere then the ocean CO2 levels rise as well. This also affects the acid alkali balance in the ocean and thereby which species will thrive or not. Marine creatures are very sensitive to alteration in their surroundings, the acid rains of the 1970s killed many lakes in Scandinavia, by altering the Ph levels.

Higher levels of CO2 favour the plants more than the animals, and so the constraints put on animal growth allow the plants to thrive and capture CO2, thus making a more favourable environment for the animals, restoring the balance. This natural system of regulation is delicate and not designed to cope with large amounts of industrial activity that does not honour the COM.

We have a rough idea of how much carbon there is on the Earth, and how much is in each of its different forms. If we are to use the Carbon Standard it as a governing system of industrial activity and protection system for the environment, then you have to pick a place to start and have a vague idea of where you are going. I will describe the destination first.

Click to visit:

Carbon Standard 300/30 Story part 3

Carbon Standard 300/30 Story part 5