EPAoverreach-2014b

Germany & Pennsylvania Hydrogen from Hydropower

United States Patent: 6864596

As we have stated previously, study of the available literature documenting the ways and means by which both Coal and Carbon Dioxide can be profitably converted into liquid and gaseous hydrocarbons - and, boy, howdy, there sure is a lot of it - demonstrates that the most efficient results, in terms of total Carbon conversion and ranges of products generated, i.e., for instance, straight hydrocarbons versus alcohols, are achieved when elemental Hydrogen, as opposed to Steam, is used as the source of Hydrogen in the Carbon hydrogenation reactions.

The use of Steam as one of the hydrogen donors, as seen in:

Exxon 1982 Coal + Steam = Methanol | Research & Development | News; concerning:

"United States Patent 4,348,486 - Production of Methanol via Catalytic Coal Gasification; 1982; Assignee: Exxon Research and Engineering Company; Abstract: Methanol is produced by gasifying a carbonaceous feed material with steam"; and, in:

March, 2011, CO2-to-Methanol US Patent Awarded | Research & Development; concerning:

"United States Patent 7,906,559 - Conversion of Carbon Dioxide to Methanol and/or Dimethyl Ether; 2011; Assignee: University of Southern California; Abstract: The invention discloses a method of converting carbon dioxide to methanol and/or dimethyl ether using any methane source or natural gas consisting of a combination of steam and dry reforming";

does lead to the co-production of at least some alcohol, that is, oxygenated hydrocarbons, which might or might not be the most desired or efficient final product.

Good results can be obtained when hydrocarbon gases, such as Methane, are used alone as the Hydrogen carriers, or donors, as seen in our reports of:

West Virginia Coal Association | Germany Coal + Methane = Diesel Fuel | Research & Development; about:

"United States Patent 4,605,487 - Use of Methane ... for Pyrolysis Gas; 1986; Assignee: VEB Schwermaschinenbau (Germany) Abstract: Method for the production of liquid products, particularly, tar, from (coal, and) in which the liquid product consists essentially of tar suitable for the production of ... diesel fuel"; and:

West Virginia Coal Association | WVU CO2 + CH4 = Hydrocarbon Syngas | Research & Development; concerning:

"New Catalysts for Syngas Production from Carbon Dioxide and Methane; Mahesh V. Iyer; West Virginia University; 2001; Catalytic reforming of methane with carbon dioxide to syngas has been proposed as one of the most promising technologies for use of these greenhouse gases as carbon-containing materials. Syngas produced by dry reforming has a higher purity as compared to the conventional steam reforming process. Dry reforming also results in a lower H2/CO ratio, near unity (but) nickel catalysts also catalyze coke formation via methane decomposition (and) efforts have been concentrated on exploring new catalysts, which are resistant to (such) carbon formation. (Methane) reforming using CO2 seems to be ... very promising (but) feeding both water and carbon dioxide along with methane ... can suppress the carbon deposition during the CH4-CO2 reforming".

But, as indicated above, the use of Methane, for instance, alone in the gasification of Coal results in the formation of heavier hydrocarbons, such as "tar" and "diesel fuel"; while it's use alone in the reforming of Carbon Dioxide can lead to "carbon deposition" on the catalyst surfaces, and, thus, some loss of the Carbon supplied to the reaction; and, other inefficiencies.

Again, the best results in Coal conversion and Carbon Dioxide recycling processes, as demonstrated in:

West Virginia Coal Association | California Rocket Scientists Liquefy Coal | Research & Development;  concerning, in part:

"United States Patent 4,169,128 - Coal Liquefaction Apparatus; 1979; Assignee: Rockwell International Corporation, (CA); Abstract: Disclosure is made of an apparatus for reacting carbonaceous material with heated hydrogen to form hydrocarbon gases and liquids suitable for conversion to fuels"; and, in:

West Virginia Coal Association | Maryland's 2012 CO2-Recycling Valentine | Research & Development; concerning, in part:

"United States Patent 8,114,916 - Systems ... for Production of Synthetic Hydrocarbon Compounds; 2012; Assignee: Fuelcor, LLC, VA; Abstract: A process and system for producing hydrocarbon compounds or fuels that recycle products of hydrocarbon compound combustion - - carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide, or both, and water. The energy for recycling is electricity derived from preferably not fossil based fuels, like ... renewable energy. The process comprises electrolysing water, and then using hydrogen to reduce externally supplied carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide, then using so produced carbon monoxide together with any externally supplied carbon monoxide and hydrogen in Fischer-Tropsch reactors, with upstream upgrading to desired specification fuels; for example, gasoline, jet fuel, kerosene, diesel fuel, and others";

seem to be obtained when elemental, molecular Hydrogen is utilized as the primary reactant for the Coal or the Carbon Dioxide in the synthesis gas generation processes.

And, fortunately, there are some efficient means for generating such elemental Hydrogen; means which fit in very nicely with some Coal Country resources that are now coming to be more fully appreciated and utilized.

Explanation of those Coal Country resources follows excerpts from the initial and a second, related, links in this dispatch, disclosing how we can efficiently make any Hydrogen we might want, to, as in the processes of the above-cited "United States Patent 8,114,916" and "United States Patent 4,169,128", convert both our Carbon Dioxide and our Coal efficiently into hydrocarbons:

"United States Patent 6,864,596 - Hydrogen Production from Hydro Power

Date: March, 2005

Inventors: Marco Maiwald, et. al., Germany

Assignees: Voith Siemens Hydropower Generation GmbH and Incorporated, Germany and York, PA

Abstract: A turbine installation configured for large scale hydrogen production includes a foundation structure separating an upper elevation headwater from a lower elevation tailwater. The foundation structure defines a water passageway extending therethrough between an inlet adjacent the headwater and an outlet adjacent the tailwater. A runner is supported for rotation by the foundation and disposed in the water passageway intermediate the inlet and the outlet so that water flowing through the passageway as a result of head differential causes rotation of the runner. A generator is supported by the foundation and connected to the runner by a rotary shaft for generating electrical power as the runner rotates. An electrolyzer is electrically coupled to the generator for receiving the electrical power and producing hydrogen. A control system is capable of sensing the remaining hydrogen storage capacity and performing an economic comparison analysis to determine whether operating the turbine to produce additional hydrogen or to supply a utility grid with power provides the highest economic return."

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We'll keep our excerpts brief since the essence of the thing should be obvious, which is:

At a hydroelectric dam, where the flow of water is consistent and, if it fluctuates at all does so only seasonally, that is, slowly, over extended periods of time, the generation of electricity remains fairly constant. And, there are times during each day of low demand, when, instead of applying unusable or excesss electric potential to the "grid", the excess electricity could instead be applied to generating, through electrolysis, a well-understood and established process, Hydrogen from the plainly abundant Water, H2O.

Such potentials further confirm an earlier, related US patent issued to the same corporate team, as in:

"United States Patent: 6841893 - Hydrogen Production from Hydro Power

Date: January, 2005

Inventors: Marco Maiwald, et. al., Germany

Assignees: Voith Siemens Hydropower Generation GmbH and Incorporated, Germany and York, PA

Abstract: A method is provided for operating a hydroelectric power generating facility configured for operating in first and second operating modes. The facility includes a turbine driven power generating unit receiving a flow of water through an upstream conduit to generate electrical power. The method comprises computing a first economic value for the generated electrical power when operating in the first operating mode, and computing a second economic value for the generated electrical power when operating in the second operating mode. The method further comprises comparing the first economic value with the second economic value to identify the operating mode that provides the higher economic value, and operating the turbine facility in the identified operating mode.

Claims: A method for operating a hydroelectric power generating facility configured for operating in first and second operating modes, the facility including a turbine driven power generating unit receiving a flow of water through an upstream conduit to generate electrical power, the method comprising: computing a first economic value for the generated electrical power when operating in the first operating mode; computing a second economic value for the generated electrical power when operating in the second operating mode; comparing the first economic value with the second economic value to identify the operating mode that provides the higher economic value; and operating the turbine facility in the identified operating mode. 

The method ...wherein the facility includes hydrogen producing equipment and the first operating mode involves producing hydrogen from the generated electrical power. 

The method ... wherein the first operating mode further includes transporting the hydrogen away from the facility using a hydrogen distribution system.

The method ... wherein the facility is connected to a utility grid and the second operating mode involves supplying the generated electrical power to the utility grid. 

The method ... wherein the generated electrical power is DC power and the hydrogen producing equipment includes an electrolyzer.

The method ... wherein the generated electrical power is AC power and the method further includes converting the AC power to DC power when operating in the first (i.e., H2 production) operating mode.

A hydroelectric turbine installation configured for operating in first and second operating modes, the installation including a turbine driven power generating unit receiving a flow of water through an upstream conduit to generate electrical power, the turbine installation comprising: means for computing a first economic value for the generated electrical power when operating in the first operating mode; means for computing a second economic value for the generated electrical power when operating in the second operating mode; means for comparing the first economic value with the second economic value to identify the operating mode that provides the higher economic value; and means for operating the turbine facility in the identified operating mode.

The method ... further including capturing at least one byproduct of the hydrogen production process during the first operating mode.

(That "one byproduct", by the way, would be pure Oxygen, which we could direct to a process such as that disclosed in our report of:

Conoco 2011 Coal + CO2 + H2O + O2 = Syngas | Research & Development; concerning:

"United States Patent 7,959,829 - Gasification System and Process; 2011; Assignee: ConocoPhillips Company, Houston; Abstract: A system and process for gasifying carbonaceous feedstock";

wherein it's explained how pure Oxygen can be used to support reactions between Coal, Carbon Dioxide and Steam that generate even more synthesis gas suitable for the manufacture of yet more hydrocarbons.)

Field: The present invention relates to the field of hydrogen production from hydroelectric power. More particularly, the invention relates to ... a technique for performing an economic analysis to determine when to operate the hydroelectric power dam installation in a hydrogen production mode.

Summary: The present invention relates to high volume production of hydrogen from hydroelectric power. The invention further relates to a method and system for operating a hydroelectric turbine installation that is capable of operating in two or more different modes to provide the highest economic return. 

An exemplary embodiment of the present invention relates to a method for operating a hydroelectric power generating facility configured for operating in first and second operating modes. The facility includes a turbine driven power generating unit receiving a flow of water through an upstream conduit to generate electrical power. The method comprises computing a first economic value for the generated electrical power when operating in the first operating mode, and computing a second economic value for the generated electrical power when operating in the second operating mode. The method further comprises comparing the first economic value with the second economic value to identify the operating mode that provides the higher economic value, and operating the turbine facility in the identified operating mode."

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In sum, the above comprise a process and efficient resource management system capable of generating electricity both for the grid and for Hydrogen production through water electrolysis; and, of deciding when it's most profitable to apply the electricity it makes to one end use or the other; and, of then directing more or less of the electricity it generates from one mode to the other as the economic scenario, i.e., grid electricity versus Hydrogen production, fluctuates throughout the days and seasons.

The grid electricity and the Hydrogen are co-products of an hydroelectric dam, with preference to the production of either or both of them, in varying relative quantities, adjusted on a continuous basis according to a described system of calculations.

The Hydrogen, thus, can be seen and treated as the profitable byproduct of generating electricity from hydroelectric installations; and, which Hydrogen could be utilized, as in our above-cited processes of "United States Patent 4,169,128 - Coal Liquefaction Apparatus" and "United States Patent 8,114,916 - Systems ... for Production of Synthetic Hydrocarbon Compounds", to convert Coal and to recycle Carbon Dioxide into needed liquid hydrocarbon fuels.

And, here's the kicker:

We have a lot of dams in West Virginia and the rest of US Coal Country. And, even though most of them aren't, or weren't built to be, hydroelectric dams, they can be retrofitted to be able to produce hydroelectric power, as seen in:

e-WV | Hydroelectricity: "The production of hydroelectricity in West Virginia entered the 21st century in 2001, when the 80-megawatt power station on the Summersville Dam on Gauley River went into use. Other recent hydropower plants include the 42-megawatt facility on the Ohio River at Belleville, which began producing electricity in 1999 and is operated by American Municipal Power-Ohio. A similar partnership produces power on the Hannibal locks and dam on the Ohio River near New Martinsville, and another is in the planning stage for Bluestone Dam in Summers County. These public private partnerships were made possible by the federal Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act, passed in 1978"; and:

Sutton: "Sutton Dam on the Elk River near the town of Sutton, WV, was constructed in 1957 by the US Army Corps of Engineers Huntington District for the purposes of flood control, water supply, recreation and fish and wildlife enhancement. Sutton Hydroelectric Company LLC has received a Preliminary Permit to explore the development of this site for electrical generation. In October of 2007 Brookfield Power US Holdings America had acquired all the ownership interests of Sutton Hydroelectric Company and continued to pursue the development of the project. Subsequently the project has been reacquired by Advanced Hydro Solutions LLC"; and:

http://www.summersvillewv.org/web_copy/SvilleHydro10-4-07Brief.pdf; "The Story of the Summersville (WV)  Hydroelectric Project: This document recounts the story of the Summersville Hydroelectric Project from the inception of the idea in 1980 until commercial operation began in 2001. Summersville Dam was built by the federal
government in 1967 and is operated by the Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) for several purposes: flood control, low flow augmentation, lake recreation and fishing, enhancement of fish and wildlife, fishing in the river below the dam and whitewater rafting on the Gauley River. The hydropower addition to the dam had to be coordinated with these existing activities without adverse impact"; and:

Jennings Randolph: "The Jennings Randolph Dam (also known as Bloomington Lake Dam) is on the North Branch of the Potomac River near the towns of Barnum, WV and Swanton, MD, was completed in 1985 by the US Army Corps of Engineers (Baltimore Div) for the purposes of flood control, recreation and natural resource management. Fairlawn Hydroelectric Company LLC, a subsidiary of AHS had received a Preliminary Permit to explore the development of this site for electrical generation"; and:

Company considers hydro power at Tygart Dam - WVPubcast.org: "November 12, 2008 ยท A study is underway to see if the Tygart Dam in Grafton (WV) would be a good spot for a hydroelectric plant. Grafton tried to build a hydroelectric plant at the site, but was unable to. Now a private Ohio-based company, Advanced Hydro Solutions, has a preliminary permit to determine whether the project will work".

For more on the above-mentioned "Advanced Hydro Solutions LLC"; i.e., "AHS", see:

Home: "Advanced Hydro Solutions is primarily a developer of hydroelectric facilities. We seek to develop, or redevelop, suitable existing dams in North America that can be converted to electrical generation, or upgraded, in a cost effective and financially attractive manner."

However,  as good as all of that sounds, with the potentials for generating a little extra electricity and, maybe, some spare Hydrogen to convert our Coal and recycle our Carbon Dioxide, none of the above comes easy.

As can be learned, among other sources, via:

780 F.2d 1034: Town of Summersville, West Virginia, Petitioner, v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Respondent, Friends O: "George F. Bruder, Washington, D.C., for petitioner. Andrea Wolfman, Washington, D.C., for respondent. Jerome M. Feit, Sol. and John N. Estes, III, Atty., F.E.R.C., Washington, D.C., were on the brief for respondent. Paula Dinerstein, Washington, D.C., for intervenor, Friends of the Earth. Before WALD, GINSBURG and BORK, Circuit Judges. This case represents a highwater mark in misunderstanding between a municipal applicant for a license for a hydroelectric dam and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or the Commission). The Town of Summersville, West Virginia (Summersville) challenges FERC's dismissal of Summersville's application for a license to develop a hydroelectric project on the Gauley River in West Virginia, a river presently under consideration for inclusion in the national wild and scenic rivers system. Although FERC is statutorily barred from licensing any hydroelectric project on the Gauley River until at least 1987, Summersville maintains that FERC acted arbitrarily and capriciously in refusing to hold its application in abeyance. Because we find that FERC neither had a prior policy of holding all such license applications in abeyance nor was required by statute or reason to do so in this case, we uphold its order dismissing Summersville's license application";

the West Virginia town of Summersville had to wage a gallant and persistent effort to secure their rights, against some people whom one would presume would support such low-impact , renewable energy installations, just to simply install an electric generator at an already-existing dam.

But, the hydro generator did get installed. And, the possibility exists, that, at times of low demand, some of the Carbon-free electricity generated by the waters of the Gauley River could be used to generate some Hydrogen, via the processes of our subjects herein, "United States Patent 6,841,893 - Hydrogen Production from Hydro Power" and "United States Patent 6,864,596 - Hydrogen Production from Hydro Power", for use in processes like those seen in the above-cited "United States Patent 8,114,916 - Systems ... for Production of Synthetic Hydrocarbon Compounds" and "United States Patent 4,169,128 - Coal Liquefaction Apparatus", wherein it would be utilized to convert some of our abundant Coal and our some-say too abundant Carbon Dioxide into badly-needed liquid hydrocarbon fuels.