Technology Review: Turning Carbon Dioxide into Fuel

Yep, as per our earlier missive about Iceland, it can, apparently, be done.
An excerpt:

"Could concentrated solar energy be used to reverse combustion and convert carbon dioxide back into gasoline? That's what scientists at Sandia National Laboratories, in Albuquerque, NM, aim to find out by building a novel reactor that can chemically "reenergize" carbon dioxide.

The device uses a two-stage thermochemical reaction to break down carbon dioxide to produce carbon monoxide, says Nathan Siegel, a senior member of technical staffat Sandia's Solar Technologies Department and one of the researchers developing the technology. "Carbon dioxide is a combustion product, so what we're doing is reversing combustion," he says. The carbon monoxide can then readily be employed to produce a range of different fuels, including hydrogen, methanol, and gasoline, using conventional technologies."

The fact that our - thinking positively - future WV coal-to-oil conversion plants, like the 88 such units the Chinese intend building over the next five years, might produce a surplus of CO2, could, as we've earlier suggested, be a good thing.

If we're going to be stuck with the darned stuff, let's find a way to employ it, rather than spend a lot of money to stash it uselessly away. Never forget the true lessons of Thoreau and Walden Pond: Economy - using what you've got for all it's worth, and then using it again - is the essence of environmentalism.

Oh, and check out, again, the last statement of our excerpt:

"The carbon monoxide can then readily be employed to produce a range of different fuels, including hydrogen, methanol, and gasoline, using conventional technologies."

As if there were nothing to it. Of course you make liquid fuels from odd stuff like carbon monoxide (and coal), "using conventional technologies". For some people in the know, Mike, it's old hat.

Why don't we feel that way?


Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide

From the: Greenhouse Bulletin No. 120 Feb 1999
A very interesting piece.
Excerpted from the conclusion:
"It is back to the drawing board for carbon cycle models. Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration varies in a manner which has not been predicted successfully by existing models. There was significant variability before there could have been a human contribution. This variability appears to have followed temperature changes, rather than being responsible for them..."
There are some intriguing leads for follow-up, as well.
We'll keep digging.

Arizona State University: Biofuels Initiative - Algae-Based Biofuels & Biomaterials

Perhaps the important excerpt:
"The microalgal research and development effort couples the use of microalgae for biofuels production with environmental bioremediation. Microalgae naturally remove and recycle nutrients (such as nitrogen and phosphorous) from water and wastewater and carbon dioxide from flue-gases emitted from fossil fuel-fired power plants, providing an added environmental benefit. The integration of wastewater bioremediation and carbon sequestration with biofuel production in a novel field-scale bioreactor has been demonstrated."
No emphases added - the entire passage is of direct consequence, as you realize if you've been following our correspondence on the potential for employment of algal bio-reactors, to not only clean up the gaseous/aqueous effluents from coal-to-liquids plants, but to provide additional feedstock for those CTL plants, as well.
If you wish to follow up, as we think, of course, you should, the link will lead you to appropriate contact info.

Chemical & Engineering News: Coverstory - Coal: The New Black

We might have sent this article along earlier, but can find no record we did so. It's a somewhat lengthy dissertation, but, we think, well worth the read. We trust the link will function.
A brief, but pertinent, excerpt:

"It isn't only in the U.S. where the environmental implications of coal gasification are a concern. Shenhua's Zhang says the challenge of operating coal-fed facilities in a clean and resource-efficient manner is a top priority for his company. "As long as seven years ago, when I first joined Shenhua and we were planning the first direct liquefaction plant, we challenged ourselves to make a zero-discharge facility," he recalls. "We are very close to zero emissions now."

Shenhua is building its first methanol-to-olefins plant in the inland province of Ningxia, and construction of that project is about one-third completed, Zhang says. Shenhua is building another methanol-to-olefins complex at its coal mines near Baotou in Inner Mongolia that is scheduled to start coming on line at the end of the year. A more advanced, almost completed project is a coal-to-liquid fuels facility that Shenhua is building at its coal mines near the city of Ordos in Inner Mongolia. The plant makes use of a process developed by Shenhua that allows the direct liquefaction of coal into fuels without having to first gasify the coal."

Direct liquefaction might very well minimize the generation of pollutants we have to feed to the algae - presuming you to have seen our earlier dispatches on that topic.

Stewart: Refuting Coal's "Prime Polluter", "Climate Killer" Reputation

With our regrets for belaboring everyone - we're just presuming coal folks' interest in these matters we were exploring with Jamie.
So, y'all get the shotgun. 
In any case, we had earlier suggested that natural processes, primarily volcanism, render similar pollutants generated by coal use inconsequential - not that we shouldn't responsibly tend to them, especially since they might have material value for us.
As a start, we submit the attached:
Talk about pimples on an elephant's butt.
Should the link not open, there is a graph from the USGS which - if we read it correctly - illustrates that just one vent on just one of Hawaii's volcanoes sends more than 2,000 tons per day of SO2 into the atmosphere.
Actually, it might be one complete rift zone - but, still.
One island, one volcano, one rift zone.
Hang on while we compile some other data, data that we can compare to measured emissions from power plants.
And, we will be checking on data from other active areas - such as Iceland and the Phillipines.
As we start adding the numbers up, we believe that all the hyperventilation over all the coal-fired power plants' puffs from a toke on a Camel or Kool - relative to one volcano's burning up a whole Marsh-Wheeling Stogie - will begin to appear humorous. Not that we shouldn't be doing what we can.