Global Thermostat

It isn't New York City itself that's recycling Carbon Dioxide, but a new company there founded and led by a team of two highly-accomplished Columbia University scientists.

We have, of course, previously documented the achievements of Columbia University scholars in the field of Carbon Dioxide capture and utilization, and we remind you of just two of our earlier reports relating to Columbia, as in:

 

 

CO2 Capture from Ambien Air - Columbia University | Research & Development; concerning: "Energy and Material Balance of CO2 Capture from Ambient Air; Frank Zeman; Columbia University; 2007; American Chemical Society"; and:

US Navy and Columbia University Recycle Atmospheric CO2 | Research & Development; which report included separate details of: "US Patent 7,833,328 - Scrubber for Capturing Carbon Dioxide from Air; 2010; Inventors: Klaus Lackner, NY, et. al.; Assignee: Columbia University; Abstract: The present invention is directed to methods for capturing carbon dioxide from air".

Herein, we learn that two more representatives from Columbia's apparent flock of CO2-focused geniuses have established their own Carbon Dioxide reclamation technology, and, with help from some other very credible and credentialed scientists, have founded a new company intended to commercialize that technology.

First, as excerpted from the initial link in this dispatch, we learn a little more about:

"Global Thermostat, LLC; New York, NY: Global Thermostat's patent-pending technology uses low-cost left over process heat as energy for the capture of CO2 from the atmosphere.  It can be installed at new or legacy power plants, cement smelters, refineries, etc. Since energy typically accounts for two-thirds of the total operating cost with other carbon capture technologies, Global Thermostat's solution allows for dramatic cost efficiencies in reducing carbon emissions.

The use of process heat reverses the current paradigm of more energy equals more emissions.  With GT the more energy one produces the more carbon one reduces.

With Global Thermostat, the possibility of carbon negative emissions is real and achievable.

It is a commercially viable solution.

Once captured, the carbon dioxide can ... be ... incorporated into materials such as cement and plastic for various commercial applications.

Fed to algae, captured carbon enhances the production of ethanol and other biofuels without competing with food production.

(See, for just one example, our earlier report of:

Kentucky: CO2 to Algae to Fuel | Research & Development; concerning the: "First Ohio River Valley Algae Symposium; University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research and Ohio University; 2009; One approach to controlling CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion involves using algae to capture and utilize CO2 by conversion to biomass. Algae are the fastest growing photosynthesizing organisms on the planet, while also possessing higher oil content per mass than other sources of biomass. Some species contain over 50% oil by weight. This coupling of fast growth rate and high oil content makes algae a potentially ideal source of bio-derived oil.")

Exclusive Benefits (of Global Thermostat technology):

1. Low-cost process heat to facilitate air capture

(We can, as we have previously documented to be feasible, use, at least in part, waste heat arising from Coal-fired power plants to capture Carbon Dioxide.)

2. Turns a power plant, refinery or cement plant carbon negative - removing more carbon than is generated

3. Highly-flexible integration with legacy power plants, fossil fuel ... energy plants or any heat intensive industrial process

(Existing Coal-fired power plants can be retrofitted, in other words.)

4. GT technology can be located anywhere - the only inputs needed are heat and air".

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It's difficult to resist the temptation to clutter up what we intend to be a presentation focused primarily on Global Thermostat, LLC, and their Carbon Dioxide reclamation technology. But, since they stipulate that the only things needed to capture and utilize CO2 are "heat and air", we remind you that West Virginia, and other parts of US Coal Country, are sitting atop a virtually infinite supply of "heat", as we reported in:

Another Energy Bonanza for Coal Country | Research & Development; concerning: "West Virginia Geothermal; A Large Green Energy Source Beneath Northeastern West Virginia; Southern Methodist University, 2010; New research produced by Southern Methodist University's Geothermal Laboratory, funded by a grant fromGoogle.org suggests that the temperature of the Earth beneath the state of West Virginia is significantly higher than previously estimated and capable of supporting commercial baseload geothermal energy production."

 

We hope that we don't have to point out to the obstructionists among our readership where we could find, as in Global Thermostat's technology, a little "air"; though we are certain that a few will, no doubt, object.

But, again, Global Thermostat was founded by two Columbia University scientists, with quite impressive pedigrees, who deserve some individual introduction:

First, meet:

Graciela Chichilnisky - WikiCU, the Columbia University wiki encyclopedia; "Born and raised in Buenos Aires, Graciela Chichilnisky completed no undergraduate studies, moving straight to PhD work in the MIT econ department. She later moved to the math department at Berkeley, where she earned her first PhD. She earned a second from Berkeley's econ department.

She first joined the Columbia faculty in 1977, after postdoctoral work at Harvard, and has been tenured since 1979 in the Econ department. In 1995 she was named the UNESCO Professor of Mathematics and Economics.

More recently, as part of the negotiations on the Kyoto Protocol, she has become well known for her work on climate change. She helped create and design the concept of the carbon market and worked with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which won part of the 2007 Nobel Prize for peace."

That impressive personage is partnered in Global Thermostat, LLC, with the gifted:

Peter Eisenberger: "Peter Eisenberger attended Princeton University from 1959-1963, where he received a B.A. in Physics with honors. He received a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship for his first year at Harvard University and a Harvard Fellowship for his second year. He graduated in 1967 from Harvard University with Ph.D. in Applied Physics and remained at Harvard for one year as a Post Doctoral Fellow, where he did research in ... biophysics.

In 1968 he joined the staff at Bell Laboratories (and, from) 1974-1981 he was a department head.

He was a consulting professor at Stanford University’s Applied Physics Department from 1981-1987. As an outgrowth of those interests, he became actively involved in the growth of those facilities, including Chairship of the Advanced Photon Steering Committee and participation in National Academy of Science (NAS) and Department of Energy (DOE) studies. In 1981 he joined Exxon Research and Engineering Company as Director of their Physical Sciences Laboratory. In 1989 he was appointed Professor of Physics and Director of the Princeton Materials Institute at Princeton University. He is currently a Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University, where from 1996-1999 he held the posts of Vice Provost of the Earth Institute of Columbia University and Director of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University.

Dr. Eisenberger is a fellow of both the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science."

Note that Dr. Eisenberger, as above, was once employed by Exxon Research and Engineering Company, and, intriguingly, Global Thermostat, LLC, has, as a component of their impressive team, a group they label as "Technology Advisors and Management Consultants", and who include, among a number of other adepts, as via the link:

Global Thermostat | Global Thermostat | Team

"Ron Chance; Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology; Distinguished Scientific Advisor Emeritus with ExxonMobil (retired)", and:

"Rocco Fiato; Vice President and General Manager of Business Development and Planning, Accelergy".

You might recall the above Rocco Fiato. He, too, like Ron Chance, was once with ExxonMobil; and, we have already made report of some of his own accomplishments, as, for just two instances, seen in:

Exxon Recycles CO2 to Gas and Liquids | Research & Development; concerning: "United States Patent 5,140,049 - Method for Producing Olefins from H2 and CO2; 1992; Inventor: Rocco Fiato, et. al., NJ; Assignee: Exxon Research and Engineering Company; Abstract: This invention relates to a process for producing C2 -C20 olefins from a feed stream consisting of H2 and CO2 using an iron-carbide based catalyst"; and:

Exxon Recycles CO2 | Research & Development; concerning: "Iron Catalyzed CO2 Hydrogenation to Liquid Hydrocarbons; Rocco A. Fiato, et. al.;

Exxon Research and Engineering Company; Abstract: Many of the catalysts which are useful in Fischer-Tropsch synthesis are also capable of catalyzing the hydrogenation of CO2 to hydrocarbons."

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Even more reports concerning the Carbon conversion accomplishments of Rocco Fiato are in process, but, we wanted to focus some attention now on one of the key components of the Global Thermostat, LLC, Carbon Dioxide reclamation technology, itself, as explained by their own core scientific team in:

United States Patent Application: 0110011945:

"US Patent Application 20110011945A1 - System and Method for Removing CO2 from an Atmosphere

Date: January, 2011

Inventors: Peter Eisenberger, NJ, and Graciela Chichilnisky, NY

Abstract: A system for removing carbon dioxide from an atmosphere to reduce global warming including an air extraction system that collects carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through a medium and removes carbon dioxide from the medium; a sequestration system that isolates the removed carbon dioxide to a location for at least one of storage and generation of a renewable carbon fuel; and one or more power supplying units that supply heat to the air extraction system to remove the carbon dioxide from the medium, at least one of the one or more power supplying units being a fossil fuel plant.

(Note the, by now, almost obligatory genuflections to "sequestration" and "storage". We suppose inclusion of such phrases is necessary to slip genuine innovations such as these past the US Government's liturgical censors of the New Church of the Green Goddess, but, the true purpose of this technology is embodied in the phrase "generation of a renewable carbon fuel".)

Claims:  A system for removing carbon dioxide from an atmosphere to ... increase availability of renewable energy, comprising: an air extraction system that collects carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through a medium and removes carbon dioxide from the medium; a sequestration system that isolates the removed carbon dioxide to a location for at least one of storage and generation of a renewable carbon fuel; and one or more power supplying units that supply heat to the air extraction system to remove the carbon dioxide from the medium, at least one of the one or more power supplying units being a fossil fuel plant; wherein the air extraction system collects carbon dioxide and the sequestration system isolates the removed carbon dioxide using the heat supplied by the one or more power supplying units.

(Note: We have in previous reports documented the potential for recovering "waste" heat from Coal-fired power plants. The fact that such power plants are compelled to have installed cooling towers for their process water, such as the one which led to tragedy at Willow Island, WV, in the late 1970's, should be evidence enough of a by-product thermal resource which could be harnessed and employed for purposes such as, as explained by Eisenberger and Chichilnisky, collecting "carbon dioxide using the heat supplied by the one or more power supplying units".)

The system ... wherein the air extraction system comprises an air contactor that includes the medium to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere (and) wherein the air contactor is selected from the group of air contactors consisting of: convection towers, absorption pools and packed scrubbing towers. 

The system ... wherein the medium is selected from the group of mediums consisting of: a liquid, a porous solid, a gas and mixtures thereof (and) wherein the medium is an NaOH solution (and) wherein the medium comprises an amine.

(We don't want to clutter, even more than we already have, our exposition of this technology with even more links and references. We have many times documented, as in our references above to the work of Zeman and Lackner, the use of both amines and alkali metal hydroxides as efficient, even for certain reasons advantageous, absorbents of atmospheric CO2. Their use is well-established and understood.) 

The system ... wherein the air extraction system collects carbon dioxide and the sequestration system isolates the removed carbon dioxide using the heat supplied by the one or more power supplying units.

(Again, multiple opportunities exist in this process to use "waste" power plant thermal energy.)

Background and Field: The present invention relates to systems and methods for removing greenhouse gases from an atmosphere, and in particular to systems and methods for removing carbon dioxide from an atmosphere.

There is much attention currently focused on trying to achieve three energy related and somewhat conflicting energy related objectives: 1) provide affordable energy for economic development; 2) achieve energy security; and 3) avoid the destructive climate change caused by global warming.

(Again, our contention, as we've documented with reports of measurements made of CO2 originating from natural sources, such as Hawaii's volcanoes, is that our Coal Country power plant contributions to total atmospheric CO2 levels don't amount to more, relatively speaking, than a gnat's poot in a hurricane. And, since Methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas that CO2, we should, if regulation is really needed, focus a lot more attention on what's coming out of all the cattle's butts down in Texas. That doesn't, however, impact another of our core contentions, which we've many times repeated: Carbon Dioxide, as it emerges in only a very small way, relative to natural sources of emission, from our varied and productive uses of Coal, is a valuable raw material resource. We can efficiently reclaim it and utilize it in the production of, among other things, liquid and gaseous hydrocarbon fuels.)

Many different approaches are being considered to address climate change, including increasing the use of clean, non polluting renewable energy sources such as biofuels, solar, wind and nuclear, attempting to capture and sequester the carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel plants, as well as increased conservation efforts. Some of these approaches, such as solar power, have had their large scale implementation blocked due to their current high costs as compared to the cost of fossil based electricity, and other approaches, such as nuclear, are restrained by their environmental and security risks.

(To emphasize the point: When it comes to generating electricity, Coal is far more efficient and economical than Solar and far more environmentally safer than nuclear.)

In fact, the infrastructure and supply for renewable energy is so underdeveloped (e.g., only about 0.01% of our energy is provided by solar) that there is no feasible way to avoid using fossil fuels during the rest of this century if we are to have the energy needed for economic prosperity and avoid energy shortfalls that could lead to conflict.

(Since this was published in 2011, it seems clear that, if we're truly interested in attaining "economic prosperity" and avoiding "conflict", then "there is no feasible" alternative to our ongoing use of Coal.)

(Although) there are known processes for removing some of the carbon dioxide from the flue gas of a fossil fuel plant, such processes are internal to the fossil fuel plant itself, so that there is no effect on the reduction of carbon dioxide already present in the atmosphere.

(Such "known processes" are, moreover, profoundly costly to install, especially as "retrofits"; and, as we've documented, could sap more than a fifth of the energy produced by the power plant to operate.) 

Accordingly, there is a broadly recognized need for a system and method for reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere created by burning of fossil fuels and for providing a low cost, non-polluting renewable energy source ... .

(It) is clear (however) that there is no solution that only reduces human contributions to carbon dioxide emissions that can remove the risk of climate change.

With air extraction and the capability to increase or decrease the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere one can in principle compensate for other greenhouse gases like methane that can change their concentrations and cause climate change.

(Though not reflected in our excerpts, Eisenberger and Chichilnisky explain in commendable detail how our human contributions, via generation of Carbon Dioxide, to the total greenhouse gas load in the atmosphere don't really count for all that much. We recommend their full exposition to any of our fully-functioning readers who have direct interest in refuting the anti-Coal claims of environmental alarmists. The point made by Eisenberger and Chichilnisky is, that, if we really do want, and feel we need, to do something about the levels of CO2 in our atmosphere, then the only realistic way to approach it is by removing Carbon Dioxide from the atmosphere itself.)

 

Summary: A method for removing carbon dioxide from an atmosphere to reduce global warming according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention comprises the steps of: collecting air from the atmosphere; removing carbon dioxide from the collected air; and isolating the removed carbon dioxide to a location for ... generation of a renewable carbon fuel, wherein at least one of the collecting, removing and isolating steps is performed using process heat generated by a fossil fuel plant."

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It is, in essence, an efficient means for collecting Carbon Dioxide from the atmosphere itself, wherein what would otherwise be waste heat from an industrial process can be utilized to effect that CO2 collection.

In other words, we can set up our own Carbon Dioxide collection facilities anywhere we want and anywhere it is convenient for us to do so.

And, we can use reclaimed industrial waste heat, or heat accumulated from any available environmental source, to effect the collection of "air from the atmosphere" and the subsequent removal of "carbon dioxide from the collected air".

We can then direct our accumulated "carbon dioxide to a location for ... generation of a renewable carbon fuel" via, perhaps, a process such as that described by other New York scientists, as seen in:

USDOE Converts CO2 to Gasoline | Research & Development; "US Patent 4,197,421 - Synthetic Carbonaceous Fuels and Feedstocks; 1980; Inventor: Meyer Steinberg, NY; Assignee: The United States of America; Abstract: This invention relates to the use of a three compartment electrolytic cell in the production of synthetic carbonaceous fuels and chemical feedstocks such as gasoline, methane and methanol by electrolyzing an aqueous sodium carbonate/bicarbonate solution, obtained from scrubbing atmospheric carbon dioxide with an aqueous sodium hydroxide solution, whereby the hydrogen generated at the cathode and the carbon dioxide liberated in the center compartment are combined thermocatalytically into methanol and gasoline blends. The oxygen generated at the anode is preferably vented into the atmosphere, and the regenerated sodium hydroxide produced at the cathode is reused for scrubbing the CO2 from the atmosphere."

We see, in fact, Eisenberger's and Chichilnisky's efficient and effective process of "United States Patent Application 20110011945A1" as an enabling technology for other technologies, as in "US Patent 4,197,421", which could use the reclaimed Carbon Dioxide in the synthesis of hydrocarbon fuels, i.e., replacements for anything we now debase ourselves for the supply of from largely unfriendly foreign OPEC powers.

And, it sounds one heck of a lot better than burdening our vital Coal-use industries, and their customers, with Cap and Trade taxation, or, enslaving them all into the service of Big Oil's secondary petroleum scrounging in nearly depleted natural oil reservoirs, a concept deceptively labeled as, mandated, "Geologic Sequestration".


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