Branson keen to get jet biofuels from waste CO2 – though it could be put to other, non aviation, uses
Date added: December 7, 2013
LanzaTech has a joint venture facility in China, which is aiming to produce future supplies of biofuel for its partner airline, Virgin Atlantic. LanzaTech has a patented fermentation technology that transforms CO or CO2 gases generated by the steel industry into bioethanol, using GM “proprietary”micro-organisms – algae. The bioethanol can then be converted into jet fuels, and other platform chemicals. The waste CO2 could alternatively be used to produce plastics, or fuels for road vehicles, or animal feed. Aviation fuel is only one of the options. Waste CO2 from factories, power stations etc could also be ducted to greenhouses and used to boost production of vegetables and other foods, as well as using the waste heat. Richard Branson and others have been keen to promote this waste CO2 as a “low carbon” fuel for the aviation industry in future. However, it would appear that this waste CO2 could perfectly well be put to other uses, and indeed, diverting it to aviation prevents it being used to produce animal food, which in turn would produce human food. The Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) has certified LanzaTech’s joint biofuel venture facility in China, and Richard Branson has said the LanzaTech process is “a major breakthrough in the war on carbon.” . Tweet
Virgin Atlantic hails RSB certification of LanzaTech’s Chinese venture to convert waste gases into sustainable jet fuels
LanzaTech’s Dr Jennifer Holmgren and Virgin’s Sir Richard Branson
Mon 25 Nov 2013 (GreenAir online)
The Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB), the preferred sustainability standard of major airlines for jet biofuels, has certified LanzaTech’s joint venture facility in China, which is aiming to produce future supplies of sustainable fuels for its partner airline, Virgin Atlantic.
LanzaTech’s patented fermentation technology transforms CO or CO2 gases generated by the steel industry into bioethanol, [using GM micro-organisms] which can then be converted into low-carbon jet fuels, and other platform chemicals. The facility is the first RSB-certified biofuel plant in China and the first anywhere in the world to receive certification for industrial carbon capture and utilisation.
Virgin’s President, Sir Richard Branson, has described the LanzaTech process as a major breakthrough in the war on carbon.
The RSB certification has been awarded to Beijing Shougang LanzaTech New Energy Science & Technology Company, LanzaTech’s joint venture formed in 2011 with Shougang Jingtang Iron and Steel United Company and the Tang Ming Group.
Using the RSB methodology and assumptions based on commercial production, it is estimated that ethanol from the process may reduce life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions by 60% compared to petroleum fuels.
“The joint venture uses a process that creates a sustainable biofuel and does so by efficiently re-using greenhouse gases that would have otherwise been released into the atmosphere,” said Peter Ryus, CEO of RSB Services. [ie. the CO2 is being used to produce chemicals using photosynthesis by “proprietary microorganisms”] “This solution, which does not impact the food chain or land use, meets the RSB principles and practices, and serves as an example of how continued innovation in the industry will lead to sustainable biofuels in the future.”
Dr Jennifer Holmgren, LanzaTech’s CEO, said the certification was “an incredibly important step” and she expected commercial production to go online in 2014. “In addition, we trust this certification will help accelerate the acceptance of biofuels made through carbon capture technologies and serve to showcase the possibilities opened up by thinking of carbon emissions as an opportunity, not just a problem.”
LanzaTech estimates that its technology can apply to 65% of the world’s steel mills, re-using up to 150 million tonnes of CO2 and offering the potential to provide 19% of the world’s current jet fuel demand. In addition, the joint venture partners anticipate local air quality can also be improved by materially reducing NOx and particulate emissions.
Virgin Atlantic, which announced a partnership with LanzaTech in October 2011, is planning to start using the sustainable jet fuels on flights from China.
Craig Kreeger, the airline’s CEO, said the partnership was a key part of its sustainability programme. “Beyond our significant fleet upgrades and our comprehensive fuel efficiency programme, this breakthrough opportunity to pioneer away from fossil fuels offers us the best possible chance of substantially reducing the carbon emissions associated with our flying programme. Key to that has always been ensuring that any new fuel meets the highest possible sustainability standards, and we view RSB as the gold standard scheme to help us to achieve this.”
Sir Richard Branson added: “RSB’s certification is a crucial step to ensure this revolutionary new fuel will meet the highest possible environmental standards and will result in a radical reduction in our carbon footprint.”
Scientists suggest emissions from power stations could be used to generate more electricity Image: PDTillman via Wikimedia commons
Dutch scientists have thought up a new use for all the carbon dioxide that pours from the chimneys of fossil fuel-burning power stations: harvest it for even more electricity.
LONDON, 15 August –They could, they argue, pump the carbon dioxide through water or other liquids and produce a flow of electrons and therefore more electricity. Power-generating stations release 12 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide every year as they burn coal, oil or natural gas; home and commercial heating plants release another 11 billion tonnes.
This would be enough, they argue, to create 1,750 terawatt hours of extra electricity annually: about 400 times the output of the Hoover dam in the US, and all without adding an extra gasp of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. So the exhaust from one cycle of electricity production could be used immediately to deliver another flow of power to the grid.
They make the claim in a journal called Environmental Science and Technology Letters, which is published by the American Chemical Society, and the claim rests on a 200-year-old technique pioneered by Sir Humphry Davy and Michael Faraday: electrolysis.
Harvesting energy from waste
Behind the reasoning is a simple proposition, that every chemical event involves some exchange of energy. In a solution, this movement of energy involves electrons, and ions that migrate to cation or anion electrodes. In a mix of two different solutions, the final mixture has an energy content lower than the sum of the two original solutions: since energy cannot be created or destroyed, therefore there must be some energy available for exploitation.
Bert Hamelers of Wetsus, a centre for water excellence in the Netherlands, and colleagues from Wageningen University report that they used porous electrodes and flushed carbon dioxide into water to get their flow of current: the gas reacted with the water to make carbonic acid, which in the electrolyte became positive hydrogen ions and negative ions of the bicarbonate HCO3. As the pH of the solution gets higher, the bicarbonate becomes a simple carbonate and the higher the CO2 pressure, the greater the increase of ions in the solution.
In their experiment, they found that as they flushed their aqueous electrolyte with air, and alternately with CO2, between their porous electrodes, a supply of electricity began to build up. Since the air that comes from the chimneys of fossil fuel-burning power stations contains anything up to 20% of CO2, even the emissions represent a potential for more power.
They found they could get even more power if instead of a water solution they used an electrolyte of monoethanolamine. In experiments, this delivered an energy density of 4.5 mW a square metre.
The irony is that this electrical energy is already potentially available at the top of the power station chimney, because on release one “solution” of greenhouse gas in air immediately mixes with a different-strength solution in the air all the time.
Nobody of course has a way of harvesting this power directly, but an old-fashioned experiment with electrodes in a laboratory shows that huge quantities of potential power are being lost every day, in unexpected ways.
It would require huge investment – and a great deal of engineering ingenuity – to turn greenhouse emissions into yet more electricity, but such research is a reminder that scientists everywhere are looking for clever new ways to power the planet.
Dan Li, a materials engineer at Monash University in Australia, reports in the journal Science that he and his team have developed a graphene-based supercapacitator that is compact, and can be recharged quickly, but can last as long as a conventional lead-acid battery.
That means it could be used to store renewable energy, power portable electronics or drive electric vehicles. Graphene is a new wonder material, a variant of graphite or carbon organised into layers just one atom thick. “It is almost at the stage of moving from the lab to commercial development”, says Li.
Dutch aubergine grower pipes carbon dioxide into greenhouses
Having a chemical plant sited next door to your plantation isn’t what the average farmer might want for his crop.
By Alix Rijckaert, in Terneuzen for AFP
14 Dec 2009
Jan van Duijn, however, walks proudly through his greenhouse, a vast glass and metal structure spread out over five hectares (12.3 acres) where millions of aubergines are doing very nicely thank you.
He’s happy because thanks to a deal with a supplier, he’s getting hot water piped in from the factory, which produces ammonia, to maintain the temperature at a constant 68 degrees F (20C).
The chemical site, five kilometres (three miles away), also supplies carbon dioxide which helps his aubergines grow more abundantly.
“We’re pioneers in a way,” van Duijn said, while admitting that what drove him to try this business model was cost.
The water from the Yara factory, where it is used as a coolant, flows along underground pipes and into his greenhouse at a temperature of 90 degrees C.
There it is circulated in pipes between the rows of aubergines, sharing its heat among the beds of rockwool they grow in, before being pumped back to the factory as coolant again.
Similarly, CO2 released during the manufacture of ammonia is injected into the greenhouse to stimulate growth.
“It’s the basic principle of photosynthesis,” van Duijn said. Combined with water and light, the plants convert the carbon dioxide into organic compounds, releasing oxygen as a side product.
The level of CO2 inside is three times higher than outside, giving a crop yield that according to van Duijn is two to three times greater.
He reckons the project will produce 2.5 million kilogrammes (5.5 million pounds) of aubergines a year, adding to the millions he already cultivates under glass on his land in the southern Netherlands.
Their temperature is monitored and adjustable by computer, said van Duijn, who employs 10 people in summer and 30 in winter at Terneuzen.
Using CO2 in greenhouses is a common practice in the Netherlands but it is rarely so closely tied to industry.
The Netherlands, Europe’s top exporter of horticultural products cultivated under glass – think tulips – has 10,000 hectares under cover producing flowers, fruits, vegetables and other plants.
According to the horticultural association LTO Glaskracht they produced 5.2 megatonnes of CO2 last year – around 63 per cent of the agricultural sector’s total emissions.
Meanwhile, keeping greenhouses at the right ambient temperatures accounted for eight to 10 per cent of the country’s natural gas consumption.
“It’s the first time residual heat is being reutilised on a large scale for a private, commercial venture,” said Jacob Limbeek, the commercial director of WarmCO2, the company supplying the water and carbon gas.
He said that the system allows for a 90 per cent reduction in fossil fuel energy use compared with traditional greenhouses, which are heated by oil or natural gas.
Van Duijn, whose energy bill for the new greenhouse accounts for 20 per cent of fixed costs against 25 per cent for the standard version, struck a deal with WarmCO2 that set prices for the next 15 years.
“That gives us a certain security,” he said. “Our competitors have no idea what their energy bills will be like from one year to the next, they depend on oil prices, gas prices and exchange rates.”
WarmCO2, which also supplies greenhouses producing tomatoes and peppers, is aiming eventually to pipe CO2 to 168 hectares under glass at Terneuzen.
The sector, which is also experimenting with solar panels and geothermal energy, has committed itself to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent by 2020 from its 1990 level, according to LTO Glaskracht.
Across the road from Greenfield Ethanol-Chatham, construction on Truly Green greenhouses is ongoing. The innovative project will utilize the waste heat and CO2 from the 195 MMly ethanol plant in Chatham, Ontario, Canada, to grow a whopping 22 million kilograms of fresh juicy tomatoes yearly, when completed.
Angelo Ligori, ethanol plant manager described it as a rare opportunity to harness the CO2 released in the ethanol process to grow food. The ethanol plant will update its older technology, which currently doesn’t include waste heat recovery or a thermal oxidizer. The new technology will condense stack heat through a series of exchanger systems, allowing the ethanol plant to supply hot water to the greenhouse. The water will then be returned to the ethanol plant through an expanded cooling water loop. “Once this project gets done, our energy footprint will be significantly reduced, so it’s a win-win,” he told Ethanol Producer Magazine.
Cornerways Nursery benefits from its location close to the Wissington sugar factory. More than two hundred and forty miles of piping carries hot water from the factory’s Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant around the glasshouse, to maintain the balmy temperatures which suit tomato plants. This hot water would otherwise be destined for cooling towers, so the scheme ensures that the heat is used productively.
Another benefit is the productive use of waste carbon dioxide from the sugar factory, which tomatoes use during photosynthesis. At Cornerways, carbon dioxide (a by-product from the CHP boiler) is pumped into the enormous glasshouse to be absorbed by the plants, rather than vented into the atmosphere as waste emissions.
Bio CCS Algal Synthesis test facilities are being trialed at Australia’s three largest coal-fired power stations (Tarong, Queensland; Eraring, NSW; Loy Yang, Victoria) using piped pre-emission smokestack CO2 (and other greenhouse gases) as feedstock to grow oil-rich algal biomass in enclosed membranes for the production of plastics, transport fuel and nutritious animal feed.
Branson hoping for 50% “sustainable” aviation fuels by 2020 (8 years ahead)
5.12.2011 .Guardian article about Richard Branson and his hopes for aviation being able to use biofuels for perhaps 50% of their fuel by 2020. This is based on the hope that biofuels, from algae in particular, will be very low carbon. There is a lot of unfounded optimism about what biofuels’ or other (not defined) “sustainable” fuels’) carbon emissions will be, now cheap they will be, and how fast they can be scaled up to industrial quantities. Branson’s aim is not to cut overall emissions, but get cheap fuel for airlines, so they can continue to grow – and thus postpone the day when the industry actually starts to be responsible for its environmental impact.https://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=375which says: The five leading alternative jet fuel companies identified by Carbon War Room are Lanzatech, SG biofuels, AltAir, Solazyme and Sapphire.
Aviation industry going to biofuels made from alcohols, some from food crops
Jet fuel can be made by combining two alcohol molecules. The aviation biofuel industry can see there will be a time delay in getting fuel from jatropha, camelia etc but it could produce fuel from alcohol faster. Some from corn or sugar cane, as well as non-food crops and woody biomass. Aviation accounts for 12% of the fuel used by the entire transport sector. Global aviation fuel demand may reach 7.6 million barrels/day in 2012, up from 6.8 m barrels in 2007.https://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=4574..