Following the protest marches last week, several discussions started on various journals about climate change and what we can do about it. In order to keep the momentum going and perhaps help us all to find solutions and feel more empowered, I decided to start this topic. Feel free to post any changes you are making to reduce your carbon footprint, interesting articles you see about technologies, companies, and things others are doing to address climate and environmental issues. If you have posted on this topic in one of the other journals, feel free to re-post it here.
For reasons unrelated to the climate strike, out household is going car free! Looking forward to using transit creatively and reducing our carbon and financial budget.
Here is blue sky type project I’m tangentially involved with (I support the current non renewable energy part this would be built next to and feed).
This is the big picture future technology we need governments to support (and they have here for a feasibility study) but then come to the party to make it economically viable. (My hot take - it isn’t without massive government funding).
This is what we need - viable, scalable alternatives for our economy and industry. I struggle a little with the ban everything crowd and militant greenies who don’t have an alternative in mind.
My main thing is growing a lot of our own food. This sequesters carbon by building soil, reduces transportation emissions, and with the animal products in particular it reduces packaging waste. I’ve pushed (and sometimes completely crossed) legal limits and exploited some loopholes to do what I firmly believe is right, but at least one neighbor seems hellbent on using government agents to shut down as much of what I do as possible.
Moving rurally to get away from the restrictions doesn’t make much financial sense, and would probably raise our footprint because of very likely having a bigger house, and being more reliant on a car as well as driving further, though I’d have more land to be sequestering carbon on.
You could also say that virtual schooling (and straight up homeschooling before that) lowers our footprint because there’s no massive infrastructure for my kids’ school. There’s a couple people in the school district office but otherwise the teachers all work from home.
If I’m reading this correctly, this will produce hydrogen using electrolysis with the energy for the electrolysis eventually provided by a solar energy, right?
Hydrogen is often promoted as a green fuel because when combusted the only product is water. Most people don’t realize that the traditional method of producing hydrogen is steam methane reforming, which consumes a lot of methane (natural gas) as a feedstock as well as burning a lot more to provide the heat for the reaction. This process would both eliminate methane as a feedstock, and ultimately use solar energy to provide the energy required to drive the electrolysis. @PDM please correct me if I’ve mis-spoken on any of this!
The hydrogen produced here will be used to produce ammonia. Industrial ammonia is used to produce the commercial fertilizers that our current food industry is very dependent on, if you’re wondering why we need ammonia at all.
Please keep us posted as the project proceeds!
I wish I were more successful at growing my own food! I wish you luck in working with your community to continue domestic food production.
I agree that schools contribute to a lot of traffic! I can tell a difference in traffic levels on days when school is not in session.
I ran across this company yesterday:
They are using solar energy to provide process heat to industrial processes, which according to their website accouns for 20% of emissions worldwide.* The second article says it can produce temperatures up to 400F (204C).
Process heat is energy used to carry out industrial processes at the desired temperature. The water heater in your house is an example of a small process heater, allowing you to heat water to a desired temperature.
They are not selling the equipment, but owning and installing the equipment and selling the Btu’s (a measure of heating energy) produced for about 10-50% of the cost of methane. Methane is also priced per Btu. It’s an interesting pricing strategy. The customer has no capital cost and Skyven has a steady revenue stream. The process customers I worked with purchased all of their equipment outright so I’ll be curious to see if this evolves and how competition develops.
In the facilities built so far, there will be a back-up system for cloudy days. Systems may need more storage to run 24 hours.
In the process plants I’ve worked in, process heat is often provided by a fired heater burning methane. It’s usually sited a good distance from the process so if something goes wrong, it doesn’t set the plant on fire. The piping run to that fired heater strikes me as an ideal location for a long length of pipe using this technology. It could also make retrofit opportunities attractive, though the fired heater may require some re-sizing or modification to allow it to operate over a wider range of conditions (most equipment has a limited turn-down range (minimum operating point)). A plant already built may not want to install additional storage capacity but perhaps this could reduce natural gas consumption at a existing facilities during the day.
*I’ve not fact-checked that number, it sounds high to me. Though I’ve heard that the process heat consumed by distillation reboilers account for 4% of energy usage, so maybe it’s not so far off.
What’s the use of ammonium nitrate in mining? Blasting powder?
For fertilizer, I would personally be against that project because the real problem with ammonia fertilizer isn’t the use of fossil fuels in its production, it’s the negative impact it has on soil biology (even when properly applied) and on water sources (when improperly applied).
What alternatives to fertilizer would you propose? How easy is it to implement on a large scale and how long does it take?
I’m not sure about the mining question.
I’m going to push back on this. The ultimate project is to produce hydrogen renewably, which can then be used to produce ammonia. I didn’t read everything, so I don’t even know if the ammonia would be used to produce fertilizer. I highlighted it because, if you don’t realize it is used to make fertilizer and how dependent our food supply is upon fertilizer, you may wonder why we need to keep producing ammonia. While I’m a little familiar with some alternatives, I don’t know how quickly they can be implemented. I’ve tried to grow my garden without commercial fertilizers with limited success at best. Without a better understanding of the alternatives to commercial fertilizer, I’m not ready to ban it yet.
Being able to produce hydrogen renewably is a big deal. One big advantage of fossil fuels is easy storage. Hydrogen gives us that capability. It could be used for transportation for example, or to produce electricity, and displace fossil fuels. Here’s a listing of hydrogen uses:
- commercial fixation of nitrogen from the air in the Haber ammonia process
- hydrogenation of fats and oils
- methanol production, in hydrodealkylation, hydrocracking, and hydrodesulphurization
- rocket fuel
- production of hydrochloric acid
- reduction of metallic ores
- for filling balloons (hydrogen gas much lighter than air; however it ignites easily)
- liquid H2 is important in cryogenics and in the study of superconductivity since its melting point is only just above absolute zero
Here’s another site showing how hydrogen is used. I think many of these uses will still be around even if we eliminate the need for fertilizers.
Yup. Nailed it. Initially the hydrogen will be fed into the existing plant which uses coal seam gas. There is the potential to replace all the feedstock with enough solar.
That plant makes ammonia and nitric acid with the end product being explosives (ammonium nitrate) primarily for the open cut coal mining market.
Disclaimer: I only understand the processes in general handwavy terms and deal more on the environmental impact/management side of things. I need to have a general understanding but don’t ask me to balance any equations.
You can also think of ammonia as a way of storing energy and transporting energy.
But that is whole economy and infrastructure change stuff.
Initially green hydrogen would be nice.
Synthetic ammonia fertilizers burn out soil life and lead to soil degradation. For field scale arable crops there’s a variety of solutions including green manures, animal manures, and pasture/ley rotation
ETA: if you want a fairly comprehensive look at “how will we feed the world” in a low/post fossil fuel world, “Meat: a Benign Extravagance” is worth a read. I have some issues with his arguments but overall it’s quite interesting.
Very interesting. I didn’t quite follow all of their work. I wasn’t sure if they were using ammonia only for fuel, or a mixture of light oil and ammonia, and the light oil containing hydrocarbons. It was also interesting that the higher energy density on a volume basis was more important than the energy density on a mass basis. I didn’t actually do the calculations, but the hydrogen site I posted earlier said hydrogen is preferred as a fuel because it has the highest density per unit mass. But on a ship, smaller volume would be more important than mass.
I admit I never thought of ammonia as a fuel before, so I learned a new technology today!
I will check out that book! The two books I requested on cats have come in and I’m still struggling through the hospital book, so it will be a little while.
Do you have any links that describe farms using these techniques that would satisfy curiosity about what the transition looks like, results compared to traditional farming, and so on? Have you managed to use these ideas in your garden and eliminate commercial fertilizer use? I’d be interested to understand what you’ve been able to achieve. I don’t raise chickens or rabbits but we do have a lot of wild rabbits around! I’m sure there’s rabbit poop in my garden. If you were to move here, trap and eat the wild rabbits, you’d be a hero in my neighborhood.
I copied this over from @HaH’s journal.
This line caught my attention given your situation:
Mr Kearney identified local government involvement as a key to the success of Millen Farm.
It sounds like they are looking to create a larger urban farm network. Would you consider a move to Australia?
@EsmeGwynne just pick a state that allows rabbits to be kept at all. Where I live they are entirely illegal. In any context outside of educational facility, research facility or magician (there is legit a form for this).
My city promotes urban farming too but only produce. Even a commercial farm can only have 4 chickens, relatively small compost area, etc.
Heard this on NPR yesterday about how Penn State is cutting emissions and reducing energy use even though their population is growing: