The Death Of Fossil Fuels

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Bird on a Fire
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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by Bird on a Fire » Tue Feb 02, 2021 9:51 pm

Grumble wrote:
Sun Jan 31, 2021 8:42 pm
Some carbon capture can come from letting trees grow and improving grasslands - or rather restoring them to meadows. Interesting stories recently saying that the best and quickest way to reforest is often just to leave woods alone - and give them room to expand.
A lot of "carbon-capture via trees" at the moment is just commercial forestry with some superficial greenwashing: huge plantations of generally non-native species (especially pines or eucalyptus - that's right, the flammable ones), in monoculture, with very little ecological value. Particularly concerning is that in a lot of places these are being planted on former grasslands or even peatlands, which as you say are an important carbon sink and habitat in their own right. If that's how rich countries like the UK and Ireland do it, tree-planting is going to be a disaster for biodiversity when rolled out worldwide.

Trees will just plant themselves and grow to a natural, diverse forest on their own in all but the most isolated patches or degraded soils. There's been a fair bit of work in the tropics trying to encourage seed-dispersing organisms (big birds, monkeys, fruit bats, etc.) to come and poo in the right place too.

Restoring wetlands - as is happening to some extent already on the UK coast because of rising sea levels and ageing flood-defence infrastructure - stores way more carbon per unit area than a forest. About two-thirds of wetland habitats have already been lost to drainage, reclaiming etc., half of that since 1970. (Happy International Wetlands Day, everybody!) Re-wetting fens and peatlands will help to stop them drying out and releasing their carbon, and encourage them to function as a carbon sink instead.

Regenerative agriculture is also a cool idea. The soil under intensive farmland has generally got basically no organic matter in it any more, and topsoil erosion is happening super fast in a lot of places. If use of fertilizers and biocides is reduced, soil would become more productive and also start storing carbon again.

Of course, this is all pissing in the wind given that we're currently cutting down 10 million hectares of primary forest a year:
Between 2015 and 2020, the rate of deforestation was estimated at 10 million hectares per year, down from 16 million hectares per year in the 1990s. The area of primary forest worldwide has decreased by over 80 million hectares since 1990.

Agricultural expansion continues to be the main driver of deforestation and forest degradation and the associated loss of forest biodiversity. Large-scale commercial agriculture (primarily cattle ranching and cultivation of soya bean and oil palm) accounted for 40 percent of tropical deforestation between 2000 and 2010, and local subsistence agriculture for another 33 percent.
http://www.fao.org/state-of-forests/en/

Those ecosystems are much more valuable than anything we can plant, so preserving them should be a priority. Cattle and their fodder are ridiculously overproduced. And not just in poor countries like Brazil: Australia is one of the world's top deforesters, again generally for cattle https://www.abc.net.au/triplej/programs ... d/10452336

Grumble wrote:
Sun Jan 31, 2021 8:42 pm
I don’t think that would get us to net zero, and really the word “net” leaves a lot of wriggle room. I’m not sure how important that is though, there’s a long way to go in reducing carbon emissions before we worry about the hardest stuff. If we’re getting to a real net zero rather than an accountancy net zero then there’s going to need to be a lot of investment in CCS very soon.
Yeah, there's no pathway to net zero without massive emissions reductions and land-use changes. Luckily, the UN reckon we already have the tech to do away with 70% of emissions. Unfortunately, at the moment we in the wealthy enlightened west are still subsidising fossil fuel projects, beef production and other unsustainable practices with public money, which is daft as f.ck.

To meet the Paris Agreement's target of "only" 2°C warming, the world needs to hit net zero by 2050 and then go negative. But 2050 is a long way away, and the sooner reductions happen the smaller the area under the curve. The lag in ecological and climatic systems is decades long, so at the moment the increases in fires and storms we're seeing are just the result of pre-1990ish emissions. We've doubled anthropogenic CO2 since then, and nobody's sure what's round the corner.

The big issue is getting global governance to commit to sufficient action. The coronavirus recovery was originally supposed to be greened, but that seems to be going down the shitter in the EU at least (and the latest CAP is shite).

If I've learned anything in the last year, it's this: even at a point when people are dying in their thousands on a daily basis from climate change-related catastrophes, a large chunk of politicians, media and businesses will ignore science and exacerbate the issues for perceived short-term gains. I'm not full of hope, to be honest.

Let's take it as read that we already have the tech and the knowledge for ~70% emissions reductions. How do we get governments to use that tech, instead of the stupid sh.t they're doing now like opening new coal mines?
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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by Grumble » Mon Feb 08, 2021 7:30 am

High density hydro could be a thing. https://www.theguardian.com/environment ... SApp_Other

Like hydro but because the fluid is denser you don’t need as much height to gain the potential energy.
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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by Martin Y » Mon Feb 08, 2021 9:46 am

Curious idea. I'm used to hydro schemes which use a Wales as their reservoir. The Olympic sized swimming pool is impressive miniaturization.

Presumably this mystery dense mineral-rich fluid won't be something horribly toxic.

I also wonder whether very long pipelines on gentle slopes might be a bit glossy compared to steep short ones. f.cking autocorrupt. I wrote lossy.

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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by Grumble » Mon Feb 08, 2021 10:11 am

Martin Y wrote:
Mon Feb 08, 2021 9:46 am
Curious idea. I'm used to hydro schemes which use a Wales as their reservoir. The Olympic sized swimming pool is impressive miniaturization.

Presumably this mystery dense mineral-rich fluid won't be something horribly toxic.

I also wonder whether very long pipelines on gentle slopes might be a bit glossy compared to steep short ones. f.cking autocorrupt. I wrote lossy.
I imagine it’s a brine of some description, but that would potentially be quite corrosive. I’m not a chemist though, I’m sure it’s possible to have a non-corrosive brine.

The flow characteristics of the fluid need to be carefully worked out - not a fluid dynamics person at all, but I’d imagine there could be a correlation between density and viscosity.
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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by shpalman » Mon Feb 08, 2021 10:26 am

Martin Y wrote:
Mon Feb 08, 2021 9:46 am
Curious idea. I'm used to hydro schemes which use a Wales as their reservoir. The Olympic sized swimming pool is impressive miniaturization.

Presumably this mystery dense mineral-rich fluid won't be something horribly toxic.
It's mud isn't it?

https://vimeo.com/495158864
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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by rockdoctor » Mon Feb 08, 2021 10:28 am

Martin Y wrote:
Mon Feb 08, 2021 9:46 am
Curious idea. I'm used to hydro schemes which use a Wales as their reservoir. The Olympic sized swimming pool is impressive miniaturization.

Presumably this mystery dense mineral-rich fluid won't be something horribly toxic.

I also wonder whether very long pipelines on gentle slopes might be a bit glossy compared to steep short ones. f.cking autocorrupt. I wrote lossy.
The oil industry will be able to help with dense fluids. When you drill a well the drilling fluid is carefully controlled for density, viscosity, salinity, shear strength etc to optimise drilling speed, cuttings retention, and also to hold back hydrocarbons and other fluids within the rock (to prevent blowouts). There is always a 'mud engineer' on site to manage these properties.
A common additive to increase density is Baryte (BaSO4)
The densest drilling mud I ever heard being used was a thick mix of Haematite (Fe2O3).
These are probably used as suspensions of powder, so with need other additives to stop settling, and may require some degree of agitation.

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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by Martin_B » Mon Feb 08, 2021 10:45 am

Grumble wrote:
Mon Feb 08, 2021 10:11 am
Martin Y wrote:
Mon Feb 08, 2021 9:46 am
Curious idea. I'm used to hydro schemes which use a Wales as their reservoir. The Olympic sized swimming pool is impressive miniaturization.

Presumably this mystery dense mineral-rich fluid won't be something horribly toxic.

I also wonder whether very long pipelines on gentle slopes might be a bit glossy compared to steep short ones. f.cking autocorrupt. I wrote lossy.
I imagine it’s a brine of some description, but that would potentially be quite corrosive. I’m not a chemist though, I’m sure it’s possible to have a non-corrosive brine.

The flow characteristics of the fluid need to be carefully worked out - not a fluid dynamics person at all, but I’d imagine there could be a correlation between density and viscosity.
It's not a brine - there's no water-based suspension which will reach this density, and oil based muds used in drilling won't reach the 2.5 times water density which RheEnergise quote for their "R-19" fluid. Something like Dibromomethane gets to that sort of density, but it's a bit toxic. Would be OK at the operating temperatures, which Diiodomethane wouldn't be (should be OK if used near the Equator).

I can't find the viscosity of Dibromomethane immediately, but seeing as it melts at ~ -50°C, it shouldn't be too viscous. There is often a correlation between density and viscosity for the same base fluid (ie, increase the density of a brine by adding more salts and the viscosity will increase) but it's not transferable between different fluids; many liquid hydrocarbons are less dense than water, but many of them are more viscous.
Last edited by Martin_B on Mon Feb 08, 2021 10:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by Martin_B » Mon Feb 08, 2021 10:51 am

shpalman wrote:
Mon Feb 08, 2021 10:26 am
Martin Y wrote:
Mon Feb 08, 2021 9:46 am
Curious idea. I'm used to hydro schemes which use a Wales as their reservoir. The Olympic sized swimming pool is impressive miniaturization.

Presumably this mystery dense mineral-rich fluid won't be something horribly toxic.
It's mud isn't it?

https://vimeo.com/495158864
Not at 2.5 times the density of water. OBMs aren't much more dense than standard water (although I bow to Rockdoctor's comment about some really exotic mixes). If you really need high density fluid for drilling you go back to WBMs, which might reach close to 1.5 times the density of water.
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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by bjn » Mon Feb 08, 2021 11:18 am

Martin Y wrote:
Mon Feb 08, 2021 9:46 am
Curious idea. I'm used to hydro schemes which use a Wales as their reservoir. The Olympic sized swimming pool is impressive miniaturization.

Presumably this mystery dense mineral-rich fluid won't be something horribly toxic.

I also wonder whether very long pipelines on gentle slopes might be a bit glossy compared to steep short ones. f.cking autocorrupt. I wrote lossy.
I did some calculations the other year trying to visualise energy storage, and the energy needed to lift an olympic regulation* swimming pool one meter is roughly 6.8kWh.

* 2m x 25m x 50m

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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by Grumble » Mon Feb 08, 2021 11:24 am

bjn wrote:
Mon Feb 08, 2021 11:18 am
Martin Y wrote:
Mon Feb 08, 2021 9:46 am
Curious idea. I'm used to hydro schemes which use a Wales as their reservoir. The Olympic sized swimming pool is impressive miniaturization.

Presumably this mystery dense mineral-rich fluid won't be something horribly toxic.

I also wonder whether very long pipelines on gentle slopes might be a bit glossy compared to steep short ones. f.cking autocorrupt. I wrote lossy.
I did some calculations the other year trying to visualise energy storage, and the energy needed to lift an olympic regulation* swimming pool one meter is roughly 6.8kWh.

* 2m x 25m x 50m
So if that was 2.5x the weight it would be 17kWh/m presumably.
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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by Martin Y » Mon Feb 08, 2021 11:46 am

So to generate the suggested 50MW your swimming pool level needs to drop by almost 1m/s.

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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by dyqik » Mon Feb 08, 2021 12:14 pm

It sounds a bit far fetched compared to cryogenic compressed air storage stuff which is being built as pilot plants right now, and is at least as equally flexible on location.

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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by bjn » Mon Feb 08, 2021 12:55 pm

Grumble wrote:
Mon Feb 08, 2021 11:24 am
bjn wrote:
Mon Feb 08, 2021 11:18 am
Martin Y wrote:
Mon Feb 08, 2021 9:46 am
Curious idea. I'm used to hydro schemes which use a Wales as their reservoir. The Olympic sized swimming pool is impressive miniaturization.

Presumably this mystery dense mineral-rich fluid won't be something horribly toxic.

I also wonder whether very long pipelines on gentle slopes might be a bit glossy compared to steep short ones. f.cking autocorrupt. I wrote lossy.
I did some calculations the other year trying to visualise energy storage, and the energy needed to lift an olympic regulation* swimming pool one meter is roughly 6.8kWh.

* 2m x 25m x 50m
So if that was 2.5x the weight it would be 17kWh/m presumably.
Yes, given potential energy being m.g.h

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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by Grumble » Mon Feb 08, 2021 1:01 pm

dyqik wrote:
Mon Feb 08, 2021 12:14 pm
It sounds a bit far fetched compared to cryogenic compressed air storage stuff which is being built as pilot plants right now, and is at least as equally flexible on location.
Cryogenic air is far more flexible tbh. Can be sited anywhere, potentially at the same site as the wind turbines and use the same grid connections. If you want more cryo storage you could just plumb another tank in on the same site. A buried pool is a lot less accessible.
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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by bjn » Mon Feb 08, 2021 1:35 pm

Yeahbut, you have to factor in round trip efficiencies into your cost/benefit calcs, along with capital costs and maintenance costs etc. From what I remember cryogenic storage is pretty inefficient.

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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by Grumble » Mon Feb 08, 2021 2:56 pm

bjn wrote:
Mon Feb 08, 2021 1:35 pm
Yeahbut, you have to factor in round trip efficiencies into your cost/benefit calcs, along with capital costs and maintenance costs etc. From what I remember cryogenic storage is pretty inefficient.
Highview power claim “up to” 70% efficiency, but I think that’s if they use waste cold and waste heat from other industrial processes. Which is fair enough, but those aren’t available everywhere, or necessarily on the same industrial park.
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Re: The Fossil Fuels of Death

Post by bjn » Tue Feb 09, 2021 10:49 am

A UCL paper has been accepted but not published yet, however the Graun has a write up. UCL researchers estimate that around 20% of global deaths are associated with fossil fuels, with 30% in Asia, and 17% in Europe. it's all mainly down to PM 2.5s getting into people's lungs and causing all sorts of horribleness. Estimated annual economic cost of all the pain and suffering is $2.9 trillion, which is just over an Iraq invasion.

At least in the UK we've finally had some legal recognition that such pollution is directly attributable as a cause of death, as found in the tragic case of Ella Kissi-Debrah.

The Graun write up seems to have the numbers a bit wrong though, saying 8.7 million deaths in 2018 is 20% of global deaths, but from the figures I've found 20% is more like 11.5 million.

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Re: The Fossil Fuels of Death

Post by Sciolus » Tue Feb 09, 2021 6:15 pm

bjn wrote:
Tue Feb 09, 2021 10:49 am
A UCL paper has been accepted but not published yet, however the Graun has a write up. UCL researchers estimate that around 20% of global deaths are associated with fossil fuels, with 30% in Asia, and 17% in Europe. it's all mainly down to PM 2.5s getting into people's lungs and causing all sorts of horribleness. Estimated annual economic cost of all the pain and suffering is $2.9 trillion, which is just over an Iraq invasion.

At least in the UK we've finally had some legal recognition that such pollution is directly attributable as a cause of death, as found in the tragic case of Ella Kissi-Debrah.

The Graun write up seems to have the numbers a bit wrong though, saying 8.7 million deaths in 2018 is 20% of global deaths, but from the figures I've found 20% is more like 11.5 million.
Random thoughts:

Remember that people don't die of a single thing but of several things, so that 20% (or whatever) is not out of 100 but out of several hundred. For instance air pollution was the third on the list of causes of death for Kissi-Debrah.

Generally, number of deaths is a poor metric for this sort of thing. Loss of life expectancy is better (and can be pulled in with my previous point better). Usual conversions assume a certain number of years (or in some cases I'm aware of, seconds) lost per death, but these are not always sensible. This may be in the full paper.

I'm surprised they looked at combustion of fossil fuels rather than solid and liquid fuels, since wood and dung are major fuels in many parts of the world, and natural gas is not a significant source of PM2.5.

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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by plodder » Wed Feb 10, 2021 8:09 am

Just a tiny point on energy from waste. It’s a sh.t idea compared to the rest of the waste hierarchy, which we’ve stopped bothering with because energy from waste is easy.

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Re: The Fossil Fuels of Death

Post by Gfamily » Wed Feb 10, 2021 11:17 am

Sciolus wrote:
Tue Feb 09, 2021 6:15 pm
I'm surprised they looked at combustion of fossil fuels rather than solid and liquid fuels, since wood and dung are major fuels in many parts of the world, and natural gas is not a significant source of PM2.5.
The recent BBC series "Full Steam Ahead"* has an interesting section by the historian Ruth Goodman in the first episode about some of the implications of using coal for domestic cooking. I was surprised at the range of differences it made domestically.

*Available on iPlayer until 22nd Feb
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Re: The Fossil Fuels of Death

Post by shpalman » Wed Feb 10, 2021 1:22 pm

Sciolus wrote:
Tue Feb 09, 2021 6:15 pm
bjn wrote:
Tue Feb 09, 2021 10:49 am
A UCL paper has been accepted but not published yet, however the Graun has a write up. UCL researchers estimate that around 20% of global deaths are associated with fossil fuels, with 30% in Asia, and 17% in Europe. it's all mainly down to PM 2.5s getting into people's lungs and causing all sorts of horribleness. Estimated annual economic cost of all the pain and suffering is $2.9 trillion, which is just over an Iraq invasion.

At least in the UK we've finally had some legal recognition that such pollution is directly attributable as a cause of death, as found in the tragic case of Ella Kissi-Debrah.

The Graun write up seems to have the numbers a bit wrong though, saying 8.7 million deaths in 2018 is 20% of global deaths, but from the figures I've found 20% is more like 11.5 million.
Random thoughts:

Remember that people don't die of a single thing but of several things, so that 20% (or whatever) is not out of 100 but out of several hundred. For instance air pollution was the third on the list of causes of death for Kissi-Debrah.

Generally, number of deaths is a poor metric for this sort of thing. Loss of life expectancy is better (and can be pulled in with my previous point better). Usual conversions assume a certain number of years (or in some cases I'm aware of, seconds) lost per death, but these are not always sensible. This may be in the full paper.

I'm surprised they looked at combustion of fossil fuels rather than solid and liquid fuels, since wood and dung are major fuels in many parts of the world, and natural gas is not a significant source of PM2.5.
Climate action could save 'millions of lives'*

* - "Tougher measures to curb emissions would save lives through better, more plant-based diets, more physical activity from active travel such as walking and cycling and cuts to air pollution from burning fewer fossil fuels."

Reminds me of that "... weight loss as part of a calorie-controlled diet" disclaimer.
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Re: The Fossil Fuels of Death

Post by bjn » Wed Feb 10, 2021 1:44 pm

Sciolus wrote:
Tue Feb 09, 2021 6:15 pm
I'm surprised they looked at combustion of fossil fuels rather than solid and liquid fuels, since wood and dung are major fuels in many parts of the world, and natural gas is not a significant source of PM2.5.
The two things are not the same, so it is worth studying them independently. A two second duck-duck give me this as a first hit, so the health risks of cooking fires seem to have been studied. From that link, at first glance, it seems that pollution from fossil fuels contributed to more deaths (8.7M) than cooking fires (4.3M).

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Re: The Fossil Fuels of Death

Post by Sciolus » Wed Feb 10, 2021 6:17 pm

bjn wrote:
Wed Feb 10, 2021 1:44 pm
Sciolus wrote:
Tue Feb 09, 2021 6:15 pm
I'm surprised they looked at combustion of fossil fuels rather than solid and liquid fuels, since wood and dung are major fuels in many parts of the world, and natural gas is not a significant source of PM2.5.
The two things are not the same, so it is worth studying them independently. A two second duck-duck give me this as a first hit, so the health risks of cooking fires seem to have been studied. From that link, at first glance, it seems that pollution from fossil fuels contributed to more deaths (8.7M) than cooking fires (4.3M).
The usual distinction is between indoor and ambient (outdoor) air quality, which is helpful in terms of management. Dividing fuels into fossil and non-fossil does not actually reflect or correlate with their air quality impact.

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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by plodder » Thu Feb 11, 2021 4:20 pm

Jumping about a bit, here's a nice article about why the future for biofuels is bleak (hint - it's because solar PV is already ridiculously better and cheaper than plants at making useful calories out of sunlight).

Favourite line:
And while solar technology keeps improving, mother nature – not a signatory to the Paris Agreement – has no plans to do so.
https://energypost.eu/biofuels-light-to ... -solar-pv/

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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by bjn » Fri Feb 12, 2021 1:54 am

plodder wrote:
Thu Feb 11, 2021 4:20 pm
Jumping about a bit, here's a nice article about why the future for biofuels is bleak (hint - it's because solar PV is already ridiculously better and cheaper than plants at making useful calories out of sunlight).

Favourite line:
And while solar technology keeps improving, mother nature – not a signatory to the Paris Agreement – has no plans to do so.
https://energypost.eu/biofuels-light-to ... -solar-pv/
7% efficiency sucks, and the plant needs to survive and grow on that as well, not just make biofuels for humans.

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