Friday, January 11, 2008

Carbon Capture and Storage: Is This The Breakthrough? (Big Money if it is)

The WSJ's Energy Roundup is back. And how!
Yesterday the first post, "Energy Newstand: Nuclear Britain" linked to six stories, followed by "Yenning for a Green Out".
In Size Matters we learn of GE's willingness to finance wind investments regardless of who manufactured the turbines.
This morning in "Energy Newstand: Whither Oil?" Keith Johnson shows why he works for Dow Jones & Company, while I am writing on a blog:
...The dream of electric cars is growing closer to reality, the WSJ reports, with just one big hitch : “nobody yet has figured out how to make a small enough battery that will hold a big enough charge for these new cars — and not be a risk to burst into flames.”
Which is what California Sen. Barbara Boxer nearly did yesterday, still railing against the EPA denial of California’s ambitious emissions-reduction plan, reports the LA Times.
This is a potentially huge area. I'll read the Journal story and get back to it.

All of which leads us to the subject of todays headline. In "Carbon Caps: Devil in the Details"
there is this paragraph:
...Second, trying to mandate a cleaner energy future requires mandating technology development almost by fiat. Just as in the recent energy bill that mandated a five-fold increase in the use of biofuels which aren’t even available, the Bingaman-Specter climate bill bets on clean-coal technologies that aren’t commercially available yet and might not be in 2030. The core case of the Senate bill would build almost 300 gigawatts of clean-coal generation capacity by then—as much coal-burning capacity currently in the U.S. But as the EIA wryly notes, “building this much of a yet-to-be commercialized technology by 2030 would be extremely challenging.”
This stuff is moving so fast. The breakthrough in carbon capture and storage may have arrived. One 0f those overnight success stories (that took five years of sweat). First, some backround.
Last May in Burning could offset global warming, I had a throwaway paragraph:
Right now I'm looking at calcium carbonate. Literally. Got a hunk of limestone. CaCO3. That's sequestered carbon, right?. Hmmm.
Make a green pitch, wrap it in recycled fiberboard; et voila! Return of the Pet Rock, eco-version! And seashells, same stuff, calcite. There's the hook! Mom, you're going to Miami Beach.
I was on the wrong chemical pathway.
(and who among us hasn't been, at one time or another)

The answer isn't CaCo3. It's NaHCO3. Duh.

Sodium bicarbonate, otherwise known as baking soda. The stuff in the little yellow box, promoted by Arm & Hammer. Not to be confused with Armand Hammer, the Gore family friend, benefactor* and chairman of Occidental Petroleum. As Wikipedia says:
It is often claimed, incorrectly, that the brand name originated with or is related to tycoon Armand Hammer, who owned a considerable amount of Church and Dwight stock in 1980s and served on its Board of Directors. In fact, Hammer only bought a portion of the company as a joke.
Mr. Hammer wasted a lot of his shareholders' money and the stock rose upon news of his death. First time I had noticed such a thing.

On to the story. In November we had this post
"Can baking soda curb global warming?"
If it works, it's huge. Worth the read, I promise.

*Here's the Wall Street Journal's John Fund on the Gore family's zinc mine. There are a whole lot of OXY/Gore links; some say Al Gore Sr. was a wholly owned subsidiary of Mr. Hammer.