Category Archives: Energy

The Answer to Climate Change & Carbon Goals? Carbon-Neutral Synthetic Fuels for Electric Power Plants

Porsche has announced that they plan on building a carbon-neutral fuel refinery in Chile. Thanks to Chile’s sunny, windy climate, Chile makes for an ideal location to generate carbon-neutral fuels.

How does it work?

Well, you can capture CO2 from the atmosphere and hydrogen from water to make almost any hydrocarbon you can think of. It’s just a matter of chemical processing and some input energy to do the work. If you have carbon-free energy from wind and solar, you’re able to produce carbon-neutral (maybe carbon-negative) combustible fuels.

The original idea was to replace crude oil-based automotive fuels

And that’s a good idea. It may turn out that it’s a lot easier and perhaps less expensive than conventional oil drilling and oil refining. It’d be hilarious if it turned out to be the case, because honestly, this concept and science aren’t new. The only thing that’s somewhat new is solar, which means we could have been making this fuel in the 1980s.

But why not run conventional electric power plants with these fuels?

To me, this is the most immediate need. Most conventional power plants on the West Coast of the U.S. burn natural gas to make electric power. Why not swap that out with carbon-neutral synthetic fuels (or syngas)?

Many cities and states have carbon-neutral goals that are coming down the pipe. This might be the quickest way to achieve those goals. Electric power plants provide the base load consistently to their customers and users. Wind and solar are great, they just provide consistent power and most of the infrastructure just isn’t in place. But if you want to hit carbon goals quickly, a carbon-neutral fuel makes the most sense since you don’t have to create smart grids, or build hundreds of square miles of solar panels. Just switch fuels.

Let’s hope that the U.S. government puts some emergency pressure on getting this technology going ASAP.

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what is my carbon footprint

What is my carbon footprint?

I’m spending a lot of time this year ramping up my tree planting initiative. I’m most likely going to merge it with my business objectives over at Judicious, Inc.

Last year I had a 100 tree goal and hit it!

This year I want to do 1,000 and also see if I can get some other companies to match me. It’d be cool to try to get 1,000 companies on board!

The main reason why I chose this tree planting goal is to reverse my carbon footprint. So the first thing I needed to look at was my own carbon footprint.

There are a lot of carbon footprint calculators online. I chose trees.org/carboncalculator/ to start off this analysis.

Here’s what I came up with:

what is my carbon footprint

Background on my numbers

Gasoline

I have this weird habit of only putting in $25 in the tank each week. Around these parts that gets you about 7 gallons.

Air Travel

I really don’t do much air travel these days. I have kids that go to school so traveling just ain’t a thing in our lives. We did do Hawaii this year so I put down 5,000 miles for the round trip.

Trains and Subways

I never use em.

Electricity and Gas Usage

I used 250 kwh a month in my calculations and multiplied by 12 (I’m rushing here this morning, please let me know if I botched that!).

I have no idea how much gas we use. I don’t think we use that much. I grabbed 125 therms a month off the SoCal gas website (from their example bill).

My Calcs Don’t Seem To Include Food, Clothes and Products That I Buy

This particular calculator ignores this which is a big part of your carbon footprint.

How Many Trees Do I Need To Plant?

Well, there’s a specific calculator for that at: carbonify.com/carbon-calculator.htm

how many trees do I need to plant to offset my carbon footprint

My carbon footprint apparently ranges between 15 to 30 tons a year and I need to plant around 150 trees a year to offset this. Now of course, there’s a ton of debate on whether or not trees help offset your carbon footprint. Trees obviously use CO2 to grow, however, they also release CO2 when they die. In my mind, it’s better to have an organism like a tree taking out CO2 and increasing the number of trees to do that every year. Think of trees as carbon storage. Instead of it being the atmosphere it gets locked up in a tree – from anywhere to a few years to a few decades. It’s a rate problem.

Additionally, reforestation has tons of benefits for wildlife, local climate, preventing desertification, etc. Reforesting, deforested areas is a good idea.

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battery powered car air conditioning

Automakers Should Provide A Battery Powered A/C Option

When it starts to get hot around Southern California you’ll notice more and more people sitting in their cars with their engines on just to run their air conditioning.

I just came back from lunch and I saw three people doing this in two different parking lots. With that sample, that’s a lot of people running their engines in parking spots all over California right at this moment. I’d say that’s easily 10,000 stationary cars burning gasoline right now. Continue reading

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Cold Fusion

Uuhh, Yeah – I’d Take A Closer Look At Cold Fusion. Seems Like a Lot Has Changed.

I was twelve in 1989.

Somehow I had heard about cold fusion way back then. It was in the news a lot that year and considering I only had access to a handful of television channels, I probably absorbed some of the noise going on with the cold fusion hoopla. I also surrounded myself with a decently sized crew of nerdy kids, so that probably helped. Continue reading

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