Monthly Archives: June 2014

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Climate security

We are used to news that makes incremental changes to our reality. A new president, a 5-1 victory for the national team, inventions and wars, they all nudge reality in small way that can only prove their significance in due time. It has to do with the rate of change. If the rate is fast enough we are likely to notice, whether the change is significant to the underlying process or not.

Slow changes are hard to notice or respond to

The world adopted private central banking in a slow process that took place during the first half of the twentyieth century. Production and consumption in the western world became highly dependent on fossil fuels in the same time period (not by coincidence). These where fundamental changes to our lives we never really noticed. The difference is that in our daily change reveals itself as a repetition of similar events. Centralization and privatization of banking was a political process, without detailed interest all meetings and votes look the same. The introduction of every car, truck, diesel generator where steps in the direction of fossil fuel capture. Everyone first bought a gas powered frridge, then an electric one. The first laundromat may have been a sensation, the next billion wheren’t.

A record broken every day loses its news value

This is what makes climate change hard to report on. The changes are similar, they are repetitive. Species are in danger, they go extinct. It’s hotter than last year, every year. A drought, a flood, again, strange strong winter weather, dying fish, again and agian. This type of information doesn’t register. We want to learn about changes that have some immediate impact on our lives. Every time a new hundred year storm occurs it’s a hundred year storm, again. What can anyone do about it?

Another profound factor is generational renewal. Each generation accepts the reality they learn about the first time as a benchmark. Once there wheren’t any nuclear reactors, and many people protested. Now there are and new ones are nothing new. The pollution they cause f.i. in Fukushima has outraged those that understood the risk, but the new generation won’t know any better than that the pacific has heightened radioactivity. Without a significant change to the direct reality of people, they are not sensitive enough to respond.

Every child outgrowing the protection of its parents has to learn that not every man is a father, not every women a mother to them. So if the fossil fuel markteer / evangelist sufficiently reminds them of their parents they can dictate reality to them. That’s the difference between child and adult : enough private experiences to distrust the word of strangers. Religion, hiking a ride on this parental authority cause the most insane distortions of views of reality in the believers, some of which are designed to keep them captured by the specific thought system in question.

Just a good rule : Talk to everyone at least once

The media live of the capture the achieve of their audience. Fear is a great way to immobilize the audience. The active outgoing people don’t see a relation between TV news and their reality. The people that are passive enough to hang in front of a TV will be tought to keep watching it. It is not in the interest of the TV business to teach much usefull information, the medium is a vehicle for advertisement. It leverages peer pressure, like with the World Cup. You have to watch or not know what happened like everyone else. The root of this communal sacrifice of time and attention to the soccer experience is that these men represent the assumed soccer elite of our country. We come from our country, we have to watch! The subsequent struggle displayed demands respect, and victory is celebrated as personal. But the reason we do this is strictly commercial. The World cup is a marketplace where your attention is sold to the highest bidder (and people play soccer).




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Schaliegas Debat

Gisteren vond in de tweede kamer een eerste debat tav schaliegas plaats. Veel partijen waren tegen om vele verschillende redenen. Het is de moeite waard de video te bekijken, de argumenten zijn begrijpelijk en de reacties geven een goed beeld van de partijen..

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The CCS Paradox

Carbon capture and storage, it is the fossil fuel industry’s answer to demands for emissions reduction. CO2 is caught right at the chimney of a powerplant, compressed and stored in underground caverns. Some imagine a market for CO2, as for instance greenhouses can use CO2 as fertilizer (often gas is burned to generate it).

The choice for using CO2 for CCS (which spans Carbon capture and storage, not CO2 capture and storage) is made because it is the shortest path to pretending to prevent CO2 emissions. It has the lowest cost in terms of energy extracted from fossil fuels (although it needs to be filtered out and compressed). Cost however is a vague term in the fossil fuel sector. Prices are always kept at a level that keeps powerplants running, unless the coal and gas really run out.

The strange thing is that CO2 capture is about the only way we are supposed to believe we can capture carbon. But what about coal, gas, oil, plastic. Capturing hydrocarbons makes more sense to begin with, burning fossil fuels didn’t only create massive amounts of CO2, but also of H2O, So much H2O was formed it will add to the sealevel rise. The paradox is that our economy can’t handle true carbon capture and storage when it is involves synthesizing hydrocarbon fuels. It views that as making fuel! It views that as competing with fossil fuels in the energy market!

The CO2 problem could be attacked (maybe not solved competely) by building solar driven hydrocarbon synthesis factories in the Sahara desert, far form the civilized world. The installations would cover a couple of hundred miles by a couple of hundred miles, they’d be gigantic, but they would do the job. There would be no lack of energy to build them, because they’d be making gigatons of fuel. They could be producing at several times the rate of our present oil and gas wells.

This is the CCS paradox : In doing it right you will outproduce the fossil fuel sector, yet you will not need to burn the fuels you make because you have renewable sources to live on. You will have a carbon fuel storage problem. Where are you going to leave the oceans of oil you may generate?

The fossil fuel sector doesn’t need to store CO2 from burning coal, it needs to find its ‘reverse’. It needs to start building the next generation Power to Gas (followed by Gas to plastic for storage) and other synthetic fuel plants. It is totally feasible. It is totally within their expertise and they can afford it, they should embrace the opportunity because if done right it would give them a lasting existence until renewables are so a bundant nobody really needs to work anymore…

The thing difficult to express is that when people think about reducing emissions, 10%, 15%, 80%, that’s all fine, but they really need to be -200%. Also the targeting 0% emissions by installing renewables is really modest considering there is not just 1 fossil fuel equivalent to be generated using the sun, but 2250. We could be 2250 times more wealthy than we are today..


The systems for power to gas, power to NH3, power to methanol, plastic or oil that have already been build now seem to offer a small contribution to the fossil fuel pool. This economic framing obviously hinders the rollout of these technologies. As we have explained banks, getting most of their revenue from fossil fuel use (directly and indirectly) make the new technologies compete with fossil fuels, which are costless to the producer. This is why we came up with the term ‘extraeconomics’ to mean the creation of resources that are not available to the wider economy, that are therefore preserved and accumulated.

We imagine that CCS through the synthesis of fossil fuel equivalents has to be done extraeconomically. The bases where CCS is done this way have to be independent, protected like a plantation against robbers. Investment in them has to be direct, not credit based etc. etc. Once one can think of a initiative that does CCS by making plastic with sunlight for instance, extraeconomically, it is possible to see how this plastic will pile up in the middle of the desert or somewhere on the bottom of the ocean and just stay there. The potential for our planet to produce extraeconomical is gigantic, abundance however is not ‘economic’.

Leave a solar panel in the desert with a peltier cooling based watermaker for 30 years, come back and you’ll find a forrest,with inhabitants. This is also CCS..

The fossil fuel industry can really help with this work, it won’t because obviously it wants us to think capturing and storing CO2 is a good idea. We need to go beyond fighting symptoms, and build the cure. All the technology needed exists today, so tell them to do it, or tell politicians to do it : Break the paradox and get real about CCS.







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Dual Carbon Batteries

Since the introduction of ultracapacitors a new type of battery entered the scene. An Ultracapacitor, being a capacitor with a much bigger ability to store electric charge, is in fact a type of battery.

The way an ultracapacitor stores more power is by using electrolyte, like in a battery. But unlike in a battery, the voltage is always kept to low to cause actual chemical reactions. In a normal battery a chemical reaction frees electrons on the negative side, and accepts them on the positve side. In an ultracapacitor only the orientation of the molecules changes,so the positive electrode gets surrounded by the negative side of the molecule, and the negative electrode by the positive side of the molecule. This increases the amount of charge one can store in the electrodes immensly. The molecules that orient would like to spring back to chaos, and this is they way energy is stored.

Ultracapacitor capacity can be increased by increasing the surface area of the electrodes, so more molecules can hug up against them. This is not easy with metals, so a foamy lead electrode would not work, because the lead dissolves and accumulates back and would not keep its shape. A lead acid battery is thus limited in its efficiency. A better lead acid battery can be made by using one electrode made of activated carbon. Activated carbon is carbonized organic material that has had a special heat treatment causing it to become enormously porous, having a very large surface area. A few pellets can have the surface area of a footbal field. Activated carbon is reactive, and because a chemical reaction depends on the apparend concentration of reagens, its large surface area causes any chemical to be neutralized by it.

Activated carbon
Carbon is also a reasonable conductor. So activated carbon electrodes are very promising to increase the capacity of ultracapacitors and batteries. One challenge is to keep the carbon connected to the output part of the battery. Otherwise there would be many ‘stranded’ grains of activated carbon not adding to the output of the battery. One way to change this is to try to grow nanowires. Another way is to use organic material that are already thin and fibrous, like cotton.

Battery with carbonized activated cotton electrodes has to use an electrolyte that does not react with the electrods. It might have to be an ultracapacitor, but it could also use an electrolyte with two stabile molecules that could switch back and forth based on charge added or removed. Apparently this is possible with Litium, which in Lithium-Ion batteries forms a complex with Oxygen. It can also react with Oxygen, so it could burn, but in the batteries it doesn’t. It seems the Double Carbon Batteries use the same reaction, only without the oxygen, but with carbon. The positive Lithium ions simply stick to the positive electrode as electrons are taken from it during chargeing.

The cost of these batteries could be very low. Based on Lithium they would be designed for use in cars, extending the range to 300 miles for cars that now reach 100 miles. With other chemistry/electrolytes they could be even cheaper. Manufacturing can also be replicated easily. The only challenge is restrictive royalties and fianceing of production plants. But with a thought out design it can mean cheaper electricity storage, enabling more renewable energy use and less investment in wastefull centralized electricity production and infrastructure.