Sequestration is Nonsense

Good luck with this Carbon Removal, George, don’t hold your breath, and keep a tight grip on your wallet.

“Gradually the price of carbon emissions would have to be raised to a level where it would pay to remove carbon from coal. This is indispensable for bringing climate change under control because there is no adequate
substitute for coal-fired power plants except clean coal.”

Soros 2/14/2009, HuffingtonPost

Here’s a very simple, analysis of sequestration:

Removing carbon from coal is not economic under any conditions, here’s why:
1. Thermal evaporative and river, lake or ocean cooled power stations convert 31% of the heat to electricity.
2. Thermal non-evaporative “air cooled” power stations convert 24% of the heat to

Let’s discuss the differenced between these. Evaporative power stations consume (evaporate) 1 acre ft of very fresh water for every megawatt of electricity generated per day. Currently water is considered “free”. This is unlikely to continue. Water consumption is one major flaw with condensed solar power plants.

Non evaporative power plants are either air cooled (inefficient), or heat lakes, rivers or the ocean. All the fossil and nuclear fueled power plants emit thermal pollution.

Sequestering carbon requires treating 90-95% of the flue gases from the power plant, and these flue gases contain most of the 69% of the heat not used for generating electricity.

Removing this heat from the flue gases will consume twice the amount of electricity the power station generates (second law of thermodynamics). Now one could cool down the flue gases with cooling towers, which increases the amount of water potentially needed by a factor of three, — this to cool the flue gases from about 300 deg C to room temperature. To liquify, that is, cool down by about another 100 deg C, the flue gas requires about the total electricity produced by the power station.

Sequestration is nonsense.

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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Coal is a super-abundant energy resource, and it is naive to think that it won’t be used, any more than to think we are going to stop using available petroleum or natural gas. The question is how to use it as an energy source in an energy positive way without creating unacceptable negative externality. What do you suggest?

  • nearly as much energy would probably be expended on effective sequestration methods, as is expended by the energy source’s combustion…making it very nearly a zero-sum process.

    Probably a more realistic (and more creative) resolution would be to see what alternate product/process needs the carbon/CO2, and ‘re-package’ for that…starting a recycle ‘loop’ that can keep the carbon away from where it does the most harm.

    Hiding it will not work—so let’s put it to work for us elsewhere…

    “God gives men a brain and a penis, and only enough blood to run one at a time.” — Robin Williams

  • All we want out of the fossil fuels is the hydrogen anyhow, maybe we should be focusing on getting hydrogen without having to take the ancient carbon that goes with it.

    The world, which is powered by plants, already runs on the solar-hydrogen economy. The end result of photosynthesis is hydrogen ions crossing a membrane under chemiosmotic pressure to produce ATP.

    We need to start mimicking how nature does things, not what it does.

  • London, in the UK used to be known as “The Big Smoke”. London used to have famous killer fogs. It was, before the ’60s a dirty city, with soot everywhere.

    My sister got stuck at London Airport at Christmans in 1955 for some days because of London Smog.

    Not using Coal is the only solution, as the UK has done.

    I favor PhotoVoltaic electricity generation, first becuse its coming down a material science cost perfromance curve (the same curve that brought us from 4.77 HMz procesors to 1 GHz processors in 16 years), and second it’s not thermally generated electricty, which is a huge, vast, consumer of fresh water.

    The water needs of thermal plants make Condensed Solar electricity generation uneconomic.

    And coal is not as abundant as advertised, See slide three in this presentation:

  • PhotoVoltaic electricity, then electrolysis. I’m not a believer in pure hydrogen, it’s really dangerous and difficult to transport, and its the only gas at room temperature that heats as it expands (

    A green solution for hydrogen transport is probably anhydrous ammonia. Anhydrous ammonia, dangerous becuase it is violently hydroscopic, and will burn skin readily, is liquid under moderate pressure at room temperature, and can be burn in a regular car engine, and its combustion products can be engineered to Nitrogen and Water.

  • 1. Plant trees.
    2. Do not build on farmland, ever.
    3. Plant more trees.
    4. Grow more plankton.
    5. Clean up the oceans.
    6. Grow more plankton.

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