Feeds

Germans plan to make 'synthetic natural' gas from CO2

Megawatt trial: Could be huge for renewables, nuclear

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Could be large for LNG cars - and for nuclear power

Then there's another important plus for the ZSW synthigas plan, which is that natural gas can, of course, be liquefied or compressed and used as a portable fuel. Diesel vehicles can run on LNG with relatively minor modifications and infrastructure - certainly minor compared to converting to an all-electric transport system. They offer superior performance to battery vehicles, too. And best of all, in this case the competition isn't cheap natural gas from underground but tremendously heavily taxed motor fuel, possibly offering profits right away.

There are two main problems here, though. First is the supply of carbon dioxide to make the synthi-gas with. There's tons of the stuff about, of course, but sucking it out of the air or sea is not easy and would consume a lot of energy in itself. Even sequestering it out of fossil powerplant exhausts is a largely unproven idea, and in any case a low-carbon future wouldn't offer any such exhausts to harvest.

Even if the supply of CO2 can be resolved, it's still necessary to generate all of today's total energy usage - electricity, gas, petroleum, coal, all of it - somehow. Some green visionaries consider that this is possible using only renewable power, though their assumptions are very optimistic and rely on most of humanity remaining in poverty - or Western living standards descending a long way to meet slightly-improved ones elsewhere.

Not even the most ardent renewables fanciers could contend that wind, solar et al could supply all current energy demand and huge amounts more to cope with 40 per cent synthigas storage losses and carbon sequestration. Even so, it's a very interesting and potentially useful idea, the more so in that serious ZSW engineers are examining it at multimegawatt scale.

One should note that it is also, potentially, a boon for nuclear power. Green advocates often assert that nuclear power plants must be run at full power all the time, but this is untrue: those of France can and do operate in load-following mode, on average running at perhaps 75 per cent capacity (as opposed to the 30 per cent normal for wind turbines). This is necessary as France gets most of its electricity from nuclear.

It is true, however, that the economics of nuclear power would improve markedly if the plants could run closer to full capacity: which they could potentially do using the ZSW synthigas tech. Gas so produced would be very cheap indeed, as the extra uranium used would barely affect the running costs of a nuclear plant - fuel accounts for a very small proportion of the cost of nuclear electricity, which mainly results from building, decommissioning, safety, personnel etc.

The possible future availability of carbon-neutral, secure natural gas supply is also of serious interest to gas microgeneration fanciers, and for other applications in gas-powered fuel cells such as the recently hugely-splashed "Bloom Box".

No matter where one stands in the modern energy debate, this one could be interesting if it pans out. There's a statement from the German researchers here. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.