Renewable-Energy Progress

Serious discussion of science, skepticism, and evolution
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lpetrich
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Post by lpetrich » Mon Sep 05, 2016 4:34 pm

New Oil Discoveries At 70-Year Low, Large Supply Constraints As Soon As 2025 | CleanTechnica
Roughly 20 times more oil is currently being used every year than is being “replaced” (through the discovery of new reserves). What does this mean? It means that the current market environment — mostly the result of all-out “production” in OPEC and Russia — is not going to be particularly long-lived. The overall long-term trend in oil reserve stocks and in availability has been clear for a great many decades now at this point, so that should be no surprise.
Peak oil, anyone?

US Voter Support For Wind Energy Continues To Skyrocket | CleanTechnica

GE Labels Floating Offshore Wind Turbines The Renewable Energy Of The Future | CleanTechnica

They would be anchored to the seafloor, and they anticipate being able to set up their systems for ocean depths as great as 200 m.

Sri Lanka Targets 70% Renewables By 2030 | CleanTechnica:
Sri Lankan Cabinet of Ministers has approved a ‘Battle for Solar Energy’ program which aims to boost the sustainable power generation in the country.
Solar + Storage In Australia Could Be Cheaper Than The Grid By Next Year | CleanTechnica
Batteries like lithium iron phosphate ones.

But even then, many electricity users will likely stay connected to the grid, though they will likely use it for only some of their electricity.
But with battery storage, the rate of “load defection” – as opposed to grid defection – was likely to increase to the high 90 per cent levels in some instances (see graph above). Those households will only be tapping into network for a small amount of their energy needs.
Solar Power Does Work, Even Better Than Expected | CleanTechnica
One of the prices we have to pay for our ideological divide on renewable energy is that we have to read headlines like this, particularly in the Murdoch media: “Solar and wind power simply don’t work, not here, not anywhere”. It was written by the former chairman of a coal mining company, in case you were wondering.

Solar doesn’t work? New analysis of Australia’s first large-scale solar farms shows that solar actually does work, and rather better than expected.
Australia Poised For Big Solar Boom As PV Costs Fall | CleanTechnica

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Post by lpetrich » Mon Sep 05, 2016 9:51 pm

How The Republican Party Hacked Itself, & How Trump Hacked His Own Election Chances | CleanTechnica

After discussing some theories why some Congresscritters reject global warming, author Zachary Shahan then got into Donald Trump's candidacy. He has succeeded in getting nearly half the voters behind him despite
  • only the vaguest of policy proposals,
  • some completely ridiculous/unrealistic proposals,
  • no history in public office (or doing hardly anything for people other than himself and his family), and
  • a boatload of obviously incorrect information and conspiracy theories in his arsenal of talking points.
Donald Trump has stated these things.
  • He claimed that global warming is a hoax “created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”
  • He claimed that wind and solar are very expensive (as you know, they’re actually very cheap).
  • (Note that Trump has demonstrated a history of dislike for wind energy, and has made crazy claims about it for years.)
  • He insinuated that solar energy has something like an 18-year payback time (it often actually has a much faster payback time for rooftop solar and a much, much, much faster payback time for utility-scale solar power plants).
  • (Note: In 2012, Trump claimed on Fox News that solar has a 32-year payback. He also said, “You look at the windmills that are destroying shorelines all over the world. Economically, they’re not good. It’s a very, very poor form of energy.”)
  • He also simply said that solar energy is “not working so good.”
  • He ridiculously claimed, “The wind kills all your birds. All your birds, killed. You know, the environmentalists never talk about that.”
  • He claimed in May that “The administration fast-tracked wind projects that kill more than 1 million birds a year.”
  • He pledged to pull the US out of the Paris climate agreement, which is an agreement between 195 countries.
  • He has claimed he and his team would “put our coal miners and steel workers back to work” (even though coal power is absolutely uncompetitive).
  • He has claimed that he would allow oil & gas drilling on federal lands.
  • He tweeted, “If I Am Elected President I Will Immediately Approve The Keystone XL Pipeline. No Impact On Environment & Lots Of Jobs For U.S.”
  • He compared wind power to oil and ethanol, even though wind power is for electricity and oil & ethanol are basically for transportation fuel. (LOL)
  • He called Obama the founder of ISIS and Hillary Clinton the co-founder. (Then he said he was only joking, and then he said, no, he wasn’t.)
  • He has said he would intentionally kill family members of terrorists (i.e., commit horrible war crimes) in the fight against ISIS.
  • He stated during a presidential debate, “I would bring back waterboarding and I’d bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.”
  • He made Steve Bannon his campaign CEO.
  • He said an Indiana-born judge shouldn’t be allowed to reside over the Trump University case because of his Mexican heritage.
  • He said, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
  • In response to pushback, he reportedly told CNN, “Well, somebody’s doing the raping, Don. I mean somebody’s doing it. Who’s doing the raping? Who’s doing the raping?”
  • He suggested that Obama didn’t stop the Orlando terrorist attack because he was sympathetic to ISIS.
  • Earlier in the campaign season, he tweeted, “Our great African American President hasn’t exactly had a positive impact on the thugs who are so happily and openly destroying Baltimore!”
  • Despite not having served in the military, Trump said, “There’s nobody bigger or better at the military than I am.”
  • He said, “There is a way of beating ISIS so easily, so quickly, so effectively, and it would be so nice…. I know a way that would absolutely give us guaranteed victory … The problem is then everybody will take the idea, run with it and then people will forget where it came from…. I ran it past two or three people. [It’s] so simple. It’s like the paper clip. You know, somebody came up with the idea of the paper clip and made a lot of money and everybody’s saying, ‘Boy, why didn’t I think of that, that was so simple.’ This is so simple, so surgical, it would be an unbelievable thing. Now, I’ve been around saying this, you would think somebody from the administration would at least would call me and say, ‘Hey, could you tell us what it is?’ It happens to be a great idea. But at the right time, I guess I’ll give it.” (He “ran it past two or three people” — hmm, mmkay, I see.)
  • He implied that Ted Cruz’s father was linked to the assassination of JFK.
  • He tweeted, “According to Bill O’Reilly, 80% of all the shootings in New York City are blacks-if you add Hispanics, that figure goes to 98%. 1% white.” (Oh, that was before the election — never mind.)
  • He proudly proclaimed, “And by the way, I can tell you something else. I dealt with Gaddafi. I rented him a piece of land. He paid me more for one night than the land was worth for two years, and then I didn’t let him use the land. That’s what we should be doing. I don’t want to use the word ‘screwed,’ but I screwed him.” (Whoops, that one is from before the election as well, but anyway. …)
  • He tweeted and later deleted, “If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband what makes her think she can satisfy America?”
  • He has stated that a Michigan-born Clinton aide could be a “terrorist agent” or “Saudi spy.”
  • He claimed that he would get a ridiculous, long, tall, expensive wall built along the border of Mexico … and that Mexico would pay for it.
Donald Trump considers wind turbines an eyesore, and he has tried to keep them from being built near some golf courses.

Donald Trump loses wind farm legal challenge - BBC News
Donald Trump set for new windfarm battle over Irish golf course - Daily Record

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Post by lpetrich » Mon Sep 05, 2016 10:00 pm

What Do Electric Car Drivers Regret About Leaving Gas Behind? | CleanTechnica

Extracted from the article:
  • That pleasurable and lengthy period of anticipation between when you slam your foot to the floor and actual acceleration commences.
  • The smell of gasoline baked into hot tarmac at gas stations.
  • Slow warmth in the winter from waste heat.
  • Brakes that just get hot.
  • The faux outrage at the expense of all of the repairs and maintenance.
  • Mysterious visits to the sales manager.
  • Worrying about running out of battery.
  • The health threats.
  • And yes, the noise.
  • My attachment to obsolete brands.
Obviously a very whimsical list. Electric cars have some deficiencies:
  • Short range by gasoline-car standards.
  • Shortage of fueling infrastructure: charging stations are still not as common as gas stations.
I must say that I am rather surprised that electric cars have gotten as far as they have. It seems that using lithium-ion batteries is what has made the difference -- lead-acid batteries have very low energy density.

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Post by Tubby » Mon Sep 05, 2016 10:08 pm

[quote=""lpetrich""]
  • That pleasurable and lengthy period of anticipation between when you slam your foot to the floor and actual acceleration commences.
  • The smell of gasoline baked into hot tarmac at gas stations.
  • Slow warmth in the winter from waste heat.
  • Brakes that just get hot.
  • The faux outrage at the expense of all of the repairs and maintenance.
  • Mysterious visits to the sales manager.
  • Worrying about running out of battery.
  • The health threats.
  • And yes, the noise.
  • My attachment to obsolete brands.
[/quote]

In my day people would sometimes pour used crankcase oil onto the ground in the alley. Electric cars must require some lubricating oil, but substantially less than piston engines, and since the oil would not be subject to high temperatures, it ought to last many more miles before changing it out. Does anybody know more about this? Maybe just some grease sealed in bearings is all there is?

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Post by lpetrich » Tue Sep 06, 2016 12:59 am

Electric cars will need lubricants for their motors and wheels and wheel mounts, but it seems like not much more than gasoline cars need for their wheels and wheel mounts. I've never owned a car, so I can't say how much lubrication a car's wheels and wheel mounts need.

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Post by Siempre » Tue Sep 06, 2016 4:06 pm

[quote=""lpetrich""]Electric cars will need lubricants for their motors and wheels and wheel mounts, but it seems like not much more than gasoline cars need for their wheels and wheel mounts. I've never owned a car, so I can't say how much lubrication a car's wheels and wheel mounts need.[/quote]

If the vehicle is operating properly then it doesn't use that much lubricant. Plus, they have synthetic oils and lubricants now that aren't made from crude oil. I'm not so sure they are any more environmentally safe to make and use... but they have them.

Btw, if we ever get to the point where we have tons of electricity via solar, etc and can get it to the vehicles... you could technically make an electric car that has no moving parts beyond just the wheels themselves. The wheels would basically be free floating and rotated via magnetic fields. I think this is the concept they were using in the "I Robot" movie.

That said, I'm not so sure such a design would ever become more than just a fad. More likely by the time we have that kind of energy available, most of our travel will probably be via other means entirely. Something similar to a car will probably only be rented from time to time for when you want to go to isolated areas... which will be hard to find. Just a guess.

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Post by lpetrich » Tue Sep 13, 2016 3:57 am

Meet The Men Who Put Solar Shingles On The Roof -- small solar panels that are installed like ordinary roof shingles. They also are nice-looking on a roof.

India Plans 1 GW Rooftop Solar Tender For Government Buildings | CleanTechnica
Europe’s Largest Port Goes Solar | CleanTechnica
The solar power system is spread across 7,500 square meters and will generate 750,000 kWh electricity every year, making it the largest rooftop solar power system in the city of Rotterdam. The electricity generated will be enough to meet the annual power demand of 250 homes.

The annual solar power generation in Rotterdam will increase to 3.75 GWh, with the share of this rooftop system at a massive 20%. The city plans to generate 20 GWh of solar power by 2018 and 1,000 GWh by 2030.
The numbers: 85 kW, 428 kW, 2.3 MW, 114 MW

Insolight Breaks Solar Cell Efficiency Record -- Hits 36.4% Efficiency | CleanTechnica

DONG Energy Installs World's Largest Wind Turbine | CleanTechnica
A Danish company: Denmark Oil and Natural Gas
DONG Energy announced last week that it had successfully completed the installation of the first of thirty-two 8 MW wind turbines at the Burbo Bank Extension offshore wind farm which it is developing, currently under construction in Liverpool Bay, off the west coast of England.

The 8 MW wind turbines, built by Vestas, are the largest in the world, standing at 195 meters — in excess of two Big Bens.
Study: The Stricter The Emissions Testing Requirements In The EU, The More Testing Results Diverged From Real-World Results | CleanTechnica
While most manufacturers have (apparently) not been brazen and arrogant enough to use “defeat devices” as obviously deceiving as Volkswagen has, the problems with testing standards are substantial. Official fuel economy figures, for instance, very rarely match up with real-world figures.

This disparity has been growing in recent years, with stricter regulations leading directly to an increased gap between reality and official testing results, according to new research from Toulouse School of Economics Professor Mathias Reynaert and UC Berkeley Professor James Sallee.

In other words, stricter emissions standards haven’t led to notable improvements, but rather have resulted in many manufacturers working to game the system to avoid the costly (both with regard to margins and to market share) changes that would be required to reduce pollution levels.
Air Pollution Is The Deadliest Form Of Pollution, & Cost World $225 Billion In Lost Labor Income In 2013, Says World Bank | CleanTechnica

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Post by lpetrich » Tue Sep 13, 2016 4:31 am

Interactive Web Tool Calculates Estimated Solar & Wind Outputs Anywhere In The World | CleanTechnica

Here it is: Renewables.ninja I checked out some places where I have lived or visited before I reached the anonymous-request limit of 5 per day.

I found some interesting patterns. In the northeast US, for instance, wind is best in the winter, when solar is worst.

G20 Balks At Ending The "Dumbest Policy" Of All, Fossil Fuel Subsidies | CleanTechnica

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Post by Tubby » Wed Sep 14, 2016 8:33 pm

Pardon me for going back to nonrenewables (oil) in this thread, but I just saw what they call an EROEI (Energy Return On Energy Invested) chart on this page, for various sources of crude. It's a green & red graphic. Shale is reluctant to give up its treasure, as compared to traditional sources.

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Post by lpetrich » Thu Sep 15, 2016 1:13 am

But it did contain some interesting renewable-related stuff, like on biofuels. Existing ones are often atrociously bad, yielding only a little more energy than is put into making them -- low EROEI (Energy Recovered On Energy Invested). Cellulose digestion does better, especially in the tropics. Algae do even better. But cellulose digestion and algae are not what's being done at the moment.

My pet idea of a liquid fuel is electrolysis of water, followed by combining the resulting hydrogen with carbon dioxide to make hydrocarbons -- the Fischer-Tropsch process. That's actually been done: Audi has successfully made diesel fuel from carbon dioxide and water - ScienceAlert -- though it still is not cheap enough to successfully compete with fossil-fuel diesel fuel. (Wikipedia)E-diesel links to several similar initiatives.

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Post by prettymonk » Fri Sep 16, 2016 4:35 am

Thanks for sharing.

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Post by Tubby » Sun Sep 25, 2016 8:55 pm

I wasn't aware that Alaska has lots of coal. The debate is on for whether to mine it or leave it be.

http://www.vox.com/2016/9/25/13037044/c ... yptr=yahoo

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Post by Tubby » Wed Oct 05, 2016 6:55 am

Carbon dioxide is captured at a coal-fired power plant, but then piped to an oil field to squeeze up more carbon-based fuel there.

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Post by Tubby » Wed Oct 05, 2016 3:03 pm

Less oil-burning means quicker deforestation, argues this somewhat pro-oil article.
I don’t think a brighter future for renewables necessarily means that oil is on its last legs. In this article, I’ll argue that oil is the best and most indispensable of the fossil fuels – and while coal in particular may be heading the way of whale oil sooner than later, we’ll still have petroleum (and oil price spikes) with us for several more generations. Oil has already declined from 48% of the world’s total energy usage in 1973 to just 35% by 2008. Despite that, actual oil usage still rose significantly over those years.


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Post by Tubby » Tue Oct 11, 2016 9:45 pm

A new material, spongelike, for use as a capacitor for taking on the role of batteries.

http://www.zdnet.com/article/bye-bye-ba ... tric-cars/

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Post by lpetrich » Wed Oct 12, 2016 2:23 pm

Titled link: Bye-bye batteries? MIT's new power sponge could hold key to electric cars | ZDNet
MIT's researchers have developed the first example of a class of materials called "metal-organic frameworks" (MOF), which are electrically conductive, opening up the possibility for more durable and higher-performance supercapacitors thanks to this material's relatively high surface area.

The new material, called Ni3(hexaiminotriphenylene)2, allowed the researchers to create the first electric double-layer supercapacitor without conductive carbon.

...
Tests using devices that weren't optimized showed they lost 10 percent of their performance after 10,000 cycles, making it already comparable to existing commercial supercapacitors. However, Dincă believes the materials can be tuned to outperform commercial capacitors.
Linking to New kind of supercapacitor made without carbon | MIT News


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Post by Tubby » Thu Oct 13, 2016 9:37 pm

Pardon one more intrusion of gasoline-burning into this thread. :p I wondered why the rotary engine for automobiles was such a short-lived phenomenon. Here is a video which goes into that issue.

(Not loaded: v3uGJGzUYCI)
(View video on YouTube)

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Post by Copernicus » Sun Oct 16, 2016 4:37 pm

The U.S. government just made its biggest clean energy purchase ever
On Friday in Maricopa County, Ariz., the U.S. government will hit a clean energy milestone: What officials are calling the largest procurement ever of renewable energy by the federal government, in this case from a desert solar array.

The new 150-megawatt, or million-watt, Mesquite 3 solar array is located in Arizona, but the electricity it generates will be sent to California’s electric grid and will power roughly one-third of the electricity needs of 14 naval installations in the state, including San Diego’s naval base and the Marines’ Twentynine Palms and Camp Pendleton.

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Post by Tubby » Mon Oct 17, 2016 5:40 am

A fusion reactor experiment with an unusually high operating pressure---

http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2016/10/mi ... ecord.html

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Post by Tubby » Wed Oct 19, 2016 9:08 pm

The CO2 concentration curve continues upward.
400 ppm is symbolically significant, representing a point of no return. It is now almost certain atmospheric CO2 concentrations will never go below 400 ppm in our lifetime or even our great-grandchildren’s lifetime.

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Post by lpetrich » Thu Oct 20, 2016 4:09 pm

This looks big:
Scientists just accidentally discovered a process that turns CO2 directly into ethanol - ScienceAlert
Nanotech Wafer Turns Carbon Dioxide Into Ethanol | Popular Science
Scientists Accidentally Discover Efficient Process to Turn CO2 Into Ethanol -- Popular Mechanics
Nanospikes Convert Carbon Dioxide Back Into Ethanol - D-brief -- Discover magazine
Researchers accidentally turn carbon dioxide into ethanol -- engadget.com

Nano-spike catalysts convert carbon dioxide directly into ethanol | ORNL -- Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Journal article:
High-Selectivity Electrochemical Conversion of CO2 to Ethanol using a Copper Nanoparticle/N-Doped Graphene Electrode - Song - 2016 - ChemistrySelect - Wiley Online Library

If this work holds up, it would be great. This gets around a major problem with electrolysis: catalysts. The most practical sort of catalyst materials have been platinum and other such noble metals. But platinum is rare and expensive -- some commodity speculators call it "white gold" (Is Platinum “White Gold”, Or Is It Different? | GoldBroker.com).

This recent work involves creating electrodes with nitrogen-doped graphene spikes topped with tiny copper balls. Graphene is carbon in the form of hexagonal-structure sheets, and the nitrogen doping is to increase its electrical conductance. Copper seems like its alternative to platinum.

Adding carbon dioxide to the anode, the negative electrode, where hydrogen would normally come off, is what makes ethanol, CH3CH2OH, drink alcohol. It was produced with surprisingly high efficiency, 63% electrochemical efficiency and 84% selectivity. But don't try to drink "electrolysis vodka" just yet -- it contains formic acid and likely also methanol, the researchers' intended target.

The other electrode is the cathode, the positive electrode, where oxygen comes off.

Why is this great? Because it skips a synthesis step. Electrolysis of water produces hydrogen and oxygen, and the hydrogen must then be combined with CO2. But this process combines H2 with CO2 as part of the electrolysis process, thus doing two processes in one step.

-

I've found some other work on platinum alternatives for electrolysis electrodes.

Rutgers Chemists Develop Technology to Produce Clean-Burning Hydrogen Fuel | Media Relations (back in 2014) -- another alternative electrode material for electrolysis.
“Hydrogen has long been expected to play a vital role in our future energy landscapes by mitigating, if not completely eliminating, our reliance on fossil fuels,” said Tewodros (Teddy) Asefa, associate professor of chemistry and chemical biology in the School of Arts and Sciences. “We have developed a sustainable chemical catalyst that, we hope with the right industry partner, can bring this vision to life.”

...
In a recent scientific paper published in Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Asefa and his colleagues reported that their technology, called “noble metal-free nitrogen-rich carbon nanotubes,” efficiently catalyze the hydrogen evolution reaction with activities close to that of platinum. They also function well in acidic, neutral or basic conditions, allowing them to be coupled with the best available oxygen-evolving catalysts that also play crucial roles in the water-splitting reaction.
Carbon nanotubes are essentially graphene sheets rolled up into tubes, and here also, the nitrogen is for doping them.

-

This work may also be good for fuel-cell electrodes, replacing platinum there also in room-temperature ones. It's possible to avoid platinum by doing electrolysis at high temperatures, but high-temperature electrolytic cells cannot be very small from the square-cube law. This work may also be good for platinum-free fuel cells at room temperature; existing platinum-free ones are also usually high-temperature. There is even work on high-temperature batteries.

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Post by lpetrich » Thu Oct 20, 2016 5:21 pm

Electrolysis is essentially
H2O -> H2 + (1/2) O2

Hydrogen is rather difficult to store, but it is a good feedstock for a variety of processes. Synfuels processes like the Fischer-Tropsch process are essentially

H2 + CO2 -> (C,H,O) + ()*H2O

So in principle, one can make a variety of liquid fuels and chemical feedstocks with such processes: Audi has successfully made diesel fuel from carbon dioxide and water - ScienceAlert

This most recent process does both sorts of reactions in its electrolysis cell, simplifying its design:

2CO2 + 6H2 -> CH3CH2OH + 3H2O

The CH3CH2OH can be used as a fuel, or else as a feedstock for other chemical production, like plastics. It might be used for sequestering carbon, but one would have to heat it at high temperatures to make char (largely C). One can then bury the char in some place like an oceanic trench. But an interesting result of this is that this char may eventually become coal and oil and natural gas some tens of millions of years from now.

-

Another use of hydrogen is the Haber-Bosch process for making nitrogen fertilizer:
N2 + 3H2 -> 3NH3
then
NH3 + 2O2 -> HNO3 + H2O
NH3 + HNO3 -> NH4NO3 -- ammonium nitrate, a common fertilizer material

Hydrogen is currently made from natural gas:
CH4 + H2O -> CO + 3H2

I point this out because some people seem to think that high-productivity agriculture requires the use of fossil fuels. Most renewable sources are best-adapted for making electricity, so my discussion shows that making nitrogen fertilizers can be entirely renewable-powered.

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Post by Tubby » Fri Oct 21, 2016 2:52 am

Natural gas has a 2:1 superiority over coal with respect to carbon dioxide thrown into the air, says this article.

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