Robotics

A New Power Plant Burns Fossil Fuels Without Any Carbon Emissions

Startup NET Power wants to revolutionize carbon capture and storage systems to get fossil fuel plants to produce zero carbon emissions. Instead of attaching such systems into existing power plants, they built one from scratch.

plants, particularly coal-fired and natural gas plants, still make up a majority of the world’s energy sources. As such, they remain the largest contributor of climate-warminginto the atmosphere, the most notable of these being carbon dioxide.

Efforts to cut down or eliminate these emissions altogether while still burning fossil fuels — so-called carbon capture and storage (CCS) systems — have been around for a while now, but they haven’t really taken, mainly because they are largely inefficient and expensive. A relatively new startup wants to change that.

NET Power was created by an unlikely trio — a lawyer, a chemist, and a chemical engineer — and its goal is to help rid the world of fossil fuel-caused carbon emissions. Instead of following the footsteps of existing CCS systems, however, NET Power built one from the ground up. “The only way you could proceed was to develop a totally new power system,” Rodney Allam, the chemical engineer in the trio, told Science.

The prototype plant they developed utilizes a new thermodynamic cycle — dubbed the Allam cycle — that eliminates the need for smokestacks altogether. “[T]he Allam Cycle uses a high-pressure, highly recuperative, oxyfuel, supercritical CO2 cycle that makes carbon capture part of the core power generation process, rather than an afterthought,” according to the startup’s website.

Essentially, CO2 replaces the steam used to drive turbines in traditional plants, keeping it working in the plant instead of releasing it out into the air, while also eliminating the need to expend energy to create steam.

The system also meets the challenge of being financially competitive, with the company’s founders estimating their plant could match the per kilowatt-hour cost of a state-of-the-art natural gas-fired plant. To work with coal, however, the coal would first need to be converted into synthetic gas, and in those instances, the environmental damage caused by coal extraction would still be a factor.

Many of the world’s more developed countries, such as the United States, China, and a number of European nations, have begun closing down their coal-fired power plants. However, transitioning to renewable energy sources will take time for many of those in the developing world, most notably India. Although a push for renewables is underway in the nation, fossil fuel-powered plants are still the number one option for their everyday energy needs.

While the world transitions toward cheaper renewable energy sources, efforts like NET Power’s, which limit carbon emissions from fossil fuel plants, will certainly be helpful. “This is the biggest thing in carbon capture,” MIT chemical engineer and carbon capture expert Howard Herzog told Science. “It’s very sound on paper.”

We should know soon if the system lives us to its promise as NET Power’s 25-megawatt demonstration plant in Houston will become operational later this year. If the prototype power plant works as hoped, the next step would be to open a $300 million full-scale 300-megawatt plant by 2021. According to John Thompson, a carbon capture expert from nonprofit Clean Air Task Force, “This is a game-changer if they achieve 100 percent of their goals.”

VIA futurism.com

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Robotics

In Letter, At Least 12 States Will Sue to Block Any Rollback of Emissions Standards

While the White House and Scott Pruitt, head of the EPA, have indicated their plan to roll back vehicle emissions standards set by the Obama administration in 2011, the attorneys general of 12 states and Washington District of Columbia have pledged to sue the EPA if the roll back happens. The states — California, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Oregon, Maine, New York, Massachusetts, and Maryland — made their intentions clear in a letter to Pruitt. Back in 2011, President Obama’s administration made the deal with automakers, who agreed to work on doubling their average fuel efficiency fleet-wide until it reaches 54.5 miles per gallon by the year 2025. The parties also agreed to undergo mid-term evaluations no later than April 2018 to ens...

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Uncategorized

Could Tiny Fusion Rockets Revolutionize Spaceflight?

A small NASA-funded company is slimming down nuclear fusion reactors for space scienceVIA scientificamerican.com

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Elon Musk’s Space X Falcon 9 Rocket Lands Sucessfully | True Hollywood Talk

The SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket has landed successfully!  The Dragon, which is still on its way to orbit, is carrying around 6,000 pounds of supplies and science experiments for the crew of the ISS. That includes a group of fruit flies to test out how the cardiovascular system functions in microgravity, as well as a group of mice to study bone loss in the space environment. Some unique technologies are also riding up inside the Dragon’s trunk — the unpressurized structure attached to the spacecraft that provides support and houses the vehicle’s solar panels. The trunk contains an instrument called NICER, which will eventually be mounted to the outside of the space station to look for neutron stars, as well as a specialized solar panel called ROSA which can be unfurled a bit like a flag,...

Transcendent Man
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Robotics

The FDA Has Fast-Tracked A First-Of-Its Kind Cancer Treatment

The FDA has officially approved the first cancer drug that treats tumors based off of genetic information independent of the tumors' location in the body. In a clinical trial, the drug was active against cancer in over half of patients and completely wiped out the cancer in 21 percent of patients. One new drug has doctors and pharmaceutical companies in a tizzy. Pembrolizumab (branded Keytruda) has recently been approved, in a hurry, by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat multiple tumors that arise from cancer in individuals with the same genetic abnormality. During a clinical trail, the drug was tested in 86 patients. Of those who took part in the study, 66 patients had their tumors both significantly shrink and stabilize — meaning the tumors did n...

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