Sunday, June 1, 2014

EPA To Curb CO2 Emissions from Power Plants

Subtitle: Will the California Rule Be Their Guide?

[Update 6/1/2014 7:45 pm:  It appears from news reports (WSJ among others) that a 30 percent reduction is the new requirement. -- end update. ]

The news has been heavy lately (see link from WSJ article) with the upcoming announcement by the US EPA of a new regulation that will limit carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from power plants. The ostensible goal is to stop global warming, on the premise that increased CO2 in the atmosphere causes the global average mean temperature to increase also.   The so-called science behind the CO2-causes-warming is badly flawed, indeed it is Bad Science (BS).   Much has been written about the BS, some of that writing here on SLB, e.g.

Warmists Are Wrong, Cooling Is Coming  see link
From Global Warmist to Skeptic - My Journey see link
Science is Not Settled see link 
Chemical Engineer Takes on Global Warming see link
Questions for Teens on Global Warming see link

I have also written previously on CO2 regulations from US EPA:

EPA Declares GHGs a Danger see link
EPA CO2 Endangerment Finding see link
Texas v US EPA Over CO2 Endangerment Finding see link

As the WSJ article linked above states, there will be many legal challenges to the regulation, and those challenges could take years to resolve. 

California Rule on CO2 from Power Plants

The US EPA new rules may be similar, or even identical, to those passed in California in 2007.  California's rule limits CO2 emissions from power plants such that only a combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plant can comply, unless carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology is applied.   The California law, which was Senate Bill 1368 (Perata), limits CO2 emissions to 1,100 pounds CO2 per MWh of electricity produced. 

Hope for Coal Plants

Coal-fired plants have a double dilemma: the cycle efficiency is lower than from a CCGT, and the fuel has much more CO2 emissions for each million Btu burned, compared to natural gas.   The hope, and it is a very strong hope, is an economic process to capture CO2 from the furnace stack, and prevent that CO2 from entering the atmosphere.  

One such process has been demonstrated, and has a commercial-scale plant under construction with startup slated for 2014.  That process is by Skyonic Corp, an Austin,  Texas-based company founded by chemical engineer Joe Jones, with a patented process to convert CO2 in stack gases to sodium bicarbonate.  The bicarbonate can be sold as a powder.  Skyonic can be viewed online at this link

The sales phone must be ringing off the hook at Skyonic's office.  Or, their server is probably full with emailed inquiries.  

I have reviewed the Skyonic patent, their published literature and press announcements, seen the videos, and am happy to state that this technology is based on sound engineering principles.  It works.  The economics also appear solid, as the company claims a three-year payback period on the investment.    Private investors also agree the technology and economics are sound, and put their money into the company.  Disclosure: I have zero financial interest in Skyonic.  


We do indeed live in interesting times.  One of the most interesting parts is that chemical engineers are riding to the rescue.  

Roger E. Sowell, Esq.
Marina del Rey, California

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