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The elemental insanity of carbon sequestration

The periodic table of the elements, devised by Mendeleev in 1870, is one of the most dangerous things ever created. It seemingly awakens us to a world of chemical possibilities, but it misleads us into believing that the world actually provides us with these things as starting materials. The most obvious problem, of course, is that is gives equal visual weight to atoms with vastly different relative abundances. Thus, we could try scaling by that. But that seems hard to get right as well.

But my current beef is that, except for a few inert and/or shiny things, nothing is available in elemental form. Which leads into an analysis of this fake news: Scientists find way to make mineral which can remove CO2 from atmosphere ******snip***
Scientists have found a rapid way of producing magnesite, a mineral which stores carbon dioxide. If this can be developed to an industrial scale, it opens the door to removing CO2 from the atmosphere for long-term storage, thus countering the global warming …
Recent posts

Hells Bells! Shell Sells Wells!

So why does an oil industry major sell working gas wells?

Shell Plans to Sell Stake in Eagle Ford Shale - WSJ

The explanation tossed out is that Shell and other majors came late into the game, overpaying for assets.

Okay. This would explain a decision to sell acreage. But selling working wells indicates that the money flowing from these wells is not good enough to make owing them worthwhile for Shell. (Indeed, the original WSJ report reported "the assets weren’t meeting the company’s profit targets") Can the smaller buyer (with less overhead, perhaps) can deal with a lower margin? We'll see.

A month ago, after reports of write downs of shale assets by many companies, it was suggested that

The companies are turning instead to developing current projects, unable to justify buying more property while fields bought during the 2009-2012 flurry remain below their purchase price, according to analysts.
As Fadel Gheit, an analyst at Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. was quoted in the …

Who Killed The Electric Gas Tank?

A few months from now, or perhaps 5-10 years from now, we will know whether or not EEStor can make good on its promise to sell a electrical storage device capable of propelling a reasonably-sized automobile down a freeway for a couple hundred miles before needing a recharge. There are some indications that they are making progress and that this could happen, but there are many reasons to remain skeptical. In this post, I will wade into these waters -- and then get out quickly. Will EEStor revolutionize motor transportation and more? Will it even work?

The human quest for energy is an interesting topic. Mostly by burning things, we have transformed our relationship with the planet and each other. It has been said that we are addicted to oil, but it is more the case that we are addicted to what harnessed energy can do. As it is learned that some utilization of energy is not sustainable for environmental reasons, or for lack of supply, the natural response is to search for other ways of d…

Solar By Numbers

A group at the University of New South Wales has announced that they have achieved a record 25% efficiency with a silicon solar cell, improving on their previous 24.7% performance...

...except that it is the SAME CELL as before. It's just that the standards body changed the reference spectrum upon which the PV cell is tested, and their cell happens to take better advantage of the new spectrum.

“Improvements in understanding atmospheric effects upon the colour content of sunlight led to a revision of the standard spectrum in April. The new spectrum has a higher energy content both down the blue end of the spectrum and at the opposite red end with, dare I say it, relatively less green.”
This is (exactly) like having the EPA change their mileage test and then having an automaker trumpet the "improved" performance of their products.

Mish, who is usually rather astute, fell for this nonsense.

NSW does good work, but please...

Doh!

Doh!

A Horse in the Sun

Horsepower (hp) is a unit of (naturally) power, or energy delivered per unit time. It is most commonly used to rate the power delivered by internal combustion engines (automobiles, lawn mowers). For a precise definition and history of this unit, this entry in Wikipedia is a good read. There is some variability in the precise conversion between horsepower and other units, but it is approximately equal to 745 watts.

I find this value rather interesting, as this is roughly the incident power delivered, per square meter, of radiation from the sun -- and also roughly the area available on a horse for collecting said power. And of course, harvesting that power is a rather inefficient process -- about 10-20% for solar cells.

Something to think about when you see an automobile rated at 200 hp: it would take 2000 square meters of (cheap) solar panels to deliver the equivalent power. That is nearly half of a football field. Try towing that behind your car.

Sobering thought.

Khurais Media Tours

The Saudis are staging a massive PR effort for their Khurais redevelopment project. A sampling:

UPI: Saudis show journalists huge oil project
NY Times: Saudi Oil Project Brings Skepticism to the Surface
AP: Giant Saudi field is key to boosting oil output
FT: Saudis rely on Khurais to speak volumes
The National (UAE): Khurais joins Saudi giants

Journalists were brought in en masse. Of course, I am miffed that they did not invite me. But I doubt that Matt Simmons was invited either.

Some tidbits:

Now the Saudis are deploying an extraordinary engineering effort to bring Khurais’s mile-deep oil to the surface. Seawater will be carried through new pipelines from the Persian Gulf and injected into oil-bearing rock to pressure the oil upward. Usually Aramco pumps seawater into a field only after several years of production, and some skeptics point to this as a reason to doubt that Khurais will live up to its billing. But Mr. Nasser said the huge seawater injection system at Khurais was about cost an…

The US Lower 48 OCS: The Undiscovered Pipedream

There is a growing amount of hand-wringing and political pandering about the fact that a big chunk of potential US offshore oil and gas resources is off limits for exploration and extraction due to limitations imposed decades ago. If you would believe the hype, the US could take a bite out of imports simply by removing restrictions on drilling the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), including areas offshore California, the eastern Gulf of Mexico, and the Atlantic Seaboard.



More like "No Clue Zone". The reality is quite different, as revealed in a report prepared by the EIA in 2007. Shown in the table below are estimates of how much oil and gas is out there just waiting to be discovered in inaccessible areas in comparison to whatis available currently:



Shown below is the impact on US offshore production if restrictions are lifted, according to the EIA:



The bottom line, in the words of the EIA:

The projections in the OCS access case indicate that access to the Pacific, Atlantic, and ea…