Is this a perpetual motion machine… happy to say no.
The first question any evaluation company should ask is “are you proposing a perpetual motion machine?”
Carbon dioxide after all is spent energy. You need to put in energy to get a product out.
For instance photosynthesis by plants is taking in energy from light to convert CO2 to biomass.
Simplifying you can write the reaction as: CO2 + H2O + photons → [CH2O] + O2
For biomass projects converting wood to power, methanol (and from methanol to gasoline, plastics, etc; that’s for another blog) or fertilizer (ammonia/urea) the biomass (strings of [CH2O]) is then converted. We propose gasification by the reaction CH2O → CO + H2 given we are aiming to develop a low OPEX / low CAPEX gasifier; our downhole flexfuel gasifier that can gasify wet biomass to generate a hydrogen rich syngas. One can then convert the syngas to methanol, ammonia or even synthetic natural gas. This is conventional technology already out there.
So how are we proposing to do a similar reaction as photosynthesis but under ground, what’s power it if not photons?
We are actually using redox reactions involving bacteria. Our power source is the hydrogen from the oxidation reaction. And we are using a waste gas of which our team, being oil and gas engineers, is more than familiar with. And even though a lot of that waste gas is available (in the future as we provide more information hopefully the majority of the readers will apprecite the irony) we have proposed methods to recycle that waste gas using low grade geothermal heat.
This is our real power source – low grade geothermal heat. And by low grade I mean less than 200 centigrade and with lower fluxes and long retention times that this heat isn’t enough to generate steam. The Earth is actually radioactive at the core generating a great deal of energy. As you approach 2-3km below ground you start to get over 150 centigrade. We know quite well that these temperatures provide for some of this gas recycling as it is occurring undesirably. If we are right and our processes work out as simulated we are going to turn an undesirable product into a valued ally in combating global warming.
By using some fancy water chemistry and ions with salt we even aim to release the O2 which took many a late night to figure out a couple pathways (we eventually found some old processes that have boosted our confidence in this concept).
This process can be augmented by adding low grade photosynthesis based carbon such as grass or seaweed (our team is committed to not using biomass that would use land producing more valuable food) allowing you to actually add some solar energy to the mix (for the NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE we do not propose this but it might be of interest to some potential companies out there).
So the heat input is contained within the waste gas as generated by cheap geothermal energy augmented potentially with low grade photosynthesis based biomass.
So we are not a perpetual motion machine. Hurray!!! This is good since
Until next time… !
Quote of the Blog:
“We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win …”
John F Kennedy