A comprehensive sustainable solution  

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Hydrogen offers the world a stable and sustainable future. The future uses will be enhanced by the success of the hydrogen fuel cell and the hydrogen car. Hydrogen powered cars will increase the demand for hydrogen production and allow the economics of hydrogen power to utilize the mass market efficiencies. Today however, one of the largest segment of the hydrogen economy is based on using natural gas (a non renewable resource) to make ammonia/nitrogen fertilizer and unfortunately producing large amounts of greenhouse gases. We propose that sustainable food production should be a high priority in a carbon constrained world.  Our research demonstrates a path for the fertilizer industry to utilize existing technology and our discoveries to process renewable hydrogen into a valuable component of sustainable agriculture and provide an economical solution for climate change mitigation through large scale carbon storage. 

 

Other major uses of hydrogen include its use in refining of chemical and liquid energy products such as gasoline and diesel.  The output of the system viewed above produces hydrogen and carbon monoxide primary ingredients to the Fischer-Tropsch process for producing diesel (among many other co-products well known to the current petrochemical refining industry.)  

 

 The research covered here began as a DOE sponsored project to develop renewable energy production capability with a carbon co-product.  Agricultural biomass was used to produce hydrogen and charcoal. The widespread use of hydrogen from biomass could create massive amounts of this stable carbon. This form of carbon can be activated activated used for water filtration and thousands of other applications. However, just as energy from burning coal is cheap, activated carbons from coal have competitive only in niche markets or in markets set aside for renewable sources.   This work leverages unique aspects of biomass charcoal, to allow it to provide increase crop yields and to sustain the fertility of our soils for generations to come.

 

The history of carbon conversion and our hydrogen development work with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), led us to investigate the combined processes of producing hydrogen and a nitrogen enriched carbon, organic slow-release sequestering fertilizer, ("ECOSSTM"). (see press releases). Recent collaboration with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) led us to the development of a process for combining of two technologies to capture CO2, SOx and NOx from fossil fuel plants during the ECOSS production process. An experimental test run produced 7kg of this material. 

This novel process can offer a chance for agriculture and the fertilizer industry infrastructure to become the largest contributor to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and even reduce atmospheric CO2 levels if we move quickly to adopt this strategy. At the same time, coal fired power plants may have a economical method for reaching target reductions without reducing plant efficiencies. See an initial analysis. NEW The utilization of the Fischer-Tropsch biomass conversion process to produce a carbon negative diesel may offer a unique fit for this process of converting wet-biomass. The output of the unit shown at the top of the page produces 4.5 times as much hydrogen as it does carbon monoxide.  Since ECOSS requires 40% conversion of H2 into ammonia for carbon capture, the remaining 2.7 H2 to CO is sufficient to operate a Fischer-Tropsh cycle and produce a green diesel.  Efficiency is significantly improved via co-product production. New technologies in ammonia production can reduce capital costs for local manufacturing. 

For an example, we considered a maximum size plant of 28 tons/hr biomass (wet), yielding 13tph of 10% N ECOSS fertilizer, 1.9tph of H2 and 0.7tph of CO for F-T. The maximum sequestrated carbon would be 5.6 tph or (20.4tph of CO2) with a half life of 5000 years. How much diesel that yields, depends on process conditions, however, if the large majority the output of F-T were used to make diesel, then an upper limit may be 2.6tph (112Gj) of green diesel with a carbon dioxide output of 7.8 tons of CO2. Since the sequestration is minimally 2.8 times higher, then even considering shipping ECOSS back to the fields and transporting biomass to central facilities, the net emission per unit volume of diesel will  be a negative number. Transportation becomes a carbon negative impact. The global benefits of more distributed use of labor and retention of local currency will add to the human wealth effect. Ultimately this will increase global security as jobs and economic prosperity spread.

  The need is imperative for  demonstrating profitable ways to sequester or fix carbon into solid product forms with large volume application (click to see calculations and impacts) such as soil amendments to enhance no-till farming, carriers for natural pesticides, water run-off protection in riparian buffer strips, as well as others. EPRIDA seeks to help the planet to effectively remove carbon dioxide from our atmosphere (for thousands of years) while assisting in the technology implementation for producing the fuel of today and the future. 


Click here to read an overview of ECOSS fertilizer initiative.  

Hydrogen from Biomass 1000 Hour Test  Demonstration

Biomass offers a renewable source for the domestic energy production of hydrogen. The US Governments Bioenergy Roadmap directs that bioenergy will will increase 10 fold from 2000 to 2020. The biomass processing method employed in this project offers to use hydrogen were it can be implemented immediately and provide benefits that are important as we learn more about global climate change. 


In June 2001, President Bush requested answers to specific questions of 11 national known scientists who wrote the National Academy of Sciences report on "Climate Change Science". The 2001 Senate testimony of Thomas Karl, Director of the National Climatic Data Center provided the senate with evidence for supporting research efforts. The National Academy of Sciences report, "Abrupt Climate Change" which came out in December of 2001 reviewed evidence showing rapid shifts in climate change were possible and had occurred in the past. (See also American Scientist Jul-Aug 99). "Abrupt Climate Change: Should We Be Worried?" presented by Dr. Robert B. Gagosian, President and Director, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution at the  World Economic Forum Davos, Switzerland, January 2003 provides illustrative and educational material of possible dangers the world may soon face. Studies such as those by Ruth Curry at WHOI show that predicted changes are happening at an accelerating pace.   If you have not been briefed on recent findings and wonder UK's Prime Minister Tony Blair is calling for 60% reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, take a few minutes to read this BBC report of changes to the Gulf Stream, or read the Feb-2004 Fortune article concerning a recent Pentagon study.

The opportunity to effect the final outcome of climate change must begin by understanding that taking action can be core to maintaining a strong economy. Recent presentations have created interest by many companies who wish to participate in a global collaborative development program.  Researchers across the globe have also contacted us to work together in a worldwide research effort to share data and speed implementation of this discovery. These efforts can help slow the build up of global greenhouse gases while restoring our topsoil and building a sustainable hydrogen economy. The loss of up to 50% of soil carbon located cultivated lands will only accelerate unless changes are made to our farming practices. These degraded soils need the carbon that is currently be emitted to our atmosphere. This is carbon use and restoration, not sequestration.

Should you have an interest in being part of this effort, please email us. The year, our sponsored research program has begun and our team will be demonstrating 1000 hours of renewable hydrogen production with carbon capture and utilization. We encourage your contact if you have an interest in the work and/or collaboration. Please contact use if you are interested in part time graduate research work, wish to work as an intern or would like to part of our team.  If you have graduate students who may have an interest, please ask them to contact us. Just as in the demonstration last year, we will be conducting guided group tours for science class field trips and those interested in hydrogen production/carbon sequestration once operations have begun (Spring-2004). Groups and individuals are always be welcomed to visit with advance scheduling. Please contact us to arrange a date and time. We would like to offer study and educational materials in advance of field trips this year, so educational assistance and partnerships in this area would be very much appreciated.

For information on the hydrogen production/ ECOSSTM Fertilizer Project contact: Danny Day.

 

 

2004 Hydrogen Production Start-up Images
 

Important Research in Climate Change

ECOSS Initiative for Agriculturally Directed  Massive Carbon Use and Long Term Storage

Microscopic images of the first run in our 18" diameter x 48" high continuous reactor.

Here are photos with a AAA battery for scale.

Starting char material.

Processed 15 minutes

Chunky, if processed to 30 minutes

Technical Overview and Scanning Electron Micrographs