Advanced bioenergy technology

The life of a graduate student is seldom glamorous or beautiful. Occasionally, though, you get to go to a really beautiful place. For me, this was Squaw Valley in mid-May:


What did I do to deserve such a fate? I gave a talk to the California Air Pollution Control Officer’s Association on the subject of air quality impacts of advanced bioenergy technologies. The talk was actually more fun than the surroundings. My personal research touches on a lot of the things I talked about, but I had never dug into some of the exotic technologies until I had to go speak about them. There aren’t many “wow” moments in clean energy these days. Lots of solid science and good, incremental progress in the right direction, but little sizzle.

That is, until you stumble upon a company called Clean Energy Systems and their Oxy-Fuel combustion technology. Imagine this, you burn gaseous fuel, such as biogas or producer gas from a biomass gasifier, and liquid oxygen, in what is basically a rocket engine. Then you duct the exhaust directly into a jet turbine. In their demonstration plant, C.E.S. is using a GE-J79, which was developed to power such birds as the F-4 Phantom and B-58 Hustler.

Once again, they’re firing a rocket engine into a jet turbine and using it to make power. The mind (or at least mine) boggles at the idea. As if that wasn’t cool enough, the exhaust from such a system is almost pure carbon dioxide, ready to be immediately injected into underground carbon capture and sequestration systems.

Let me be clear, this is not meant to be a commercial or technical endorsement of a product. I know little more about their systems than what I could find in public-domain internet sites. It’s just one of the more attention-grabbing technologies in a field sorely lacking in such things (unless you find wastewater digesters really interesting).

The presentation is available here, there are plenty of other technologies in there to get everyone thinking.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s