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Is carbon sequestration "good" for the environment?: an evaluation based on current technology and methods

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Carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) is one of the important mitigation options for climate change. Numerous technologies to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) are in development but currently, capture using amines is the predominant technology. When the flue gas reacts with

Carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) is one of the important mitigation options for climate change. Numerous technologies to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) are in development but currently, capture using amines is the predominant technology. When the flue gas reacts with amines (Monoethanaloamine) the CO2 is absorbed into the solution and forms an intermediate product which then releases CO2 at higher temperature. The high temperature necessary to strip CO2 is provided by steam extracted from the powerplant thus reducing the net output of the powerplant by 25% to 35%. The reduction in electricity output for the same input of coal increases the emissions factor of Nitrogen Oxides, Mercury, Particulate matter, Ammonia, Volatile organic compounds for the same unit of electricity produced. The thesis questions if this tradeoff between CO2 and other emissions is beneficial or not. Three different methodologies, Life Cycle Assessment, Valuation models and cost benefit analysis are used to identify if there is a net benefit to the society on implementation of CCS to a Pulverized coal powerplant. These methodologies include the benefits due to reduction of CO2 and the disbenefits due to the increase of other emissions. The life cycle assessment using ecoindicator'99 methodology shows the CCS is not beneficial under Hierarchical and Egalitarian perspective. The valuation model shows that the inclusion of the other emissions reduces the benefit associated with CCS. For a lower CO2 price the valuation model shows that CCS is detrimental to the environment. The cost benefit analysis shows that a CO2 price of at least $80/tCO2 is required for the cost benefit ratio to be 1. The methodology integrates Montecarlo simulation to characterize the uncertainties associated with the valuation models.

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2012

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Characterizing generation mix and virtual water for resilience to drought on the western U.S. power grid

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There is growing concern over the future availability of water for electricity generation. Because of a rapidly growing population coupled with an arid climate, the Western United States faces a particularly acute water/energy challenge, as installation of new electricity capacity

There is growing concern over the future availability of water for electricity generation. Because of a rapidly growing population coupled with an arid climate, the Western United States faces a particularly acute water/energy challenge, as installation of new electricity capacity is expected to be required in the areas with the most limited water availability. Electricity trading is anticipated to be an important strategy for avoiding further local water stress, especially during drought and in the areas with the most rapidly growing populations. Transfers of electricity imply transfers of "virtual water" - water required for the production of a product. Yet, as a result of sizable demand growth, there may not be excess capacity in the system to support trade as an adaptive response to long lasting drought. As the grid inevitably expands capacity due to higher demand, or adapts to anticipated climate change, capacity additions should be selected and sited to increase system resilience to drought. This paper explores the tradeoff between virtual water and local water/energy infrastructure development for the purpose of enhancing the Western US power grid's resilience to drought. A simple linear model is developed that estimates the economically optimal configuration of the Western US power grid given water constraints. The model indicates that natural gas combined cycle power plants combined with increased interstate trade in power and virtual water provide the greatest opportunity for cost effective and water efficient grid expansion. Such expansion, as well as drought conditions, may shift and increase virtual water trade patterns, as states with ample water resources and a competitive advantage in developing power sources become net exporters, and states with limited water or higher costs become importers.

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Date Created
2013

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Examining the impacts of switchgrass derived biofuels on U.S. biofuel policy and the potential environmental ethical dilemmas

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Overall, biofuels play a significant role in future energy sourcing and deserve thorough researching and examining for their best use in achieving sustainable goals. National and state policies are supporting biofuel production as a sustainable option without a holistic view

Overall, biofuels play a significant role in future energy sourcing and deserve thorough researching and examining for their best use in achieving sustainable goals. National and state policies are supporting biofuel production as a sustainable option without a holistic view of total impacts. The analysis from this research connects to policies based on life cycle sustainability to identify other environmental impacts beyond those specified in the policy as well as ethical issues that are a concern. A Life cycle assessment (LCA) of switchgrass agriculture indicates it will be challenging to meet U.S. Renewable Fuel Standards with only switchgrass cellulosic ethanol, yet may be used for California's Low Carbon Fuel Standard. Ethical dilemmas in food supply, land conservation, and water use can be connected to biofuel production and will require evaluation as policies are created. The discussions around these ethical dilemmas should be had throughout the process of biofuel production and policy making. Earth system engineering management principles can help start the discussions and allow anthropocentric and biocentric viewpoints to be heard.

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Date Created
2014

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Geochemical analysis of the leachate generated after zero valent metals addition to municipal solid waste

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Zero-Valent Metals (ZVM) are highly reactive materials and have been proved to be effective in contaminant reduction in soils and groundwater remediation. In fact, zero-Valent Iron (ZVI) has proven to be very effective in removing, particularly chlorinated organics, heavy metals,

Zero-Valent Metals (ZVM) are highly reactive materials and have been proved to be effective in contaminant reduction in soils and groundwater remediation. In fact, zero-Valent Iron (ZVI) has proven to be very effective in removing, particularly chlorinated organics, heavy metals, and odorous sulfides. Addition of ZVI has also been proved in enhancing the methane gas generation in anaerobic digestion of activated sludge. However, no studies have been conducted regarding the effect of ZVM stimulation to Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) degradation. Therefore, a collaborative study was developed to manipulate microbial activity in the landfill bioreactors to favor methane production by adding ZVMs. This study focuses on evaluating the effects of added ZVM on the leachate generated from replicated lab scale landfill bioreactors. The specific objective was to investigate the effects of ZVMs addition on the organic and inorganic pollutants in leachate. The hypothesis here evaluated was that adding ZVM including ZVI and Zero Valent Manganese (ZVMn) will enhance the removal rates of the organic pollutants present in the leachate, likely by a putative higher rate of microbial metabolism. Test with six (4.23 gallons) bioreactors assembled with MSW collected from the Salt River Landfill and Southwest Regional Landfill showed that under 5 grams /liter of ZVI and 0.625 grams/liter of ZVMn additions, no significant difference was observed in the pH and temperature data of the leachate generated from these reactors. The conductivity data suggested the steady rise across all reactors over the period of time. The removal efficiency of sCOD was highest (27.112 mg/lit/day) for the reactors added with ZVMn at the end of 150 days for bottom layer, however the removal rate was highest (16.955 mg/lit/day) for ZVI after the end of 150 days of the middle layer. Similar trends in the results was observed in TC analysis. HPLC study indicated the dominance of the concentration of heptanoate and isovalerate were leachate generated from the bottom layer across all reactors. Heptanoate continued to dominate in the ZVMn added leachate even after middle layer injection. IC analysis concluded the chloride was dominant in the leachate generated from all the reactors and there was a steady increase in the chloride content over the period of time. Along with chloride, fluoride, bromide, nitrate, nitrite, phosphate and sulfate were also detected in considerable concentrations. In the summary, the addition of the zero valent metals has proved to be efficient in removal of the organics present in the leachate.

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2019