As it stands, the environment is in dire straits, but new energy innovations, like those at Netpower, are encouraging. Netpower, a clean energy company, has developed a turbine that can be retrofitted to existing coal burning plants in order to use the emitted high-pressure carbon dioxide (CO2) to generate power, instead of releasing it into the atmosphere, removing the need for the smokestack entirely. This process is known as the Allam Cycle.
The Allam Cycle, courtesy of Netpower.com
Containing the CO2 generates power at no additional cost to the system. It totally removes emissions and yields enough wattage to power thousands of homes. Current power plants exhaust nitrous oxide, carbon and sulfur dioxide, mercury, as well as a myriad of particulate matter. Extant clean energy efforts use a Band-Aid approach to reducing these harmful emissions. The equipment used to do so is expensive and energy-intensive to operate. The Allam Cycle removes this inefficiency from the equation by using the emissions as the propulsion agent to power turbines, rather than clunky and costly steam heat.
Netpower operates out of Durham, NC and is planning on installing a demo plant this year in order to convince investors that their power is worth putting money towards. I'm holding out hope that they will be able to persuade potential investor to reach deep into their pockets. In the thick of the new coal-fetishizing administration, coal isn't going anywhere, but this offers a realistic compromise. It is unlikely that special interest groups lobbying against its implementation, as the industries with the most power are the ones who will benefit most.
Posted by Owen Mulledy (C)