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Index > United States of America > Solar Booster Shot for Natural Gas Power Plants

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Halliburton Loophole

"Father of Fracking"
George Mitchell
concerns over environmental
impacts of fracking

History of Fracking
Only a new technology

USA Fracking Stories

A Texan tragedy

Gas injection may have triggered earthquakes in Texas

California Lags in Fracking Regulations

All In for California Water

Fracking in Michigan

Fracking in Michigan Potential Impact on Health, Environment, Economy

Hydraulic fracturing of Marcellus Shale

Methane Gas from Marcellus Shale Drilling

Marcellus Shale Gas Economics

Health impacts of Marcellus shale gas drilling

Pennsylvania Fracking

Fracking in Virginia

Lesson From Wyoming Fracking

Water Pollution from Fracking

Hydraulic Fracturing Poses Substantial Water Pollution Risks

Methane in drinking water wells

Abandoned gas wells leak

Natural Gas Leaks Discovered in Boston

Methane Leaks Under Streets of Boston

Methane leaks make fracking dirty

Fracking effects real estate values

Fracking stimulates earthquakes

Protecting Gas Pipelines From Earthquakes

Gas Pipeline Earthquake - Simulations

America's crumbling pipelines

Averting Pipeline Failures

Dangers to Underground Pipelines

Gas Pipelines Could Serve as Wireless Links

Government Action needed on a National Energy Policy

EPA Releases Update on Ongoing Hydraulic Fracturing Study

Solar Booster Shot for Natural Gas Power Plants

Natural Gas Pricing Reform to Facilitate Carbon Tax Policy

Investing in fracking

What Oil Prices Have in Store?

Methane Out, Carbon Dioxide In

Health impacts of Marcellus shale gas drilling

Professor Ingraffea

Anti-Fracking Billboard

Natural Gas Drilling

Threats to Biodiversity

Pronghorn Migration
hindered by gas development

Microbes in a Fracking Site

Protozoa May Hold Key to World Water Safety

Shale Gas Production

Research into the Fracking Controversy

Convert Methane Into Useful Chemicals

Methane Natural Gas Into Diesel

'Natural Gas' at the molecular level

Arctic Methane risks

Arctic Methane Seeps

Great Gas Hydrate Escape

Undersea Methane Seep Ecosystem

Methane in the Atmosphere of Early Earth

Methane Natural Gas Linked to Climate Change

Cutting Methane Pollutants Would Slow Sea Level Rise

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Shale Gas


A Solar Booster Shot for Natural Gas Power Plants

4/11/2013 - Pacific Northwest National Laboratory - PNNLís concentrating solar power system reduces greenhouse emissions - at a price thatís competitive with fossil fuel power

Newswise ó RICHLAND, Wash. Ė Natural gas power plants can use about 20 percent less fuel when the sun is shining by injecting solar energy into natural gas with a new system being developed by the Department of Energyís Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

The system converts natural gas and sunlight into a more energy-rich fuel called syngas, which power plants can burn to make electricity.

ďOur system will enable power plants to use less natural gas to produce the same amount of electricity they already make,Ē said PNNL engineer Bob Wegeng, who is leading the project.

ďAt the same time, the system lowers a power plantís greenhouse gas emissions at a cost thatís competitive with traditional fossil fuel power.Ē

PNNLís concentrating solar power system for natural gas power plants, installed on a mirrored parabolic dishPNNL will conduct field tests of the system at its sunny campus in Richland, Wash., this summer.

With the U.S. increasingly relying on inexpensive natural gas for energy, this system can reduce the carbon footprint of power generation.

DOEís Energy Information Administration estimates natural gas will make up 27 percent of the nationís electricity by 2020. Wegeng noted PNNLís system is best suited for power plants located in sunshine-drenched areas such as the American Southwest.

Installing PNNLís system in front of natural gas power plants turns them into hybrid solar-gas power plants. The system uses solar heat to convert natural gas into syngas, a fuel containing hydrogen and carbon monoxide.

Because syngas has a higher energy content, a power plant equipped with the system can consume about 20 percent less natural gas while producing the same amount of electricity.

This decreased fuel usage is made possible with concentrating solar power, which uses a reflecting surface to concentrate the sunís rays like a magnifying glass. PNNLís system uses a mirrored parabolic dish to direct sunbeams to a central point, where a PNNL-developed device absorbs the solar heat to make syngas.

Macro savings, micro technology

About four feet long and two feet wide, the device contains a chemical reactor and several heat exchangers.

The reactor has narrow channels that are as wide as six dimes stacked on top of each other.

Concentrated sunlight heats up the natural gas flowing through the reactorís channels, which hold a catalyst that helps turn natural gas into syngas.

The heat exchanger features narrower channels that are a couple times thicker than a strand of human hair.

The exchangerís channels help recycle heat left over from the chemical reaction gas.

By reusing the heat, solar energy is used more efficiently to convert natural gas into syngas. Tests on an earlier prototype of the device showed more than 60 percent of the solar energy that hit the systemís mirrored dish was converted into chemical energy contained in the syngas.

Lower-carbon cousin to traditional power plants

PNNL is refining the earlier prototype to increase its efficiency while creating a design that can be made at a reasonable price.

The project includes developing cost-effective manufacturing techniques that could be used for the mass production.

The manufacturing methods will be developed by PNNL staff at the Microproducts Breakthrough Institute, a research and development facility in Corvallis, Ore., that is jointly managed by PNNL and Oregon State University.

Wegengís team aims to keep the systemís overall cost low enough so that the electricity produced by a natural gas power plant equipped with the system would cost no more than 6 cents per kilowatt-hour by 2020.

Such a price tag would make hybrid solar-gas power plants competitive with conventional, fossil fuel-burning power plants while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The system is adaptable to a large range of natural gas power plant sizes. The number of PNNL devices needed depends on a particular power plantís size.

For example, a 500 MW plant would need roughly 3,000 dishes equipped with PNNLís device.

Unlike many other solar technologies, PNNLís system doesnít require power plants to cease operations when the sun sets or clouds cover the sky.

Power plants can bypass the system and burn natural gas directly.

Though outside the scope of the current project, Wegeng also envisions a day when PNNLís solar-driven system could be used to create transportation fuels. Syngas can also be used to make synthetic crude oil, which can be refined into diesel and gasoline than runs our cars.

The current project is receiving about $4.3 million combined from DOEís SunShot Initiative, which aims to advance American-made solar technologies, and industrial partner SolarThermoChemical LLC of Santa Maria, California

SolarThermoChemcial has a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement for the project and plans to manufacture and sell the system after the project ends.

More information about PNNLís concentrating solar power system for natural gas power plants.
REFERENCE: RS Wegeng, DR Palo, RA Dagle, PH Humble, JA Lizarazo-Adarme, SK, SD Leith, CJ Pestak, S Qiu, B Boler, J Modrell, G McFadden, ďDevelopment and Demonstration of a Prototype Solar Methane Reforming System for Thermochemical Energy Storage -- Including Preliminary Shakedown Testing Results,Ē 9th Annual International Energy Conversion Engineering Conference, July-August 2011
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Interdisciplinary teams at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory address many of America's most pressing issues in energy, the environment and national security through advances in basic and applied science.

PNNL employs 4,500 staff, has an annual budget of nearly $1 billion, and has been managed for the U.S. Department of Energy by Ohio-based Battelle since the laboratory's inception in 1965. For more information, visit the PNNL News Center, or follow PNNL on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.



 

 

 

 

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