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New Process Promises Ammonia From Air, Water, and Sunlight

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the kid-tested-mother-shocked dept.

Science 117

The synthesis of ammonia is one of the globe's most significant industrial applications of chemistry. PhysOrg reports the publication in the August issue of Science (sadly, article is paywalled) the description of a low-energy process to syntheize ammonia for fertilizer using just air, water, and sunlight, by zapping with electricity water bubbling through a matrix of iron oxide, and sodium and potassium hyroxide. Electricity isn't free, though — "Low energy" in this case means two-thirds the energy cost of the long-in-use Haber-Bosch process. Researcher Stuart Licht is getting some of the energy to run this reaction from a high-efficiency solar cell he's created, which creates hydrogen as a byproduct. Along with the elimination of the need to produce hydrogen from natural gas, the overall emissions are reduced quite significantly. The whole process also takes place at milder conditions, not requiring 450C and 200 times atmospheric pressure as the Haber-Bosch process does. ... But even with Licht's method, [University of Bristol electrochemistry professor David] Fermin points out that we are far away from being able to replicate nature's efficiency at converting nitrogen from the air to useful chemicals, which is done by nitrogen-fixing bacteria. "What is truly remarkable is that nature does it incredibly efficiently at low-temperature," Fermin added. And yet, if something more efficient can replace the Haber-Bosch process, it would lower the energy input of the production of one of the worlds most important chemicals and lead to a notable reduction in global CO2 emissions.

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as seen on TV (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47636063)

The vampires spray ammonia out their cloaca. Human blood in one end, ammonia guano out the other end. Now that's efficiency.

Re:as seen on TV (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47636361)

That's about as interesting as a police chase in a Geo Metro.

See? Technology gets better (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47636079)

so we don't need to mine asteroids or comets or whatever.

Re:See? Technology gets better (4, Funny)

Adriax (746043) | about 3 months ago | (#47636103)

But without mining the core out of an asteroid, where will we build our secret space lairs?
Won't somebody think of the mad scientists?

Re:See? Technology gets better (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 3 months ago | (#47636981)

There's some free space on the dark side of the moon, but you wouldn't like the neighbors.

Re:See? Technology gets better (2)

MRe_nl (306212) | about 2 months ago | (#47637489)

WHAT 'S WRONG WITH PINK FLOYD!?
Oh, you mean the Nazi's...
 

Re:See? Technology gets better (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47636329)

Truly so. And when we get nuclear electricity that is too cheap to meter, we'll drown the world in ammonia for free.

Fertilizer to ethanol (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47636109)

Then we can eliminate big oil from ethanol, someday in the far future when I can put ethanol in my hovercar.

This could be great (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47636111)

This tech combined with the ammonia=>hydrogen tech mentioned here http://www.engadget.com/2014/06/27/hydrogen-fuel-cell-breakthrough-ammonia/ could mean cheaper/safer/easier hydrogen for all sorts of uses including fuel cells for homes and hydrogen fuel stations for cars

Re:This could be great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47636195)

It can make making high explosive for terrorists easier, which is the downside. In fact, when I was in high school, the teachers refuse to teach the Haber process because of exactly this, and would ask the local school police to press criminal conspiracy charges against students bringing this up.

Re:This could be great (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47636267)

with the Haber process needing 450C temperatures and and 200 ATM pressure, I think your teacher was over-reacting. Anyone with the facilities to do that didn't need your teacher to help them

Re:This could be great (3, Informative)

Rhywden (1940872) | about 3 months ago | (#47636271)

Oh, please. Creating explosives is easy (well, the creating part is easy. The "don't blow yourself up prematurely"-part usually not so much).

You merely need nitrating acid which you get by mixing nitric acid and sulfuric acid. Both acids are relatively easy to obtain (Both acids are sold on Amazon over here). Then you mix the nitrating acid with cotton, dry the stuff carefully and you got: Gunpowder Cotton, also called: Smokeless Gunpowder. All you need is a fumehood because mixing the acids is a bit hard on the lungs.

If you want to up the ante: Use glycerin (a laxative, also easily obtainable) instead of cotton. And, you guessed it: You get Nitroglycerin. However, the nitration process is exothermix and you need to be very careful when mixing the acid into the glycerin or it will blow up.

Those are just two examples. Almost the same process is used to produce TNT, by the way.

Re:This could be great (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 3 months ago | (#47636503)

TNT is trickier still because adding the third nitro group is really unfavored by the straight up nitrating acid method. I'm pretty sure industrially you use some kind of metal catalyst to do it.

Re:This could be great (1)

Rhywden (1940872) | about 3 months ago | (#47636519)

Since it was first synthesized in 1863, I dare say that it's not that hard. You merely need fuming nitric acid to enable the third nitration. No catalysts needed.

Re:This could be great (1)

budgenator (254554) | about 3 months ago | (#47637147)

When I took Organic, there was a 2Kg bottle of picric acid (2,4,6-Trinitrophenol) not under any particular security other than a commercial door lock. Picric acid and TNT are interchange in an explosives context; so why synthesise when you can steal?

Re:This could be great (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 months ago | (#47637549)

When I took Organic, there was a 2Kg bottle of picric acid (2,4,6-Trinitrophenol) not under any particular security other than a commercial door lock. Picric acid and TNT are interchange in an explosives context; so why synthesise when you can steal?

Teach a man to steal and you keep him in explosives for a day. Teach a man to synthesize TNT and you can bother the FBI for years.

Re:This could be great (2)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 2 months ago | (#47639005)

Teach a man to steal and you keep him in explosives for a day. Teach a man to synthesize TNT and you can bother the FBI for years.

Pretty sure we've got the last part covered in this thread quite aptly.

Re:This could be great (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 3 months ago | (#47636985)

Boil down some hydrogen peroxide, mix with acetone (Make sure to chill it!), and you can get some propanone peroxide. Decent bang, bit oversensitive. Makes a good detonating explosive, but insane to use as your main charge - one knock and the whole thing goes up.

Re:This could be great (1)

demonlapin (527802) | about 2 months ago | (#47637677)

If you're crazy enough to play around with peroxides, you might want to read Ignition! An Informal History of Liquid Rocket Propellants [sciencemadness.org] .

Re:This could be great (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 2 months ago | (#47640519)

We're speculating on how easy it would be for terrorists to get hold of explosive despite all the awkward restrictions put in place to stop them. Safety is not going to be their greatest concern, and the explosive I described can be made using only paint thinner, hair bleach, a dash of battery acid and kitchen utensils. All things which are readily available, unrestricted and far too common to effectively ban.

Re:This could be great (3, Interesting)

sillybilly (668960) | about 2 months ago | (#47640549)

Chlorate based explosives are easier to make than nitrate based ones. All you need is a bag of road salt, electricity, and a pot of hot water at 60C, and some carbon anodes that don't get chewed by the chlorine gas. I think matches are made from chlorates, but you have to shave a lot of match heads down to get any kind of punch. I remember when I was a kid we used to have fun making exploding noises from match heads. All you need is two male screw bolts and a female nut, about 3/8-1/2". You dp (double penetrate) the female nut from both sides with the two male bolts, and have match shavings between them. I mean you only screw one of them in halfway, shave the matches like into a cup, then screw the other one on very very tight, then loosen like a 10th of a turn, or don't even need to loosen it. Now you take a piece of plastic bag, or even a rag, and tie it to one of the bolt head ends, to make it into a tail, to create aerodynamic drag. with a piece of wire. About a 4 inch or 6 inch tail should suffice on a 1/2 inch set of bolts, that are like 12 inch total length when assembled. Pick it up by the tail, and swing it real high up in the air, so that when it comes down, it comes lined up nicely with the bare bolt aiming directly toward the cement or even asphalt sidewalk, and the plastic bag aerodynamic drag tail end pointing up. When it hits the ground, the contents explode from the sudden shock, and make a really nice, loud noise. Then you can go pick it up, unscrew it, reload, and do it again, but it does eat a lot of matches, like 3 shots out of a small matchbox of 50 matches. We also used to have fun with carbide, (calcium carbide) we stole from the welding acetylene generators from the nearby construction sites. You'd drop a small piece into a wine or beer bottle that the drunkard construction people would leave laying around empty, filled 3/4 with water, then cork it (back in the day they had corks), and wait til it goes pop, and shoots the cork up real high in the air. Then find the cork again, and re-cork it, and repeat. Not as fun as the double screwed match explosion, but it's cheaper when you're so broke, that you can't afford to buy matches under a communist regime, but the calcium carbide is free, you find in for free in the acetylene generators at the construction site. Of course you gotta go when the security guard is gone drinking his sane mind away at the nearby pub, and when he comes back all drunk, he can't run straight to catch you. We all knew the most important trick when running from the security guard if you accidentally bump into him while playing hide and seek, is to run, and when running, take sudden sharp turns, and being a 7 year old kid and him like a 50 year old, running in huge safety rubber boots compared to your tennis shoes, he has a lot of inertia and keeps running straight, and you can escape like that. But one time one of them conspired with a regular on the street person, who was walking her girls, and grabbed me, for him, and I couldn't run away, so I had to take him home, and my mother, to appease his anger, gave him some brandy shots. And all was good, and he wasn't angry at me from than on when he saw me from the distance, because he remembered the free alcohol, but he was still orchestrating ways in his mind to catch me again and get some more alcohol, and I, and my buddies, we had to be careful not to get caught. But we had creative ways to have fun and kill time after coming home from standing in line for bread for like a whole friggin hour, til the bread truck arrived. When you're a 7 year old, and there is a moblike crowd that starts stirring when the line breaks down (kind of like a crowder concert, where people are really excited and try to get close to the stage) sometimes you get lifted from two sides and your feet don't touch the ground, and get carried like that til you land on your feet again, and people acted like that because sometimes the ones at the end would be told that that's it, come back later, we're out of bread. So anyway, we also used to steal half inch PVC pipes, and assemble 1, 2, 3, 4 or 7 of them (those are the only shapes made from circles you can tape nicely together, especially the 7 piece one, 1 in the center, and 6 neatly around), into about 2 yard or shotgun length yard bundles, then for paper cone bullets, coil up half sheets of paper into cones, the 8 1/2 x 11 cut to 4 1/4 x 11, or so, and lick the cone tip to make it stick together, put it into the PVC tube, then rip it off at the perimeter so it fits nice and snug. That's one paper bullet you can blow at your buddies, playing a game kinda like paintball, (split the 20 of us 7 to 10 year old kids into two gangs of 10 each, or so) except it's shorter distance, like 10-20 yards, but that's okay at the construction site because you have shorter distances as you go from room to room, half built. But the area was littered with paper bullets, and the people who had to clean up around the construction sites or the apartment buildings where we lived, were bitchin about them. Sometimes they put a round head needle pin at the tip of the paper bullet, before licking it shut, and you could target shoot it at pieces of wood, to play bulls eye. But one time someone shot one of those at me, while it was lickin a new cone bullet, and all I remember is no pain just something really sharp sticking at my tongue from the side, and voila, it's a bullet with a pin that pierced the skin at the edge of my lips, without pain though, it was so sudden, so I had to pull it out. And my buddy, on the opposite team, was sorry and apologetic, like, dude, I mean to shoot it not at your face, but like your arms or thighs. You're talking about a half inch of really skinny needle sticking out at the tip, it's not that painful when it gets stuck in you, but you definitely don't want it anywhere close to your eyes, or your face. We also used to peel out the rubber part from underwear and pants, that you could piece apart into these tiny rubber band-like pieces of rubber(you couldn't really buy rubber bands, or it's more like there was used clothing that was worn away that you could use), and find scrap wire laying around the construction site that even they did not use, and make a Y shape sling from fat insulated wire, and tie the rubber bands at the tips of the Y, about 4 inch tall and 2 inch wide, and make 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch little pieces of U from evenly cut pieces of wire, and shoot those at each other. It's even shorter distance than the paper cones, maybe 5-10 yards, but when you get hit you say Aoooh! because it hurts, so that's the sign that you were hit, and out of the paintball-like game. Sometimes your opponent misses, like when you go hunting for them, and they stalk you from behind a tree or a building corner, and they miss, and you can shoot the while they are busy trying to reload their rubber slings. In the villages, away from the city, they had these wide 1/2 inch rubber bands, and Y shaped tree or bush twigs cut down to about 10 inch by 4 inch, with a leather piece of saddle basket at the end, and you could propel half inch or 3/4 inch pieces of rock with it, to high speeds. I remember my cousin shooting a pigeon off a power pole with it, and the pigeon came down spiraling, and when it hit the ground the guts spilled full of corn, but strangely, there was no blood, or not much. Out in the village, he also had a whip with a 1 foot wood handle and 5 ft 1/2 inch heavier black rubber part, that he got from a broken washing machine belt transmission, with a 6 inch of regular piece of rope tied to the end, nicely spread out and unruffled, and he could crack this whip making sounds almost louder than we could with our match head loaded screw explosions, for free. But you did need talent to crack it. I think it explodes when the tip of the whip gets accelerated above the speed of sound, from the wave traveling down the whip, and it's a sonic boom explosion. A crack whip sound by a herds man, progressively getting closer, was the sign in the morning to let the cows out into the street in the villages, and let it join the herd going to outside the village to graze, and on their way home each cow knew the address that he had to come home to, and often you'd see them standing waiting outside the gates, because nobody let them in yet. And there was another herd for the pigs, and sometimes you could tell which herd was coming first from the style of the guy cracking the whip, it's like it's difficult to crack it, and make it give out a really loud sound, and some are better than others at it. So you don't always need explosives to make a loud boom, there are more economical ways to create one, such as supersonic whips. Ah, the good old days.

Re:This could be great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47637613)

i'm sorry your education system is driven by fear and ignorance

Re:This could be great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47636243)

Hydrogen is a fantasy that will never die, apparently.

Nitrogen Cycle (3, Interesting)

surd1618 (1878068) | about 3 months ago | (#47636117)

How about we reuse all the fixed nitrogen we already made instead? Right now water in Toledo, Ohio is undrinkable because of algae blooms in Lake Eerie. I'm sure we use a lot of energy in the Haber process, but I think that's a trivial concern compared to the environmental problems we can cause if we keep pumping organic nitrogen into the environment. It could turn out to be a very very bad thing to do overall. I think we'd be way better off if we reduced ammonia production, rather than switching to a more efficient way to make ammonia. I'm all for innovation generally, but to me, this idea reeks.

Re:Nitrogen Cycle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47636311)

How about we collect cow farts in balloons?

Re:Nitrogen Cycle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47636341)

Don't we already? http://www.fastcoexist.com/302... [fastcoexist.com]

Re:Nitrogen Cycle (4, Informative)

budgenator (254554) | about 3 months ago | (#47637211)

Drinking Lake Erie water is scarry under the best of circumstances, even Detroit gets most of it's water from Lake Huron north of Port Huron. There is a lot of valuable lipids in that algae for make biofuel. There is a point where reducing nitrogen and phosphorus inputs are going to be effective in reducing blooms because the nitrates and phosphorus already in the eco-system keep recycling, removing the algae removes the fertilizer and breaks down the cycle. The exceptionally cold winter, cold spring, and cool summer also meant there was a very abrupt start to the algae's growth season in the summer rather than a more gradual start in the spring.

Re:Nitrogen Cycle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47640607)

My water comes from Lake Erie. During good times I take a trip to nearby President, PA, on SR 62, there is a stream of water gushing from the mountainside at high speed, "upstream from the herd", unlike Lake Erie, which is downstream from a lot of crap emitting people, like Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee, Green Bay, etc. and probably has lots of extended half life pesticides and hormone-like substances at low levels in it, and who knows what else. 2 decades ago when I went fishing on Lake Erie, the fish were obviously crazy cuz they were too easy to catch, and they had all kinds of tumorous growths on their gills, it was nasty. There is a proverb saying "always drink upstream from the herd." Sometimes you can't do it though.

Re:Nitrogen Cycle (1)

killkillkill (884238) | about 3 months ago | (#47637219)

For 2 days earlier this week water in Toledo, Ohio was undrinkable

FTFY

Re:Nitrogen Cycle (2)

sillybilly (668960) | about 2 months ago | (#47640581)

Algae can fix their own nitrogen with energy derived from photosynthesis, so releasing more nitrogen into the environment does not create algal blooms, because their limiting nutrient is still gonna be limiting, which is usually phosphorous. That's the reason why phosphorous containing detergents are banned, to keep the algae starving for it and not blooming so much.

And by the way, if the pressurization cost is so high at the Haber Bosh process, they could do it in stages, just like desalination reverse osmosis that uses pressurization, I think there they use 3 stages or more to recoup pressure from stage to stage, and make the whole thing more economical. I know it would not save all the energy, but it could save some.

Also. I have a feeling these guys are lying about 2/3 energy of the Haber Bosch efficiency. Haber Bosch is so far the most energy efficient nitrogen fixation process we know of, and things like the Birkeland Eyde process, that use sparks and plasma to ionize and fixate nitrogen, even with a magnetically stretched coiled up plasma, don't come anywhere close in efficiency, but of course, over there the issue is the rate of quenching, as nitrous oxide that forms at high temperature due to entropy, reverses back to the stable states on cooling, unless it doesn't have time. So if these guys found a different way to activate nitrogen, and really control the reaction mechanisms, that would be neat.

Also, ammonia fuel cells are the future of the hydrogen economy, or even safe air flights that can be safely smacked into WTC towers, because ammonia does not burn with a flame in air, therefore won't melt a building's structural components, I mean it would probably kill and choke anyone present on the impact floor by dowsing them in liquid ammonia vapors, but at least the people above and below would be safe, and the building would not collapse. Ammonia is toxic, but not combustible or explosive. You win some, you lose some, with it. The most important one being carbon free, and carbon tax free, and greenhouse gas emission free, without needing to recycle anything, such as boric acid, or aluminum, silicon, lithium, magnesium, or even carbon dioxide. Though lithium, or boron, or even lithium borate, might find a way to beat ammonia even if needing recycling. Ammonia is a liquid/gas that can be cleanly pumped and emitted, with clear advantages over solids like coal, that need shoveling/feeding/ash handling or solution materials like lithium borate. Someone said borohydrides are so nasty that hydrazine is fun compared to them, and hydrazine is definitely nastier than ammonia.

Keep feeding the Useless Eaters (-1, Troll)

Suiggy (1544213) | about 3 months ago | (#47636125)

We're running out of cheap phospates and ammonia, and we need to keep feeding the billions of useless mouths because it's not politically correct to stop feeding them! We need 20 billion useless eaters clogging up every square centimeter of land on this planet. Just think of the progress!

Re:Keep feeding the Useless Eaters (2)

oldhack (1037484) | about 3 months ago | (#47636135)

You can help. Off yourself. Now git.

Re:Keep feeding the Useless Eaters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47636375)

Just the ones that refuse to become members of VEHMT, easily spotted when they go "I wanna be a grandparent!"

Re:Keep feeding the Useless Eaters (1)

DamonHD (794830) | about 3 months ago | (#47636303)

Still here, wasting food and oxygen, or it is just (say) brown people in far away countries unlike you that are useless?

Re:Keep feeding the Useless Eaters (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47637111)

Dear posturing pet White, here is your +1 point for licking brown ass.

Re:Keep feeding the Useless Eaters (2)

jcr (53032) | about 3 months ago | (#47636393)

billions of useless mouths

If you want to reduce the population, feel free to start by offing yourself, Adolf.

-jcr

Re:Keep feeding the Useless Eaters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47636431)

"Not me, of course. I mean those other useless people." - Suiggy

Ammonia fuel (4, Interesting)

floobedy (3470583) | about 3 months ago | (#47636137)

Something not mentioned here is that ammonia is suitable as a fuel in internal combustion engines. Ammonia is liquid under modest pressures (like propane), is easily transported, and will burn inside an engine.

If we made ammonia out of nitrogen and water vapor, then it would become nitrogen and water vapor again when burned. It's a closed cycle that would not alter the composition of the atmosphere at all.

It probably wouldn't be suitable as a fuel for your car, because of safety issues (if you hammered a hole in the fuel tank, the fuel inside would flash boil and could shoot out into your eyes causing a chemical burn). However it would probably be fine for trains, airplanes, ships, and so on, where special handling procedures could be enforced and people could be required to wear goggles before working on the fuel tank.

Re:Ammonia fuel (5, Interesting)

mlts (1038732) | about 3 months ago | (#47636219)

How would that be more dangerous than propane? LP gas would do exactly as stated above, if someone poked a hole in a fuel tank with their drill, they would get sprayed by rapidly evaporating fuel.

IMHO, this might be the way to have a hydrogen economy. If a nitrogen fixing process is easy and economical, making liquid ammonia is a lot easier and requires less pressure than converting water to hydrogen via electrolysis.

The downside is that ammonia has a bad rep here in the US. Because it is a major ingredient in meth, anhydrous ammonia tanks tends to be a prime target for "lab assistants" to obtain their reagents. However, if done right, ammonia might just be what is needed to make the "hydrogen economy" a reality, because it has a decently high energy density.

Of course what would be nice would be a fuel cell that uses ammonia directly without the conversion to hydrogen.

Re:Ammonia fuel (5, Interesting)

floobedy (3470583) | about 3 months ago | (#47636277)

How would that be more dangerous than propane? LP gas would do exactly as stated above, if someone poked a hole in a fuel tank with their drill, they would get sprayed by rapidly evaporating fuel.

Ammonia is caustic and would cause a chemical burn on the surface of your eyes, unlike LP.

IMHO, this might be the way to have a hydrogen economy. If a nitrogen fixing process is easy and economical, making liquid ammonia is a lot easier and requires less pressure than converting water to hydrogen via electrolysis.

It seems much more sensible to use ammonia than hydrogen gas, because ammonia has handling and storage properties similar to propane which solves the major problem of hydrogen gas.

It makes a big difference if you can store something as a liquid and transport it through pipelines. That explains why oil sells for 10x more than coal, per BTU, and several times more than natural gas.

Re:Ammonia fuel (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 3 months ago | (#47636367)

Ammonia is caustic and would cause a chemical burn on the surface of your eyes, unlike LP.

I don't think the OP Realizes: This is not the propane you get at walmart. That stuff is filled with sufficient.
Real ammonia is dangerous as hell. I'd be far more afraid of it than propane.

I''ve personally broken a propane tank before by accident (don't ask) and it was cold... and smelled bad, but it didn't hurt anything. It also wont lite unless the air/gas ratio is just right so it's not like it would explode. Pierce and ammonia tank? That's some scary shit. You'd immediately get burned, severely. If there's water nearby its going to react violently and all those fertilizer plant explosions that are so big they cause earthquakes? That's usually ammonia.

That said, we can build crash-proof ammonia tanks for cars, so screw it.

Re:Ammonia fuel (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 3 months ago | (#47636369)

lol... "This is not the ammonia you get at walmart"
I'm half asleep, sorry.

Re:Ammonia fuel (2)

dbIII (701233) | about 3 months ago | (#47636607)

Here's another way to put it.
You think Anne Rand is bad? Well An Hydrous is far worse, she's rip your eyelids off in a second.

Re:Ammonia fuel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47636533)

>crash-proof tanks
Yes, this.

As has been mentioned, if this was considerably cheaper to make, the cost of producing it would be so low that the added overhead of a more expensive storage tank would balance out. (probably still come out with you profiting in the end, but only by a little bit.)

Would be a bitch to replace them all in cars though. But new cars would be fine.

Re: Ammonia fuel (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 3 months ago | (#47637075)

You don't replace the tanks. You replace the car that has an engine and fuel system specifically designed for it.

It would be far easier to retrofit an engine to run off E85 in comparison, but even that's a difficult job to do properly; from the o-rings, fuel pump, to ECU programming of the fuel/air map tables.

Re: Ammonia fuel (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | about 3 months ago | (#47637119)

from the o-rings

This isn't the space shuttle; did you mean the seals? ;)

Re: Ammonia fuel (1)

fnj (64210) | about 3 months ago | (#47637293)

What the hell do you think an o-ring is?

Re: Ammonia fuel (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 2 months ago | (#47637429)

Seals eat squid, squid is full of ammonia, that means I can fuel my SUV with baby seals and still call myself an environmentalist, right?

Re: Ammonia fuel (3, Informative)

budgenator (254554) | about 3 months ago | (#47637231)

You'd probably want to use a diesel engine for conversion, much easier all around and successfully done back during WW2

Re:Ammonia fuel (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47636679)

those fertilizer plant explosions that are so big they cause earthquakes? That's usually ammonia.

That's ammonium nitrate, which is about as similar to ammonia as nitroglycerin is to glycerin. And the reaction between ammonia and water isn't violent at all.

Re:Ammonia fuel (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 2 months ago | (#47637407)

Real ammonia is dangerous as hell.

I worked at a rubber latex factory during the 80's. We had a 44 gallon drum of liquid ammonia in a corner, I was the high school drop out who was hired to do all the dirty work, part of my job was to carefully fill an old baked bean tin with the stuff, climb a ladder holding the makeshift wire handle behind me as far as my arm would stretch, then carefully pour it into a 13 ton mixing vat of latex. Liquid latex normally smells of ammonia with about the same intensity as supermarket "ammonia" and yet the ammonia content is just one bean can of the stuff in 13 tons. I've never smelt anything as powerful, it's like sticking heat rub up both nostrils, you don't dare take a deep breath.

Re:Ammonia fuel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47637681)

You won't be smelling much of anything else for a couple weeks if you get a real good whiff of it. It's like being smacked in the face with the world's largest Super Mario Hammer and the vapor isn't visible. Then, it burns like hell, and you smell nothing for a few days. Then you smell nothing but ammonia for two weeks. Seems to be a pretty good lesson in not doing stupid shit without adequate protection (wear your respirators, kiddies).

Re:Ammonia fuel (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 3 months ago | (#47636599)

How would that be more dangerous than propane?

Don't guess or ask. LOOK IT UP - materials safety datasheets have been on the net since before there was a web - I used to browse them with Gopher.

However, if done right, ammonia might just be what is needed to make the "hydrogen economy"

No, and for a very good reason. It doesn't come as ammonia. It comes as something like oil or natural gas, then you get hydrogen out of that, and then you make ammonia out of the hydrogen. It's an extra step. You don't want to waste a lot of energy in extra steps when making an energy source.

Re:Ammonia fuel (1)

floobedy (3470583) | about 3 months ago | (#47636725)

Don't guess or ask. LOOK IT UP... No, and for a very good reason. It doesn't come as ammonia. It comes as something like oil or natural gas, then you get hydrogen out of that, and then you make ammonia out of the hydrogen. It's an extra step

Why don't you try LOOKING IT UP by reading the actual article before commenting? The article (and the discussion) is about making ammonia without oil or natural gas, using a process other than Haber Bosch.

Very amusing reading comprehension failure (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 3 months ago | (#47636993)

I was referring to how the above poster can find out about the relative danger of propane and ammonia and get some real understanding. Got it now?

And yes, I DO know what the article is about and know far more about how much effort is required to make ammonia using current methods than I ever wanted to know (around 1999 I spent about six weeks working all over a fertilizer plant during a shutdown including inside a lot of vessels - and I did some other stuff there at other times). This new process does sound very interesting.

Re:Very amusing reading comprehension failure (1)

floobedy (3470583) | about 2 months ago | (#47638339)

I was referring to how the above poster can find out about the relative danger of propane and ammonia and get some real understanding. Got it now?

I was referring to the paragraph I quoted, in which you were discussing making ammonia. I think you actually understand that.

You didn't know we were discussing making ammonia without fossil fuels, and you made a big fool out of yourself. As follows:

It doesn't come as ammonia. It comes as something like oil or natural gas, then you get hydrogen out of that, and then you make ammonia out of the hydrogen. It's an extra step

Re:Very amusing reading comprehension failure (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 2 months ago | (#47639953)

Of course I knew that, just as it is very clear to you that I was referring to the current situation of ammonia production. It's also probably harder to get the hydrogen out of the ammonia in secondary processes than from hydrocarbons - plus if it's fuel cell usage you do not need to go all the way down to hydrogen gas anyway.
How about we treat it like a discussion and not some childish game where you feel a need to score points against others.

Re:Very amusing reading comprehension failure (1)

floobedy (3470583) | about 2 months ago | (#47640385)

Sure. Sorry to have offended you. I thought you were being snitty. I apologize for being aggressive in my response.

It's also probably harder to get the hydrogen out of the ammonia in secondary processes than from hydrocarbons - plus if it's fuel cell usage you do not need to go all the way down to hydrogen gas anyway.

I was originally thinking that ammonia could be used directly in internal combustion engines, as a replacement for oil when that starts to become scarce. Of course there are replacements for oil in most applications (plug-in cars and electrified rail), but there are some applications where a liquid fuel would be very helpful (such as remote construction equipment, ships, and so on).

There are very few combustible liquids which can be made out of the main constituents of air and water, and so wouldn't alter the composition of the atmosphere when burned. That's one reason I was excited about a process which produces ammonia using less energy.

Re:Very amusing reading comprehension failure (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 2 months ago | (#47640429)

Well more NOx is a bit of a massive downside in that case but that's easy to deal with so long as there is plenty of water around (eg. ships, fixed installations etc). It may suck in L.A., Beijing etc in vehicles but so does everything from combustion if you have a lot in a tight space.

That's one reason I was excited about a process which produces ammonia using less energy.

I'm impressed because you can use it to make so much other stuff and currently it's made at very large scales. A few companies have a stranglehold on agricultural fertilizer since the price of entry is so high.

Re:Ammonia fuel (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 2 months ago | (#47637381)

There are other ways to get the hydrogen other than hydrocarbon fuel.

Re:Ammonia fuel (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 2 months ago | (#47640025)

The problem is that currently none of them are anywhere close to being as easy.
It appears from what little we have about this new process that the hydrogen is coming from brute forcing it out of water with electricity. Once again - you get your hydrogen and then you make your ammonia. Going backwards to get the hydrogen out again is an extra step involving extra losses and ammonia isn't a very good way to store hydrogen anyway.

Re:Ammonia fuel (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | about 3 months ago | (#47636419)

Another thing not mentioned is that ammonia and a lot of other useful fertilizing substances are quite prevalent in ... piss.

Re: Ammonia fuel (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 3 months ago | (#47637099)

So with enough beer, I could piss myself around the world? Shit man, I do that already at bar!

Safety: Ammonia Gas Forms Vapors Heavier Than Air (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47637687)

While anhydrous (dry) ammonia gas is lighter than air, will rise in dry air, and will dissipate. However, in the presence of moisture (such as high relative humidity), the liquefied anhydrous ammonia gas immediately forms heavier-than-air compounds that roll along the ground smothering and killing (ammonia compounds are strongly basic) most anything in their path.

The Houston Ammonia Truck Disaster 11976. [chron.com]

Scroll down and read what Mike Read says about it - he was in the Houston Post newspaper building when it happened. The occupants of the Houston Post newspaper building saw the ammonia gas cloud unfold and roll toward their office-and-printing building near the freeway site of the accident. Luckily someone in the building had the wherewithal to shut off the air-conditioning and air circulation system and those inside remained unhurt as the cloud enveloped the building and then slowly dissipated. During the following days the grass around the Post building died and turned black. Many died and many were injured.

For decades the EPA has limited use of ammonia inside heavily-populated areas for good reason.

Not more efficient -- yet (1)

penguinoid (724646) | about 3 months ago | (#47636147)

While it is theoretically more energy efficient to get our hydrogen from electrolysis than from methane, we mostly don't do so. Why? Because we can skip the whole burning fuels to create electricity steps, and go directly to making hydrogen. If we count the inefficiency of creating electricity then electrolytic efficiency decreases substantially.

This new method uses electrolysis to generate a mixture of ammonia and hydrogen. This will likely be very useful in the future as solar and wind become widely deployed, and the price of fossil fuels increases. It might also be useful for space colonization. Overall, I think for once the editors have given us something that won't be vaporware, even if it likely won't be used for quite a while.

Some background (5, Informative)

Okian Warrior (537106) | about 3 months ago | (#47636245)

Here's some background on the Bosch Haber process.

Whether a reaction will occur is based on whether energy is required and whether the reaction increases entropy. In the case of nitrogen+hydrogen => ammonia, the reaction is both exothermic and increases entropy at room temperature and pressure. If one could somehow ignite the process it would be self-sustaining.

The problem is, to ignite the reaction you first need to break N2 molecules into individual N atoms, and this requires a great deal of initial energy which is regained in subsequent steps. Something like 7eV per molecule to break them apart. The molecules in normal air have a bell-curve spread of energies, but very few of them reach energies this high: the reaction happens at room temperature, but very *very* slowly. A handful of molecules per second will react.

To get around this you can raise the temperature, increasing the probability that molecules will have enough energy to break apart. The entropy produced is inversely proportional to temperature, so when you start to have N2 molecules with enough energy to break apart, the reaction is no longer favored because it would result in an entropy decrease.

Since 4 moles of reactants result in 1 mole of product, increasing the pressure of the reactants will tend to favor the products [wikipedia.org] , so you can use this to offset the deficit in entropy.

The Bosch-Haber process tries to find a "sweet spot" by increasing the temperature to get a reasonable number of N2 molecules to break apart, and high pressure to make the process favor the products.

At 200 ATM and 400 degrees, the yield is 15% (!).

Reaction vessels for this pressure and temperature are expensive, and the process requires multiple cycles of compression, decompression, removal of ammonia, and recompression. This takes a *lot* of energy and uses *very* expensive compressors which wear out over time and have to be replaced.

I haven't read the paywalled article yet, but if I'm understanding the abstract, they are breaking apart the nitrogen electrochemically. Just as running a current through molten NaCl will break it into atomic sodium and chlorine, running a current through nitrogen dissolved in KOH and NaOH breaks it apart and the reaction then proceeds at normal conditions. The reaction also supplies its own hydrogen by breaking apart water.

Much of the "green revolution" is due to the use of nitrate fertilizers, and the source material is finite: guano from Peru, for example. [wikipedia.org]

If this process is as efficient as the abstract suggests and can be industrialized, it would be *huge*. It would give us an essentially infinite source of nitrogen-based fertilizer and reduce the worldwide consumption of energy by a couple of percent.

Coupled with a source of renewable energy, it would mean that the world could sustain its food production at current levels indefinitely.

This could be really, *really* big news.

Actual entropy explanation (5, Informative)

Okian Warrior (537106) | about 3 months ago | (#47636439)

Before I get slammed by a P-Chem major, here's what's really going on with the entropy.

The reaction is exothermic, and this release of heat increases the entropy of the universe. At the same time, 4 atoms of source become 1 atom of product, so this aspect of the reaction *decreases* the entropy of the universe. (There's more ways that 4 atoms can be arranged in a box than there is to arrange 1 atom.)

At room temperature, the entropy increase from the release of heat is greater than the entropy decrease from the reduction in states, so the reaction is favored.

The entropy from the release of heat is inversely proportional to temperature. Double the [absolute] temperature and you halve the increase in entropy from the release of heat. With higher temperatures, the entropy increase from "release of heat" is smaller than the entropy decrease from "change of states", the total change of entropy is negative, and the reaction is no longer favored.

I wrote a simpler/shorter explanation to avoid losing sight of the main point.

Re:Actual entropy explanation (1)

Livius (318358) | about 3 months ago | (#47637027)

I have to know: what does the 'P' in "P-Chem" stand for? (My best guess so far is something like probability.)

Re:Actual entropy explanation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47637193)

it refers to physical chemistry

Re:Actual entropy explanation (1)

Streetlight (1102081) | about 3 months ago | (#47637223)

PChem stands for Physical Chemistry and is a two semester course generally taken by third year chemistry majors after at least two semesters of General Physics (calculus based), two semesters of calculus, though three semesters would be better, and a year of organic chemistry. Some might call it theoretical chemistry and generally covers chemical thermodynamics, chemical kinetics and quantum chemistry with some specialized applications such as electrochemistry, transport phenomena, and more.. It's not descriptive chemistry but should be taught using fairly sophisticated mathematics. It's considered the toughest course in an undergraduate chemistry degree program. There used to be a bumper sticker: Honk if you Passed PChem.

Re:Actual entropy explanation (1)

demonlapin (527802) | about 2 months ago | (#47637707)

On the advice of an ex-girlfriend, my lab partners and I got together and had Irish coffee the morning of our final PChem class, the one where the professor did a sort of view-from-orbit of everything we had learned during the second semester (quantum mechanics). She was right, it did make more sense if you were slightly drunk.

Re:Actual entropy explanation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47638731)

Physical Chemistry; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physical_chemistry

Re:Actual entropy explanation (1)

Streetlight (1102081) | about 2 months ago | (#47637385)

As chemistry majors know there are two aspects studied in understanding chemical reactions: chemical thermodynamics and chemical kinetics. Okian Warrier has described one of these, though without fogging the discussion with numbers, and I'm sure those are readily available. Kinetics involves the study of the mechanisms of reactions which involves the examination of details of molecular and atomic interactions, intermediate association of reactants and products, molecular structure, breaking of bonds, electronic structure, etc. One principle of reaction kinetics involves energy barriers that must be crossed as reactants proceed through the process of making products. A reaction may be thermodynamically allowed but because of high barriers may be so slow as to be impractical. Often slow reactions are speeded up by changing temperatures and pressures not only to make them thermodynamically allowed but also to force more starting materials to get over the kinetic barrier. One way to speed up things is to find new paths for the reaction with reduced energy barriers and that's where catalysts come in. Catalysts can function in many ways depending on the starting materials. For example, solid state catalysts often work by adsorbing molecules on their surface and weakening chemical bonds by reorienting molecular structure and/or molecular electron configuration. Homogeneous catalysts (substances dissolved in the reaction solution) will also lower reaction barriers by chemical interactions with one or more reactants. I'm guessing the mechanisms, catalysts, etc., for the production of NH3 have been thoroughly studied over the last hundred years by academic and industrial chemists and the Haber process has been optimized for the most cost efficient way to make ammonia on an industrial scale. Any method involving new processes would clearly be welcomed but in the end must involve the study of chemical kinetics/catalysts/reaction mechanisms to increase efficiency by finding reaction pathways that reduce the kinetic barrier described above. Right now the other way of making ammonia available to farmers is by crop rotation with the microorganism infected legumes, such as soy beans. It seems to me that biochemists must understand how these microorganisms do their magic using catalysts but it must not be economically transferable to industrial use.

Re:Actual entropy explanation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47637601)

you make it sound as if the universe's entropy wasn't constant!
  part of the entropy is bound, the remainder is not.
  there's no 'free' energy here, since its just a perpetuation/conversion that was paid for earlier

Re:Some background (4, Insightful)

mdsolar (1045926) | about 3 months ago | (#47637089)

"it would mean that the world could sustain its food production at current levels indefinitely" Sort of. We still need to get the effects of the faster nitrogen cycle under control. Right now, more corn means fewer shrimp as a huge dead zone develops in the Gulf of Mexico. The corn then feeds pigs in Pennsylvania and the nitrogen in the manure wrecks the oyster and crab harvest in the Chesapeake. All this can be fixed, but since one form of food production is stealing from another, the sustainability is in question for now.

Re:Some background (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 months ago | (#47639471)

The trade offs aren't that severe. There's a lot more corn and such grown than seafood production lost.

Re:Some background (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 months ago | (#47637567)

If this process is as efficient as the abstract suggests and can be industrialized, it would be *huge*. It would give us an essentially infinite source of nitrogen-based fertilizer and reduce the worldwide consumption of energy by a couple of percent.

No good deed goes unpunished.

Re:Some background (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 months ago | (#47638991)

Much of the "green revolution" is due to the use of nitrate fertilizers, and the source material is finite

Methane gas actually is the finite resource in question for nitrate fertilizer, used as a hydrogen source for the Bosch-Haber process. Guano is valuable as a source of phosphorus. Once that runs out, it's time for crushing phosphorus-bearing rocks.

If this process is as efficient as the abstract suggests and can be industrialized, it would be *huge*. It would give us an essentially infinite source of nitrogen-based fertilizer and reduce the worldwide consumption of energy by a couple of percent.

I agree though there is a trade-off between solar powered-nitrogen fixing and agriculture. They can't both use the same sunlight. But keep in mind that there already is such an "infinite" source in the form of legumes and their nitrogen fixing bacteria.

How about growing the bacteria? (1)

jcr (53032) | about 3 months ago | (#47636387)

So, how does this process compare economically to just growing nitrogen-fixing bacteria?

-jcr

That's the question to ask in 5 years (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 3 months ago | (#47636631)

After someone's worked out a decent design for a pilot plant for the process that question will look a lot less like "I can't buy it at Walmart NOW? Then why waste my time?". For the moment it's just as irrelevant and likely to get at best polite answers from people attempting not to be patronising, although that's going to leave people unaware of how stupid such questions are very early in development of a new technology so I think it's better to be blunt.

I LOVE idiots (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47636403)

Wow. Is this generation too stupid? This wonderful claim that it only takes water, air and sunlight to produce ammonia is so funny.

Followed up by the fact that, oh by the way, you have to also have additional energy in the form of electricity, iron oxide, sodium, and potassium hyroxide (?hydroxide).

Oh, and solar panels to create the electricity. Geez, nothing to it. And all you need to change lead to gold is a few gigawatts of electricity. What a plan.

Why `sadly paywalled'? (2)

TranceThrust (1391831) | about 3 months ago | (#47636577)

It's Science. Accessible through any respectable library.

How do Americans' minds work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47636771)

"by zapping with electricity water bubbling through a matrix of iron oxide" should say "by zapping water bubbling through a matrix of iron oxide, with electricity".

Idiots.

Re:How do Americans' minds work? (1)

fnj (64210) | about 3 months ago | (#47637325)

The original expression is far less confusing and awkward than your try. Sorry.

Re:How do Americans' minds work? (1)

NormalVisual (565491) | about 2 months ago | (#47639301)

"by zapping with electricity water bubbling through a matrix of iron oxide"

To me, the original statement implies there's a special kind of water called "electricity water", while the paraphrased version offered is merely awkward. I think a better way to phrase it would have been "by applying electricity to water bubbling through a matrix of iron oxide". [shrug]

You couldn't make it up... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47636777)

First of all, what the hell is "long-in-use"? A brand new dumbass phrase invented by an American cretin, too stupid to be able to remember the correct word he wants to use.

Secondly: "lead to a notable reduction in global CO2 emissions."

Since there is no such thing as catastrophic man-made global warming, what difference does a "reduction in global CO2 emissions" make? Oh wait... as long as the 'global warming' - sorry - 'climate change' bullshit is mentioned, the article gets printed by Slashdot. Fucking idiots.

www.climatedepot.com

Of couse the other thing that would be great (1)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | about 3 months ago | (#47636829)

Would be develop a way to make air, water, and sunlight into petroleum without needing all the time it takes nature to do the same thing.

Re:Of couse the other thing that would be great (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | about 3 months ago | (#47637017)

The trick is to gather the carbon dioxide efficiently. The Navy has an interesting method. http://blogs.discovermagazine.... [discovermagazine.com]

Re:Of couse the other thing that would be great (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 2 months ago | (#47637515)

It is doable. For example read about the Fischer–Tropsch process, hybrid sulfur cycle, carbon dioxide reduction.

Lose the Solar Cells! Do it with LFTR (2)

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) | about 3 months ago | (#47637281)

When I hear about clever-but low energy processes that have low yield because -- and only because -- the scientists feel the need toss a stock photo of a windmill or solar cell into the paper to trigger that warm fuzzy feeling, I think to myself, "How cute."

Decades of cuteness now. It's not cute any more.

The world needs less cuteness and more large scale thinking. Gigawatts not milliwatts. We also need to get into reverse osmosis in a big way, so we can start to manufacture fresh water from salt and pipe it inland. This requires massive amounts of energy.

Real Humans do not need to wait for rain, real humans need not wait for oil and gas to diminish in order to achieve the next step. Real humans better wake up and resume the industrial revolution. We are smart enough to keep it clean.

Follow us down the rabbit hole [slashdot.org] ...

Re:Lose the Solar Cells! Do it with LFTR (1)

RudyHartmann (1032120) | about 2 months ago | (#47637423)

I agree 100%. Using LFTR's you could direclty synthesize fertilizer from air. Solar power will always be too expensive and unreliable. Especially compared to a LFTR.

http://nucleargreen.blogspot.c... [blogspot.com]

WRONG (1)

bussdriver (620565) | about 2 months ago | (#47638609)

Grandparent is wrong about CUTE solar. TFA was about an invention by the same people who invented a kind of solar cell and the grandparent naively thought that it wasn't an opportunity to show off their other tangentially related invention... it was only about being "cute."

Solar is not too expensive and it is extremely reliable!

1) Solar costs less than nuclear. It's upfront cost is high (like nuclear) but it has zero fuel costs for it's lifespan unlike everything else except wind and hydro. (Nuclear fuel is cheap. Spent fuel is another matter and becomes highly speculative as to the real costs.)

2) Solar is extremely reliable. Sunlight is predictable; humans knew precisely how much sun they'd see way before the discover of electricity; including the eclipses. How much sunlight... that is intermittent but it does not completely disappear; you still get energy. It is not dark everywhere all at once (except at night,) just as traditional power generation required a GRID which could shift power for frequent planned and unplanned downtime as well as shifts in demand; future power will require the same planning and mitigation but we will need MORE of it. 100s of miles from my 1 local coal and 1 nuclear plant are other fallback coal plants which are routinely relied upon. It is unlikely low solar output here is also low, we are not talking about running power any further than we already do.

3) Net costs are often ignored and people ALWAYS ignore the indirect costs such as the harm pollution causes. Asbestos and Pb paint are great but their indirect costs eventually were great enough to overcome the objections of industry. (Just look to Asbestos, Canada where they still defend Asbestos.) It cost more to transition away from them but we did. Investment in power storage has huge potential for side benefits while expensive "base load" investment does not.
Example: Making ICE for cooling is an already cheap way to buffer energy demands which handles the biggest spikes in demand and has been deployed for years to save money on the cheap coal powered grid in the USA; solar has nothing to do with it. Storage/buffering systems can save money on their own already and that market has barely started with no demand (other than some businesses wanting to save money) as energy becomes diversified and distributed the demand for buffering will grow. That is where the wise investment is.

Re:Lose the Solar Cells! Do it with LFTR (1)

Kariles70 (3750637) | about 2 months ago | (#47639543)

With LFTR you would not need to use an expensive and power hogging Reverse Osmosis plant to desalinate seawater. A thorium reactor is an excellent and efficient way to desalinate seawater by the tons per minute. The gigawatts of free power are also a plus.

Re:Lose the Solar Cells! Do it with LFTR (1)

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) | about 2 months ago | (#47640381)

With LFTR you would not need to use an expensive and power hogging Reverse Osmosis plant to desalinate seawater. A thorium reactor is an excellent and efficient way to desalinate seawater by the tons per minute. The gigawatts of free power are also a plus.

In Kirk Sorensen's TEAC 2013 presentation [youtube.com] he describes using waste heat for this purpose -- showing a concept drawing of a LFTR electric/water plant next to the ocean. Am I certain that LFTR could be sited safely on the shore and be completely submerged by a tsunami or hurricane with no resulting disaster? Absolutely! Would he be able to convince some forward-thinking country such as Qatar to place these in the desert to ensure a source of fresh water in some post-petroleum future? Yep.

What of the United States? I'm afraid that the prospect of siting a new nuclear project on the coast -- or more generally, any parcel of land that would be contested by locals -- is remote. The regions which surround lakes, rivers and coastline are completely settled (and defended) by people.

My idea is to build out LFTR inland in areas less likely to be contested by humans, such as along existing cross-country transmission line corridors, in compact configurations that might even fit within the cleared right-of-way path directly beneath them; multiple 1GW reactors sharing turbine and active fuel reprocessing infrastructure.

My hope is to place such a surplus of power onto the grid that by the ocean even 'wasteful' reverse osmosis techniques or some scale-up of vacuum desalinization [youtube.com] might be practical... and acceptable to the locals.

___
Please see Thorium Remix [youtube.com] and my own letters on energy,
To The Honorable James M. Inhofe, United States Senate [scribd.com]
To whom it may concern, Halliburton Corporate [scribd.com]
Also of interest, Faulkner [2005]: Electric Pipelines for North American Power Grid Efficiency Security [scribd.com]

Ammonia production (1)

Akaihiryuu (786040) | about 2 months ago | (#47637583)

I have a device that produces ammonia from water and air already. It's called a "cat".

Re:Ammonia production (1)

X10 (186866) | about 2 months ago | (#47637679)

You have a special cat. Mine need additional components to create the ammonia.

Re:Ammonia production (2)

Kariles70 (3750637) | about 2 months ago | (#47639559)

You do so as well. BUt with your own urea and a light amount of electrolysis, you can produce your own hydrogen. Rotting bread dough produces tremendous amounts of hydrogen as well. I think hydrogen is being actively suppressed, along with diesel passenger cars.

Coming up next: synthetic gas from CO2 and H2O (1)

X10 (186866) | about 2 months ago | (#47637675)

This is a first step. Ten years from now our cars will run on synthetic gasoline, created from CO2, H2O and electricity from sunlight.

Oh and fuck Russia too. (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 2 months ago | (#47637935)

Russia has been using natural gas in efforts to economically blackmail various parts of Europe for a while now.

One of the effects of this is to cause prices of fertilizer and as a result grain production and food costs in Eastern Europe to vary quite a bit depending on the political situation. This innovation would help considerably.

Another nice aspect of this is that China is using a lot of coal in fertilizer production because for them it's a cheaper source of hydrogen than natural gas. This would help China reduce CO2 emissions quite a bit.

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