February 21, 2009

From Les Fisher:

Re: Makings of a deadly brown cloud (Jan. 22, 2009): this problem has been around for a long time.

When biomass and coal is burnt in a primitive way we are just destructively distilling the volatile matter into the atmosphere as we have incomplete combustion with the heat sufficient to decompose the mass and form the volatiles. Some of this burns (the flames) but a lot just escapes and a lot of energy is wasted as the whole process is completely inefficient.

Here is an example of false economy.

Controlled destructive distillation (not incineration) can produce reusable volatiles as done in Sasol South Africa and coking plants around the world. Destructive distillation was the original source of methanol (wood alcohol) but it is now cheaper (????) to make it from oil. The residual carbon from these plants could be used as a fuel without polluting the atmosphere with otherwise useful chemicals.

In the case of biomass including waste we would not be adding to the CO2 burden but recycling it. Coal & related fossil fuels would not assist in the global warming but we could at least get a more efficient use.

One way in which the developing world could help the under-developed world as well as themselves would be to make and install suitable destructive distillation plants where they are needed.

It must also be considered that carbon can with aid of a producer/water gas plant produce useful products. Natural gas, carbon monoxide and hydrogen. The developed worlds, by providing such units, would be doing much more good and reduce the nest feathering by dodgy politicians which, in my opinion one of the biggest problems of the third world.

These plants would provide employment and so produce the effective consumers which is what is needed - free food handouts can be counter productive.


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