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Creating (many) greencollar jobs with stranded wind

by SacredCowTipper Fri Mar 14th, 2008 at 03:47:47 PM EST

  This is a crosspost of a diary I did for our (Stranded Wind Initiative) DailyKos ID.

 We here at the Stranded Wind Initiative have recently taken up the cause of Freedom Fertilizer, an attempt to turn our theories on wind driven ammonia production into an actual funded business in northwest Iowa.

 We always knew we could take the natural gas out of the fertilizer and completely remove the need for diesel from the farm production environment, but earlier today one of our technical people came back with this gem:

Also, we need a user for the 23 MBtu/hr of "low grade" heat, at least for the cold parts of the year. My choice is a greenhouse for hydroponic red and yellow peppers or pricey and fast growing lettuce - this also uses CO2 from the local EtOH facility. The high CO2 environment also eliminates the need for most or all pesticides, so these can be labeled as "organic hydroponic", and fetch more money. Such products should be quite competitive in the Chicago, Minneapolis and Milwaukee area, and will up the employment by about 200 people. Most large greenhouses have huge heating bills, which just ruin the economics. Other ideas for this heat....?

Inspiring - Promoted by migeru

[editor's note, by Migeru] fold inserted here for the front page

  Here is the basic scenario that lead to this eye popping two hundred additional green collar jobs which we only just comprehended.

  We have an ethanol plant in the region that is a few miles from a very nice wind farm location that is about to be developed. The wind farm has about two hundred megawatts capacity. Two hundred megawatts times the capacity factor here in northwest Iowa means it'll produce about sixty megawatts a year of electricity, and that is enough to produce 60,000 tons of ammonia. The total system will cost roughly half a billion dollars. The wind driven ammonia feeds the corn crop needed by the ethanol plant, the ammonia plant produces the heat needed by the ethanol plant to do its processing, and the end of it all there is still a lot of waste heat that needs to be put to work or dissipated.

  Now 60,000 tons of ammonia will fertilize 1,500 square miles of corn, or roughly four typical Iowa counties. If the ammonia is also used as the fuel for production then the total declines to about 250 square miles. A square mile of corn is worth about half a million dollars a year, so the total area supported produces $125M annually, and the wind farm and ammonia to fertilize and cultivate it is only about half a billion. The wind/ammonia plant will last fifteen to twenty five years so spreading its cost means 10% of the corn crop would be needed to completely free the process from any fossil fuel inputs beyond lubrication(!).

  This alone seems to us to be a pretty good idea, but the greenhouse concept is one we'd not considered. Not only do we get up to a hundred million gallons of CO2 free ethanol production and a number of high paying jobs in the support of that industry, we can also see two hundred green collar jobs that will lead to fresh fruits and vegetables year round for the region, reducing our carbon footprint even further by dramatically cutting food miles.

 The wind turbine technician and ethanol plant jobs are almost exclusively held by men - we still have a very traditional view here in this rural area. The green collar greenhouse jobs will require less training, less physical strength, are indoors, and will be seasonal in nature, very likely having much less work in the summertime. These are perfect "mom jobs" and/or after school jobs for kids.

  Feminists are bristling. We don't care. Here in rural Iowa probably half of the women would jump at a chance to work a 9:00 to 3:00 position with benefits, allowing them to drop off and pick up kids at school while earning a bit of money in the time between. Being sensitive to the local culture is important when dealing with what is for this region a large scale human resources issue - two hundred jobs is a very large employer when you're talking about putting the plant next to a town with a population of 142, and being able to draw half of those bodies from a pool of women currently constrained by their choices in child rearing would be a very smart move.

  During the summer it is normal for the thirteen to eighteen set to work in the fields - rock picking, hay baling, corn detasseling, and so forth are all important sources of income. We'd suggest that the greenhouse augment the 9:00 to 3:00 day shift with a 4:00 to 8:00 young adult shift. Buses would run from the highschool in the three larger towns nearest the plant providing consolidated transport for the region. The buses being needed for the kids, it would also make sense that they pick up and drop off the adult shift, and in small towns this is the same location; our editor's locker was across from the kindergarten classroom door his senior year.

   These are very scary times, with peak oil already just past us, and peak natural gas on the horizon, but for areas lucky enough to have stranded renewable resources and the culture necessary to put them to work we may still do well for ourselves.

Very interesting website ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Mar 5th, 2008 at 02:36:10 PM EST
There are things here one might object to - like corn monoculture for ethanol production - but overall your concern as expressed here

I discovered that even at these early stages of development, major players are quickly positioning themselves to take advantage of these resources, the property owners of these resources, and the residents of the entire region. I realized the need for a group/company that will work to protect the rights of property owners and also work to develop these resources so they will benefit the entire region.

seems right. And the ammonia-producing plan looks extremely interesting. As you say, why send excess electricity far away through the grid if you can use it for local development. There's a lot of food for thought here, great diary!

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Mar 5th, 2008 at 04:35:56 PM EST
I am sure that the decentralization of energy production scares the shit out of governments. Just as WiMax does, because it encourages communities and local focus. And disconnection from controllable national networks.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Mar 5th, 2008 at 05:58:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What happens to all the corn biomass btw?

I've chatted at length to Danny Day, Founder of




and I find his stuff seriously interesting. I was thinking that it would be a great way to recycle corn biomass.

I even did a bit of consulting re an Eprida Biochar prototype in Ireland from the point of view of the partnership-based "enterprise model" (ie legal and financial structure) I bang on about here at ET.

The economics of anything wind powered are pretty good conventionally ("bankable", as they say), but not when the wind is "stranded".

I really like the holistic nature of your proposal for "stranded" wind. It would be interesting to see how a "Community Energy Partnership" might look using your model.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Wed Mar 5th, 2008 at 05:35:04 PM EST

   Cornstalks are sometimes baled as fodder for cattle, but mostly they're left on the field. The only part we bring in is the kernels themselves. A generation ago the fields were promptly plowed in the winter, disced in the spring, and in general compacted and much abused with fossil fuel driven vehicles. As we've gotten smarter and oil has gotten dearer farmers have gone to low till/no till methods, trying to limit themselves to one pass of prepping, one of planting, and one of harvesting. Reality dictates this to really be four or five passes, but its a dramatic drop from the old days when a dozen passes were the norm.

by SacredCowTipper (sct@strandedwind.org) on Wed Mar 5th, 2008 at 07:23:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
on that one. The stalks - crushed and cut - are silage. Most corn fields that I've ever seen are about 5" high after harvest.

I would love to think that the situation has changed, because removal of the stalks is exactly why corn is almost as fertilizer-intensive as cotton. Whereabouts is this happening?

paul spencer

by paul spencer (spencerinthegorge AT yahoo DOT com) on Thu Mar 6th, 2008 at 06:45:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]

  I'm not talking silage here - post harvest they do sometimes bale the stalks that are left on the field. They're brown and dry at that point, unlike the green cut silage which is produced by, curiously enough, a silage chopper :-)

  The fields do end up 5" high - the entire stalk is clipped off by the corn head on the combine, run through the machine to remove the ears, and then the ears are "shelled" - corn kernels go one way, cobs go out the back of the machine along with the stalks.

   Does that help?

by SacredCowTipper (sct@strandedwind.org) on Thu Mar 6th, 2008 at 10:58:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Silage production in Iowa, due to high heat/humidity, runs into problems with mold, mildew, and fungus -- which taints or poisons the feed.  But silage is irrelevant as feedlots and confinement operations have eliminated the old on-the-farm livestock production.  Except in direct-to-the-consumer operations, generally organic farms.  

Actually, the cornstalks should be reintroduced to the soil in order to maintain tilth and soil micro-organisms.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sat Mar 8th, 2008 at 01:19:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But last I knew - which was more than 25 years ago - silage was the end-all and be-all for the cornstalks and leaves. After harvest, the fields were bare except for the stubble, until the next plowing season.

Last time I was around the process, the newer fiberglass silos showed you which farmer was in hock to his ear lobes; the old steel ones belonged to the farmer who still actually owned the farm. The feedlots used to be just for 'graining' (finishing for market) the beef. Apparently, things have changed.

paul spencer

by paul spencer (spencerinthegorge AT yahoo DOT com) on Sun Mar 9th, 2008 at 01:55:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah they have.

On-farm meat production that is not marketed direct-to-consumer cannot compete against confinement operations.  Not so much on price, tho' there is that too, but more on the quantity of meat being shipped and the shipping schedule.  As grocery stores moved to a Just-in-Time stocking method they demand specific amounts of meat at specific times with a short sales cycle to keep the capital tied-up in inventory at a minimum.  A on-farm operation markets low volume and yearly (cows) or about every 4 months (hogs.)  Not enough product at too long intervals.

Grocery store chains ensure their Just-in-Time supply by forward contracting with IBP, usually.  (IBP/Tyson purveys to ~40% of the total meat market in the US.)  This locks-out the on-farm production from any given area, such as Iowa, as the farm-cycles in a given area coincide.  IBP, because they operate nationally, and internationally, is able to 'smooth' the production cycle.  As a kicker, the on-farm operation has to sell when the critters are ready for market to clear the area for the next go-round.  That means they are always selling when supply is high, from their given area, and price low due to the injection of supply.  IBP sells daily and thus captures high prices when supply is low to ride them over the low-price patches.

One side affect is IBP is effectively compounding their ROI daily (!) allowing them tremendous financial advantages.

The above is why I wrote "silage is irrelevant" in my previous post.  It doesn't matter what you feed the moo-moos and oink-oinks.  Unless the meat is marketed direct to the consumer you can't sell the critters profitably over the long haul.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Mar 9th, 2008 at 03:01:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We buy our beef from a local, small, organic 'hobbyist' once or twice per year (then into the freezer). We get our eggs from two local, small, 'side-liners and our chicken and turkey from a regional, but free-range, producer. Only the pork is from who-knows-where. Plus, we're not big meat-eaters in any case.

Funny thing is that our 'kids' (35 and 32) rather dislike our beef, because it tastes 'gamey' to them. To my wife and I, it tastes like the beef that we used to get before we had chilluns - in other words, the good stuff.

It must be because we live in the Pacific NW, which doesn't have much of a factory meat-production industry, that this is news to me. I knew that it existed, but I had no idea that it was ubiquitous.

paul spencer

by paul spencer (spencerinthegorge AT yahoo DOT com) on Mon Mar 10th, 2008 at 01:09:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
(Picked a good time to take a break.)

Don't feel so RvW, I remember when the Kent Valley was mostly dairy farms!  :-(


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Mar 10th, 2008 at 01:29:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's a lot of dairy farms left out here, but I doubt that there's even one in Kent nowadays.

paul spencer
by paul spencer (spencerinthegorge AT yahoo DOT com) on Tue Mar 11th, 2008 at 12:48:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]

In a modern EtOH facility, the corn kernels are crunched, then mixed with water and enzymes to convert as much of the starch to sugars as is possible. The sugars get fermented to EtOH and also CO2, which may or may not have any use. Then the mix is filtered via centrifuge, and the filtrate is fed to the stills, where the EtOH is removed. The reboiler grunge is then concentrated via (usually) triple effect evaporators to make a 30 to 35 wt% non-volatiles mix known as syrup (concentrated distillers solids, alias CDS). This contains a lot of oils, fats, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and especially proteins. In doing so, 1 lb of steam does the work of 4 to 5 lbs of steam by cascading the temperatures of each process - a trick from the oil and chemicals business.

The CDS then usually gets mixed with the filtered solids (Wet Distillers Grains, = WDG) to make WDGS, which is usually dried to 10 wt% water from the ~ 65 wt% to 70 wt% water mush that WDGS is. In some cases it can be used as is, but it gets funky really fast unless used or dried. It's a perfect bacterial growth medium. Most of the nutritive value of the corn is in the WDGS or its dried form, DDGS. This DDGS provides about 20% of the income to the EtOH facility.

As for the rest of the corn, the corn cobs (20 wt% of the corn kernel mass) are essentially all cellulose. The corn stover (stalks, roots, etc) contain most of the minerals in the corn plant, and a lot of the amino acids, as well as a lot of cellulose. These tend to get plowed back into the next crop, though some may be used as silage. If so, after going through the cows or other animals, it gets put back on the farmland.

While this may seem strange, the typical U.S. farmer gets about 50% of their fixed nitrogen from manufactured forms - ammonia, ammonium salts, nitrates and urea. Plants tend to like nitrates best, but they just need fixed nitrogen. The other 50% comes from rotating crops like soybeans (which still need the inorganic boost) with clover and alfalfa, which don't need any inorganic N and do a lot of bacterial N-fixing. The common wisdom seems to be that U.S. farmers are ammonia gluttons, but with the price of ammonia setting records (high natural gas prices, declining value of the dollar, imports now being ~ 70% of ammonia fertilizer used in the U.S. - a huge change in the last 5 years), wasting it is a big money losing prospect. And with the price of corn now reasonable, the high cost of ammonia can be absorbed at present. Of course, this also means that corn prices internationally are not going to be cheap anymore. Ammonia can be 10% of the cost of the corn growing.

If you are looking to find the really intensive ammonia usage, look to Asia, with their intensive rice crops and wheat crops. China is now the world's largest inorganic nitrogen fertilizer consumer.


by nb41 on Wed Mar 5th, 2008 at 08:01:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
wonderful diary, SCT, thanks.

this is exactly the kind of lateral thinking we need so much more of.

seems so me there's a possibility of malt manufacture from the corn slurry, and possibly brewer's yeast, both highly nutritious food supplements.

perhaps raising animals could figure in too, with that local supply of food for them, the windpower supplying electricity needs, and the possibility of adding more organic forms of nitrogen to give heart to the land.

aren't ammonia and urea harsh on the microorganisms that keep soil from being too rapidly depleted?

systems thinking, small is beautiful, jejeje

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Mar 6th, 2008 at 03:33:55 AM EST
  In an ideal world ...

   Wind driven ammonia fuels and fertilizes the corn crop. You're right that ammonia is bad for soil organisms ... I think urea is kinder. We used to rotate corn and soy so the legume would have a chance to fix nitrogen, but now they're doing corn on corn ... madness, I think, and we'll see how long it lasts.

  Ethanol needs heat, wind driven ammonia produces it. Ethanol produces distiller's grain ... and a feed lot can use the protein. Corn oil should be fractionated for biodiesel first. Note that I am only considering ethanol EROI and not global food security concerns - this is the environment in which I have to work.

  The feed lot waste can produce either methane or ammonia. We hear that biological methods are going to be better/faster/stronger than any other renewable ... but I wonder how that works if they don't have the feed for the animals to produce the waste. I think they'll be complementary - we need every bit of every renewable source we can lay our hands on. E3 in Mead, Nebraska was powering their ethanol production with feedlot waste generated methane. The plant had a design fault and it blew up ... but it was working well until that time.

   I just hope we get a chance to address these things before everything lets go with a bang. I think we will see/hear bangs before we get it - Pakistan being the name that comes to mind first.

by SacredCowTipper (sct@strandedwind.org) on Thu Mar 6th, 2008 at 05:31:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Corn on corn is not sustainable even in the short run.  Pest (nematodes, corn borer, Cargill, ADM, & so on :-) populations explode and the land becomes too sick to support a viable crop.  Even the old corn-beans duo-crop rotation required massive and expensive pesticide, herbicide, and fungicide applications.  And the "expensive" didn't include the external cost of turning the Iowa, Des Moines, & etc rivers into toxic chemical soups or the rise in cancers among farmers, naming only two.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sat Mar 8th, 2008 at 01:47:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]

  I am surprised to see the monocropping and the farmers are a bit befuddled by it all as well. We always had corn/soy in rotation until just a few years ago and corn/soy/alfalfa(unharvested) would be even better. I suppose we'll have to see some ort of systemic failure before it changes - crop failure due to things you describe, or ethanol plant failure due to policy changes related to global food security, etc.

  Interesting times in which we live ...

by SacredCowTipper (sct@strandedwind.org) on Sat Mar 8th, 2008 at 04:22:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Your comment
we can also see two hundred green collar jobs that will lead to fresh fruits and vegetables year round for the region, reducing our carbon footprint even further by dramatically cutting food miles.

brought to mind Henry Carey's oft-repeated argument that the policy of protection nurtures the industrial economy by providing employment for the consumers of the products of the land. Note the end of this typical excerpt from Chapter 17, "How Protection Affects the Currency" from Carey's 1851 The Harmony of Interests: Agricultural, Manufacturing & Commercial:
...We are buying on credit the cloth and iron we should be making, while the labour and capital that should be employed in their production seek in vain for employment. The heavy sufferers are, and are to be, labour and land. The broker takes his usual shave for the notes which pass through his hands, and the grocer takes his usual cent per pound on sugar, but the furnace is closed, and with it the demand for food and labour -- the mine is abandoned, and the miner suffers from want of clothing -- the constructor of railroads obtains no dividend, and the desire to make roads as an investment of capital has passed away, and with it the demand for labour, food, and clothing. By degrees, the same results must be felt by every interest of the nation. The return to labour is diminishing, and the value of land, houses, ships, railroads, and every other species of property, is dependent on the extent of that return -- rising as it rises, and falling as it falls.

The nearer the consumer and the producer can be brought to each other, the more perfect will be the adjustment of production and consumption, the more steady will be the currency, and the higher will be the value of land and labour. The object of protection is to accomplish all these objects, by bringing the loom and the anvil to take their natural places by the side of the plough and the harrow, thus making a market on the land for the products of the land. (p. 190, emphasis mine)

How wonderful that the political-economic ideas of a century and a half ago still apply to today's struggle to build a green economy.

by NBBooks on Thu Mar 6th, 2008 at 09:43:35 AM EST
How wonderful that the political-economic ideas of a century and a half ago still apply to today's struggle to build a green economy.

before the Great De-skilling took place, and most people's jobs became mere cogs.

i read herbals from that era too, with great profit, for the same reason.

as we unwind back down the way we got here, printed copies of many books from that era will be worth their weight in gold.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Mar 15th, 2008 at 08:49:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
as we unwind back down the way we got here, printed copies of many books from that era will be worth their weight in gold.

<Bzzzt> There is no unwinding back down. We can only go forward.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sat Mar 15th, 2008 at 09:10:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
what i meant by 'unwinding' was something like the 'slow food' movement, or the re-appearance of wind as motor power, or the tendencies towards natural remedies instead of throwing antibiotics at every symptom, etc..(affectionately known as 'crankery' round here!)

going backwards to go forwards, as one does hiking sometimes, following terrain, rather than taking the crow's flight.

but you knew that, you old wag you...

jeez maybe there should be a 'this is a figure of speech' tag!

excess of literality?

round and round we go, each time a little higher on the spiral.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Mar 15th, 2008 at 10:32:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This one really annoys me because people often either only make that distinction when challenged or just don't make that distinction. Starting again with slightly older technology when newer stuff isn't working out is not the same.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sat Mar 15th, 2008 at 10:42:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ah, i think i understand your point. as i hope i communicated, i meant something less facile than merely watching the video backwards...

it's more about revisiting matters we left behind in a mad rush to modernity with a bit more maturity than we had when we abandoned them.

similar landmarks, changed perceiver...

ergo spiral.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Mar 15th, 2008 at 12:20:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Interesting.  If you have a flowsheet for the process I'd be interested in looking at it.  Unless it's proprietary, you could get some helpful comments if you released it.  Perhaps integretion with an ammonia-based solar cycle like this.

Are you going with Haber synthesis or something else?

by tjbuff (timhess@adelphia.net) on Thu Mar 6th, 2008 at 09:53:05 AM EST
 The only magic in this is knowing where gas prices are going and being in the right place/time to sell a group with enough money to get it pushed through. This is duplicable in Iowa and other places, but I'm not worried some slick marketing weasel will run off with it. One has to be right here to make it move ... drawing courtesy of sometimes poster here nb41 ...

by SacredCowTipper (sct@strandedwind.org) on Thu Mar 6th, 2008 at 05:33:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So it's really electro + Haber-Bosch, not the SSAS scheme?

Reading the web-site, I saw mentions to SSAS and I was, err, concerned.

by Francois in Paris on Thu Mar 6th, 2008 at 06:44:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]

 SSAS is cool because its around half the energy of Haber Bosch, but its not cool because its still in development and we wouldn't get the waste heat. Iowa economic development centers around the creation of jobs - if we get 200 greenhouse jobs that is going to draw more attention than freeing the corn crop from fossil fuel inputs. Its weird, but this is where I live ...

by SacredCowTipper (sct@strandedwind.org) on Thu Mar 6th, 2008 at 11:00:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you have any use/market for those 228 daily tons of oxygen?

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Mar 6th, 2008 at 07:23:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They put in a liquefier, maybe.
by tjbuff (timhess@adelphia.net) on Thu Mar 6th, 2008 at 08:27:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]

 Not a bit - the nearest coal fired plant is around thirty miles from here. I can't think of any industrial process we have locally that could use it.

 Once the initial project is rolling the local econ development guys will start pondering that and figure out how to attract a local business that needs a lot of electricity, oxygen, ammonia, etc. I'm not sure what that will be ...

by SacredCowTipper (sct@strandedwind.org) on Thu Mar 6th, 2008 at 11:02:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh no, you can't throw away 192t/d of high purity oxygen! It would be a crime against nature!

Pure oxygen is worth a lot.

You need to look into biomass and waste gasification and something out of the syngas. FT is too complex but  more hydrogen from WGS to produce more ammonia would seem a very good idea.

The most efficient system for gasification is the oxygen-blown/high temperature auto-thermal reformer and it can yield very high quality, clean syngas with minimum gas scrubbing requirements. See Choren for a serious example.

The big, big benefit of a high-temperature ATR is that it nearly completely eliminates the formation of tars in the gasifier and tars are is the biggest roadblock for syngas from biomass. They form gunky deposits that plug and foul everything.

The big problem with high-temperature ATR is that it requires pure oxygen and the PSA or cryo ASU to produce high purity oxygen is one of the most expensive equipment in the plant (much more expensive to produce pure O2 than pure N2).

But there, you have O2 for free. 192 t/d O2 should be enough to process 360 t/d dry biomass and you'd get about 36 t/d of H2 (~1 t H2 for 10 t biomass) out of it and high quality heat to boot, boosting your NH3 production by 150%. And 360 t/d of biomass is not that hard to procure.

It would take about 1.8 t dry biomass per 1 t NH3. Let's say 2 to round things up. So, at $50/t, it would add $100/t NH3 at your production cost and a larger HB plant but with much better usage of the electrolysis front-end, which is, I guess, the largest cost driver of the plant by far.

by Francois in Paris on Fri Mar 7th, 2008 at 01:42:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]

  This will be built in a town of less than 1,000 and its 20km to the nearest "cities" - one of 3,500 20km south and the other of 6,500 20km north.

  So we have to talk to the ethanol plant to the south about their waste materials ... but I think policy will come around and whack ethanol ... hate to base a business plan on that being there.

by SacredCowTipper (sct@strandedwind.org) on Fri Mar 7th, 2008 at 09:42:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm thinking about biomass, a share of the crop byproducts, stalks, etc. 360 t/d is 131,400 t/year.

60,000 tons of ammonia will fertilize 1,500 square miles

I take that the plant "ecosystem" is 1,500 square miles that is 960,000 acres. With 150% more production, it becomes 3,750 miles aka 2,400,000 acres. So we're talking about taking 0.05475 t/acre dry biomass. No needs for special energy crops or anything. The requirement for feeding the ammonia plant is very marginal compared to the production it enables.

As a matter of fact, ammonia from biomass though syngas may be a valuable proposition in its own right, independent of wind.

by Francois in Paris on Fri Mar 7th, 2008 at 08:01:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]

 There are serious biological renewables efforts here - the Iowa State Energy Center does amazing things ... I would work for free as the director's receptionist, knowing what I could make doing commercialization of their stuff.


 Even so we need the wind - every lick of renewables are going to be developed just as fast as we possibly can. Seven more months before Bush's replacement is known and ten more months before he is gone. It seems like an eternity ...

by SacredCowTipper (sct@strandedwind.org) on Sat Mar 8th, 2008 at 04:25:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
  1.  If there are cities of any size nearby you might interest an industrial gas co to install a liquefier and/or filling station at the site and buy the gas O2.  They would sell it for medical oxygen or welding.

  2. A smallish gasifier, using biomass.  Take a fair amount of additional capital.

  3. A high-efficiency incinerator or waste-water treatment plant.  Not likely to look good economically for a small town.

  4. Advertise free hyberbaric therapy for everyone and go for the tourists.

You might want to look at direct drive compressors instead of motor drive.
by tjbuff (timhess@adelphia.net) on Fri Mar 7th, 2008 at 10:03:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]

  After conversations today with the three industrial gas companies in the area it would appear the only economic use of the leftovers from this plants would be attracting a local business to use them, thusly avoiding the expense of liquefaction and transport.

   We do have a ridiculously large county landfill here, which now towers above the landscape. A high performance incinerator might be nice, but those go over like the proverbial lead balloon. We'll stay silent about this until the rest of the process is moving, then let someone else dream that up and propose it.

by SacredCowTipper (sct@strandedwind.org) on Fri Mar 7th, 2008 at 09:41:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you do greenhouses and have absolutely no use for the oxygen, think about this.
by tjbuff (timhess@adelphia.net) on Sat Mar 8th, 2008 at 03:29:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]

I agree with you on the usefulness of the O2...but it could be a while in getting it used. Yes - great for biomass derived syn-fuels (as opposed to fossil fuel derived SIN-fuels). Great for industries that use O2 like making wind turbines, metal working, metal cutting, and also O2 based chemistries, like converting para-xylene to terephthalic acid. Also, good for retail O2 sales and also for hospitals, but that's a lot of hospital uses. So, if you need a place to put your industry that uses O2...this could be the place to go...


by nb41 on Fri Mar 14th, 2008 at 04:55:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Much simpler application: incinerator for mixed hazardous organic wastes.

Not exactly the most obvious green application but it's worth taking a look.

Problematic mixed wastes will always be around in some amount from urban or industrial sources, no matter what how efficient selective collection is and they are either disposed in specialized landfills or incinerated.

Air-blown incinerators have - deservedly - very bad reputation. They can release dioxins, NOx, etc. and the major reason for that is the variability of the fuel. It's very difficult to maintain the proper combustion and temperature profile to avoid forming pollutants and toxins when you don't know for sure what you're burning in the first place.

With pure O2, the story changes quite radically, the oxidant being - duh - nitrogen free. It's much easier to maintain high temperatures even with low grade wastes and the incinerator generates a much smaller volume of gas, in the order of 5 or 6 times less. An O2-blown incinerator can even operate "stack-less". After water condensation, the flue gas is nearly pure CO2 mixed with acid gas and trace contaminants. Very easy to clean thoroughly before release in the atmosphere (that takes a stack obviously so it's not really stack-less) or reuse to another facility. The clean-up rejects are re-injected in the high temperature furnace for fixing on ashes or added sorbents.

So, it there is a railroad nearby, it's a pretty good application. With 192 t/d of O2, we're talking about 150 to 200 t a day of high tipping fees wastes, not huge.

by Francois in Paris on Fri Mar 14th, 2008 at 07:30:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Liquid oxygen is a primary rocket propellant.  For example a Shuttle launch uses a few hundred thousand gallons of LOX.

Just another market.

by NHlib on Fri Mar 14th, 2008 at 07:47:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]

 Oh, and to answer your question, since we're talking to bankers we're only going to use off the shelf stuff that we can go buy today. We'll cut some plant space, electricity, and ammonia out for R&D guys we know, but we have to execute on this.

  I do believe there are advances in ammonia synthesis that will double yields ... and that makes wind driven ammonia easily competitive with diesel at today's prices.

  We might be able to partially dodge the peak oil bullet, but we're going to have to build turbines the way we built aircraft for WWII - flat out, everything we can convert to the duty gets switched, and we go at it until the job is done.

by SacredCowTipper (sct@strandedwind.org) on Thu Mar 6th, 2008 at 05:36:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, if you need some calculations on the air separation part, let me know.  I spent 25 years working for Praxair on cryogenic and PSA systems.
by tjbuff (timhess@adelphia.net) on Thu Mar 6th, 2008 at 06:30:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]

 You will receive an email from an @strandedwind.org address shortly. I'm not sure if our process guy needs any help but worst case we can get you educated on what we're going - the more people talking it up the better :-)

by SacredCowTipper (sct@strandedwind.org) on Thu Mar 6th, 2008 at 11:03:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We're only going to use off the shelf stuff that we can go buy today

Good approach.

Anything new takes 20 years from the lab bench to mature industrial scale process ... when it goes very well.

Even Sasol with 50 years of experience in syngas and FT, has run into problems at the Oryx GTL plant.

by Francois in Paris on Thu Mar 6th, 2008 at 06:49:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Because of the location, the very small power demand and the modularity of the technology, windpower seems a perfect fit. I'm not going to push a reactor on you. ;)

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Mar 6th, 2008 at 07:19:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]

 This is being done this way because its tested technology and the waste heat will produce many, many jobs, which gets a lot of attention here.

 As soon as this one is moving under its own power we're going to get going on a solid state ammonia synthesis from wind with either a diesel style engine or perhaps a fuel cell. I want to see every municipality in the state convert their existing diesel backup to ammonia, and then trickle charge them with the smaller scale wind turbines. We've got a logjam in the multimegawatt units but refurbished 600kw systems are pretty readily available.


by SacredCowTipper (sct@strandedwind.org) on Thu Mar 6th, 2008 at 11:06:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm looking at the same economics here.

Unless we - the local community - plans on going into the Wind Farm power business a couple of 600kw systems would do just fine and we don't have the problem of "Stranded Wind."  We do have a problem with the damn things falling over when hit by some of our wind gusts - up to 65mph under certain conditions and 100+mph in some locations.

What we do need to derive is a viable plan to use that power.  Which is a nice way of giving Fair Warning that I would like to Steal-Your-Stuff.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sat Mar 8th, 2008 at 02:03:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]

  I wish to personally profit from the installation of a system here to the tune of a paid for farm and a cut of the production. We're already looking at locations #2 and #3. If you've got local organization in your area and need the technical and perhaps financial contacts I would be thrilled to appear, speak, help get it moving, etc, etc - thats the whole idea behind the http://strandedwind.org thing ...

by SacredCowTipper (sct@strandedwind.org) on Sat Mar 8th, 2008 at 04:27:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you for your offer.  We are still getting our (local) ducks in a row and it will be several months before I (we) can even hope to be in a position to take advantage of it.  Once, and if - it must be said, the point is reached I will let you know.

My hope is to 'boot-strap' a wind power industry here by starting with one or two 600kw systems to be used locally and generate $ when excess over local requirements power is generated.  (We've got some transmission power lines not too far away - ~10 miles.)  The experience gained running these local plants will, hopefully, prove a base for further development of local businesses using this power, requiring more installations, and so on.  Ultimately, I'd like to see a full-blown wind farm, or ten, established for the purpose of entering the power business.  Not only are these good jobs they are jobs that can*not* be taken away.  

But that is years down the road.

In the meantime, I gotta get eddicated 'bout this stuff.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sat Mar 8th, 2008 at 05:04:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you want to discuss the mechanics of it, let's start a new diary just for that subject.

In about two months I'm personally getting very serious about the co-op movement. Meantime, there are several threads and projects going on, just involving ET members.

Out there in the larger world of DailyKos and myriad smaller, local blogs, there are numerous potential investors. People are looking for the better method in pursuit of the correct goals.

Just as an observation, LLCs could be registered for each local or regional project of these sorts. Each one will need a coordinator/manager, which could be persons such as yourselves (ATinNM and SacredCowTipper for examples).

paul spencer

by paul spencer (spencerinthegorge AT yahoo DOT com) on Mon Mar 10th, 2008 at 01:26:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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