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Nanocopper CO2 catalyst û????
2

Nanocopper CO2 catalyst û????

Nanocopper CO2 catalyst û????

(OP)
From MIT comes news of a new paper claiming that nanocopper catalysts can help convert CO2 to CH4......

This seems a bit like perpetual motion to me. You burn fuel (including CH4) and get CO2 and H2O etc. and then convert the CO2 back into fuel?

But the claim is that it will reduce greenhouse gases.... well not really. Methane is also a greenhouse gas.... that's why all the fuss about cow farts. Except presumably it will get converted straight back into CO2 when used as a fuel again.....

If this were from the usual sources with fancy graphic web sites and a list of directors that outnumber everyone else and calls for investment I'd know where I stood. But MIT and a link patent? And unless the original press release was on the 1st of April and not the 11th.......
Oh my head hurts. I'm off to the pub.

JMW
www.ViscoAnalyser.com

 

RE: Nanocopper CO2 catalyst û????

Quote (jmw):


But the claim is that it will reduce greenhouse gases....

Perhaps what they had in mind was that since CH4 can be immediately used as a fuel, to generate electricity for example, that this would provide sufficient financial incentive to actually justify setting-up plants to do that on a large enough scale so as to be effective in controlling the amount free CO2 in the atmosphere.  After all, if there was something which could justify (more than just the environmental benefit) the removal of CO2 in sufficient quantities to make a difference, I would suspect that it would already be happening.  Unfortunately, the world can only use just so much dry-ice at any one moment winky smile  

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Engineering Software
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Industry Sector
Cypress, CA
http://www.siemens.com/plm
UG/NX Museum:   http://www.plmworld.org/p/cm/ld/fid=209

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.
 

RE: Nanocopper CO2 catalyst û????

(OP)
The trouble is that if this is the path to unlimited energy we are fine so long as we consume all the CO2, convert to Methane, burn it to get CO2, convert to methane ..... and never ever stop the cycle. Once we stop, turn off the machine we'll have a lot more methane than we know what to do with or a lot more CO2 and both will cause global warming and we all die of heat death.

No, hang on, we just redirect the electricity produced to AC.... (and running wind turbines when there is no wind or need for them.... they have to consume outside power to turn over when there is no wind or the crank shafts deform).
Got it.
Perfect solution.
So in theory, I can convert my car to run off a single recyclable cow fart and it will run forever.
 

JMW
www.ViscoAnalyser.com

 

RE: Nanocopper CO2 catalyst û????

It also requires applied voltage, so there is energy going into the reaction. A catalyst only reduces the energy required to get a reaction "over the hump". It does not change the net energy difference between reactants and products.

RE: Nanocopper CO2 catalyst û????

Yes, but all fuel sources require the input of energy to make them available for use.  In the case of a petroleum-based cycle  you have the cost of drilling the oil, refining it and transporting the refined fuel to where it will be consumed.  The same with coal, and while there's no significant 'refining', it does require energy to mine and transport.  Even natural gas needs to be extracted from the ground and then transported.

One of the potential advantages of this proposed scheme is that since the 'sky' is accessible from anywhere, one could co-locate the facility which converts the CO2 into CH4 with the generating facility which will convert the CH4 into electricity.  Even with the expenditure of energy needed to power the catalytic converters, it's possible that once all the costs are tallied-up, that this might prove to be more efficient than many of the more conventional energy cycle alternatives.

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Engineering Software
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Industry Sector
Cypress, CA
http://www.siemens.com/plm
UG/NX Museum:   http://www.plmworld.org/p/cm/ld/fid=209

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.
 

RE: Nanocopper CO2 catalyst û????

(OP)
We not only have to allow for energy consumed in the regeneration process but for inefficiencies.

This regeneration process, catalysts or not, isn't going to run on a flash-light battery.
So it might prove that the most energy consuming part of the process is the regeneration.
Say X tons of fuel gives Y energy (and Y is based on whatever the best current efficiency is for gas fired co-generation)
90% of Y goes into regenerating dX fuel. i.e. less fuel back than went into the process.
10% of Y is available as usable energy e.g. to us consumers.

To get the same available energy as simply burning X tones of fuel you now need a plant to burn 10*X tons of fuel and get the equivalent energy of simple burn and release.
The calculations of efficiency are going to be where the fun comes if this isn't to be one of those "Interesting" but so what ideas.


 

JMW
www.ViscoAnalyser.com

 

RE: Nanocopper CO2 catalyst û????

(OP)
No but I'm highly suspicious of something for nothing ideas. The fact that most of the articles seem to link this to some sort of "green" benefit means to me that the cost and efficiency probably won't matter to the pollies who will happily subsidise it but as a commercial proposition it probably stinks.
Of course, nano technology is all the rage these days. Nano-technology, catalysts,  gold doped copper, green  - it's a dead cert to win some of Obama's cash.
 

JMW
www.ViscoAnalyser.com

 

RE: Nanocopper CO2 catalyst û????

I think most of the issue with the article is bad journalism, lots of conjecture and projection without exploring the details or taking a realistic assessment of the new discovery.

RE: Nanocopper CO2 catalyst û????

(OP)
How did I miss that thread?
You mean they want to turn out engineers like media studies students? Oh dear.  

JMW
www.ViscoAnalyser.com

 

RE: Nanocopper CO2 catalyst û????

Taking CO2 and H2O back to CH4 and O2 take at least as much energy as you can get from BURNING it.  There is no getting around that fact- no catalyst or process can change it.  Remember your thermo or phys chem:  what you get out of the reaction is the difference between the internal energies of the reactants and products.

Mere over-unity in energy is not enough:  any process which takes 1 watt of electricity and produces 1.01 or even 4 watts of chemical energy (i.e. a proxy for heat, NOT work) is not an over-unity machine.  Any heat pump does that already.  True over-unity machines takes 1 watt of work (or electricity, basically "work on tap") and produce 1.01+ watts of work.

The reason you produce useful energy from burning CH4 is that you can dump CO2 as a low internal energy product.  Any process which does anything with that CO2 other than dumping it to the atmosphere is going to sap some of your product energy, making you p*ss through the source of that energy even faster to obtain the same amount of product work.

If you had a limitless source of nonpolluting energy available as electricity, you could run reactions like this to recover CO2 from the atmosphere, I guess.  But you would also do something first that makes a hell of a lot more sense:  you'd stop burning fossil carbon and dumping the product CO2 into the atmosphere.  Once you stop the massive unnatural input, nature can take over and will fix the carbon in the atmosphere as biomass, carbonate etc. using solar-powered devices that have evolved for millions of years to do just that.  The only problem at present is, we're dumping so much CO2 into the atmosphere from fossil reserves that these natural "devices" have no hope of keeping up.

RE: Nanocopper CO2 catalyst û????

(OP)
So I'm not mad after all.
That's a relief.

I have to confess that it is easier these days to accept that even MIT can turn out garbage than formerly once we have seen how journals like Nature and organisations like the Royal Society can be corrupted or so deviate from good science that it brings science back to the days of alchemy and the search for the elixir of youth and transmutation.

This has to be one of those "nice observation and interesting science but of no practical value."

Sure the news is full of buzz words like "nano-technology" "Catalysts" etc but it alos has phrases like "...an energy-efficient means of recycling carbon dioxide emissions in powerplants".
Under no definition that I can think of does it satisfy the criteria for energy efficiency.

But let's not blame the MIT news department. The blame lies with the researchers:

Quote:

Co-author Kimberly Hamad-Schifferli of MIT says the findings point to a potentially energy-efficient means of reducing carbon dioxide emissions from powerplants.

"You normally have to put a lot of energy into converting carbon dioxide into something useful," says Hamad-Schifferli, an associate professor of mechanical engineering and biological engineering. "We demonstrated hybrid copper-gold nanoparticles are much more stable, and have the potential to lower the energy you need for the reaction."
There is no reason to doubt the second part of the statement, that a catlysed reaction will be more efficient than other methods to dispose of CO2. But it requires some leap to believe it will lead to more energy efficient power generation. More than a leap.
It can't.
The main strength of the research seems to be the discovery that gold doping extends the catalyst life and (maybe) leads to improved energy efficiency.
But that's it.

 

 

JMW
www.ViscoAnalyser.com

 

RE: Nanocopper CO2 catalyst û????

The people who published this paper should be run out of MIT on a rail.

The authors state that there would be an "energetic cost" to reducing the product CO2 from a power plant electrocatalytically back to methane.  They fail to mention that the energetic cost would, necessarily by virtue of the 2nd Law, exceed the energetic output of the plant, i.e. rendering the entire plant totally useless as a power plant.
  
One of the comments had it right: this thing was probably published April 1st...either that, or it's a sad commentary about what it takes, or doesn't take, to get a PhD and a gig as an MIT researcher these days...

RE: Nanocopper CO2 catalyst û????

(OP)
The quote isn't from some ambitious post grad student but from a Professor.
Taken alongside the rubbish being spouted by Shakum et al in Nature and you wonder what has happened to science these days.
Then you wonder if something similar isn't taking place across the spectrum of education. (e.g. the thread "Farewell to Engineering Education")
Then you start to worry.
Worry at every high rise, bridge tunnel or any enterprise where you depend on the engineering competence to save you from being killed.

JMW
www.ViscoAnalyser.com

 

RE: Nanocopper CO2 catalyst û????

There was a process proposed by NASA, when I was in high school, that was proposed for long term space trips. It went something like splitting H2 and O2 from water. Release O2, and use the H2 to convert CO2, with a catalyst, into H2O. The carbon would be scraped off the catalyst, and thrown away.

The energy in this process is in splitting H2 and O2 from water.

Not that I agree with this process, because it only works if you have energy, and need O2.

The thing I don't remember is how to handle fouling of the catalyst, but that was probally never mentioned.

Is this some sort of change of the theory I heard in high school?

RE: Nanocopper CO2 catalyst û????

By the way, there is nothing wrong with seeking feedstock uses for CO2.  Where they went wrong wasn't in experimenting with catalysts for the electrochemical reduction of CO2 in the first place.  Rather, it was in claiming that this approach, i.e. the reduction of CO2 back to methane, holds out ANY promise as a means to reduce CO2 emissions from power plants.

In the comments section, one of the co-authors states that there is no reason the energy (electricity) used to do the CO2 reduction needs to come from the power plant, i.e he claims that you could use solar panels to provide this etc.  But what does he think a power plant exists to provide?! So:  this is an energy storage scheme now (with the unlikely choice of CH4 as a storage medium), not a CO2 reduction scheme?  And this guy has a PhD?

RE: Nanocopper CO2 catalyst û????

This is indicative of the "free-lunch" mentality persistent in modern society. I read a recent article that descibed it as the Second Law of Disney vs. the Second Law of Thermodynamics.  In the real world the Second Law of Thermodynamics always wins.

"On the human scale, the laws of Newtonian Physics are non-negotiable"

RE: Nanocopper CO2 catalyst û????

My browser must be broken, because when I clicked on the link, it took me to a feel-good, for-the-layman article about research being done at MIT and not the Nigerian-prince sponsored perpetual motion machine that jmw's link was supposed to take me to.

Nanoparticles get a lot of press because they're cutting edge, and the press (and universities' press offices) don't do a stellar job on hard science (do you expect them to)? But that doesn't mean nanoparticles and this application in particular are cow farts. It's advanced research for sure, but isn't that what universities are for?

I'm just a dumb mechanical engineer, but I've been fortunate to work on a project recently with scientists and chemical engineers on a lab reactor for producing a certain kind of nanoparticle for a certain application. Thanks to this, I now understand (though am by no means expert) what is meant by the shorthand of "nanoparticle" when someone uses it.

It's a given that copper can be used in a process to convert CO2. That's not open for debate or the claim of the article. Nor is there a claim of water running uphill*. It's not even that nanoparticles require less energy than bulk copper to convert CO2. It's that these particular nanoparticles require less energy than those nanoparticles over there.

Why are copper nanonparticles more efficient than bulk copper at converting CO2? It comes down to surface area, which is the same property of nanoparticles the scientists are taking advantage of in the project I'm working on. As a (poor) analogy, it's said that Vermont would be bigger than Texas if you could just iron out all the wrinkles. It's curvature, baby.

Why are these particular copper nanoparticles more efficient than other copper nanoparticles? Because they include gold nanoparticles which help prevent the copper corrosion we're all familiar with, on the nanoscale. Corroded copper, nano or otherwise, does a poor job of reacting with CO2.

So what's the big deal? They're just making itty bitty bits of pure metal. You could turn them out all day long if I just gave you a small enough lathe, right? Well, give it a try. One of the challenges with producing nanoparticles in bulk is that they like to stick together and stop being nano (agglomeration). Not to mention controlling a mixture at such a tiny scale.

Quote:

Of course, nano technology is all the rage these days. Nano-technology, catalysts,  gold doped copper, green  - it's a dead cert to win some of Obama's cash.

Quote:

The people who published this paper should be run out of MIT on a rail.

Based on this and similar threads, I guess talk radio has come to eng-tips.com. Where can I get in on some intelligent design vs. evolution action?

Rob

* Of course, they waited til the fourth paragraph to explicitly state that input energy was required and that this was not a perpetual motion machine. What cons! Think of all the people who were duped because they stopped reading at the fourth paragraph. All legitimate scientific articles should begin with a disclaimer that perpetual motion machines are not possible, otherwise the natural assumption is that that is what they're selling.

RE: Nanocopper CO2 catalyst û????

Quote:

But let's not blame the MIT news department. The blame lies with the researchers:

Quote:
Co-author Kimberly Hamad-Schifferli of MIT says the findings point to a potentially energy-efficient means of reducing carbon dioxide emissions from powerplants.

"You normally have to put a lot of energy into converting carbon dioxide into something useful," says Hamad-Schifferli, an associate professor of mechanical engineering and biological engineering. "We demonstrated hybrid copper-gold nanoparticles are much more stable, and have the potential to lower the energy you need for the reaction."

There is no reason to doubt the second part of the statement, that a catlysed reaction will be more efficient than other methods to dispose of CO2. But it requires some leap to believe it will lead to more energy efficient power generation. More than a leap.

It can't.

I'm shocked - shocked - that a researcher is talking about potential applications of their research.

However, the researcher can't be blamed for your poor reading comprehension. The article as a whole does not claim it can lead to more energy efficient power generation. Nor does the text you quote, just before you suggest it does. It only states that if this type of carbon sequestration (I'm using the term imprecisely) is implemented on a power plant, it will require less energy than if this type of carbon sequestration is implemented without the benefit of these particular nanoparticles.

For the record, nuclear is the only practical near term option I see for significantly reducing CO2 emissions.

RE: Nanocopper CO2 catalyst û????

(OP)
The article makes valid claims for the use of gold doped copper nanoparticles as a more energy efficient means to convert CO2 to CH4.
It would have been fine if it had been left at that.
But read again what Prof Kimberley is actually reported to have said.
An look at the way it has been interpreted in various media articles.
The whole article is a big so what.
Unless there is some important application somewhere where this has a pay off, it isn't in fossil fuel burning.
It isn't in reducing green house gases.

I think it is reasonable to expect that an institution such as MIT should take care to present research material in a clear and unambiguous way.
They have failed that.
Actually, I think it is a stretch to excuse this article and claim that it is being misrepresented.

It's there in the second paragraph:

Quote:

Various researchers around the world have studied copper's potential as an energy-efficient means of recycling carbon dioxide emissions in powerplants:
This is an energy consuming process.

The outcome is valueless.

If they had some magic means to convert CO2 to N2, then you'd be talking.
But CO2 is around 20 times less powerful as a greenhouse agent than the CH4 produced.
So how does that help?
This is a vicious cycle of CO2 to CH4 and back to CO2 again and consuming energy each time the CO2 is converted.

The advantage of copper nanoparticles, gold doped, is that they consume less energy that straight copper and last longer. And that's where the article should have stopped. Interesting, but WTF.

It's nice science but without any real benefit in the field in which they are talking it up.
It is still a process that consumes energy.
It doesn't destroy CO2 or CH4.
You always have one or the other.

So you can justify an expression claiming the development results in a process that is "more energy efficient" than straight copper, but you cannot justify any expression or intimation that there is some form of  "energy efficiency" as an outcome and as applied to fossil fuel burning.

But:

Quote:

Co-author Kimberly Hamad-Schifferli of MIT says the findings point to a potentially energy-efficient means of reducing carbon dioxide emissions from powerplants.
Now that is nonsense. OK, in exactly what has been said, it is energy efficient. But you can't separate out the reduction of CO2 from the production of CH4, especially as this leaves you in a worse condition than when you started.

Now tell me again what I missed here.
Tell me that this isn't what was explicitly alleged to have been said by prof Kimberley.
Tell me where this leads to more efficient energy use than simply releasing the CO2 into the atmosphere.


 

JMW
www.ViscoAnalyser.com

 

RE: Nanocopper CO2 catalyst û????

"I'm shocked - shocked - that a researcher is talking about potential applications of their research."

So am I.  I'm shocked that the "potential application", no doubt also the one they used in their grant application to fund the work in the first place, was so blatantly foolish.  Sadly, it is less of a shock that the work itself was funded: what with the two research worship phrases "nanotechnology" and "CO2 emission reduction" both being present, it was a shoe-in.

It doesn't matter if their process takes less energy than some other process that also consumes substantially more than the ENTIRE output of the "power plant" it would be fitted to.  The approach of reducing CO2 from a fuel-burning appliance back to FUELS is a total non-starter, which anyone with more than a passing knowledge of chemistry should understand immediately.  The comments section of the article indicate that JMW and I were not alone in this feeling.  The claim was either entirely disingenuous or the people making the claim are totally clueless.

If they were targeting partial reduction products of some value such as formic acid or formaldehyde, perhaps they'd be on to something, and perhaps their research will lead them there.  But their stated targets are highly reduced species such as methane, ethylene and perhaps, at a stretch, methanol.  Making any of these, with the possible exception of methanol, starting with CO2 as a feedstock, is highly questionable at best.   

RE: Nanocopper CO2 catalyst û????

(OP)
Heck, no one's knocking nanotechnology, just the researchers who are trying to parlay a "so what" piece of research into a planet saver so they can claim a bunch of the US taxpayer's money.

JMW
www.ViscoAnalyser.com

 

RE: Nanocopper CO2 catalyst û????

(OP)
You mean you will be flogging this CO2 to CH4 route around Europe? That's what the tax payers will be subsidising, not simply nanotechnology but specifically nanotechnology for this objective.
 

JMW
www.ViscoAnalyser.com

 

RE: Nanocopper CO2 catalyst û????

(OP)
Then you're one of the good guys who have to make their living honestly.

JMW
www.ViscoAnalyser.com

 

RE: Nanocopper CO2 catalyst û????

JUST because you're a good guy DOESN'T mean that you HAVE to make your living honestly, only that you PROBABLY do winky smile

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Engineering Software
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Industry Sector
Cypress, CA
http://www.siemens.com/plm
UG/NX Museum:   http://www.plmworld.org/p/cm/ld/fid=209

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.
 

RE: Nanocopper CO2 catalyst û????

If we have a large amount of CH4, and the price is droping, why in the world do we need to make more?

Talked to a gas engineer the other day, and he said we do have enough CH4, the problem is it's in the ground. There isen't enough pipes and drilled wells to support an increase in gas usage to the likes of what some are wanting to do.

I still perfer using a solar conversion of CO2 to bio oil process.  

RE: Nanocopper CO2 catalyst û????

(OP)
Well this is a novel way to convert "fossil" fuel to Methane. Burn it to get the CO2 and then convert the CO2 to methane. Love it. It should make a killing on the stock market.  

JMW
www.ViscoAnalyser.com

 

RE: Nanocopper CO2 catalyst û????

(OP)
Or, you separate the CO2 from the atmosphere and convert that to methane. That's good too. And do we get more energy from the methane than we put into creating it? Must do for this to be a useful idea.

JMW
www.ViscoAnalyser.com

 

RE: Nanocopper CO2 catalyst û????

Not really. Just leave off a few zeros in the calculations, convence investers, sell your shares early, and take the company bankrupt. Worked for Selendra.

RE: Nanocopper CO2 catalyst û????

cranky108

Please don't mention Solyndra, it gets my blood pressure up.  No one I have ever met in the solar industry thought they stood a chance.  Even in the years before the DOE investment, if you asked almost any well informed scientist/engineer in PV, they would have told you Solyndra was a loser.  But, for some reason, the government doesn't seem to have asked the right people, or they ignored them when they did answer.

I know, it's not exactly shocking that the government could screw something like this up, but the whole debacle has really hurt the image of the PV industry in the US, and at this point we seem to be ceding the whole thing to the Chinese.  Which is a shame, because where I stand I see very real promise in the technology.
 

RE: Nanocopper CO2 catalyst û????

I think we should be happy that at least one person in America is doing research.  Even if the claims are bad.  Most articles you read are about Japanese or Chinese researchers.  It is embarrassing.

Regards
StoneCold  

RE: Nanocopper CO2 catalyst û????

(OP)
The problem is that once the research is done and the products designed, they shift manufacture off to China.... it's where all the wind turbines etc. are being manufactured either in association with the originating manufacturer or as a straight copy.

If we are expected to pay through the nose in subsidies for wind turbines you'd think government would insist on spending that money domestically. But the UK Gov. has spent its money with Dutch firms (who now have to hunt abroad since their own country came to its senses) and they have closed their European factories and now manufacture in China.

So we lose whatever.

But I long ago stopped expecting anything useful, sensible or even wanted, to be done by Governments.
 
 

JMW
www.ViscoAnalyser.com

 

RE: Nanocopper CO2 catalyst û????

Bruno, I was joking.

There seems to be people who do bad things in order to line there own pockets. It seems to start with difficult to believe theories, and a good sales job. And end with someone being much more richer, and someone much poorer.

And I find this theory difficult to make practicle and useful.

Personally, the whole Solyndra thing smells like collusion to me (But the disclamer, I don't know all the facts).

RE: Nanocopper CO2 catalyst û????

"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State."

Anyone know who said it???

And this one . . . .???

"The greater the lie, the greater the chance that it will be believed"

It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to be always right by having no ideas at all.

RE: Nanocopper CO2 catalyst û????

ornerynorsk, my guess is it is the same person who stated that logic and reasoning were tricky things and would lead you astray, but your emotions could be trusted, they never lie.

Regards,

Mike

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