January 31, 2018

The Need

Safe, Recyclable Pollutant Capture

Panel-bed filtration has the potential to treat complex power plant emission streams and separate individual pollutants for profitable recycling. Captured carbon dioxide is being used as a less expensive printer ink and as a means to force out remaining pockets of oil6,8. For the past 100 years, the Haber-Bosch industrial process, applying pressure and heat to nitrogen, has been used to make plant available nitrogen. Captured nitrous oxides directly from coal exhaust can be recycled in the fertilizer market, making fertilizer cheaper and reducing the need to use energy to make ammonia (plant available nitrogen) like the Haber-Bosch process12. The mercury given off of coal will be captured separately from all other chemicals and recycled back into the chemical market where it is used in electronic applications, advanced thermometers and barometers, and streetlights. Potentially, every chemical given off during the combustion of any fuel source can be captured and separated from the exhaust plume to be recycled and reused in the chemical market, thus beginning the new age of recycling combustion pollution.

Current technologies, such as aqueous scrubbers, utilize a liquid to capture gaseous pollutants such as sulfur oxides. This puts the pollutant into a wet slurry that makes it very difficult to recover17, just one example of ineffective pollutant capture. Panel-bed filters have the potential to capture any pollutant, gaseous or solid, by using solid sorbents that adsorb or absorb the pollutant. Moreover, each module is designed to filter one pollutant allowing each one to be individually segmented and easier to recycle. Finally, because they are in a solid form, pollutants can be easily transported around the country for reuse. Panel-beds not only make it easier to capture almost any pollutant, but it permits a safer and more effective way to recycle these pollutants.

Particulate Matter and Gaseous Pollutant Capture

The United States generated 4.08 trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2016 in which fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas contributed to 65% of all energy produced. Of the fossil fuels, burning coal is the most controversial as the emissions produced include a large number of harmful solid and gaseous pollutants including sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter. In 2014, coal power plants produced 42% of the US mercury emissions, 41.2 tons of lead, 38.6 tons of arsenic, and over 576,000 tons of carbon monoxide7. However, carbon dioxide, the main driver for global warming, is the main byproduct of coal combustion and often goes uncaptured like other pollutants. R. Buckminster Fuller, a renowned 20th century inventor and visionary that dedicated his life work to create a more sustainable planet stated, “Pollution is nothing but the resources we not harvesting. We allow them to disperse because we have been ignorant of their value9,10.”

Just like the father of our technology, Author Squires, he was a man thinking beyond the limits of his time. Current carbon capture and storage (CCS) has a range of technologies that may be able to capture 90% of carbon dioxide emission from industrial sites and power plants; however, this technology uses up to 40% of a power station’s energy for the scrubbing and transport systems, and often prevents the reuse of captured pollutants6. Our technology is a multi-phased emission system (MES). This means that every chemical that is created during combustion is filtered using the same technology in succession, preventing the release of chemicals listed above. This thoroughly cleans the exhaust, capturing more pollutants, and permitting recycling while using less energy.

Create Jobs

There has been a steady decline in coal mining jobs in America for years. In 2006, coal combustion provided 49% of the country’s electricity, but by 2017 that number has declined to almost 30%15. As the need for coal decreases, so does the need for coal workers. Coal mining has the reputation for being the most important job in Appalachia America, especially West Virginia. Between 2011 and 2016, U.S. coal producers lost more than 92% of their market value, and its effect is most evident when looking at West Virginia which ranks 49th in per capita income. Automated technologies continue to take the place of man power and has caused mining employment to fall between 1980 and 2010 even though coal production grew, leaving thousands of displaced miners unemployed15. However, areas ravaged by the draw down in coal are strong potential locations for commercial development.

With panel-bed technology, small, modular power plants burning fossil fuels such as coal or tires, can easily be located in these areas, creating jobs. Tires will be a cheap yet powerful energy source, allowing us to be the epicenter for the commercial development park, offering inexpensive energy to factories that would like to relocate to an area where land is cheaper and workers are plentiful. Recycling pollutants captured from these power plants will serve as profit and invigorate economic development in these areas, bringing much needed jobs and wealth. Inexpensive electricity will permit large companies to operate for less; allowing them to compete with the price of overseas factories; allowing factories to pay their employees more, and encouraging the use of small, modular power plants to supplement renewable energies. Our product is our filter, but our greatest characteristic is our vision of change for the areas in our country that need it. Modular power plants keep jobs in the energy sector while incentivizing companies to build around our power plant, bringing much needed economic relief to these once flourishing towns.

Support Renewable Energies with Small Modular Power Plants

Air pollution from fossil fuel power plants are linked with asthma, cancer, heart and lung ailments, neurological problems, acid rain, global warming, and other severe environmental and public health impacts11. As a result, the world is moving away from fossil fuels. In 2015, governments across the globe invested $150 billion into photovoltaic and wind turbine derived energy to combat climate change, and although it comprised only 7% of electricity generated worldwide, it is no secret the world is moving towards an energy grid dominated by renewable sources. The more renewable energies there are, the further the decline in the price of electricity. At times when renewables can meet all the energy demand, fossil fuels become irrelevant which cause the wholesale electricity prices to collapse – or sometimes turn negative when excess renewable energy must be purchased. The more renewable energies in the market, the further the decline on the dependency of fossil fuels, however, due to limitations on renewable energies, a need for fossil fuels will always exist, but large fossil fuel power plants may not be the answer14.

Theoretically, if renewables were to make up 100% of the market, the investment in fossil fuels would disappear, leaving the world without electricity in times of renewable energy shortcomings. If low-marginal-cost renewables continue to push prices down, there will come a time when private investment in fossil fuels will disappear. In order to progress as a society and move toward a renewable energy dominated market, the need exists to maintain a presence of on demand electricity fueled by fossil fuels. “Energy companies are moving towards modularization because of the low-margin, highly competitive, and short lead-time nature of today’s power plant design and construction market14.” Modularization gives power providers the ability to respond to incremental load demand quicker, at low cost with reduced risk, through the establishment of small, modular power plants13. Simply put, the need for small, modular power plants burning fossil fuels cleanly exists and current filtration technologies are not scaling down equipment to meet these needs. Panel-bed filtration is modular and can be custom built to each plant’s specific requirements, allowing the technology to support renewable energies by providing clean fossil fuel energy when needed.

Recycle Tires

In 2015, 246 million tires were discarded in which 25% of them were shredded for various surface coatings, 5% were used as fill for civil engineering projects, and 8% were used in scrap tire markets. Finally, over 47% were used for tire derived fuel in an age with limited filtration technology, therefore, creating an environmental hazard3. One such example is a paper mill in Ticonderoga, NY which acquired its own tire burning permit with a filtration system estimated to capture only 76% of the emissions resulting in the release of hard metals and carcinogens4.

In 2015 alone, 30 million tires were not repurposed and ended up in landfills or discarded elsewhere, and are predicted to increase up to 60% by 20212. Often, improperly disposed tires are a breeding ground for certain mosquitos carrying diseases such as the West Nile and Zika viruses5. Presenting a major problem for New York, in 2009 they spent $81 million to “clean up” 11 million used tires. However, it solved no problem as the tires were just gathered up and sent somewhere else to be someone else’s environmental problem. Tires are an issue, but every there is a solution. The high temperatures reached during tire incineration produces 25% more energy than burning coal which if utilized appropriately, can prove advantageous1. Our technology can be customized to effectively filtrate tire emissions, therefore, solving the problem caused by tires, reinvigorating the energy infrastructure, and revolutionizing filtration technology.

Future Energy Demands

According to the International Energy Outlook 2017 distributed by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, world energy consumption will grow by 28% between 2015 and 2040. The demand for coal is projected to remain flat, but renewables are expected to increase by 2.3% per year in that timespan16. Electricity prices will continue to drop as renewables continue to increase, creating a deadly cycle for energy. No one will invest in something that has no value for return, eventually collapsing the fossil fuel industry14. Even though renewables will grow faster than fossil fuels, fossil fuels will still need to account for almost three quarters of world energy consumption through 2040. The fastest growing demand for fossil fuel is natural gas. During combustion, natural gas releases 43% less carbon dioxide than burning coal, but it is haunted by the effects of fracking which releases methane into the environment, contaminating drinking water16.

To meet future energy demands there is no choice but to use fossil fuels; however, we do have a choice of what is burned. Panel-bed filters make it easy to choose a fuel source. Whether its biomass from forest plantations, coal that has burned dirty for generations, or tires that present a growing environmental problem, panel-bed filters can handle it. Panel-bed filtration enables us to completely filter out all pollutants, while finding the value in the chemicals that we captured. The limits to providing energy in the future are not going to be resources, but rather how well we filter exhaust for a cleaner Earth and recycle the pollutants captured.

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So how are we developing this?