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2016 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #42

Posted on 15 October 2016 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of the news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook page during the past week.

Sun Oct 9, 2016

Mon Oct 10, 2016

Tue Oct 11, 2016

Wed Oct 12, 2016

Thu Oct 13, 2016

Fri Oct 14, 2016

Sat Oct 15, 2016


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Comments 1 to 6:

  1. The first link on the methane spike doesn't work correctly for me.

    Thanks for compiling this list - I always scan through it and find lots of interesting reading.

    Someone commented last week about missing the monthly article that shows a plot of the global temperature 'Tracking the 2 degree limit'. I miss it too

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    Moderator Response:

    [BW] Thanks for the heads-up, BC! I fixed the link.

  2. Popular Mechanics: Scientists Accidentally Discover Efficient Process to Turn CO2 Into Ethanol

    The title almost says it all.  The key points are that the process takes CO2 and H2O from the atmosphere, and coverts it to Ethanol at a claimed 65% energy efficiency.  The ethanol can then be used as a fuel for power plants and vehicles.  It is further claimed the process is cheap and scalable, which if true should mean large scale prototypes should be available in approx 5 years, and commercial variants in 10 or so.

    If this pans out, it is the best news I have seen for quite some time.

    The scientific paper discussing the discovery is also available.

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  3. Sorry Tom but I dont get it. There is no sequestration of CO2 - it gets released again the moment it is burnt. You have to use Carnot cycle to get useful work back so it doesnt seem to be even a particular efficient way to store energy. You lose 35% of the energy converting electricity to ethanol, and then will lose at least 35% more as waste heat converting the ethanol to work. Batteries are more like 90% efficient, pumped hydro around 70%.

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  4. scaddenp @3, you are correct that no sequestration is involved, and I doubt pumping ethanol into subterainean caverns would be a suitable method of sequestration.

     The importance of this process is that it produces a liquid fuel.  Liquid fuels have the advantages of easy storage, and high energy intensity relative to renewables which make them very suitable for vehicles in a way that hydrogen (because of storage issues) and electricity (due to limited storage capacity in vehicles) are not.  Ease of storage is also a factor in back up generators.

    Further, in a way the energy efficiency has limited relevance.  If we are to build an all renewable system, then we will need to build a significant overcapacity so that when the renewable sources are not operating at full capacity (most of the time), they can still provide 100% of standing energy needs.  That means for much of the time excess energy will be generated with no standard use.  That energy is essentially free, and can be applied to any process that can operate intermittently to good effect; ie, generating hydrogen from water, and now ethanol from water.  Because the energy is essentially free, convenience of storage may be the determining factor as to which of the two fuels is best to use (and certainly is for transport).

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  5. Tom

    Sounds like there is still a way to go, but promising.

    "We report an electrocatalyst which operates at room temperature and in water for the electroreduction of dissolved CO2 with high selectivity for ethanol. The overpotential (which might be lowered with the proper electrolyte, and by separating the hydrogen production to another catalyst) probably precludes economic viability for this catalyst, but the high selectivity for a 12-electron reaction suggests that nanostructured surfaces with multiple reactive sites in close proximity can yield novel reaction mechanisms. This suggests that the synergistic effect from interactions between Cu and CNS presents a novel strategy for designing highly selective electrocatalysts. While the entire reaction mechanism has not yet been elucidated, further details would be revealed from conversion of potential intermediates (e. g. CO, formic acid and acetaldehyde) in future work."

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  6. Good point Tom. Maybe a way to have an equitable climate and still be able to fly.

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