Breakthroughs to Decarbonize and Increase Reliance on Electricity

During our discussion on barriers to decarbonize and increase reliance on electricity and meeting with Brain Trust members, we came across the following two major constraints;

  • Existing infrastructure will remain in service for decades, lacking the ability to accommodate increased generation and share of renewable resources.

  • New infrastructure and resources are needed to facilitate decarbonization and increased reliance on electricity.

What do you think are some of the breakthroughs we can expect by 2040, which could facilitate decarbonization and increased reliance on electricity.

Hi @Herringh, @naorgk and @clabeaux - In your view what emerging breakthroughs could overcome the barriers mentioned above and help us facilitate decarbonization and increased reliance on electricity by 2040?

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A major breakthrough would be a solar powered electrolyzing system that would be scalable and affordable to repurpose much of the existing commercial gas station infrastructure for hydrogen refueling. The biggest hurdle to rolling out hydrogen powered vehicles to mass market is the lack of fueling stations.

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Using our patented Combined Remediation Biomass and Bio-Product Production (CRBBP) Process, one plants and then multi-tasks special Bio-Crops, to cost-effectively do good things, like capturing large amounts of CO 2, remediating air, soil and water, and then making circular economy bio-products from the harvested material. We create cost-effective green infrastructure, which could facilitate decarbonization and increased reliance on electricity.

Our CRBBP Process’ multi-tasking features share the cost of growing the Bio-Crops across multiple tasks, making the cost of each task, including CO 2 capture, the remediation of air, soil and water, and then the making circular economy bio-products, lower than it would have been, if the Bio-Crops were grown for a single purpose.

Demonstrating traction for our CRBBP Process, ATP-MD, LLC, my Maryland operating affiliate, with help from the Exelon Foundation’s Climate Change Investment Initiative, is commercializing an urban application of our CRBBP Process, in Baltimore.

See: https://www.exelonfoundation.org/environment.html.

In Baltimore, we expect to be extracting almost 4 times the atmospheric CO 2, as an equal acreage of trees, when Biomass Sorghum is planted outdoors, to remediate brownfield sites, and roughly 9 times as much, when Biomass Sorghum is planted in our proposed Vertical Bio-Crop Farms (VBF’s), to capture CO 2 from the flue gasses of large emitters.

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Hi,

Im from Malaysia, a device that disbonds gases such as CO2 and other GHGs such as CO, NOX etc. Scalable across industry’s, uses very little energy and works on most gases instantaneously. We have a prototype ready and working, so past POC stage but needs more works and refinements.

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There are several ways to decarbonise much of our economy, some of which use tweaks to existing industrial processes. For instance, methane from biogas or natural gas can be split by plasma torches powered by renewable energy into emissions-free blue-green hydrogen and a variety of nanocarbon products. Splitting methane is currently better than splitting water by electrolysis because the nanocarbon co-product is potentially far more valuable than oxygen, and thus would probably make the blue-green hydrogen cheaper than the green hydrogen generated by electrolysis. In turn, this should allow us a faster path to an economy based on electrification and hydrogen. Furthermore, making use of existing and highly-efficient, long distance (up to ~10,000km) high voltage direct current (HVDC) powerline transmission technology, existing renewable energy technologies, and existing methods of transporting methane (gas pipelines and LNG shipping), we do not have to develop so much new infrastructure, such as hydrogen pipelines, liquid hydrogen carriers, and storage systems.
Separation of the CO2 content from natural gas or point-source, stationary flue gas can probably be done without special chemicals, heating or excessive pressure, simply by using recyclable water and monodisperse (same-sized) microbubbles generated by energy-efficient fluidic oscillators in a process that resembles the reverse of opening up a can of soda water. It works because CO2 is far more soluble in lightly pressurised water than is either methane or most other flue gases. To get back ~94% pure CO2 is simply a matter of reducing the pressure over the now-separated, carbonated water - like opening the soda water can in a confined space.
The CO2 produced could then be used in hothouses, for other industrial purposes, or be bacterially fermented with some of the blue-green hydrogen to produce weather and land independent, high-protein stockfeed.
Some of the carbon gas product deriving from HiiROC’s plasma torches might be condensed to form turbostratic graphene from which high-energy density supercapacitors (supercapps) might be made that could, in time, replace large chemical batteries for no-rare-metal, propulsive use in cars, trucks, trains, ships and possibly even aircraft, using power release systems such as those from Kilowatt Labs.

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Thanks @markjayct, @josephjjames, @boktan and @sev for sharing these interesting solutions. Great ideas.

Hi @Jesse_Nyokabi, @mattymatt, @CO2Cap_SysEng - In your view what emerging breakthrough solutions could help us facilitate decarbonization and increased reliance on electricity by 2040?

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I think we need to reframe the discussion to be community and Nature based. This can address both of the listed concerns in several ways, which also reducing carbon and electrifying.

A big concern is heat, which must be addressed, especially in cities, not by using heat pumps and installing a/c (of course that will occur), but by increasing access to Nature and cooler community spaces that use good SRI, permeable ground covers, water features, and shade structures. So much of our streetscapes can accomplish this if the installations happen when sidewalks, roads, and hardscape plazas are repaired. Include in this outdoor access more and longer outdoor dining, and flexile workspaces embracing outdoors.

  1. This will help us congregate safely outdoors for more of the year, and will start to expand our thermal comfort ranges, which need expanding if we are to survive. We cannot just cool everything (it is tremendously energy intensive and unsustainable).
  2. And these installations and improvement can happen within existing cities, and will take the focus off of tech solutions a bit, reducing costs while improving equitable access and respect for Nature.

If we take this further, we can start to transition buildings to use night flush strategies in cities/communities where the evenings and nights are cooler.

  1. this reduces electricity burden, though there will be fan needs,
  2. this ensures buildings have an ability to ventilate well which can help in times of potential future pandemics.

Finally, we need to start looking at heating and cooling beyond single building applications. I do not know, yet, how to do this well, and this would have to be done at many scales and in many ways, and likely there is a slightly different approach in each situation, but we need to start thinking this way if we are to get to the reductions we need. This is optimizing…instead of just making something (bad) efficient.

These ideas will work in NYC and other similar climated cities, I fully acknowledge this cannot happen in severely warm climates and places where we’ve created habitation in an unfriendly dessert or area with tropical humid heat.

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Thanks @Greenduck for sharing these insights.

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Welcome @gbarrow to the XPRIZE Community!
Curious to know your thoughts on emerging breakthrough solutions that could help us facilitate decarbonization and increased reliance on electricity by 2040.

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My pleasure. I think the focus of Xprize work in particular needs to broaden to look not only at systemic changes, but interconnected wins and impacts. I say co-benefits, others are using the term Multisolving. If we can build that awareness of the multiple benefits of specific actions, and then focus to amplify those co-benefits, we can get where we need to go…

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There are five basic elements involved in achieving deep decarbonization of the energy system:

  1. employ energy efficiency to the maximum degree in order to reduce the energy needs that have to be met.
  2. decarbonize the electricity supply.
  3. push clean electricity into other sectors.
  4. use zero-carbon fuels for the remaining areas that cannot be effectively electrified.
  5. use carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) and carbon dioxide removal (CDR) for areas where fossil fuels are still needed and for achieving negative emissions.
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