Safety and Quality Benchmarks

In the competition, we will be following two lifecycles of energy carriers: over time (seasonal storage, locally) and over time and space (long-duration transfer, simulating the crossing of the ocean). These demonstrations will potentially include novel substances that are not yet certifiable.

What benchmarks would you recommend to ensure the safety and quality of solutions?

1. Carrier/Fuel Safety - One idea was to ensure that fuels are no more dangerous than the most hazardous fuel currently available on the market. What do you think of this approach, and which fuel would you recommend?

2. Carrier/Fuel Degradation – In the competition, we will ask for chemical characterization and then evaluate degradation post the storage and transfer demonstrations. What should be the maximum degradation percent to allow that applies to real-life scenarios?

Hi @akb, @carlbozzuto, @rayw, @b0bbybaldi, @agval, @Magneto, @gyyang, @clabeaux, @SPSBadwal, @skunsman, @marcelschreier, @bernardsaw, @Paul, @KeithDPatch, @Jesse_Nyokabi, @JohnBucknell - What are your thoughts on the safety and quality of solutions developed by the teams? Do you agree with any of the approaches listed in the discussion above?

@Shashi & @JessicaYoon
One additional aspect that springs to mind is the potential toxic impact of a leak on the environment. Robust containment systems will hopefully prevent leaks - but accidents do happen. (Thinking about previous disasters, e.g. oil slicks and the Bhopal chemical disaster.)

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@JessicaYoon & @Shashi any work with fuels is inherently dangerous and should require a risk assessment section. There is much work and material available from the existing fossil fuel industry so I would even suggest applying these ideas or at least have them as resources for any innovative projects regarding such chemical compositions.

Thanks @akb and @b0bbybaldi for sharing your thoughts.

@akb - We definitely agree that we need to take care about the toxic impact on the environment. Any thoughts on the quality aspect of the solution?

@b0bbybaldi - I wanted to further understand if there is any case study (may be fossil fuel related) available that we could be use to gain more insights.

Hi @cananacar, @jakeblanchard, @DriesRoobroeck, @Idda, @RenewableNexus, @mounir, @JSGardner, @fusuntut, @echomann, @PhilDeLuna - Would love to hear your thoughts on safety and quality of solutions developed by the teams? Do you agree with any of the approaches listed in the discussion above? Is there anything that we are missing?

@Shashi & @JessicaYoon sure there are tons of resources on this online.

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Conversion to renewable fuels is of great interest to me. I always like to look to Nature for examples. She seems to have a preference for fats and oils–safe and good energy density. The issues I would put at the top are (1) “well-to-wheel” cost and efficiency, and (2) carbon intensity. I think my third concern would would be land requirement–zero is best.

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Awesome! Thanks @b0bbybaldi for sharing these resources.

Thanks @ErnieRogers for sharing your thoughts. We would further like to understand if you can throw some lights on the safety and quality aspect of renewable fuels. What benchmarks could be used to ensure safety and quality of renewable fuels.

Hi @MarianoMM, @lixianfeng, @liangxu, @aphhuang, @AnthonyMburu, @Cemalbasaran, @Zita, @RicardoChacartegui, @paolo_mattavelli, @honghong, @crointel - Do you have any inputs to share on the safety and quality aspect of clean fuels. Do you agree with any of the approaches mentioned above.

What benchmarks could be used to ensure safety and quality of renewable fuels.

I agree with this. Fuel safety and degradation is of vital importance.

Okay, Shashi,
I thought it would be good to look at the whole picture if I could. It’s important to see where “fuels” fit in, so I thought to put down all forms of energy storage I could think of and we can see how all of them have concerns with “safety” and “quality.” I hope you don’t mind–it got pretty long.

Forms of Energy Storage—Safety and Quality Concerns


  1. Immediate hazards
    a. Invisible flame
    b. Flammability /ignition temperature, explosion
    c. Odorless and colorless
    c. Neurotoxin
  2. Short and long-term toxicity
  3. Does it or its energy source kill animals or plants?
  4. Life cycle environmental impact
    a. Mining
    b. Emissions
    c. Contamination of waterways or ground water
    d. Threat to biodiversity and species loss
  5. “Well-to-wheel” cost and efficiency
  6. Carbon intensity
  7. Land required for production–zero is best.
  8. Ease of storage
    a. Energy density vs. weight or volume
    b. Liquid or easily liquified gas
    c. Cost of storage infrastructure
    d. Stability in the presence of temperature, oxygen, organisms
  9. Usefulness
    a. Transportation
    b. Heating and cooling
    c. Grid response and stabilization
  10. Consumes waste as feedstock
    a. Waste oils, black liquors
    b. Celulosic waste, municipal waste
    c. Plastics to fuels
  11. Energy sources needed
    a. Low cost electricity
    b. Heat
    c. Sunshine
  12. Required plant size and cost
  13. Environmental factors
  14. Scale of opportunity—can it offer significant help?
  15. Future prospects for lowering barriers—research activity.
  16. Electrical
    a. Batteries
    b. Supercapacitors
    c. Supergrid balances loads through interconnection
  17. Chemical
    a. Fuels
    Liquids and blends—
    ethanol from a variety of feedstocks
    dimethyl ether (pressurized liquid)
    algal oils and derivatives
    renewable hydrocarbons
    Methane synthesized from CO2 or wastes
    H2 and H2+O2, stored at 5,000 psi (35 GPa)
    Aluminum, other metals?
    Celulosic waste
  18. Physical
    a. Hydro and pumped hydro
    b. Flywheels
    c. Tidal storage
    d. Other gravity storage
    e. Thermal storage—heat and cold

@ErnieRogers - Thanks for sharing these insights on the safety and quality concerns. We highly appreciate it.

Is there any existing / emerging model wherein we can try and overcome these concerns?

Thanking for sharing @ErnieRogers

Air transportation primarily involves jet fuel. There are ASTM standards (D7566 and D1655-09a) for jet fuel, as well as military standards. There are also safety regulations relative to the handling and storage of jet fuels. One approach to decarbonizing this sector is to utilize some form of gasification of other hydrocarbons or carbohydrates, combined with CCS. The resulting synthesis gas is thus reduced in carbon footprint. This synthesis gas can then be converted to liquid fuels using the Fischer Tropsch (FT) process. Currently, FT produced fuels are blended with conventional jet fuels in order to remain within the required specifications. In particular, density is an issue, as pure kerosene has a different density from jet fuel, which is primarily kerosene with other liquid hydrocarbons. The other key issue is cleanliness. Fuel nozzles in jet engines are basically atomizers with small holes. Any particles, waxes, greases, globules, etc. will serve to plug up the atomizers to cause engine failures. Engine failures are clearly a safety issue. The US Air Force has been looking at these kinds of fuels for some time.
Ocean going vessels can use diesel fuels. These can also be made using the FT process. There are ASTM specs for diesel fuels as well. These are somewhat easier to achieve. Again, gasifying biomass combined with CCS followed by FT can produce a diesel fuel that has a low carbon footprint.

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Hmmmm, a “model”–I was thinking we could start a spreadsheet–put the safety and quality items on one coordinate and all the fuels on the other, see how they check out.

Thanks @carlbozzuto for sharing these insights.