Reversing Global Warming The Role of Technology Development

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This section discusses a series of techniques used to reduce industrial C02. Besides emitting a toxic C02 when burned, fossil fuels have greater properties of the carbon isotope 13C, which makes them not likely to be readily absorbed by plants. This leads to altering the characteristic recycle period of carbon dioxide, causing delays that result in an increase of the total C02 in the atmosphere.

Billions of people in the world use traditional stoves, fueled by biomass, for their cooking and space-heating requirement. It is widely held that wood burning stoves emit more pollution into the atmosphere compared to oil and natural gas burning stoves. However, a small intervention in wood burning stoves would result in the emission of natural COz, which is essential for natural processes. A new technique has been developed to achieve zero waste in such technologies. This line of development would have a great impact on technological development in industrial sectors and other sectors, as well.

Figure 7.13 is a sawdust-packed cook-stove developed by Khan et al. (2006). This is a highly efficient clay stove that has no waste. Even though not all by-products are captured and not all value is added, this stove is still considered to be a zero waste stove because it produces only organic gases that are readily absorbed by the environment when producing useful final products. This has a special oil-water trapping mechanism that captures the particulates of

Place for cooking pot

Saw dust -

Clay/mud

Place for cooking pot

Saw dust -

Clay/mud

Oil and water input

Oil layer (particles trapped in oil layer)

Water fayer (particles trapped >n water layer)

Particles removal Exhoust control valve

Ignition starter and temperature control valve

Figure 7.13 Sawdust packed stove (after Khan et al. 2006).

SmoKe outlet

Oil and water input

Oil layer (particles trapped in oil layer)

Water fayer (particles trapped >n water layer)

Particles removal Exhoust control valve

Ignition starter and temperature control valve

Figure 7.13 Sawdust packed stove (after Khan et al. 2006).

incomplete combustion in an oil water mixture. A heat exchanger is designed to trap the heat from the flue gas that is utilized for water heating. As all the particulates are trapped, the C02 emitted is a clean and natural C02 that is an essential feedstock for plant photosynthesis. The particulates trapped may be used as paint material. This can also be an excellent source of nanomaterial for industrial application. This technology offers solutions for the production of a natural form of COz that is readily synthesized by plants. The other emissions, such as methane and oxides of nitrogen, are not harmful, unlike those emitted from petroleum based fuels.

The production of green bio-diesel and bio-ethanol discussed earlier is a key element in the production of natural C02. Only non-toxic chemicals and catalysts are used in the processes to produce biodiesel and bio-ethanol. Even the benzene, NOx, methane, and other emissions are not harmful as there are no toxic chemicals involved during the production. These fuels are derived from renewable sources such as plants and vegetables. Plants and vegetables are essential components of natural food cycles for both the plant and animal kingdoms. It has been reported that petroleum fuels will be exhausted within the next few decades, whereas renewable biofuel sources continue for infinite time. These biofuels could replace all petroleum fuels, provided that the biomass farming is planned in a sustainable way. Replacing the petroleum fuels with clean biofuels in a sustainable way can eventually lead to the reversal of global warming. This reversal could be accelerated if the processing of fossil fuels became non-toxic by avoiding the use of toxic additives (Khan and Islam 2006; Al Darby et al. 2002). Recent studies indicate that crude oil refining could be avoided altogether by modifying the design of the combustion engine (Vafaai 2006).

Energy systems are classified based on their global efficiencies. According to Farzana and Islam (2006), global efficiency should be one of the major indicators considered while selecting the technology for any energy system. For instance, a conventional, oil-heated steam turbine used for electricity production has a global efficiency of approximately 16%. For combined heat and power turbines, the global efficiency is approximately 18%. Similarly, the global efficiency of a coal-fired power system is approximately 15%, for hydropower systems it is 43%, from biomass to electricity conversion it is 13%, and nuclear power plants have a global efficiency of approximately 5%. The environmental cost due to these technologies has not been added up yet, which would further reduce the global efficiency of these technologies. The solar photovoltaic conversion efficiency is reported to be around 15% (Islam et al. 2006). This system also uses toxic batteries and synthetic silicon cells, which include toxic heavy metals inside solar cells. Their efficiency starts decreasing when we store them in the batteries. The efficiency of a battery itself is not very high, and batteries contain toxic compounds inside. The inert gas-filled tubes radiate very toxic light. 15% global efficiency of a system means that for every 100 units of energy produced, 85% of the energy is lost in the process. This indicates that the prevailing technologies have a very high waste generation, and most of these systems produce toxic COz that causes global warming. Moreover, the C02 emissions from embodied energy associated with all the massive equipment production and manufacturing is also very high.

Direct application of solar energy for heating has the highest efficiency. Solar energy is a free source and has no environmental impact. Similarly, wood combustion in a simple stove also has a very high global efficiency due to the use of by-products and waste heat. The C02 from wood combustion is also an essential ingredient for maintaining the photosynthesis process in plants. The energy systems that have highest efficiency have the lowest environmental impacts.

Considering the long term impacts of various energy systems, C02 emissions from the combustion of oil and gas, coal, embodied energy, and associated COz emission for hydropower and photovoltaic systems have been ranked based on the quality of C02. Similarly, C02 emissions from geothermal energy and biomass burning have also been ranked. Based on this ranking, natural C02, which does not contribute to global warming, is deducted from the industrial C02, which does contribute to global warming.

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