Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Post # 107: Salt Reactors, Kudzu, and Charcoal: The GHG Solution?

Source: Wikipedia, https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a0/KudzuLeaves.JPG
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Charbon_de_bois_rouge.jpg

Here's an interesting article by fellow blogger Rod Adams over at Atomic Insights, on the possibility of coupling molten salt (or salt cooled) reactor technology with the ancient art of making charcoal, to accomplish the direct removal of carbon from our atmosphere:

Sequestering Carbon Using Mass Quantities Of Small Scale Supertorrefaction Systems

The article discusses the ideas of Frank Shu.

Living in the southeastern U.S., I have to admit my first thought when I saw the article was whether one could "feed" Dr. Shu's liquid salt – charcoal production – carbon capture system with kudzu.  (I'm only halfway joking...)

Several years ago, I led a study at ORNL that looked into the coupling of small nuclear reactors with biorefineries.  Turns out there are a number of challenges.  Some technical.  Some economic.  Some logistical.  Some regulatory.  Many of the technical challenges have to do with inserting thermal energy from a (low temperature) water-cooled nuclear reactor into a highly optimized chemical flowsheet that is based on combustion of some of the biomass feedstock.

One of the logistical issues associated with such enterprises is the effort, energy, and cost required to grow and deliver the biomass feedstock to the reactor site.  Based on these factors, and the market value of the products produced, there's an optimal biomass farm acreage and a maximum distance from the reactor over which the biomass can be transported.

Leads me wonder... what would the economic model for a salt reactor – kudzu control – charcoal factory look like?

Could this be the solution to our carbon and kudzu challenges?

Something to ponder... In the mean time, does anyone know where I can rent a herd of goats for a week or two?

Just Thinking,