Examining the Economics of ICSABC

Casimir Systemics patent pending Insitu Conversion of Stranded Anachronistic Bio-Carbon (ICSABC) technology extracts energy from stranded bio-carbon, converts that energy to electricity and does so at a LCOE (Levelized Cost of Electricity) superior to modern large scale power plant production.

While maintaining an environmentally neutral impact, this technology will bring inexpensive electricity to nearly all.  In fact, Casimir’s technology does not require the massive infrastructure associated with conventional power plants and is less intrusive than a windmill or solar farm.  The footprint for Casimir’s process is extremely small and can be sited in an urban environment, underwater, or underground. If sited above ground, it would be a small two-story structure of under 1,000m2 (10,000 sq ft) per floor.

To appreciate the magnitude of this development it is necessary to establish a foundation related to both the energy carrier access and to the means of converting the energy carrier to electricity.

Fuels for Electrical Generation

It is generally accepted that the cleanest fuels for use in electrical generation is Hydrogen.  Unfortunately, Hydrogen is so reactive, that it is rare to find it freely available. It is locked away in water, organic matter, and a virtually endless series of compounds.  Most of these compounds are very far down the enthalpy incline and not practical for fuels. Worse storage of hydrogen presents a very expensive challenge that ends up costing, in terms of energy, over 60% of the energy stored in the Hydrogen itself. For this reason, the Hydrogen economy is not viable.  However, if the production and utility of the hydrogen is immediate, the dynamics are more favorable.

Fossil fuels are abundant with Carbon – loosely – bound to Hydrogen.

These hydrocarbons sourced from alcohol, oil, natural gas, methane, coal gas, or coal, contain within their bonds, a great deal of energy, Which, when reacted with oxygen is released as heat. However, this combustion is not environmentally clean, releasing a complex family of flue products.  Many of which are either toxic or environmentally detrimental. (i.e. carbon dioxide) Typically, the heat of combustion is used to either run a steam (Rankine Cycle) turbine tied to a generator, or to power a internal combustion engine (Carnot Cycle) as a motive power for an electric generator.

Energy Extraction

Getting the energy out of a fuel is an exhaustively studied discipline.  Typically, combustion processes, involve the evolution of heat so as to adiabatically expand a working fluid in a piston screw, or turbine blade.

The most efficient heat engine is based upon the Carnot cycle, consisting of two isothermal processes and two adiabatic processes. The Carnot cycle can be thought of as the most efficient heat engine cycle allowed by physical laws.

Formula I engines are the most efficient Carnot Cycle ones produced in the modern era. The Mercedes F1 team is usually at the technological forefront. Their latest 1,6-litre V6 turbo hybrid produces over 900 bhp and achieves more than 45 percent thermal efficiency. It can even harness heat energy in the exhaust downstream by sophisticated waste heat recovery system, thus achieving more than 50 percent efficiency.

To demonstrate how impressive this figure is, modern gasoline engines have usually a maximum thermal efficiency of 25% to 30%. That means a Formula I engine can extract almost twice as much useful energy from fuel than a conventional car engine!

Notwithstanding this impressive figure, It, unfortunately, does not translate into large scale energy production. All large power plants are “Turbine” power plants and are classed as Rankine Cycle systems. The efficiency of the Rankine cycle is limited by the high heat of vaporization of the working fluid (almost always, water). Also, unless the pressure and temperature reach super critical levels in the steam boiler, the temperature range the cycle can operate over is quite small: steam turbine entry temperatures are typically around 565 °C (1049 °F) and steam condenser temperatures are around 30 °C (86 °F). This gives a theoretical maximum Carnot efficiency for the steam turbine alone of about 63.8% compared with an actual overall thermal efficiency of up to 42% for a modern coal-fired power station. This low steam turbine entry temperature (compared to a gas turbine) is why the Rankine (steam) cycle is often used as a bottoming cycle to recover otherwise rejected heat in combined-cycle gas turbine power stations.

All in all, producing electricity from fuel sources by these cycles maxes out at 50%.  Yet this does not tell the whole story.  A great deal of energy is used in accessing, processing and transporting the fuel to the power plants.  In the case of coal, the mining of the coal and transportation to the plants accounts for an average loss of 8 percentage points.  For Oil, this number 14% loss, is greater, due to the processing of the oil prior to transportation. As to natural gas, its storage, dehydration, and transportation (including venting losses of the gas itself) amounts to a modest 6% loss.

Coupled with the Rankine, or Carnot losses and adding in the generator efficiency (averaging about 3% loss) the typical yield from fuel-to-grid measurements is about 40%.

Fuel Cells – an alternative for electricity production

An alternative means of making electricity from the potential energy locked in chemical bonds is a Fuel Cell.

A fuel cell is an electrochemical cell that converts the chemical energy from a fuel into electricity through an electrochemical reaction of hydrogen-containing fuel with oxygen or another oxidizing agent. Fuel cells are different from batteries in requiring a continuous source of fuel and oxygen (usually from air) to sustain the chemical reaction, whereas in a battery the chemical energy comes from chemicals already present in the battery. Fuel cells can produce electricity continuously for as long as fuel and oxygen are supplied. In addition to electricity, fuel cells produce water, heat and, depending on the fuel source, very small amounts of nitrogen dioxide and other emissions. The energy efficiency of a fuel cell is generally between 40–60%; however, if waste heat is captured in a cogeneration scheme, efficiencies up to 85% can be obtained.

Fuel cells are quiet, small and low maintenance.  Moreover, they, unlike powerplants, are deployable options that can be mass produced.

But, unlike Rankine or Carnot cycle systems, Fuel Cells require highly purified fuels. Pure fuels such as hydrogen, methane and the like, are very usable because they can be directly converted into electricity without the intermediate heat cycle.

Cost per kilowatt comparisons

Powerplants have an economic lifecycle that is governed by the cost-per-kilowatt. The comparisons are called “Levelized Cost of Electricity” or “LCOE”.

LCOE projected for 2020 using heuristic date from 2010 – 2016

As notated in the above chart (which uses averaged data from US, France, Japan, and Germany); Solar and Offshore Wind are outliers for the most expensive power production.  While Advanced Cycle Natural Gas, Onshore Wind, and Geothermal represent the other end of the cost spectrum.

The levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) is calculated by the following expression:

Notably absent from this chart are fuel cells:

This absence is attributable to the lack of commercial data for the deployment of fuel cells. The LCOE for Modern Fuel Cells using Natural Gas or Slurry Feed gasification reactors have a LCOE of 257. Most of the LCOE is based in the mining and its gasification from conventional gasifier installations. Recall that the extreme costs of gasification include the capital costs of the industrial gasifier and mining/processing.

Nevertheless, the same Modern Fuel Cells running on purified SunGas™ streams (H2, CH4, CO) produced from the patent-pending intellectual property of Casimir will have a LCOE of 65 making it superior to all other production means other than geothermal. But unlike geothermal, which is extremely site specific, Casimir’s technology can be placed nearly anywhere.

This referenced technology is a Cellularized Process for the In-situ Conversion, and Product Recovery of Stranded Anachronistic Bio-Carbon or “ICSABC” which produces purified SunGas™ streams directly from the underground stranded bio-carbon deposit.

What is SunGas™

SunGas™(Syngas), or synthesis gas, is a fuel gas mixture consisting primarily of hydrogen, carbon monoxide, methane and other gasses.  SunGas™ may be produced from most organic materials.  The following table is relevant to results from typical above ground coal gasification.

Coal gasification from sub-bituminous feed stock  Slurry Feed – Data
Concentration Typical
Hydrogen, % 38%
Carbon Dioxide, % 12%
Carbon Monoxide, % 46%
Methane, % 4%
Hydrogen Sulfide, ppmv 106
Carbonyl Sulfide, ppmv 24
Heat of Combustion, Btu/sef (HHV) 280

 

SunGas™ produced through conventional Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) is similar but generally has a higher percentage of Methane.

The SunGas™ name is derived from its use as intermediates in creating synthetic natural gas (SNG) and for producing ammonia or methanol. SunGas™ is usually a product of gasification and the main application is electricity generation. SunGas™ is combustible and often used as a fuel of internal combustion engines. It has less than half the energy density of natural gas at standard temperature and pressure.  This is due to the very low density of Hydrogen.

SunGas™ can be produced from many sources, including natural gas, coal, biomass, or virtually any hydrocarbon feedstock, by reaction with steam (steam reforming), carbon dioxide (dry reforming) or oxygen (partial oxidation). SunGas™ is a crucial intermediate resource for production of hydrogen, ammonia, methanol, and synthetic hydrocarbon fuels. SunGas™ is also used as an intermediate in producing synthetic petroleum for use as a fuel or lubricant via the Fischer–Tropsch process and previously the Mobil methanol to gasoline process.