This previous weekend, a milestone was reached with hyperloop development: the first passengers traveled down the vacuum tube, reaching a speed on 107 mph. I find hyperloop to be exciting in part because it was lifted straight out of science fiction. I’m particularly interested because travel times to the coasts will have a reduction of at least 50% if all it does is eliminate layovers at airports. It also substitutes electricity for jet fuel, which can be provided by renewable or renewable methane and doesn’t require complex synthesis and refining steps.
Continuing on the theme I started in my curtailment post, this is a detailed look at a renewable chemical plant centered around a Sabatier reactor, which converts CO2 and hydrogen into methane. The idea here is a floating plant fed with power from wind turbines and solar panels that produce methane that can be used to displace fossil methane from natural gas. Plant Overview The plant consists of four main units, the electrolysis unit that splits water into hydrogen and oxygen, a distillation unit that extracts pure water from seawater to feed to the electrolysis unit, an liquid amine-based direct air capture unit to extract CO2 from the air, and a Sabatier reactor that turns hydrogen and carbon dioxide into methane.
Since I’ve had the issues with renewable energy on my mind recently, I’m going to fill some of this space with some of my thoughts on the matter. tl;dr I think that storing excess electricity as hydrocarbons and using existing storage and infrastructure is the best way to deal with large amounts of intermittent generation. Intermittent Renewable Energy There are some well-known issues with renewable energy. If you read the comments section of just about any article covering renewable energy on a right-leaning site, you’ve seen the phrase “The sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow”, referring to the intermittency of the solar and wind power generation.