Talk:Carbon-neutral fuel

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Comments, Sept, 2012[edit]

The article is highly topical but fraught with risks for political correctness and unsound estimates. So we should aim to do a good job. So we have a good start to work with. One thing is to get the references upgraded per WP:SECONDARY (which has recently been rediscussed here). The article is reliant on US government sources (esp. Naval Rsch Labs), which in my view are not near the pinnacle of scholarship or objectivity. Snarky comments aside, we probably should broaden that aspect. The article would be stronger if it relied less on assertions of fact (supported by US government rschers often) and used terms such as "estimated" or "proposed" vs "is".--Smokefoot (talk) 14:28, 8 September 2012 (UTC)

I sourced the article from seven peer reviewed literature reviews in academic journals from international authors (all of which are marked "(Review.)" in the references) and one APS peer reviewed research report. There are some additional peer reviewed journal articles to show the automobile exaust capture concept, for example, or the most recent seawater extraction work. The government reports were mostly used in the History section, but I see you deleted almost all of them. Is that proper, when a source is being used merely to explain that work had taken place? I see you added the tags and then seemed to address them. Are there any remaining issues with the article as it exists at present? —Cupco 18:16, 8 September 2012 (UTC)
Well we are here to debate and help make this article even stronger. You certainly have the rights to revert any changes or be outraged, enlightened, or whatever. Part of the process. IMHO, MS (or ordinarily even PhD) theses are completely unacceptable - they dont lend credibility to anything - internal documents. And I dont think that governmental memoranda, if I am reading your sources correctly, are very convincing. Overall, my advice is to make the language in the article more circumspect if you seek to enhance its authority. Thanks for leaving a note. --Smokefoot (talk) 19:10, 8 September 2012 (UTC)
I do think your language changes made a good improvement to the article. I don't have anything to do with the topic (I'm not a chemist and I don't work in the energy industry) so I realize I was over-enthusiastic. I just wish we could add those theses back into the history section, not to rely on them for any facts, but only to show that MIT and the Navy were looking at the subject in the 1970s and 80s. Isn't there some way we can phrase that in a way that doesn't suggest we are relying on that work for any information other than the fact it exists? The only international sources I can find from the same era is from a Chilean Navy officer, and is also a Master's thesis. —Cupco 19:22, 8 September 2012 (UTC)
Well thanks for not being really angry, because I realize that my comments verged on arrogance and this electronic venue seems to make folks assume we are short-tempered twits. At the risk of making myself give too much advice, I will say that you are putting too much emphasis on including groups that lend the aura of authority - MIT and the US Navy. Those sources might impress the public (and they are institutions that house many good scientists), but the science types that lurk around these pages are very skeptical of invoking authority by association. The best authority is highly cited review or book produced from decorated scientists and published by renown publishing houses. I gotta run. More later. --Smokefoot (talk) 19:28, 8 September 2012 (UTC)
On second thought, I agree. The references in http://www.fischer-tropsch.org/DOE/DOE_reports/65454/bnl_65454.pdf (p. 8, references 1 and 7 in particular) which I just now found look like they might have some more appropriate materials for 1980s and 90s in the History section. So if we keep your existing deletions, are there any remaining issues regarding the tag at the top of the article at present? —Cupco 19:38, 8 September 2012 (UTC)
I updated the History section with a report cited there. I also took the liberty of replacing the citations tag with a globalization tag, based on the discussion above. If there are remaining references issues, please let me know and I will do my best to address them. I agree that there is a huge need to find international sources, and while the journal article reviews since 2005 are from international authors, there seem to be some planned demonstration projects in Europe which I am only now finding with the help of Google Translate. —Cupco 21:10, 8 September 2012 (UTC)
One thing to bear in my, not that you believe this probably.... you do not own or control this article (Wikipedia:Ownership of articles). So people who know the associated technology or understand what a good reference looks like (or are just in the mood for editing) might edit. Thanks again for the discussion, --Smokefoot (talk) 01:25, 9 September 2012 (UTC)
I hope they do! As I said, I think you've already made some very substantial improvements. I hope in particular you can help me find some good European sources because there are apparently some projects planned but all their sources are corporate position presentations, roughly of the same quality as [1]. —Cupco 01:55, 9 September 2012 (UTC)

Stuttgart ZSW/Fraunhofer plant[edit]

...In particular, can you find the authoritative sources for http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/05/06/german_synthetic_natural_gas/ ? The link at the bottom of http://www.fraunhofer.de/en/press/research-news/2010/04/green-electricity-storage-gas.html is broken. —Cupco 02:00, 9 September 2012 (UTC)

Found it![2] -- scheduled to go online any day now.[3] Looks like Germany will be first with anything larger than laboratory scale. —Cupco 15:38, 9 September 2012 (UTC)

[4] dated May 2010 says "A demonstration system built on behalf of Solar Fuel in Stuttgart is already operating successfully. By 2012, a substantially larger system – in the double-digit megawatt range – is planned to be launched.... Starting in 2012, they intend to launch a system with a capacity of approximately 10 megawatt." —Cupco 00:06, 10 September 2012 (UTC)

Kiverdi[edit]

http://www.kiverdi.com is down for me at the moment, but they are apparently building a demonstration plant in Berkeley, California. I don't know the energy, but I do know that they are intending to produce both petroleum replacements and food oil replacements such as synthetic palm kernel oil replacements from power plant flue gases. (!) Press release.Cupco 00:42, 11 September 2012 (UTC)

Duplication of article elsewhere[edit]

Most of this article also appears at Alternative fuels and Renewable energy. Why is this duplication necessary? Johnfos (talk) 06:14, 13 September 2012 (UTC)

The four summary paragraphs do not constitute a majority of this text. See WP:SUMMARY. The detail on carbon recovery and off-peak wind pricing is essential to understand the dynamics of the pricing involved. I should just as soon ask why pricing information is not included for the other topics in those articles. Your reliance on Reuters to support the idea that photovoltaic power will halve in price in six months is not supported by peer-reviewed sources. If you are unhappy that someone has taken the time and effort to support all the economic facts on a topic you missed, then perhaps it would be best to improve the sourcing for the few facts you do include before asking that others remove those that they have supplied. —Cupco 08:13, 13 September 2012 (UTC)
I notice there is also major duplication at Energy storage#Synthetic hydrocarbon fuel, and perhaps elsewhere. I have never seen such extensive repetition and duplication on WP before. WP:Summary Style normally only involves the duplication of the lead section (in this case two paragraphs) with a link to the main article for further information. If your pricing info is so important why does it not appear in the lead, which should be a summary of important points in the article. Johnfos (talk) 00:29, 14 September 2012 (UTC)
Because you insisted that the lead section be shortened even though Wikipedia:Lead#Length says three paragraphs is fine for a 21 KB article. —Cupco 02:56, 14 September 2012 (UTC)
What matters here is the readable prose length, which is much shorter than 21k in this case. So the Lead needs to be re-written, and shortened, while still incorporating the main points of the article. Johnfos (talk) 06:27, 14 September 2012 (UTC)
There is no mention of readable prose length in that guideline. It is used in the DYK criteria only, as far as I can tell. Can you point to an example of anyone using prose bytes instead of the byte count which appears in article history for WP:LEAD#Length bytes?
If you can find peer-reviewed sources supporting Reuters' claims about the rate at which photovoltaic cell prices are expected to fall and edit Renewable energy to address that issue and the carbon footprint of biofuels due to fallow fields and agricultural petroleum fuel and fertilizer use, then I will gladly shorten the lead here. Is there any reason to think that those issues do not represent substantial problems representing great disservice to the readers relative to concerns about summary length? —Cupco 12:47, 14 September 2012 (UTC)
Regarding WP:LEAD, obviously "characters" refers to prose not to bytes. That has been the general understanding and it wouldn't make sense otherwise. --ELEKHHT 23:17, 14 September 2012 (UTC)
On the contrary, it's relatively difficult to derive prose length and there are no instructions for doing so in that guideline, in contrast to the DYK instructions. Can you point to any instance where the lead length guideline was applied based on anything other than the size reported by the history tab elsewhere? —Cupco 02:08, 15 September 2012 (UTC)
All instances I encountered, including all my GA reviews. Size in the history tab would include image galleries, external links, see also sections, infoboxes, references, etc. - all irrelevant in terms of lead length. There are instructions at WP:LEAD#Length if you follow the first wikilink to Wikipedia:Article size and look under the heading "Measuring readable prose size". A more rudimentary way is to copy-paste the article into a text processing software. --ELEKHHT 23:59, 16 September 2012 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Be that as it may, three introductory paragraphs would still be acceptable for the prose length here, but that has already been reduced to two, so I don't see why that is an issue. Wikipedia:Summary Style#Basic technique says that summary sections are "usually several good-sized paragraphs long" (emphasis added.) —Cupco 00:20, 17 September 2012 (UTC)

Not sure how did you arrive to that conclusion. The prose size is 5,671 characters (including lead), while the guideline indicates "Fewer than 15,000 characters > One or two paragraphs". Currently the lead is about a quarter of the article. --ELEKHHT 00:37, 17 September 2012 (UTC)
I stand corrected, but again, the intro is two paragraphs and has been since immediately after that issue was initially raised. I suggest that the problems I have identified at Talk:Renewable energy are far more important than the issues raised in this thread. —Cupco 01:18, 17 September 2012 (UTC)

Operational commercial projects?[edit]

I understand there are some demonstration projects. But from reading the article, it is not entirely clear to me what commercial projects have been completed and are operating successfully. Please elaborate, with reliable sources. Thanks. Johnfos (talk) 06:14, 13 September 2012 (UTC)

Stuttgart only, at present, since 2010 at 250 kilowatts. The sources are in the article. —Cupco 08:14, 13 September 2012 (UTC)

Audi[edit]

Audi is building a 1,000 tonne/year synthetic methane plant in Werlte, Germany.[5][6]Cupco 03:18, 14 September 2012 (UTC)

Removed fragment with wrong calculation[edit]

I removed this fragment:

The Navy's estimate that 100 megawatts can produce 41,000 gallons of fuel per day[1] indicates that terrestrial production from wind power would cost less than $1 per gallon.[citation needed]

This calculation is wrong, since it apparently uses the cost per MW of nameplate capacity for wind, while the linked Navy slides talk about 100 MW of constant power (100% capacity factor). This is wrong, because capacity factors for wind are typically below 30%. When this calculation is done properly using the levelized cost of wind power as given on the Cost of electricity by source page, I get $5.66 per gallon: 96.8 $/MWh * (100 MW * 24 h) / 41000 gal = 5.66 $/gal.

Since this calculation also uses the unrealistic assumption that electricity is the only cost, I think it's best to remove it entirely. --Tweenk (talk) 00:11, 3 December 2012 (UTC)

Confusion among title, summary, and contents[edit]

"Carbon neutral fuels" should logically include biofuels and renewably produced hydrogen, which are not currently covered. It should probably not include ammonia, which is covered. Ammonia can theoretically be used as a fuel, but is not (AFAIK) currently used commercially as such; rather, it is used for fertilizer or as a chemical feedstock. It may or may not be carbon neutral, depending on how the hydrogen is produced.

The article also seems to assume that "carbon neutral fuels" is synonymous with "carbon capture and utilization". (A search on "carbon capture and utilization" lands on this article.) That's incorrect. Most of the article's contents concern synthetic hydrocarbon fuels produced from captured CO2 and renewably produced hydrogen. Synthetic hydrocarbons of that class are an important subclass of carbon neutral fuels, but the first sentence in the "production" section incorrectly defines carbon neutral fuels as synthetic hydrocarbons. That section also states, misleadingly, that dimethyl ether is made from methane, and that synthetic hydrocarbons are produced at temperatures or 200 to 300 degrees C. Dimethyl ether can be produced from methane; commercial production in fact normally starts with natural gas. But that process is not carbon neutral. When DME is produced from CO2 and hydrogen as a carbon-neutral fuel, the process conditions are specifically designed to minimize the production of methane. Any methane produced must be recycled, and reduces the process yield of DME. As to temperatures used in synthesis, temperature depends on the intended product and the catalyst employed, but is more often in the range 300 - 450 degrees C for established processes. Processes and catalysts that can give good yields at lower temperatures are subjects of research.

The section on "Sources of carbon for recycling", begins with a flat statement that "The most economical source of carbon for recycling into fuel is flue-gas emissions from fossil-fuel combustion where it can be obtained for about USD $7.50 per ton". That's wrong on several counts. The most economical source is very much dependent on the respective locations of the source and the synthesis plant. The most economical source will often be a natural gas field, or an ethanol production plant. The CO2 content in the raw gas from a natural gas well could be as low as 10% to has high as 80%; whatever the content, the operator must remove most of it for the gas to meet spec for pipeline distribution. The removed CO2 is currently vented to the atmosphere in almost all cases. The same is true for the CO2 produced in fermentation of ethanol. Operators would be happy to recoup whatever cost they could by selling it for fuel synthesis. In countries or states that tax CO2 emissions, the operator will pay a CO2 recycler to accept the CO2 so as to avoid the tax liability. That's the case, for example, in British Columbia, where Blue Fuel Energy is building a methanol synthesis plant.Agnostic Engineer (talk) 08:16, 29 March 2013 (UTC)

Totally agree, much clutter and confusion, and have tagged the article for {factual accuracy} and {rewrite}. Johnfos (talk) 12:50, 31 March 2013 (UTC)
Agnostic Engineer is quite right, by the content of the lead you don't know if this article is about synthetic fuels or carbon capture. The lead needs a better description of the definition, which does not reflects the sources provide, though, these sources are mixing the subjects of of synthetic fuels as carbon neutral fuels with carbon capture.--Mariordo (talk) 20:05, 31 March 2013 (UTC)
Why is there no discussion about this at Talk:Alternative fuel? --THE FOUNDERS INTENT PRAISE 12:30, 2 April 2013 (UTC)
Although the article is fairly good I do agree that there should be a clear unambiguous demarcation line drawn between 'carbon neutral' fuels manufactured with a carbon backbone derived from chimney flue gas at a power plant e.g carbon capture and storage and truly carbon neutral fuels that is, fuels with carbon sourced from within the biosphere already e.g carbon that's already in sea water and biomass etc. Recycling flue gas pollution is sure better than just polluting it straight away but as the synthetic fuels produced from flue gas are intended to be eventually burnt themselves its a big stretch to call recycling flue gas as carbon neutral as its anything but. Its the very same pro-fossil fuel disinformation I encountered in low carbon power were editors were claiming fossil gas is 'low carbon'.
Boundarylayer (talk) 20:12, 22 April 2013 (UTC)
Do you understand the difference between carbon additive, carbon neutral, and carbon negative? Why would the sources' peer reviewers allow them to use the terms carbon neutral and carbon negative if they actually weren't? If you can't articulate the exact mistake you think they've made, you're probably not going to convince me that you know what you're talking about. Pointer wrangler (talk) 01:43, 28 May 2013 (UTC)

Question: Are biomass and biofuels really carbon neutral? Yeah for biomass there is CO2 uptake during photosynthesis but what about the nutrients that get sucked up from the ground? When the biomass is burned those ground nutrients go into the air? Brian Everlasting (talk) 04:25, 26 June 2013 (UTC)

Brazilian sugarcane is the only truly carbon neutral biofuel. All the others release net carbon, not because of ground nutrients, but from the use of fuel in planting, irrigation, pesticides and application, fertilizer and application, and harvesting. They also result in less carbon fixation from photosynthesis because the fields are barren after harvesting. Pointer wrangler (talk) 17:48, 5 July 2013 (UTC)

External cost spreadsheet link[edit]

Why does the bot think that http://bravenewclimate.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/synfuel-cost-model.xlsx (which I found while trying to replace broken links) is not allowed? Pointer wrangler (talk) 19:37, 6 July 2013 (UTC)

Intro Rewrite Needed[edit]

Something like:

"Carbon neutral fuel is produced from renewable or nuclear energy used to hydrogenate waste carbon dioxide recycled from power plant flue exhaust gas or derived from carbonic acid in seawater."

would be much better. This is still misleading though because many forms of renewable energy are not carbon neutral. Only wind, solar, and hydro are carbon neutral. Some experts argue that nuclear is not carbon neutral either. See this article. Brian Everlasting (talk) 23:38, 6 July 2013 (UTC)

I agree. Would "sustainable or nuclear" work better? Pointer wrangler (talk) 22:47, 7 July 2013 (UTC)

Ammonia[edit]

Ammonia is used as an efficient energy storage alternative. See e.g. http://www.intpowertechcorp.com/ASME-IMECE-12-87097-FINAL-30Jul12-C.pdf There was a mention of ammonia but I am not sure it can be considered a fuel in the traditional sense because it requires a specialized fuel cell (or conversion to hydrogen) to utilize. 64.134.21.2 (talk) 22:18, 8 September 2013 (UTC)

I replaced this with the reference given, but I wonder if we shouldn't have sources for each type of fuel in the parenthetical list of them. In any case, such references appear for most of them in the first paragraph, and for all of them later in the article, so I don't see any real problem.... Tim AFS (talk) 18:44, 20 September 2013 (UTC)


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