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Interesting Data On Hourly Wind Energy Production On the ISO New England Grid, 2019.

The data in this post will come from a spreadsheet down loaded from the ISO New England Operations web page, ISO New England being the name of the electrical grid that powers the New England states, including Vermont. The spreadsheet can be found here:New England Iso Operations Reports

The data to which I will refer for the title data is the 2019 hourly wind data spreadsheet, which is current up to the end of June of this year. I have been also working with other spreadsheets from the ISO website, and will produce data from them here without direct reference to particular sheets.

Recently, in one of the political threads here, I argued that the climate policies of Bernie Sanders, as enacted where he lives, in Vermont, helped to make climate change worse, not better.

Many of my fellow Democrats agree with these policies which is unfortunate; the goal of controlling the government should not be merely to win elections and hold power, but rather to govern well, to make our country safe, and sustainable for future generations.

We must not miss this; it is our responsibility as human beings, at least if we embrace "the better angels of our natures," to do something other than posturing and embracing wishful thinking, these being the same as doing nothing.

My claim had to do with his cheering for the closure of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant, which shut in 2014 after 42 years of operation without a single loss of life. Vermont Yankee was a small nuclear plant, with a rated power of 620 MWe, but despite being small, it was able to produce around 70% of all the electricity consumed in the State of Vermont in a single building in a typical year. The environmental attractiveness of this should be obvious, but isn't, because ignorant rhetoric easily trumps reality in the times in which we live, a regrettable fact. We are all, as a species, dumbing down in times we desperately need to smarten up.

In the period between 2000 and 2014, nuclear power plants in New England the average continuous power produced (based on yearly data processed from other spreadsheets on the ISO NE website) was 4067.1 MW, and the standard deviation was 158.1 MW.

Immediately after the closure of Vermont Yankee, nuclear power production in New England as a whole fell, in 2015, to 3637 MW of average continuous power, an immediate loss of 429 MW of average continuous power.

Of course, whenever opponents of nuclear energy open their mouths, they engage in a big lie which has been demonstrably false since the earliest days of rote and ignorant opposition to nuclear energy, which is that whenever a nuclear power plant is shut it will be replaced by so called "renewable energy."

In New England, if one studies ISO NE data, the largest, by far, other than hydroelectricity, source of so called "renewable energy" to produce electricity is the combustion of wood and garbage. (The combustion of biomass (and garbage) is responsible for slightly less than half of the 7 million air pollution deaths that occur each year on this planet.) In 2015, for example, this type of combustion produced in all of New England 4155 GW-hr (a unit of energy, not power) which translates into average continuous power of 474 MW of power. In 2014, the same figures were 3956 GW-hr (a unit of energy, not power) which translates into average continuous power of 452 MW of power. Thus the increase in this form of so called "renewable energy" in terms of average continuous power from 2014 to 2015 was 22 MW. This increase, by the way, surely killed people with its waste, aka "air pollution."

The second largest form other than hydroelectricity of so called renewable energy in New England is wind power, which is strangely popular among ersatz self described "environmentalists" on our side of the aisle, even though, regarding myself as environmentalist as well, I question whether tearing up pristine wilderness and converting them into industrial parks serviced by huge trucks for wind farms is actually an "environmentalist" attitude.

In 2014, wind power in all of New England - not just Vermont - produced 1929 GW-hr of energy, which translates to an average continuous power of 220 MW.

In 2015, wind power in all of New England - not just Vermont - produced 2157 GW-hr of energy, which translates to an average continuous power of 246 MW, an increase of 26 MW.

Now let's turn to the hourly data for 2019, which is about as up to date as you can get. I have downloaded the spreadsheet and using Excel functions, did some calculations. In 2019, wind power, produced as average continuous power calculated from the hourly as opposed to the annual figures, 438 MW.

This does not tell the whole story however, since it graphically reflects the reliability of wind power, which is the time distribution of the availability of wind power. The highest hourly average continuous power for wind power was 1109 MW, which occurred on March 19th of this year during the hour ending at 6 pm. The lowest hourly average continuous power for wind power was on June 9th of this year in the hour ending at 9 am. when all the wind turbines in New England produced 7.21 MW.

Unsurprisingly for the 4343 hours recorded, about half (52.7%) produced less than the average continuous power for the year as a whole as determined from hourly data, but more telling is that for 10.5% of the hours recorded (457) hours wind power produced less than 100 MW of electricity and for 25.5% of the the hours (1109) recorded, wind power produced less than 200 MW electricity.

It requires energy which does not translate into electrical power to restart a dangerous fossil fuel power plant that has shut because the wind is blowing.

In the year 2000, 54.55% of New England's electricity was produced using dangerous fossil fuels. So far, this year, 2019, in the year to date up to August 25th, 48.91% of New England's electricity was produced by burning dangerous fossil fuels.

The largest source of electrical power in 2019 in New England up to August 25 has been dangerous natural gas, the waste of which is dumped directly into the atmosphere to destroy it. The second largest is nuclear power, nuclear power being the only form of energy which Bernie Sanders wants to shut.

We are experiencing vast increases, accelerating increases, in the concentrations of the dangerous fossil fuel waste carbon dioxide in the planetary atmosphere. Over the last 5 years, the average annual increases have measured 2.55 ppm/year, an unprecedented figure.

New England is a small outpost on a giant planet. The effort there to address climate change doesn't cut it.

We need to get serious.

I trust that you will have a pleasant Labor Day weekend.

Tracking Disease Biomarkers from PFOS Exposure in Chinese Workers by Mass Spec Metabolomics.

The paper I'll discuss in this post is this one: Mass Spectrometry-Based Metabolomics Reveals Occupational Exposure to Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances Relates to Oxidative Stress, Fatty Acid β-Oxidation Disorder, and Kidney Injury in a Manufactory in China (Yao Lu, Ke Gao, Xiaona Li,§ Zhi Tang, Li Xiang, Hongzhi Zhao, Jianjie Fu, Ling Wang, Nali Zhu, Zongwei Cai,*,Yong Liang,*Yawei Wang,* and Guibin Jiang, Environ. Sci. Technol. 2019, 53, 9800−9809)

The introductory graphic:

Perfluoroalkyl substances are ubiquitous. My impression, just stumbling through the scientific literature leads me to doubt that there is anyone, save possibly some people living in remote regions of Tibet or in the mountains near Tierra del Fuego, who doesn't have detectable perfluoralkyl substances, in their blood plasma. (For one thing, they are associated with Teflon, particularly when overheated and who hasn't left a Teflon frying pan on the burner too long?) Historically, and in fact, currently, fluoroalkyl compounds are extremely useful, precisely for the same reason that they are persistent and do not actually degrade in the environment because they are inert, unreactive, and generally not subject to corrosion, under most circumstances. The main sink for them is high energy radiation, but because the main source of such radiation is UV, X-rays and gamma rays in the upper atmosphere, and because their molecular weight is generally high so that they tend to concentrate in the lower atmosphere when volatile, their atmospheric and aqueous half-lives are very, very, very long.

But they do degrade, albeit slowly, in biological systems and because of their properties, interfere in normal metabolism. The fine paper here is a study of metabolomics which is a molecular study of the transformations of molecules in physiological systems, often but not always human beings, and the effects that exogenous compounds, be they drugs, pollutants, or even foods cause in these systems.

The main tool for following metabolomics these days is mass spectrometry, a tool I didn't appreciate when I was a kid but appreciate greatly now.

The authors of this paper are located in China, and they have studied the effects of perfluoroalkyl compounds on the metabolomics of Chinese factory workers, the people who make most of our "stuff" so we can declare ourselves "green," because we would never do that kind of stuff to ourselves, because we're, um, green.

From the introduction to the paper:

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are a group of synthetic chemicals that have received extensive attention. In 2009, perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), its salts, and perfluorooctane sulfonyl fluoride were listed in Annex B of the Stockholm Convention.1 Subsequently, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), its salts, and PFOA-related compounds in 20152 and perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS), its salts, and PFHxSrelated compounds in 20173 were submitted to the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee as Persistent Organic Pollutants candidates.

The widespread presence of PFASs has led to the concern regarding the health effects of PFAS exposure on both wildlife and human beings. Occupational workers are under greater health risks than the general population given their higher PFAS exposure levels. Our previous studies have investigated the environmental fate, as well as the human exposure conditions, including the exposure pathway, half-lives, and accumulation and elimination behavior of PFASs on occupational workers in a factory in China.4−7 Differential exposure patterns (both external and internal) between occupational workers and the general population were found. Therefore, we hypothesized that the differences in PFAS exposure would lead to discrepancies between the occupational workers and the general population at the molecular level, which may eventually indicate the corresponding health effects of occupational PFAS exposure on workers...

The authors then define metabolomics and then say this:

...With regard to the study on the environmental pollutants, metabolomics can provide new insights into the toxic effects and risk assessments of pollutants by revealing the changes in the organism at the metabolic level. It is a powerful complement to classical toxicological approaches. Several studies have adopted the metabolomics tool to assess the PFAS-induced toxicity and health effects on experimental cell and animal models.12−18 However, recent study demonstrated that known PFAS-induced toxicity mechanisms, as well as the associated health risks, might not be applicable to humans.19 Nevertheless, very few PFAS-related metabolomics studies have chosen humans as study subjects. Moreover, none of these studies have focused on the high PFAS exposure levels groups: occupational workers.20,21 ...

The authors have very nice equipment, and run their analysis on an Thermo Scientific Q Exactive Orbitrap. These instruments feature very high mass resolution, albeit at slower scan speeds which makes them less than ideal for precise quantification, meaning that they are excellent for structure elucidation or so I've been told, since personally I'm involved with triple quads as opposed to high res instruments. The GC results are run on Agilent GC with a single quad 5977A mass spectrometer. (Not particularly high resolution, but useful if you know what you're looking for.)

The graphics give a feel for what they find in their work:

The caption:

Figure 1. Scatter plots obtained from PLS-DA models: LC-MS-ESI positive-ion mode (A), LC-MS-ESI negative-ion mode (B), and GC-MS (C). The black triangles and red circles indicate for general population and occupational workers, respectively.

The caption:

Figure 2. Linear fit graphs of log ∑6PFASs and log peak intensity of the 14 potential biomarkers.

The caption:

Figure 3. Box charts of log peak intensity between two groups of the 14 potential biomarkers. *p < 0.05; **p < 0.01; ***p < 0.001

Some text discussing the biomarkers monitored, molecular indicators of abnormal physiology often associated with disease states:

Regarding the biological significance of the 14 potential biomarkers, the perturbed pathways they were involved in included lipid metabolism (3-hydroxyoctanoic acid, azelaic acid, sebacic acid, gamma-CHEC, C18:1-CN, and C18:2-CN), amino acids metabolism (pyroglutamic acid, ornithine, methionine sulfoxide, and DL-2-aminooctanoic acid), purine metabolism (hypoxanthine), inositol metabolism (myo-inositol), retinol metabolism (glycerophosphocholines), and metabolism of alkaloids and their derivatives (piperine). The brief information of these metabolites is shown in Table 3. The linear fit results between the Σ6PFASs level and the peak intensity of potential biomarkers can be found in Figure 2, and the box charts of peak intensity of the two groups can be found in Figure 3.

Some excerpted results:

Biological Significance of the Biomarkers. A number of 14 abnormal metabolites resulting from high PFAS exposure levels were identified in the occupational workers. Of the altered metabolites, pyroglutamic acid and ornithine were both up-regulated. Pyroglutamic acid, as the cyclic lactam of glutamic acid, is the potential precursor and reservoir of glutamate. Increased pyroglutamic acid may relate to oxidative damage in the body.29 Ornithine is an amino acid generated from arginine during the process of excreting urea in humans. Both pyroglutamic acid and ornithine are involved in the glutathione metabolism (GSH metabolism), wherein glutathione is oxidized to glutathione disulfide (GSSG) when scavenging free radicals and other reactive species through enzymatic reactions, and GSH/GSSG is the most crucial redox couple toward oxidative stress. Therefore, the disturbance of GSH metabolism indicates that the body may be under oxidative stress...30

...In the present study, the balance between methionine and methionine sulfoxide was broken, as indicated by the down-regulation of methionine sulfoxide in the workers. Gamma-carboxyethyl hydroxychroman (γ-CEHC) is a potent antioxidant, and it was up regulated in the workers.33 Therefore, we speculated that high PFAS exposure level could induce oxidative stress and may activate the antioxidant defense in workers, which have also been found in in vivo and in vitro studies...3

...Two acylcarnitines, acylcarnitine C18:1 (C18:1-CN) and acylcarnitine C18:2 (C18:2-CN), both of which are attached to C-18 unsaturated fatty acids, presented an upward trend. Fatty acids and acyl carnitines are closely associated with fatty acids metabolism. Mitochondrial fatty acids β-oxidation (FAO) is the most common and important metabolic pathway for fatty acids in human beings...

...Accumulation of acyl carnitine metabolites in the blood is commonly used for diagnosis of FAO disorders.36 On the basis of the up- or down-regulation of three fatty acids and the upregulation of two acyl carnitines in the workers’ plasma samples, we conjectured that the mitochondrial FAO processes were disturbed by high PFAS exposure levels. Furthermore, fatty acids, glucose, and proteins are three substrates for organisms to generate energy. FAO is pivotal for energy homeostasis in various organisms, especially for cardiac and skeletal muscle. Other tissues, in particular, the liver, use the FAO process product to form ketone bodies to provide energy for other tissues.37 Due to the disturbances in the FAO process, we speculate that the energy homeostasis of the workers is perturbed by occupational PFAS exposure...

...and so on...

By the way, the contamination of Chinese workers is hardly limited to polyfluorinated alkylated stuff. Although China has recently cut off the import of stuff for "green" recycling, the electronic recycling business in China has led to widespread contamination with other classes of persistent organic pollutants, for example, PBDE's and PBDD/F and PCDD, the flame retardants and related compounds in our electronic stuff.

Don't worry. Be happy. You're green, not like those Chinese.

More don't worry, be happy: They'll continue to make your "green" solar cells, even if that's not good for them either, since they are, at least we suppose they are, happy to suffer whatever it is they suffer, so people in the United States can continue to be green, green, green and more green.

Enjoy the holiday weekend.

Atmospheric Carbon Capture Performance of Legacy Iron and Steel Waste

The paper I will discuss in this post has the same title as this post. It can be found here: Atmospheric Carbon Capture Performance of Legacy Iron and Steel Waste Pullen et al, Environ. Sci. Technol. 2019 53 16 9502-9511)

It is, happily, open sourced. Anyone can read it.

All of the world's steel is made using coke, and all the world's coke, in turn, is made from coal. This is true of steel in buildings, in cars, bridges, and yes, that much hyped form of so called "renewable energy," wind turbine posts.

It's why it's appropriate to put the word "renewable" in quotations, as I almost always do.

If one travels to Bethlehem, PA, one can tour the abandoned steel plant from the historical Bethlehem Steel. It's worthwhile if one is interested in Engineering. Bethlehem Steel collapsed financially in 1995, after producing much of the steel for World War II ships, the Chrysler Building, the Golden Gate Bridge, etc. The town has done a credible job making the abandoned plant into an interesting tourist attraction, featuring among other things, a wonderful summer concert series in front of the hulking massive retorts.

Outside of town are the slag heaps. They are huge. I often wonder if they're toxic, but to my knowledge, they've not been tested.

It appears that some of the carbon dioxide associated with making steel can be sequestered using the slag at least according to this paper.

I won't spend a lot of time excerpting the paper, since it's open to anyone interested, but put in a few teasers:

In 2013, carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere exceeded 400 ppm, a significant increase versus pre-Industrial Revolution levels (280 ppm).(1) This continuing anthropogenic influence has an increasing likelihood of severe, pervasive, and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.(2) A Special Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2018,(3) along with numerous scientific academies,(4−6) suggests that greenhouse gas removal (GGR) from the atmosphere is needed, coupled with an extensive reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to negate the worst of these effects. The amount of CO2 removal is significant, on the order of 100–1000 billion tons (Gt) of CO2 this century. Various GGR options have been proposed, including directly capturing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere,(7) biomass energy and carbon capture and storage,(8) and mineral carbonation.(9) The latter concept was first proposed in the 1990s(10,11) and mimics natural weathering processes in which calcium or magnesium (Mg) minerals are converted into carbonates.(12) This idea was extended to alkaline iron and steel slags in the following decade,(12−15) which also contain a significant source of Ca and Mg silicates and oxides. The minerals in slags (e.g., larnite, Ca2SiO4, and gehlenite, Ca2Al2SiO7) can react with atmospheric CO2 that has dissolved into solution, the products of which are thermodynamically stable.(11,16,17)





In eqs 1 and 2, captured CO2 is precipitated as solid carbonate minerals (“mineral carbonation”), e.g., calcite, or, if Mg is the cation, hydrated magnesium carbonates.(18) However, if the saturation state with respect to the carbonate mineral is insufficient to induce precipitation, the captured CO2 can be transported to the ocean in the form of dissolved carbonate (CO32–) or, more commonly, bicarbonate (HCO3–) ions (eqs 3 and 4), where it increases ocean alkalinity (“enhanced weathering”).(19)
World steel output exceeded 1600 Mt in 2017.(20) In the EU, steel production released ∼182 Mt of CO2(21) of greenhouse gases,(12,22) which equated to 4–5% of the EU’s total emissions. However, it is estimated that 470–610 Mt of slag was concurrently produced, which could negate some of these CO2 emissions.(23−25) Due to the reactive nature of some slag phases, e.g., larnite,(12) mineral CO2 sequestration is more rapid in slags than in natural silicates, e.g., forsterite (Mg2SiO4); thus, their utilization may incur lower energy consumption and costs.(26)

The authors note that slag apparently naturally only captures about 3% of the carbon it could capture, and propose processes for slag treatment that can raise that figure to values closer to the theoretical values.

In general, I do not favor sequestration because of its high energy intensity and its lack of a return on value, but have written extensively here and elsewhere about carbon capture and utilization.

In any case, it's an interesting little paper, and offers, if nothing else, some insight into the composition of slags.

If interested, enjoy it.

National Grid electricity blackout report points to failure at wind farm

I am on the mailing list of Carbon Brief Daily, a British Web Site on the subject of climate change, which gives me regular reports of the news related to on climate change.

I find generally that the news is something rare in discussions of climate change, balanced and informed. When I refer to "balance," I refer to reporting the downsides to some of the "magical thinking" associated with addressing this on going and accelerating disaster, specifically, wind power, which I oppose, mostly because it's proved useless and is helping to accelerate, rather than stop, climate change.

(One should be aware of the biases of writers.)

The following comes from one of those emails, and is repeated in its entirety. The original article from the Financial Times, is behind a firewall but the link is live for anyone who can access it:

National Grid electricity blackout report points to failure at wind farm

David Sheppard and Nathalie Thomas, Financial Times

Several publications report on the National Grid’s preliminary investigation into the blackout that struck in England and Wales last week. The report “has raised the possibility that [the blackout] was caused by the world’s largest offshore wind farm accidentally going offline”, the Financial Times says. The provisional findings, submitted on Friday, say that the Hornsea offshore wind farm may have tripped offline seconds before a smaller gas-fired station also went out. The results “suggest the blackout may have been avoided if not for an error at the wind farm”, the FT says. “Investigators now suspect the problems on the grid started when lightning hit part of the network near Cambridge,” the FT says. The lightning strike “coincided with the almost instantaneous total loss of supply from the Hornsea wind farm”, the FT says. “This detail is significant because it was previously believed the loss of power took approximately 60 seconds. The instant shutdown suggests the safety systems at Hornsea could have taken the plant offline accidentally.” National Grid described these reports as “speculation” and said it “it will not comment until Ofgem has had time to look over its report”, Press Association says. The Sunday Telegraph carries the comments of Colin Gibson, a former power network director for National Grid, who has called on ministers to impose limits on new wind and solar farms in light of the news. Gibson cites analysis co-written with Dr Capell Aris, a contributor to the climate sceptic lobby-group Global Warming Policy Foundation. A story in the Daily Telegraph reports that UK taxpayers paid £173m in “constraint payments” to windfarms during the last financial year. Such payments are a tool used by National Grid to balance supply and demand on the system, the Daily Telegraph says. The Mail on Sunday also reports the National Grid’s preliminary findings, with the online headline reading: “Renewable energy is a blackout risk, warns National Grid after chaos during biggest outage in a decade.” Elsewhere, Press Association reports that the demolition of a coal plant in Oxfordshire on Sunday caused a power cut affecting around 40,000 people, and a story in the Times – trailed on the front page – reports that the “National Grid is routinely restricting the use of its own power cables from the Continent because of the risk of blackouts if they failed”.

The Very Modest Carbon Capture Potential of the Massive Sargassum Blooms.

The paper I'll discuss in this post is this one: The great Atlantic Sargassum belt (Wang et al, Science , Vol. 365, Issue 6448, pp. 83-87 (2019))

Recently, in this space, I speculated that it might be possible to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by supercritical water oxidation (SCWO) reforming the massive Sargassum blooms which began in the Atlantic Ocean in this decade and are now proceeding at a massive rate.

My previous post is here: Can We Recover Carbon Dioxide From the Atmosphere Using Sargassum Seaweed?

I often remonstrate, again in this space, against a failure to embrace and understand scale when presented with a scheme to address climate change as well as remonstrating against wishful thinking.

It is time to hoist me with my own petard, as Shakespeare had it.

Having engaged in this speculation in my never ending search for schemes to remove carbon dioxide from the air, I decided to look up how much Sargassum there actually is as well as how it compares to the annual dumping of the dangerous fossil fuel waste carbon dioxide, which is roughly on the order of 35 billion tons per year and rising while we all wait for the grand renewable nirvana that has not come, is not here, and will not come.

The mass of the massive "Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt" is discussed in the paper referenced at the outset.

From the introductory text of the paper:

The Sargasso Sea is named after the floating mats of Sargassum seaweed, first reported by Christopher Columbus in the 15th century. These seaweed attract fish, shrimp, crabs, birds, and turtles (1–3), providing essential habitats and serving as hotspots for biodiversity and productivity. Two species of Sargassum, S. fluitans and S. natans, are the most abundant in the Sargasso Sea and the Gulf of Mexico (1, 4), which are notably connected by ocean currents.

Large quantities of Sargassum have recently been reported in the central Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea (5–14), accompanied by frequent beaching events that have caused serious environmental, ecological, and economic problems (15, 16). Numerous workshops have been held to develop strategies to respond to Sargassum inundations (17, 18). A critical question is whether a regime shift in the atmospheric and/or oceanic climatic conditions has led to the recent changes. Several hypotheses have been proposed concerning the relative roles of warming temperatures, climate change, and nutrient enrichment (19–23), but the lack of large-scale Sargassum data has prevented investigators from reaching a solid conclusion.

We attempt to address this question using long term satellite data, numerical models, and field measurements...

The first graphic of the paper gives a history of the extent of the ocean surface covered by Sargassum over this decade:

The caption:

Fig. 1. Sargassum distributions in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. (A) Monthly mean Sargassum areal coverage in the Caribbean Sea and the central Atlantic Ocean, with a maximum of ~ 6000 km2 or >20 million tons in June 2018. The year mark starts from January. (B) Monthly mean Sargassum density (% cover) in January, April, July, and October of 2011–2017 after excluding the nonbloom year of 2013. (C) Monthly mean Sargassum density for the month of July from 2011 to 2018. The GASB is observed in all years except 2013.

As is well known, our complete indifference to climate change, denial on the right and wishful thinking and selective attention on the left, has resulted in dramatic changes to the environment, particularly with respect to temperature and the effect of temperature on biomes throughout the world.

The effects on these biomes is also complicated by nutrient flows, and these in turn are effected by agricultural practices (particularly with respect to the use of fertilizers), river flows, and the (generally declining) health of forests.

Here, from the second graphic in the paper effects on the ocean surface temperature.

The caption:

Fig. 2. Environmental conditions and climate indices used to explain interannual changes of GASB. (A) Mean NAO index averaged from December to February (winter NAO) for 1990–2018. (B) Seasonal mean discharge anomaly of the Amazon River from 1990 to 2018 measured at the Obidos station. (C) Latitude-averaged (from 5°S to 23°N) Sargassum monthly areal coverage density from 2009 to 2018. (D) Latitude-averaged monthly mean SST anomaly from 2009 to 2018. In (C) and (D), the vertical lines mark the locations of 88°W, 61°W, 50°W, 38°W, and 15°W, representing the Yucatan peninsula coast, Barbados coast, the Amazon River mouth, the middle of the central Atlantic, and the West Africa coast, respectively

And now the "money" graphic, the mass of the sargassum belt:

The caption:

Fig. 3. Sargassum biomass and change rate from April 2011 to December 2018. (A) Monthly mean Sargassum biomass in the Caribbean Sea and central Atlantic. These estimates represent lower bounds because satellite measurements are insensitive to Sargassum accumulations in the vertical direction. The inset shows the correlation between the mean change rate in November and December (derived from the mean biomass change from October to December) with the annual mean Sargassum biomass in the next year. The red dot marks the data from 2019 (biomass averaged between January and April 2019) (B) Sargassum monthly change rate since 2011. The gray dashed line marks the climatological change rate between 2011 and 2018 except for 2013

Thus we see that the mass of Sargassum, even with explosion, is relatively modest compared to the amount of dangerous fossil fuel (and biomass combustion) waste we dump each year, particularly when one recognizes that sargassum is wet and consists of considerable amounts of fixed nitrogen, oxygen, and hydrogen as well as sulfur, as evidenced by the smell when it rots on beaches.

We can see that if all of the Sargassum in the massive 2018 bloom were collected and reformed to produce figures comparable to the "down" year of 2013, the amount of carbon captured would be on the order of perhaps 100 million tons, a drop in the bucket compared to our orgy of dumping.

It is not clear either, that an industry based on Sargassum harvesting as a carbon source would be reliable, or entirely unaffected by things like the Brazilian fires now underway or further radical changes in temperature, the latter now being inevitable.

Some further comments from the authors on the cause and predictability of Sargassum blooms:

The following conditions appear to be associated with massive Sargassum blooms at magnitudes comparable to those in 2015 and 2018: (i) large seed populations during winter as a result of the previous year’s bloom; (ii) higher nutrient supply from theWest Africa upwelling in winter months, which can be inferred from higher chlorophyll levels and lower SSTs in satellite imagery; and (iii) higher nutrient supply from the Amazon River input but normal or lower SSTs during the current year. If these conditions are met, then a massive bloom is likely to occur in the central Atlantic, followed by severe beaching events in the Caribbean Sea in later months…
…Finally, we recognize that there are active discussions within the research community on the mechanisms driving the recent trends of Sargassum blooms. The explanation presented here is based on the physical connectivity across several regions, on the analysis of several environmental factors, on limited field studies, and on the satellite-based Sargassum observations. These modeling and observationally based analyses, although reasonable to the best of our knowledge, still require validation in the future and admittedly may not rule out other explanations. Conversely, the recurrent GASB clearly shows a regime shift after 2011 in bloom patterns and possibly in oceanographic conditions as well. A critical question is whether we have reached the point where recurrent GASB and beaching events may become the new norm. Under continued nutrient enrichment due to deforestation and fertilizer use in agriculture (fig. S4), along with the substantial mass of Sargassum seed populations lingering in the tropics (movie S1), the answer is likely positive, and more recent satellite observations between January and April 2019 also support this interpretation. However, the considerable Sargassum accumulations along the pathway of the GASB underline the need for multidisciplinary research to better understand their ecological and biogeochemical impacts (24, 38), as well as their impacts on coastal environments, tourism, economies, and human health (39)…

The above realism does not mean that it is will always be worthless to reform Sargassum using high temperature nuclear plants utilizing supercritical seawater as a source of hydrogen. Such reformation would prevent the use of dangerous fossil fuel carbon sources, and the seawater would of course contain more CO2 from the solubility of this dangerous fossil fuel waste in it, as well as suspended algae and microplastics, all of which would be oxidized under these conditions. In local regions there may be local advantages.

The point is however that any effect will be modest and relatively trivial in terms of scale.

It is well to check one's assumptions.

Have a nice weekend.

Ain't nobody


Check out the sax and the string bass.

Last chance...

There was an excellent chat among scientists this afternoon on CSPAN.

It is about the geoscience resulting from the Apollo program:

Lessons from Apollo's Geoscience

I enjoyed it very much. It was excellent, and I recommend it highly.

China's Hydrofluorocarbon Emissions for 2011−2017

The paper I'll discuss in this post is this one: China’s Hydrofluorocarbon Emissions for 2011–2017 Inferred from Atmospheric Measurements (Bo Yao,† Xuekun Fang,*,‡ Martin K. Vollmer,§ Stefan Reimann,§ Liqu Chen,† Shuangxi Fang,† and Ronald G. Prinn,‡ Environ. Sci. Technol. Lett. 2019, 6, 479−486)

A long time ago, I had a relatively brief interlude of living, after high school, as a beach bum in Hermosa Beach, California, which was - this is how old I am - quite affordable on the salary of a factory laborer, which was the job I held at the time. Of course, in order to a beach bum, to afford to rent a place at the beach, one had to have a roommate, and I did, a wonderful person my age who despite several descents into serious alcoholism, remained a lifelong friend, until he died.

He died from melanoma. Fun and the sun. We had good times there in Hermosa Beach. California. In those days there was no helmet law in California, and he used to cruise around Hermosa Beach shirtless and helmetless.

(As Shakespeare put it, He... "...would have died hereafter." )

I actually had quite a few friends who died from melanoma.

My roommate, who was among other things, highly intelligent but nevertheless worked the same kind of dead end jobs as I did, had quite a wonderful sense of humor. One of the expressions of that humor was to wake up on Saturday mornings, switch on our tiny black and white television and while drinking coffee and chain smoking cigarettes watching Japanese monster movies from the 1950s, Godzilla, Gamera and all that stuff, and doing wonderful mimicry of the lines therein.

The monsters in these movies were all mutants, as I recall, generally resulting as a side effect of nuclear testing. The movies were either hilarious, at least the way my roommate interpreted them, or they were childish and silly, but one supposes that the underlying theme, as the monsters routinely trashed power lines, was that there were some, um, problems, associated with uncontrolled wildly applied technologies introduced without much forethought.

Who would have thought that?

I wasn't a big fan of actually watching the monster movies myself but of course, I was exposed to them by osmosis. One feature I recall of them was that they usually involved a consortium of scientists gathered in the room, assembled by the Japanese government and civil authorities, and led by a senior scientist who knew everything there was to know about radiation induced monsters. The scientists would declare a strategy for dealing with the monster - sometimes it involved a statement that the authorities must get an atomic bomb from the Americans - and the authorities would accept and do whatever the scientists said, because they were scientists.

I told you the movies were silly.

While I was beach bumming, serious work was going on about 80 km away at the University of California at Irvine, by Mario Molina a post doc, to study the atmospheric chemistry of chlorofluorocarbons, the CFC's, which were widely utilized refrigerants.

Mario Molina won the Nobel Prize for this work. By the way, Mario Molina is the first Mexican scientist to win the Nobel Prize. He immigrated to the United States which is where, as an immigrant, he did work that um, saved many lives that otherwise would have been lost to, um, melanoma, one of the still intractable fatal cancers.

The choice to use CFC's for refrigerators and air conditioners was because the scientists who discovered them thought they were wonderful compounds, because they had high heats of vaporization and because they were inert. This was a great discovery, or at least was thought to be a great discovery until Mario Molina, Mexican Immigrant to the United States, discovered that they weren't inert; they were substances that catalyzed the destruction of the ozone layer that protects the earth and all living things from radiation, solar radiation. Although the CFC's are catalysts, like all catalysts, they are consumed ultimately. In this case they are consumed, long term, by radiation, and end up decaying, albeit with a fairly long half life, into hydrochloric & hydrofluoric acid and carbon dioxide.

Donald Trump, by the way, is not intellectually qualified to mow Mario Molina's lawn, by the way, or pick oranges from Molina's orange trees, if Mario Molina has orange trees. Donald Trump is way too stupid and ignorant to work for Mario Molina in any capacity.

Because of Mario Molina's discovery, the world's first major environmental treaty, the Montreal Protocol, was ratified by the major governments of the world in 1987, when the racist moron Ronald Reagan was President of the United States and showing the effects of the Alzheimer's disease that would ultimately kill him. I personally believed that the United States would move away from allowing racist intellectually impaired and morally impaired from running its government from the White House.

I was clueless. The racist moron in the White House, a low quality doltish and clownish Mussolini knock off, makes Ronald Reagan look far less odious. Making Ronald Reagan look less odious in a remarkable achievement, probably the only achievement that bone spur Mussolini will ever have.

The Montreal Protocol was the last time, by the way, that international governments behaved as nobly as the fictional Japanese civil authorities dealing with Gamera; they actually listened to the scientists.

Of course, the CFC manufacturers definitely engaged, briefly as I recall, although I was relatively uneducated at the time, in the cigarette company inspired denial game at the time, the same strategy now widely and far more successfully utilized by the dangerous fossil fuel companies to prevent the destruction, on a far greater scale than CFC’s, of the planetary atmosphere. Eventually though, the CFC companies realized that they could make a ton of money by replacing CFC's with the recently discovered HFC's, which are similar to the CFC's but lack chlorine atoms.

So eventually the CFC corporations signed on ultimately to the Montreal Protocol, and yes, they made a ton of money by doing so. Win-win, I guess.

All of the world's modern refrigerators, all of the air conditioners we burn dangerous fossil fuels to run to shield ourselves from climate change, all the refrigerants in our swell Tesla cars that we hype to shield ourselves from our own moral poverty with respect to climate change utilize HFC's rather than CFCs.

The HFC's share the property that made CFC's useful, relatively high heats of vaporization and a phase diagram that has a liquid/vapor line near ambient temperatures, relative chemical inertness, but like CFC's, they share a physical property that makes them less benign than people are willing to believe, which is that they are potent greenhouse gases. And as is the case with CFC's, they have long atmospheric half lives; some of them have half-lives of thousands of years, and global warming potentials which are, in some cases, tens of thousands of times larger than that of carbon dioxide.

We all like to think we are "green" here in the United States, and like to wag our fingers at China, where many of the materials for our "green" technology are manufactured and/or (at least until recently) our toxic stuff is "recycled," the latter practice resulting in the health consequences for Chinese children who have high levels of carcinogenic PBDE and related flame retardants in their blood plasma and other tissues. We import "green" Chinese stuff and export our dirty polluting industrial practices (which by the way make money) and declare ourselves "green."

We are as clueless as a stupid kid who might have thought that the United States would never once again allow a racist intellectually impaired person with missing morals, such as Ronald Reagan was, again to occupy the White House.

Never underestimate ignorance, because ignorance kills, and as we are seeing, world wide, with the rise of ignorant protofascist or openly fascist "leaders," ignorance can be very popular.

This brings me to the paper to which I linked at the outset of this post. From the introductory text:

Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) have an only negligible effect on stratospheric ozone loss.1,2 Thus, they have been used to replace ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), halons and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), in refrigeration, air conditioning, foam blowing, and other applications since the 1990s. This is in compliance with the Montreal Protocol that was agreed on in 1987 for the control of the consumption and production of ozone-depleting substances (ODSs).1 However, most HFCs are potent greenhouse gases with high global warming potentials (GWPs).1 The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol was agreed upon in 2016 and sets up schedules for limiting HFC production and consumption in both developed and developing countries. Previous studies showed that atmospheric mole fractions of HFCs have increased globally between 2012 and 2016 by an average of 1.6 ppt year−1 for HFC-32 (CH2F2), 2.1 ppt year−1 for HFC-125 (CHF2CF3), 5.6 ppt year−1 for HFC-134a (CH2FCF3), and 1.5 ppt year−1 for HFC-143a (CH3CF3), and these rates are faster than average increases reported for 2008−2012.1,3

Along with the phase-out process of CFCs and HCFCs in compliance with the Montreal Protocol, HFCs have become widely used as replacements in China and other parts of the world since the 1990s. For example, in new mobile air conditioners in China, HFC-134a has replaced CFC-12 (CCl2F2) as a refrigerant since around 2000.4 More recently, HFCs have become widely used to replace HCFCs, whose production and consumption were frozen in 2013 and will be phased out by 2030. For example, HCFC-22 (CHClF2), which was the predominant refrigerant used in the room air conditioning sector, is currently being replaced by R-410A (a blend of HFC-32 and HFC-125).5,6 Apart from the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol with a freeze on production and consumption of HFCs in 2024, no additional regulations on HFCs [excluding HFC-23 (CHF3)] are currently being enforced in China.

There is a lot of interesting stuff in the paper, all kinds of cool equations but the graphics therein give a feel for the results.

The authors, from Chinese, Swiss and American (MIT) institutions, engage in "bottom up" - figures obtained from industrial reports - and "top down" - observations of atmospheric concentrations in sampling stations across eastern Asia, to estimate the emissions of these gases.

The caption:

Figure 1. Sampling sites used in this study. The sites are Heyuan (HYN; 23.69°N, 114.60°E), Shangri-La (XGL; 28.01°N, 99.44°E), Jiangjin (JGJ; 29.15°N, 106.15°E), Lin’an (LAN; 30.30°N, 119.73°E), Mount Waliguan (WLG; 36.29°N, 100.90°E), Shangdianzi (SDZ; 40.65°N, 117.12°E), and Longfengshan (LFS; 44.73°N, 127.60°E). The figure and image were made with GeoMapApp ( www.geomapapp.org )/CC BY/CC BY,(32) and the China boundary file is from MeteoInfo
( http://www.meteothink.org/index.html ).

The caption:

Figure 2. Annual emissions of HFCs in China derived from inverse modeling using atmospheric observations at seven sites.

The caption:

Figure 3. Estimates of HFC emissions in China during the period of 2005–2017. The emission estimates are from top-down(8−15) and bottom-up(6,33,34) approaches. The x-axis error bar in the plot represents the span of the target period in the respective study, for example, the 14 months from November 2007 to December 2008 in ref (11) and the 3 years from 2010 to 2012 in ref (14).

The caption:

Figure 4. Proportions of each HFC of the total in China, in terms of mass and CO2-equivalent emissions. An asterisk denotes the combined proportion of HFC-236fa, HFC-245fa, and HFC-365mfc to total HFCs.

The caption:

Figure 5. Global HFC emissions and China’s contributions to the global atmospheric HFC radiative forcing. CO2-equivalent emissions for Annex I countries were derived from UNFCCC.(29) Global total CO2-equivalent emissions were based on emissions derived from observations at remote AGAGE stations.(22,30) Emissions for China were derived from ref (6) for 2005–2010 and from this study for 2011–2017. The “aggregated” error bars shown in China’s HFC CO2-equivalent emissions during the period of 2011–2017 are the sum of the postererior emission uncertainty multiplied by the corressponding GWP value for each HFC. Contributions from China’s HFC emissions to global HFC radiative forcing were calculated using the AGAGE atmospheric measurements ( http://agage.eas.gatech.edu/data_archive/global_mean/ ). In panel b, uncertainties were not estimated because uncertainties were not available for China’s HFC emissions during the period of 2005–2010.(6).

International treaties, as noted in the paper, call for the phase out of HFC's, by the way, by 2024. Good luck with that humanity, while we continue to elect tin horn Mussolini types around the world, celebrants of ignorance.

Future generations will live with this crap we've left in the atmosphere for thousands of years, although technology exists that might accelerate their degradation. One of the best ways, and effectively the only way major way environmentally, to degrade these compounds is to expose them to radiation. Unfortunately many of us have a preternatural and frankly ignorant fear of radiation, and therefore many of claim that radioactive materials are waste and thus refuse, more or less to make them and more importantly to utilize them. Thus the only sink for these fluorinated gases is the stratosphere and ionsphere, where they are relatively depleted owing to the Maxwell Boltzman distribution owing to their high molecular weights with respect to nitrogen and oxygen.

We are as clueless, in this regard, as a stupid kid who might have thought that the United States would never once again allow a racist intellectually impaired person with missing morals, such as Ronald Reagan was, again to occupy the White House. We think it would be a good idea to bury these useful materials.

Go figure.

Fluorine is, of course, the most electronegative of all the elements in the periodic table, which means that it forms very strong bonds with other elements, and when these bonds are covalent, the resulting compounds will be long lived and persistent. Thus we should be very careful with their use. Another serious environmental crisis is concerned with fluorinated organic acids and sulfonic acids, PFOS, PFOA. These compounds are so ubiquitous that I recently came across a paper in analytical chemistry noting that it is almost impossible to obtain a "blank" - a substance in which they are not present - for analytical purposes. This is scary.

These compounds, PFOS and PFOA type compounds, are subject to a small degree to metabolism, which lies behind their toxicity, but like other fluorine compounds are subject to radiolytic degradation, since gamma radiation, x-rays, and UV radiation possess sufficient energy to break the strong chemical bonds responsible for their persistence.

A last point: Refrigeration devices are merely heat engines run in reverse. In recent years, as I've been studying thermoelectric devices whenever I have time. These devices seem to be an excellent tool to engineer away the risk of events like Fukushima in nuclear power plants, much as we re-engineer aircraft when the causes of crashes are identified. (To get some insight to this procedure, I recommend the excellent engineering program on the Smithsonian Channel Air Disasters.) We don't seek to ban aircraft when they crash, and ban cars when they crash or are responsible for huge environmental destruction, although in the latter case I think we should at least consider a ban. There will never be such a thing as a "green" automobile. The car CULTure is not sustainable and never will be.

Nuclear energy, which is responsible for the accumulation of potentially very useful radioactive materials to which ignorant people refer to as "nuclear waste," is not perfect and it is not risk free, but it need not be either to be vastly superior to everything else. It only needs to be vastly superior to everything else, which it is.

There is a relevant analogy here:

It was a good idea to replace CFC's with HFC's, even if HFC's are not entirely without risk. CFC's were very serious carcinogenic pollutants, as the friends I have who died from melanoma, may have had their fatal cancers induced because of them.

In any case, for the replacement it is possible to run a thermoelectric device in reverse, just as one can run a heat engine in reverse in a refrigerator or in the air conditioner of a swell Tesla electric car. Thermoelectric devices are, happily, a very active area of research, and though their thermodynamic efficiency is still low, they are being improved, and I certainly support all research into them.

Thus solid state refrigerators are not only possible, but a few commercial examples already exist I believe.

Have a pleasant weekend.
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