Last week I participated in a business roundtable discussion in Toronto hosted by Canada’s Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE). The focus of the meeting was to bring together industry emitters and solution providers for a collective discussion about how to meet the province’s greenhouse gas emission reduction target of 37% below 1990 levels by the year 2030.
These types of conversations are occurring around the world in various forms as each nation participating in the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris formulate policies to meet the emission goals agreed upon. Although the implementation details will undoubtedly vary within the global community, many of the key challenges and opportunities are common to all.
In preparation for the meeting, the OCE requested feedback from the invited participants regarding the appropriate path forward, the roles each of us can play, and the barriers to success. I believe these questions form a useful framework for many governments that are grappling with the same issues.
Clean the Smokestack?
OCE welcomes industry stakeholder feedback on the following questions: Looking forward to 2030 and Ontario’s GHG emissions target of 37% below 1990 levels, what do you view as the path forward for the Province to meet this emission reduction target?
Isotherm Energy: There are two general approaches to lowering emissions:
Of course, this smokestack approach is not unique to the stationary power generation industry. In 1985, I was recruited by NASA to develop space experiments for the space shuttle to study the effects of low gravity on combustion phenomena. During our early development testing in drop towers on earth that provide a few seconds of weightlessness, we filmed the formation of soot emanating from liquid hydrocarbon fuel droplets that had never been previously observed nor predicted.
In a subsequent discussion about soot formation with one of our principal investigators, he commented that soot is a big health problem, and used diesel fuel as an example. He explained that there is an upper limit on size above which the lungs can expel an inhaled particle, and a lower limit below which a particle is absorbed into the body via the alveoli in the lungs. But for sizes between those upper and lower limits, the lungs can neither expel nor absorb a particle. And diesel soot particles are in that size range that can become permanently entrapped in the lungs. That’s why diesel trucks have their tail pipe exit so high above the ground, he concluded.
Observing this smokestack approach to airborne emissions reveals some inherent recurring patterns. These include very long cycles of:
In my next post, I’ll touch on the second part of the answer we gave the OCE for the path forward. Accelerating the adoption of renewable energy sources requires systems integration, application optimization, and sustainable energy storage.
Matt Moran is the Managing Member at Moran Innovation, and previous Managing Partner at Isotherm Energy. He's been developing power and propulsion systems since 1982. Matt was also the Sector Manager for Energy & Materials in his last position at NASA where he worked for 31 years. He's been involved in seven technology based start-ups; and provided R&D and engineering support to many industrial, government and research organizations. More about Matt here…