Climate change is, as Mashable and the rest of the media report insistently, the defining issue of our time. It would help if Mashable, and other parts of the media, therefore knew something about climate change. This is not in evidence: “A breakthrough solar oven got hot enough to produce carbon-free cement and steel”. This is not true. At least, not in the important sense of being “carbon free”.
Steel is an alloy made up of iron with typically a few tenths of a percent of carbon to improve its strength and fracture resistance…
The carbon in typical steel alloys may contribute up to 2.14% of its weight.
So a real breakthrough solar oven, not
There’s a good bit in the Sky drama Chernobyl, where the chief bureaucrat put in charge of cleaning up the mess says to the scientists “I may not understand nuclear reactors but I know about concrete !”
Modern journalists might know about iambic pentameter but anything technological, be it computing, energy, medicine whatever is utterly and embarrasingly beyond them.
And economics ? How often have I shouted at the telly, radio or an article “I only studied it up to bloody Ricardo and I can tell you that’s wrong !”
This appears to be a greenwashing scam, not much smoke but a lot of mirrors. I thought about the physics of it whilst making my morning bacon. The numbers just don’t add up.
The US’ largest solar power tower uses 1,000,000 square meters of mirrors concentrated 10,000:1 to achieve a temperature of about 600C with a thermal flux of about 500MW. A tonne of scrap steel takes 300kWh at 1500C to melt. So you could produce about 10 tonnes of steel per hour at 60% thermal efficiency. Given that you would only have 8 hours a day of decent production, that is not a lot. US steel production is about 1,500,000 tonnes per week.
If you can eke out 50 tonnes per week, you just need 30,000 such facilities to match current production.
The other downside is that thermal processes like this do not like to be started and stopped. So you either have inefficient processes or you have to add additional energy to keep the process going the other 16 hours of the day.
Thanks Mohave greenie, I did also wonder about the issue of start/stop as in traditional steel making that is a problem especially with furnaces. Not just steel making I’ve worked places where during a week long Christmas shutdown machines were left powered on as it was easier that trying to turn them off and restart them
“If they’ve simply not got the information to tell us what’s happening with something simple like cement making then what about the rest of it?”
Gell-Mann amnesia. Still alive, well, and still not well known
It’s The Great Leap Forward all over again.
I should not do math while baconing.
I was two orders of magnitude out on the number of plants needed. It should be 300.
The cost was $1,000,000,000. Unfortunately the Federal Government provided $737,000,000 in loan guarantees. The company has since gone bust, leaving the taxpayer with the bill.
So just 10% of the Build Back Better Bill would provide the capital for the steel production part of this.
Let’s Go Brandon!
“I may not understand nuclear reactors but I know about concrete!”
Similar too-isolated specialism happened with the Biosphere project. The environmentalists commissioning the thing couldn’t work out why the carbon dioxide budget in the system was going all wrong. If they’d asked any of the builders who made the damn thing they’d have pointed out that concrete absorbs CO2 for decades after it’s poured – that’s the entire point of its usefulness. You make cement by driving off CO2, you set cement by letting it go back in again. But to the enviros, concerete is just some irrelevant inert lump, can’t be part of the system we’re testing can it?
Anyone see the video where Javid unwisely asked medical staff what they thought about compulsory vaccination. When challenged by a doctor who has worked in Covid ICU the entire pandemic he condescendingly and dismissively said they would wait to get advice from proper experts in vaccination
A quibble: the headline is dangling.