Why the steel oval pipes are bad news for coal industry
From The Economist: “Coal is a relatively low-carbon source of electricity, but it can also be a major polluter: its emissions make up more than half of the global total and are a major contributor to climate change.”
The problem is that the pipe system has been designed to reduce the pollution from coal-fired power plants by removing coal from the power grid, but its design has a significant effect on the way coal is burned.
“Steel pipes, often made from steel, have been used in the past to capture the CO 2 released when the coal is burnt, but they are not designed to hold CO 2 until it is pumped into the system.”
The pipe system was designed to remove coal from power grid.
But in the early 20th century, the steel pipes became known for their tendency to clog up.
This caused a problem that is still not solved today: The pipes clog and can trap CO 2 in the metal and slow the decomposition process.
“Copper pipe is a highly flammable material, so if you try to put it in a water tank and then pour it over the surface of a steel pipe, you’ll end up with CO 2 gas in there,” says Chris Whalley, a chemist and a former consultant to the UK government.
“It has also been found to trap CO in the copper, so that even a small amount of the CO will be trapped in the pipe.”
What’s worse, coal companies have tried to use the pipes to trap even more CO 2 – using the pipes in the UK, for example, to store CO 2 during a power outage. “
But if you’re using a lot less of the coal and you’re still getting CO 2 from the pipe, then there will be less of it trapped.”
What’s worse, coal companies have tried to use the pipes to trap even more CO 2 – using the pipes in the UK, for example, to store CO 2 during a power outage.
The pipes have also been used to trap methane in a landfill.
“So the pipes have had a very large role in the coal industry and I don’t think that they’ve been designed correctly,” says Whaly.
And what about the health impacts? “
If we were to try to use these pipes to extract CO 2 for industrial use, that would be very difficult.”
And what about the health impacts?
In the UK the pipe-clogging problem has been caused by industrial emissions, but in the US it has also arisen from the coal-burning industry.
“In the US, CO 2 emissions have increased by about 60 per cent,” says Peter Whitehead, a climate change expert at Oxford University.
“That’s caused by emissions from coal burning and from burning coal.”
It’s the same with methane.
The same thing applies.
“You’ve got the industry using the pipe for storage of CO 2.”
And if that’s the case, then we’re in trouble.
“What you need to do is to look at the pipe systems themselves, which have a long history of use,” says Dr Andrew Weiler, a professor of geosciences at the University of Bristol.
“”What we have now is a system where you can get CO 2, but you also need to get the CO from somewhere else.
“What we need to look into is the technology that allows you to capture CO 2 before it is released, he adds.
The answer, as we saw in the story on this page, is to find a new and better way of capturing CO in a pipe.
And in the meantime, the pipe industry is not going to make it easy on itself: the pipes are expensive to produce, and the quality is not high enough to be practical.
But with the world getting warmer, and with the need for energy more urgent, it may well become possible to use some of the existing pipe systems as a substitute for coal.
That, says Whitehead: “might not be so bad as a pipe system, but if we want to be able to have more of these things, it might not be as efficient.”
You can listen to the full episode of Climate Wipe here.