G.E.’s alternative energy research
Jerry Beilinson reports for Popular Mechanics on his visit to a General Electric plant in NY state. It’s a nice little update on what’s going on: …Nuclear energy is doggedly making an image comeback. And returning to the stage are wind power, solar, conservation, and gasification of coal and other fuels. All of these have ...
Jerry Beilinson reports for Popular Mechanics on his visit to a General Electric plant in NY state. It's a nice little update on what's going on:
…Nuclear energy is doggedly making an image comeback. And returning to the stage are wind power, solar, conservation, and gasification of coal and other fuels. All of these have been energy darlings during one era or another (gasification goes back to the 18th century, and in its modern form to World War II) and all of them received attention yesterday as a group of reporters and academics were led around the labs in Niskayuna.
It’s a bit ironic, but the dirtiest of these technologies could have the biggest impact. Gasification is the process of taking one fuel—coal, often—and turning it into a gas (syngas) that can be burned, plus a bunch of other chemicals. An “integrated gasification combined cycle” (IGCC) system burns the syngas in one turbine, as though it were natural gas, and uses excess heat to boil water for a steam turbine.
While windmills look like glowing harbingers of a clean utopia, a gasification plant looks like a cross between an oil refinery and a coal-burning plant. Oh, well—let’s not be squeamish. IGCC plants are very efficient. The other advantage is that you get to capture most of the pollutants that would go up a smokestack if you were simply burning the coal. And it doesn’t have to be coal. You can gasify grass clippings, cattle slaughtered after a mad-cow-disease scare, old tires—nearly anything.
More from Foreign Policy
A New Multilateralism
How the United States can rejuvenate the global institutions it created.
America Prepares for a Pacific War With China It Doesn’t Want
Embedded with U.S. forces in the Pacific, I saw the dilemmas of deterrence firsthand.
The Endless Frustration of Chinese Diplomacy
Beijing’s representatives are always scared they could be the next to vanish.
The End of America’s Middle East
The region’s four major countries have all forfeited Washington’s trust.