Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

China's synthetic gas plants would be greenhouse giants

25.09.2013
Huge scale of gas-from-coal plants 'an environmental disaster in the making'

Coal-powered synthetic natural gas plants being planned in China would produce seven times more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional natural gas plants, and use up to 100 times the water as shale gas production, according to a new study by Duke University researchers.

These environmental costs have been largely neglected in the drive to meet the nation's growing energy needs, the researchers say, and might lock China on an irreversible and unsustainable path for decades to come.

"Using coal to make natural gas may be good for China's energy security, but it's an environmental disaster in the making," said Robert B. Jackson, Nicholas Professor of Environmental Sciences and director of the Duke Center on Global Change.

"At a minimum, Chinese policymakers should delay implementing their synthetic natural gas plan to avoid a potentially costly and environmentally damaging outcome," said Chi-Jen Yang, a research scientist at Duke's Center on Global Change. "An even better decision would be to cancel the program entirely."

Yang is lead author of the new study, which was published Thursday in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Climate Change.

As part of the largest investment in coal-fueled synthetic natural gas plants in history, the central Chinese government recently has approved construction of nine large-scale plants capable of producing more than 37 billion cubic meters of synthetic natural gas annually. Private companies are planning to build more than 30 other plants, capable of producing as much as 200 million cubic meters of natural gas each year -- far exceeding China's current natural gas demand.

"These plants are coming online at a rapid pace. If all nine plants planned by the Chinese government were built, they would emit 21 billion tons of carbon dioxide over a typical 40-year lifetime, seven times the greenhouse gas that would be emitted by traditional natural gas plants," Jackson said.

"If all 40 of the facilities are built, their carbon dioxide emissions would be an astonishing 110 billion tons," Jackson said.

The analysis by Yang and Jackson finds that if the gas produced by the new plants is used to generate electricity, the total lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions would be 36 percent to 82 percent higher than pulverized coal-fired power.

If the synthetic natural gas made by the plants were used to fuel vehicles, the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions would be twice as large as from gasoline-fueled vehicles.

"The increased carbon dioxide emissions from the nine government-approved plants alone will more than cancel out all of the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from China's recent investments in wind and solar electricity," Yang said. "While we applaud China's rapid development in clean energy, we must be cautious about this simultaneous high-carbon leapfrogging."

The study notes that the plants would also emit hydrogen sulfide and mercury, which, if not properly scrubbed and treated, are potentially harmful to human health.

Excessive water consumption by the plants is also a concern.

"Producing synthetic natural gas requires 50 to 100 times the amount of water you need to produce shale gas," Yang said. "The nine plants approved by the government -- most of which are located in desert or semi-desert regions in Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia -- will consume more than 200 million tons of water annually and could worsen water shortages in areas that already are under significant water stress."

The overall environmental impacts will be severe, Jackson said. "It will lock in high greenhouse gas emissions, water use and mercury pollution for decades. Perhaps there's still time to stop it."

"China's Synthetic Natural Gas Revolution," Chi-Jen Yang, Robert B. Jackson. Nature Climate Change, Sept. 26, 2013 DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1988

Tim Lucas | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.duke.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Bioinvasion on the rise
15.02.2017 | Universität Konstanz

nachricht Litter Levels in the Depths of the Arctic are On the Rise
10.02.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>