“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Can Coal Technology be Sexy?

I have no doubt that in the near future we can indeed harvest up to 80 percent of the methane trapped in coal beds. Furthermore, there is so much of it that it can fulfil the energy needs of the planet for about 200 years. That gives us time to make the change to a hydrogen economy. And, as far as I'm concerned, the best thing of all: if you use the methane on the spot for a local power plant, you can use the CO2 that the plant produces for extracting more methane from the coal bed. It's a closed circle. And completely clean. -Henk Pagnier"

Clean energy from coal bed gas

Click to listen to the programme, which was first aired in January 2006 (mp3)
A new method of extracting energy from coal layers that until now were considered too deep to access can help 'bridge the gap' between today's fossil-fuelled economy and the potential hydrogen economy of the future. Better still, this method can be efficient and clean.

Methane production well

Coal contains methane gas, a combustible gas with a high caloric value that can be used in much the same way as natural gas. Many coal layers are simply too deep underground, or too thin to be exploited in the traditional way. Yet, they can hold large deposits of methane. The Dutch research and development institute TNO has recently conducted a large-scale test in Poland of a new way of extracting this valuable gas.

Existing methods

Extracting gas from coal beds is not entirely new; in several parts of the world, it's already common practice. Civil engineer Henk Pagnier explains how the existing methods work:

"First, you can simply pump away the water column from a coal reservoir at a depth of, say, five to six hundred metres. Thus, the coal is depressurised and the gas naturally escapes. It's a rather crude method and it doesn't get all the gas out of the coal, but it is efficient in easily accessible layers. The method is called CBM, Coal Bed Methane."

"Another method is underground, subsurface gasification of coal. That means that you burn or gasify the coal in the subterranean layers themselves and then harvest the production gasses, mostly hydrogen, but also some methane. It is a complex process and fairly difficult to control. The amount of gas produced can be disappointing and the burning coal beds can be dangerous; rocky layers above the coal can crack or even collapse. Therefore, early attempts in the 1980s were abandoned. Still, new research has begun in the United States and the first results seem promising."

CO2 injection well

The new method that Henk Pagnier and his colleagues from TNO have been working on is called ECBM, 'Enhanced Coal Bed Methane'. It takes the old CBM method one step further: the methane gas is not simply released naturally by depressurising the coal, but pushed out by injecting another gas, preferably a gas we want to get rid of anyway, like greenhouse gas CO2. Henk Pagnier says:

"The beauty of the whole thing is that CO2 happens to bind to the coal when injected. Better still, it dissolves the methane gas from the coal in the same chemical process. Instead of the 40 percent of gas which can be extracted from the coal by using the old method, CBM, Enhanced Coal Bed Methane can extract up to 80 percent, and that makes the whole concept economically viable in many more cases."


The purpose of the field experiment in Poland was to prove that the theory could be put into practice. The location was perfect: a depleted CBM production site, where the drill hole for pumping out the water column and harvesting the methane gas could still be used. A second hole was drilled, and CO2 gas pumped in.

The first results were disappointing. Only a minimal amount of methane could be squeezed out, as it were. Dr Pagnier and his colleagues then applied a little trick, inserting a small amount of sand into the CO2. The grains of sand kept open the small cracks that inevitably appear in the coal when pressurised. This hugely enlarged the surface area where CO2 gas could get into direct contact with coal and suddenly the old 'CBM well' did produce promising amounts of Methane.


  1. DANGER!
    Low Flying Pigs!

    Reocon said...
    Michael Totten discovers that the Iraqi Army is sympathetic to or infiltrated by the Mahdi Army:

    Wretchard, you've written that the formation of the Iraqi National Army will serve as a sort of politically neutral building block on which to construct a political settlement. That seems rather naive when you consider that the Army, in and of itself, may have its own political dimension.
    In addition, such a theory ignores rather basic questions of who LEADS the military. What are the political agendas of various Generals, or a Defense Minister, or a Prime Minister?

    So, Wretchard, what do you make of Totten's latest reporting?

    8/20/2007 10:52:00 AM

    Wretchard said...

    You would expect it. But remember the Iraqi army isn't being built as a "neutral" building block as much as an "integrated" one.
    A truly "neutral" army maintains its independence by professional detachment. An integrated army, by contrast, is one in which mutual watchfulness, proportionate representation and checks-and-balances prevent any one group from dominating it.

    An integrated army is incapable of fighting as a sectarian unit on any national scale.
    By contrast, an ethnic militia is by nature homogenous and relies on no one but its own kind.

    8/20/2007 05:13:00 PM

  2. "It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood..."
    "Could you be Mine?
    Would you be Mine?"

  3. Michael Vick's Bogus Plea

    Now, I've heard both sides of this argument debated over the past few weeks.

    Some people say that no matter how cruel Vick's crime against animals is, dogs have no souls and do not go to heaven. Therefore, the amount of outrage, some say, was unwarranted.

    On the other side, critics — me included — would like to see Vick himself thrown to a pack of hungry, killer-trained dogs, like some of the pets that are kidnapped by dogfighting purveyors for training purposes, and see how the guy who takes to the field all padded up with helmet and shoulder pads handles a little tooth-to-skin combat.

    Or better yet, let's let him play quarterback for the Falcons, and electrocute him the first time they lose.

    Plead out all you want, Vick, but no matter how much time passes, people won't forget the kind of person you are.

    Americans love a comeback story. Just not yours.

  4. Ill take option B:

    ...Or better yet, let's let him play quarterback for the Falcons, and electrocute him the first time they lose.

  5. Hannity reports on Nuevo Laredo
    Second only to Iraq

    W cares sooo much about the kidnapped hispanic American CITIZENS.

  6. Transgenderism is Sexy!
    (my first post w/a connection!)

    Criticism of a Gender Theory, and a Scientist Under Siege

    In academic feuds, as in war, there is no telling how far people will go once the shooting starts.

    Earlier this month, members of the International Academy of Sex Research, gathering for their annual meeting in Vancouver, informally discussed one of the most contentious and personal social science controversies in recent memory.

    The central figure, J. Michael Bailey, a psychologist at Northwestern University, has promoted a theory that his critics think is inaccurate, insulting and potentially damaging to transgender women. In the past few years, several prominent academics who are transgender have made a series of accusations against the psychologist, including that he committed ethics violations. A transgender woman he wrote about has accused him of a sexual impropriety, and Dr. Bailey has become a reviled figure for some in the gay and transgender communities.

    To many of Dr. Bailey’s peers, his story is a morality play about the corrosive effects of political correctness on academic freedom. Some scientists say that it has become increasingly treacherous to discuss politically sensitive issues. They point to several recent cases, like that of Helmuth Nyborg, a Danish researcher who was fired in 2006 after he caused a furor in the press by reporting a slight difference in average I.Q. test scores between the sexes.

    “What happened to Bailey is important, because the harassment was so extraordinarily bad and because it could happen to any researcher in the field,” said Alice Dreger, an ethics scholar and patients’ rights advocate at Northwestern who, after conducting a lengthy investigation of Dr. Bailey’s actions, has concluded that he is essentially blameless. “If we’re going to have research at all, then we’re going to have people saying unpopular things, and if this is what happens to them, then we’ve got problems not only for science but free expression itself.”

  7. I guess, that if Mr Vick had taken those dogs to the shelter, and then the shelter had killed 'em, it'd have honky dory, aye?

    There are thousands of dogs killed daily in the US, with little to no fanfare or outrage.
    The Humane Society of the US says:
    ... that animal shelters care for between 6–8 million dogs and cats every year in the United States, of whom 3–4 million are euthanized.

    3 to 4 million per year, cold bloodly killed, so Mr Vick killed the animals he had no further use for, himself, instead of letting someone else do it for him.

    That is an outrage? If so your moral compass is out of whack. The dogs are dead, regardless of who killed 'em, or how.

    No, Mr Vick is a victim of selective MSM morality, he should have just had those dogs delivered to the pound. Then the morally pure would have killed 'em, for him, legally.

  8. Changeup
    (Something to focus on while distracting the mind from DR's pathology.)

  9. uh, 'Rat,
    Mr. Vic TORTURED the dogs, often to death.

    Would you rather be shot, or buried and stoned to death like a Muslim Woman?

    When I was at college, I knew a guy that worked at the "Humane" Center, and at that time, they employed a vacuum chamber, which was not very HUMANE.

    But still paled in comparison to Mr Vick's antics.

  10. If Mr Vick had taken those dogs to the pound, the Humane Society policy is to destroy them.

    ... An animal shelter has a responsibility to protect not only the animals in their care but also
    the human members of their community. For liability as well as ethical reasons, most animal shelters euthanize any animal who exhibits aggressive or dangerous behavior.

    Breed Issues
    Numerous animal shelters have instituted policies regarding the availability of certain dog breeds, such as pit bulls and rottweilers. The HSUS recommends that animal shelters take great care when determining whether your agency should euthanize those breeds of dogs commonly associated with, but not known to have been involved in, dogfighting.
    When determining adoption or euthanasia policies regarding certain breeds, it is important to evaluate your community for dogfighting-related activity and to ascertain which types of animals or breeds may be at risk for involvement. Some communities prohibit ownership of certain breeds and, in these areas, shelters do not offer these animals for adoption.

    The only outrage is that he was not an "authorized" killer, in our antispeptic society.

  11. "regardless of who killed 'em, or how"
    If you kill me in a Nitrous Oxide chamber, I swear my Ghost will treat you more kindly than if you torture me to death.

  12. Dead is dead, doug.

    The shelter would have killed them, as well.

    No reports of that, hourly, on the TV. Selective MSM morality, that's all Mr Vixk's case is about.

    Saw a 1970's Paul Newman movie the other day on tv, he playing a detective in New Orleans, the "bad" white oil magnate, he was training fightin' dogs.
    Solidified his evilness in the audience's eyes.
    Death Hunt, with Lee Marvin and Charles Bronson used a similar plot thread involving dog fighting in Canadian wilderness, circa 1915 or so. Both stories indicitive of the fact that dog fighting is a very old custom.

    Dogs are killed, everyday, by gas, just like the gypsies were killed by the NAZIs in WWll.
    That they killed those gypsies humanely with gas, made it better than killing them by bullet or electricution?

    I think not. It is not the manner of death that matters, only the outcome.

    If dogs are people, too, then let's not permit their killers a double standard.

  13. So much outrage, over the death of some dogs, while three citizens were killed by a out on bail child rapists, from Peru.

    A man that rapes a five year old, repeatedly, or a man that kills his dogs, which deserves greater societal outrage?

    In my mind, it's not even worthy of a debate, it's so cut and dried.

    Dogs are livestock, eaten in many parts of the world, just like chickens, cows and pigs.

  14. "That they killed those gypsies humanely with gas, made it better than killing them by bullet or electricution?"
    No, but my inner dog would still rather be put to sleep (DEAD) than TORTURED to death.

    I've already been put to sleep a couple of times:
    Not that bad.
    Torture, OTH...

  15. I ate Dogs in Korea,
    Hope the "Slopes" treated them more humanely than Vicks did his (or someone else's) pets.

  16. You didn't answer this one:

    "Would you rather be shot, or buried and stoned to death like a Muslim Woman?"

  17. Myself, I'd rather die of a marijuana overdose.
    Given my druthers.

    Other than that, it doesn't matter much to me. Maybe because the schizophrenia has set in, after all these years?

  18. You'd have to ask those closest to you:
    The Victim is often the last to know.

  19. Another way to use CO2 is to pump it into greenhouses to jazz oil bearing algae to make oil. And if the coal plant happens to be above a brackish water aquifer ....there just happen to be greenhouses that desalinze water in the process.

  20. Loop_Current

    Hey, Charles, this link says the ocean is 24 inches higher because of the warm water below!

    Didn't know that was possible!

  21. The high seas, doug, you've heard of that, aye.

    Doubt that term refered to schizophrenia.

  22. WASHINGTON (Associated Press) -- President Bush faces a delicate task as the United States works to persuade North Korea to scrap its nuclear weapons: Fulfill a pledge to remove the North from a U.S. list of countries accused of sponsoring terrorism without alienating ally Japan and American conservatives.

    Failure to take North Korea off the State Department list would jeopardize years of disarmament negotiations by infuriating Pyongyang, which views the terrorist designation as evidence of hostile U.S. intentions.

    Following through, on the other hand, would anger conservatives in Bush's Republican Party and officials in Japan. Hard-liners in both countries complain that the Bush administration, eager for a nuclear resolution, has been far too willing to bend to North Korean demands.

    The Bush administration, once wary of any perceived concession to the North, has taken a different approach recently. Opposition Democrats long criticized the White House for following a policy that they said had allowed the North's nuclear arsenal to grow.

    In an effort to reach a nuclear settlement, the United States agreed in February to begin the process of removing the designation of North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism as part of the procedure to end the North's nuclear program.

    Appeasement by any other name smell as sweet.
    Or we've declared victory and won!

    Good enough for the Korean leg of the axis of evil, while Mr Kim is still in power, why not in Iraq, where Saddam is in the ground and a democratic government is installed?

  23. "So what, Trish, when all these bastard Islamics inflame their flocks with all their kill the infidel pep talks, and over and over again they have made good on their threats to do exactly what they say they are going to do, we should all act like the CIA and pretend Islam is the ROP?"

    Is your problem with the CIA the fact that, like DOD and State, it carries out any given President's policies and strategies, Doug? Or is it something else?

  24. Interestin stuff, Charles. Great Link.

  25. Not to worry about Fido--

    From "Life Everlasting"
    The Earth To Be Resurrected

    'The Lord has revealed that not only are man, earth and heaven to be resurrected, but that the resurrection will also extend to the lower creations upon the earth. According to His word, all the animal life must also be raised from the dead:

    And the end shall come, and the heaven and the earth shall be consumed and pass away, and there shall be a new heaven and a new earth.
    For all old things shall pass away, and all things shall become new, even the heaven and the earth, and all the fulness thereof, both men and beasts, the fowls of the air, and the fishes of the sea:
    And not one hair, neither mote, shall be lost, for it is the workmanship of mine hand.

    Doctrine and Covenants

    Even the fishes of the sea. And of how much more worth is Fido, than a fish of the sea?

  26. It appears to me that the Gaians, and the Animal Rights Activists, have not thought too deeply about some of these matters. The LDS Church has it over them by a hundred years or more.

    (Actually, the renovatio is an old theme.)

  27. Meanwhile, more have died just recently in Utah, in the recent mine collapse, and rescue effort, than in all our nuclear generating plants, ever.

    Quite fooling around with coal. Build the only answer to the problem that there is--nuke generating plants.

    Then plug your electric car into the outlet in the garage. And feel good about yourself.

  28. On that last little bit of Codevilla's NYPost article:

    Hence, it is ironic that among the documents to which today's CIA points with contrition are ones concerning the agreement between President Lyndon Johnson and then CIA chief Richard Helms, that the CIA would search out the links between foreign communists and Americans who were working to defeat the United States in Vietnam. Is it really improper, when foreign forces are killing Americans, to keep track of those Americans who espouse the killers' cause? After 1975, the CIA led the U.S. government in answering "Yes!"

    That is why the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency together were the major lobby for the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which in practice exempted virtually anyone in the United States from intelligence wiretapping. That is why, together with the de-Hooverized FBI, the CIA built the well-known "wall" between foreign intelligence and domestic intelligence - the "wall" that shielded the 9/11 plotters on their way to mass murder.

    - Codevilla

    After 1975, after the curiously unmentioned Church hearings, the CIA was formally enjoined from domestic surveillance, which then became the sole province of federal law enforcement. Since that time the agency has rightly been determined to (a) keep itself out of legal hot water and committee hearings and (b) protect sources and methods, in neglect of which it cannot function. To the extent that you dismantle "the wall" around the agency, the agency's mission, which cannot withstand the same level of oversight and scrutiny as other executive branch organizations, is threatened. Intelligence collection, as opposed to law enforcement collection, at home...brings the agency home. Where, for a variety of reasons, it does not belong. (And, as a separate matter, having the agency collect voluminous data on US citizens during Vietnam didn't help us in Vietnam.)

    Reading Codevilla's entire article, his chief complaint seems to be that the CIA has been reluctant to work outside the law as a reversion to pre-Church would require. Gee. I wonder why.

    Even with a convenient loophole that ran through DOD in the 80's, it doesn't take very much to land yourself in the dog house and have your privileges taken away. And no one's going to come to your rescue when that happens. Least of all those who sent you out in the first place.

  29. Shuttle lands safely. Damaged tiles No Problem

  30. Bob, THIS might be the SMARTEST THING I'VE EVER SEEN!

    It's Nuclear/Bio, and, Yes, it's in IDAHO.

  31. All I can get on your link for some reason is nuclear power complex to integrate bio fuels produdction...but sounds good, Rufus. Puts us on the same page:)

    Idaho? Of course.

  32. The Defense Department announced today that it would close an intelligence reporting database that had come under legal fire as a means of storing information about peaceful domestic critics of Bush administration policies.

    The Threat and Local Observation Notice (Talon) database had become a lightning rod for criticism of military intelligence agencies’ monitoring of antiwar protestors. The decision to shut it down resonated with parallel litigation and debate about the legality of federal monitoring of international telecommunications.

    Technological changes in international telecommunications that have arisen since the disclosure of Vietnam War-era domestic spying prompted new civil-liberties protections figure in current privacy debates.

    The Pentagon said it would close Talon as of Sept. 17 and “maintain a record copy of the collected data in accordance with intelligence oversight requirements,” said a department press statement issued today.

    The American Civil Liberties Union, which had sued DOD to gain access to Talon records under the Freedom of Information Act, praised the decision to shut down the system.

  33. Finallly got it up, Rufus. jeez, the article i mean--Now that's great, I wasn't aware of that going on down there. If they need 'public support' they got it from me. Thanks alot, and I'm going to follow this out, and maybe write a letter or two in support. Sounds great!

  34. Just passing on the MSM views!
    (to promote discussion and defense, when required)

    Tenet’s C.I.A. Unprepared for Qaeda Threat, Report Says
    George Tenet, the former head of the C.I.A., failed to adequately prepare the agency to meet the threat of Al Qaeda, according to an internal agency report.
    Report Summary PDF (pdf)
    Tenet's Statement
    The Lede: C.I.A. Accountability

  35. That can't be right, Doug. He got a medal.

  36. Austin Bay on Hewitt

  37. Not just ANY Medal,
    THE PRESIDENTIAL MEDAL OF FREEDOM! little Normie Minetta, for institutionalizing the least effective WOT methods immaginable at DOT.

  38. Gee,
    Austin Bay agrees with General Garner that disbanding the Army was a disasterous decision.
    ...Viceroy Bremmer and A Jacksonian notwithstanding.

    Rumsfeld/DOE/Garner plan was torpedoed at the outset by State and CIA.

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