Combustion vs Reverse Cycle heating

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Re: Combustion vs Reverse Cycle heating

Postby Smurf1976 » Sat Jan 28, 2012 12:59 pm

ALL power pollutes in some way, ALL of it.

If we're going to cut CO2 then we're going to have to accept some other form of pollution instead.

Imagine if the Franklin River debate were occurring today. Who could really argue against a dam? You'd still have the pro-development side wanting to build it whilst the environmentalists would be split between those worried about wild rivers versus those worried about fossil fuels. Given that the debate was so close last time, the odds would seem pretty high that if fossil fuels had been an issue then that would have tipped the balance and there would be a lake there today.

The same could be said of nuclear power. Nobody in their right mind would even consider it in this country if not for the CO2 issue. There's plenty of brown coal left in the Latrobe Valley and it's cheaper than nuclear. But add in CO2 and then it starts to get a bit more complex.

If you ever want to upset a Green supporter then just point this situation out to them. They seem to go off their head at the mere mention of the reality that cutting CO2 comes with its own environmental consequences which aren't entirely nice.
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Re: Combustion vs Reverse Cycle heating

Postby lad » Mon Jan 30, 2012 2:26 pm

debe wrote:The NSW Govt. recommends a TAX on wood-burning heaters and on WOOD as a heating fuel


There is wood and then there is wood. If you are burning farmed wood, then there will already be tree(s) growing in its place by the time it is burnt. This is "carbon neutral" excluding harvesting, transport and any management where the consumption of fuel has been required.

If the wood comes from land clearing then this is definitely not carbon neutral. This second type of wood should definitely attract a tax as the clearing will be for commercial gain one way or another and at the expense of the carbon bank, leaving society to pay in the future.

As Smurf76 quite rightly points out,
Smurf1976 wrote:ALL power pollutes in some way, ALL of it.
and some in surprising ways, hydro produces methane ! from biological matter collecting in the depths of the reservoir as well as the pollution caused from construction. :?
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Re: Combustion vs Reverse Cycle heating

Postby Tracker » Mon Jan 30, 2012 5:30 pm

lad wrote:If the wood comes from land clearing then this is definitely not carbon neutral.

I supose that depends on your HONEST point of view..
Is that timber tainted because it is from cleared land, or because they cleared the land for the wood.. :?

So, if a crappy scrubby-forest (???) area is cleared to establish a plantation forest, then we should just pile it up and fire it on site, rather than chop it up and put it to use..
Sorry - I don't see any logic in this..
Smurf1976 wrote:ALL power pollutes in some way, ALL of it.

but the GREENS keep telling us how fantastic PV and WIND power is.. The complete answer to earth's energy problems..
..
.
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Re: Combustion vs Reverse Cycle heating

Postby Smurf1976 » Mon Jan 30, 2012 8:12 pm

lad wrote:
debe wrote:As Smurf76 quite rightly points out,
Smurf1976 wrote:ALL power pollutes in some way, ALL of it.
and some in surprising ways, hydro produces methane ! from biological matter collecting in the depths of the reservoir as well as the pollution caused from construction. :?

A study in Tasmania some years ago concluded that overall emissions from the hydro system were very much lower than for fossil fuels but that there were significant variations between individual dams and individual catchments. The highest one would seem to be emitting more greenhouse gases than burning coal, but on average that was not the case and hydro is cleaner than PV, fossil fuels or nuclear.

With regard to the highest emitting scheme, a major issue is the role it plays in the integrated system which would make actually substituting it with coal problematic. There's also the point that if the storage were drained, the mix of vegetation and silt would continue to rot thus not really addressing the emissions issue.

The hydro system in Tasmania comprises 54 large dams, 27 "proper" power stations and one small one and is spread over 7 separate catchments. This does not include a few mini hydro schemes not owned by the Hydro-Electric Corporation ("Hydro Tasmania"). The system generates about 60% of all hydro power used in Australia.
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Re: Combustion vs Reverse Cycle heating

Postby lad » Tue Jan 31, 2012 2:47 pm

Just to clarify,

that is not to say that Hydro is not a good thing ;) but more to concur that there is no system to deliver electricity that does not pollute, in either its construction, its function or its decommissioning.

Guess if we want to live a lifestyle, we have to make a decision to balance both positive and negative outcomes and aim for the best possible result. :mrgreen:
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Re: Combustion vs Reverse Cycle heating

Postby Nifty » Tue Jan 31, 2012 5:20 pm

Back to the firewood question, I see little difference between burning farmed timber or any other. The real significance is that timber is renewable, whereas coal and oil and gas are not - they release carbon which has for millions of years been locked away. And even if we go all green and let trees die and rot away in their own time, they still release the same amount of carbon as if they were burnt. It just takes longer. There's just nothing practical you can do to stop trees growing and dying, absorbing and releasing carbon as they do. We can delay the time it takes for them to release the carbon by using the timber, but eventually it will revert to its original constituents. Without thinking greatly about it, I suspect the same argument will apply to the algae that was mentioned in relation to hydro.
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Re: Combustion vs Reverse Cycle heating

Postby lad » Thu Feb 02, 2012 1:41 pm

Nifty wrote: I see little difference between burning farmed timber or any other. The real significance is that timber is renewable, whereas coal and oil and gas are not - they release carbon which has for millions of years been locked away. And even if we go all green and let trees die and rot away in their own time, they still release the same amount of carbon as if they were burnt. It just takes longer. There's just nothing practical you can do to stop trees growing and dying, absorbing and releasing carbon as they do


The key to the process is that if a tree dies / is cut down & burnt and one or more trees grow / are planted in its place with one reaching maturity and the equivalent mass, then in that case it is "carbon neutral".

If there are less trees left, after the termination by any means, then the process is releasing carbon to the atmosphere, making the situation worse.

The process taken for decomposition will also affect how great the environmental effect is as methane has a greater effect than carbondioxide. Decomposition without the presence of good oxygen supply will produce greater levels of methane than oxygenated decomposition. Decomposition at the bottom of a dam will generally be anaerobic (without good oxygenation).

This is simplified of course
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Re: Combustion vs Reverse Cycle heating

Postby Nifty » Thu Feb 02, 2012 4:58 pm

I think your arguments are sound, except there's a bit of chicken-and-egg here too. The tree that I cut down, burn, and do not replace by planting another, has merely released the carbon that it absorbed whilst growing, for a net zero result. By replanting, I am in fact becoming a better carbon citizen (don't know whether to express it as carbon-negative or -positive).
I have to confess to a great deal of scepticism about this whole carbon business anyway, but my old wooden house and wood-fired stove allow me to feel smug when the zealots start to rant. No offence meant to any posters here, of course, it's an interesting discussion.
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Re: Combustion vs Reverse Cycle heating

Postby Smurf1976 » Thu Feb 02, 2012 9:01 pm

One thing I can strongly recommend is that no matter what your opinion on burning wood, don't try burning coal in a slow combustion heater designed to burn wood.

Environmental issues aside, you'll wait forever for the stuff to get going and will spend many hours shivering. That plus you'll end up with truly ridiculous amounts of ash - enough to warrant cleaning the heater out at least every second day.

There was a tonne of coal, in bags, left behind when I bought the house. Let's just say I still have the wood heater but I have no interest whatsoever in buying more coal to burn in it. And that's without mentioning the smell, the dust, blackened hands and so on. Or CO2.
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Re: Combustion vs Reverse Cycle heating

Postby Smurf1976 » Thu Feb 02, 2012 9:10 pm

One thing I can strongly recommend is that no matter what your opinion on burning wood, don't try burning coal in a slow combustion heater designed to burn wood.

Environmental issues aside, you'll wait forever for the stuff to get going and will spend many hours shivering. That plus you'll end up with truly ridiculous amounts of ash - enough to warrant cleaning the heater out at least every second day.

There was a tonne of coal, in bags, left behind when I bought the house. Let's just say I still have the wood heater but I have no interest whatsoever in buying more coal to burn in it. And that's without mentioning the smell, the dust, blackened hands and so on. Or CO2.

That said, I have previously used coal in a pot belly stove and it worked very nicely in that. No problem with the ash, it just falls through the grate, and it kept burning overnight very easily. Just don't try using it in a slow combustion heater...
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