Jun 30, 2010 Sponge
Dr. Steve Larter holds the University of Calgary’s Canada Research Chair in Petroleum Geology and has more than 30 years’ research experience in petroleum geology and geochemistry in both academia and industry. Dr. Larter was named as one of the Top 10 Geologists in the U.K.in 2003, and has received numerous awards for his scientific contributions, including the Friendship Medal of the Peoples Republic of China. When he speaks, the smart people pay attention.
Dr. Larter was the keynote speaker June 17 for the 2010 Goldschmidt Conference hosted by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In his presentation, “Can Studies of Petroleum Biodegradation Help Fossil Fuel Carbon Management,” Larter discussed microbes in the environment and their role in breaking down oil and generating natural gas.
This is with an eye to the feasibility of recovering hydrogen, instead of oil, directly from oilfields undergoing natural biodegradation processes. Larter is also examining the feasibility of using a related process, biologically assisted carbon capture and conversion of CO² to methane or natural gas via H² + CO² methanogenesis in the hydrogen-rich environments of weathering subsurface ultrabasic rocks, as a route to recycle carbon dioxide in flue gases back to methane.
But the most interesting is the in field conversion of oil to natural gas. If Larter can develop the idea into a working process much of the oil in place, or about 4 times the oil already pumped and used could be available in the form of natural gas. It’s an astonishing concept.
Over two years ago Dr. Larter showed how crude oil in some oil deposits around the world — including in Alberta’s oil sands — are naturally broken down by microbes in the reservoir. Larter is working on understanding how crude oil biodegrades into methane, or natural gas, opening the door to being able to recover the clean-burning methane directly from deeply buried, or in situ, oil sands deposits.
Currently a problem exists out of the media and public’s view – biodegradation of crude oil into heavy oil in petroleum reservoirs is a problem worldwide for the petroleum industry. The natural process is caused by bacteria that consume the oil, making the oil viscous, or thick, and contaminates it with pollutants such as sulfur. This makes recovering and refining heavy oil difficult and costly. People don’t realize they’re competing with microbes for the oil.
Using a combination of microbiological studies, laboratory experiments and oilfield case studies, the University of Calgary team demonstrated the anaerobic degradation of hydrocarbons to produce methane. The findings offer the potential of ‘feeding’ the microbes and rapidly accelerating the breaking down of the oil into methane.
Larter is now working on an approach of capturing carbon dioxide and pumping it and special bacteria underground into alkaline rock formations where the carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, will be converted into natural gas.
Larter says the petroleum industry already has expressed interest in trying to accelerate biodegradation in a reservoir.
The business end has already started with Dr. Larter involved with Gushor, a Canadian consulting firm. Gushor is focusing on heavy oil recovery, fluid mobility, biodegradation, and carbon management emissions.
To date Larter’s findings indicate that feeding the oil reservoir microbes rapidly accelerates the breaking down of oil into natural gas. Larter says, “Instead of 10 million years, we want to do it 10 years. We think it’s possible. We can do it in the laboratory. The question is: can we do it in a reservoir?”
The matter now is the sense of urgency. With ‘peak oil’ losing its public momentum, a great U.S. success from the Bakken formation in the Williston basin, a major oil well disaster in discovering a huge field in the Gulf of Mexico, and a series of discovery successes over the past two years around the world, the recovery techniques that Larter is proposing are getting pushed back into the less urgent category.
That might not be the best idea. Petroleum hydrocarbons will be needed for centuries in declining amounts. Natural gas isn’t particularly good as a motor fuel, but would certainly be useful for light transport substitution. But for making heat whether for a home on to producing steam, natural gas is a very desirable product.
The clean motive – less CO² also has a friend in natural gas. The single carbon atom in methane (CH4) with the four-atom hydrogen set makes for a lot of heat for a minimum of carbon reaction with oxygen. Methane also could have a big role in high efficiency fuel cells.
Larter’s work is getting noticed and consideration. The move to commercial interest is underway. It’s an idea well worth having in the world’s fuel production arsenal.
Here is the original post: New Energy and Fuel
Jun 29, 2010 Sponge
An advantage to writing for site like this is the willingness and directive to look into things that are at the edge of technology and watch the progress. The reporting can be just a joy, but for years now the joy has been smeared by the motives of a few in an important field.
Steven E. Jones, a competitor for patent rights to Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons re-misnamed the Fleischmann and Pons phenomena ‘cold fusion’ which was at the time called muon-catalyzed fusion. For simplicities sake we’ll just call the phenomena Cold Fusion. That opens up the first lost battle. Here we go!
No one yet knows just what is exactly happening in a cold fusion experiment. The fundamental event isn’t nailed down. Some say there are hundreds of theories and cold fusion can’t take off until there is just one. But in fact – what does matter is that experiments work, get developed and become worthwhile products. There is some reason to expect that the reality of demand might not wait for the ‘One Grand Theory’ answer for everyone. It is important to get the theories proved up – just don’t expect any one or perhaps more than one to satisfy the human need for a single answer.
In that battle is the concern about what comes first, the science or the satisfaction. By that this writer means the emotional need for science to use language to explain, the ‘satisfaction’ if you will allow – or the science moves on anyway and drives to useful products in the form of hardware doing work. If it was 1989 still, the answer would have to be satisfaction wins out, but its 2010 and leaving the potential unexplored is a serious dereliction of duty for science, public policy and business and personal planning.
With the mass of academic and private research of cold fusion now becoming available which has been going on while the mass media and the establishment of science relaxed in the success of smearing the unexplained, most anyone with a high school college prep background can catch on easily. Its becoming time for the foolish assassination of a new science discovery to be cast into irrelevancy – something science leadership has neglected doing for two decades.
The evidence at hand is beyond doubt – only the most grasping fool can hold out now for intransigent ignorance as a defense. It’s not a smart career move to take a self-satisfying emotional side against the cold fusion phenomena. It’s not going to go away. The battle is lost.
Next is the experiments are getting data that lead to very curious results and increasingly more valuable potential. The dissenters over the years have bemoaned the absence or small volumes of fusion byproducts such as tritium and helium forms that come from the fusion of hydrogen while overlooking the excess production of heat from the energy put in to drive the experiment. Not paying attention has the dissenters in a corner; some experimenters have veered into transmutation or fusion by another word, and can produce element transmutation from one to another. The battle about evidence is not only lost – its become an incredible routing of the dissent – much more can be made to go on in cold fusion experiments than generate a little heat.
Even more alarming for dissenters is the mass media seems to be cracking open to the real facts. The highly regarded CBS network show 60 Minutes covered the cold fusion matter and comes away with a basic sense that cold fusion is real science, stunted but growing and closes with an interview with Dr. Fleischmann to say that the products that would give us very low cost energy supplies could be much closer than it seems. Progress demands better answers without regard to the dissenter’s opinion or effort to reign supreme with old science over the new. This battle too is lost, and may well offer a very unpleasant recoil on the dissenters. It might be a very good idea for the dissenters to just keep quiet. That deliberate misleading over the years can still come back for a painful haunting.
Outside the mass media there are proponents using various tools to correct the perceptions of interested people. One such is a self-improvement site with a documentary styled review of the history of cold fusion. The work does serve to arm those wishing to see the science progress with public relations information that if applied with skill would be devastating to dissenters. The battle here is lost as well and time and progress is changing the battleground into a mortuary where dissent has grave risks easy for both sides to see. Cold fusion is becoming another example of dissent losing before the march of progress.
The battleground of significance for many is the peer review journal publishing of papers. Here the U.S. field has been led into a position of dire weakness. Other nation’s journals are far ahead and acquiring the expertise of peers for reviews. This has negative effects across the full research spectrum from the students yet to enroll, to professors and teachers and on to the people responsible for grants and funding.
The leading edge of research isn’t in the place the population of the world expects – the U.S. Publishing, the exchange of ideas between researchers, the basis for education and the foundation of choosing the best use for money through grants and funding is the last battleground. With the other battlegrounds lost and the competition for relevancy, competency and integrity at stake the arena itself is at risk. Publishers have made a conscience choice to support dissenter’s views at extreme loss, which not in evidence yet, will be evident in the coming years as others take the ascendancy with the importance, depth of information and professional confidence. These institutions are repeating the recurring error of choosing the established norm over discovery – a certain path to self-destruction. This battle too, is lost with the damage continuing to fester and infect the participants.
Alternatives exist with repositories of data such as the LENR-CANR Library with connections to the publishers and papers that provide the open view. The old dissenting publishers are not just lost, but left out as well. Which in turn leaves out the students, educators, grant personnel and government policy makers. The disease state reaches to the potential of business and consumers. The war is lost – the damage is severe across the entire U.S. economy.
Dissenting against the unknown or unexplained discovery is as one dissenter puts it – pathological science. It’s time for the dissent to be stopped and restart the questions, research and development of science to retake dissent’s place.
Original post: New Energy and Fuel
Jun 29, 2010 Environmental Controls
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