Game of Thrones – The Energy League

Since it debut in 2011 the series Game of Thrones is attracting people all over the globe. And they are eager to know what is next, who is next and when is next. Fascinating, isn’t it? Game of Thrones got its heydays and is in 2014 far from over – and give or take another 7 years. Quality ensures longevity and is the key to success to continue throwing thrones into the game.

Time has changed, people are in constant demand for high-quality television shows and demand is growing. The medium is the message and the medium has changed, from television to video on demand – whenever to wherever and as often as you want. Can this approach be translated to the energy market? High-quality energy? Clean energy? Long lasting energy?

But has the medium to transport energy changed? Certainly not, it is still electricity traveling through the wires. And people like continuity – to watch safely Games of Thrones, while sitting at home or commuting. But at the same time they do not care when watching the series; thus the key to success is to increase awareness prior to starting the show.

Awareness! Another buzz word with a lot of meaning. How-to? Increase? Sharpen? Keep it up? And who is first and who follows? Them? And then us? And is it a quick fix?

Awareness could be certainly sharpened by the makers of the show. Obvious that production companies require energy to create the Game(s). They could create The-Energy-League, a commercial platform where creativity is getting powered by fuels which sharpen awareness of people watching the show. Fuels which are considered bridging fuels, like natural gas, biogas, shale gase and flare gas. And it is fairly easy to start with, like with everything else when talking entertainment. Just make an announcement. Ambush them with going green, or slightly green energy. Them? Us, of course. Does it have to be true? Maybe. But you start creating awareness. In small steps.

A warm(er) future with cold(er) energy?

Welcome to 2014. As usual things are moving on, no difference to 2013 or years before. And yet, the most notable difference for people is the weather. Is it getting warmer in 2014, or maybe colder? Nobody knows for sure. While North-Europe is desperately waiting for the cold and snow, parts of the USA are under frosty and stormy attack at the same time. Very unusual events, but it happens and may happen again. Nobody knows for sure.

Surely a warm(er) future in general is following the latest predictions within the scientific world. What does that mean for securing energy supply to the people? Business as usual an neglecting the above mentioned warming of the world? Business as usual and planning ahead, slowly but with slight focus on cold energy? Maybe both? And what exactly is cold energy referring to? Too many questions.

To begin with, cold energy is, in this case, related to liquefied gases, which can be easily stored, transported, used directly as fuel, converted back to gases and used as fuel again, or used for heating, or simply used to produce electricity. It may answer the question how we ensure easy energy storage without loosing too much flexibility in our daily life. It may, but it is definitely embedded into the planning scenario to go ahead and it is actually happening; and happenings always start with door-openers – technology set in place, working and, most importantly, socially accepted.

Social acceptance is the key to opening any door. Nobody wants to change life style – at least not without any reason, or without force majeure, due to climatically imposed changes like a warmer future. We like our life styles, do we not? Changes threatens us and make us uncomfortable. But leaving the comfort zone is accepting the limitations of possibilities in order to plan ahead; too many possibilities and people get confused and planners will take endless discussions of pro and cons for each of them. No limitations and people will never see any other door except the one they already use. But which limitations then?

There are many of them, but the easiest is deeply related to our day-to-day behavior: we must eat and we (must) throw away leftovers or whole meals. In any case, the food-chain does not end in our households, it ends as waste in dumps. Does it really ends there? No, it is, often, used in smaller quantities to produce biogas, which can be used directly to produce electricity, treated to remove CO2 (a common by-product of any biogas production) and feed into nearby pipelines, or used as vehicle fuel as compressed biogas (CBG). Nothing new and part of business as usual.

But it is a fairly simply and fully socially accepted technology. The problem is the amount of waste and coordination of waste. Waste is big business – no easy catch like in the old days, where not-knowing-your-dump was socially accepted. But things had changed. Waste is handled as a resource with quality markers. There is bad waste, good waste and better waste, like food waste from our household. Fairly predictable in composition and amount. We do not change our life style, remember?

On top of the waste-to-gas-technology, liquefaction (converting to liquids) and storage is easily placed and, for the first time, energy can be stored for a long time, and used whenever needed. Again, technology is not the problem. Over the last years liquefaction units turned into sophisticated but fully automated units, which can handle a great variety of gases. Technology-wise, it is nothing compared to the understanding in harnessing the sun or splitting the atom but it works and enables to store great amount of energy in liquid form. Well, that is truly and amazingly groundbreaking and can be used for further planning, to gain social acceptance.

Again, facts speak louder than any kind of words. And the facts are good! In 2014 the municipality of Oslo, Norway, with an estimated population of 500’000 people, produces enough waste from households to sustain 130 buses in public transportation with liquid bio-fuel. Fuel from waste. Waste from people. People accepting social changes: to-know-your-dump-and-divide-organics-from-whatever-is-left-when-throwing-things-away. Small social change compared to the local impact: to ensure a warm(er) future can be handled fairly easily with cold(er) energy.

Micro-LNG – A Road Movie

Micro is the new macro! Easy to integrate! And easy to meet requirements from clients! Requirements to bring methane-to-markets! Markets which exists today and grow by tomorrow!

Micro can fuel motor vehicles and power remote residential and industrial locations.

Micro-LNG plants are available in the range of 5’000 to 20’000 metric tons of LNG per year. Micro-LNG facilities primarily aim at local markets.

As for today LNG is more environmental friendly compared to diesel in heavy-duty vehicle cargo transportation. The power market for remote locations can also easily substitute diesel or fuel oil with LNG.

The road movie continues, transporting fuels to remote locations. The production and distribution score is changing, where constant micro productions meet constant micro demands.

Micro-LNG – On the Shoulder of Giants

The famous Isaac Newton, and many influential people before him, stated the aphorism that dwarfs sitting on the shoulders of giants are able to see even further than giants themselves. After decades of giant’s domination within the LNG market, mid, small-scale and even micro-LNG plants are turning into the hope of a generation – to maintain security of supply, investment and innovation. And all locally produced, in the reach to the markets.

Methane gas is easy

Methane rich gas in liquefied form is easy. Easy to produce. Easy to transport. Easy to store. Easy to convert (back into its gaseous form). And – at last – easy to produce electricity from it. No wondrous things involved.

Unfortunately, methane gas, whenever exploited or produced as biogas or even landfill gas, is seldom alone. It has company – hitchhikers, and to carry them along is not pleasant, nor recommendable.

Normally, methane gas is a simple combination of one carbon and four hydrogen atoms. An easy catch! Once unleashed from their original source the wanted-quintet – together with unpleasant hitchhikers (CO2 and water to be named) – is passing through several engineering-traps, or pre-treatment facilities to unload the unwanted guests. Finally, the quintet approaches the finely-crafted metal gates – the heat exchangers. Methane enters and cold is everywhere, a grim cold, turning the quintet into liquid form. It is stored at site and ready for further use. The world of creating the tools to convert methane gas-to-liquids – the world of engineering – is less poetic due to constant focus on reliability, robustness, mitigating environmental footprints, overall energy consumption, and not to mention price. What are the costs to make the quintet cold?

Then again, cold is good, because the carbon-hydrogen alliance gets chilly, then liquid, and, more importantly, ready for transport to us – today. And to others – tomorrow! We all need energy – today, tomorrow and the day after!

Back to the giants
And the giants do what exactly again? They provide “the cold”.

The market is dominated by giants, super-sized LNG plants in the range of up to 10 million tons per year (in 2010), which can easily be increased to an enormous 20 million tons per year – there are virtually no limits for giants these days. Their planed and outlined sizes are in the sheer mega-range. Often, the attempt to describe such plants as somewhat bigger fridges, is utterly misleading. No fridge is that big nor complicated to use. Again, these things are giants – designed with cutting-edge technology in terms of engineering, planning, manufacturing, construction and operating. Does liquefaction of methane gas on a micro, small and mid-scale level follow the same challenges, difficulties and complexity as giant’s performances and security of supply (bigger is better) do?

Particularly small and micro-scale LNG technologies are dwarfs compared to their carrying hosts – the giants. But in recent years cheaper yet robust and reliable technologies are easily available. And the demand for methane gas is growing.

Mature giants and growing-up dwarfs
Even giants started small. Every new technology upheaval or breakthrough lead to another generation and the race continued towards more powerful and complicated machinery to produce LNG. Today we are facing the latest generation of base-load LNG plants.

In 2008 some 20 base-load LNG plants in 16 countries can be identified worldwide. In 2020, it’s firmly believed that almost 30% of Western Europe’s natural gas consumption will be supplied by LNG, mainly produced by base-load LNG plants. If so, another 70% of Europe’s natural gas consumption must be supplied otherwise. Major natural gas pipelines are distributing natural gas from Eastern-Europe and thus contributing substantially towards keeping the supply secured. Is this enough? Possible not. Methane-to-liquids-applications on small or even micro-scale may help to cover energy supply in time of great demand with methane gas supply from biogas, landfill gas or flare gas. An integrated industry where giants will peacefully coexist with dwarfs all around them.

Around the corner
Natural gas infrastructures and strategies are shifting towards an “integrated or total-solutions-market”, strongly focusing on bringing methane-to-markets. And the market is just around the corner! More importantly, long-time neglected candidates for methane-to-liquids-applications are recruited from local biogas, landfill gas, or even flare gas sources.

Small- and Mid-Scale LNG – Industrial LNG Liquefaction Technologies

Volume is measured in cubic meters. Weight – of course – in kilograms. Investment and profit are being measured in a variety of currencies all over the world. But how do you measure the simplicity and flexibility of industrial liquefaction plants?

Keep it simple

Simplicity and flexibility power your investment. And they both power your LNG production in a very simple way – today more than ever.

The 19th century was the birthmark for the Brayton cycle, developed by George Brayton, a pioneer in the development of turbine engines. There are many forms of Brayton cycles: ranging from single open cycles used in gas turbines and jet engines to the closed thermodynamic cycles. More importantly, the reversed Brayton cycle is used to provide cooling.

Among other refrigerant cycles, the reversed Brayton cycle appeared between 1850 and 1880. Based on its principles, First and Second-Generation Brayton cycles had been established, and ultimately the Third as well as the Fourth-Generation cycles for small- and mid-scale in industrial process plants had been developed.

Can liquefaction of gases based on this simple technology, in the range of up to 1 million tons per year, become easier? More flexible? And what’s most important to you: Can it become more cost-effective compared to mixed-refrigerant-based liquefaction processes?

The fundamentals

The reversed Nitrogen Brayton cycle, or Nitrogen Expansion cycle, strictly follows the tradition of simplicity and robustness. The prime liquefaction medium – Nitrogen – is always kept in the gaseous phase. Also, nitrogen is found in abundance; simple and cheap to produce from the surrounding air by separation. Consequently, no extra hold-up system is required to store several hydrocarbons, i.e. pentane, butane, propane, ethylene to obtain the proper mix (Mixed Refrigerants).

Speaking in liquefaction terms, and in a nutshell: nitrogen is being compressed and subsequently expanded – which provides the necessary low temperature to liquefy gases, i.e. converting natural gas to LNG. All liquefaction plants based on the principles of the reversed Brayton cycle comply with the following:

  • fast start-up / shut-down procedures
  • flexible turn-down rates in minutes without affecting process stability
  • superb specific power consumption, i.e. Third and Fourth-Generation

The reversed First and Second-Generation Brayton cycles are fully established within industrial liquefaction processes. Worldwide, several small-scale LNG plants are based on both generations. From 2011 onwards, the fully developed Third and Fourth-Generation Brayton cycles will be introduced into the market.

In comparison, the graph also visualizes industrial small-, mid-scale and base-load MR cycles.

The extension of the fridge

As the wheel is another extension of the foot, clothing is another extension of the skin. Very simple things – yet necessities in daily life. When industrial liquefaction technology is brushed against liquefaction technology, today’s and upcoming industrial liquefaction plants, based on the principles of the reversed Brayton cycle, are the extension of the fridge – only bigger. Simple in design yet highly efficient. Flexible in terms of storing products. Based on an ubiquitous and all-time safe cooling medium (Nitrogen). Easy to start. Easy to turn off. Easy to regulate. Compact and – of course – fast in delivery.

Small Scale LNG – Liquefaction and Energy Storage for Today and the Future

There is an increasing demand world wide by the United Nations and other global organizations and fora, local governments, environmental organizations and the oil and gas industry itself for better use of natural gas resources and to combat greenhouse gas emissions resulting from flaring or venting of natural gas; and of coal bed methane (CBM) and coal mine methane (CCM) emissions.

If oil or coal is produced in areas of the world which lack natural gas infrastructure or a nearby gas market, a significant portion of this associated gas may be released into the atmosphere, un-ignited (vented) or ignited (flared). The gas is alternatively re-injected into the reservoir to help maintain pressure. Flaring and venting of natural gas from oil wells and coal mining represents a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions. Flaring alone contributes to more than 1% to global emissions of CO2 .This represent about 13% of committed emission reductions by developed countries under the Kyoto Protocol for the period 2008-2012. The World Bank estimates that over 150 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas are being flared and vented annually. That is the equivalent of the combined annual natural gas consumption of Germany and France. And the 40 billion cubic meters of gas flared in Africa is equivalent to half of the continent’s power consumption.

Many places there are also reserves of stranded natural gas-resources that are abandoned because currently there is no economical way to get it to the markets. With natural gas becoming such an important and marketable commodity, producers would like to recover and get some value out of these resources which to a certain degree already are partly processed.

As a way to meet these demands there is a growing interest in small scale LNG process and plant solutions to help solve the challenges mentioned above from a number of countries on almost all continents. Production capacities of small scale LNG plants vary in the range from 2000 up to 1 million tons of LNG per year. By comparison, a typical large scale plant has a production capacity of between 2.5 and 15 million tons of LNG per year.  As already pointed out in Small is beautiful – LNG your life small-scale LNG applications had been successfully introduced as industrial applications in mid-90ies, pioneered by Norway.

As for today – and started since the new millennium – size matters even more and small-scale LNG plant became even smaller; now called mini-LNG, creating and carving new markets with a plethora of possibilities to think about. New gas sources, i.e. biogas, landfill gas, even coal bed methane gas became interesting for liquefaction, energy storage and distribution. Shortcuts like liquefied biogas (LBG) and liquefied methane gas (LMG) were introduced and became pending slogans in the industry and among customers.

LNG, another general-purpose-fuel

On the supply side, stranded gas reserves, flare gas, landfill, coal bed methane, or biogas are abundant but had not been economical viable in recent years. Turning these reserves of gas into value-added general-purpose-fuel seem to be both economically feasible and very attractive for an environmental stand point. What is a general-purpose-fuel? Regarding today’s infrastructure, and due to inter-dependencies between producers and customers gasoline, diesel and natural gas are considered general-purpose-fuels, enabling a non-disruptive mobility market, constant heat and electricity production and – above all – energy storage.  Many business venture are spinning around general-purpose-fuels. The major disadvantage of natural gas, compared to gasoline and diesel, is its inherent low energy density, which, in fact, is simply implied by its gaseous character. LNG on the other side, turned into liquid state is  comparable to gasoline or diesel, regarding energy density.

Small-scale LNG

Small-scale LNG or, to bluntly spoken, small-scale LMG applications may become everybody’s darling in the industry, simply because the proof is in the pudding, which, in fact, is response time. Business is strongly related to response time, as already pointed out in the article Another day before the energy crisis? and short response time in the market is the key to satisfy customers and secure further investments. In short, small-scale LNG applications require upstream, midstream and, of course, downstream players. Methane gas will be pre-treated, liquefied, stored and distributed and, as it reaches its final destination, regasified. Most interestingly, the appeal of LNG is the use of the existing infrastructure for the before mentioned general-purpose-fuels, today’s gasoline stations to secure mobility and, decentralized energy productions applications in form of gas-turbines, gas motors or, even fuel cells, to constantly provide electricity and heat, where it is locally required. As we reexamine the scope of LNG it can be noticed, that LNG may help markets to undergoes a more moderate shift away from oil, coal and nuclear power, prior to entering renewable energies.

Ferry Ferry LNG?

For decades LNG is being used as fuel and energy storage for small-scale industrial “onshore” applications, e.g. steam boiler and power plants, successfully replacing heavy fuel oils, which contribute majorly to increasing CO2, NOx and SOx emissions.  LNG, which ultimately will be regasified (warmed up) to natural gas, contains only methane, which will be completely burned to CO2, yet emitting less CO2 compared to heavy fuel oil.

Also, LNG and its substitutes, i.e. LBG (Liquefied Biogas) and LMG (Liquefied Methane Gas, retrieved from stranded gas sources such as flare gas) are entering the mobility market, powering engines for heavy-duty trucks and buses in public transportation.

The use of LNG in  sea- and ocean-going vessels had been neglected, so far. From 2010 onwards, and with respect to the introduction to national bonus-malus systems (incentive programs), particularly in Scandinavia, LNG will be become interesting as fuel in marine transportation. Key drivers are NOx emission figures, which, in fact, must be reduced by 20 in 2011, and by 80% from 2016 onwards; favouring substantially the use of clean LNG. Also, sulfur in marine fuels must be reduced from 2020 onwards to 0.1% for near shore going vessels, and to 0.5% for ocean-going vessels. On the contrary, heavy fuel oils can contain up to 4.5% sulfur, which will be converted to SOx.

Interestingly, ferries operating at the Baltic Sea will be firstly converted towards to alternative use of LNG as fuel, favouring new “onshore” based small-scale LNG production sites. Again, LNG, the general-purpose-fuel, finds another downstream player:  ferries – sounds pretty fair to me.

Another day before the energy crisis?

What day is today? Someday in March 2010. Is there a crisis related to the supply, even the distribution of energy? I would say, hardly. No hard feelings, but we do not have to fear anything – for now. Really? Yes, well, prior to stepping forward into tomorrow let us review the situation for a moment, shall we? Energy makes sense, simply because it provides us with everything we need at anytime and sometimes even anywhere. It comforts us in many ways, starting from securing basic needs like shelter, food, light, mobility and, of course, communication. Certainly there are far more ways of spending energy on, in fact, countless paths can be taken to allay your hunger for it; we are now speaking of luxuries, whether in small, big or excessive quantities. So as long as you can secure whatever is achieved in energy demand you have the key to maintaining your life-style. Leaping forward from no-haves to haves is another key issue for a vast majority of people, longing for the same thing, maintaining whatever is obtained…

Energy comes in form of, mainly, electricity, fuel, and heat; fundamental things, yet so interlinked in today’s complex world. We do need them and will need them again and again. To sing a common theme, primary energy is always created foremost through energy production that strongly depends on fossil fuels or renewables. This then may imply a sort of limitation; are fossil fuels and renewables endless? And what is the corollary? And can this limitation tamper with the nowadays-perfect dance of business, commerce and our way of spending energy? Without any doubts, we are now entering a very contentious matter by raising such questions.

Let us remember what opinions the mavens of the last decades have expressed about centralized energy production: reliable and safe energy production in tandem with exploitation and distribution of secured fossil fuel provision. It is widely believed and constantly repeated that fossil fuels is not scarce. It is with so many promises that we began to feel like the boy who plugged the dyke with his fingers, only to find out leaks breaking out all around him. Abundance is everywhere and all the time.

Centralized trivia?

The lights of the dark ages were based on firewood, turf and petroleum. Over the years we stumbled upon coal, crude oil, natural gas and even harnessed the power of the atoms. Centralized energy production was the key to successfully provide electricity to households and industrial areas alike. We were ‘smothered” with life-long promises about cheap and reliable electricity and even heat to keep households warm. Finally, and for the moment, perhaps most mysteriously, we never question the fuse of energy production and commerce. We simply rely on it. Are there any restraints related to the given centralized trivia, which, in fact, works so perfectly fine until now? Very often the argument goes that centralized energy production stifles innovation, and, consequently, competition, which goes alongside the emergence of decentralized energy production. Nothing in the argument of securing energy production, nor in the argument that most people make when talking about the subject of doing business as usual, should draw into doubt this simple point; competition, and the necessity to integrate a variety of different energy production solutions provided by variety of players.

Idea sharing?

Idea sharing is a self-propelling mechanism, which gives room to even more ideas, driving competition forward, and in case of free markets, grants contracts to secure energy production. Does that imply centralized energy production, operated by a few companies, squelches idea sharing, even competition? Hard to tell, yet currently, less than 20 mega-companies, both state and commercial-based, dictate the terms by which energy flows in our world. By centralizing power over the Earth’s energy resources, the energy companies create the very conditions that reward economies of scale, and centralization of economic activity, in many other industries.

As for today, and with the market already divided into strikingly homogenously acting monopolists, who follow the idea of protecting the given monopoly position; will if they are rational, be willing to spend the net present value of their monopoly to defend it. They are more than ready to shoot – even back.

Never aim if you are not ready to shoot

Does decentralized energy production supply key arguments to aim and shoot? Is there really a difference in business approach compared to successfully acting monopolists? Imagine the following:

You are standing at the side of the street. Your flat is on fire. You are definitely annoyed and upset because to some extend you helped start the fire. Next to you is a bucket, filled with gasoline. Most apparently, gasoline will not put out the fire.

As you ponder the overall mess, someone else comes along. In a panic mood, he grabs the bucket. Before you have a chance to tell him to stop – or before he realizes just why he should stop – the bucket is in the air. The gasoline is about to hit the already blazing flat. And the fire that the gasoline will ignite is about to ignite everything around.

The given example indicates how difficult it is to overcome commonly accepted models in nowadays world. You may not solve the energy production and distribution problem by using the same kind of approach you started that set up the problem. It may do mischief because everything around will be affected too. A gentle shift, towards a leaner, cleaner energy production and distribution is the key; starting with natural gas, that can be simply provided from a variety of sources – fossil fuel based, such as conventional natural gas, on coal mine gas and flare gas; and renewables, such as biogas and even landfill gas.

Getting started by accretion in the natural gas market

Natural gas is widely accepted as fossil fuel – with the lowest impact on greenhouse gas emissions if burned or converted to CO2. Oil produces one-third more CO2 than natural gas equivalent unit of energy produced, while coal produces two-third more CO2.  More importantly, it is fast becoming the fuel of choice for the generation of electricity. It is also increasingly being used as a fuel for transportation, which, in fact, is crucial for tomorrow’s markets. New technological breakthroughs in converting gas-to-liquids have reduced costs and brought liquids gas to a range that is competitive with traditional commodities, such as gasoline and diesel.  Without any doubt, natural gas is one of the key elements to help set up a decentralized energy production and distribution scheme – speaking globally, but acting locally.

Small-scale LMG contribution

As already pointed out in the article “Small is beautiful – LNG your life” LNG and its derivatives, such as LMG (Liquefied Methane Gas) and even LBG (Liquefied Biogas), might be the missing link between traditional commodities, i.e. coal, uranium, natural gas. Do we really need liquefied methane gas produced in small-scale quantities? Is not methane itself considered a traditional commodity?

The very beauty of small-scale LMG applications is the rapid response time between idea sharing and turn-key ready plant delivery. Response time is crucial in businesses where energy commodity prizes are becoming even more volatile in the upcoming future as today. Everything turns to be uncertain, yet energy production and distribution MUST be secured, but not by using old business models. Moreover, LMG is a respected way of energy storage and easy to transport as it will use an existing infrastructure. Small-scale LMG applications follow the philosophy of mainly off-the-shelf-components, which is an intrinsic part of doing business in the future due to small prices and increased competition. More than that, the utopia of LMG is inherently plausible because LMG is the fuel-of-all-trades, the general-purpose-fuel: it can be produced in many ways but stored and distributed in only one.

How many days left until the energy crisis?

We have pulled down the stars to our will, one may argue, why not secure energy supply, production and distribution on a global scale without incurring any crisis?

What day will be tomorrow? Someday after dawn. So will there be a crisis related to the supply, even the distribution of energy? Easy to tell, if you use the missing link between traditional and renewable energies.

Was tankt man eigentlich in der Zukunft?

Kraftstoff(e) der Zukunft? Brauchen wir nicht, wir haben doch Benzin und Diesel. So  so ähnlich könnte ein Gespräch an deutschen Tankstellen ablaufen. Stellt man die Frage in anderen Ländern, wird die Antwort etwas varieren, aber grundsätzlich wird die Notwendigkeit von Benzin und Diesel nicht in Frage gestellt.

Eine Auflistung von etablierten Kraftstoffe bis hin zu Kraftstoffen der 3. Generation und jensseits davon  soll Abhilfe schaffen, um der Zukunft der Kraftstoffe etwas mehr Perspektive zu verschaffen – weg von herkömmlichen Kraftstoffen.

Ottokraftstoffe (herkömmlich und bis heute, 2009, am weitesten verbreitet)

  • Dichte: 0,71 bis 0,78 kg/l
  • Brennwert: 42,7 bis 43,5 MJ/kg

Wichtig ist ebenfalls die Oktanzahl, an der sich die Klopffestigkeit ablesen läßt. Je höher sie ist, desto geringer die Neigung zur Selbstentzündung.

Dieselkraftstoffe (herkömmlich und bis heute, 2009, am weitesten verbreitet)

  • Dichte: 0,815 bis 0.85 kg/l
  • Brennwert: 42,5 MJ/kg

Entscheidend ist ebenfalls die Cetanzahl, welche die Zündfähigkeit beschreibt.

Erdgas, Compressed Natural Gas oder auch CNG (Alternativ, aber herkömmlich)

  • CNG ist auf 200 bar komprimiertes Erdgas
  • 1 kg CNG entspricht in etwa 1,5 l Benzin bzw. 1,3 l Diesel
  • Dichte Erdgas: 0,79  bis 0,83 kg/m3
  • Brennwert Erdgas: 48,5 MJ/kg

In 2009 sind offiziel über 700 Erdgastankstellen in Deutschland registriert; ca. 40.000 bivalente Erdgasfahrzeuge sind auf deutschen Strassen unterwegs.

Autogas, Liquefied Petroleum Gas oder auch LPG (Alternativ, aber herkömmlich)

  • LPG ist ein Gemisch, bestehend aus Propan und Butan; ein Nebenprodukt der Mineralölförderindustrie
  • Dichte: ca. 0,56 kg/m3
  • Brennwert: 49 MJ/kg

In 2009 sind über 40.000 LPG Fahrzeuge in Deutschland unterwegs.

Diese herkömmlichen Kraftstoffe sind zunehmend der Konkurenz von Biokraftstoffe der ersten-, zweiten-, ab 2010 ebenfalls der dritten Generation ausgesetzt. Biokraftstoffe der 1. Generation sind in 2009 etablierte Kraftstoffe, deren Ausbreitung vor allem in Südamerika und den USA zu verzeichnen ist.

Biodiesel ist kein wirklicher Biokraftstoff der 1. Generation, sondern Rapsmethylester (RME) und – bis heute – der einzig genormte Biokraftstoff. Er wird vorwiegend in Deutschland aus Raps gewonnen.

  • Dichte: 0,88 kg/l
  • Brennwert: 37,1 MJ/kg

Zwischen 2000 und 2009 stieg die Biodieselerzeugung in Deutschland von ca. 0.3 Millionen auf über 5 Millionen Tonnen an.

Bioethanol der 1. Generation wird vorwiegend in Deutschland herkömmlichen Ottokraftstoffen beigemischt. Benzin der Sorte E85 besteht zu 85% aus Ethanol und 15% aus Benzin. Die jährliche Produktion von Bioethanol in Deutschland in 2008 betrug ca. 0,5 Millionen Tonnen. und wird sich bis 2014 auf ca. 1,1 Millonen Tonnen stabilisieren; die Herstellung erfolgt ausschließlich aus Getreide und Zuckerrüben.  In den USA, Schweden und vor allem in Brasilien ist Bioethanol weit verbreitet. Die brasilianische Herstllung, vorwiegend aus Zuckerrohr, ist um fast die Hälfte billiger im Vergleich zu der deutschen Produktion.

Biogas der 1. Generation wird aus aufbereiteten Erdgas gewonnen, welches auf 200 bar komprimiert wird. Entscheidener Vorteil gegenüber Biodiesel ist der höhere Energieertrag, 178 GJ/ha im Vergleich zu 51 GJ/ha. Dichten und Brennwerte von Biogas entsprechen den Werten von Erdgas.

Biokraftstoffe der 2. Generation sind eine konsequente Weiterentwicklung von Fischer-Tropsch- als auch Pyroloyseverfahren, mit dem konsquenten Ziel durch großtechnische Anlagen Rohstoffabhängigkeiten zu minimieren. Kommerzielle Anlagen werden sich aber bis 2010 nicht etablieren.

Biomass-to-Liquid (BtL) werden Biokraftstoffe der 2. Generation bezeichnet, um z.B. Dieselkrafstoffe aus Biomasse herzustellen. Die Firma Choren aus Freiberg/Sachsen hat ein Verfahren entwicklelt, um Biomasse (Holz, Stroh, Reststoffe, etc.) in einem mehrstufigen Prozess in ein Synthesegas zu überführen, welches dann in einem weiterentwickeltenFischer-Tropsch-Verfahren zu hochwertigen Biokraftstoffen umgewandelt wird. Entscheidende Vorteile sind dabei:

  • hohe Energieerträge, bis zu 140 GJ/ha
  • gute CO2-Bilanz
  • breite Rohstoffbasis
  • hohe Kraftstoffqualität, Dichte: 0,76 bis 0,79 kg/l sowie ein Brennwert von ca. 44 MJ/kg

Die erste Großversuchsanlage mit einer Produktionskapazität von 200.000 t/a wird Ende 2009, Anfang 2010 in Freiberg anlaufen.

BtL-Pyrolyseverfahren sollen ebenfalls Biokraftstoffe der 2. Generation erzeugen.Bei der Flash-Pyrolyse wird Biomasse unter Sauerstoffausschluss sehr schnell erhitztz (ca. 480°C) und das entstehende Pyrolyseprodukt schnell abgekühlt und kondensiert zu einer rötlich-braunen Flüssigkeit (Slurry) mit etwa der Hälfte des Heizwertes von konventionellen Heizöls. Das Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe ist bis 2010 mit dem Aufbau und Weiterführung einer Pilotanlage beschäftigt.

Bioethanol der 2. Generation wird aus Alkohol aus Lignozellulose (Stroh, Holz, Rinde, landwirtschaftliche Abfälle) in mehrstufigen thermischen, chemischen und enzymatischen Verfahren in Glucose aufgebrochen und fermentiert. Forschungsschwerpunkte liegen vor allem in Kanada, Schweden und den USA.

Biokrafstoffe der 3. Generation auf der Basis von Methan werden sich ab 2010 zunehmend etablieren. Ihre Herstellung erfolgt aus Deponiegas und vor allem Biogas, welche gereinigt und anschließend verflüssigt werden zu Liquefied Methane Gas (LMG), respektive zu Liquefied Biogas (LBG). Vorteile gegenüber Biogas(e) der 1. Generation, die als CNG – bis 200 bar komprimiert – bereits Anwendung finden, sind:

  • 2,3-fache höhere Energiedichte
  • höhere Wirtschaftlichkeit, ab Entfernungen  über 100 km
  • Verwendung als Energiespeicher

Biokraftstoffe der übernächsten Generation werden sich gegen krafstofflose Fahrzeuge behaupten müssen. Elektroautos, heute noch ein Nischenprodukt, werden zunehmend wirtschaftlich attraktiv. Biokraftstoffe werden ab nicht verschwinden, ihre Erzeugung wird generationsübergreifend sein; dazukommen werden aber Wasserstoff – für die Anwendung von Brennstoffzellen und Algen – für die Erzeugung von Bioethanol, als auch Biogas. Was werden wir in der Zukunft tanken? Stellt man diese Frage im Jahre 2020, werden die Antworten vielfälltig sein.

Big European LNG demand meets small solutions?

The script is easily set up and inherently true. In 2020, Europe must import 4 out of 5 m³ natural gas – a big demand. In the meantime, natural gas imports by existing pipelines already rises to over 300 billion m³ in 2009. Russia distributes by far, almost 50%, Norway 30% natural gas to Germany. At the moment, natural gas production, despite echoing controversial arguments, is not for scarce and neither in 2020; but the existing distribution infrastructure is not prepared for rising demands after 2020. Pipeline projects such as (1) Baltic sea pipeline (North stream), (2) South East Europe pipeline (South stream), and (3) Nabucco pipeline are under construction or close to call. Even smaller projects, i.e. Galsi (Algeria-Italy) and Medaz (Algeria-Spain) may step in.

Considering the Russian-Ukrainian natural gas dispute in 2008, which, in fact, climaxed in a total delivery stop of Russian gas to Western Europe for several days, LNG may help to fill the gap and beyond. Despite its global impact and importance and with yearly growth rates of up to almost 10%, comparing to 2% natural gas pipeline growth rate on a yearly basis, LNG imports verifies significantly in Europe. In 2008, virtually none LNG was directly imported in Germany (of course, due to lacking LNG receiving terminals). In France, LNG imports cover almost 30%, in Spain over 70% of all natural gas consumption. Even Great Britain, recently re-opening and expanding its receiving capacities, hits the magical, starting, 1% marker. These figures indicate that LNG play and will play a pivotal role in securing natural gas supply widely over Western Europe, except Germany? Not quite; in times of international, border-crossing, pipeline infrastructures, Germany’s natural gas companies purchase free slots (regasification capacities) on existing LNG receiving terminals all over Europe, i.e. Huelva or Barcelona in Spain, in Italy, Croatia or even Great Britain. Without the restraint of lacking receiving terminals in Germany, LNG will be bought, stored for a certain time, regasified and distributed – where demand is crucial.

Worldwide some 20 base-load LNG plants in 16 countries can be identified in 2008; roughly 60 LNG receiving terminals, with the majority in Japan, define the lower end of the LNG value chain. Its if firmly believed that in 2020 almost 30% of Western Europe’s natural gas consumption will be supplied by LNG. With the existing natural gas infrastructure and strategy, which is strikingly homogeneous divided by a small group of companies, small, locally produced LNG/LMG/LBG solutions may find a hard time to compete.