My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Hydrogen Economy and Natural Gas - Wall-E and the Rise of the Oceanospirillales Microbes

Friday, January 7, 2011

Hydrogen Economy and Natural Gas - Wall-E and the Rise of the Oceanospirillales Microbes

Come, civil night,
Thou sober-suited matron, all in black….
With thy black mantle.

Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, III, 2

With the Americans and apparently the rest of the world abandoning Fossil Fuels as rapturously debated in my blog article entitled “American Economy and Immigration - A Day Without A Mexican”, coupled with the recent large finds of Natural Gas in the decade now closing as stated in my blog article entitled “Alternative Energy and Natural Gas - Genesis of the Hydrogen-Electron Economy” the question now begs: what will happen when the Natural Gas runs out?

Silly rabbit, you would say, of course Hydrogen would be next as trumpeted in my blog article entitled “Whither the Hydrogen Economy”. Fine, then the next question would be: What would the source of this Hydrogen? And would vehicles be driving around using Hydrogen?

Straight off the cricket bat, Hydrogen Gas could be sequestered from Fossil Fuels that would be stockpiled like Gold – possibly with Gold’s high price in the future as stated in the article “Gold price touches US$1,300 record high”, 24 September 2010 at 14:13 GMT, BBC News.

Volvo’s Hydrogen Fuel Cell powered All-Electric Concept vehicle, therefore, may not such a good idea in the long term as per my blog article entitled “Alternative Energy and Volvo - Tomorrow Never Dies for the Hydrogen-Electron Economy”.

Hopefully other sources of Hydrogen Gas will appear, such as Seawater or even Methanol, a possible Fuel Cell retrofit for the Volvo All-electric Vehicle not to mention powering hungry Laptops, smartbooks, Netbooks, Tablets and even PC in the future as suggested in my blog article entitled  Chrome OS Cr-48 and the Mobion Fuel Cell Generator Green Lantern”. After all, not every All-Electric Vehicles will be powered by Lithium-Ion batteries.

Some development will be taking place on the still promising Hydrogen Fuel Cell. Hydrogen Fuel Cells have already proven themselves to the US Army in unmanned drones as stated in the article “Fuel efficient spy plane for sale”, published August 6, 2009 7:51 AM PDT by Candace Lombardi, CNET News - Planetary Gear. Overall, the future of Alternative Energy in flight looks bright as expounded in my blog article entitled “Alternative Energy and Aviation - of Airplanes and the Sun God Ra

Thus, Seawater will be the fuel of choice in the not too distant future, when Americans follow the Obama Administration and decouples their Economy completely from Fossil Fuels much as the White House and other Government Agencies are going off the grid as part of Energy Secretary Steven Chu Energy strategy as explained in my blog article entitled “Alternative Energy and the President - Three Days of the Condor”. Seawater, however, presents its own problems, greatest of which is what to do about the salt and other dissolved ions.

Seawater is best for Hydrogen Extraction in situ using whatever future technology is available to split the H2O into Hydrogen and Oxygen, which ironical the ionizing power of the dissolved salts makes easier. These same ions, however, make using Seawater as a fuel only feasible for large Hydrogen Power plants located by the sea, with Salt and the other dissolved minerals as saleable byproducts as explained in my blog article entitled “Water Security Policy and Water Sector Liberalization Needed to avoid Drought”.

So how Hydrogen Fuel Cell vehicles would be powered in this future where Oil will be expensive and Seawater is not a feasible option due to dissolved salts clogging the intake?

Biochemistry may hold the answer.  The recent discovery of naturally occurring Oil-eating bacteria of the species Oceanospirillales has been attracting a great deal of interest from Ocean biologists and biochemists alike as stated in the article “Microbes may be to thank for BP Oil spill cleanup”, published August 25, 2010 10:42 AM PDT by Candace Lombardi CNET News - Green Tech.

This was corroborated by a major study conducted by Dr. Terry Hazen of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory “Microbes ate BP Oil deep-water plume: Study”, published Tuesday August 24, 2010 3:37 pm ET By Deborah Zabarenko, Environment Correspondent, Yahoo! News. Interestingly, their funding was coming from BP and the US Government, making the whole scenario look staged as speculated in my blog article entitled “Alternative Energy and BP - Grapes of Wrath and Tomorrow Never Dies”.

Oil which at the time was found to be just below the surface in a suspended plume as per the article “Major study charts long-lasting Oil plume in Gulf”, published Friday August 20, 2010 2:18 am ET By SETH BORENSTEIN, AP Science Writer, Yahoo! News, an Oil plume whose existed I predicted in my in my blog article entitled “Obama and the OilSpill - Bacteria and Algae party till the fish come home”.

What was the source of all the sensationalist journalism coming out of the US of A? US Government scientists had declared that the Oil had mysteriously disappeared mere weeks after the disaster had occurred as stated in the article “Ga. scientists: Gulf Oil not gone, 80 pct remains”, published Monday August 16, 6:30 pm ET, Yahoo! News.

Showing support, Senator Barack Obama, President of the United States of America took a swim with his daughter Sasha, the First Daughter off the coast of Florida as per the article “Obama swims in Gulf, says beaches open for business”, published Sunday August 15, 6:57 am ET by Ross Colvin, Yahoo! News.

Rightly so too, as all the signs appeared positive. Shrimp had been caught, mysteriously clean of any Oil as implied in the article “Shrimpers report clean 1st day catch after spill”, published Wednesday, August 18, 2010, AP, The Jamaica Observer. Gulf Coral reefs appeared to be unscathed by the Oil spill and even seemed to be recovering as suggested by the article “Gulf corals in Oil spill zone appear healthy”, published Friday October 22, 2010 11:32 am ET by BRIAN SKOLOFF, Associated Press Writer, Yahoo! News.

But the most curious fact which I must admit, initially overlooked, was the fact that the Oceanospirillales was feeding on Oil and Natural Gas seeping out of the seabed for millions of years and may have been dormant, awakened by the feast initially by the dissolving of Natural Gas in the frigid high pressure waters almost five (5) kilometers down as stated in the article
Natural Gas may have jump-started Oil eating bug”, published Thursday September 16, 2010 2:03 pm ET, Yahoo! News.

Even more interesting, from a biochemistry point of view, is that it ate the Oil plume without using up much oxygen, with oxygen levels remaining relatively the same  as stated in the article “Microbes are eating BP Oil without using up oxygen”, published Tuesday September 7, 2010 6:15 pm ET By SETH BORENSTEIN, AP Science Writer, Yahoo! News.  

This is surprising and unexpected to say the least, as the incident occurred in the Summer of 2010, the usual period for “dead zones” created by fertilizer run-off that fuels rapid algae overgrowth. Thus it was expected that this cousin of Oceanospirillales would have created a significant decrease in the oxygen levels in addition to that created by the abundant algae.

But as the paper in the journal Science Express indicated, the oxygen levels being at 59%, whereas outside of the plume it was 67%, as reported by Dr. Terry Hazen at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

This possible application is already demonstrable by Luca Technologies, a Colorado based startup, that is testing a technology that basically pumps a nutrient soup of coal-eating microbes into abandoned coal seams to digest the coal and make Methane, the main ingredient in Natural Gas as stated in the article “Luca Tech feeds coal-eating microbes to make Gas”, published August 6, 2010 7:16 AM PDT, by Martin LaMonica, CNET News - Green Tech.

This is right on the same level as the extraction method called Hydraulic Fracturing or “Fracking” [American colloquial] as per the BBC New video entitled “Energy Alternative: Shale Gas extraction in the US”, published 21 December 2010 23:09 GMT, BBC News as well as my article featured on Administrator Kirk’s Geezam blog entitled “The American Race Towards Alternative Energy ”.

This should be of greater interest to the BP and the US Government, who were backing the Dr. Terry Hazen of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study into the new species. With a little Genetic Modification (GM), the bacteria could be put to work making Natural Gas directly from Oil or any pyrolized organic material, literally a solution from the deep ocean as to what to do when Natural Gas runs out in another two hundred (200) years.

Especially now as most Developed and Developing Nations are beginning to discover large reserves of Natural Gas, making IEA (International Energy Agency) declare that this is a Decade overflowing with Natural Gas as stated in the article “International Energy watchdog predicts a decade swimming in Natural Gas”, published Wednesday, November 17, 2010, The Jamaica Observer.

Already, the Energy efficiency and practicality of using Natural Gas over other Alternative Energy solutions, including large scale solar installations as stated in the article “Solar, Wind feel heat from low natural-Gas prices”, published January 29, 2010 12:43 PM PST by Martin LaMonica, CNET News - Green Tech.

Natural Gas is also getting support from the Clean Energy Summit, which has the support of such political heavy-hitters such as Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, T. Boone Pickens, Bill Clinton, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Al Gore, and Green Jobs advocate Van Jones.

Thus it is not hard to forsee a future where not only Flex-Fuel Vehicles running on Natural Gas derived from these GM Oceanospirillales and Hydrogen Fuel Cell based vehicles are running on Hydrogen derived in situ these same GM Oceanospirillales. More long term, these bacteria may become a means of converting pyrolized organic waste to Natural Gas on a Commercially Viable scale able to run Power Plants when Natural Gas runs out.

A possible solution to Garbage, avoiding the possible eventual outcome as chronicle in the movie Wall-E (2008)! Of course, this problem is about two hundred (200) years away, so I guess my blog article, when I am dead, will be dug up and used as reference!

Meanwhile, The Decade of Natural Gas may be the next catch phrase coming out of the United States of America.

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