Rodney Allam: Energy from fossil fuels can be clean
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Zero-carbon electricity from fossil fuels is not only possible in technological terms, but also competitive in economic terms – this was the theme of Nobel Prize laureate Rodney Allam’s lecture to students of Peter the Great Polytechnic University.

“In May 2021, a record was set for the level of carbon dioxide emissions into the Earth’s atmosphere – 419.1 parts per million,” Allam said at the opening of his lecture, quoting data from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The Covid-19 pandemic has provided little respite – in May 2020, the level stood at 417.3 parts per mission.

   The issue of emissions, Allam said, required a systemic solution.

    Developed countries try to find the solution through a transition to renewable energy sources and electric vehicles. But in developing countries, the continuing process of urbanisation will bolster demand for cheaper petrol engines and traditional energy sources.

     The technological sector can present new restrictions: capturing C02, which is used to reduce the carbon footprint, requires high storage costs, which increases the cost of generating electricity.

     Seeing these barriers, Allam proposed a new solution. First, instead of utilizing carbon dioxide, include it in the thermodynamic cycle of power plants. Secondly, when burning fuel, instead of atmospheric air (which is made up of 80 % nitrogen), use oxygen as an oxidizing agent, avoiding harmful oxides. That’s what the Allam cycle is about.

    The Allam cycle is used at the 50 MW demonstration gas-powered station (in La Porte, Texas), which achieved “first fire” on an experimental basis in May 2018. The technology is to be used commercially at two planned stations in Colorado and Illinois. Allam said both projects have completed their pre-investment phase.

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