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The EPA recently issued a plan that would impose limits on emission of greenhouse gases from new power plants. The proposed limit for CO2 is 1000 pounds per megawatt-hour (MWh) -- a value easily met by natural gas power plants but impossible for traditional coal-fired plants without carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). The coal mining industry is understandably upset. They are already losing business to (currently) cheap and plentiful natural gas; the new EPA rule will make it still harder for them to compete. But what does it mean to the rest of us, and how does CCS fit in to our future energy landscape?
A Purely Cosmetic Gesture?
A cynic might observe that the rules mean nothing, because new coal-fired power plants in the US were already pretty much a dead issue. Even without CCS, the capital cost of a new coal-fired plant is several times that of a natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) plant. The higher capital cost for coal has traditionally been balanced by lower fuel costs. Recently, however, bargain prices for natural gas have largely erased even that advantage. Utilities needing new capacity have therefore been dropping plans for pulverized coal (PC) or nuclear plants in favor of NGCC. As a practical matter, therefore, the EPA rules for new power plants are a symbolic offering to climate activists that will have no real impact on the power industry.
I don't entirely agree with the cynics. Even with the proposed limit on CO2 emissions, I don't believe that coal is a dead option. Nobody really trusts that the bargain prices we're currently seeing for natural gas will hold for long. Natural gas has traditionally been less costly than oil, in terms of dollars per Btu, but the disparity now is unprecedented. At current prices, long-haul trucks could slash their fuel bills by two thirds, if they could convert to natural gas and if the necessary refueling infrastructure were in place. But both oil and gas are supply-limited commodities. Production runs near the limit that the existing set of production wells can manage. With little idle capacity, it isn't possible to simply dial up production when price signals indicate increasing demand. Small increases in demand can therefore lead to soaring prices. Awareness of that fact has so far made players cautious about switching.
Coal, by contrast, is still a demand-limited commodity. There's plenty of coal available for mining, whenever prices get high enough to justify the effort. Stockpiling is easy, and prices are much less volatile. Maintaining some level of coal-fired generating capacity is a therefore a reasonable hedge for utilities to protect themselves and their customers from a sharp rise in natural gas prices.
If I'm right, then we will (eventually) see new coal-fired plants being built, as well as major upgrades and conversions of existing plants. In that case, the EPA's proposed greenhouse gas rules -- assuming they go into effect -- will significantly affect the design of those plants and conversions. They will make some designs more attractive and others less so.
Designs that will be less attractive include the current generation of conventional PC steam power plants with their "bag house" filters and flue gas scrubbers for control of emissions. While it's possible to integrate another level of flue gas scrubbing to remove CO2, the result is not appealing. The IPCC, in its 2005 Special Report on Carbon Dioxide Capture and Sequestration, estimated the cost of a new PC plant of that type at about $2100 per kilowatt (vs. ~$1300 without CCS)1. Those specific dollar values have become dated by rising commodity prices since 2005, but they still give an idea of the high relative cost for post-combustion CCS.
It's not just the capital cost that is affected. Operation of the CCS subsystems would constitute a parasitic drain of around 24% on the plant's power output. That breaks down to 13% for steam to regenerate the CO2 sorbent, 9% to compress the CO2 to 100 atmospheres for transport and sequestration, and 2% for other pumps and blowers2. A 24% parasitic drain means a 32% increase in coal consumption per MWh delivered. That's pretty bad. Nevertheless, it represents a proven "baseline" design that could be built today, and is the starting point for most discussions of CCS.
It is almost certainly possible to do better. Some companies are investigating a more efficient scrubbing technology that uses chilled ammonia instead of the amine-based solutions currently employed. Another promising alternative employs "oxy-fuel" combustion in the boiler.
R&D on oxy-fuel combustion is mostly being carried out in Europe. Instead of air, the pulverized coal is burned in an atmosphere of re-circulated CO2 with oxygen injected. The resulting flue gas is over 90% CO2, and its volume is about one fifth what it would be with air combustion. That raises boiler efficiency, since less heat is carried off in hot flue gases. It also makes it easier to precipitate fly ash and other particulates. But most importantly, the concentration of CO2 is high enough that after relatively simple processing to remove water vapor, the gas can be piped directly to the sequestration site. It is not released into the atmosphere, and the power plant has essentially zero emissions.
The down side of oxy-fuel combustion is the need for an associated air separation unit (ASU) to produce the oxygen. However the cost and parasitic energy draw of the ASU are projected to be lower than they are for the amine-based scrubbing units of the baseline CCS approach. Reference2 puts the capital investment premium for an oxy-fuel plant (over that of a conventional PC plant without CCS) as 14% (vs. 23% for the post-combustion CCS approach), and the parasitic energy drain as 20% net (vs. 24% for post-combustion CCS). That still makes CCS a costly option to support, but with the oxy-fuel approach, the premium looks to be only about two thirds of what it would be for the baseline approach.
It is likely that in the future the premium for oxy-fuel combustion can be further reduced by new air separation technology. Researchers from Praxair, working with the University of Utah, have been investigating ceramic "oxygen transport membranes" (OTMs) for separation of oxygen from air at high temperatures. According to a presentation to DOE in 20093, integration of an OTM-based ASU into the boiler has the potential to reduce the parasitic energy cost of oxy-fuel combustion by 75%. The technology won't be available tomorrow; commercial deployment is not projected to begin until the 2020 time frame. But if the technology lives up to its developers hopes -- always a big if -- it should be able to produce power with CCS at a small cost premium of 10% or less compared to a conventional plant without CCS.
What about IGCC?
A cautionary tale about "developers hopes" can be found in the progress of another alternative coal technology: "integrated gasification combined cycle" or IGCC. In that approach, coal is gasified to produce a combustible coal gas. The gas is cleaned of ash and sulfur, and then fuels a gas turbine combined cycle power plant. The original motivation for the process was not carbon sequestration, but higher thermal efficiency and the ability to consume high sulfur coal. By its nature, however, the process can be modified to produce separate and relatively pure streams of CO2 and hydrogen at little additional cost. At least, that's the theory.
In practice, IGCC has not fared so well. The capital cost is high, but that was expected. What was not expected was the difficulty in keeping the gasification process running smoothly. It has proven "fickle" and sensitive to the type of coal being consumed. Pilot plants have experienced extended down times for costly maintenance and repairs4. Once viewed as the flagship for "clean coal" technology, IGCC's promise has been tarnished. It still has its advocates, and the DOE has an ongoing funding program for research into improvements. It may yet achieve its promise, but the improvements being studied suggest something of a "back to the drawing board" retrenchment5.
Better Turbine Technology
There is one further technology that I feel should be mentioned here. It's not a technology for carbon capture, per se, but it could have a major impact on the future of coal-fired power plants in general -- and therefore on the future of CCS under the new EPA rules. It's a technology that has been under study at Sandia Labs, nominally for enhanced performance of upgraded nuclear power plants. Nothing about it is specific to nuclear power, however, and it has generated broad interest for use with concentrated solar platforms as well as a new generation of coal-fired power plants. It is the supercritical CO2 (S-CO2) Brayton cycle turbine6.
The S-CO2 Brayton cycle has two key characteristics that have been touted in articles about it:
high thermal efficiencies (~50%) at modest heat source temperatures (~550C); and
incredibly high power densities (~30x that of Rankine cycle steam turbines).
Because of the particular properties of supercritical CO2, the turbines are able to operate closer to the Carnot efficiency limits for their heat source and sink than conventional Brayton or Rankine cycle turbines. The water-like density of supercritical CO2 gives them very high power density. In fact, the density is so high that it has been a problem for a small scale demonstration project. According to Steven Wright, one of the lead researchers at Sandia, the size for an optimally configured S-CO2 turbine producing 20 kW worked out to 0.25 inches in diameter, spinning at 1.5 million RPM! Much too small to be built. The design Sandia settled on for their proof-of-concept article was much larger (11 inches for the turbine) and deliberately de-rated for "only" a quarter megawatt electrical output.
Potential for Throttling?
A third potential characteristic of this type of turbine is one that I have not seen mentioned anywhere. It is speculative on my part, but I believe the turbine could be designed to be efficiently throttled over a fairly wide range of power outputs. That's because the high density of its working fluid enables it to use a single radial compressor in the cold gas compression section and a cascade of only three radial expander stages in the hot gas expansion section. The stages resemble those of a hydroelectric turbine, rather than the many stacked disks of rotor and stator blades in an axial flow turbine. Why is that significant?
The answer is that in a radial flow arrangement, compression or expansion are primarily due to centrifugal force. They are largely independent of the flow rate of the working fluid. The power developed by a hydroelectric turbine, for example, can be varied by controlling the water flow rate through an adjustable headstock nozzle. That's why local hydroelectric generators are highly valued by transmission system operators; their power can be quickly ramped up or down under real-time control for load balancing and grid stabilization. It seems to me that it should be possible to design a supercritical CO2 Brayton cycle turbine for the same type of regulated operation. If so, it would make coal-fired power plants of this type, equipped with CCS, the perfect choice for backing intermittent wind and solar power.
So what conclusions can we draw? We've looked at the capture side of CCS, but not the sequestration side. The options available for sequestration do have significant bearing on the feasibility and economics of CCS, but I'll save that discussion for later, in part 2. The technology picture described above should nonetheless be enough to support some tentative conclusions. To sum up:
With or without the new EPA rules, the near-term future for new power plants is natural gas. Over the next five years, no more than a handful of new coal-fired plants will be built in the US, and those that are built will be heavily subsidized demonstration projects for CCS;
In the longer term, there remain good reasons to build new generation coal-fired plants, and to upgrade older plants. However the technologies available for doing so are in a state of flux. The most cost-effective technology for new PC plants with integrated CCS has yet to be proven.
The evolving technology choices will leave utilities wary of exposure to "early adopter's syndrome". They will need regulatory incentives to build new plants that could find themselves subject to construction cost overruns and unexpected operating difficulties.
The near certainty that natural gas prices will soar -- probably soon after many of the new NGCC plants being built have come online and conversions to CNG and LNG have become a significant factor in transportation -- makes it critically important to sort the technology issues around CCS as quickly as possible. We need to accelerate the commercialization of the more promising technologies, so that serious deployment can begin in this decade.
Readers will note that I've said very little here about the usual low-carbon alternatives to coal and natural gas for power generation. I.e. solar, wind, and nuclear. Some will be outraged that I have suggested any sort of future at all for coal-fired generation. "There is no such thing a clean coal" is often heard, and if one considers mining practices like mountain top removal, it's hard to argue the point. But I've tried to focus on what is realistic and likely to happen, rather than what arguably should happen. I specifically wanted to address the impact of the new EPA rules for carbon emissions.
In part 2 next week, we'll look at the sequestration side of CCS. Then in part 3, I'll step back a bit and try to examine some of the broader issues around CO2 emissions in general.
Notes & References
For IPCC Special Report on Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage -- http://www.ipcc-wg3.de/publications/special-reports/special-report-on-carbon-dioxide-capture-and-storage
For MIT Research Paper on CCS by Howard Herzog and James Katzer -- http://sequestration.mit.edu/pdf/GHGT8_Herzog_Katzer.pdf
For Praxair presentation on Oxygen Transport Membrane Technology -- http://www.netl.doe.gov/technologies/coalpower/ewr/CO2/pubs/43088%20Praxair%20OTM%20presentation%20Clearwater%20jun09.pdf
For Wikipedia article on IGCC -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integrated_gasification_combined_cycle
For DOE news release on recent grants for IGCC -- http://www.fossil.energy.gov/news/techlines/2011/11051-DOE_Announces_IGCC_Projects.html
For January 2012 Mechanical Engineering article on S-CO2 Brayton cycle turbines -- http://www.barber-nichols.com/sites/default/files/wysiwyg/images/supercritical_CO2_turbines.pdf
For information on purchasing reprints of this article, contact sales. Copyright 2013 CyberTech, Inc.
A mention of heat recovery-to-electric power generation would have been fitting as yet another alternative. Although such a bottoming cycle would have no direct effect on CCS it would still be applicable on two counts. The additional electric power generated could reduce the high parasitic load imposed by a CCS system and, secondly, the lower production of CO2 would result in a concomitant cost reduction of any measures to mitigate the release of GHGs and criteria pollutants.
Many thanks for a balanced article; I look forward to your future installments on this very relevant topic.
Roger Arnold 7.27.12
Thanks, Alan. There have, indeed, been some promising developments in generating power from waste heat. Unfortunately, they apply mostly to automotive engines and other sources of high temperature waste heat. They don't have much applicability to major power plants.
The waste heat from major power plants is already given off at the lowest temperature that is economically feasible. Low waste heat temperature means low pressure in the steam condenser, which means more power from the steam turbine. If the steam were condensed at a higher temperature in order to provide higher temperature waste heat to one of the new waste heat-to-electric power systems, the loss of power in the steam turbine would exceed what the new system could make up.
Notice, though, that I said major power plants. The new technologies have good potential for enhanced output from small systems that don't currently employ any bottoming cycle. They scale well for small systems, and have high potential for distributed generation from solid-oxide fuel cells. But that's another topic.
Alan Belcher 7.28.12
Many thanks for your response, Roger. For openers I should make it clear that my interest in this topic relates mainly to the major power plants you refer to.
So, with this in mind, I concur entirely with most of the points you make. The effectiveness of the steam condenser is largely dependent on pressure. The lower the absolute pressure within the condenser, the higher the efficiency of the steam turbine exhausting into it.
Your statement, “The waste heat from major power plants is already given off at the lowest temperature that is economically feasible” is also correct and I agree with you in principle. However, I would add a small but significant rider, “using present-day energy conversion technology”.
What if a technology came along that would lower this boundary of economic feasibility?
Our experience with combined heat and power (CHP) tells us that plant efficiency can be increased dramatically by using more of the available heat, but converting low-grade waste heat to electric power, without resorting to back pressure turbines and the like, is another matter altogether. And therein lies the challenge, but one well-worth taking up!
Jim Beyer 7.28.12
I'm pretty wary about CCS. Unless broadly applied, I don't see what net good it will actually do. On the other hand, I do see how the vague promise of CCS could keep some industries going longer than perhaps they should.
The figures from Bill McKibben's recent article in rolling stone are pretty sobering. We have about 565 Gigatons of CO2 emissions LEFT before the atmosphere lets things heat up too much. Now, I already have some issues with that specific number (not sure it shouldn't be at least 2X that, for a reason I'll let the reader figure out...) but I appreciate the basic sentiment.
Assuming we have more hydrocarbons (coal, oil, and NG) than atmosphere to burn it, then the one to leave in the ground is coal. So that's my best choice for CCS; leaving unburned coal buried in the ground.
Tam's thoughts notwithstanding, the only path forward is nuclear power to displace coal. I don't see another way. Even if coal with CCS were to be cheaper than nuclear, I frankly wouldn't trust people and countries not to simply cheat and emit CO2 under the table. But that's not likely as I've heard even wind is less expensive than coal with CCS.
I do agree with Roger that long-term low gas grices are not likely. I don't know why the power industry people don't learn that lesson. They are supposed to be so smart...
Roger Arnold 7.28.12
Jim, you raise good points. I address some of them in parts 2 and 3, which will be showing up next week and the week after.
In the meantime, I'll endorse your recommendation of Bill McKibben's article in Rolling Stone. He does a good job of laying out the bottom line, and showing what's at stake. Anyone who had any doubts about the source of oxygen for the anti-AGW campaign should find the article very illuminating.
Ferdinand E. Banks 7.30.12
Frankly, I didn't believe that anyone was dumb enough to still be interested in or to debate the utility of CCS on a grand scale, but it's likely that I was wrong.
In any event, I was once on the guest list of a Swedish organization called 'THE NETWORK FOR OIL AND GAS'. which consisted of a posse of ignoramuses which gathered about once every two months to hear lectures by half-baked energy experts. I was listening to one of these experts, an employee of the large Swedish energy concern Vattenfall, and he said one thing or another about the work of his firm in Germany with coal, which among other things involved CCS.
What they were working with was not coal, but raising the salaries of their executives, and they were doing this by taking advantage of the monumental ignorance of their hosts on energy matters. The MIT graduate and energy consultant Jeff Michel called CCS a thermodynamic travesty, which means an economic travesty in case you have not enjoyed an engineering education. In a way though it was genius. The entire Vattenfall project involved between ten and twenty years of experimenting with pilot operations, and by the end of that period most of the top executives of Vattenfall would be on the receiving end of incomes and perks that would have been impossible if they had been involved with useful/constructive undertakings.
The greed of the rich has always been annoying to my good self, but it is trivial when compared with the stupidity of the highly educated.
Jim Beyer 7.30.12
I think there are certain processes (ethanol production, cement production) that produce a lot of CO2 in relatively pure form already. If CCS is something to be done, why is it not being done in these venues first? Maybe that's in Part 2 or Part 3. It would not involve any extra equipment or construction to facilitate.
Oh, that's right. Because it WOULD involve the touchy issue of carbon credits and a carbon tax, which no one wants to deal with.
Meanwhile, each day we chip away a bit more at the 565 Gigatons of capacity we have left with CO2 emissions....
Jim Beyer 7.30.12
Regarding the oxy-fuel option, I've actually worked a bit on that on a different sort of project.
What's notable is that only electricity is needed to perform the air separation, which could come from renewable sources, and with adequate tank volume, need not be continuous sources either. Since you now have control of the oxygen feed, you can set the level to whatever you want (more than 22%, for example, which could increase efficiency). Also, as implied in the article, but not explicitly stated, since you are using CO2 as a buffer gas (instead of nitrogen), that gas that is recirculated is already pre-heated. So you save all the thermal loss of heating and then expelling the 78% Nitrogen as is done with a normal coal plant. I assume NOx emissions would be much lower as well.
All of this could do much to mitigate the thermodynamic loss of CCS and moreover, increase the amount of electricity generated per pound of CO2 emitted.
I look forward to the other parts of this series. Though I am very wary of CCS in general, it will be interesting to hear more of what Roger has to say.
Michael Keller 7.30.12
"We have about 565 Gigatons of CO2 emissions LEFT before the atmosphere lets things heat up too much." What complete nonsense. The climate is highly non-linear and impacted by all manner of variables whose significance we struggle to understand. It is simply beyond our capability to make any meaningful guesses as to what the future holds.
Concentrate on the wise and efficient use as well as creation of energy to save money and put the idea of carbon capture on the back burner. The former reduces the "evil" CO2 at much faster rates than "green energy" ever can, puts more money in the hands of the consumer and that creates jobs.
Jim Beyer 7.30.12
Are you a climatologist? If not, why should I believe your pronouncements versus all the trained professionals that think otherwise?
Even so, the reasonable answer forward is to emphasize nuclear power over coal plants. We don't have the ability to transport that much more coal anyway, so it would be hard to greatly increase coal use in the U.S. anyway.
Roger Arnold 7.30.12
Thanks, Fred, for livening up the discussion. Nothing like being called a blithering idiot to add a bit of spice.
Last I heard, it was an accepted principle of your profession that economic analysis of production should include external costs. Emission of CO2 is one of the external costs of coal-fired power production. Being the engineer that I am, I like to quantify things. The best way I know to quantify the external cost of CO2 emissions is to ask what it would take to capture and sequester those emissions. Or to otherwise offset them.
Perhaps you feel it's silly to want to quantify the cost of CCS, since the answer, "too much", is so obvious? Perhaps it is. But I'm not convinced. We engineers are a clever bunch, and we sometimes we manage to come up with efficient solutions to problems that had seemed intractable.
In the case of CCS, I think there's a realistic chance that Praxair's OTM approach to oxyfuel combustion could provide an economically viable approach to zero-emission coal-fired power. It's not a sure thing, but I like to be able to give readers at least a rough idea of the possibilities.
Roger Arnold 7.30.12
Michael, you refer to "the climate", but what you describe ("highly non-linear and impacted by all manner of variables..") better fits the weather. Weather is chaotic and truly unpredictable over any extended time horizon. Climate is a matter of averages over time; it's much more tractable.
It's a little like the problem of determining the pressure that a gas exerts against a wall. The pressure comes from molecules of gas striking the wall and rebounding. There are gazillions of molecules in any macroscopic volume of gas, and it's impossible -- not just in practice but in theory -- to measure their individual motions with enough precision to allow the pressure to be calculated as the grand summation of all the tiny little impulses delivered by the individual molecules. Fortunately, it isn't necessary.
Conservation of momentum allows us to know that in any random collision between molecules, any change in the momentum vector of one molecule will be exactly balanced by an equal and opposite change in that of the other molecule. From that fact, we're able to calculate what the pressure against the wall must be, just from the average speed of the molecules (i.e., their temperature) and the number of molecules in a given volume (i.e., the density of the gas).
Climate is a lot more complex than an enclosed volume of gas at equilibrium. However it's a lot simpler than long range weather prediction. Conservation of energy allows us to draw some definite conclusions. For example, we know for sure that the earth is in the process of getting warmer. We know that because we can measure the energy that the earth receives from the sun and the energy that the earth reflects or radiate into space. The two numbers don't quite balance.
The outgoing radiative energy should be a fraction of watt per square meter higher, due to heat from the earth's interior slowly seeping to the surface. Instead, however, it's almost a watt per square meter lower. The difference has to be going somewhere, and it is: it's warming the oceans. That's confirmed by direct measurements of changes in ocean temperatures over the years. The oceans are warming at a rate that's in agreement with the difference between incoming and outgoing radiative energy.
I'm sorry Roger, but you are barking up the wrong tree now. The engineers of Vattenfall are brilliant, and so are the managers probably, but the people they supposedly work for are drowsy fools.
"And fools will be fooled," as Judy Garland sang so brilliantly. When those brilliant engineers and managers got the opportunity to make some serious money, they took it and came up with this CCS nonsense. Regardless of what it is elsewhere, the CCS business in Germany is a scam, and I see no reason to have any faith in it in other countries.
Am I surporised? Well no. Everybody with half a brain knows that if Germany leaves nuclear, our electric prices might double. The way this is handled is simply to forbid electricity exports to Germany, which means that those prices would decline instead of rise. Then what are the voters waiting for. The answer to that is clear - they are waiting for the mid century Olympics.
Jim Beyer 7.31.12
Let's here what Roger has to say.
The cost of separated air is basically the same as the cost of compressed air. I can see improved efficiencies in using more pure oxygen to burning coal. If it was a slam dunk, we'd likely be doing this already, but I'm curious as to what numbers he comes up with.
A concern I have is that the coal will likely burn hotter which is great for blast furnaces, etc., but not so beneficial in the making of steam. But let's see.
Len Gould 7.31.12
Excellent article Roger. It is so wonderful to read such a thoughtfull article written by an articulate author who knows to their topic. Most interesting to me is the mention of the possible energy breakthrough in oxygen separation. If we can crack this nut, especially with a technique which can be packaged small enough for fitting into vehicles, then a who new vista of new cleaner energy carrier systems for transport opens up. One example possible is
Sorry, I'm not getting what you're saying about Vattenfall. It's a set of smallish demonstration projects, intended to gain experience with different approaches to CCS, establish baselines for costing larger projects, and identify potential problems or areas of focus for reducing costs. Where's the scam in that?
If the projects were sold to the EU on the premise that they would demonstrate that CCS could provide a zero-emission coal-based alternative to nuclear power at competetive rates, that might be called fraud. I'd just call it stupid. But I don't think they were sold that way. Everyone knew -- or should have known -- that CCS would be expensive. I've always assumed the rationale for the projects was to more accurately assess the pain that a German nuclear shutdown would entail.
@Jim and Len,
I don't think Praxair's approach represents a breaktrhough in air separation technology. It's more a matter of combining existing technologies in a novel way. AFAIK, the oxygen transport membranes that they would use are just variants of the ceramic membranes used in SOFCs. They withstand temperatures in excess of 1000 C, and high temperatures are necessary to activate the oxygen transport.
As I understand it, air is compressed enough to raise the oxygen partial pressure to a value higher than the gas pressure within the combustion chamber of the boiler. The compressed air is preheated in a recuperator to a temperature close to that in the combustion chamber. Then it's piped through the tubular membranes, and hot oxygen diffuses into the chamber. The gas in the combustion chamber is a mix of CO2 and unburned pyrolysis gases from the hot coal, carrying a suspension of pulverized coal particles, ash, and char. The gas flow within the chamber is managed so that the pyrolysis gases and char have been fully consumed before leaving the chamber.
Meanwhile, the hot compressed air, partially depleted in oxygen, flows from the OTM tubes to drive a gas turbine. Tthe low pressure exhaust from the turbine preheats the incoming compressed air via the recuperator. It's a classic Brayton cycle, with a twist. It provides only a portion of the plant's power output. Most of the heat developed in the combustion chamber still goes to raise steam for a supercritical steam turbine. But it allows the air separation function to be a net power source rather than a power drain.
bill payne 7.31.12
I liked your article especially the parts about how much energy is required for CCS,
Professor Banks amuses me from a writing standpoint.
Reason is that he appears to try to maximize the number of words to get a thought across while including extraneous material.
Russell Page tipped me off the existance of a book, Implementing BASICs: How BASICs Work. He recognized that despite the generality of the title, it is mostly talking about how Wang 2200 MVP BASIC is implemented. Further, he contacted the co-author of the book, William Payne (and here, and here), who generously allowed for me to scan the book and put it online (on the tech page, or directly from here).
Embedded controller forth for the 8051 family is another of my books as well as is Machine, assembly, and systems programming for the IBM 360 http://books.google.com/books/about/Machine_assembly_and_systems_programming.html?id=H71QAAAAMAAJ
Roger, Jim I repeat, predicting the planet's future (as in "global warming" and potential impacts) is clearly beyond our capabilities. Too non-linear, too complex, too many variable (known and unknown).
The whole premise behind "carbon-capture" is weak, with the impact of sequestration inconsequential while being exceptionally expensive.
I repeat, concentrate on the more efficient production and use of energy; saves money and is much more effective at reducing greenhouse gases, regardless of whether or not such gases actually are a problem.
bill payne 7.31.12
J Orlin Grabbe and bill cooperated in this project.
Don Hirschberg 7.31.12
We are all peeing in the same pool , the only pool we will ever have. Building CCS plants in the US would cost us a great deal of money we ain't got and would have negligible effect on cumulative world CO2. Most coal is burned is done elsewhere and most new coal plants are built elsewhere.
India needs much additional generating capacity if only attempting to keep up with population growth, not to mention their hundreds of millions now with little or no electric service. How many of the 51 sub-Saharan countries have more than rudimentary electric service? How many would altruistically chose to forgo electric service for a couple more generations to help control world CO2 emissions?
The world burns natural gas for the same reasons we burn coal. Not because it is somewhat less polluting (it will merely take longer) but because it is cheap and available.
How long before natural gas will be the new coal?
Len Gould 7.31.12
I think all AGW "sceptics" should be required to declare, as the first sentence in every criticism of concensus science, how much higher sea levels would need to rise before it would affect more than 25% of their own personal assets. Sort of a personal danger index. Example "My PDI is 150 meters. etc etc". I suspect that most sceptic's PDI would significantly exceed any predicted AGW caused sea level rise.
Don Hirschberg 7.31.12
Interesting post Len.
Perhaps those posting should also declare whether they subscribe to the divinity of Christ. Or in my memory the doctrine that Mary ascended to heaven in the flesh, this decided 2000 rears after the fact. Or how many virgins reward an Islamic terrorists.
I am not a great promoter of “consensus science.” Seems to me the scientists I learned about in school were the guys who didn't promote consensus science.
I'm old. I have seen many reversals of what we we should eat that I have tended to discount what I now hear about food. After decades of restricting my consumption of eggs on consensus science I have recently have been eating many eggs. My Cholesterol today is 150 – thanks to my DNA.
Consensus science told me we entering an ice age only a few decades ago. But then consensus science told me to eat lots of butter,eggs, whole wheat bread, pork chops and whole milk. Consensus science told us there was no difference between races – that there was nothing about race.
When I was in my teens there were almost no obese people except in side shows and circuses. We paid extra to see the fat lady. I can see fat ladies every time I go shopping. Yet we ate lard and there were no low calorie options. It was disgraceful to be fat. Those who were overweight blamed it on genes, and hormones, not excessive calories and low activity..
Fred Linn 7.31.12
No matter what you do to try to clean up the smokestacks that people see and make them look clean and pretty----coal still comes from strip mines that destroy the earth and waters that are its capacity to support life.
Roger Arnold 7.31.12
Consensus science told me we entering an ice age only a few decades ago.
No, it didn't. That wasn't consensus science. It was speculation by a few individuals that got picked up on by the popular media. Made good headlines and attracted reader interest. Check out:
I repeat, concentrate on the more efficient production and use of energy; saves money and is much more effective at reducing greenhouse gases, regardless of whether or not such gases actually are a problem.
I didn't reply to that point when you made earlier, because I address it in part 3. Didn't want to steal my own thunder, so to speak. But it's an important point, because it reflects a viewpoint that is widely held among environmental activists.
The fact is that if reducing CO2 emissions is one's primary concern, then CCS from coal-fired plants gives around four times the return on energy invested, and around ten times the return on capital invested, compared to building wind or solar farms.
Efficiency improvements and conservation are a mixed bag. Some measures are simple and very cost-effective. Others involve high up-front capital expenses that take a long time to pay off in reduced energy usage. Others are simply unrealistic, since they call for voluntary measures that most people are not inclined to consider, if they have any choice. ("Get rid of your cars, live without air conditioning..")
I don't expect to convince you just by those statements. You have no reason to take my word for anything. But one point to keep in mind: the only thing that reducing our emissions by 10% or 20% is going to accomplish is to give us 10% or 20% more years before the warming index reaches any given level of pain. How long would you like to take to die? It's not sufficient to just slow the rate of increase in atmospheric CO2; we need to bring the rate of increase to zero.
Ferdinand E. Banks 8.1.12
If it is brevity that you want Bill Payne, I can help you. CCS is a lie or a scam or perhaps just another example of stupidity in action, by which I mean the stupidity of the people who are supposed to pay for this nonsense. I think that we can put this another way. What we've got here is a wonderful example of the half-educated exploiting the badly educated.
Jim Beyer 8.1.12
All science is consensus science, if you are obstinate enough. There are those that think the earth is flat, and the man did not travel to the moon? Are they correct? I for one, have not personally travelled to the moon, nor even got high enough in the air to see that the earth is clearly a sphere. I've just seen pictures and tape recordings.
I believe that man walked on the moon because the claims of hoaxing are simply too ridiculous, in my opinon.
I think it is somewhat the same here. You can push facts all day until you are blue in the face, but if someone doesn't want to believe something, they won't.
I guess the question to ask is why do some people not want to believe it? They didn't have trouble with fluorocarbon emissions in the 70's, that made a bunch of companies replace freon with other chemicals. Why was that science so amenable to belief, but global warming is not? Because the economic implications are much more severe for global warming, of course. That's readily acknowledged. But for some reason, this invokes a denier response in people, rather than, "If that's the case, how can you make changes without bankrupting everyone?"
Unfortunately, modern day discourse seems to involve not accepting many things as factual, but to question every detail to no end, basically because one does not want them to be so.
**** **** 8.1.12
An intriguing alternative to oxy-combustion is chemical looping. No air separation plant is required, but the process involves multiple circulating fluidized beds. For example see:
We are investigating whether large-scale solar genernation of electricity is a scam or not.
No conclusions yet.
What about Marin Katusa's statement about nuclear fuel supply?
Byron King apparently got his information that US only supplies 7% of uranium mined from IEA. I checked.
Jim Beyer 8.1.12
There's plenty of Thorium if Uranium ever gets scarce. Definitely not a long-term issue. Also IFR technology would extend fuel supply by nearly 100 fold. (In that case, we could find enough Uranium just by reclaiming it from seawater.)
Michael Keller 8.1.12
Roger, Carbon sequestration significantly reduces the efficiency of a power plant and significantly drives up the cost of the power. Bad idea, all the way around.
Make the machines and stuff more efficient because of the superior economics that ensue. A happy by-product is less emissions.
Roger Arnold, Jim Beyer & Len Gould: try taking a "chill-pill. Stop leaping to unwarranted conclusions and presuming the worst. The lads in Northern Canada will be able to grow tomatoes, year round, no less!
Things have a way of working out because folks are always looking for ways to improve their lot. Technology and innovation will triumph in the end, in spite of the half-wits in government attempting to tell everyone what to do.
Roger Arnold 8.2.12
Carbon sequestration significantly reduces the efficiency of a power plant and significantly drives up the cost of the power. Bad idea, all the way around.
It certainly does reduce efficiency and drive up the cost. Especially if you're considering only the baseline approach of post-combustion flue gas scrubbing, rather than one or more of the more advanced approaches.
However, you don't get a free ride from "drives up the cost" to "bad idea, all the way around". As the son of a civil engineer and home builder, I acquired a keen appreciation for how much building codes and levies for sewage and water treatment facilities drive up the cost of housing in this country. Homes would be a lot more affordable if we just let people dump their buckets of night soil into the streets, the way they did in the Middle Ages. That's what we're currently doing with the waste products of fossil fuel combustion.
Ferdinand E. Banks 8.2.12
What about Marin Katusa's swearing on a stack of bibles that there won't be any plutonium at your local Seven-Eleven when you do your weekend shopping.
What about George Bush telling the people in the cheap seats that there were WMD in Eye-Rac.
What about Bill Payne and Dr Stephen Chu learning some energy economics.
Michael Keller 8.2.12
Linking CO2 to sewage is a poor comparison, at best.
Absent CO2, we'd all be quite dead, so I would not call it waste. From the standpoint of green plants, the stuff is vital.
Further, attempting to impose zero emissions on power production is hopelessly myopic and typifies the complete absence of common sense that permeates the "green" movement.
Len Gould 8.2.12
Micheal. Your lack of logic is showing. Another item which is absolutely essential to plants is a source of mineral nutrients, often sewage (or manure, as we used to use on the farm) lol.
Jim Beyer 8.2.12
>Linking CO2 to sewage is a poor comparison, at best. It's a perfectly valid comparison.
>Absent CO2, we'd all be quite dead, so I would not call it waste. From the >standpoint of green plants, the stuff is vital. From the standpoint of green plants, sewage is vital as well. So is water. But no one wants to stand at the bottom of a lake. Or in a sewage pool, for that matter.
>Further, attempting to impose zero emissions on power production is >hopelessly myopic and typifies the complete absence of common sense that >permeates the "green" movement. This is basically correct. But it doesn't invalidate the concerns about emissions voiced by the vast majority of respected scientists. A common sense and workable plan should be found. I don't see how a theoretical examination of CCS is out-of-line in this respect.
It's also valid to comment on the economic impact of any effort to mitigate CO2 emissions. The science must be further understood. But that doesn't mean the issue should be simply ignored. Scientists are sometimes wrong, it is true. But they are often right as well. That's why we have to WORK THE PROBLEM. And not just stick our heads in the sand.
bill payne 8.2.12
More that I think about what you write in your article, the better it gets.
bill payne 8.2.12
Former Mossad chief and national security adviser Ephraim Halevy was quoted by the New York Times on Thursday saying that if he were Iranian he "would be very fearful of the next 12 weeks".
Halevy also told Israel Radio on Thursday that if the Iranians "continue to play their games" in nuclear talks with world powers, they would be underestimating Israel's resolve.
Carbon Capture and Sequestration: Where Does it Fit? (Part 1: Carbon Capture) comments relevant to stolen money recovery.
While the coal business, which is our largest book of business, has softened, we've been able to offset that with strength in crude oil, in frack sand ...
'Knight-mare': Trading Glitches May Just Get Worse
DanP1966 | Aug 2, 2012 02:18 PM ET This was no accident.
This was no glitch.
This was intentional.
It was either a hack or an employee.
It was either to just hurt the firm or it was a theft.
Key, High Risk, applications do not just go haywire on an upgrade and completely reverse their logic and override any checks.
This algo was buying at the offer and selling at the bid.
NO WAY that happens by accident. ...
Don Hirschberg 8.2.12
Professor,you frequently use the expression “people in the cheap seats.” Quoting a recent posting:”
"What about George Bush telling the people in the cheap seats that there were WMD in Eye-Rac.”
I have thought about this and don't know who cheap seat people are. If you are talking about those who get the cheapest seats at a play or musical, opera or a professional sporting event – I can assure you today there are no are no cheap seats.
There were, indeed, cheap seats before TV, 50 cent seats in major league bleachers, but no player was getting close to even one million pay. So I don't think this is what you mean today.
The larger issue with your post was your snide reference to WMD. That our intelligence, supported by friendly intelligence conclude that Iraq had WMD is the most egregious intelligence error in history. We had thousands of people over many years assessing the situation. Assessments that cost billions of dollars. And they were wrong. Bush used the best intelligence he had. And so he was wrong. Unring the bell.
Who are in the cheap seats? Who are you tallking about?
Len Gould 8.2.12
Don says "Bush used the best intelligence he had. And so he was wrong." Well at least you got that bit right Don.
Len Gould 8.2.12
Perhaps Don, you should consider a bit, why Canada's prime minister (Cretien at the time) didn't send us into that sinkhole, though we've usually supported your requests to do so. The "intel" WAS available.
Michael Keller 8.2.12
The planet can get along quite well without sewage, but we all cease to exist without CO2.
Comparing CO2 to sewage is just plain dumb.
Spending vast amounts of money on fundamentally poor solutions to a real or imagined problem is also dumb.
Ferdinand E. Banks 8.3.12
Don, if you are from Chicago and are familiar with cheap seats at Commisky Park and Soldiers Field, I was always one of the occupants. You know, one of those citizens whose opinions don't count bcause they couldn't affort the better seats.
As for George W. Bush, regardless of what you may think and/or believe, I see Bush as the worst thing that has happened to the United States of America in my lifetime, and your lifetime too. He lied to the American people because he thought that he could win that war on the cheap, regardless of the human cost among innocent Iraquis, and apparently you choose not to understand what that is going to mean for all of us in the long run.
I am not going to go into this, and hope that I am wrong, but I see no reason for a man of your intelligence AND experience to play the fool in an issue as serious as this one. And in case you forgot, the captain in the marines who led the WMD survey team in Eye-rac reported that there were no WMD in that country, but Busy continued to lie on this point.
Roger Arnold 8.3.12
Michael, the point of the analogy was just that one can't dismiss remediative measures, as you appeared to be doing, solely on the basis that they add cost and reduce efficiency.
One can argue that measures are unnecessary -- that there's no problem there that requires remediation. Or one can argue against a specific measure on the basis that it's not be most cost-effective way to address the problem. Right or wrong, those are legitimate points for debate. But dismissal solely on the basis of added cost is not legitimate. One can't legitimately claim that everything should be done as cheaply as possible, regardless of how it affects the environment. That violates the social contract for civilized sharing of the planet
I used the example of emptying chamber pots in the streets because that was, in fact, common practice in the not all that distant past. Laws prohibiting the practice were early forerunners of modern environmental laws. It was a very major undertaking to implement sewers and to protect water supplies. There was no shortage of scoffers who considered it a vast waste of resources directed to something they didn't see as a problem. Sound familiar?
If that example offends you, there are lots of others. The mining industries of the 1800s were horribly polluting. They dumped acids and cyanide into streams and left tailing piles that are still problematic today. The industry protested loudly about added costs when they were forced to clean up their acts. Would you choose to repeal those regulations?
In protesting that without CO2, "we all cease to exist", you are flirting with the most juvinally simplistic, black and white thinking that the anti-AGW campaign has thrown into the meme pool. "CO2 can't possibly be a pollutant. It's essential to life." Well, water is also essential to life, but even water is toxic if one drinks too much of it. Quantity matters.
Ferdinand E. Banks 8.3.12
A few more words about the folks in the cheap seats, Don. They are the audience, the faces in the crowd. the broad masses (to use a term introduced after the first world war). Some of them are dirt poor, and some are filthy rich, while some are in the bleachers and others are close enough to Ted and Jane to ask for an autograph. In any event, the point is that they don't get it. they don.t understand, they don't dig. And because they don't get it, parasites and charlatans with professor or PhD or director on their greeting cards can sell them any silly scheme they choose at any time they choose.
Michael Keller 8.3.12
CO2 is not a pollutant, and neither is water. Your analogy with respect to excess CO2 and water is reasonable. However, science is not able to determine what constitutes "too much CO2". Therein lies the rub.
Rather than diligently and methodically apply science to the problem, the "post normal science" approach assumes that immediate action is required and anybody who dares question such a conclusion is a heretic. Such a medieval approach belies a fundamental lack of integrity, which becomes even more obvious when you "follow-the-money".
Worse, billions-and-billions of dollars have been wasted pursuing fundamentally flawed solutions that have minimal impact on CO2 emissions, regardless of whether or not you believe in the "global warming" dogma.
Michael Keller 8.3.12
PS Not so sure WMD was ever the main driver in Iraq. Seems to me, the underlying idea was to create a large kill-box on relatively flat ground to lure the terrorists in and kill them. Seemed to work. To the extent that Iraq could then serve as a catalyst to further counter the terrorist country of Iran, so much the better. Remains to be seen whether or not that will work.
Beats the hell out of doing it in Afghanistan, which will always be essentially too difficult of terrain for effective military operations. If the majority of the country allows the harboring terrorists, then periodically flatten key infrastructure (power plants, transmission switchyards, dams and the like) and let the place remain in the middleages.
Don Hirschberg 8.3.12
Sorry to extend an off-topic subject but I want to make a point about the WMD issue.
It would have been much easier to have made the right decision if the consequences of being right or wrong were symmetrical. (I don't want to play Russian roulette even knowing the favorable odds.) It would not be adequate to discount Saddam's threat to the world merely because many, even most, analysts thought he had no WMDs. Saddam had not hesitated to do the most egregious things.
Today we are very concerned about Iran and nuclear weapons. Imagine if Saddam (or an equivalent) were still in power and Iraq and Iran both had WMD. They already fought a very bloody war in recent memory., even using war-gas, and Saran on his own Kurds?.
Even with all the wisdom of hindsight, with the terrible intelligence failures, with a terrible loss of life and money and still a continuing terrible mess, might it be debated whether the invasion of Iraq was right or wrong?, for the world. Oil kept flowing.
Len Gould 8.3.12
Micheal: Not worthy of further respones.
Don: "Oil kept flowing." -- exactly, you've nailed the motives. ALL US objectives in the middle east can be summed up as ending with "proviced the oil keeps flowing". Other than than, no-one gives a fertilizer.
Ferdinand E. Banks 8.4.12
Len, not worthy of further responses you say. Well, I don't know. That contribution of Michael sounds like something you might have heard in the Bush White House when an outbreak of constipation hit the place. Gonna teach the terrorists a lesson are they? What those morons have done is to put every one of us in danger.
Jim Beyer 8.4.12
In 2001, Iraq had the largest proven untapped oil reserves. And due to the sanctions, they were also untappable. So 9/11 was used as an excuse to implement a prior plan to topple Saddam and get to that oil. Overall, I don't think it worked that well. Anyway, just one of many theories.
Don Hirschberg 8.5.12
In my most recent posting I misspelled sarin. During my ABC training (Atomic, Biological, Chemical Warfare training) It was called G-agent (G for German), or simply nerve gas, the only nerve gas we produced in quantity.
We learned how to use sarin. We worked a lot of “LD50” problems. That is, we sought Lethal Dose for fifty percent of the enemy under attack. The other fifty percent could not be effective as a fighting force. How horrible.
When I think WMD I am as apt to think sarin as nuclear weapons. (We did not have to work LD problems for nuclear bombs.)
Saddam had sarin and used some against Iran and his own Kurds, killing many thousands. I don't know how efficiently – and if I did that would be classified information. But I can't help wondering if our paper and pencil tactical problems of about 61 years ago were realistic?
Anyway, not to make too fine a point about it, Saddam had WMD. The shelf life of sarin is quite short if not very pure. I think it is very unlikely that that Iraq made very pure sarin, so for this reason alone would not have kept large quantities in storage - only to be discovered by inspectors.. Saddam had luck as well as guile.
Len Gould 8.6.12
Sorry, but there was NOT any ethical excuse for the mess caused in Iraq. Iraq an immanent threat to civilian US citizens on continental US? Give me a break.
Don Hirschberg 8.7.12
Nazi Germany was no military threat to the the US either. The Germans knew they could not effectively invade across just 23 ? miles of the English Channel. We spent much time and effort to prepare for D-Day against a much depleted German Army.
The US does not react to right and wrong strictly on national borders. Else we would not have fought in Korea, conducted the Berlin airlift the USSR couldn't believe, Viet Nam and others we sacrificed for quite decent reasons.
If you want ethical excuses ask Filipinos, South Koreans, Germans among others.
From the Barbary prates to the present the US has been on balance the most altruistic country the world has known.
Len Gould 8.7.12
"to the present the US has been on balance the most altruistic country the world has known." -- give me a TINY break. You're way to deep in the propaganda your media and politicians feed you.
Ferdinand E. Banks 8.8.12
Now you know, Len. Now you know how even intelligent Americans could vote to reelect a president who started a war on the basis of a lie, even though proof that it was a lie was all over the place. But Don, in case you cannot learn, the decision to start that war in Iraq might turn out to be the biggest mistake the US ever made.
Jim Beyer 8.8.12
I once visited Deippe. What were all those Canadians doing in France if they didn't think there was a reason to be there? That said, Iraq was no WWII.
Our 3 biggest ills, in rough order, are: entitlement expense increases (mostly Medicare & Medicaid), Bush tax cuts, and the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Combined, they've taken us from hundred plus billion dollar surplusses to trillion plus dollar deficits.
And anyone who signed Grover Nyquist's pledge should be jailed for treason. Last time I looked, our representatives were there to uphold the constitution, not a pledge from a lobbyist.
Ferdinand E. Banks 8.8.12
Jim, there was a simple logic to WW2, and I figured it out when I was about 12 years old: Hitler was a crazy man and had to be stopped. Moreover, as it became clear to me when I was a soldier in Germany, given a year or so of relative - relative - piece and quiet, he would have had an atomic bomb. Guaranteed.
Where estimating the ills of the US is concerned I pass. I certainly dont have any use for Al Gore, but I suspect that it would have been better for all of us if he had become president. .
Len Gould 8.8.12
Jim, the Canadians in WWII from Italy to Dieppe and the atlantic squadrons were doing the same thing the Canadians in Afgasnistan are doing now, stomping on an immanent threat to us and our allies. (And btw last I checked Canada was taking higher casualties per capita in Afganistan the the US). Iraq in 2003 did not qualifiy according to the information available to us, which was also available to US leadership.
Don Hirschberg 8.9.12
It might sound heartless but the battle deaths of the US have all been very low taken in perspective. Russian (USSR) and German battle deaths in WWII make our loses look like a picnic. Both suffered several millions of battle deaths. (In contrast our many wars over a period of 237 years we have suffered far less than one million battle deaths.)
While losing about 38,000 in Korea we killed more than a million, maybe two million, Chinese and North Korean soldiers. Wars we never even heard of as in the breakup of British India resulted in millions of battle deaths. Rwandans recently killed far more of each other with machetes than we lost in the Gulf and Southern Asian wars, as have even Mexican drug dealers.
Stalin said a single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic. Maybe.
Ferdinand E. Banks 8.9.12
I'd work with those numbers if I were you, Don. Military deaths of the US in WW2 (combat +) were apparently about 405,000. I haven't gone into that too deeply though, but I am not surprised by that number. I am certainly surprised however about Chinese and North Korean battle deaths in Korea. Put another way, I don't believe the 2 million figure and the one million is questionable.
If a guy who failed college algebra twice (but later taught mathematical statistics) can inject an opinion in this, I have never considered those statistics meaningful. The most interesting thing about the US Army is/was the ratio of non-combatants to combatants. For instance, in WW2, a president that I liked - Dwight Eisenhower - was so short of riflemen that he asked the joint chiefs (or General Marshal) for 75000 marines. When he couldn't get any at all he suddenly discovered that he had thousands of potential riflemen already in Europe, by which I mean Black non-combatants. How do I know all this: when I taught at the University of New England (in Australia) one term, I used the math and movie collection of books in the basement of their library, and I dont remember a single occasion in that basement when I was not alone.
And about Afghanistan, Len. Maybe somebody there was behind 9-11 and maybe not, and I didnt pay any attention to the initial deployment of soldiers there. But what was the point in making a crusade of it?
Don Hirschberg 8.9.12
I'd work with those numbers if I were you, Don.
Thanks for your interest and kind advice Professor but you seem to be a bit confused. During WWII years the US had over 16 million servicemen. In such a population there are deaths every day unrelated to battle. I quite explicitly was talking about battle deaths. The battle deaths of all services in all theaters was 291,557.
Over a period of years even a young healthy well-fed population of 16 million would easily suffer a loss of of over 100,000.
As to the battle deaths of the enemy soldiers in the Korean War you have repeatedly Po-pooed my numbers without any numbers or references of your own.
Your story of Eisenhower “suddenly discovering” he had many more riflemen I take with a grain of salt. First, a rifleman in the US Army earns a Rifleman MOS, military occpational specialty. Most people entering the Army did not qualify (mental plus physical) for this training. All got training on the M1 but not what it took to be a MOS Rifleman. The requirements for Quartermasters, truck drivers, cooks and bakers, clerks, etc. were lower. (Infantry, Armor, Artillery, Signal Corps got the brightest and fittest.)
I am sure that the MOS description for truck drivers, etc. in WWII and Korea included a phrase such as,"and to fight as infantry when required." No surprise.
Ferdinand E. Banks 8.10.12
Don, I admire your intelligence and your service in the US Army. Very often those two things dont go together. But where this business with US combat soldiers in Europe during WW2 is concerned, few people can beat the guy who was expelled from infantry leadership school, by whom I mean Yours Truly. And you are very wrong about who qualified for infantry training.
Here I suggest that you read Paul Fussel's book 'Doing Battle'. I think he makes it clear who served in the infantry. Of course, it wouldn't have made any difference to me what Paul Fussel or anybody else said about the US army, because - in a stochastic sense - I know as much as anybody. More in fact. And why shouldn't I? In or out of the army I haunted the librairies, and in or out of the army I kept my eyes and ears open.
As for that expression "to fight as infantry when required", well, this is Fred, Don. You know, Fred.