Resource constraints and the need for new economic paradigms

Energy Evolution Journal: Musings About an Ecologically Sane Human Society

My books about energy and economics

Contact: rogerkb at energyevolutionjournal dot com


The continued use of lime obtained from limestone requires carbon capture and storage to acheive net zero cabon emissions


Quick lime or calcium oxide (CaO)
is used for a variety of
industrial purposes. Typically it
is hydrated (CaO + H2O ==>
Ca(OH)2) prior to use. Among the
uses of this compound are:

1. Construction: lime is a key
ingredient cement, plaster, and

2. Steel Industry: lime is used
in the extraction of iron from
its ore and in removing
impurities from steel

3. Glass industry: lime is added
to soda-lime glass which is the
most common type (90% of

4. Agriculture: lime is added to
acidic soil to correct its pH.

5. Water treatment: lime is added
to waste water to neutralize its

6. Chemical Synthesis: Calcium
Oxide serves as a cheap and
durable base for the synthesis of
numerous organic compounds.

The cheapest way to obtain CaO is
to heat limestone (CaCO3)
resulting in thermal

CaO3 + heat ==> CaO + CO2.

The heat could be provided by
carbon free renewable energy
sources, but the only way get to
net zero emissions for the carbon
released from the limestone is
via carbon capture and storage

For a number of manufacturing
processes (e.g. glass and steel)
the carbon emissions caused by
production of lime are a
relatively small fraction of the
total emissions. If you are into
the "more sustainable" meme you
might choose not to worry about
these emissions. After all if you
eliminate over 90% of CO2
emissions who but a killjoy would
spend a lot of time agonizing
over the remainder?

The British glass industry has
published a roadmap for reducing
carbon emissions[1], and to their
credit their goal is not to make
their industry "more
sustainable". Their goal is to
achieve net zero carbon emissions
by 2050. They are counting on CCS
to achieve 7% of emissions

This use of CCS must continue for
perpetuity. As long as humanity
is using limestone as a source of
CaO we must continue to practice
CCS if we want net zero carbon

The earth is very big place and
there may be lots of suitable
geologic sites for CCS. On the
other hand the earth's atmosphere
and oceans are very large
reservoirs of matter and for a
long time we assumed that human
emissions into these reservoirs
would have insignificant effects.
I hope we do not get surprised in
the matter of CCS. Lower total
resource demand through lower per
capita standards of consumption,
emphasis on long lived products,
and a high degree of recycling
would seem to be in order if we
are hoping for a long run of
human civilization on this

British Glass Net Zero Roadmap


Falling particle reciever for concentrated solar power plants could potentially provide higher temperature and lower storage costs


Recently (Jan 2024) a group of
Italian reasearcher published an
open access paper called "A
falling particle receiver thermal
model for system-level analysis
of solar tower plants". The
following three paragraphs are
taken from the introduction of
this paper:

"In the "Gen3 Roadmap" published
in 2017 by Sandia National
Laboratories (SNL), Mehos et al.
introduced the three most
interesting Solar Tower (ST)
technology pathways on which the
research effort should be focused
on (i.e., molten salts, falling
particle, gas phase). Following
an extensive analysis of those
three technologies carried out in
the frame of the Generation 3 CSP
Systems funding program, the U.S.
Department of Energy announced in
2021 that the most promising
pathway to achieve higher
temperatures in CSP plants and to
meet 2030 cost targets is the
one based on Particle Receiver

In detail, the concept is to
adopt particles as a heat
transfer medium (HTM) instead of
liquid fluids; this leads to some
advantages including: i) the
possibility of HTM direct heating
that allows achievement of high
temperatures, and ii) the
possibility of cheaper Thermal
Energy Storage (TES) because heat
can be stored in a relatively
inexpensive medium (e.g. sand).

More precisely, the adoption of
direct heating allows avoiding
the exposure of metallic tubes to
the direct solar radiation
allowing achievement of high
temperatures and this leads in
turn to the possibility of
adopting power cycles with higher
efficiencies than the ones
adopted for conventional molten
salts receivers."

The high temperature power cycle
which I have seen mention most
often in connection concentrated
solar energy is a closed loop
Brayton cycle with carbon dioxide
as the working fluid. The typical
maximum temperature cited for a
practical implementation is in
the range of 700°C to
800°C. In the paper reference
above the particle outlet
temperature of the modeled solar
field is 750°C which sits in
the middle of the range targeted
by the Brayton cycle researchers.
The max temperature of existing
molten salt receivers is


Rheinmetall receives new orders for heat pumps for large commercial EVs


Green Car Congress recently
posted an article[1] about some
large commercal orders for
Rheinmetall's heat pump module
designed to work in large
commercial electrified vehicles

From Rheinmetall's web site[2]:

"These two new orders mark the
next milestone in the Group's
marketing and positioning
strategy following the market
launch of the heat pump module,
which was specifically designed
for the electrification of drive
systems in commercial vehicles,
construction machinery, and
boats. The intelligent cooling
and heating management of the
heat pump pre-filled with R1234yf
not only increases the range of
vehicles and battery service life
but also makes driving more
comfortable. "

These heat pumps are an
interesting development since
climate control for
passengers/operators is a
significant issue in determining
the battery life in EVs.
Rheinmetall is clearly focused on
larger commercial vehicles and
not smaller sized passenger cars.
Some premium passenger cars are
already fitted with heat
pumps[3]. As an option they cost
about $1,300.

[1] Rheinmetall on Green Car Congress

[2] Rheinmetall news release

[3]Heat pumps for EVs explained


AI's Appetite for Electrical Energy


Steve Hanely recently published
and article[1] on entitled: "AI
Has A Voracious Appetite For
Electricity, And That’s A
Problem". The whole article is
interesting. The concluding
paragraphs are:

"And yet, trying to limit the use
of AI to endeavors that are
socially beneficial is like
trying to get people to only
drive their cars when absolutely
necessary. Not gonna happen. In
order to maximize the limits of
computer technology, we will need
to vastly increase our
electricity generating
capabilities. We don’t have
enough renewable energy as it is.
How much of it should be diverted
to power AI, or mine Bitcoin, or
support online sports betting?

Those are the sorts of messy
questions that few people want to
answer and so they prefer not to
ask them in the first place. And
so we careen blissfully into the
future using more and more
resources to amuse ourselves. If
we continue to do what we always
have, we will continue to get
what we have always gotten — a
profligate waste of resources to
keep us entertained. Yes,
friends, we are that shallow."

My reponse to the paragraphs was:

I do not think the problem is so
much that we are shallow as that
we are committed to the
predominance of a specific social
institution: private credit
markets. The Mexican poet
Ocatavio Paz had this to say
about this institution:

"The market (by which he meant
private credit markets) is
efficient but it has no purpose.
Its only goal is to produce more
in order to consume more."

As long as the rate at which
money is being converted into
more money (which is to say the
rate at which consumption rights
are being converted into a larger
amount of consumption rights in
the future) is a central and
universal measurement of social
welfare it seems unlikely that
the fight against climate change
will gain serious traction. One
step forward will be followed by
one (or even two) steps

I think that we need to create
community credit markets whose
goal is not to turn money into
more money but rather to create
and maintain infrastructure which
will serve the long term welfare
of humanity and of the biosphere
which supports us. If it is
impossible that we can create
such an institution because of
some aspect of the human psyche
which only allows short term
acquisitive greed to make
efficient decisions about credit,
then it seems likely that homo
economicus is an evolutionary
dead end that is unfit to survive
in the long term.

[1]AI Electricity Consumption