Oklahoma Renewable Energy Technologies Support Portal
Biomass - Biofuels - Ground Source Heat Pumps - Wind Power
Alternative Fuels - Hydropower
Oklahoma Renewable Energy Technologies Support Portal is a collection of resources to assist researchers, engineers, contractors and planners developing and deploying renewable energy projects in Oklahoma. It provides easy access to Oklahoma, National and International sources for renewable energy information.
Calendar / Upcoming Events
- 16 Jan 2004, Biomass Sustainable Fuels Workshop, Weatherford
- 12 March 2004, Oklahoma Sustainability Network 2004 Annual Conference, Norman.
- 28-31 March 2004, Global Windpower 2004, Chicago
- 22 April 2004, Science Fest youth "earth day" educational event, Oklahoma City
- 26-28 April 2004, Geothermal Roundup Technical Conference & Expo, Stillwater
In the News
We have started logging these in the order we find them, which is not necessarily the order they occurred
- Pawnee Getting New Health Clinic for Tribes. Tulsa World. Jan 14 2004.
Coverage includes a paragraph on the ground source heat pump system for the new large health clinic finishing construction at Pawnee. It has 150 vertical bores, will reduce long term utility costs, and is the first GSHP system Indian Health Services has funded.
- Scientists Decode DNA of Bacterium that Cleans Up Uranium Contamination and Generates Electricity DOE Press Release 11 Dec. 2003.
- Hot Air Over Birds Deaths To Stall Windmills? WorldNetDaily. 8 Dec. 2003.
Two environmental groups seek to block renewal of permits to the large Altamont Pass wind farm in California (nearly 1,400 turbines). An estimated 22,000 birds have died. The Center for Biological Diversity and a renewable energy group, Californian's for Renewable Energy, are both currently opposed to re-permitting the towers. News of the flap was carried all the way out here (OK) on local TV news. A spokesman for the Center for Biological Diversity compared the impact of the turbines to a "terrestial Exxon Valdez every year." That statement was carried by countless news outlets.
- States Laud Water-Pollution Pact. Tulsa World. 19 Dec. 2003.
Oklahoma and Arkansas reached an agreement to reduce phosphorus discharge into the Illinois River basin significantly over the next nine years. Much of the problem comes from poultry litter. The agreement calls for both groups to "team up and pursue funding for poultry litter removal and reuse techniques. Those include such ideas as a possible litter-for-energy plant."
- Global-Warming Report Cites Gasses. Wall Street Journal. 17 Dec. 2003.
The American Geophysical Union, the worlds largest organization of earth, ocean and climate scientist say it is now "virtually certain" that global warming is being caused by emissions of greenhouse gasses and that it will continue. Just last week Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma and others held a news conference at the United Nations Global Warming Conference in Milan Italy where he said, "the science is flawed; it is anything but certain." Others report most scientific dissent is centered on details of the warming phenomenon. Partial solutions proposed include technologies for removing carbon dioxide from the air, decreasing fossil fuel use, shifting to wind, solar or nuclear power.
- Study Links Soot to Heart Disease. Wall Street Journal. 16 Dec. Pg D7.
A study tracked cause of death of 319,000 people and related findings to local air pollution,
specifically soot particles "such as those produced by power plants and diesel engines."
This study might provide considerable new ammunition in support of renewable energy projects.
study will be published in Circulation, a journal of the American Heart Association.
- Integrating Energy and Environmental Goals: Investment Needs and Technology Options. 9th U.N. Conference on Climate Change. Milan Italy. Dec. 1-12, 2003.
This 65 page study includes many excellent color charts of world wide energy production, demand, sources, renewables and possible future senarios. Figure 5.2 Cost Competitiveness of Selected Renewable Power Technologies (pdf Pg 33) has an interesting way of displaying the data. pdf Pg 40 begins a discussion on CO2 capture (Carbon Sequestration), pdf Pg 50 has a nice graphic (Figure 6.3) on Household Fuel Transition from low income to high income household situations.
- Wind Farm Transforms Landscape and Economy of Northwest Oklahoma. Commerce Folio. Oklahoma Dept. of Commerce. Nov/Dec 2003.
Full front page article details opening of the Oklahoma Wind Energy Center wind farm near Woodward. A smaller article on page two provides additional details.
- IdaTech Unveils Natural Gas Fuel Cell System at 2003 Fuel Cell Seminar
IdaTech announced a 5kw Natural Gas Fuel Cell at a fuel cell seminar 4 Nov. 2003.
Resources Covering Multiple Renewable Energy Sources
Internationally, small-scale hydropower is currently receiving considerable attention.
At this moment, Oklahoma appears to have minimal to no involvement with fuel cell development. The links below provide some basic coverage of the industry. Two potential ties are apparent. First, some fuel cells use natual gas, a prevalent resource in Oklahoma. Second, fuel cells are emerging as a possible power source for ground source heat pumps. GSHPs can use them to power circulation pumps and fans. Fuel cells generate heat in addition to electricity. GSHP can easily recover this heat and use it to generate hot water or to heat the loop.
Biomass / Biobased Fuels
- Oklahoma Bioenergy Resources
- Oklahoma Biobased Fuels, Power & Products State Fact Sheet
- Oklahoma Clean Cities Program (DOE alternative fuels program)
- OSU Biomass Projects
- Some Oklahoma Firms Involved in the Biofuel / Bioenergy Industry
- Switchgrass (frequently proposed as a biomass fuel of choice)
- Southeast Region Biomass Energy Program funded by DOE they try to stimulate economic development around biomass fuels in this region.
- Bioethanol - Moving Into the Market Place (NREL)
- Ethanol Was Actually Used in Early U.S. Automobiles Henry Ford, Charles Kettering and the "Fuel of the Future". By Bill Kovarik.
- Biomass Commercialization Prospects for the Next 2 to 5 Years Biomass Colloquies 2000 (65 page paper)
- 0verview of the Planned Demonstration Facility for Enzymatic Hydrolysis of Biomass NREL & DOE Poster Session
- Biofuels for Sustainable Transportation Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (DOE)
- Biomass Research & Development Initiative
- Biomass Research National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
- Biomass Program Overview (NREL)
- Bioenergy Information Network Oakridge National Laboratory
- Office of Fuels Development DOE's ethanol efforts
- National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition
- Renewable Fuels Association ethanol industry trade association
- Biobased Fuels Papers & Periodicals
- Poultry Waste
Last legislative session, Representative Joe Hutchison of Jay proposed generating power from poultry waste. This session, he proposed forcing the Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA) to buy power generated from plants burning poultry waste. On 10 Dec 2003, the state Subcommittee on Natural Resources and Regulatory Services heard from several firms on the issue, including AES Shady Point (Panama OK), Barlow Projects (Fort Collins CO), Production Specialties (Norman OK),
Colmac Resources (Maryland) and Schultz Engineering (Missouri). The hearing was titled, Interim Study 03-41. The references below provide a quick overview of the technologies involved.
Native American Renewable Energy Development
Regulations / Regulatory Agencies
Oklahoma Energy Efficiency Initiatives
Biological Surveys and Archeological Investigations
Energy Production and Consumption
Fossil Fuels - Oil, Gas and Coal
These sites provide basic information on fossil fuels and producing energy production from them. The information may be helpful for making comparisons with renewable sources.
- NaturalGas.Org covers Natural Gas industry
- Natural Gas Intelligence
- Oklahoma Natural Gas ONG
- OneOK a major Oklahoma gas industry firm
- Oil & Gas Journal printed by PennWell of Tulsa and Houston
- Oil History history of the oil industry
- Halliburton Services the largest Oklahoma oil industry services firm
- Coal Utilization Research Council promotes Clean Coal Technology - CCT
- World Coal Institute
- DOE Office of Fossil Energy
- Carbon Sequestration capture, storage or conversion of Carbon Dioxide and other greenhouse gasses
- How Much Coal is Required to Run a 100 Watt Light Bulb 24 Hours a Day for a Year. (Answer 714 pounds)
Following the procedure used by the reference above, powering a 100 watt light bulb for ONE hour requires .0813 pounds
(1.3 ounces) of coal. Burning that 1.3 ounces of coal generates about .21 pounds (3.36 ounces) of Carbon Dioxide (about three times the weight of the coal that went in, because it combines with air when it burns).
Solid coal (not broken up) has a density of the nature of 85 pounds per cubic foot (or .79 ounces per cubic inch). The 1.3 ounces required to burn a 100 watt light bulb for one hour would be about 1 cubic inch of coal. Normally coal is broken up and "piled" at power plants. Piled coal has a density in the range of about 50 pounds per cubic foot.
At 70 degrees Fahrenheit and atmospheric pressure, Carbon Dioxide gas has a specific gravity of 8.74 cubic feet per pound. Inverting, we obtain a density of .114 pounds per cubic foot (.00106 ounces per cubic inch). The 3.36 ounces of Carbon Dioxide generated by burning the 100 watt light bulb for one hour would occupy about 3170 cubic inches (1.8 cubic feet) at 70 degrees Fahrenheit and atmospheric pressure. Note - this is over 3000 times the volume of the coal burned to keep the 100 watt bulb on for one hour.
Primary Sources of Research Funding
Federal 2003 Energy Bill
- The state of Oklahoma conducted a major economic development exercise in late 2003 called
- The EDGE Energy Panel published a 5 page report titled, Energy Panel EDGE Project Report
One killowatt (kw) = 1.341 horsepower
One killowatt = 0.948 Btu/sec
One killowatt = 3,413 Btu/hr
One Megawatt (MW) = 1,000 killowatts
One Horsepower (hp) = 0.7455 killowatt
One Horsepower = 0.707 Btu/sec or 42.41 Btu/min or 2,545 Btu/hr
One Btu/sec = 1.055 killowatts
One Btu/sec = 1.415 horsepower
Green Products and Building Design
Most of the comments and resourcs in this section are from:
Green: a State of Mind
- Green building product directory: GreenSpec
- BEES, Building for Environmental and Economic Stability, a free software program from NIST that makes it easier to consider economic and environmental impact of building construction decisions.
Athena Environmental Impact Estimator is a somewhat similar product created in Canada.
- Green Seal and EnergyStar
two of the more widely respected Green certifications.
- AHSRAE Standard 90.1. Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential. is the normal performance standard for commercial facilities with HVAC, lighting and domestic water heating systems.
- U.S. Green Building Council operates LEED. Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, which has a rating system to encourage development of high-performance, sustainable buildings.
- DOE-2 building energy modeling program from DOE.
- Building Energy Analysis Research Group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) follows the simulation area pretty closely and provides several tools including EnergyPlus, Visual Spark and GenOpt. EnergyPlus is a user friendly, free program similar to DOE-2.
- Trane sells several software tools to help calculate building thermal loads and operational costs, including Trane Trace.
With more people being emissions conscious, some contractors might try to differentiate themselves as having cleaner running installation equipment (use catalytic convertors, scrubbers, somehow capture/sequester the CO2 and NOx emissions during drilling and trenching.) Greater emphasis might be given to pond, lake, pool systems as heat sinks (require less boring and trenching)?
- Students: an Unused (or at least not optimally used) Resource
If specific problems and barriers to further development of renewable energy resources were identified in Oklahoma (things like how to successfully burn poultry waste, reduce wind turbine bird strikes, increase rate of heat transfer to soil in ground source heat pump "loops", etc) AND considerable background information were provided covering exiting research, strategies, etc AND that information was made available to advisors, masters candidates and phd candidates in search of thesis topics, more might select renewable energy research topics, resulting in a greater knowledge base and hopefully some possible solutions to our problems.
- Above Ground Power Lines: an Indirect Source of CO2 Pollution
Several power companies plant trees in an attempt to capture a portion of the Carbon Dioxide emissions of coal fired power plants. Some have banded together as PowerTree Carbon Company LLC, a cooperative tree planting project. We have recognized that CO2 emissions are bad and that trees soak up CO2, however it seems like no one has noticed how many trees in the vicinity of power lines are:
Once trimmed, trees often immediately grow several shoots at the cut. Does this new growth make up in part for the loss of the ability to capture CO2 of what was trimmed off?
- Trimmed back significantly under power lines
- Widely "clear cut" under major power lines
- Not planted to start with by home owners because they would be under power lines
- Not able to multiply into small groves/groups of trees down roadsides or fence rows because the primary trees were cut
Possible ways of estimating the magnitude of these effects include random sample road counts, aerial photographs, satellite photographs, following power line trimming crews, etc.
The Public Power Institute site discusses Right of Way (ROW) landscaping in Tennessee.
Power companies obviously need to keep tree limbs out of power lines. However, if we were more efficient and used less energy, fewer major transmission lines would be needed. Ground source heat pumps are one way of reducing energy consumption. Distributed power generation also reduce reliance on major transmission lines. On site fuel cells also reduce the need to transmit power long distances.
The recent major blackout in the northeast resulted in many calls for a healthier, stronger grid (more major power lines). It might be time for us to look at the impact of cutting and trimming trees near power lines. This might be a possible thesis topic?
- Ground source heat pumps significantly reduce CO2 emissions by using less electrical power than conventional HVAC systems, however considerable CO2 emissions are released when they are installed (engines used to drill holes for vertical loops or trench for horizontal loops). Installation emissions were estimated to have a 1.7 year payback time in the technical paper below.
CO2 Payback-Time Assessment of a Regional-Scale Heating
and Cooling System Using a Ground Source Heat-Pump
in a High Energy-Consumption Area in Tokyo.
Applied Energy. Vol. 71. (2002)
Evaluate full Life Cycles
Renewable technologies have certain advantages or disadvantages in general as well as for specific situations (uses and installations). We need to consider their environmental and economic full life cycle - "cradle to the grave" (design, construction, transportation, installation, operation, maintenance, replacement, decommissioning, storage, destruction) for all components and systems involved and how they contribute to efficiencies, costs, emissions, usefulness, ease of use and comfort when comparing them. Energy Pulse has an article titled, Externalities Cost in Electric Power Generation
, that points out some of these sometimes unconsidered costs. Some building construction environmental/economic decisions are addressed by BEES, Building for Environmental and Economic Stability, a free software program fron NIST and Athena Environmental Impact Estimator from Canada. A tool like these focusing on renewable energy alternatives might be useful?
Wind Turbine Bird Strikes
The industry could be more proactive on this issue. Encourage further research (maybe using the thesis opportunities mentioned earlier), consider the PowerTree approach (protect habitat of raptors elsewhere, raise and release them in other areas, etc.), encourage development of technologies that might keep birds away from towers/blades, study alternate habitats near towers (don't mow so close that it makes it easy for raptors to catch prey there), try to drive prey away from towers/blades, etc. Study full Life Cycles mentioned earlier - how do to wind turbine bird strikes compare to bird losses from acid discharges of coal fired plants, etc. Is it possible to monitor wind turbine blade torque close enough to detect a strike? to tell if it is a bird? are some birds struck, injured and die somewhere else? Also need to consider some want to keep birds away from towers (protect raptors), others want birds to stay close (prairie chickens). Studies in these areas would allow better decisions to be made and possibly result in fewer bird deaths.
Power Poles Contribute to CO2 Levels?
Power companies use millions of "telephone poles" to carry power lines. These poles were once trees. By harvesting them, their ability to trap carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was brought to a halt. However, since many of these trees are grown specifically for this purpose, harvested and replanted, perhaps the quick growth pole trees may actually be a CO2 sink. Also need to consider the land the trees are grown on might otherwise be covered by other types of trees and vegetation. This might be another interesting thesis topic.
Above Ground vs. Below Ground
Most cities have been encouraging below ground installation of utility lines (power, phone, cable). Underground installation removes "unsightly" power poles, reduces potential for traffic accidents of hitting power poles, and improves aesthetics. However below ground installation creates significant CO2 emissions while the lines are being trenched or plowed in (engine emissions). Perhaps this is another opportunity for some contractors to differentiate themselves as "green / clean" and install with equipment designed to reduce installation emissions? Recent surges in cell phone usage and satellite TV reduce above and below ground clutter as well as indirectly reduce CO2 and NOx emissions.
Ground Loops vs. Trees
Ground source heat pumps use loops to accept and reject heat from the ground. Typically one or more loops of similarly sized plastic pipe is used. Clusters of vertical loops for larger installations strongly resemble shell and tube dual pass heat exchangers. Although ground loops resemble other man made devices, nature tends to do things differently. Consider a typical tree. The portion above ground starts with a trunk, then branches, then smaller branches, then twigs, then leaves, then flow paths on the leaves. Root systems are similar. Trees (and many other creations of nature) are very fractile. Perhaps this can somehow be mimicked in ground loops to increase heat transfer efficiencies? Morgan Fuel Cell was recently in the news for mimicking it with their ElectroEtch process to create their biomimetric bipolar plate technology for fuel cells. Morgan's highly branched capillary flow system significantly boosts fuel cell output by "reducing pressure drop found in the industry-standard serpentine design of flow field and ensures a more even delivery of gas across the bipolar plate, so that more power can be extracted from the fuel cell." Perhaps a similar concept might be employed by ground loops?
Power Consumption of Computer Gaming and Endless Web Surfing
Many people (children and adults) spend a lot of time playing computer games (on PCs or game consoles tied to televisions) as well as in internet chat rooms, endless surfing, etc. These activities require electrical energy, normally supplied by coal fired power plants. Some changes in our habits in this area might well reduce consumption and pollution.
New Use for Natural Gas Pipelines?
U.S. Patent Application 2003/0024685 - Geothermal Space Conditioning promotes bringing water in from your water meter, using it as the heat sink, then pumping it back out through the water meter backwards. Why not extend this concept to factories consuming large amounts of natural gas (like die cast facilities). They would not have to stockpile natural gas as it is on all the time, they would just use
the cool incoming natural gas (been underground) to cool a portion of their facility. They could just run some coils around the incoming gas lines. Precautions will need to be taken to not raise the temperature of the natural gas too high. Also will need to take into account the volume or pressure change from raising its temperature, but their might be something here for some facilities.
Do New PC Cooling Technologies Hold Any Promise for GSHP Applications?
Start-Up Sees Hot Area in PC Cooling. Wall Street Journal. 19 Feb 2004. Nano Coolers, Inc. is developing cooling systems for laptops. They use a electromagnetic pump and a liquid metal based on containing gallium to dissipate heat. The liquid metal is "pumped" as it goes between two magnets with an electric current between them creating a "Lorentz force". This technology was originally developed for refrigerators, water fountains and other basic cooling applications. It might have applications to GSHP. They claim much higher heat transfer rates than with conventional cooling fluids and no moving parts. Other startups are working on different approaches to the computer overheating problem, especially in laptops. Perhaps one of these technologies will be applicable to one or both sides of the gshp loop (in the ground / in the house).
Please email us if you have any comments about or suggestions for our Oklahoma Renewable Energy Technologies Support Portal.