This could be huge….

https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/alberta-hydrogen-innovation-1.5290297

 

Why engineers in Alberta think they’ve found a way for the oilsands to produce clean fuel

Team is trying to prove its method for extracting hydrogen works for business and the environment

Ian Gates, shown in his lab at the Schulich School of Engineering at the University of Calgary, is working on a way to extract hydrogen gas from oil and bitumen. (Tony Seskus/CBC)

As the world reaches for cleaner energy, hydrogen has long been viewed with a lot of hope.

Often called the fuel of the future, the gas can be used to generate electricity and power vehicles. It produces water — not carbon — when burned.

But among its challenges is the economics of producing the gas in a large-scale and environmentally friendly way. One of the least expensive methods for doing so, for example, using methane, has drawn scrutiny for its carbon emissions.

Now, engineers in Alberta believe they could have an answer — a method capable of extracting hydrogen from underground resources like oilsands deposits while leaving the carbon emissions it produces below the surface.

The team turned heads with their work this summer at the Goldschmidt Geochemistry Conference in Barcelona, making headlines from Britain to Japan.

A hydrogen dispensing pump is seen at the Washington Auto Show in 2015. Hydrogen is a potential fuel for the transportation sector. (Reuters)

Hydrogen can be found in many different organic compounds, including hydrocarbons like oil and gas.

One of the most common ways of producing hydrogen from natural gas is called steam-methane reforming, which uses methane and very hot steam under pressure to create a chemical reaction freeing the hydrogen and capturing it in special filters. The waste emissions are carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide.

“That’s been an industrial technology for over 80 [years],” said Grant Strem, CEO of Proton Technologies, the private company commercializing the new process for creating hydrogen.

“What we’re doing is very similar, but the big difference is, we’re using the ground as a reaction vessel, so our capital cost is a lot lower, and instead of buying natural gas to fuel it, we use the unswept oil in the reservoir as our fuel.”

How the process works

Through lab work and small-scale field testing, the researchers say they found injecting oxygen into the fields raises the temperature and creates a reaction that frees the hydrogen.

“You can envision that the reservoir is simply a hot, bubbling mix of oil, which some fraction of it is now combusting,” said professor Ian Gates, from his lab at the University of Calgary’s Schulich School of Engineering.

“And as it is doing so, it simply keeps producing more and more hydrogen as a consequence of its reactions.”

Gates said palladium alloy filters then allow the hydrogen to come to surface while filtering out the other gases, like carbon dioxide or hydrogen sulfide, which stay below ground.

Conceptually, Gates said, the oil in the reservoir could later be produced.

But the expectation is the process can draw up “huge” quantities of hydrogen relatively inexpensively.

And Canada would be able to tap its resources.

“There’s a lot of work toward renewables, hydro and all those other things, but you still have a huge amount of assets, chemical energy, stored in oil,” Gates said.

“What this is about is how do we make use of oil reservoirs — or even gas reservoirs — and get pure, clean energy out of it.”

Gates said after proving the concept in the field last year, they will soon begin testing to see how it works on a larger scale. A semi-commercial pilot project is in the works for next year.

Proton Technologies is working with an engineering firm to design a scaled-up version of their demonstration facility at its site in Kerrobert, Sask.

Now, the challenge will be to see how the process works in the field with all of the complexities of a reservoir.

“Does [the hydrogen] really transport as effectively as you predicted in your models, as you’ve estimated from the lab?” he said. “Everything so far is supportive. Yes, we should be able to access it, but we do need to verify that.”

Reservoirs that are open to the surface or very shallow would not likely be good candidates for such a system, he said.

Field testing needed

After the team’s work was presented at the Goldschmidt conference in Barcelona last month, some experts responded with cautious optimism, emphasizing the need for extensive field testing of the technology to assess how well it could work on an industrial scale and over time.

In Canada, Warren Mabee, the director of the Queen’s Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy, said having a large source of hydrogen that’s relatively easy to access would be an important step toward a cleaner energy future.

“There are some technologies that can use hydrogen really well,” Mabee told CBC News.

“It’s very, very clean as long as there’s not a lot of greenhouse gas associated with producing it, which, in this case, it sounds like there isn’t. Which is a wonderful technology, if we’ve gotten to that point.”

A Shell executive demonstrates a hydrogen refuelling station in Vancouver while a photographer takes a photo during the station’s launch last year. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Significant research is being done on developing new ways of producing hydrogen, including microbes and solar technologies, among others.

China, Japan and South Korea have big plans to put millions of hydrogen-powered vehicles on their roads in the coming decade.

Hydrogen has had false starts

Hydrogen was also a key topic of conversation during a July meeting hosted by the International Energy Agency. The Paris-based body, which advises on energy policy to its 30 member states, said hydrogen was enjoying “unprecedented momentum,” offering ways to decarbonize a range of sectors, including long-haul transportation.

“But it has experienced false starts in the past and still faces big challenges to scale up infrastructure and bring down costs,” the IEA said in a release.

A lack of refueling stations for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles is often pointed to as a major barrier to the technology taking off.

The delivery process for the hydrogen — including pipelines, storage facilities, compressors and trucks — is also a work in progress when it comes to widespread consumer use.

Gates and Strem hope they can do their part to move things forward.

I’m very motivated by the idea of taking these [hydrocarbon] resources, which are of incredible value to Canada, and pivoting their use toward hydrogen production and ultra-clean energy outcomes,” Gates said.

“In my view, this is something that’s quite exciting.”

Kingdom of the Blind: Louise Penny

Armand Gamache “IS” Penny’s detective series. He is what makes it, his uncompromising character, decency and actions.

In that sense, this book stays on track. Gamache still carries the series.

Penny reliably provides us with delicious writing, full of symbolism, metaphor and foreshadowing.

Unfortunately, the rest is slipping. It’s too full of easy plot twists, relying on sketchy MacGufffins, and loose editing. You could see the plot twist over who would discover the Carfentil right from the early chapters. There is really little reason for minor characters from Three Pines to even be mentioned, and some new characters are unrealistic.

Not her best, but by very definition not every book can be.

Meanwhile, back in Winnie the Poo-land…

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/british-columbia/article-former-ontario-minister-sides-with-beijing-pins-hong-kong-protests-on/

Former Ontario minister sides with Beijing, pins Hong Kong protests on ‘outside’ forces
XIAO XU
VANCOUVER
PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER 15, 2019

Former Ontario cabinet minister Michael Chan, seen in Nanjing, China, on a trade mission in October, 2014, recently condemned Hong Kong’s anti-government protesters in an interview with a Chinese state-backed news site.

A former Ontario cabinet minister, who held the province’s immigration and international trade portfolios under two Liberal premiers, has denounced acts of violence during the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong as the work of foreign actors intent on undermining the state of China.

Former MPP Michael Chan, in a recent interview with Chinanews, a Chinese state-backed news site, condemned the city’s anti-government protesters and applauded Hong Kong police for showing restraint in the crisis.

His assertions echo the statements by Chinese officials as the protest movement in Hong Kong gathered steam. China has blamed “foreign forces” for manipulating the protests and interfering in Hong Kong affairs.

“I have been thinking, why are these young people so radical, so passionate [and] committed to do these things? And why so many people?” Mr. Chan said in an interview with Chinanews that was published earlier this month.

“If there is no deeply hidden organization in this, or deeply hidden push from the outside, there is no way that such large-scale turmoil would happen in Hong Kong in a few months.”

Mr. Chan served in various portfolios for the Ontario Liberals, including as immigration minister, during his tenure in office between 2007 and 2018.

Last week, in an article posted on Mr. Chan’s public WeChat social-media account, he is quoted as suggesting demonstrators have been trying to enlist the Japanese for help with their cause. The article is titled “Exclusive interview with Michael Chan: Guerrilla actions.”

He said in the article that Japanese media reported an interview with a Hong Kong protest leader who travelled to Japan and mused that “Japan could send a self-defence force on the grounds that they could protect the overseas Japanese.” Mr. Chan went on to say the report was strongly condemned by Hong Kong residents and added that the protest leader has denied ever saying such things.

The protester Mr. Chan referred to, Agnes Chow Ting, stated on her social-media accounts on Sept. 5 that she made no such claims and demanded the Japanese media delete the report.

Any reference to a Japanese military presence in Hong Kong is especially inflammatory among the Chinese community, because of Japan’s brutal treatment of Chinese citizens during the Second World War.

“That protest leader is actually taking the initiative to ask the Japanese army to occupy Hong Kong again in order to guard … ‘freedom and democracy.’ This is incomprehensible,” the article on Mr. Chan’s WeChat page said.

This article was also published under Mr. Chan’s byline at 51.ca, a prominent Chinese-language online publication in Canada.

Efforts to reach Mr. Chan through his public WeChat account were not successful.

Repeated calls and e-mails to Mr. Chan’s lawyers and workplace were not returned to The Globe and Mail. According to the Seneca College website, Mr. Chan sits on the board of governors.

In 2010, Mr. Chan was considered so close to the Chinese consulate in Toronto that Canada’s intelligence agency feared he was at risk of being unduly influenced by foreign officials. A senior intelligence official later met the province’s top bureaucrat to formally caution the province about the minister’s conduct and the risk of foreign influence.

Dalton McGuinty, who was then premier, dismissed the Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s concerns as baseless and kept Mr. Chan in cabinet. His successor, Kathleen Wynne, similarly dismissed the concerns and said the federal spy agency’s suspicions lacked substance.

CSIS’s concerns about Mr. Chan were never disclosed publicly at the time, nor was Mr. Chan named as the subject of the CSIS briefing. They were revealed in a 2015 report by The Globe.

When asked earlier this September about Mr. Chan’s interview with Chinanews, Ms. Wynne said she hadn’t spoken to Mr. Chan “for months.”

“We are no longer part of a caucus; I haven’t spoken to him for some time. He is a trusted colleague, but I have not had a conversation with him about the issues in Hong Kong, in China.”

After the Globe article appeared in 2015, Mr. Chan said CSIS’s concerns were “ludicrous” and “totally false” and he brought a legal action against The Globe.

“There is a persistent theme that there is a perceived risk that I am under undue influence and that I am an unwitting dupe of a foreign government,” he wrote in an open letter. “This is offensive and totally false.”

When he left politics last year, Mr. Chan joined the law firm Miller Thomson. A spokesperson for the firm said earlier this month that Mr. Chan no longer worked there.

In the Chinanews article, Mr. Chan said the violence in the movement in Hong Kong has been severe, and if there were similar unrest in Western countries, police would have “already fired bullets toward crowds.”

Protesters have accused Hong Kong police of excessive use of force, but Mr. Chan disagreed.

“It’s the opposite,” he stated. He said the restraint and courage of Hong Kong police should be praised, according to the article.

The months of unrest in the Chinese-governed, semi-autonomous city were prompted by a bill that would have allowed people in Hong Kong to be extradited to mainland China for trial. Many saw the extradition bill as an erosion of rights promised under a “one country, two systems” framework when the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997. The bill was first suspended, but after the tensions in the city kept escalating, Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, announced on Sept. 4 that the government would withdraw the bill.

Hong Kong protesters have said the bill’s withdrawal was too little, too late.

In other remarks in the Chinanews interview, Mr. Chan noted about 300,000 Canadians are living in Hong Kong.

“If the system in Hong Kong is really that unfree, undemocratic, feeble, and bad, then why do these 300,000 (Canadians) live there?

“One country, two systems will not change. If whoever says Hong Kong wants to be independent and separated, then there is no discussion needed. Hong Kong belongs to China. This is unnegotiable.”

Some Chinese Canadians, especially those who have ties to Hong Kong, found Mr. Chan’s remarks appalling.

Gloria Fung, president of Canada-Hong Kong Link, said Mr. Chan’s remarks sound like the Chinese regime’s propaganda.

“It’s very clear that he is not using Canadian values nor the universal values of Western democracies in making all these comments. Rather, he abides by the values of the Chinese Communist Party,” Ms. Fung said. “That is troublesome.”

It was not the first time Mr. Chan publicly supported China’s stand on the Hong Kong issue. Last month, Mr. Chan spoke at a rally in Markham, Ont., expressing support for Hong Kong police, the government and Beijing.

Ms. Fung, who also lives in the Toronto area, said although Mr. Chan has stepped down from the political arena, he is still actively engaged in pro-China events.

The rally, organized by the Confederation of Toronto Chinese Canadian Organizations, attracted a few hundred attendees from the Chinese community. Online pictures and videos show leaflets resembling the Liberal Party’s old paid membership forms were distributed at the event.

Braeden Caley, spokesman for the Liberal Party of Canada, said the party had no involvement at the event. He said Mr. Chan has no formal role in the federal party.

The area that Mr. Chan once represented provincially is now held federally by Small Business Minister Mary Ng. A spokeswoman for Ms. Ng said the minister was aware of the rally, but declined to comment on whether Mr. Chan’s views are shared by many of Ms. Ng’s constituents.

Ms. Ng said in a statement that it is important that the situation in Hong Kong be de-escalated, and there is a diversity of views among Chinese Canadians as to how this can happen.