Ancillary Advantages Of A Fusionhydrogen Energy System

The overall goal of the conversion of the energy system to Fusion-Hydrogen is to provide abundant energy from an environmentally benign source. It will ultimately eliminate air pollution and terminate of the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In addition to this benefit, there are a number of other advantages derived from the conversion of existing equipment to hydrogen.

Much of the corrosion of fuel using equipment is caused by the impurities (mainly sulfur) in fossil fuels. This source of degradation of equipment will be terminated by the use of hydrogen. This benefit will extend the life of all types of equipment.

Hydrogen can be used to great advantage in the production of iron and steel. 156 Iron ore is iron oxide, a chemical compound of iron and oxygen. Current iron production processes use coke to generate the high temperature required and to remove the oxygen from the iron oxide. Limestone is added to react with the mineral impurities in the iron ore and ash from the coal. At the high temperature of the furnace, the limestone decomposes to lime and carbon dioxide and melts with the other mineral impurities to produce a liquid slag. This slag traps most of the silicon and phosphorus, a little of the sulfur and nearly all the other elements found in coal ash. Some of the silicon and phosphorus are liberated as free elements (reduced) by the coal. They end up in the iron. For most steels, silicon and phosphorus degrade the properties of the metal. They must be removed by further processing. A large part of the sulfur is oxidized to sulfur dioxide and exits from the furnace. A little of the phosphorus is also vaporized into the furnace waste gas.

Coke reduction of iron ore produces essentially the same air pollutants as produced by combustion of coal for simple heat generation. The slag becomes a solid waste product requiring disposal. Because the coal ash is diluted with limestone, slag has a lower concentration of the toxic elements found in coal ash. Unfortunately, even this lower toxic element concentration can make slag disposal an environmental problem.

In some modern iron and steel plants, the coal or coke is reacted in a facility separated from the iron-producing furnace. In this facility, a gas consisting of hydrogen and carbon monoxide is produced. The gas is used in a separate furnace to reduce the iron ore at a temperature below the melting point of the iron and the mineral contaminants. This process yields a higher purity iron that requires less processing to convert to steel. These plants still produce all the air pollution and toxic ash produced by the older iron producing processes, but yield higher quality steel at a lower cost.

Reduction of iron ore with pure hydrogen will eliminate most of the pollutants generated using the current processes. The use of hydrogen will eliminate all the impurities found in coal from the flue gas

196 "Steel Minimills", Jack Robert Miller, Scientific American, Vol. 250, No. 5, May 1984, Page 32

produced by the plant. It will dramatically reduce the limestone required to neutralize the coke ash. This will, in turn, reduce the amount of slag that must be disposed of in landfills. The slag will be free of the toxic elements found in coal ash. All these advantages will produce a higher quality product. The overwhelming advantage of the use of hydrogen for the reduction of iron is a lower cost for all aspects of the process other than the cost of fuel. This factor will ease the cost of transition and help defray any higher cost per unit energy for the hydrogen.

An additional bonus will be derived. As was the case with heating furnaces, the trace contaminants in the coal cause much of the corrosion and degradation of the equipment used in iron manufacture. The use of hydrogen will eliminate these corrosives and extend the operating life of the equipment.

The current industrial use of hydrogen will also be enhanced by the introduction of the Fusion-Hydrogen energy system. Today the two major uses of hydrogen are the upgrading of petroleum and the production of ammonia.

It is appropriate to ask: why does it matter if hydrogen is of use to the petroleum industry when petroleum will no longer be used as a fuel? Today, about 10% of the petroleum is used to make chemical products. This was discussed at length in Chapter 1. These uses are important and the ability to use hydrogen to make each barrel of petroleum go further will be advantageous. The manufacture of petrochemical type materials from coal also requires a large amount of hydrogen. When the Fusion-Hydrogen energy system is in place it will be possible to use the hydrogen to manufacture things such as lubricating oils, paints, and the host of other materials mentioned in Chapter 1, from coal. This will be a great advantage for all nations with coal resources, and little oil.

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