Dec 18, 2008

Opinion: Are win-win solutions to our energy and environmental problems possible?

Image credits: Apollo Alliance
Folks at the Environmental Economics blog have a great ongoing discussion on whether "green policies" would create additional jobs in the long run. John Whitehead thinks that "Green government fiscal policy doesn't create jobs in the long run", whereas Mark Thoma thinks that green policies would create jobs in the short run and help stabilize the economy. Mark also argues that the lack of empirical evidence for green policies creating additional jobs does not apply to the current state of the economy.

My 2 ¢: I agree with Mark that green policies would create incentives for job creation in the short-run. However, this should be balanced against the job losses from the traditional sectors of the industry in the long-run. Examples include the potential job-losses in the U.S. (& Indian/Chinese) coal mining industry because of CO2 regulations. Various stakeholders (government, industry, workers and the public) should be involved in environmentally and economically-sound policy making.


NeuWorld said...

Has anyone looked at Rentech Inc. and if so, what do you think of their technology?

Pradeep said...

Rentech Inc. (RTK) has been in the news for a while now. They have a proprietary Fischer-Tropsch technology to convert carbonaecous materials to fuels.
I am sure that there are techno-economic analyses of RTK's process, but do not have further info on this.

As I understand, one of the strong points of RTK's process is their iron-based catalyst which is supposedly more robust than cobalt-based catalysts. Competing technologies include alternate approaches such as fermentation, and hybrid approaches using gasification and fermentation.

NeuWorld said...


Thank you for the information. It is very helpful.


NeuWorld said...

Do you know of any companies using the alternative approaches of fermentation and the hybrid approache?

Iron and cobalt catalysts have different strengths and weaknesses. Cobalt catalysts are more robust than iron catalysts in the sense that iron catalysts last for months and cobalt catalysts last for years. Iron catalysts are cheaper and less care is needed to remove syngas impurities because of iron's shorter life span.
The larger FT players have both iron and cobalt catalysts. Some like RTK and SYNM have only one.

NeuWorld said...

Rentech utilizes its patented and proprietary iron-based catalyst in its Fischer-Tropsch reactors. The Rentech catalyst was chosen to be used over cobalt catalyst for two very specific reasons.

* The qualities of iron catalyst make it the most flexible catalyst, able to convert synthesis gas made from the widest range of hydrocarbon feedstocks with excellent economic efficiency.

* Specific to Coal-to-Liquids, iron catalyst can tolerate low levels of sulfur contamination and ammonia compounds that may get into the synthesis gas and still maintain economic levels of conversion. Cobalt catalysts have little or no resistance to poisons that may be contained in the synthesis gas produced from coal and once contaminated must be replaced

NeuWorld said...

Take a look at:

Pradeep said...

Interesting, perhaps it would be better if we discussed this via email. You can find my email address on my profile.

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