Dreamers imagine this: a form of electricity which emits to the atmosphere ZERO carbon dioxide emissions, while being affordable.
Dreamers imagining, you are engaging the vision proposed by MIT researcher Dr. Thomas Adams and Lammot du Pont professor of Chemical Engineering, Paul I. Barton.
Their system uses solid-oxide fuel cells to produce power from fuel without burning it. The electricity generating system runs on natural gas, plentiful to the point of lasting approximately 60 years at current consumption rates.
Such innovations like these are what we are in such dire need of. As it stands today, natural-gas power plants produce an average of 1,135 pounds of carbon dioxide for every megawatt-hour of electricity that is produced; while natural gas accounts for only 22% of electricity production.
The system of solid-oxide fuel cells would eliminate harmful gas emissions, and only release pure carbon dioxide into the air. The process of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) would store the carbon dioxide underground. The same cell system would also produce clean water, useable for a plethora of purposes.
Carbon Capture Sequestration involves separating out the carbon dioxide from other gases and injecting the potentially harmful gases into deep geological formations, keeping them from heading out into the atmosphere.
While the cheapest fuel will always be pulverized coal, the system designed by Adams and Barton comes fantastically close.
A very low level of carbon tax, about $5 to $10 per ton, would make the technology cheaper than coal plants. Combined-cycle natural gas plants, the most efficient type of fossil-fuel power plants, could be set up with a carbon capture system, thereby reducing the output of greenhouse gases by more than 90% at a comparable cost and even with a substantially higher efficiency. Once there is a form of carbon pricing, the true price exacted on the environment by greenhouse gas emissions will be known and seen by all.
Prototype megawatt-scale plants are planned for 2012. Once the system has been proved at any size, it may be increased to fill the need.
Ultimately an instance of innovation by and for the dreamers.