Mainspring Energy to Deploy Biogas Fueled Linear Generator in Napa Microgrid

Mainspring Energy and PG&E just announced the deployment of a linear generator—a new mobile power generation technology utilizing renewable biogas to displace existing diesel generation—at PG&E’s Angwin distribution microgrid site in Napa County.  The linear generator will help ensure clean, reliable power during emergencies like heat waves, winter storms or earthquakes, and Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) events.  The linear generator is connected to both PG&E’s electric and natural gas systems and will use biogas fuel that is renewably produced at another location.

Mainspring’s breakthrough technology, based on research originally conducted by the company’s co-founders at Stanford University, is designed to meet grid demands by delivering dispatchable, fuel-flexible power that substantially reduces cost and carbon today, while accelerating the transition to the net-zero carbon grid.  One of the unique characteristics of the 240-kilowatt Mainspring linear generator is that it can ramp up and down quickly to meet power load demands at a fraction of the emissions of reciprocating engine technologies.

“Extreme weather events and the rise of electrification are driving increasing demands on the electric grid for resiliency at affordable costs. At the same time, we need to be moving rapidly toward a net-zero-carbon grid,” said Mainspring CEO Shannon Miller. “Mainspring designed our platform to meet this challenge, and we’re proud that our product is now deployed to help PG&E and its customers to address these challenges and provide them with a cleaner, resilient, and affordable source of power.”

A linear generator—distinct from an engine, microturbine, or fuel cell—is a device that directly converts motion along a straight line into electricity using chemical or thermal energy. The design of Mainspring’s linear generator uses a low-temperature reaction of air and fuel to drive magnets through copper coils to efficiently produce electricity. This innovative design, combined with the company’s proprietary adaptive control software, enables high efficiency, near-zero NOx emissions, full dispatchability, and seamless switching between fuels.

The product achieves low capital and maintenance costs through use of standard materials, only two moving parts, and an innovative air bearing system that eliminates the need for oil. It operates without the use of complex mechanical systems or expensive catalysts.

Driven by its vision of the affordable, reliable, net-zero carbon grid of the future, Mainspring is delivering a new category of power generation — the linear generator — that delivers onsite, dispatchable, fuel-flexible power at low cost. Based in Menlo Park, Calif., Mainspring is backed by top-tier venture, strategic, and financial investors. www.mainspringenergy.com.

SacBee Piece on Need for Forest Biomass Utilization

Jonathan Kusel, Executive Director of the Sierra Institute for Community and Environment, authored an excellent piece in the Sacramento Bee that focuses on the impact of wildfires on California’s water and power supplies, local communities, and air quality.  The piece underscores the need to put forest waste to beneficial use.

As Jonathan writes, “Legislators, state and federal agencies must prioritize investments in long-term landscape resilience and the capacity of local communities and the workforce.  Investment must also be made in long-term restorative practices, carbon-smart wood utilization, workers and rural communities.  Meaningful restoration requires supporting new community-scale businesses and the capacity to utilize small-diameter trees that cost more to cut and haul than they’re worth. As California invests billions in landscape restoration, a primary challenge will be developing businesses that can utilize small diameter trees and forest waste that are the byproducts of desperately needed restoration.  Without investment in new community-scale businesses, forest restoration will not succeed. Burning piles in the woods is not the answer. Converting biomass to hydrogen is just one example of new technology that can simultaneously utilize forest biomass and help California reach carbon neutrality.”

Read the full article here.

Raven SR Announces Project to Convert Organic Waste to Renewable Hydrogen

Raven SR Inc. (Raven SR), a renewable fuels company, announced today its collaboration with Republic Services Inc. to convert organic waste to produce green hydrogen at a site in Richmond, Calif.  Raven SR will initially process up to 99.9 tons of organic waste per day at Republic Services’ West Contra Costa Sanitary Landfill and produce up to 2,000 metric-tons per year of renewable hydrogen as well as power for its operations. Raven SR’s patented Steam/CO2 Reformation process enables it to be one of the only non-combustion, waste-to-hydrogen processes in the world. Additionally, Raven SR’s goal is to generate as much of its own power onsite to reduce burden on the grid.

The agreement will help move toward California’s goal of reducing emissions from organic waste under the state’s Short-Lived Climate Pollutant (SLCP) Reduction Strategy while also producing emission-free hydrogen fuel for passenger and heavy-duty vehicles.

For more information, click here.

SF Chronicle: Reduce Super Pollutants

Reduce super pollutants

The authors of “Carbon neutral not good enough” (Open Forum, July 31) are correct that we need to accelerate our climate goals, but they miss two critical issues: Reductions in carbon dioxide do not benefit the climate for several decades and there are much more urgent steps to cool the climate right away. It is far more urgent to focus on measures that begin to reverse climate change now.

Reducing climate super pollutants methane, black carbon and hydrofluorocarbons benefits the climate and public health right away. These pollutants are tens to thousands of times more damaging to the climate than the carbon dioxide emitted by fossil fuel burning, but they only stay in the atmosphere a short time, so cutting their emissions benefits the climate immediately. We can cut these super pollutants by eliminating diesel use, converting organic waste to energy, and reducing wildfires and open burning of agricultural waste. We absolutely should phase out fossil fuels. But to avert the crisis that is already upon us, we need to focus much more on reducing methane, black carbon and hydrofluorocarbons. Climate scientists agree that reducing these climate super pollutants is the last lever we have left to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Julia Levin, Kensington

The Letter to the Editor is available online (second letter) here.

 

CA Natural Gas Trucks Now Carbon Negative

Cummins Westport has just announced that natural gas vehicles in California have gone carbon negative!!  Natural gas vehicles are increasingly powered by renewable natural gas (RNG) generated from organic waste.  In 2020, those vehicles removed more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than they emitted — the direct result of the increasing use of RNG.  RNG use is up more than 170% in the past five years, according to new data from California’s Air Resources Board (CARB), while the carbon intensity of natural gas derived from renewable sources continues to drop. RNG is increasingly made using methane captured from dairy and agricultural waste, landfills and wastewater treatment plants. By capturing gases that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere, RNG can provide carbon negative emissions that are critical to achieve carbon neutrality.

Ninety-two percent of all on-road fuel used in natural gas vehicles in California last year was renewable natural gas and much of that RNG was carbon negative.

In addition to their negative greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, ultra-low NOx natural gas engines perform at levels that are 95 percent below the federal nitrogen oxide (NOx) standard and 98 percent below the federal particulate matter (PM 2.5) standard.   These are enormous benefits for public health as they reduce smog-forming pollution and toxic air contaminants that cause respiratory illnesses, cancer and other health impacts.

According to NGVAmerica, RNG used as a motor fuel in California in 2020 displaced 1.83 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). To put those numbers into perspective, California RNG motor fuel use:

  • lowered greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent amount generated by driving the average passenger car 4.6 billion miles
  • eliminated CO2 emissions, equal to 205.7 million gallons of gasoline consumed, or the energy use of 220,118 California homes in one year
  • sequestered the amount of carbon captured by 2.24 million acres of U.S. forests in one year

To learn more about ultra-low NOx trucks and RNG visit:  Cummins Westport

Raven SR Announces Joint Venture to Build Hydrogen Fueling Hubs Across US

Raven SR LLC, a renewable fuels company, and Hyzon Motors Inc., a leading global supplier of zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell-powered commercial vehicles, today announced a joint venture to build up to 100 hydrogen hubs across the United States and globally. The first hubs will be built in the San Francisco Bay Area and are expected to commission in 2022 before expanding into the rest of the US and globally. At the hubs, which can be built at or near landfills, Raven SR will convert mixed and multiple organic wastes, including municipal solid waste, greenwaste, food waste, medical, paper, etc. into locally produced, renewable hydrogen for Hyzon’s fleet of zero-emission commercial vehicles.

Raven SR’s patented, Steam/CO2 Reformation process enables it to be one of the only combustion-free, waste-to-hydrogen processes in the world. Unlike alternative approaches to waste disposal, such as incineration or gasification, Raven SR’s process involves no combustion, as confirmed by the State of California EPA’s Department of Toxic Substances. This avoids the creation of toxic pollutants and particulates.

To learn more, see Raven Hyzon Hub Release FINAL

 

Princeton Study Highlights Need for Bioenergy, Renewable Hydrogen

Princeton University has released a groundbreaking study on how the United States can achieve carbon neutrality.  The study finds that bioenergy – especially biomass with carbon capture and storage – and renewable hydrogen will be critical to achieve carbon neutrality.  The study’s main conclusions related to bioenergy are:

  • Biomass plays an especially important role in achieving carbon neutrality because i) it removes CO2  from the atmosphere as it grows and so combustion of hydrocarbon fuels made with biomass carbon results in no net CO2 emissions to the atmosphere, ii) it can be converted into H2  while capturing and permanently sequestering its carbon, resulting in a net negative-emissions fuel, and iii) it can similarly be used to make negative-emissions electricity.
  • Starting in the 2030s, H2  from biomass with capture of CO2  that is permanently sequestered is a highly cost-competitive technology option because of the  high value of the  associated negative emissions; negative-emissions bio electricity is less valued because of abundant low cost of solar and wind electricity.
  • Hydrogen is a key carbon-free intermediate or final fuel.

You can download the full study here.  The Bioenergy chapter begins on slide 200.

SoCalGas Announces Zero-Carbon Goal by 2045

SoCalGas has set a goal to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in its operations and energy deliveries by 2045.  The utility’s commitment makes it the largest North American gas distribution utility to set a net-zero target that includes the company’s direct emissions and those generated by its customers. The goal is net zero emissions from SoCalGas trucks, buildings, and pipelines, as well as the fuel it delivers to customers.

SoCalGas supports California’s goal of carbon neutrality and the goals of the Paris Climate Accord, while ensuring that energy remain reliable and affordable for all Californians. No energy company is more dedicated to achieving this than SoCalGas.  SoCalGas’ commitment to net zero 2045 is a natural extension of its decades-long industry leadership.  Since the passage of California’s landmark California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32), SoCalGas’ decarbonization, diversification, and digitalization efforts have supported the reduction of over 7 million metric tons of CO2e below our 1990 levels – the equivalent of removing 1.5 million cars from the road for a year.

Read about SoCalGas’ Climate Commitment here and its press release announcing the news here.