[Stoves] Clean coal burning stoves Re: History of clean Chinese stove development.

Ronal W. Larson rongretlarson at comcast.net
Mon Sep 21 15:10:03 MDT 2015


List:

	I’ll respond to this in a manner consistent with guidance I receive from Andrew (list coordinator) and Tom Miles (list owner).  

Ron



On Sep 21, 2015, at 1:55 PM, Crispin Pemberton-Pigott <crispinpigott at outlook.com> wrote:

> Dear Ron
>  
> I am responding to your comments to Paul and indirectly, to me.
>  
> 1.      I mostly agree with everything you say below.  But mostly for reasons of wanting to save our valuable time, I now ask that this list stop talking about coal stoves.  Biomass only stoves would be in accordance with the way we started up almost 20 years ago (as the first list coordinator, I think I wrote that sentence - which I gave a few days ago).  It is worse than that we are wasting people’s time, with only one person ever bringing up coal and coal stove topics.  
>  
> I disagree with the idea that we the list members cannot have a say in what topics we discuss.
>  
>             2.  There was a concluding sentence in a Crispin message this AM whose origin is masked by Crispin that I find more offensive that the generally offensive material above it.  If Crispin didn’t write these four pro-coal paragraphs and this sentence,  
>                   “Forty years of failure - improved wood stoves. Forty more years? Our daughters deserve better.”
> we deserve to know who did.  And we can get rid of such trash with the understanding that offenders will have all their material reviewed before going out.  Policing is not difficult.
>  
> The definition of ‘trash’ is accorded to each individual. I forwarded that sentiment to illustrate, from outside the cocoon of stove enthusiasts, what serious scientists think about our ‘science’.  Obviously the speaker is informed and eloquent and fed up with being told ‘I have an improved stove that will save the world’. I never met a stove designer who did not think his product was ‘improved’ even if there was no baseline or data to support the claim.
>  
> You found the observations and opinions offensive. Well offense was taken but none was given. How many development agencies are now taking the position, “put up or shut up”? Some of us work in the real world where armchair opinions carry little weight. Anonymous opinions can easily be dismissed unless they strike a chord.
>  
> 2.      .  What is worse that we get totally erroneous denier-based non-stove pro-coal arguments - that too many list members are apt to believe.   I am particularly incensed by Crispin’s ludicrous statement from this AM:
>  
> I am not sure what you mean by ‘denier-based’. Is that the usual epithet for those who read widely and understand the subject?
>  
>             The feeling these days is that for a doubling of CO2 the global temperature will rise about 0.6 to 0.9 degrees.
> A scientific rebuttal by a full time topic expert is at http://www.skepticalscience.com/challenges-constraining-climate-sensitivity.html , showing Crispin is off by a factor of about 5.  
>  
> Perhaps you will take the time to read the IPCC’s 2015 final version of their September draft and alter your perceptions.  If you were a regular reader of wattsupwiththat.com you would already have in hand a dozen peer-reviewed papers in the past 18 months examining what is apparently avoided at skepticalscience.
>  
> >I’m sure Crispin strongly believes that the world’s largest ever scientific study (IPCC’s AR5) is dead wrong.  
>  
> You are incorrect in your assumption.
>  
> So wrong he needn’t give a cite for the view from his own “Science” circle.  I find this type of error so often I basically now disbelieve Crispin.  
>  
> Our views of each other’s opinions are similar though for dissimilar reasons.  
>  
> This include his assertion that char produced in char-making stoves should receive no credit unless burned in that stove.  How many dozens of list hours have been wasted on that topic - which I believe comes from a denier position?
>  
> Your belief is again incorrect. What is a ‘denier position’? Charcoal that is produced either in the ash or in the combustion chamber cannot be credited as unburned fuel. We examined this in detail in the past and so far no one has presented a convincing argument showing that charcoal which cannot be used in the same stove can in some way be accounted as unburned raw fuel when calculating the fuel consumption.  Do you believe that unburned remnant char is raw fuel? 
>  
> For those who are new to the list or have not heard this discussion before, the issue is how to report the fuel consumption of a stove. There are two camps: those who believe is should be the new fuel needed each time a cooking cycle is replicated. There is another camp that feels the energy released from the fuel, or more precisely the energy that could have been released from the fuel that was actually burned should be reported – in effect, the energy efficiency, rather than the fuel efficiency. 
>  
> The difference is large for the char making stoves Ron promotes so there is a lot riding on this question. If a stove uses more raw fuel per cooking cycle than a baseline stove, but produces a lot of charcoal, it can be reported as ‘using more’ (scenario 1) or using less energy (scenario 2).  The difference is more than 100% of value. An example was discussed which showed that a stove which used more fuel than the baseline three stove fire was being credited with a ‘fuel saving’ of more than 50% even though it actually consumed more fuel.
>  
> The difficulty faced by the old guard of stove test methods is that if a new tests correctly reports the fuel consumption, a lot of old stove performance results will have to be recalculated and many ‘good stoves’ will have their relative performance position changed quite a bit. The challenge is how to whitewash the old results as ‘valid’ while moving to a new paradigm in which the fuel consumption is correctly reported, so people know what they are getting. The move from WBT 3.1 to WBT 4.x did not quite cut it so the problem of over-claiming performance remains.
>  
>             4.  There are plenty of options available.  If Crispin started a coal-stove list,  I would attempt to join.  I presume there should be some existing list that can serve the claimed need.  I reject the idea that Crispin wrote today:  “Change the purpose of the list so that the needs of hundreds of millions of ordinary people are not abandoned.”,   since I can’t recall any such guidance ever going in the coal-using direction from this list.
>  
> Coal is a biomass fuel.
>  
> [Paul]
> I contend that writing and talking about coal as a cookstove fuel is informative and we all need to be aware of its pros and cons, as well as the occasional mentions of LPG and kerosene (paraffin).   See more below.
>             RWL1:  I am only concerned about coal - as the others can be made from biomass.  Absoluely we should debate, but there is an existing rule already in place - that is being violated.
>  
> Coal is old biomass and there is no ‘rule’ being violated. Are you saying that when you helped establish the list it was your intention to prevent the discussion of improved coal stoves, or stoves that could use coal and wood, briquettes, coke and so on? All these years we could have been improving the lives of millions of people.
>  
> [Paul]
> 3.  An impoverished household in Mongolia or elsewhere that can cook and heat cleanly (health-wise) with coal is another truly small fish regarding its CO2 footprint.  We should not be working or advocating against them having coal-burning stoves that are CLEAN for their health (CO2 is not poisonous).   That is so, especially while we affluent folks run around in automobiles and heat much larger homes to probably warmer temperatures and also lavish ourselves with air conditioning, with so much energy derived from fossil fuels. 
>             [RWL3:  Agree CO2 is not poisonous - but that from fossil fuels (and 100 ppm already in the atmosphere) is a pollutant.  We can demonstrate CO2 reductions, and they can/must help as well.   This is what COP21 is all about - and I believe 193 countries will be agreeing that we have to do it - painful though it is.  It is worse if we delay.  I have my doubts that the world’s dirtiest city is going to become acceptable without getting off coal.
> 
> Whatever your positions, the health and economy of people who are going to be using coal products in their multiple forms for the next one or two generations deserve our consideration and expertise. I am not sure what the world’s dirtiest city is, but the ‘most pollutedcapital city’ was Ulaanbaatar. Now, after 4 years of spirited coal stove improvement, less than half the PM2.5 in the air is from coal combustion. Very little of it is from ger stoves now that they have almost all been changed. There remain numerous larger installations in homes and apartment buildings which are being addressed presently. This required a coordinated effort by multiple agencies.
>  
> The GACC’s official position on coal stoves, as recently articulated, is that they support improved coal stoves. I think that is a good thing. New large initiatives are being made to improve coal combustion particularly for domestic cooking and heating. I think that is good too.
> 
> [Paul]
> 4.  One household is one small amount of CO2 that could be justified, but would 100,000 households be a different story?   Or 10 MILLION households, as could easily be the case if China turned to using the new coal-stove design now in use in Mongolia?  That could be a lot of CO2 increase.  
>  
> Adopting the type of stoves (and others) used in Mongolia (UB-CAP) would result in a decrease in fuel consumption because they are much more efficient. They burn with a very high combustion efficiency and they have higher heat delivery efficiencies. They also last longer reducing the long term manufacturing cost. There are already hundreds of millions of people in China using coal. Some are also using biomass briquettes which have a number of limitations, particularly production cost. Many people use both.
> But it would be a lot of CO2 if those became LPG burners.   Fuel supply is crucial.   We cannot deny people the opportunity to cook their meals or warm their homes because "acceptable renewable" fuels are not available.  Crispin, do you have numbers (CO2, black carbon, methane, etc.) about the climate impact of the new coal burners in comparison with the climate impact of the old-style coal burners?   How much better (lower climate impact)?  
>  
> I am not a student of climate impact because of the strong disagreements within the field about what constitutes ‘impact’. Most number are just made up. Methane is poorly characterised in that burning wood that would otherwise rot to methane is a reduction, so the emissions from the stove are irrelevant. Measuring BC is difficult and there is nearly no data. Obviously it is the product of incomplete combustion. Better combustion virtually eliminates it. The piece I wrote about inherent emissions from coal is relevant: if people sell the incorrect concept that BC emissions are inherent ‘in the fuel’ then we have a problem because it mis-identifies the core issue which is complete combustion, whatever the fuel.
> Is that improvement not sufficient justification to stimulate (financially bolster) the transition from the old to the new coal burners?  
>  
> To some it is and we use it to get money, just like everyone else. If people want to finance CO2 reduction I have no problem with it, I just remind the policy managers not to become dependent on that form of finance because it is likely to disappear. Anything that delivers a better product is fair game. Things are desperately in need of improvement. We do not need false arguments to act. The worst false argument is that ‘this stove will reduce pollution’ when it doesn’t. If the evaluation method can’t tell, or gives really wrong answers, then it is a manifest failure. There are those who would far rather address environmental degradation of the biome than save CO2 emissions. Malawi is a case in point. They have some coal reserves and have destroyed almost the entire national tree cover. It will need two generations to recover fully. That is quite possible. They could switch to coal or processed coal products for 40 years and re-establish the forests, then manage them much better, now that we know how to do it. Re-establishing the forests would absorb vast quantities of CO2. If that is your focus, then you have to count that in the equation.
>  
> Ron, could that improvement be the realistic goal, or should the short term goal be the abolition of all coal burning stoves?
>             [RWL4:   Just as the Chinese have taken the global lead in PV, solar hot water, and wind - they will soon be leading in biochar and from char-making stoves.  Yes the short-term goal should be abolition of coal-burning stoves.  And the Chinese know they have to do it - and I congratulate them for their path (which can include improving their soils at the same time).
> 
> China is absolutely short of biomass in terms of space heating and cooking. If they start turning their available biomass into char to bury, they will need nuclear power (which of course they are building) and other affordable sources. Wind generated electricity is expensive, and requires 100% backup from other sources of energy. That backup station is a cost to wind. There is controversy right now in Ontario because a large PV system is being installed (subsidised of course) to produce subsidised power, plus they have to build at public cost a natural gas generating power station that will run 60-100% of the time to cover the gaps in the solar power.
>  
> Small power generation in domestic stoves could address some electrification needs but not in Ontario. The most likely technology is the thermoacoustic generator. Once mass produced, it will change the whole power generation equation, especially in rural areas.
> 
> 5.  The GACC certainly embraces clean burning LPG and natural gas, and would like to have clean-burning kerosene stoves.   The GACC either must condemn those "advanced" fossil fuels and their stoves OR embrace coal with clean-burning coal stoves.   To leave LPG in and exclude coal is hypocrisy that must be addressed at the GACC Forum in November.   Either all cleanly burned fossil fuels and their stoves must be acceptable to the GACC, or no fossil fuels should be in the GACC discussions and programs. 
>  
> There is a difference between the stated position last November (no coal, no kerosene, wood is tolerable until we can move everyone to electricity and LPG) and the current stated position, clarified recently on this list (thanks for that). All improved stoves are fair game. I do not know how long that will last because the standard wording is that the GACC supports the distribution of ‘clean cooking solutions’ to people who have historically ‘been forced to use solid fuels’.  This aligns with the position promoted by Berkeley since 1999 that all solid fuel combustion should cease because they cannot be burned cleanly enough to eliminate risk to cooks (from exposure to smoke). This policy and wording have been very consistent. Is it consistent with ‘coal in the meantime’?
>  
> India, China and other Asian countries are going to continue to use coal as a domestic fuel for a long time to come. There are a lot of coke burning stoves in India. Domestic coke they call it. Smokeless.
>  
>             [RWL5:  There are more choices than you have given.  We know how to make bioliquids.  If fossil carbon had the pollution price it should be bearing (about $40/tonne CO2 per many estimates), there would be no question about folks everywhere planting the trees we need for both carbon neutrality and carbon negativity.  
>  
> That $40 is sucked out of someone’s thumb and you know it.
>  
> Big parts of China are already seeing such a tax.  China has planted more trees than the rest of the world combined.  They are flaring much straw still today.  They are one of the last countries to need to use coal.  Why wouldn’t they want to move away from coal-burning?  Especially as they have already made commitments (with Obama) that are pushing other countries.  China does not need coal stoves.
>  
> That is incorrect.
>  
>             I can understand Kirk Smith arguing for liquid fuels, but I am sure he would prefer bioliquids.   The difference in cost between fossil and bio sources is insignificant, even when you ignore the fossil CO2 damages.
>  
> Kirk has last year called for the introduction of DME (di-methyl ether) as a domestic heating and cooking fuel. It is expensive and would require a large subsidy. I can’t see anyone trying to make and promote it. IF the difference between coal and biomass fuels is insignificant, than making coal stoves twice as efficient would present a major challenge to the biomass industry. New biomass is hard to compress and mode around. Pellets and biomass briquettes made in China are subsidised. Maybe that is why they appear to be competitive on the local market. I will ask at the next South-South Sustainable Stoves meeting. We always get a presentation on the industry, its successes and challenges.
>  
>             As Dean Still has said today, we can get there.  I know there is a long way to go in improving char-making cook stoves, with way too little funding going towards this target.  I see some good work coming along - finally.
> 
> All funding is welcome. My hand is open! You want char? We will make char. You want fuel saving? We can do that too.
> 
> [Paul]
> We know (and are grateful) that leaders in the GACC and WB and EPA do read the Stoves Listserv, although they seldom comment.   The comments in #5 above should have some reply by the end of October so that the issue will be addressed at the November Forum, either with or without GACC's agreement with #5.  Fossil fuels with GOOD stoves are either ALL IN or art ALL OUT.  At the Forum, certainly the World Bank and other financial backers of the Mongolia success will be advocating for coal to be included, along with the attendees from Mongolia.    Other supporters should be those who work with LPG, natural gas, and kerosene, otherwise they face opposition to the continued inclusion of those fuels in any GACC programs.  To exclude them would be like making them automatic Tier 1 or Tier 0 (bad) stoves and fuels.
>  
> You present a worthy challenge: where are we with respect to improving the stoves used from Eastern Europe to Vietnam that burn all available fuels including coal, coke, peat, briquettes made from wood and wood waste, crops and paper garbage? Who is included and who is not? Who should decide? Who gets a veto? Is this like the UN? Will the little and primarily affected countries have a say?
>  
>             [RWL6:  If GACC et al value carbon as is likely to come out of Paris, they won’t have to worry about prioritizing; they will emphasize renewables.  It is time to give up on outdated, harmful technologies.  Many large US firms put the pollution cost of carbon (such as the $40 above) - and then use the resulting savings against that target to do other right things.  Since the EPA is the main agency behind the CPP (Clean Power Plan) - clearly anti-coal and pro-gas, they would be hypocritical to ignore the coal-bio difference with cook stoves.
> 
> A friend of mine characterised the CPP and the war on coal (WOC) as cultural warfare between the coastal people and the mountain people in the USA. The origin of ‘pro-gas’ was Enron (formed by two natural gas companies) which in their dying days were trying to get a monopoly on natural gas production particularly in the Dakotas. They are behind the brief surge in nat gas prices that started 15 years ago as their grip (and that of their co-conspirators) tightened on supplies. They also funded PR campaigns in the late 90’s and early 2000’s against coal and CO2 to promote gas. The CPP has been successful in converting coal burning stations to natural gas. Combined cycle gas plants are about as efficient as combined cycle coal plants (low 70’s).
>  
> Regards
> Crispin
>  
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