Monday, June 25, 2012

Deal Away Part 2




I did some further reading of the transcript of the hearing held in Dover Delaware regarding the Bloom Energy project in the first state.  Rather boring reading but it got exciting around page 153.  Mr. Schoell the attorney for the Bloom affiliate introduced one Mr. William Brockenborough, the general manager of Bloom Electronics as a sworn in witness on page 153 line 8 and 9.  I remembered the name of the general manager as he was the Bloom official that submitted the now famous November 11, 2011 permit application.  I have opined that the permit application was thermodynamically flawed as to the quantity of natural gas versus the carbon dioxide emissions.  Mr. Brockenborough submitted that application under penalty of perjury.  As a sworn witness at the hearing he again promised to tell the truth and nothing but the truth.

On page 154, Mr. Schoell asks Mr. Brockenborough “What are the raw materials used in the process?”  Brockenborough replies on lines 16 and 17 “The raw materials used in the process are utility natural gas and air.”  I agree the utility will supply natural gas via pipeline to the power generation station and Mother Nature does provide the air.

The discussion between Schoell and Brockenborough then turns to sulfur the 16th element of the periodic table.  The reasoning for the questions to Mr. Brockenborough was that Mr. Nichols who had challenged the permit application had introduced into evidence the fact that Bloom had asked the State of California to provide Bloom with training money to train Bloom Box operators in the safe handling of hazardous materials specifically hydrogen sulfide (the gas that gives rotten eggs their pungent odor).

On page 155 lines 10 through 12 Mr. Brockenborough states “As the witness described sulfur is poisonous to the stack and the electrochemical process so we remove it.”  The previous witness was a chemical engineer that Mr. Nichols had introduced.  Agreed of course all sulfur containing compounds must be removed prior to the gas entering the fuel stack

On page 155 line 12 and 14 Mr. Brockenborough states “We use a resin bed that is like a sponge that absorbs mercaptan and removes it from the gas.”  Mercaptan is the odorant added to natural gas so one can smell a leak and is a sulfur containing compound.   Brockenborough explains mercaptan.    Page 155 lines 15 and 16  “The mercaptan itself, because it's used in gas, it's piped into people's homes, is nontoxic.”

Then the discussion turns to hydrogen sulfide and on page 155 lines 23 and 24 Mr. Brokenborough states “No there is no hydrogen sulfide used or produced in the process”.  This all sounds so simple and wonderful.  The only sulfur containing compound in the natural gas is mercaptan that is non-toxic and it is removed by the resin bed and the Bloom Boxes never see hydrogen sulfide and the training that Bloom wanted the state of California to pay for was a mistake on Bloom’s part. 

Mr. Brokenborough goes on to explain the mistake in requesting State of California training funds for hydrogen sulfide handling.  On page 156 lines 19 to 22.  Brockenborough states “That was erroneous because there is no hydrogen sulfide involved in the manufacture or operation of the fuel cells.”

Well Mr. Brockenborough you are either ill informed or not telling the truth!!!   Pipeline natural gas has hydrogen sulfide and other sulfur containing molecules beside mercaptan!  The US EPA http://www.epa.gov/airmarkt/emissions/gasdef.html   provides us this data.  Pacific Gas and Electric http://www.pge.com/pipeline/operations/sulfur/sulfur_info.shtml provides us this data.  Any sophomore level engineer knows that there is some hydrogen sulfide in natural gas.  Mr. Brockenborough studied electrical engineering at Stanford University.  Prior to joining Bloom he was an executive at Chevron. http://www.linkedin.com/pub/bill-brockenborough/1/763/35a    How in heavens name did he not know that there is hydrogen sulfide in the pipeline gas he referred to as a raw material for the boxes? 

Of course the resin bed removes hydrogen sulfide.  It also removes Carbonyl Sulfide (COS) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbonyl_sulfide   an even more hazardous material from the gas.  The resin bed is laden with toxic material and the operators have to be trained on the safe handling of the resin bed.  That is why Bloom requested funds from the State of California for such training.  Honeywell (UOP subsidiary) produces such resins for sulfur removal from natural gas. http://www.uop.com/products/adsorbents/natural-gas/
 They describe their product for “Natural gas/LPG desulfurization: Let us help you chose the right adsorbent for H2S, mercaptan, COS or sulfide removal.  We have a broad range of solutions for your feed stream, contaminant level and effluent requirements.”

Perhaps the Bloom Box is so “state-of-the-art” they only use a resin bed to remove only mercaptan and the stacks can handle hydrogen sulfide, carbonyl sulfide, and other toxic sulfur containing compounds.  Or perhaps Mr. Brockenborough is not telling us the truth.  Fuel me once shame on you, Fuel me twice shame on me.  I am now calling for Mr. T.J. Rogers as an independent board member of Bloom Energy to investigate the whole Delaware affair.  I also suggest the attorney general of Delaware start an investigation into the whole project and get to the bottom of all of this. 

Of course if Bloom has no hydrogen sulfide on its resin beds the attorney general of California should investigate the application for state funds for the training of Bloom employees on a nonexistent hazardous chemical.  This reminds me of how as a kid I pressed blooming flowers in a large book and applied pressure from both sides. 

I have no doubt that the resin bed does trap hydrogen sulfide, carbonyl sulfide, mercaptan and other sulfur containing chemicals and is full of hazardous material.  These hazardous compounds in conjunction with the high carbon dioxide and volatile organic compounds emissions of the 235 Bloom boxes should cause Delaware to stop the project.  The coastal zone requirements of Delaware specifically exclude any equipment or process that includes hazardous materials, and folks that is why Bloom is hiding the fact they are a rotten egg.

Read the next blog (below) for more on the Deal Away Dealing

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