Praxair’s Long Road to Capturing Carbon

by Debra Fiakas CFA   In 2007, industrial gas supplier Praxair (PX:  NYSE) teamed up with power plant equipment dealer Foster Wheeler (FSLT:  Nadaq) to work on demonstration projects for cleaning up coal-fired electric generating plants.  At first the duo planned to pursue clean coal technologies and oxygenated coal combustion systems.  The joint press release at the time indicated Praxair’s “oxy-coal’ technology would be applied to Foster Wheeler’s ‘circulating fluidized-bed steam generators.’  The oxycombustion process is one of several proposed methods to capture carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants. In a retrofit situation, pure oxygen would replace air...

The Worst Waste

Jim Lane Peter Brown of FFA Fuels, promotes his company these days with the pithy slogan, “Fuels from the Worst Waste Around.” Which of course raises the legitimate question, what is the worst waste, and can we find a use for it? Discussions of worst waste will usually focus on the obvious say, landfill or the odious say, medical or nuclear waste. Toxicity and longevity are typical concerns, and that’s one of the reasons why nuclear energy remains controversial to this day. No Waste in Nature As LanzaTech’s Jennifer Holmgren observed in a recent article by...

Mantra’s Promise of Innovation

by Debra Fiakas CFA How often do we see the crowd rooting for the underdog?  You could hear the cheers for Mantra Energy (MVTG:  OTC) last week at the Marcum Microcap Conference in New York City.  Mantra is a developmental stage company pursuing technologies to harness carbon dioxide for energy.  Of course, the company has no revenue and therefore no earnings.  Indeed, its technologies are so unique and as yet at such an early stage some might find them almost fanciful.   Yet for some investors, a fanciful underdog is even better than another.   Mantra sees itself...

Axion Power is Poised to Dominate Energy Storage for Stop-start Idle Elimination

John Petersen After eight years of rarely speaking above a whisper, Axion Power International (AXPW.OB) has found its voice, taken the scientific wraps off its PbC® battery technology and shown potential customers, competitors and investors that it's carrying a big stick and is poised to dominate energy storage for stop-start idle elimination – a cheap and sensible fuel efficiency and emissions reduction technology that's expected to grow at spectacular rates for the rest of the decade as shown in the following forecast of battery demand in vehicles equipped with stop-start systems. In a new white...

Carbon Capture and Storage: By the Numbers

"We have over 200 years of coal reserves, and we have to/will use them." I have heard some variation of this line far too many times, and I have little patience for it.  Here's why: We don't have over 200 years of reserves.  The real number for economically accessible coal is less than half that. A square, 100 miles on a side in the Southwestern deserts of the US could meet the electricity needs of the entire nation, if solar energy were converted to electricity at 10% efficiency.  There's a lot of desert in the Southwest, and we're...

Air Products Goes Operational with Carbon Capture

by Debra Fiakas CFA   In October 2009, the U.S. Department of Energy selected a dozen projects aimed at bringing relief to a planet suffocating in a cloud of toxic carbon dioxide emissions. The DOE called the program it’s Large-Scale Industrial Carbon Capture Storage Projects and wrote checks for $575 million out of American Recovery and Reconstruction (ARRA) funds.  A little more than a year later the DOE weeded out all but three projects for the second phase of the program.  Besides Leucadia Energy (subsidiary of Leucadia National, LUK:  NYSE) and Archer Daniels Midland...

OriginClear: Metals out of the Muck

After the worst of the wind and rain had died down from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and people began making their way back home, it became apparent that citizens of Texas and Florida would have more worries.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency disclosed that at least thirteen toxic waste sites in Texas were flooded and damaged by Hurricane Harvey and another forty-one Superfund sites were negatively affected.  Legacy contamination includes lead, arsenic, polychlorinated biphenyls, benzene and other carcinogenic compounds from historic industrial processes.  After Hurricane Irma over six million gallons of wastewater reportedly flowed out to the coast and...

A Concrete Proposal

The Economist recently had a story on how the cement industry is beginning to confront the fact that the industry produces 5% of the world's emissions of greenhouse gasses.  Carbon dioxide is emitted not only by the fossil fuels used to create the heat used in the creation of cement, and by the chemical reaction in that process. Unfortunately for us, cement is a remarkably useful building material, not least as a structural material which can also serve as thermal mass in passive solar buildings.   All the large cement firms: Lafarge, Holcim, and Cemex (NYSE:CX) have joined a voluntary...

The Low Cow-bon e-Cow-nomy

Jim Lane This month in Finland, a team of intrepid researchers herded one thousand European cows one-by-one into a glass “metabolic chamber” to measure their methane emissions, digestion, production characteristics, energy-efficiency, metabolism, and the microbial make-up of their rumens. The Project is known as RuminOmics, but if it had been titled The Truman Show II: When the Cows Come Home, we wouldn’t have been a bit surprised. The Cow Emission Crisis. No Kidding Around. The ultimate aim of the study was to find an optimal, low-emission, high-yield cow, and the team noted in its premise that of all greenhouse...

Capturing CO2 for Environmental Remediation

by Debra Fiakas CFA In 2009, the Department of Energy (DOE) awarded $17.4 million in funding to a gaggle of companies pursuing practical uses for carbon dioxide.  The recipients were asked to kick in a total of $7.7 million.  A year later in 2010, the DOE picked six projects to a second round of support totaling $82.6 million. Industrial giant Alcoa, Inc. (AA:  NYSE) leads one of the winning groups, including partners U.S. Nels, CO2 Solutions (CST:  V or COSLF:  OTC/BB) and Strategic Solutions.  The DOE gave the Alcoa team $13.5 million to complete a pilot...

Ten Insights into Carbon Policy and Its Implications

On November 27, I attended the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's (NREL) Fifth Energy Analysis Forum, hosted by NREL's Strategic Energy Analysis & Applications Center.  The forum focused on carbon policy design, the implications for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency.  As a stock analyst focused on that sector, I am extremely lucky to have NREL as a local resource: the quality and the level of the experts at NREL and the ones they bring in is probably not matched anywhere in the country, and conferences like these provide priceless insights into what these Energy Analysts are thinking.   Why should investors...

Plastics from Carbon Dioxide

by Debra Fiakas CFA In the last post, I promised to close out this series on carbon dioxide capture with a note on a third example of Department of Energy funding for innovations in turning carbon dioxide (CO2) into a valuable raw material.  Besides changing the chemistry of inorganic compounds and feedstock for biofuel production, CO2 has some potential for plastics.  In 2010, the DOE placed a bet of $18.4 million on Novomer, Inc., which is a self-described sustainable chemicals developer.   The bet appears to be paying off as Novomer and its partners go into production...

Phycal Captures CO2 Funding for Biofuel

by Debra Fiakas CFA As part of its program to promote beneficial reuse of carbon dioxide, the Department of Energy awarded a total of $27.2 million ($3.0 million in the first phase and $24.2 million in a second phase) to a consortium led by alternative energy developer Phycal, Inc. (private).  According to the DOE website, Phycal is to develop an integrated system to produce biofuel from microalgae cultivated with captured carbon dioxide (CO2).  The biofuel is to be blended with other fuels for power generation or as drop-in diesel or jet fuel. It is a bit of...

The EPA’s Carbon Rule: Likely Stockmarket Winners

By Harris Roen Greenhouse gas emissions by economic sector   A seismic shift in the power generation landscape is starting to sink in. It has been two weeks since the EPA announced its new proposed carbon rules, one of the flagship efforts of the Obama Administration to address climate change. This shift is meant to move the country in the direction of inevitable changes coming to the energy economy. It is important for investors to know which companies and sectors stand to benefit from the...

While Others Seek to Inject CO2, Airgas Sells It

by Debra Fiakas CFA   Just one of the many suppliers of industrial and commercial carbon dioxide, Airgas, Inc. (ARG:  NYSE) recently announced plans to build a new carbon dioxide plant in Houston.  The press release hit news wires right along with announcements of carbon capture projects and other investments to reduce greenhouse effect from too much CO2 in the atmosphere. In one those strange twists that makes our world so interesting and vexing at the same time, is the fact that we use carbon dioxide all the while we invest wildly to reduce CO2...

Tetra Tech’s Two-Penny Disappointment

by Debra Fiakas, CFA Tetra Tech’s (TTEK:  NASDAQ) quarter earnings report last week was met with high drama as traders reacted with surprisingly vehement disappointment over the recent financial performance of the engineering and technology business.   The company’s stock price gapped down in the first day of trading following the announcement, falling through a significant line of price support.   The shares continued to fall and finished the week at a price not seen since mid-April 2017 before the stock began its recent drive higher. The drama unfolded after Tetra Tech reported net earnings of $0.52 per share on $498 million in total...