2016年2月17日星期三

ASHK Public Lecture – Meeting the Decarbonization Goals of COP21

The Academy of Science of Hong Kong (ASHK) organized a public lecture named “Meeting the Decarbonization Goals of the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris: COP21” on 17 Feb 2016. The Kadoorie Institute, HKU is co-organizer. Before the lecture, I met Mr. Terence S.S. Chan (Secretary-General, ASHK) and took a photo for memory.


The lecture background was mentioned in the leaflet. At COP21 the nations of the world agreed to limit the mean global temperature rise since the Industrial Revolution to 2 degrees Celsius, with an aspirational target of 1.5 degrees if possible. Most experts agree that when translated into carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere, these goals are highly unlikely to be met without new technologies, with the more stringent target being impossible without negative carbon emission. The lecture would introduced two technologies in Prof. Shu’s research group that (1) Supertorrefaction (STR), which uses the high heat capacity of molten salts to convert renewable waste biomass at high throughput into biocarbon that is either not burned, or is used bioenergy with carbon capture and sequestration (BECCS); (2) Two-Fluid Molten-Salt Breeder-Reactors (2F-MSBRs) that operate on the renewable Thorium (Th) fuel cycle instead of the once-through uranium fuel cycle used by today’s light-water reactors. So it should be possible to limit the rise of carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere to a maximum of 450ppm at year 2050 and then bring that level down to 350ppm before year 2100.

In the beginning, Prof. Lap-Chee Tsui (President, ASHK) gave opening speech. He said the first public lecture was performed two month after the establishment of the Academy of Science of Hong Kong in Dec 2015.


Then Dr. Sarah Liao (Acting Director, The Kadoorie Institute and Master of New College at The University of Hong Kong) gave a speech and introduced the guest speaker Prof. Frank Hsia-San Shu who is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS), and a Distinguished Research Fellow at the Academia Sinica in Taiwan.


Prof. Frank Hsia-San Shu (University Professor Emeritus, Ten Campuses of the University of California) was the keynote speaker and he briefed the outline of today’s lecture including “Motivation: Goals & Objectives”, “Molten Salt Conversion of Biomass to Biocarbon: STR”, “New Nuclear Technology: Thorium Molten Salt Breeder Reactor (MSBR)”, “Advantage of molten salts” and “Caveat/Warning”.


Prof. Shu briefed the history of global energy consumption since industrial revolution. The mean energy use per capita was found 3 times from 1830 to 2010, while population increased 7 times. In the past, it was only depended on biomass and then Coal, Oil, Gas Nuclear and Hydro.


Then Prof. Shu explained his strategic plan for decarbonization. If we started to use new technology and pledged the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), it could keep CO2 concentration at 450ppm for less than 2 degree Celsius in 2050.


The first technology introduced was “Pilot Molten Salt Biocarbon Facility”.


The second technology mentioned was “Advanced Nuclear Technology: Thorium Molten Salt Breeder Reactor”. Tradition nuclear power plant use U235 & U238 where U235 was 0.7%of natural U and Pu239 come from n-capture by U238 which was 99.3% of natural U to releasing energy. New one could use U233 from n-capture by Th232 which was 4 times more abundant than U. Uranium (U) enriched in U235 used in Light Water Reactors (LWRs), the majority of current reactors. However, Thorium can be used in molten salt reactors, an alternative and cleaner nuclear technology.


Then Prof. Shu introduced Two-Fluid (fuel & coolant) Thorium Molten Salt Breeder Reactor. He named it as Super Safety Nuclear Plant because of 3 line of defense.


The 1st Line of Defense used decay hat to run pumps (No Fukushima!)


The 2nd Line of Defense used “Emergency Core Dump” (No Chernobyl!)


The 3rd Line of Defense was Worst Nightmare (e.g. Terrorist Attack, Confined to Plant) that Black-body radiation wins over decay heat before salt is vaporized. Then salt will freeze and becoming immobile that no large-scale release of radioactivity to environment.


Q&A Session.


Prof. Way Kuo asked a question about nuclear safety.


After the lecture, I found “Stephen Hui Geological Museum” which established on 16 Jan 2009. I remembered that Stephen Hui had donated a flat of building and only rental one HK dollar per year to CMATCL in Fo Tan.


Reference:
ASHK - http://www.ashk.org.hk/
20151206: ASHK 1st Science and Technology Innovation Summit - http://qualityalchemist.blogspot.hk/2015/12/ashk-1st-science-and-technology.html


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