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A green hydrogen plant is planned for Southern California



A green hydrogen plant is planned for Southern California

An energy company with big ambitions to produce clean fuels in the future announced Tuesday’s agreement with Lancaster officials to make hydrogen using plasma heating technology – originally developed for NASA – to destroy the city’s recycled paper at temperatures as high as 7,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Solena Group process has no commercial track record, and the company has not received funding to build a $ 55 million facility in Lancaster, in northern Los Angeles County. Solena is one of many companies looking for ways to produce cheap hydrogen without producing gas that warms the planet in the hope that clean fuels will one day replace oil and gas for transportation or heating.

But the company’s process, which uses what is called a plasma torch, is attracting the attention of Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris.

The city will speed up Solena’s licensing process and send her recycled paper company, rather than paying to dispose of it in a landfill. Several cities in the US have sent recycled waste to landfills since China stopped accepting exported waste in 2018.

If the hydrogen plant doesn’t materialize or fails, Parris said in an interview, there is little harm to the city.

The good side is pioneering technology that can dramatically reduce emissions. Lancaster will have a small stake in the factory.

“If we continue to produce energy as before, we will not be here in 50 years,” Parris said, referring to the effects of climate change. “I am pleased to see how well it works, and how quickly we can develop this through the country.”

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As a tenacious Republican, Parris has made climate change his main problem. He helped make Lancaster the first city in Southern California to dispose of privately owned and electric utilities Buy clean power for residents. He also convinced BYD Chinese car makers to build an electric bus factory in Lancaster.

As a trial lawyer, he represented thousands of people sue Southern California Gas Co. for alleged health effects of the 2015 methane explosion at the company’s Aliso Canyon storage facility.

“Most of what we do is the first time it’s done,” Parris said.

Mayor Lancaster R. Rex Parris was re-elected in April 2020, securing a fifth term.

(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Solena Group’s chief executive, Robert Do, has been honing his technology from fuel to fuel for decades.

Do co-founded the company in the 1980s with Salvador Camacho, a former NASA engineer who helped the space agency develop a plasma heating technique that can produce temperatures high enough to simulate re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere. This technology is very important to test the heat shield that will protect the first Americans in space when they return to Earth.

A 1994 NASA publication described plasma heating as “passing a strong electric current through a gas that is purified to make plasma – ionized gas – which produces extremely hot fires.” Camacho started a spin-off company that made use of this technology in 1971.

“This is a pretty good industrial tool,” Do said in an interview.

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The Solena Group will use some of the gases produced – mostly hydrogen and carbon monoxide – to ignite plasma torches.

The company has tried and failed to build commercial facilities before. In 2015, for example, a joint venture between Solena and British Airways to produce jet fuel at a facility in London fell apart after oil prices fell, underestimate project economics.

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Do hopes that California policies that require cleaner energy will create an atmosphere where technology can develop.

“Our technology can only keep up with market demand,” he said.

There is a large demand for hydrogen in industrial processes such as petroleum refining and fertilizer production.

Fuel burns cleanly, but is usually produced from coal or natural gas, in a process that emits carbon dioxide that warms the planet. A small portion of the global supply is produced through electrolysis, which involves splitting water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen atoms.

As solar and wind power are getting cheaper, experts are increasingly optimistic about the potential to produce hydrogen through electrolysis powered by renewable energy. In theory, it could make hydrogen an abundant and climate-friendly fuel.

In addition to cleaning up industry and transportation, “green hydrogen” can replace some of the fossil natural gas used by homes and businesses for heating and cooking, possibly heralded by Southern California Gas Co. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Energy, meanwhile, said last year that it would try to build the world’s first power plant fueled by hydrogen.

Intermountain Power Plant

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Energy plans to destroy the fired Intermountain Power Plant with coal outside Delta, Utah, and replace the facility with a natural gas combustion facility which will eventually be triggered by renewable hydrogen.

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Green hydrogen is still too expensive to make a lot of global demand. But costs are moving in the right direction.

BloombergNEF consulting company released a report in March found that with public policies that support, renewable hydrogen can meet 24% of world energy demand by 2050, and reduce carbon emissions from fossil fuels and industry by one third.

The analysis does not consider the type of process proposed by the Solena Group, known as “plasma gasification.”

Although this concept is unheard of at all, it has not yet been proven commercially, some hydrogen experts told The Times.

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Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a federal research institute, study gasification as part of a latest report. They found that producing hydrogen through gasification of organic waste – basically applying heat and pressure to the waste to gas – could be one of the cheaper strategies to reduce the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

How does it work? The key is to understand that organic waste – like paper goods – can be decomposed in landfills, where it will emit methane, a gas that traps heat. Diverting the waste from landfill, and turning it into hydrogen, will avoid some of the emissions. And hydrogen will also replace dirtier fuels, like diesel in heavy duty trucks.

“There are hydrogen prices that are starting to be economical,” said Sarah Baker, a chemist at Lawrence Livermore and lead author of the report.

Baker and his colleagues only considered conventional heating methods, not high temperature plasma torches.

But the Solena Group targets the same goal: Low-cost hydrogen with minimal carbon emissions and overall planetary benefits.

The company hopes to sell hydrogen to fueling station operators for hydrogen powered vehicles, a small but growing market.

“For something like passenger vehicles, we already have an increasingly inexpensive, low-carbon alternative in electric vehicles,” said Ben Gallagher, an expert in technology that emerged at Wood Mackenzie’s consulting firm. “For heavy vehicles like trucks or road sweepers or garbage trucks or buses, this is a potential road for hydrogen, because batteries will be very heavy.”

BYD electric bus

Although some clean buses are powered by hydrogen, others are electricity. In this photo, James Holtz, fleet sales manager for BYD Motors Inc., shows several battery packs used to power electric buses built at the company’s facilities in Lancaster, California.

(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

The Solena Group still has a lot to prove. The company has partnered with Fluor Corp, a multinational engineering and construction company, to build its factory in Lancaster, which is expected to be permitted early next year and produce hydrogen by the end of 2022.

If the company can produce hydrogen at the low price point it claims – reliable enough to attract investors, and without producing dangerous byproducts – that would be a big problem, said Jeffrey Reed, a renewable fuel expert at the University of California, Irvine.

“Gasification has the potential to be quite effective in producing hydrogen,” he said.

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Portuguese historical films will premiere on 29 December.



Portuguese historical films will premiere on 29 December.

Method Media Bermuda will present the documentary FABRIC: Portuguese History in Bermuda on Thursday, December 29 at the Underwater Research Institute of Bermuda.

A spokesperson said: “Method Media is proud to bring Bermuda Fabric: Portugal History to Bermuda for its 5th and 6th showing at the Bermuda Underwater Observatory. In November and December 2019, Cloth: A Portuguese Story in Bermuda had four sold-out screenings. Now that Bermuda has reopened after the pandemic, it’s time to bring the film back for at least two screenings.

“There are tickets For $ 20 – sessions at 15:30 and 18:00. Both screenings will be followed by a short Q&A session.

Director and producer Milton Raboso says, “FABRIC is a definitive account of the Portuguese community in Bermuda and its 151 years of history, but it also places Bermuda, Acors and Portugal in the world history and the events that have fueled those 151 years.

“It took more than 10 years to implement FABRIC. The film was supported by the Minister of Culture, the Government of the Azores and private donors.

Bermuda Media Method [MMB] Created in 2011 by producer Milton Raposo. MMB has created content for a wide range of clients: Bermuda’s new hospital renovation, reinsurance, travel campaigns, international sports and more. MMB pays special attention to artistic, cultural and historical content.

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Maestro de Braga is the first Portuguese in the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.



Maestro de Braga is the first Portuguese in the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.

Maestro Filipe Cunha, Artistic Director of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Braga, has been invited to conduct the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra, as announced today.

According to a statement sent by O MINHO, “he will be the first Portuguese conductor to conduct this orchestra in its entire history.”

In addition to this orchestra, the maestro will also work with the Lyceo Mozarteum de la Habana Symphony Orchestra.

The concerts will take place on 4 and 12 March 2023 at the National Theater of Cuba in Havana.

In the words of the maestro, quoted in the statement, “these will be very beautiful concerts with difficult but very complex pieces” and therefore he feels “very motivated”.

From the very beginning, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 will be performed by an Italian pianist (Luigi Borzillo), whom the maestro wants to bring to Portugal later this year. In the same concert, Mendelshon’s First Symphony will be performed.

Then, at the second concert, in the company of the Mexican clarinetist Angel Zedillo, he will perform the Louis Sfora Concerto No. 2. In this concert, the maestro also conducts Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony.

“This is an international recognition of my work. An invitation that I accept with humility and great responsibility. I was surprised to learn that I would be the first Portuguese member of the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra. This is a very great honor,” the maestro said in a statement.

“I take with me the name of the city of Braga and Portugal with all the responsibility that goes with it, and I hope to do a good job there, leaving a good image and putting on great concerts. These will be very special concerts because, in addition to performing pieces that I love, especially Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky, I will be directing two wonderful soloists who are also my friends. It will be very beautiful,” concludes Filipe Cunha.

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