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SpaceX Will Repurpose Oil Rigs To Build A Starship Spaceport At Sea

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Fossil Fuels

Published on January 19th, 2021 | by Johnna Crider

January 19th, 2021 by Johnna Crider 


SpaceX is planning to use oil rigs to build a Starship Spaceport at sea in South Texas. Tesmanian reminded its readers the goal of SpaceX is to enable us to spread consciousness across the galaxy, and is working on Starship and its Super Heavy rocket booster for that purpose. Those rockets will have to launch from somewhere, so why not reuse oil rigs? I think this is extremely symbolic. SpaceX, which was founded by Elon Musk, is going to take something old that has caused a lot of environmental problems and use it to empower humanity.

This discovery came from both @NASAspaceflight and @SpacePadreIsle, which took photos of the oil rigs that SpaceX owned. These rigs will most likely be refurbished into a floating Starship spaceport and are located in the Port of Brownsville. Michael Baylor of NASASpaceFlight.com also noticed and confirmed previously that SpaceX purchased the twin oil rigs from Valaris and named them Deimos and Phobos after the pair of moons orbiting Mars.

CNBC noted that the two deepwater oil rigs were purchased by SpaceX last year and are being converted into floating launchpads. According to public records, the Valaris “ultra-deepwater semi-submersible” oil rigs 8500 and 8501 were sold for $3.5 million each. Valaris, which is headquartered in Houston, is the world’s largest owner of offshore oil rigs. CNBC also pointed out that it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in August to lighten its heavy debt load.

The twin rigs were purchased in July last year by Lone Star Mineral Development, which was incorporated in June 2020 and registered in the name of SpaceX CFO Bret Johnsen.

As of Tuesday, SpaceX is hiring for two temporary offshore positions and one of those is for an electrician. SpaceX wants the candidates to be able to “install enhancements and major upgrades to offshore vessel electrical systems.”

Recycling Oil Rigs

Technically, I think the term is repurposing them, but the idea is the same. SpaceX is taking something that was used by the fossil-fuel industry and is repurposing it for its mission to make humanity a space-faring civilization.

Many may argue that SpaceX isn’t environmentally friendly since it uses quite a bit of jet fuel in its rocket launches, but the emissions are actually much smaller than many people think, and SpaceX broke new ground in the industry when it became the only rocket company to have created a reusable rocket.

SpaceX’s fully reusable Falcon Heavy rocket costs around $1,300 per kg of payload, while the NASA Space Shuttle costs around $60,000 per kg. Reusable rockets also cut down the resources required for the metal body of the rocket. Although SpaceX’s Falcon 9 uses around 440 tons of kerosene, Smithsonian Magazine noted that it has a 34% carbon content, which is a “drop in the ocean compared to global industrial emissions as a whole.”

SpaceX’s CEO, Elon Musk, cares about the environment and is focused on making sure his products have as little of a negative impact on our planet as possible. Elon Musk is also the CEO of Tesla, which creates electric vehicles to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy and solar panels to do the same. Furthermore, Musk has already started envisioning zero-emissions rockets.

SpaceX is doing its part to ensure that creating rockets isn’t as harsh on the environment as it has been in the past, and when you add recycling oil rigs into the mix, it shows the company’s passion for reusing the old when possible. And note that decommissioning oil rigs is costly.

Decommissioning Oil Rigs Is Costly

In 2019, The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) published an article on what happens to decommissioned oil rigs. These are some of the largest structures that humanity has ever built, ASME  pointed out, and there are more than 7,500 of these structures looming over the world’s seas. However, producers can’t just walk away once the wells dry up — they have to be decommissioned and capped off. And the platforms have to be taken down. ASME noted that in Europe’s North Sea, decommissioning could cost producers $150 billion.

Usually, a takedown starts with dismantling the top platform, according to Christ Mattingly, who is a project manager at Bluegrass, which specializes in non-explosive demolition. This means cutting concrete and metal structures with diamond-studded saws. “It starts out with a crew of welders and they take down as much of the top side as they can,” Mattingly said. “Then we get involved with our diamond wire saws, cutting steel members and piping, to get the topsides off — which is everything you see above water.”

Mattingly also pointed out that in the Gulf of Mexico, it’s often shallow enough to use a diver to mount a saw on the metal or concrete struts with a hydraulic clamp to keep it in place. An operator controls the cut by regulating the hydraulic power while aboard a boat. “In the Gulf of Mexico, often the water is shallow enough that you can use a diver,” he told ASME. “Anything deeper than 300 feet requires a remotely operated vehicle, or ROV, essentially a small submarine.” You can read more about the technical details of how oil rigs are decommissioned here.

Final Thoughts

Choosing to recycle oil rigs is something I’d never even thought of — and probably many others haven’t as well. As an average citizen who works from home and lives a peaceful life with her gem collection and two rambunctious cats, I’ve never even thought much about oil rigs.

I grew up in Louisiana and have heard the phrase “My husband/father/family member is going back down to the Gulf to work on the rigs” a million times, but it never really crossed my mind that they eventually dry up. I’ve never even thought about what happens to the rigs when they are done. And I’m sure it’s the same for millions of other Americans.

This shows how Elon Musk and his team of engineers are always thinking outside the box. Who would have thought about making oil rigs into spaceports? Elon Musk, naturally.

Featured images in tweet screenshot by SPadre.

 
 


 


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Tags: oil rigs, Space, spaceport, SpaceX, Valaris


About the Author

Johnna Crider is a Baton Rouge artist, gem and mineral collector, member of the International Gem Society, and a Tesla shareholder who believes in Elon Musk and Tesla. Elon Musk advised her in 2018 to “Believe in Good.” Tesla is one of many good things to believe in. You can find Johnna on Twitter at all hours of the day & night.



Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/01/19/spacex-will-repurpose-oil-rigs-to-build-a-starship-spaceport-at-sea/

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Tesla China Reaches Another Milestone: 6,000 Supercharger Installations

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Tesla China has reached another milestone — 6,000 Supercharger installations. Tesmanian reported the milestone on Friday, adding that these stations are able to provide a battery recharge for up to 200 miles of range in 15 minutes. Tesla has more than 20,000 Superchargers globally, which makes it the owner and operator of the largest fast-charging network in the world.

Tesmanian noted that in China, the demand for Tesla’s vehicles is growing phenomenally and that customers are buying them quickly. So far, around 150,000 made-in-China Model 3 vehicles are on the roads in China. So, it makes sense that Tesla is focusing on strengthening its charging network there.

By the end of last year, Tesla had built more than 600 Superchargers in China and planned to double this rollout rate this year. Back in January, Tesla opened up its 5,000th Supercharging stall in China. Soon, we’ll be seeing Tesla reach 10,000.

Back in December of 2020, Tesla China opened up the world’s largest Supercharging station. This station has a total of 72 stalls and is located in Shanghai. Tesla’s success in China shows that it’s continuing to blaze its path toward fully sustainable transportation.

 



 


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/03/07/tesla-china-reaches-another-milestone-6000-supercharger-installations/

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Magna Introduces Its Own BEV & PHEV Platforms

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Magna may be the biggest car company you have never heard off. It makes its living developing and building automobiles for other companies, like BMW, Daimler, Jaguar Land Rover, and Toyota. On its website, Magna proclaims, “Our innovation and manufacturing competence is based on a comprehensive understanding of the vehicle. We offer modular solutions for every system and part as well as complete vehicle assembly. Whatever the needs and goals of our customers, Magna is an innovation partner that brings them there. Fast.”

The largest car companies, like Volkswagen and General Motors, design their own EV platforms, but for smaller companies like Mitsubishi, Subaru, and Mazda — as well as all the other wannabe car companies springing up everywhere — the cost of developing electric cars can be prohibitive. Magna wants to help. This past week, it unveiled details of two new platforms it has developed in-house — one for plug-in hybrids and one for 100% battery electric cars.

PHEV For Thee And Me

For most CleanTechnica readers, plug-in hybrids are old tech that should not be part of the EV revolution conversation. The worst part about a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) is that it still relies on a gasoline engine, with all the complexity and extra costs that implies. On the other hand, it can completely eliminate range anxiety — one of the primary reasons people shy away from buying an electric car in the first place.

Called the Magna EtelligentEco, the new plug-in hybrid platform from Magna features cloud-based connectivity that can guide drivers to charging stations where electricity from renewable sources is available. It also analyzes the route ahead and makes recommendations on how to lower emissions based on traffic, terrain, and other factors.

Magna says the platform can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 38%, but exactly how that figure is calculated is not made completely clear. We know that recent studies in Europe suggest some of the plug-in cars actually pollute more than conventional cars.

Electrive reports the EtelligentEco platform uses a 120 kW motor and a hybrid transmission and will have an all-electric range of 100 kilometers. It also suggests if Magna is basing its claim of a 38% reduction in emissions on using only renewable electricity to recharge, that figure is subject to change depending on the source of electricity available.

Smart Dual Motor Platform

Magna’s other new platform is for battery electric vehicles only and comes with two electric motors, one driving the rear wheels and the other driving the front wheels. Called the Magna EtelligentReach, features “intelligent operating software and controls. The advanced technology now delivers a significant range increase and further enhanced driving dynamics. In fact, with innovation upgrades to the software and hardware, the range is extended another 20%, or more than 145 km in total when compared to existing vehicles in production.”

This latest BEV platform includes “an advanced decoupling function, inverters with silicon carbide technology, and a further-improved operating software, which result in advancements that will benefit all of Magna’s electric drive solutions and next-generation hybrid drives,” the company says.

“As automakers continue to progress towards a zero-emissions future, we are the supplier partner that can give them new and innovative products to help them get there,” says Tom Rucker, president of Magna’s powertrain division. “Based on our vehicle systems expertise and scalable building blocks technology approach, we can match our customers’ needs with complete electrified powertrain solutions as well as subsystems and components.”

A Tale Of Two Business Models

Last fall, Fisker announced that Magna would build its Ocean electric SUV. Recently, it said it has struck a deal with Foxconn to build a second Fisker model. Announcements are just speculation, however, that may or may not ever come true. Peter Rawlinson, CEO of Lucid Motors, told Barron’s last week he believes car companies need to own their own capacity. In his view, the entity that owns the assets is the one that has the most opportunity for profit. “Someone has to own the assets,” Rawlinson said.

In truth, all that Henrik Fisker seems to bring to the table is his ability as a designer. The Ocean is okay — although, some might say it looks a lot like every other compact SUV in the automotive universe today. Whether any actual Fisker automobiles ever see the light of day remains to be seen.

 



 


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/03/07/magna-introduces-its-own-bev-phev-platforms/

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A Differential Equation for the Concentration of Methane in the Atmosphere: Estimating Parameters

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By Matthew Fulkerson, just a former physicist turned applied mathematician.

Previously, we verified a solution to a simple differential equation for the concentration of methane in the atmosphere under a constant emissions scenario. In the document “Differential Equations for the Concentration of Methane in the Atmosphere,” we go through this case, and explore more general scenarios such as a linearly increasing emissions rate.

In this article, we further explore the constant emissions scenario. We change up our notation a bit to follow Gilbert Strang in his book Differential Equations and Linear Algebra. Let a(t) be the rate of decay of methane in the atmosphere and q(t) be the emissions rate. This is Strang’s notation, except we have a minus sign difference in a(t) to explicitly account for our interest in exponential decay rather than exponential growth.

The general differential equation for arbitrary a(t) and constant q(t) is then:

Here we will solve this equation for constant a(t) = a_0 and constant q(t) = q_0. Making these substitutions, we obtain:

It is not immediately obvious why we have factored the equation in this way. We have done so because the equation is now separable. That is, we can get all of the terms involving y on one side of the equation and all the terms involving t on the other.

Now we can integrate both sides of the equation and obtain:

This is the same solution we verified previously, but this time we derived it rather than simply verified it.

Now we want to estimate a_0 and q_0 from real-world data. Since the concentration of methane is measurable, for example on Mount Mauna Loa in Hawaii, we can get the ratio q_0/a_0 from measurement. From Wikipedia and NOAA, we have the following plot of monthly averages of methane measurements:

Image credit: NOAA

We see that methane concentration is rapidly approaching 1900 parts per billion in the atmosphere. So q_0/a_0 is 1900e-9.

Next we can compute a_0 from the half life of methane in the atmosphere (denoted tau_CH4), which according to the Wikipedia article linked above is 9.1 years:

So then we have a_0=0.0762 and q_0 = 1900e-9*0.0762 = 1.45e-7 in units of inverse years.

Now we are finally getting to the punchline. We can understand what is meant by methane having 84 times more greenhouse gas forcing than carbon dioxide over 20 years. In the linked google doc, we work out the following for the average forcing over a given period of time.

It turns out that Kappa is the immediate forcing relative to carbon dioxide. That is, methane is initially 164 times worse than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. Over a 20 year period, methane is on average 84 times worse than carbon dioxide. And over 100 years, methane is about 21 times worse. This is all depicted in the following chart:

A big takeaway is that we now have an estimate as to how many times worse than carbon dioxide methane is immediately. 164 times worse! A second takeaway is that methane may be 21 times worse than carbon dioxide over 100 years, but after 100 years it is basically gone and has no effects besides its byproducts (carbon dioxide and water).

Stay tuned for a future article, in which we will verify Strang’s general solution to the differential equation, and explore the case where emissions are linearly increasing.

Originally published by Matthew Fulkerson on Medium.

 



 


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/03/07/a-differential-equation-for-the-concentration-of-methane-in-the-atmosphere-estimating-parameters/

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ERCOT Charged $16 Billion Too Much For Power

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An independent market monitor says ERCOT, the Texas grid operator, left wholesale electricity prices at the legal maximum for two days longer than necessary, and overcharged power companies $16 billion in the process during the winter storm that caused massive grid and gas system failures and left more than 4 million Texans without electricity. Potomac Economics, the firm hired by the state to assess ERCOT’s performance, recommended to regulators that the charges be reversed. The move could help alleviate stress on Texas power providers facing shortfalls, default, or bankruptcy following the massive price spikes.

The “error” and potential reversal could also have major implications for the Texas wind energy industry. Due to the nature of the financial instruments used by Texas wind firms, those that were unable to produce power during the storm were forced to pay the legal maximum of $9,000 per megawatt-hour (the average price in 2020 was $22.18) for four days. At that rate, wind companies could be forced into bankruptcy, owing their counterparties more than their entire wind farm is worth. (ERCOT error: Bloomberg $, Texas TribuneThe HillFT $, Politico Pro $; Power companies: Reuters; Wind industry: Wall Street Journal $; Climate Signals background: February 2021 polar vortex breakdown and central US winter storms)

Article courtesy of Nexus Media, a nonprofit climate change news service.

 



 


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/03/07/ercot-charged-16-billion-too-much-for-power/

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