Flares Are So Out … Seriously

We’ve all seen them, or least we’ve all seen them in photos and TV documentaries, the eternal, infernal flames of the oil-field flare. Now, an international engineering research team has put some figures to the energy and exergy of the venting and burning of combustible gases considered waste and suggests that the gas-flare recovery system adopted by some sites reduces waste considerably even when extra staffing and equipment are taken into account.

Sosimo Diaz-Mendez of the Universidad Autónoma del Carmen in Campeche, México, and colleagues have used an Extended Exergy Accounting method to determine whether or not flares are wasteful or not. Exergy is defined as the maximum amount of useful work that can a system connected to a heat sink can do as it approaches equilibrium. Until now, the status quo had been to simply vent the burning waste gases from oil fields to the atmosphere because the gas itself would cost too much in terms of energy to be useful and the low “quality” of the heat generated by burning them makes it too inefficient to cycle it into the energy input for the field. Diaz-Mendez and colleagues have put paid to this little piece of Deceived Wisdom.

To read the full article written by David Bradley, please click here.

This article has been reproduced from Sciencebase Science News. Copyright David Bradley.

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About David Bradley Science Writer

David Bradley has worked in science communication for more than twenty years. After reading chemistry at university, he worked and travelled in the USA, did a stint in a QA/QC lab and then took on a role as a technical editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry. Then, following an extended trip to Australia, he returned and began contributing as a freelance to the likes of New Scientist and various trade magazines. He has been growing his portfolio and and has constructed the Sciencebase Science News and the Sciencetext technology website. He also runs the SciScoop Science Forum which is open to guest contributors on scientific topics.

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