Subject: Climate leadership, CCR Technologies, ghostly stories
From: "Bill Howell. Hussar. Alberta. Canada" <>
Date: Wed, 9 Nov 2016 12:47:11 -0700
To: Todd "Beasley." Managing "Director." Alberta Wide "Rally." anti-Carbon

Todd Beasley  -   This is an email that I promised to send to you last Saturday 5Nov2016 at the end of the Brooks "Alberta Wide Rally", which you head.   (I'm the "Captain Hook" guy).

First of all, it's great to see an Alberta corporate leader speaking out on "bent science", beyond long-time bedrock Gerry Meirs, and I really appreciated the rally.    I was active with Calgary's "Friends of Science" back in ~2006, and still follow Climate Science issues, but for years I am more focused on looking into more realistic theories of [geology, astronomy, Earth Sciences, Climate], instead of watching the long-term gong show from the overwhelming majority of government and academic scientists.   See "Modern s
cience gong shows"  below for a few additional comments. 

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) , and more specifically Carbon Capture and ?Reuse? (CCR) has never been a focus for me, as it is not relevant to the fundamental [astronomy, earth, climate] science that I do focus on as a tertiary priority (along with far too many other science themes).   However, it is interesting, and has real merit beyond climate science such, as you mentioned, tar sands, steel, etc (as long as the economics are obeyed, which excludes much government and policy thinking).   Of interest to me is that you did not mention oxygen enrichment,
nor does CCR Technologies website  My impression that membrane enrichment of air is a leading but costly approach, whereas I think of amine streams as mostly a CO2 concentration approach (plus, as you mentioned, other combustion byproducts like sulphur and ?NOx? compounds).  Perhaps I have that wrong.   Perhaps the amine process makes it too costly to go to oxygen enrichment...

But my real fascination with CCR Technologies is because of somewhat "ghostly" related topics.  Here I will quickly mention two, with additional notes (probably of no interest to you) provided below. 

Fischer-Tropsch like coal to petroleum in China? -   Last spring, as a member of the Board of Directors of the "International Neural Network Society",  I was surprised to see a long-partially-censored subject show up in the cv of an Awards nominee : 
"...   Moreover, Dr. [name omitted for confidentiality] applied his work on ADP to real world engineering problems. He developed novel neural network structures for a new class of industrial controllers with improved performance for the coal gasification process and temperature control of the water gas shift reaction process.    ..."
ADP = Approximate Dynamic Programming, which, together with reinforcement learning, I see as the basis of the most advanced control concepts and theories.   ADP has arisen primarily from neural network 3r:
generation pioneer Paul Werbos, as is also the case for several other bedrock neural network concepts including :

  • "Deep Learning" neural networks -  the current "hottest topic" in neural networks (and probably for Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Computational Intelligence (CI) as well)  If you use Google search, or Facebook, for example, you are now using Deep Learning, but almost nobody mentions that term.
  • "Ordered derivatives"  -  which is a far more thorough and correct version of neural network training developed a decade and a half before the simple-and-often-wrong "backpropagation" (the term used almost exclusively now.  
But Chinese rhetoric change over the last decade or two, shifting from some hint of coal-to-petroleum (hard to judge!), to exclusively coal-to-natural gas.   At the 2016 World Congress on Computational Intelligence  (WCCI2016), I specifically asked the award candidate mentioned above as to whether his work was [applicable, applied] to coal-to-petroleum, but was answered by a Chinese stone-silence, even though he's known me for years.   It's more fun provoking American scientists, who gleefully reply that they "...   could tell me, but then they'd have to kill me   ...".   If you don't get that answer occasionally, then you are not pushing hard enough.   I now think that I may be chasing a ghost with respect to coal-to-petroleum in China, but I wonder - after all, history shows this to be most important for a world war situation, and China will need massive amounts of petroleum.

The diffuse point here is threefold : 
  • advanced control concepts may present huge competitive advantages -  I don't think that this would apply to your process, as I imagine that it is very stable and well characterised, with no potential benefit to "pushing the envelope" with respect to [efficiency, byproducts, quality].
  • CCR Technologies -  are China and India are the places to be?   I guess many companies have left their [shirts, technologies, business] behind after forays into China, but maybe that's where leadership has to find a way to make things work.  
  • In Computational Intelligence, the huge dominance of the Chinese (often 2/3 to 3/4 of top publications) is an incredible change over the last 15 years or so, and journal managers from Springer and Elsevier have told me that it is similar in other areas of high-potential science and engineering.   Microsoft moved a key research center there long ago, but I don't know what the current trends.  Not tapping into that (and other great emerging nations - I think of the Brazilians regularly kicking Canadian butts) might spell the death-knell of many organisations and initiatives.

Societal risks to the Alberta tar sands  -   It is my fear that a technophobic Canada, led by "university induced stupidity" aligned along politically-correct thinking, is racing its way to becoming a third-world nation.   We've lost most of our high-tech (communications, computer) activity (in Ottawa, many friends lost [careers, pensions] following the Nortel implosion), and we're trashing our one great strength : natural resources.   My paranoid fear is that if we're stupid enough as a society, tar sands will have trouble competing even with coal-to-petroleum, which should never be the case.  Our loss would be driven by concepts centered around [environment, social responsibility, zero-risk tolerance], that would help none of those concepts to a significant degree. 

As a personal note, I have attended several Schulich Engineering events over the past 3 years - I did my BASc in Chemical Engineering there, and I now consider that faculty to be a day care center for the politically correct.  This is unfair to some good students and faculty, but I fear all too realistic in general.   I do give very small grants to research, but will no longer support Schulich, preferring to pick great researchers from around the world (mostly USA - Chinese don't seem to ask for funds). 

ACM Facility Safety, Calgary  -   On 01Sep2016, I gave a short volunteer (unpaid) presentation on "Big Data, Deep Learning, and Safety" at ACM in Calgary (Greg Lingelbach and Ken Bingham).   It was not too successful, as I haven't focused on safety and Computational Intelligence, and most of the material I presented was for information rather than being practical.    But I hope that the 15 or so participants enjoyed getting a glimpse of some of the things that are going on in CI.   Before the presentation, I sat in on their regular month meeting of industry safety engineers, and was quite impressed with the "mutual support group" approach, and the quality of the interactions between expert engineers.   I suppose that you have already dealt with them, but I thought I'd put in this plug.  I have NO financial or career interest in them, so this is arms length. 

Anyways, Cheers, and a salut to your leadership! 

Mr. Bill Howell
Volunteer firefighter, President of Hussar Lion's Club
IJCNN2017 Anchorage Publications Chair, mass emails, ,
WCCI 2018 Rio de Janiero : Publicity committee
INNS BOG member 2014-2016 (ends 31Dec2016), past Secretary 2014,
Retired: Science Research Manager (SE-REM-01) of Natural Resources Canada, CanmetMINING, Ottawa
P.O. Box 299, Hussar, Alberta, T0J1S0

Modern science gong shows 

In your talk, you mentionned that the theme (in my words) "that anthropogenic CO2 is the primary driver of climate since 1850" is the greatest fraud [in modern history, or history, I forget which].   I also believed that in ~2000 to 2002, but my previous experience with the ozone layer, dioxin, and other themes did pose a broader picture.   However, led by much broader concepts and challenges in Computational Intelligence, and now that I have had the luxury of time to delve more into at least some issues in [physics, astronomy, geology, climate], I am of the opinion that the situation in climate science is the NORM, and not the exception.   For example, relativity and quantuum mechanics may have led physics into a morass of band-aid fixes and circular arguments that have greatly impeded progress -  I am not expert in those areas, but I am perhaps somewhat of an expert at watching diverse scientific communities flounder  There seems to be a certain smell to it, a trail of revealing crumbs, a litany of untruths patched with excuses.  I still love science and scientists, and continue to pass most of my time on that, as I spent almost all of my non-family vacations on it overmy career, but I do see another side to it.   I'll stop here, referring to my [simple, incomplete, incoherent] general commentary :,%20Damned%20Lies,%20and%20Scientists%20-%20Summary%20&%20context.pdf

By the way, with respect to the gong show, our potential "salvation" is coming mostly from brilliant amateurs who have interenet access to at least some data, with a very few (rare) official scientists also providing a basis of great work and are also willing to stand up and be heard (and be shot at!!).  Hopefully, Trump will lead the scrapping of funding and scientific institutions related to the climate mess.  

As you said in Brooks,
if the greens want to actually do something about CO2, CCR-like technologies HAVE to be considered, failure of which says exactly what many other "conceptually bent anomalies" of modern science say : that [rational, logical, scientific] thinking is not a strength of mainstream scientists (beyond my principle of "locality"),  but that politically correct scientific beliefs (robotic thinking by formula) dominate their thinking.   But the gong show is proof that this won't necessarily happen, that essentially none of the scientists can see that (remember that Alberta is a tiny spec in science).

A Fischer-Tropsch ghost of the past 

From 2001 through 2006 I would see a Romainian-born German engineer-scientist, M.V. Bodnarescu (I forget how to spell his name), at the annual IJCNN neural network conference, after which I belief he died from progressive [foot, blood circulation] disease.   "Bod" got the top marks in mathematics in his graduating year in Romainia, and got a scholarship to do a PhD in Chemical Engineering at Berlin university, graduating in 1942.   He often mentioned that is proudest achievement was the solving of a system of non-linear equations for the Fischer-Tropsch process.   One thing for sure, I can think of only one engineer that I have worked with that showed anything like Bod had.   What happened to these brutally competent, deep thinking engineers, who lpreferring to pass their spare time on themes like Hilbert Space and real engineering rather than being a tourist in retirement? 

We had a great time over the years.   Having been to the Japanese Kamiokande neutrino facility, he managed to get Art MacDonald of Queens University to get us into the closing mini-conference (50 people?) of the initial Sudbury neutrino closing conference, plus a special two-person tour 6,200 +- feet undergound at the Inco mine housing the experiment.    Years later (only one or two years ago), Art McDonald and collaborators got a Nobel prize for that work.    I had no background in neutrinos, but ironically my current work in fundamental theoretical physics (very slow progress!) is on concepts that queston all of that, and I also follow closely projects that provide a much better
model (in my view) than the Standard Model of the Sun.