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Thread: When crude oil runs out, how will roads be made and repaired?

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    When crude oil runs out, how will roads be made and repaired?

    Tar is a by-product of the oil refinery industry, so I wonder what will be used to make road surfaces when crude oil runs out...Concrete, maybe?

    In towns it was cobbles or stone setts where you wanted it a bit smoother.

    In my part of the world there are still a lot of cobbled streets
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    Concrete?
    When I was a youngster there were miles of roads made of concrete, some of them quite major dual carriageways.
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    yes, I've been down concrete ones, as well....I did read in the paper the other day thought, that the world is in danger of running out of building quality sand, so there is another problem.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mudskipper View Post
    Tar is a by-product of the oil refinery industry, so I wonder what will be used to make road surfaces when crude oil runs out...Concrete, maybe?

    In towns it was cobbles or stone setts where you wanted it a bit smoother.

    In my part of the world there are still a lot of cobbled streets
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mudskipper View Post
    Tar is a by-product of the oil refinery industry, so I wonder what will be used to make road surfaces when crude oil runs out...Concrete, maybe?
    Crude oil will not run out, in the sense that every single drop will be sucked out of the ground. Wells rarely if ever go dry; what happens is the oil becomes harder and harder to extract and they become uneconomical. In fact, when oil prices went up, a lot of "dry" wells were reactivated. So, if the product you are going to make from the oil is valuable enough, you will extract the oil from the ground.

    I have no clue as to whether we will reach that point based on the need for tar alone. But even if we don't extract crude oil for fuel, we will continue to do so for plastics and other petrochemicals, and the "heavies" from which tar is produced will still be part of the cuts that crude oil is made up of.

    Road asphalt can also be recycled, and that is common practice around here. (one commercial link) It is often recycled now, because it is cheaper to reuse the asphalt than to dispose of it.

    Road materials can also be produced from recycling other materials, including rubber tires and other rubber products.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mudskipper View Post
    yes, I've been down concrete ones, as well....I did read in the paper the other day thought, that the world is in danger of running out of building quality sand, so there is another problem.
    Really? I find that hard to believe. Reference?
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    I should mention 200 year concrete if we need it.

    http://www.concreteconstruction.net/...00-year-life_c
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    I should also mention 500 year concrete for houses.

    http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/...last-500-years
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    Really? I find that hard to believe. Reference?
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/lo...-a8093721.html

    Apparently the Sahara Desert sand is too fine to use in making concrete.
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    Maybe a return to the the non-cobblestone, non-bituminous, non-concrete, mud-resistant road covering used in 19th century cities. What exactly did it consist of?
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    Last edited by wd40; 2017-Dec-14 at 06:41 PM.

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    What makes you think any of those pictures depict non-any of those things. You can't tell. Could be Macadam. Could be packed earth. Could be small cobblestones. Could be crushed rock. Could be darn near anything. Although three of the four do depict trolleys on steel rails.
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    There some roads around here that have never seen pavement and probably never will.

    Also other materials can be recycled into roadways such as old tires.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    What makes you think any of those pictures depict non-any of those things. You can't tell. Could be Macadam. Could be packed earth. Could be small cobblestones. Could be crushed rock. Could be darn near anything. Although three of the four do depict trolleys on steel rails.
    Actually, the trolley tracks don't change your comment about road materials - trolley tracks were even laid in dirt roads (in fact that was pretty common for small town interurban lines). And I agree, I can't really tell material of construction from those pictures, but several looked like packed dirt.

    Lastly, road materials that could accommodate the traffic of the 19th century (horses and a lot less traffic) are probably not going to hold up well for modern traffic.
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    Most major towns in the UK had Cobblestones and Setts (squared off cobbles. There are still a lot of side streets and back lanes that are cobbled.
    Bricks made from blast furnace slag tipped in to rectangular molds while it was still molted was used to make 'artificial' cobbles. They are still in evidence in a lot of places as well.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mudskipper View Post
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/lo...-a8093721.html

    Apparently the Sahara Desert sand is too fine to use in making concrete.
    I visited the Grand Canyon, quite a bit of sand there. The fineness would not be a real problem it's the sharpness that matters, but we might have to mess with the mixtures a little. Maybe the price rises too, especially since normal concrete making is a co2 source to be reckoned with. Right here where I live there is a sand layer hundreds of feet thick just a few feet down. Money makes concrete.
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    Quote Originally Posted by wd40 View Post
    Maybe a return to the the non-cobblestone, non-bituminous, non-concrete, mud-resistant road covering used in 19th century cities. What exactly did it consist of?
    Either nothing, as unpaved roads were quite common -- in the US, lobbying by the League of American Wheelmen was a major factor in getting roads paved -- gravel (around where I currently live, crushed oyster shells were a common substitute), or even wood. In winter, the snow would be rolled, not plowed, and sleds would be used instead of wagons.

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    This clip shows San Francisco 1905
    https://www.youtube.com/embed/NINOxRxze9k

    The tramlines seem to be laid in stones. Are the large smoothe areas either side, which seem too big and dust-free for packed-earth, already covered in tarmacadam, which was invented in 1902? Or macadam, which was very labour-intensive for such large areas?
    Last edited by wd40; 2017-Dec-16 at 07:55 PM.

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    "I've got one word for you. Are you listening? Plastics."

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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveC426913 View Post
    "I've got one word for you. Are you listening? Plastics."
    Which tend to be made from petroleum.
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    if we're quoting movies:- Roads? Who needs roads?
    sicut vis videre esto
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    Which tend to be made from petroleum.
    ...but which could be made from coal tar.

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    Quote Originally Posted by swampyankee View Post
    ...but which could be made from coal tar.
    Or biological sources, of course. The coal tar could probably just be used to make asphalt.

    When we're out of fossil fuels, how to pave roads will be the least of our worries.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    Or biological sources, of course. The coal tar could probably just be used to make asphalt.

    When we're out of fossil fuels, how to pave roads will be the least of our worries.
    if renewables are in place, and perhaps we can make oil renewabley, eg oilgae, then things like road surfacing may be still important.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    Or biological sources, of course. The coal tar could probably just be used to make asphalt.

    When we're out of fossil fuels, how to pave roads will be the least of our worries.
    I'm hoping we have jet packs by then. I've been waiting a good long time for a jet pack.
    Solfe

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    Just a note on concrete : It is made with what we call "aggregate" which consists of crushed rock , a product of a sand and gravel plant , where different sized crushed rock, pea stone and washed sand
    are produced , introduced into a concrete mix truck , along with portland cement and water in
    specific proportion to make a mix of sufficient strength as per application.
    Now, if you want to make mortar for brick and stone work , that requires washed sand. Different
    product and application.
    My second driveway is made from re-ground bituminous asphalt ; the loam and dirt are carefully
    removed, the area is graded , and the re-grind is evenly distributed to about 5 inches thick, and then roll compressed on a good hot day for a driveway that serves me well at a savings of 30 cents on the dollar. This is not recommended for trucks weighing in at 125,000 pounds and better.
    It may be possible to make a mobile re-grind + asphaltic liquid + heat in situ , saving the transportation of hot-top to the site, a hotter product with better compression qualities and faster
    production at reduced costs ( talking state highways here) . For now, there's not much incentive ,
    although there is a trend in concrete competing with asphalt . But that's for another discussion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Solfe View Post
    I'm hoping we have jet packs by then. I've been waiting a good long time for a jet pack.
    I want my flying car! Who needs roads?
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    Hi Treb, I've been working on the design for 20 years. There's a lot to it , and getting the weight down is paramount.
    " design,.... lighten,....and simplify " .

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    I hate to break this to any environmentalists out there (and I'm one too, so I'm not disparaging them), but we are never going to run out of petroleum. What we're mostly extracting now (especially in the Persian Gulf) is the easy to get stuff. When that runs out, the price of oil will rise and less easy to get stuff will then start to be extracted.

    We've already seen this in the recent past. When oil went above about $60/barrel (or somewhere around there, I don't know the exact dollar value), it became more economical to extract oil from oil sands. So there was a big burst of mining that when the price went way up a few years ago. I believe they're still mining the stuff even at ~$50/barrel that oil is at now. No doubt new technologies (as described in that wiki article) have reduced the cost of extraction but even so, it's still not especially high profit-wise. AIUI, they're keeping it going because it's easier to ramp up production than mothball it and then restart. They're betting on the price going back up sometime fairly soon.

    At any rate, oil sands are not the only more expensive source of oil, but the others are even more expensive. They'll eventually get to them as well.

    As for plastics, those can be made from vegetable oil. We don't need petroleum or coal tar for those.

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    I have a book around here that was written in response to the 1970s oil crisis. I believe they listed $38 a barrel as unsustainable high. Once a problem reaches a certain point, things change unpredictable and you experience conservation effects. Everyone thought electric cars were coming in the 80s. Instead we got lighter cars with better fuel efficiency, and some of that fuel coming from other products like plants.

    If you had asked me what was more likely, fuel being too expensive or cars made with plastics, I would not have picked plastic in cars.
    Solfe

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    Quote Originally Posted by dtilque View Post
    I hate to break this to any environmentalists out there (and I'm one too, so I'm not disparaging them), but we are never going to run out of petroleum. What we're mostly extracting now (especially in the Persian Gulf) is the easy to get stuff. When that runs out, the price of oil will rise and less easy to get stuff will then start to be extracted.

    We've already seen this in the recent past. When oil went above about $60/barrel (or somewhere around there, I don't know the exact dollar value), it became more economical to extract oil from oil sands. So there was a big burst of mining that when the price went way up a few years ago. I believe they're still mining the stuff even at ~$50/barrel that oil is at now. No doubt new technologies (as described in that wiki article) have reduced the cost of extraction but even so, it's still not especially high profit-wise. AIUI, they're keeping it going because it's easier to ramp up production than mothball it and then restart. They're betting on the price going back up sometime fairly soon.

    At any rate, oil sands are not the only more expensive source of oil, but the others are even more expensive. They'll eventually get to them as well.

    As for plastics, those can be made from vegetable oil. We don't need petroleum or coal tar for those.
    I hate the argument that fossil fuels will "never run out..." because it's false; obviously, they will, as the Earth has a finite internal volume and even more finite quantity of carbon in organic compounds that can be mined in the form of fossil fuels. The real issue is when will the sources of production become insufficient to meet demand at any viable price. In a related story, a few years ago, due to considerable worries about the availability of cobalt at viable prices, people started looking for alternatives. Since it takes considerable time to research and qualify these alloys -- they tend to be used in applications where failure results in flaming death, so reliability is a bit important -- this process started at least a decade before that point. We're not doing that with fossil fuels; everybody is either planning on some miraculous improvement in extraction technology that will forever keep that "unavailable at a viable price" point in the indefinite future or expecting a solution can be invented and deployed before the nuclear weapons come out and fossil fuels become the least of our worries. I expect it will take far longer to get an alternative to fossil fuels into service; the time to start actively working on their replacement is now, not when the economists and politicians find out that there isn't enough to go around at any price.

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