PDA

View Full Version : Alternative fuels vs oil



grant23
2005-Sep-13, 03:35 PM
With all of the advancements in technology why are we still using oil? I think money is the big player here. its cheaper to pollute the Earth than Use better forms of energy. I think the increase in oil prices may be just a hidden way to fund this retarted war or rebuilding of Iraq.? :evil: I think the fuel cell is a awesome invention but why is it not being mas produced and replacing oil as a energy source? Probably because it is fairly new tech and there is still research to work out some bugs it probably has.
For now, Why not start producing large quanties of Bio deisel instead of regular petro deisel? Why not replace gasoline with Ethanol? Ethanol burns much much cleaner that oil. I know it takes about twice as much Ethanol to produce the same power as gasoline But its still a good alternative and current vehicles can be converted easily to run on Ethanol or bio deisel. This would in turn boost the farming industry by providing a high demand crop. The other good thing is both of the fuels are renewable. There are already plently of breweries producing Ethanol that we consume each year.

novaderrik
2005-Sep-13, 07:27 PM
one of my friends that is against using fuels like Ethanol instead of gasoline uses the argument that at this point in time, it takes more energy to produce ethanol thant what you get back out of it. the tractors and what not that are used to grow the corn run on fossil fuels- diesel and gasoline. i just asked him what would happen if enough biodiesel was produced to run the farm equipment, and if the Ethanol processing plant were run on solar or nuclear, or wind power?
he didn't have a response.
i also pointed out that a century ago, it was thought that producing gasoline was thought to be too inefficient and expensive to allow for mass production, and that the diesel engine was originally invented to run on soy oil or something like that. well, they found a way around that then. and i think that if we wanted to, we could find our way around the whole cost/benefit deal today.
the only real problem i see with getting away from fossil fuels is political- not necessarily the oil companies, but all those governments around the world that live off the west's need for their oil. personally, i think that if we suddenly stopped using middle eastern oil, they would have such a huge breakdown over there and the whole region would fall into conflict, only united by their hatred of the west for not suppoting them anymore. so whatever terrorism threats we have now would be multiplied about 100 times over if we stopped propping them up. of course, they could still sell their oil to China, i guess, but they'd still hate us.

cfgauss
2005-Sep-15, 06:43 AM
one of my friends that is against using fuels like Ethanol instead of gasoline uses the argument that at this point in time, it takes more energy to produce ethanol thant what you get back out of it. the tractors and what not that are used to grow the corn run on fossil fuels- diesel and gasoline. i just asked him what would happen if enough biodiesel was produced to run the farm equipment, and if the Ethanol processing plant were run on solar or nuclear, or wind power?
he didn't have a response.

Uhh, they would run out of fuel, because they wouldn't be capable of sustaining the level of production they need. With our technologies now, these ideas won't work. There isn't even physically enough land on the Earth to produce both the food we need and enough plants for the entire world's oil, either. The plants are also not as versatile, either. We can also do a *lot* more than just make gas with crude oil. Crazy conspiracies by oil companies and governments may be fun to think about, but in reality, no, it doesn't work like that!

Unfortunately, right now, there is no replacement for oil that is capable of sustaining our current needs (look the numbers up, they're *huge*). IMO, the best bet would be to try to genetically engineer a plant that would be ideal for this kind of thing, but this won't happen any time soon, because most of the pro-alternative-energy politicians are anti-genetically modified plants, because they aren't "natural" and they think they'll ruin the environment.

Although, electric cars are a good idea in theory, a lot of our power still comes from things like coal! And doing something like switching to all electric cars would only decrease oil use in one place to increase it at another. If we could have something like cheap, nuclear power, this would work really well, but again, most pro alternative-energy politicians cry when they hear the word "nuclear" because they think that it's evil (IIRC, MRI machines used to be called nuclear magnetic resonance machines, but they had to change it, because the word 'nuclear' in it scared too many people....)

cfgauss
2005-Sep-15, 06:52 AM
Another point, even if we switch to some alternative energy, we'll still rely on oil for a long time. Are you going to sell your car for a $100,000 experimental car? I don't think so. Most people won't. Rich people with lots of money will do it to look like they care about the environment, but they will keep their Hummers, too! Businesses sure won't, either, especially ones with lots of heavy equipment. There's no way they could afford to buy all new equipment. Especially since the price of any gasoline-based vehicle would plummet, they couldn't sell them for much. Huge power plants that we rely on for power aren't about to suddenly switch over, either, that would be a big mistake, as it would be very easy for them to go bankrupt, or plunge us all into darkness (and then go bankrupt). They'd likely keep experimental plants going for years before thinking about doing something like that. Then you've got all kinds of things like commercial and private aircraft, that would have to switch over. Not to mention that the military runs on oil, too. Don't think we're about to trade in our tanks and bombers for electric ones any time soon! Then there's plenty of stuff that needs oil that alternative sources won't necessarily produce. Mainly, plastics, lubricants, etc.

So, even if some amazingly efficient replacement for oil is found soon, we won't be free of foreign oil for a long time. And trying to do it too quickly could possibly break the economy.

Maha Vailo
2005-Sep-15, 12:50 PM
So, how radically would we have to change our lifestyles in order to have both fuel and food for ourselves when oil runs out/low? How will the world adapt to this? What all would we end up abandoning/cutting back on?

If you could answer all these questions in as much detail as you can, I would greatly appreciate it.

- Maha Vailo

Argos
2005-Sep-15, 01:37 PM
For now, Why not start producing large quanties of Bio deisel instead of regular petro deisel? Why not replace gasoline with Ethanol? Ethanol burns much much cleaner that oil. I know it takes about twice as much Ethanol to produce the same power as gasoline But its still a good alternative and current vehicles can be converted easily to run on Ethanol or bio deisel. This would in turn boost the farming industry by providing a high demand crop. The other good thing is both of the fuels are renewable. There are already plently of breweries producing Ethanol that we consume each year.

Brazil has a large and ambitious alcohol program. A considerable fraction (some 20% and growing) of cars run exclusively on alcohol, and 90% of the newly manufactured cars are multi-fuel (they can run on gas alone, alcohol alone, or any proportion mix of the two). Also, a bio-diesel program was officially launched last month. Thereīs a new law demanding that the mineral diesel be mixed with bio-diesel at 3%, initially. Bio diesel is expected to boost the farming industry in the poor northeastern region. It will have a big impact on living standards there, besides the environmental benefits for all.

Daffy
2005-Sep-15, 03:34 PM
Another point, even if we switch to some alternative energy, we'll still rely on oil for a long time. Are you going to sell your car for a $100,000 experimental car? I don't think so. Most people won't.

Of course, similar arguments were made against replacing one's horse and buggy with that bizarre tin lizzie contraption....

pghnative
2005-Sep-15, 06:19 PM
For now, Why not start producing large quanties of Bio deisel instead of regular petro deisel? Why not replace gasoline with Ethanol? Ethanol burns much much cleaner that oil. I know it takes about twice as much Ethanol to produce the same power as gasoline But its still a good alternative and current vehicles can be converted easily to run on Ethanol or bio deisel. This would in turn boost the farming industry by providing a high demand crop. The other good thing is both of the fuels are renewable. There are already plently of breweries producing Ethanol that we consume each year.
Brazil has a large and ambitious alcohol program. A considerable fraction (some 20% and growing) of cars run exclusively on alcohol, and 90% of the newly manufactured cars are multi-fuel (they can run on gas alone, alcohol alone, or any proportion mix of the two). Also, a bio-diesel program was officially launched last month. Thereīs a new law demanding that the mineral diesel be mixed with bio-diesel at 3%, initially. Bio diesel is expected to boost the farming industry in the poor northeastern region. It will have a big impact on living standards there, besides the environmental benefits for all.
These two posts are inconsistent with:

at this point in time, it takes more energy to produce ethanol thant what you get back out of it.
If true, then it is silly to promote ethanol usage. Just because Brazil passed a law insisting on it doesn't make it a good idea.

And novaderrik's point (I should say, his friend's point), is likely true. Sure there are a lot of breweries producing ethanol. But they produce ~ 12% ethanol. Any higher percentage and the yeast keel over. That's an awful lot of water to boil off in order to produce the 90% ethanol needed.

Regarding
<snip> (what) if the Ethanol processing plant were run on solar or nuclear, or wind power?That's irrelevant. If it takes more energy to run the ethanol processing plant than the ethanol itself supplies, then you are better off taking that solar or nuclear or wind power and running an electric car.

fossilnut2
2005-Sep-15, 06:53 PM
As a geologist who has worked on and off in the fossil fuel industry for over 25 years I'm dismayed by the lack of perspective in the use of alternative fuels.

There's no eco systenm in N. America more destroyed than Great Plains (Prairies). A natural gassland may not be as scenic as an old growth forest Trees gow back...usually native trees. The grasslands? No, the heart is ripped out of the earth.
Brazil producing ethanol? Now there's a positive for the ecosystem. Good grief. Talk about jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Let's clear more forests.

The only practical solution to make more than a dent in issues revolving around fossil fuels is to use less energy and use it more efficiently. Nothing complicated. No mystery. Walk, ride your bike, turn off the lights, buy less 'stuff', have fewer kids, drive a smaller car, etc. Encourage $5/ gallon gas. Insist that your local utility triple its rates. Americans use about 20% of world oil. Americans make up about 5% of the world's population. The problem is not the Middle East. Look in the mirror.

Taks
2005-Sep-15, 07:49 PM
Americans use about 20% of world oil. Americans make up about 5% of the world's population. The problem is not the Middle East. Look in the mirror.this is changing as more 3rd world countries begin to develop. also, it's pretty easy to paint such broad strokes on the US. we may consume 20% of the world oil, but per unit work/production, we are MUCH more efficient than most of the rest of the world (the US GDP of $11 T is about the sum of the next three largest, which collectively use more fossil fuels than we do).

so don't be so quick to tell us to look into the mirror, because it's a two-way.

btw, it's nice to be able to say we should just "reduce our consumption" but in reality, that's not really feasible. the real solution would be to advocate safer, non-polluting fules such as nuclear power. get the activists off of their ill-informed tirade against the nuclear industry and we'll see major cuts in our consumption of fossil fuels.

taks

Argos
2005-Sep-15, 08:03 PM
The american coalition for alcohol (ethanol.org) says the net energy balance of ethanol is positive, but I wonīt take it into account because itīs obviously biased. Iīm not sure if thereīs a consensus on the matter. Case someone has a good independent source please post. Itīs very strange that most of the Brazilian Scientific community support such a program. I should note that the USA is also experimenting with ethanol, since thereīs an alcohol fuel program in Hawaii.

Now, there seems to be a consensus on that the atmospheric CO2 hijacking is better achieved with biomass in the growing phase. Sugar cane crops would be better CO2 sequesters than established forests. Anyway, the growing of sugar cane in Brazil doesnīt threaten the existing forests, because itīs currently grown on centuries-old prairies cleared in previous forest devastations, perpetrated by the European colonials.

With two sugar cane crops a year Brazil contributes significantly for the CO2 absorption. If you consider that part of this sequestered CO2 will take longer to get back to the atmosphere because of the ethanol cleaner burn, then the balance in fact seems to be fairly positive. Not to mention the jobs created in the countryside, oil dependence redux and everything else.

antoniseb
2005-Sep-15, 08:19 PM
It's possible that Alcohol could be used as an alternative fuel. Basically, it would have to operate about the same way that Hydrogen would. That is, the fuel is not the source of energy, it is simply a medium for storing the energy. Some means, such as solar-thermal, or wind, or tidal, or geothermal, (or anything else) is used to provide energy someplace out of the way (like a vast desert), and energy is used to make the fuel (such as Hydrogen). The fuel is then distributed and used more or less conventionally. I assume (but don't know for sure that) methanol has a higher energy density than compressed Hydrogen.

fossilnut2
2005-Sep-15, 08:22 PM
One can advocate alternate fuels forever but have to present practical technologies that will be successful in replacing fossil fuels. Or to put it another way: Reality

I've heard the same proposals for a couple decades and don't see any 'reality' in reduction of fossil fuel use. Our province is making billions and billions shipping more and more of it into the U.S. market. The only breakthroughs that have made a difference are in efficency of fossil fuel use by producing more energy with the same amount of fuel and by making that usage cleaner.(more fuel efficient engines and emission standards)

Alternate energies are nice but the real changes will be made by less energy use. Turn off the lights and ride your bicycle. Folks will claim to worry about global warming but then complain about higher gas prices. They should be applauding high prices. US gas demand was down 4% last week in California. I'm certain more folks at least considered getting a smaller vehicle next time around. Prices go down and fuel efficiency starts to leave the vehicle buying equation.

Argos
2005-Sep-15, 08:41 PM
I live the reality of alcohol fuel, so someone has yet to prove me that the net energy balance (i.e. self-sustainability, for lack of a better word) of alcohol is negative to the point that it becomes inviable. Can someone present convincing arguments against it?

Swift
2005-Sep-15, 08:48 PM
I think the answer is all of the above. I do not think a single solution will solve all of our energy needs, particular since the solutions for mobile uses (cars) will probably have to be different than stationary uses.

I think we need to investigate any and all alternative energy sources: clean coal, bio, wind, geothermal, solar, and nuclear (yes, some of us environmentalists are pro-nuclear). I think we also need to be more efficient in our use of power, and the "we" includes such countries as China and India. In the near term this is one of the cheapest, easiest solutions. But obviously we can't just "save", you also have to have an energy source.

What I find mind-boggling (maybe I'm just easily boggled) is that, at least in the US, the government is doing extremely little to seriously investigate and promote most of these technologies, and that this has been the case for more than 20 years.

As best as I can tell, the big federal push in this area (beyond pushing more oil exploration) is hydrogen. Most of the research efforts seem to be spent on hydrogen storage and fuel cell design. IMHO, the biggest problem with hydrogen is how to generate it. The most widely used current method is making it from oil, which defeats the whole purpose. In my mind, the only sensible ways would be nuclear (thermal cracking) or solar. Yet there seems to be little or no effort on either of these. :doh:

Argos
2005-Sep-15, 08:48 PM
Brazil producing ethanol? Now there's a positive for the ecosystem. Good grief. Talk about jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Let's clear more forests.

You would prefer China burning coal, I presume. :)

About the forests, as I said somewhere above, grown-up forests donīt significantly sequester CO2. Thatīs a myth. Thereīs no such thing as Amazon-lung-of-the-world.

novaderrik
2005-Sep-15, 08:53 PM
i never claimed to be an expert on the subject, and never in my wildest dreams do i think we'll get rid of oil anytiume soon as an energy source.
i just think it's stupid to stop trying to find a better way because it's too hard now.
my pie-in-the-sky ideal way of using energy would be to power all the "fixed' stuff- industry, housing, etc- with nuclear, solar, and wind power. once those sources of energy get deeply ingrained enough, there would probably be exccess energy left over from those sources of energy to make producing things like hydrogen and biomass based fuels for the "moving" stuff like cars, trucks, and airplanes and what not. mix in electric cars with solar panels and regenerative braking and what not, and things start to look pretty good. IF it gets adopted and used properly.
and i see no reason why i'd have to give up my old cars to make the switch- my 1984 Buick Regal T type runs great on E85 fuel- better, in fact, than it does on the premium grade gas i used to run. when i build my next engine for my 1974 Monte Carlo, it is going to be built to also run on E85 fuel. my cousin runs the stuff in his 1966 Chevelle with no ill effects. so a good chunk of the older cars on the road can run on the stuff, regardless of whether or not it came with a "flexible fuel compatible" sticker on it..

Joff
2005-Sep-15, 09:17 PM
Ethanol production produces a slight surplus of energy over the production energy requirements, provided it's used in a reasonably efficient engine. Run a Hummer on it and you've lost, which probably accounts for the remarks.

I see some encouraging signs that the nuclear industry is finally being thought of in a positive light in all those countries where's it's had the status of pariah for so long. Once the reality of safe fission power is taken up and used properly, the production of electricity or hydrogen from these plants will give us time to develop something really good ... like fusion. Admittedly this has been "40 years away" for about 50 years, but I'm encouraged by something I read recently that talked about a fusion power station in 30 years time...

Renewables are great and we should pursue them but the level of power required would imply an awfully large land-area commitment to electricity generation. We would probably need to move to a more decentralised system (a solar roof on every house?)

pghnative
2005-Sep-15, 09:20 PM
I live the reality of alcohol fuel, so someone has yet to prove me that the net energy balance (i.e. self-sustainability, for lack of a better word) of alcohol is negative to the point that it becomes inviable. Can someone present convincing arguments against it?I made a big deal about it above, but no, I can't provide data one way or the other. My point --- and I think you agree -- it that that kind of data is really the crux of the matter.

I'm not so sure that market forces are to be ignored here. Someone here posted to the effect that "we've been talking about alternate fuels, and nothing's been done yet". The reason is that fossil fuels are still cheap. Now, you can make them more expensive (taxation), or wait for them to get more expensive on their own. The price for oil has tripled over the past few years. If the price keeps going up, industry will decide for itself when (if) it's economical to fuel cars with ethanol.

Joff
2005-Sep-15, 09:33 PM
I should mention that ethanol production from sugar cane produces a surplus of energy over production requirements. Ethanol production from wood chips doesn't.

fossilnut2
2005-Sep-15, 09:38 PM
[QUOTE=Argos]I live the reality of alcohol fuel, [/QUOTE

It's more likely that you live with the reality of a petroleum fuel with an alcohol portion (maybe up to 25% max)] And there was energy used to produce that 25% of alcohol (probably 35% or so). And that 35% doesn't include energy used to produce the vast amounts of herbicides, inseticides, etc. used on crops.

I was in Brazil on a geology mining tour in 1993. That's a while back so maybe things have changed for the better. One difference between Brazil and North America was the concern over the environment. Brazil may be the best in the world at soccer and have the best music but Brazil gets an 'F' when it comes to the environment. We were in a mining area and here we would all be thrown in jail if we caused such pollution to the land and to the water. Sorry, I don't believe for a second that the land used for ethanol production is all from colonial times, etc. as you state. Environment laws mean nothing in Brazil as long as a bribe can be given or nobody looks. We flew over areas where the forests were being burned so peasants could get land to produce crops, graze cattle and so on because other land that did (past tense) produce beans, etc. were forced into sugar cane production for ethanol. Government mandated ethanol percent requirements in Brazil is one of the major causes of forest destruction.

Argos
2005-Sep-15, 10:13 PM
[QUOTE=Argos]I live the reality of alcohol fuel, [/QUOTE

[quote]
It's more likely that you live with the reality of a petroleum fuel with an alcohol portion (maybe up to 25% max)] And there was energy used to produce that 25% of alcohol (probably 35% or so). And that 35% doesn't include energy used to produce the vast amounts of herbicides, inseticides, etc. used on crops.


If you are asserting that the use of alcohol fuel is not viable economically and envionmentally, and that a country can only be dwelled by crackpots (besides the usual corrupts, etc) for having adopted such an idiocy, Iīd like to see your numbers.



I was in Brazil on a geology mining tour in 1993. That's a while back so maybe things have changed for the better.

They have, thank you.


One difference between Brazil and North America was the concern over the environment. Brazil may be the best in the world at soccer and have the best music but Brazil gets an 'F' when it comes to the environment.

Not true. What mining has to do with sugar cane economy, btw? A recent census has shown that the deforestation rate has fallen very sharply in the last TWO years, as a result of positive policies. Iīll try to find additional info on the web, for later presentation. What do you say about Northe American and European performances? An "A"?



We were in a mining area and here we would all be thrown in jail if we caused such pollution to the land and to the water. Sorry, I don't believe for a second that the land used for ethanol production is all from colonial times, etc. as you state. Environment laws mean nothing in Brazil as long as a bribe can be given or nobody looks.

I think you are making a wholesale assertion, that simply does not correspond to the truth. Your statements are very, say, charged. Are you sure you are making an objective analysis?


We flew over areas...

You flew? A fine way to get acquainted with a situation.


Government mandated ethanol percent requirements in Brazil is one of the major causes of forest destruction.

And I say prejudices and superficial analysis are the worst causes of misinformation. Your assertions show you are poorly informed about the current situation.

lek
2005-Sep-15, 10:22 PM
There's more in oil than just gasoline... It's needed in various plastic products etc.
Gasoline is actually a byproduct of oil refining, its toxic waste which would exist even if all cars were using biodiesel or whatever :/

Ilya
2005-Sep-16, 12:24 AM
If it takes more energy to run the ethanol processing plant than the ethanol itself supplies, then you are better off taking that solar or nuclear or wind power and running an electric car.
Not necessarily. Ethanol may have half the energy density of gasoline, but it is still a lot higher than batteries (or compressed hydrogen, for that matter). And energy density matters.

I do not believe we'll lose internal combustion engines any time soon. But within a few decades, they will run on alcohol synthesized with nuclear power from water and CO2.

Ilya
2005-Sep-16, 12:29 AM
So, how radically would we have to change our lifestyles in order to have both fuel and food for ourselves when oil runs out/low? How will the world adapt to this? What all would we end up abandoning/cutting back on?

Short answer --

Countries which embrace nuclear power will prosper. Countries which allow local nature-worshippers to dictate energy policy will... end up worshipping nature -- complete with human sacrifices (see Rwanda, East Timor and Yugoslavia*).

*I know, they do not actually worship nature in Yugoslavia. But the end result is about the same.

Joff
2005-Sep-16, 03:32 AM
There's more in oil than just gasoline... It's needed in various plastic products etc.
Gasoline is actually a byproduct of oil refining, its toxic waste which would exist even if all cars were using biodiesel or whatever :/
I assume you're joking, because that's certainly not true. The light fractions of oil are the more valuable as chemical production feedstock. It would be a much better idea to use these for plastics production rather than fuel.

Argos
2005-Sep-16, 12:14 PM
I do not believe we'll lose internal combustion engines any time soon. But within a few decades, they will run on alcohol synthesized with nuclear power from water and CO2.

That would be cool, really. So lets start with biomass (sugar cane).

pghnative
2005-Sep-16, 01:56 PM
If it takes more energy to run the ethanol processing plant than the ethanol itself supplies, then you are better off taking that solar or nuclear or wind power and running an electric car.
Not necessarily. Ethanol may have half the energy density of gasoline, but it is still a lot higher than batteries (or compressed hydrogen, for that matter). And energy density matters.Oh, OK. I see what your saying. So the ethanol is used to transport energy, not as a source, per se.


There's more in oil than just gasoline... It's needed in various plastic products etc.
Gasoline is actually a byproduct of oil refining, its toxic waste which would exist even if all cars were using biodiesel or whatever :/I assume you're joking, because that's certainly not true. The light fractions of oil are the more valuable as chemical production feedstock. It would be a much better idea to use these for plastics production rather than fuel. Good point, though gas and diesal are not light enough on their own. Nevertheless, presumably it would be trivial to modify the cat crackers to break gas and diesel down to C2 or C3 chains.

Taks
2005-Sep-16, 04:36 PM
One can advocate alternate fuels forever but have to present practical technologies that will be successful in replacing fossil fuels. Or to put it another way: Realityexcuse me? nuclear energy is not practical why? sorry, but you're way off the mark here.


Alternate energies are nice but the real changes will be made by less energy use. Turn off the lights and ride your bicycle. Folks will claim to worry about global warming but then complain about higher gas prices. They should be applauding high prices. US gas demand was down 4% last week in California. I'm certain more folks at least considered getting a smaller vehicle next time around. Prices go down and fuel efficiency starts to leave the vehicle buying equation.sorry, but reality is that the US will not be the primary user of fossil fuels in the very near future. developing nations will be. reality is also that it is simply not possible for people to just "ride a bike to work" as you suggest. try doing that when it's 100 degrees outside and you live 15 miles from work. try doing that when there's 2 feet of snow on the ground. reality, again, is apparently a little different for the rest of us living in the real world.

90% of the miles i put on my car are to and from work, a consequence of life that is unavoidable. i have my luxuries at home, and i pay for them as is my right to do so. advocating less energy use is great, but next to impossible for the country that drives the world economy.

taks

publiusr
2005-Sep-16, 05:29 PM
Petrolium is with us. What we need to do is to stop this insipid war and spend on public works projects esp a Bering Strait Bridge/tunnel/pipeline to send oil out of Siberia. Stalin saw the future economic benefit and forced people to move there. With younger people moving out--it is only a matter of time before China makes its move north. Using rail to continue America's move west may be the only answer--with US oil proceeds going to Russia rather than to oil sultans and such.

The sad fact is that public works are opposed by BOTH sides of the political spectrum.

The primary purpose behind TVA was flood control, and then electrification. Were it to be propsed now--the right would hate it and want tax breaks, and the left would oppose it because of some snail darter or other.

America is losing the pioneer spirit that made the USA what it was--and we need to get it back.

fossilnut2
2005-Sep-16, 06:02 PM
"try doing that when it's 100 degrees outside and you live 15 miles from work. try doing that when there's 2 feet of snow on the ground. reality, again, is apparently a little different for the rest of us living in the real world."

You have made your own 'real' world. You chose your profession and chose where to live. If gas was $10 gallon you probable wouldn't live 15 miles from work. Or you might buy a smaller vehicle. You might even decide to live in a different part of the country. Cheap available energy hasn't made energy much of an issue in chosing occupation, where we live or how we live. As energy prices increase these will factor more into life decisions. More people will live in 1000sq ft bungalows or condos closer to work than in 2500sq ft mausoleums in the burbs. More companies will be having employees work from home instead of commuting. More people will take public transportation instead of finding excuses not to take public transportation.

We'll adjust to higher energy prices as we have to. Affluent societies hve a lot of room for cutting back on energy use and a cleaner environment will be our reward.

Re Nuclear enery: I don't understand. On the one hand it's argued that society is ignorant and won't allow it's full potential as an energy source...but then claiming it's a realistic alternative. 'In theory' it might be used more as an alternative but if society won't allow it then how is it 'realistic'? Realism is about the possible and probable and not about the 'if onlys'.

Argos
2005-Sep-16, 06:18 PM
You have made your own 'real' world. You chose your profession and chose where to live. If gas was $10 gallon you probable wouldn't live 15 miles from work. Or you might buy a smaller vehicle. You might even decide to live in a different part of the country.

Oh thatīs very realistic...:rolleyes:

Mr Fossil, you can choose to ignore me, or freely exert your despise for other cultures as you blatantly did in a reply to me, somewhere above. Still, I think you owe us some comments about your alcohol misconceptions. But please be nice case you decide to do so. You were very offensive last time, as you suggested that this country is made up of corrupts (me too?) and the like. Anyway Iīm not sure you have anything useful to say on that matter, am I right?

fossilnut2
2005-Sep-16, 07:13 PM
Sorry, you will have to explain why Brazilians are so lax in their environmnetal practices. We understand that Brazil is not a first world country but this isn't an excuse for massive water and air pollution. I don't accept the need to destroy ecosystems whether it's Brazil, Canada or any other part of the world.

As for your 'alcohol' fuel. Again, I point out to you that you are using a petroleum/alcohol blend in which petroleum derived hydrocarbons are the principal part of the fuel. Your 'alcohol fuel' is at most a quarter alcohol which, in itself, required around 30% to 50% of it's energy value to produce. The fields used to produce the alcohol are not part of the natural ecosystem. I believe (unless it's changed) the Brazilian government actually legislated high ratios of alcohol blends.

From the WLT:

'A hectare of cane in Brazil can produce around 4 tonnes of ethanol, equivalent to around 5,000 litres of fossil fuel. After taking into account the fossil carbon needed to make the ethanol, there is around 13 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) less released from fossil carbon for every hectare of land converted to sugar cane2.

On the other side of the equation is the cost in terms of creating agricultural land or the opportunity cost of not regenerating forest. When a hectare of forest is burnt and ploughed up, as much as 500 tonnes of carbon dioxide can be released into the atmosphere3. The damaging impact of this on atmospheric CO2 and global warming is immediate; even it it were recoverable, it would take nearly a century to overcome through the use of gasohol.

Regenerating rainforest on existing agricultural land takes some 20 tonnes of carbon dioxide/hectare out of the atmosphere each year as it grows; it is thus almost twice as efficient a strategy for reducing CO2 levels as making gasohol.

Whilst there may be short-term economic arguments for biofuels like gasohol and biodiesel, let us not be taken in by the green-wash. For climate change and for biodiversity they are a disaster. The logic of carbon taxation would demand they be taxed more highly than fossil energy, not less!'

Taks
2005-Sep-16, 08:32 PM
You have made your own 'real' world. You chose your profession and chose where to live. *snip*... but now your argument is that everybody should live the way you decide. awfully presumptuous on your part, not to mention pretty weak from the standpoint of convincing anybody other than those already with your mindset. freedom means being able to live where i can, not caving to your demands just because you deem it better for society. who gave you the authority to decide what's best for everyone?


More people will take public transportation instead of finding excuses not to take public transportation.too bad public transportation is really only viable in big cities. and no, it's not really an option to live close to where i work. sorry dude, it's that way for a lot of us.


Re Nuclear enery: I don't understand. On the one hand it's argued that society is ignorant and won't allow it's full potential as an energy source...but then claiming it's a realistic alternative. 'In theory' it might be used more as an alternative but if society won't allow it then how is it 'realistic'? Realism is about the possible and probable and not about the 'if onlys'.sorry if you don't understand, but my point is that maybe you should be helping teach society to understand that nuclear power is a viable alternative. reality is that nuclear energy is abundant, cheap (which means efficient) and safe. the fact environmentalists are afraid of it simply means that you should be pushing them to accept nuclear power rather than telling us to "cut back."

the "ignorant" argument is also specious since proper education could easily solve that. if people like you were to push newspapers to point out the positives rather than highlighting only the few disasters, the reality of nuclear power would overwhelm the agenda driven ecoterrorists.

in essence, your argument boils down to "there are no other options so you must live the way i say." well, sorry to say, there are other options and the ecoterrorists need to accept the reality of those other options.

whether you like it or not, the "cut back" alternative is much harder for society to swallow, which makes it less realistic than nuclear power.

taks

Ara Pacis
2005-Sep-16, 10:02 PM
Well, no single solution is THE solution. We need an energy policy that reflects this. Stationary Baseline power should be created by renewable nuclear with high demand power provided by Clean Coal. I'd be interested in seeing coal converted to some sort of throttle-able system for peak power.

We need to have a multi-tier strategy like they have with reclyling (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle). Ws should reduce the amount of energy we use. We need to restrict the amount of energy we lose. And we need to increase the efficiency of our energy devices. Consider cooking: we put a pot on the stove and heat the water to boiling then continue heating it as we cook the food. I read in a survial manual how a slow-cooker can be made by boiling the pot, then placing it in a thermally insulating mass to prevent the energy from escaping so that the food does not need to be constantly heated in order to cook. Perhaps something similar could be developed on a smaller scale for kitchen use when applicable.

I like the idea of putting a solar panel on every roof. I actually wrote a policy proposal for doing just that. Of course, we will need cheaper solar panels and more efficient panels would be a bonus. Zoning laws could mandate that new houses should be better insulated or use thermal mass structures for better passive energy profiles. Thus, homes might use less energy for warming, cooling, ventilation, and lighting... and a large percentage of the energy they use would be provided from the structure itself.

I think cars may always have a gasoline component in the US based on the vast openness of the country. Even with electric cars, the range would not be enough without a significant breakthrough in storage. Perhaps a multifuel Turbine Electric hybrid would be the best of both worlds. As a turbine it would be able to use many fuels but as an electric it would have quicker acceleration which was missing in past gas-turbine automobiles. Combine this with a nuclear powered Electric Interstate system and the use of gasoline should be cut dramatically. Furthermore, these vehicles should be capable of running as a pure electric with at least 50 miles on battery if desired (flip a switch) and be rechargable from a 110 or 220 VAC system. Some vehicles, like farm, heavy industrial and military equipment may still use gasoline and diesel since they may have conversion issues with other fuels.

Maha Vailo
2005-Sep-16, 10:09 PM
Short answer --

Countries which embrace nuclear power will prosper. Countries which allow local nature-worshippers to dictate energy policy will... end up worshipping nature -- complete with human sacrifices (see Rwanda, East Timor and Yugoslavia*).

*I know, they do not actually worship nature in Yugoslavia. But the end result is about the same.

Err, do you have a longer, more detailed answer than that? Please explain.

- Maha (and I thought the East Timorese were Muslims) Vailo

Disinfo Agent
2005-Sep-16, 10:49 PM
- Maha (and I thought the East Timorese were Muslims) VailoMost of them are Catholic. (http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/tt.html)

cfgauss
2005-Sep-17, 03:52 AM
You have made your own 'real' world. You chose your profession and chose where to live. If gas was $10 gallon you probable wouldn't live 15 miles from work. Or you might buy a smaller vehicle. You might even decide to live in a different part of the country.
[...]
More people will live in 1000sq ft bungalows or condos closer to work than in 2500sq ft mausoleums in the burbs. More companies will be having employees work from home instead of commuting. More people will take public transportation instead of finding excuses not to take public transportation.


What are you, twelve? Have you paid a visit to the real world? I study physics, and plan to do theoretical physics; how many places are there in the world where you can get a good education in physics for that? I live in Seattle, a crappy house there can cost a half million dollars in some places. It's almost impossible to find places to live, especially near a school with more than 40,000 people at it. I'm lucky if my room is 150 square feet, and I live with 5 other people. Most of the people who go to school there live at least 20 or 30 minutes away, because it's not physically possible for them to live any closer. People don't get to choose where to live or where to go to work at. Things don't work like that. You usually don't have much of a choice, and have to work with what is there.



Re Nuclear enery: I don't understand. On the one hand it's argued that society is ignorant and won't allow it's full potential as an energy source...but then claiming it's a realistic alternative. 'In theory' it might be used more as an alternative but if society won't allow it then how is it 'realistic'? Realism is about the possible and probable and not about the 'if onlys'.

No, not in theory. In actual reality, where some of us actually live. Nuclear fission power is, according to the known laws of physics, gives us the 3rd highest possible energy output. The second is nuclear fusion, and the first is matter/antimatter annihilation. Since we don't seem to have any antimatter around, nuclear power looks pretty damn good. Not "in theory," in real reality.

Wolverine
2005-Sep-17, 06:00 AM
What are you, twelve? Have you paid a visit to the real world?

...

In actual reality, where some of us actually live.

The above are prime violations of the one rule under which we're operating at this time: be nice.

Disagreements are inevitable here, and that's fine. Ad hominems, though, are not allowed. Please attack issues, not other posters.

cfgauss
2005-Sep-17, 06:09 AM
The above are prime violations of the one rule under which we're operating at this time: be nice.

Disagreements are inevitable here, and that's fine. Ad hominems, though, are not allowed. Please attack issues, not other posters.

You can't make insane, clearly disprovable, claims that about an argument you know nothing about and expect people to be "nice" about it. If I claim that Einstein clearly showed that Hitler was God, and no one calls me an idiot, then people aren't doing their jobs.

Wolverine
2005-Sep-17, 06:15 AM
You can't make insane, clearly disprovable, claims that about an argument you know nothing about and expect people to be "nice" about it.

If someone posts insane, clearly disprovable claims, then you are welcome to refute them as long as you're civil in doing so. The administrators of this message board require everyone to be polite. That rule is not open for debate, and I must respectfully remind you to behave accordingly.

Edited to add:


If I claim that Einstein clearly showed that Hitler was God, and no one calls me an idiot, then people aren't doing their jobs.

If someone called you an idiot under those or any other circumstances, I would issue them the same warning I've provided to you. Otherwise I wouldn't be doing my job.

cfgauss
2005-Sep-17, 07:25 AM
If someone called you an idiot under those or any other circumstances, I would issue them the same warning I've provided to you. Otherwise I wouldn't be doing my job.

Why do you think there are so many people out there who are total crackpots? If no one ever tells people, in a very clear manner (because they obviously haven't been getting it by themselves) that they have no idea what they're talking about, and that they need to be beaten with science books until they understand, they're not going to figure it out themselves. I've never heard a real (i.e., non-scammer) crackpot use the phrase "ohh, now I understand!" :) On the other hand, there are plenty of people who really think that the stuff they're spewing out is real science, but when someone tells them to shut up, they are made to realize that what they're doing really isn't okay.

On the other hand, some people on Leno just put leeches in their underwear... Oh, and tape of him going through an airport x-ray machine... :)

Gods help us...

Wolverine
2005-Sep-17, 08:19 AM
Why do you think there are so many people out there who are total crackpots? If no one ever tells people, in a very clear manner (because they obviously haven't been getting it by themselves) that they have no idea what they're talking about, and that they need to be beaten with science books until they understand, they're not going to figure it out themselves. I've never heard a real (i.e., non-scammer) crackpot use the phrase "ohh, now I understand!" :) On the other hand, there are plenty of people who really think that the stuff they're spewing out is real science, but when someone tells them to shut up, they are made to realize that what they're doing really isn't okay.

On the other hand, some people on Leno just put leeches in their underwear... Oh, and tape of him going through an airport x-ray machine... :)

Gods help us...

I reiterate (and this is quite simple): be nice. If you cannot engage politely in a discussion with those whom you disagree, then don't post here. There are scores of message boards which allow tawdry behavior -- this is not one of them. If you find yourself unable to abide by this one simple rule, you will invoke further disciplinary action, including the suspension and/or termination of your account.

Fraser
2005-Sep-17, 04:00 PM
Telling a person they're a crackpot doesn't actually make them actually believe it. The only think that stands a chance of working is to ask them to provide their evidence. Then calmly and carefully refute it item by item. That's it, no dirty tricks, just deal with the evidence.

One of the goals of this forum is to teach people how to argue in a scientific manner. Attack the evidence, not the people. This is an important distinction but it's a fine line that we need to walk on this board.

Crackpot woowoos will try and use every trick in the book to get people to listen to their ideas, and sometimes to get people to take action - like buy their book, t-shirt, or fancy healing necklace.

But as the voice of reason and skepticism, we have to stick to our guns.

Joff
2005-Sep-17, 05:05 PM
In defence of cfgauss, the remarks that Wolverine highlighted were part of an escalating sequence and viewed in context they are not significantly less civil ("nice" is too high a bar) than the remarks they answer. In particular I would dispute that the second of those remarks (again, in context) violates the rule as I see it working on across the board.

Unfortunately the space between "that's nonsense" and "you're an idiot" is often ignored...

Personally I'm amazed and impressed that the board works as well as it does. Kudos to all for that.

Meanwhile, back on alternative fuels, what would it take to get a significant nuclear power plant building program under way once more? Either in terms of circumstances or action?

Joff
2005-Sep-17, 05:12 PM
As for your 'alcohol' fuel. Again, I point out to you that you are using a petroleum/alcohol blend in which petroleum derived hydrocarbons are the principal part of the fuel. Your 'alcohol fuel' is at most a quarter alcohol which, in itself, required around 30% to 50% of it's energy value to produce. The fields used to produce the alcohol are not part of the natural ecosystem. I believe (unless it's changed) the Brazilian government actually legislated high ratios of alcohol blends.
fossilnut2, you might like to read this BBC article (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/4581955.stm) on the history of Brazil's ethanol fuel use. While the use of ethanol was preferred under tax regulation and subsidised, I don't think it was legislated (except perhaps to eliminate lead). A large proportion of vehicles were indeed ethanol-only fueled and although that dipped the Brazilians are returning to that status.

Ara Pacis
2005-Sep-17, 07:54 PM
Meanwhile, back on alternative fuels, what would it take to get a significant nuclear power plant building program under way once more? Either in terms of circumstances or action?

I think a good start would be safer transportation systems for nuclear fuel, or if we have safe enough transportation then better PR about it. Perhaps trying a Modular Pebble Bed Reactor would make people feel safer about nuclear energy. There are other issues, such as legislation and business investment, but the first obstacle would be to overcome NIMBY.

Joff
2005-Sep-17, 08:15 PM
Good point Ara Pacis. I hereby invite someone to build a nuclear reactor in my back yard, to modern safety standards of course. Also I demand that all those radioactivity-generating coal-fired power stations be encased in 2-metre thick concrete and guarded round the clock for ten thousand years.

Ilya
2005-Sep-18, 02:44 AM
Err, do you have a longer, more detailed answer than that? Please explain.
My first post was mostly tongue-in-cheek, but here is a more serious answer - although probably still not detailed enough for you. (Sorry - I have little time.)

Modern civilization runs on energy. A LOT of energy. Rather more than, for example, you could get by covering every roof of every building in solar panels. More than half of world's energy comes from fossil fuels - mostly coal, by the way, oil is a relatively small part of the equation.

Fossil fuels are a limited resource. When they run out, energy supply will no longer meet demand. Actually, they do not have to run out entirely for that to happen - all it takes is running out of easily extractable coal. When energy supply can not meet demand, all aspects of modern life become more difficult to achieve and standard of living plummets. The resulting drop in demand on various services causes unemployment - that's called recession. In fact, every major spike in the energy prices (i.e. demand exceeding supply) in the 20th century caused a recession - global or local, depending on how widespread the energy price spike was. Actually, it was price or oil alone that caused these recessions - because while oil is a small portion of the total energy budget, it is indispensable for fuel without large-scale production of synthetic fuels. That latter qualifier is very important. There is no objective reason not to synthesize alcohol - or liquid hydrocarbons, - out of water and CO2. All it takes is energy. But as long as natural oil is cheap, there has been no incentives to build the infrastructure for such synthesis.

The only energy source which realistically can replace fossil fuels is nuclear fission, particularly breeder reactors. Hydro and geothermal power are already pretty much tapped out, while wind and (earthbound) solar power are far too diffuse to meet the world's needs. I am deliberately discounting fusion and orbital solar power because that's technology not yet available. When it becomes available and relatively cheap, this equation will change. In the meatime, fission is the way to go.

Unfortunately, First World (with few exceptions such as France) has a tradition of strong anti-nuclear sentiments. In US these sentiments precluded building any new reactors since mid-70's, although the winds may be changing now. In Germany, for example, the sentiments are much stronger. Note that I wrote "First World". Many Second (former Communist) and Third World countries are aggressively pursuing nuclear energy; they understand it is the ticket to prosperity.

The point of my original post is that when fossil fuels become insufficient, then if the given country is so hostile to all things nuclear as to refuse fission power, it will, to put it bluntly, plunge from civilization to barbarism. Because unlike oil crises of 1970's, there will be no political or geological (as in, new source found) reprieve. The recession will only get worse and worse. Now, I am fairly optimistic that most societies in such situations will get to their senses and start on the workable (nuclear, in this case) solutions, especially if they have neighbors who ARE prospering with these solutions. However, history shows that people blinded by ideology are capable of extremely self-destructive behavior - usually coupled with blaming some scapegoat for the resulting misery. And extreme environmental ideology, of the kind practiced by German Green Party, is the only reason to resist nuclear power in the first place. So, should such ideology be prevalent in some countries when fossil fuels run out, I would expect sharp increase in misery, followed by something between Stalin's show trials of "enemies of the people" and less organized (but even more brutal) scapegoating of Yugoslavia etc.


- Maha (and I thought the East Timorese were Muslims) Vailo
I may be wrong, but I think in East Timor Muslims were killing animists.

hewhocaves
2005-Sep-19, 02:19 AM
I think cars may always have a gasoline component in the US based on the vast openness of the country. Even with electric cars, the range would not be enough without a significant breakthrough in storage. Perhaps a multifuel Turbine Electric hybrid would be the best of both worlds. As a turbine it would be able to use many fuels but as an electric it would have quicker acceleration which was missing in past gas-turbine automobiles. Combine this with a nuclear powered Electric Interstate system and the use of gasoline should be cut dramatically. Furthermore, these vehicles should be capable of running as a pure electric with at least 50 miles on battery if desired (flip a switch) and be rechargable from a 110 or 220 VAC system. Some vehicles, like farm, heavy industrial and military equipment may still use gasoline and diesel since they may have conversion issues with other fuels.

Ara Pacis I agree with pretty much everything that you wrote. Speaking generally, I find it amazing that as a country and a society that we've come this far and suddenly we're "out of ideas". Preposterous. We're not trying.

As a caver, we now have the option of LED lights. A collection of ten or eleven LEDs provide enough light to read by at a miniscule fraction of the energy cost of a regular bulb. Light systems that used to require 4 D cells and a belt pack are being replaces by 3 AAAs mounted directly to the helmet. And yet we still use 60 watt bulbs in the house?

This topic also came up while driving home today when I noticed a cluster of solar panels around an emergency mesage display on the interstate. Why can't we line our interstates (or at least pepper them) with solar panels? This is land that is essentially unused, let's put it to use.

Lastly, while on the interstate in WV, i noticed the lack of cars and SUVs around us. This brought me to another question. "Exactly what is our percentage of usual city driving (going to work, store, school, etc...) compared to long distance driving and heavy hauling?" My friend, who was driving me and my book collection to my new apartment remarked that his minivan was overpowered and that this was one of the few times he felt that the car was really getting a workout. I think we can say the same thing about most SUVs.
Is it then possible, to build an ultra-lightweight car that is completley electric or solar powered? Something that could move, say 750 - 1000 pounds in addition to its own weight? For my purposes it would be strictly for city driving (it wouldn't be allowed on the highways at all) and have a top speed of about 30 mph. Lastly, it would have to cost less than $1000-. Again, this doesn't solve all the problems, but it would put a dent into them. Cars and SUVs would be used solely for trips that required heavy hauling or long distances over interstates. If we ever get our mass transit infrastructure working again, these "almost cars" would make perfect rentals. You get the picture (half baked though it might be).

anyway, just some thoughts.

John

Taks
2005-Sep-19, 04:23 AM
remember that LEDs emit a pretty narrow spectrum of light, which is not really very comfortable to live in. light bulbs emit wider bandwidth which is just more comfortable.

taks

boppa
2005-Sep-19, 02:39 PM
We would probably need to move to a more decentralised system (a solar roof on every house?)


and the problem with this is??

no more rolling blackouts etc??





actually its been done elsewhere(newington-the 2000 olympic village in sydney for example)

assuming you dont live in the artic(or the antartic for people closer to me)

an array of 10-15 80w solarpanels on the roof will generate over half of the energy requirements of a modern airconned house

(and with a slight attitude adjustment of turn it off instead of let it burn and the like..)
that same array will supply all of your energy needs


not a single cent to the elec mob..

i know as it is kinda my field
what is known here as remote area power generation

ie where the powerlines dont go..

(and solar pales to a good stream running thro the property...)

Joff
2005-Sep-19, 02:52 PM
a solar roof on every houseand the problem with this is??None. I'm in favour. I just believe that it would require extensive changes to our power distribution system, and I don't think that it will happen quickly. It will need significant government support and incentive and there will need to be additional sources of power.

Disinfo Agent
2005-Sep-19, 03:06 PM
I may be wrong, but I think in East Timor Muslims were killing animists.You are indeed wrong. The Indonesian (mostly Muslim) occupiers may have attacked some animist tribes, but if you look at the CIA World Fact Book's data, the overwhelming majority of the East Timorese (est. 90% in 1992) were Roman Catholic. In fact, one of the most publicized massacres in East Timor (http://www.etan.org/timor/SntaCRUZ.htm) was an attack on a procession to a R.C. cemetery.

But I'm still interested in the rest of your statement:


Countries which allow local nature-worshippers to dictate energy policy will... end up worshipping nature -- complete with human sacrifices (see Rwanda, East Timor and Yugoslavia*).1) When, exactly, did East Timor "allow local nature-worshippers to dictate energy policy"? The country is barely half a decade old.

2) What "human sacrifices" are you talking about?

boppa
2005-Sep-19, 03:10 PM
joff it requires very little changes to the power distribution system at all
apart from not needing as much
google `gridlocked inverters'
they and solar panels (no batteries required) can reduce the averageholds electricity bills to much less than half of their current bill
yes they cost a bit to set up
but compared to the current local price of a house-not very much at all..

Argos
2005-Sep-19, 03:38 PM
Sorry, you will have to explain why Brazilians are so lax in their environmnetal practices.

Deforestation has dropped 80% in the last two years. Would you still say we are lax?



We understand that Brazil is not a first world country but this isn't an excuse for massive water and air pollution.

The Tiete river (the river that crosses São Paulo state] is being revitalized and will be totally clean (I mean youīll be able to fish and swim in it) in 5 years. It has been a gargantuan task, comparable to whatīs been done with the Thames river. Many other basins across the country are undergoing similar interventions. I think this counts in our favor. Weīre not the bad guys. Not too bad for a "non-first world" country, eh?

As to air pollution, itīs not a Brazilian problem. Again, we are contributing to a cleaner air by 1) implementing the alcohol fuel program itself, which will turn the atmosphere less poisonous, at least in this part of the planet. 2) growing sugar cane. As I told you, growing crops sequester the atmospheric CO2 better than established forests. If a cleaner air was our only objective (and not keeping the bio-diversity and ecosystems intact), it would be better to replace the Amazon for sugar cane farms. Oh, and we donīt use coal for electricity. I think your criticism is directed to the wrong target.


As for your 'alcohol' fuel. Again, I point out to you that you are using a petroleum/alcohol blend in which petroleum derived hydrocarbons are the principal part of the fuel.

My car can (and is) run exclusively on alcohol (cheaper and more powerful than a gasalcohol combination). Am I dreaming or lying?




From the WLT:

'A hectare of cane in Brazil can produce around 4 tonnes of ethanol, equivalent to around 5,000 litres of fossil fuel. After taking into account the fossil carbon needed to make the ethanol, there is around 13 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) less released from fossil carbon for every hectare of land converted to sugar cane2.

On the other side of the equation is the cost in terms of creating agricultural land or the opportunity cost of not regenerating forest. When a hectare of forest is burnt and ploughed up, as much as 500 tonnes of carbon dioxide can be released into the atmosphere3. The damaging impact of this on atmospheric CO2 and global warming is immediate; even it it were recoverable, it would take nearly a century to overcome through the use of gasohol.

Regenerating rainforest on existing agricultural land takes some 20 tonnes of carbon dioxide/hectare out of the atmosphere each year as it grows; it is thus almost twice as efficient a strategy for reducing CO2 levels as making gasohol.

Whilst there may be short-term economic arguments for biofuels like gasohol and biodiesel, let us not be taken in by the green-wash. For climate change and for biodiversity they are a disaster. The logic of carbon taxation would demand they be taxed more highly than fossil energy, not less!'

This not a consensual opinion. The Brazilian scientists support the alcohol program, and I trust them.

pghnative
2005-Sep-19, 03:57 PM
The Brazilian scientists support the alcohol program, and I trust them.Do you know what the basis of their support is? I'm just wondering if some of fossilnut's claims may be true, but the Brazilian scientists support the alcohol program because of other benefits.

I ask, because I'm very skeptical that alcohol production can compete (cost wise) with gasoline production. First you have to grow the crops, then purify the sugar, then ferment it to ~ 12% alcohol, then separate out the alcohol (presumably by distillation). With gas, you still need to separate the ~C8 fractions from the oil (via distillation), but at least the by products are usable (unlike the water byproduct from fermentation).

It was mentioned on this thread that there are subsidies and/or preferrential taxation. Is that why the ethanol economy works?

Argos
2005-Sep-19, 03:59 PM
The above are prime violations of the one rule under which we're operating at this time: be nice.

Disagreements are inevitable here, and that's fine. Ad hominems, though, are not allowed. Please attack issues, not other posters.

The "Be Nice" rule had already been violated in this thread. I think general assertions like "Brazilians are corrupts"; "you [a whole nation] are lax" qualify as supreme ad-hominems.

Argos
2005-Sep-19, 04:06 PM
I ask, because I'm very skeptical that alcohol production can compete (cost wise) with gasoline production. First you have to grow the crops, then purify the sugar, then ferment it to ~ 12% alcohol, then separate out the alcohol (presumably by distillation).

Pghnative, in Brazil alcohol is destilled directly from the sugar cane juice.

pghnative
2005-Sep-19, 04:13 PM
Pghnative, in Brazil alcohol is destilled directly from the sugar cane juice.I'd bet a lot of money that you're wrong. First, I coincidentally just saw a program on sugar (US Discovery Channel) last week that briefly touched on the Brazil ethanol production. They mentioned fermentation.

More important than my personal (and un-substantiated :lol: ) memory is the fact that there is no significant amount of alcohol in sugar cane or any other plant. It needs to be converted from sugar to alcohol. Conceivably you could do this chemically, but I think that yeast fermentation is best.

(edited to add: besides, this point is somewhat moot, since I'd expect the fermentation to be quite cheap. It's the distillation from 12% to 95% alcohol that is expensive.)

Argos
2005-Sep-19, 04:18 PM
I'd bet a lot of money that you're wrong. First, I coincidentally just saw a program on sugar (US Discovery Channel) last week that briefly touched on the Brazil ethanol production. They mentioned fermentation.

:)

Yes, the sugar cane juice is fermented prior to distillation.

pghnative
2005-Sep-19, 04:20 PM
Oh, I get it --- you're saying that the sugar doesn't need to be purified. The rest of my point stands, I think.

Joff
2005-Sep-19, 05:34 PM
I think in the study I saw, the distillation heat was produced by burning the offcut parts of the plant. The ash was returned to the fields.

Argos
2005-Sep-19, 05:53 PM
Yes. The leftovers of the grinding process are compressed into brickets and burned. Every distillery has its own thermal power generation unit.The nitrogen/phospor-rich distillation effluents (toxic when dumped into rivers - but they are not) are used as fertilizers for the next crop.

novaderrik
2005-Sep-20, 07:12 PM
i just came across this...
http://www.canada.com/montreal/montrealgazette/news/story.html?id=cfeb17de-d945-4db4-87a6-090911200e96&page=1
sounds like a start to me, but in the real world, will probably work as good as those "tornado" deals that some people put in their cars.

Joff
2005-Sep-20, 10:18 PM
The 35% figure claimed for full combustion in normal engines may well be correct, but calling this 35% efficiency is over-enthusiastic journalism (or salesmanship). The rest of the article is pretty encouraging. I'm not sure how adding hydrogen to the mix would help but I could be brought to believe it.

Ara Pacis
2005-Sep-22, 01:16 AM
joff it requires very little changes to the power distribution system at all
apart from not needing as much
google `gridlocked inverters'
they and solar panels (no batteries required) can reduce the averageholds electricity bills to much less than half of their current bill
yes they cost a bit to set up
but compared to the current local price of a house-not very much at all..

A couple good sites:
www.homepower.com
www.solarhouse.com

With Katrina and Rita threatening natural gas supplies, some are predicting NG bills to triple or quadruple this winter. An example I heard today said that a gas powered hot water heater that costs about $12/mo may end up costing $40/mo. Installation of solar thermal (hot water) panels could help with winter heating and hot water. I wonder if solar thermal could be used to help power cooking ovens and clothes dryers too.