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Why isnt anybody talking about how to.....

Discussion in 'Legal' started by Diesle, Mar 4, 2003.

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  1. Diesle

    Diesle Member

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    establish a more permanent solution to our Mid. East troubles....?

    I’m talking about the development of alternative fuels and establishment of energy standards.

    Often times the search for the perfect weapon equates to the search for the most EFFICIENT weapon. Seems natural... Why is this same search, and ultimately application of efficiency not transferred to auto manufacturing and home construction...?

    War is a band aid to a much more profound and pressing global issue. I.E. population growth and the resulting energy consumption.

    I support my president, but become increasingly skeptical when the root issues are not being explored to their fullest extent. This HAS TO become a national priority.



    Diesle
     
  2. Preacherman

    Preacherman Member

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    I'm 100% with you on this one. Americans (including me! :D ) like big engines, the freedom to drive wherever and whenever they wish, etc., but this has been at the expense of making us dependent on imported energy. I think that if we'd put the equivalent of 5% of the defense budget into research on alternative engines, fuels, transportation design, etc. for the past 20 years, there would be no oil crisis now... I hope that the impetus of the War on Terror, and disruptions in the world oil supply, will provide new impetus for the effort.

    Now, if I can just get a fuel cell propulsion system that will use minimal amounts of low-cost, non-imported fuel, and can push my big pickup along like my 5100 GM V8 engine does... :D
     
  3. Tamara

    Tamara Senior Member

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    Because Malthus was as wrong as Lysenko.

    I imagine that the .gov could handle this job about as well as they can deliver letters or teach kids to read...
     
  4. Sir Galahad

    Sir Galahad member

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    I work in the "alternative energy" industry. Let me tell you, solar and wind energy are FAR from being a solution by any stretch. Alternative fuels are nowhere near being a solution, either. One of the problems is that the "alternative" energy and fuels scenes are so full of charlatans and hucksters that more than half of them cannot be taken seriously. To be honest, alternative energy screws itself by allowing these people to produce shoddy products and push ideas that aren't proven as being "alternatives." Some of them are scamming for government and university grants. When they get them, they often milk them for years before even showing work on a product. And then the product they come up with only produces 1/4 of the energy they said it was going to.

    You know, with some wind turbines and solar panels, they will never in their lifetime produce the amount of energy that went into making them. You also have to look at the fact that it takes energy to make a fuel out of, say, reclaimed vegetable oil (biodeisel.) It takes energy to make alternative energy. It is not a total solution.

    There is one source of electricity that is pretty easy to get fuel for in this country. Nuclear power. But no one wants that. We also have plenty of coal, too.

    Hydrogen fuel cells in cars are an idea. But someone has to make it safe and also make it easy. A lot of the "water-to-hydrogen" cars were scams run by hucksters to try and get grant money. Biodeisel, yeah, but even Americans don't eat so much french fries that it supplies enough oil to reclaim as biodeisel. And biodeisel is another one full of hucksters, too. Electric cars are not worth the materials that go into making them. They're great golf carts and Cushman carts and forklifts, but they're not going to be a viable means of transportation on a large scale any time soon.

    Right now, fossil fuels are IT. What needs to happen is some standards in the alternative energy field and get rid of the hucksters, scam artists, and cheats.
     
  5. Blackhawk

    Blackhawk Member In Memoriam

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    They have.

    Henry Ford thought burning petroleum products in cars was stupid. Ethanol was (and is) a much superior fuel that could be produced from sunlight and soil on land unsuitable for crop production with a cycle of mere months. He had a fuel selector on his early cars whereby the driver could select gasoline or alcohol.

    By using a piston engine's exhaust gas to vaporize a 70-80% solution of ethanol and water before introducing it into the unthrottled intake manifold of an Otto cycle engine, the heat rate is over 225% better than with gasoline because efficiency is determined by the effective compression ratio. Products of combustion are CO2 and H2O that don't even register on an exhaust gas analyzer.

    So why did technology tilt toward oil? Easy. It was abundant, cheap, and cracking it produced useful byproducts.

    Brazil used to mandate cars burning alcohol because it didn't have petroleum.

    Mexico could essentially eliminate pollution in Mexico City by requiring cars and busses to burn only alcohol, and it's got an ideal climate to produce alcohol plus lots of underutilized labor to do it. Not interested because it's awash in oil.

    Technology is the step child of convenience and opportunity.

    We depend on oil because it's cheap and easy, and that's all there is to it.
     
  6. Tamara

    Tamara Senior Member

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    Did you Californians know that if you bury an environmentalist under the foundations of a nuclear power plant, it will appease the gods and ward off earthquakes? :D
     
  7. Seminole

    Seminole Member

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    At the time I was living in a country that neighbors Brazil and I spent a good amount of time in Brazil. One of the amusing things about the alcohol-burning cars was that it soon became necessary to de-nature the alcohol because it was so cheap that people were drinking it instead of beer, wine, etc. Talk about a drunk driving problem. . . !
     
  8. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

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    I do. It's clean. It's safe. It can be less expensive than burning fossil fuels. I don't understand how electricity from any source could power cars, but am very sure it could light houses and power computers and run electrical equipment.
     
  9. CZ-75

    CZ-75 member

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    Bush just authorized giving a billion (?) dollars to research fuel cell technology over the next 30-40 years.

    Probably need more $$$ over a shorter timeframe, though.




    When I hear people criticizing Bush, his ties with the oil industry, and the war on Iraq, I don't think about this war and his oil industry connections as a way to leverage oil reserves that aren't ours.

    Instead, I think about how this war (indirectly) is a way to ensure the supremacy of petroleum for years to come, by keeping the flow stable, and that by dragging our feet on alternative technology, our politicians ensure that we are dependent on petroleum and petroleum companies for years to come. Petroleum certainly is a more powerful and effective lobby than the much vaunted NRA will ever be.

    And no, I don't think we are specifically going to Iraq just for oil, at least as some finite commodity to take and use; it is more complex than that. Backward countries with traditions of despotism were suddenly made rich and powerful because of their resources, without ever having to evolve the society and values necessary to be a part of the modern world.

    Osama and Saddam are part and parcel to this. Two thugs, opposite in belief, yet the same, spawned by the same traditions. Both made wealthy, directly or indirectly, via oil. Both can project power because of their wealth. One to rid the world of ideas and beliefs he doesn't like, the other to dominate his neighbors and resources to secure more power to repeat the process over and inflate his ego.

    The US cares little for this region, but for its natural, crucial resource: oil. Sand certainly isn't too useful. Date Palms we can take or leave. No, we need oil and we've been kissing the a--es of tyrants and despots since the '30s to get it.

    Thus, we are involved, partly in a situation of our own creation, to safeguard vital resources (actually our allies and trading partners resources, since roughly 10% of the petroleum the US uses is from the Persian gulf).

    We propped up Saddam for a while because it was convenient. the enemy of my enemy, Iran, in this case, is my friend. We also made enemies in Iran because we supported a tyrant to get his friendship, and more importantly, his oil.

    We stepped in when Saddam invaded another oil producing nation, Kuwait, because it would've been bad to have such an unstable personality dictating terms to us, especially had he moved on to Saudi, and increased his share of the world's oil reserves. I don't believe for a minute that we aided Kuwait for humanitarian reasons; only because it behooved us to maintain the divisions that keep the competition strong and the supply of oil steady.

    Now, we go to war because we built a house of cards that involved us creating people who hate us, to a certain degree, because of the governments we allied with (we won't even go to the ideological reasons we are hated, which are probably greater than those engendered by our choice of friends in the Middle East, except for Israel), and PAYING THEM TO DO IT.

    That's right, we pay those who hate our guts. Some took the money to buy WMDs to drive the West out and secure all the leverage to be had from controlling the Middle East's oil, while the others used the money to train fanatics to drive us out of the same regions so that they may establish a "paradise" on earth. We are suffering from the fallout of an oil "culture," if you will.

    Thus, we are driven to war. Only problem, is that I think we'll be back. You don't just drop from the 14th century into the 21st without growing pains.

    Russia is an example of a country that has never shaken despotism, and one that even seems to fear democracy. I suspect that we'll see even more authoritarian leaders therein the future, even if they do adopt more market reforms. I draw a parallel, however tenuous, between a country like Russia, and a region like the Middle East to show that even as things change, they stay the same. Both will be anti-democratic well into the future because the majority no nothing else and accept what they know more readily than what they don't, despite how it harms them.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2003
  10. CZ-75

    CZ-75 member

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    This sounds good in theory, but it takes more energy to distill EtOH than it can supply as a fuel.

    And not only that, but that it supplies less enrgy per a given quantity than an equal given quantity of gasoline.


    I'm trying to find a source, but I know that it was either Patrick Bedard or Csaba Csere, both of Car and Driver that supplied the info on the realities of ethanol as a fuel.
     
  11. QuickDraw

    QuickDraw Member

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    Tamara said:

    Now thats an energy policy I can endorse!

    QuickDraw
     
  12. SodaPop

    SodaPop member

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    The answer is to let them all fight it out until someone actually wins.
     
  13. Diesle

    Diesle Member

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    Uuuuuhhhhggg, you made me have to work.... For some reason I just couldn’t let that comment slip by un-researched...

    For my benefit and the benefit of...

    The Core Principles of Malthus:
    - Food is necessary for human existence.
    - Human population tends to grow faster than the power in the earth to produce subsistence, and that
    - The effects of these two unequal powers must be kept equal.
    - Since humans tend not to limit their population size voluntarily ("preventive checks" in Malthus's terminology); population reduction tends to be accomplished through the "positive" checks of famine, disease, poverty and war.

    As far as Lysenko....
    Lysenkoism and the Population Control Movement

    Too much there to pick and choose pieces of it. But, if any of you have the time, a very interesting read including a tie back to Malthus.


    To discredit Malthus you have to be able to rely on the inevitability that technology will intervene in the light of the certain fact that the human population will eventually cause earths resources to dwindle or vanish. Or, that the 'environment' will take care of itself through disease, famine, etc. ...

    Doesn’t it appear as though technology is failing us right now though? Humanity is in an ‘information age’ and is struggling to discover solutions to meeting CURRENT energy need. Particularly evident on the eve of a war that we know is going to be fought, IN PART, to secure energy. The gentlemanly scientific pursuit of an alternative to forcibly securing a resource has failed so far. Not a real good place to be. Scrapping over the stockpile...

    I guess, in my gut I feel that the environment will equalize itself over time in the face of growing human population. But recognize that that comes at a cost. Starvation, war over dwindling resources, and disease aren’t a whole lot of fun. So, I do think that todays humanity could be well served by a global effort to establish energy standards and work cooperatively to developed alternatives. And hey, if science is 'our' savior...... now would be a great time to manifest its magic upon its humble servents. Right Mr. Malthus...?



    <Placing feet firmly back on the ground> I almost sounded euphorian there for a min.!


    I need a cleansing,


    Diesle
     
  14. Blackhawk

    Blackhawk Member In Memoriam

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    Actually, no. Ethanol has 60% of the heat content of diesel fuel by volume -- some 12,000 BTU/gallon.

    Fuel alcohol is only 80% ethanol so the hardest and most expensive parts of the distallation process are not necessary.

    Besides, alcohol stills can be fired by... alcohol!

    The myth that it takes more energy to produce fuel alcohol than it contains stems from the alternate energy detractors who base production on using cultivated corn as the feedstock. There are high carbohydrate weeds that thrive on poor semi-arid land that are quite suitable as feedstock.

    The real key is efficiency, as in cost per mile. In the 1970s, a car engine was hooked up to a dynamometer to test the standard Otto cycle against the fuel alcohol vapor cycle. At 19 BHP (the power needed to move a 4,500# car at 55 MPH) the heat rate of the alcohol cycle was 231% better than on gasoline. At the time, gasoline was $1/gallon and denatured anhydrous ethanol was $2/gallon. Instead of 15 mpg, the engine yielded 31 mpg on alcohol. By the time fuel prices were normalized for taxes, etc., the cost per mile on alcohol was the same as gasoline. Bottom line: alcohol from corn was a viable direct replacement for gasoline, all things considered.

    Dedicated fuel alcohol production would GREATLY reduce the cost leaving a big profit potential for producers and distributors to solve the chicken and egg marketing problem. Alcohol fueled vehicles will never succeed unless there is a distribution system as convenient as now exists for gasoline (cf Diesel powered cars in the US until at least the '60s where owners had to go to truck stops to get fuel).
     
  15. Diesle

    Diesle Member

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    Assuming this is true...(I’m no scientist...) it would appear that it would take federal gov. intervention to push this to market. It looks as though there are too many arms on this octopus to expect that this could be orchestrated by a coalition of companies... On the surface, this appears like one area that I would actually like to see fed. gov. get deeply involved.


    Diesle
     
  16. Coronach

    Coronach Moderator Emeritus

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    No.

    It would take federal gov. intervention to push this to market, absent a compelling market force to make it viable.

    Read: the minute that oil prices go through the stratosphere and stay there, there will be an immediate and massive demand for alternative energy sources. One that is not present now. And it will require no fed.gov impetus for it to happen.

    Ah, the free market.

    Mike
     
  17. Blackhawk

    Blackhawk Member In Memoriam

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    You're right, Diesle, but that will never happen because of all the constitutents who have their lives and fortunes tied up in the petroleum status quo.

    Evolutionary economic changes can't be stopped, but revolutionary ones can be killed in the cradle.
     
  18. coonan357

    coonan357 Member

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    I know for a fact though alcohol doesn't vaporize as easy as gas does below 60 degrees so you would have to warm the intake air up before it could be used as a fuel in the northern parts of the U.S. we had air preheaters on some of our volvo fleet trucks that did this but they would Tax the electrical system of the vehicle . and when they shut down we would have a truck that wouldn't run . I am for alcohol usage we used it in a hi perf car and with the higher compression ratios the power out put was great but the milage was horable about half of a gas engine .
     
  19. Blackhawk

    Blackhawk Member In Memoriam

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    Substitute "diamond" for "oil" and "jewel" for "energy" in your statement, then consider the DeBeers company. It effectively controls all aspects of the diamond trade

    Oil prices and supply are similarly controlled, and there is no shortage. The global political power of the players is such that they're immune from governmental interference from any country.

    It almost reminds a fella of the drug trade. :rolleyes:
     
  20. Blackhawk

    Blackhawk Member In Memoriam

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    All true. Gasoline is a blend of substances that vaporize at temperatures from about 100 degrees F to over 400. Ethanol vaporizes at 173 degrees F, and it's a single substance.

    The heat of compression of an Otto cycle engine vaporizes the light elements of gasoline. You can't burn a liquid, and the spark raises the pressure which vaporizes higher VP elements of the gasoline as combustion proceeds.

    The primary reason ethanol is used as a gasoline additive is to get the starting advantage gasoline provides. The alcohol vapor engine I described needs a vaporizer to start, then it uses exhaust heat to vaporize running fuel.

    One of the tricks used to burn straight alcohol in Otto engines was to start them on gasoline then switch to alcohol after the engine's warmed up.
     
  21. JPM70535

    JPM70535 Member

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    The one fact I haven't heard put forth is that the U.S. has vast untapped petroleum reserves available at any time the Oil companies deem it economically viable to draw on them.

    I'm not talking about the North Slope of Alaska, or off the coasts of **********, or my own state of Florida either. There are unknown numbers of wells in Louisiana that have been shut down, not because they are no longer producing, but because the oil from them can't be gotten to market for the same price as a barrel of Arab oil. Hence lower profits for the oil companies and we all know that pig just won't fly. With oil selling for $10 a barrel or less, no oil company is going to bother pumping these wells, but let oil get to $40 a barrel and watch the activity

    Talk of alternate fuels (Hydrogen) is politacally expedient but not practical due to the cost, not only of production of the alternate fuels but the distribution and retro-fitting vehicles to enable them to use it. Also the cost of producing Hydrogen using todays technologies makes them less than competitive with fossil fuels.

    IMO we would be better served in developing our known reserves of oil for our own use until such time as the technology needed to produce alternate fuels cheaply is developed. The one thing we must do as a Nation is rid ourselves of dependence on foreign oil. Then we can just let the Middle East try and get by without the financial support U.S. oil imports provides.

    Sorry for the length.
     
  22. Triad

    Triad Member

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    IMO the problem with that is that noone seems to want to do anything to develop the alternatives. The hydrogen fuel cell has been around for more than 150 yrs IIRC. Ethanol has been around for awhile too.
    We will have to pay for the conversion of distribution systems and vehicles regardless of when we make the switch.
     
  23. Sidetracker

    Sidetracker Member

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    I'm with Coronach, The free market will decide when it's ready for alternatives. As time goes on oil will get harder and harder to find and the price will rise to show this. As the price increases people will start looking for alternatives. Look, this already happened in the 70s. That's when the Japanese cars really started selling because we wanted better mileage. It will happen again. All the whinning about the SUVs is futile as long as fuel is cheap. Once the prices get high enough people will search out more efficient vehicles.
     
  24. T.Stahl

    T.Stahl Member

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    I heard the same from my - rather environmentalist - chemistry teacher.
     
  25. BigG

    BigG Member

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    What did the astronauts say, "No bucks, no Buck Rogers."

    Underneath all the commentary the real deal is "It's all about the Benjamins."
     
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