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[P]
Food, fuel and land

By Sgt York in Science
Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 09:13:46 PM EST
Tags: food, fuel, land, biofuel, fellatio (all tags)
Food

OK, let's just admit something to ourselves. The use of corn-derived ethanol as a fuel source is non-feasible. The use of soy biodiesel is also non-feasible.


What, you disagree? Allow me to bombard you with some inconvenient truths.

1000L of ethanol supplies 20GJ of energy. But how much does it cost to make the ethanol? To grow the corn required to make 1000L of ethanol, you must spend 14GJ of energy on an array of tasks and resources ranging from fueling the tractors and irrigating the land to making fertilizer and moving your crop. Pretty good so far, right? You get 20GJ by spending 14GJ. Not so fast. Ever try to dump a bag of frozen corn in your gas tank? Trust me, it doesn't work too well. Don't ask.

Once you have the corn, you have to crush it, ferment it, and distill the ethanol, and that costs energy. How much energy? That depends on who you ask. Some estimates (Pimentel, 1991) go as high as 20GJ, others as low as 11GJ (Marland, 1991), with several others (Keeny and DeLuca, 1992; Morris and Ahmed 1992; Shapouri and Duffield, 1995) falling somewhere in between. So, that gives us a range. Depending on who you talk to, it takes 34-25GJ of energy to make 20GJ worth of ethanol. This means that for every GJ you spend on making ethanol, you get 588 - 800MJ back. Remember, it is customary to leave solar input out of these equations. And yes, I linky. It's a pdf, see table 8 on page 30 (I converted from the given kcal values).

But....but...soybean biodiesel...that's good, right? It's better, but not great. Every GJ of soy biodiesel costs 1.27 GJ of energy to grow and prepare (Pimentel and Patzek, 2005; sorry, no linky here; too lazy to find it online). However, unlike maize-ethanol, soy-biodiesel has usable byproducts (soymeal). When the energy value of that is factored in, you get 1GJ of biodiesel that costs just over 1GJ to make. Sure, it's OK, but what's the point? You're literally spinning your wheels.

Of course, there is some variance from study to study, but the general concept holds: It is either pointless or counterproductive to use biofuels from crops. Thus reads the excellent argument against biofuel use. It's a feel-good proposition, but that's it. In the latter case it does nothing, and in the former, worse than nothing. Furthermore, this takes up arable land in a world where arable land is rapidly becoming a scarce and valuable resource to feed an ever-increasing population. The use of biofuels is counterproductive. Using current technology.

Ah, progress!

Enter the recent Science paper. It's one of those smack-your-forehead why-didn't-I-think-of-that kind of things. They took farmed out land; sandy, nitrogen poor soil that had been overfarmed and was now good for little more than pastureland. There are no commercial crops that can be grown on it without heavy fertilization and preparation. But "commercial crops" are only a very small percentage of plant life. Enter the native grasses. These guys tilled it, sowed randomized combinations of 1, 2, 4, 8, or 16 different grassland plant seeds, watered them, and then maintained them with "low input" techniques. That is, they were weeded once each season (less in the higher diversity plots), and let go. They planted a grassland.

They let it go for 10 years, burning the grass off each spring after taking a sample for above ground biomass production and then replanting. Energy out based on total biomass was 68 GJ/yr/ha. Energy required to plant, grow, maintain, and harvest was 4GJ/ha/yr. That's a ratio of 17:1. The ratio for corn is a little less than 5:1 (reference in first link).

According to the Science paper, if you were to simply burn this stuff in a furnace as a coal supplement and use it to run a generator, you'd net 17.8GJ of electricity/ha. That means that spending a GJ of energy gives you back 4.4GJ. And that's just burning it. Ethanol conversion is about the same as just burning it, but if you convert it to biohydrocarbons, you net 28 GJ. One GJ of energy for the low, low price of 140MJ.

BUT THAT'S NOT ALL!

When they started the experiment in 1994, they measured the carbon content of the soil. They did it again in 2004, and found that in each hectare, there was an additional 4000kg of carbon in the soil. Yes, friends and neighbors, this stuff sequesters carbon. And remember, they were burning off the tops of the plants, all the carbon that was in the stems and leaves was burned back into the atmosphere, just like what would happen if the plants were harvested, converted to biofuel and burned. Just without the intervening steps.

So, how does it work? Why is it so damn cheap to make it this way? Simple : Entropy rules. You can maintain an ordered state, but it will cost you a good deal of energy, and that's what traditional monoculture agriculture is. Weeds creep in, pests eat the crops, plants die and compete for resources. The ordered state of the farm is constantly under attack, and the farmer has to expend vast quantities of energy to keep entropy at bay. For making foodstuffs, this is necessary and good. If you let chaos reign, the natural progression of the ecosystem will take over and the foodstuffs will be gone in no time. But this doesn't happen in the wild. In a grassland (or any ecosystem), there is a balance, a dynamic equilibrium that will act to maintain itself. Polyculture systems simply capitalize on this concept. A Fischer-Tropsch reaction doesn't care if the carbon in the chamber comes from soybeans, corn, switchgrass, or coal. A coal furnace cares even less. So, you can grow a mixture of hardy crap plants, the kind of plants you try to stave off in the monoculture you have growing in your front yard. You can even throw in the bugs that are sitting on the plants at harvest time.

Basically, you have an artificial ecosystem. Who needs fertilizer when you can put in legumes, which fix nitrogen right out of the atmosphere? Who needs pesticides when the plants themselves have been fighting the same parasites and herbivores for the past few million years? Who needs herbicides in a weed garden? Who needs to irrigate when you can plant grasses that are adapted to the normal precipitation in the region?

=====================================================

But is this practical? Can it be done? Let's run a few numbers.

Energy consumption on a national or global scale is measured in quads. One quad is 1 quadrillion BTUs, or about 1 billion GJ (1055055900, to be exact). The world uses about 421 quads each year (2003 data). This translates to 4.4 x 1011 GJ worldwide. Using the most efficient method, biohydrocarbon production, this requires 4.4 x 1011/28 ~ 1.6 x 1010 ha = 1.6 x 108 sq km of land. The world has a land area of 1.48 x 108 sq km. We're a bit short.

If every square inch of land was usable for this (which it's not), and was used for growing weeds, (which ain't gonna happen) we'd still be short by about 3.36 x 108GJ (0.31 quads).

OK, how about just using it as a supplement? Would that work?

By the above calculations, even if we assume we could get to soil in Antarctica, grow it in the Sahara, and harvest it in the Himalayas, we need about the same percentage of the Earth's land area as the supplement percentage. That is, if we supplement 10%, we must commit 10% of the Earth's land area to the cause. That's an area roughly equivalent to the entirety of the US and Mexico, plus about half of Canada.

But let's take it a step farther. About 15% of that 421 quads already comes from clean or renewable sources of energy like nuclear, wind, geothermal, etc. So to fulfill all of Earth's current needs, minus those sources, we have to supply 357 quads, requiring 1.36 x 108 square km. To hit the 10% target, now we just need all of the US, all of Mexico, and about a quarter of Canada.

Biofuels are not the answer. Unless, of course, you want to try the sea.

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Votes: 5
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Display: Sort:
Food, fuel and land | 152 comments (135 topical, 17 editorial, 0 hidden)
Supposedly Pimentel's methodology also (3.00 / 6) (#2)
by Metamorphorical Rock on Thu Dec 14, 2006 at 01:38:34 PM EST

says that oil is a net energy loser. Is the real issue scale? There is a lot more to think about than just efficiency.

As a non-expert reading a little bit about this stuff, I've yet to figure out which side is being realistic, who is blowing smoke, and who, if anyone, has thought it all the way through.

[ processed instant god ]

Thanks (3.00 / 2) (#6)
by Sgt York on Thu Dec 14, 2006 at 02:45:39 PM EST

I'll include a few other studies as well. I really just oversimplified it with a highball (Pimentel) and lowball (another study....name escapes me ATM) estimate.

The real number is probably between the two EtOH production numbers quoted. The agricultural number, however, is based on a study of farmland energy use, so it's pretty solid. It does not include the cost of making tractors, nor does it include the energy content of the farmhand's breakfast.

There is a reason for everything. Sometimes, that reason just sucks.
[ Parent ]

not oil, gasoline! (none / 0) (#139)
by VasyaPoup on Thu Dec 21, 2006 at 07:46:31 PM EST

Please, do read articles that you quote.

BTW, net energy loss could be fine -- if we have
cheap thermonuclear power. You don't put reactor
in your car -- and the rechargable batteries are just
too heavy. So, from energy standpoint biofuel could
be ok. The real problem here is the land.

[ Parent ]

Pimentel is a fraud (none / 0) (#149)
by caridon20 on Thu Feb 22, 2007 at 08:48:45 AM EST

http://www.thenewatlantis.com/archive/12/soa/ethanol.htm

He is well known to use the worst posible figures he can find to make shure he gets the results he whants.

The link kovers some of the errors. A quick google search will net you lots of more errors he makes.

/C
Dissent is NOT Treason Quis custodiet ipsos custodes
[ Parent ]

comments from original diary on the subject (3.00 / 8) (#3)
by cDiss on Thu Dec 14, 2006 at 02:13:35 PM EST

http://www.kuro5hin.org/comments/2006/12/14/124245/79

Take your helpfulness to HuSi (1.75 / 4) (#11)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Thu Dec 14, 2006 at 03:08:08 PM EST

AND GET OFF THE FUCKING MEDS, SERIALLY. Nobody likes the new, kind cDiss.

--
Keep banging those rocks together, MMM!
- Kasreyn


[ Parent ]
that's funny. without reading I'll vote +1 (1.80 / 5) (#27)
by oilmoat on Thu Dec 14, 2006 at 06:18:27 PM EST

since Sgt York is a recognizable non-troll, as opposed to cDiss or yourself.

Altho, I did skim TFA.

I have IBPND. (I believe in people, not disorders.)
[ Parent ]

The point of bio-fuels isn't to gain energy (2.91 / 12) (#5)
by godix on Thu Dec 14, 2006 at 02:41:20 PM EST

it's to get portable energy. If a farmer uses 26.8GJ  of clean energy to produce 1000L of biofuel (20GJ of energy) then sure, there's a net lose to the equation. However the end result is non-portable energy by clean energy sources like solar, wind, hydro, etc. have been converted into a form that is really easy to move around from place to place, IE in a cars gas tank.

Now granted, the vast majority of energy used in farming doesn't come from clean sources so biofuel currently is a massive waste of time and energy but in theory there are situations where it would be worth it even though it loses energy in the conversion.


- An egotist is someone who thinks they're almost as good as I am.

We need electric tractors (2.50 / 2) (#44)
by brain in a jar on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 03:57:39 AM EST

and fertiliser produced with clean electricity.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

Biodiesel (none / 0) (#108)
by Norkakn on Sun Dec 17, 2006 at 10:50:23 AM EST

why not?  Seems better than paying farmers to grow corn that no one needs.  I'm not saying that it will work for everything, but it seems logical in some instances.

[ Parent ]
actually, net energy is still desired (none / 0) (#133)
by Rhodes on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 12:37:34 PM EST

net energy is still desirable for economic growth.  

yes energy storage and being a carrier are the other benefits- biodiesel wins over ethanol for energy density.

bio fuels are attractive for increasing the runway of society- it buys us more time while oil supplies (and other carbon sources) run down.  

[ Parent ]

plush juan, mustard. gawd yab /nt (1.20 / 5) (#7)
by infernalmajesty on Thu Dec 14, 2006 at 03:00:06 PM EST



I [...] hit submit [...,] repeating a rookie mistake. Oh well. - Kaki Nix Sain
Not really the point. (2.80 / 5) (#8)
by gordonjcp on Thu Dec 14, 2006 at 03:02:18 PM EST

Biodiesel can be made from waste vegetable oil. All those fast-food places throw out tonnes of the stuff every day.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


Plz see (2.75 / 4) (#10)
by Sgt York on Thu Dec 14, 2006 at 03:06:23 PM EST

cDiss's comment in the original diary entry. They do throw out tonnes every day, but on the grand scheme of daily power usage, it's less than a pittance.

There is a reason for everything. Sometimes, that reason just sucks.
[ Parent ]

It's still usable (2.66 / 3) (#50)
by gordonjcp on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 09:01:50 AM EST

I bet you could run a decent fleet of city buses on the waste oil from all the places that use friers...

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
Run the numbers and see -rn (none / 1) (#61)
by Sgt York on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 10:56:03 AM EST


There is a reason for everything. Sometimes, that reason just sucks.
[ Parent ]

Have done (none / 1) (#75)
by gordonjcp on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 08:38:01 PM EST

Seems about right.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
Plz share -rn (none / 0) (#121)
by Sgt York on Mon Dec 18, 2006 at 08:46:38 AM EST


There is a reason for everything. Sometimes, that reason just sucks.
[ Parent ]

Axiom of False Economy (none / 0) (#126)
by cdguru on Mon Dec 18, 2006 at 11:50:19 PM EST

People throw away or otherwise donate things they believe have no value.  This can be easily seen when the husband tries to retrieve the collector's edition album from Goodwill after the wife has donated it - she says "But you never play those old records any more"

Yes, at the present time restaurants pay special services to remove grease and waste oil.  No one wants them.  However, should these materials have any value whatsoever, immediately such restaurants will begin selling it on in a market that quickly overvalues them.

Nope, there is no free ride with biodesiel.

[ Parent ]

How much energy in Absolute value? (2.80 / 5) (#9)
by svampa on Thu Dec 14, 2006 at 03:03:42 PM EST

burning the grass off each spring after taking a sample for above ground biomass...
...According to the Science paper, if you were to simply burn this stuff in a furnace as a coal supplement and use it to run a generator,

As a far as I have understood, they didn't collect the whole harvest to burn it and get energy, they just calculated the energy it would produce. That is another energy amount to add, cut the grass and transport it somewhere to burn it in order to be able to catch the energy. In the middle of the field it is useful for nothing. Collecting the harvest is a lot of work, owners even plant less than they could in order to easy the workers job.

As you said, I'm too lazy to search the link, I remember I red somewhere that if UK had to replace all the fuel it uses with such kind of energy, it would need five UKs land.

Nowdays, the world consumes 84 Millions/year of barrels that is 1,3356 Millons of liters of oil (1.3E+9 L). Could you calculate how many hectares would you need? (I don't know how much diesel you get from each liter of oil)



Projection (none / 1) (#12)
by Sgt York on Thu Dec 14, 2006 at 03:08:41 PM EST

They did not burn the crop for energy, they burned the crop as a simulation of harvest.

The predicted energy values of the "crop" for the various energy extraction techniques were based on other studies, and those did include transport costs.

There is a reason for everything. Sometimes, that reason just sucks.
[ Parent ]

nuclear, nuclear, nuclear, nuclear, nuclear, (2.80 / 10) (#13)
by circletimessquare on Thu Dec 14, 2006 at 03:41:13 PM EST

nuclear, nuclear, nuclear, nuclear,

(inhale)

nuclear, nuclear, nuclear, nuclear, nuclear, nuclear, nuclear,

duh


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

or (2.87 / 8) (#15)
by trane on Thu Dec 14, 2006 at 04:19:05 PM EST

downsize the fucking earth. either by not having kids or getting the fuck into space.

[ Parent ]
right (2.40 / 5) (#23)
by circletimessquare on Thu Dec 14, 2006 at 05:23:08 PM EST

as hard as it is herding the cats of public opinion and political willpower to get them behind nuclear, stopping people from having kids on a large scale or going into space in a sustainable manner is so much easier


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
Right, colonize space. That's sustainable. (3.00 / 6) (#26)
by glor on Thu Dec 14, 2006 at 05:55:28 PM EST


--
Disclaimer: I am not the most intelligent kuron.
[ Parent ]

hydrogen economy (3.00 / 3) (#69)
by trane on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 04:51:57 PM EST

we could get it from the oceans, or Titan's atmosphere!

[ Parent ]
Downsizing, eh? What about a world war? (2.66 / 3) (#39)
by nostalgiphile on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 02:16:41 AM EST

Short term, that would jack up fuel/energy consumption, but in the long aftermath we'd have solved the population probl., the energy shortage problem, and leveled out the stupid/smart ratio prob. at least a bit (since a lot of idiots would want to join [or have to] to "fight for the sake of their X"). The trick will be to get as many SUV drivers to enlist as possible, and then to knock all those stupid consumer-capitalist ideas back outta the heads of the Chinese (what do gooks need a/c and cars for anyways?).

Verily, unleash the 7th Fleet on the coastal cities of China, encourage Japan to re-arm, and let the PRC taste the fury of the Divine Wind...India and Pakistan will trade ICBMs in toe-to-toe nuclear combat, finally the middle east problem will be resolved with both arabs and jews all dead and gone. It'll be messy and terrible alright, but in the end it's the most efficient, direct way to solve many of our problems. If we mess this planet up too badly in the process then fuck it, we can go ahead with the Mars terraformation plan and/or mandatory sterilization plans you mentioned...sorta.

"Depending on your perspective you are an optimist or a pessimist[,] and a hopeless one too." --trhurler
[ Parent ]
sweet, i'm equipping a deep mine shaft (2.50 / 4) (#53)
by the spins on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 09:59:11 AM EST

for k5ers. of course, to ensure the continuity of the human race, there will have to be much more women than men, and the women will have to be young, fertile and attractive...

 _
( )
 X
/ \ SUPPORT THE DEL GRIFFITH MODBOMBING CAMPAIGN

[ Parent ]

what're we gonna do for power? (2.33 / 3) (#58)
by nostalgiphile on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 10:15:22 AM EST

if you get this one worked out, Dr., let us know. Maybe I can find some gullible Taiwanese chicks who'd be willing to go down on with us and spend the remainder of their lives helping the species procreate...Also, will there be a KTV on the premises?

"Depending on your perspective you are an optimist or a pessimist[,] and a hopeless one too." --trhurler
[ Parent ]
Surface robots (none / 1) (#77)
by livus on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 08:47:57 PM EST

according to PKD.

BTW youre back in taiwan now?

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

I never left (TW) (none / 0) (#78)
by nostalgiphile on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 10:41:57 PM EST

btw, I think this was more of a Dr. Strangelove scenario, with us Alpha Males not worrying and partying like it's 1999.

"Depending on your perspective you are an optimist or a pessimist[,] and a hopeless one too." --trhurler
[ Parent ]
you were travelling within it then? (none / 0) (#99)
by livus on Sat Dec 16, 2006 at 05:54:09 PM EST

I'd make a useless stalker.

Do you really think there are alpha males at k5?

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

yes, within and around (2.00 / 2) (#101)
by nostalgiphile on Sat Dec 16, 2006 at 10:05:12 PM EST

alpha males? besides me? No.

"Depending on your perspective you are an optimist or a pessimist[,] and a hopeless one too." --trhurler
[ Parent ]
oh good. n (none / 1) (#104)
by livus on Sun Dec 17, 2006 at 02:07:32 AM EST



---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]
yeah sure (none / 1) (#76)
by livus on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 08:46:03 PM EST

everyone says he has access to a deep shaft.

I find it hard to believe most of them are any more than 6" however.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

Plague would be better (2.83 / 6) (#62)
by Sgt York on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 11:05:53 AM EST

All the benefits of a downsizing without the messy energy requirements of a war. Plus, you can use the corpses as a biofuel source.

It's win-win!

There is a reason for everything. Sometimes, that reason just sucks.
[ Parent ]

I think you're onto something! $ (none / 0) (#70)
by Brick Wall on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 05:21:33 PM EST


---
Some people say Beer is unnecessary, too. I don't believe either of them. - minerboy
[ Parent ]
What I mean by this: (none / 0) (#74)
by Brick Wall on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 07:15:02 PM EST

as an alternative to klercking, donate one's self to biofuel purposes.
I might be one of the first in line!
---
Some people say Beer is unnecessary, too. I don't believe either of them. - minerboy
[ Parent ]
unless it's a zombie plague (none / 1) (#79)
by nostalgiphile on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 10:47:51 PM EST

In which case, all our bodies (fuel supply) would wind up re-animating and heading for the nearest shopping mall. And malls require lots of electricity, I might add.

"Depending on your perspective you are an optimist or a pessimist[,] and a hopeless one too." --trhurler
[ Parent ]
Wars (none / 1) (#72)
by Ward57 on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 06:18:17 PM EST

destroy infrastructure, including energy production infrastructure. The way the west fights wars, they hardly kill people at all. Illiterate militia are must better at actually killing civilians.

[ Parent ]
CTS, you have a great (2.60 / 5) (#25)
by mybostinks on Thu Dec 14, 2006 at 05:41:32 PM EST

way of getting to the point.

[ Parent ]
nuclear, closely regulated by government (2.00 / 2) (#40)
by nostalgiphile on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 02:21:32 AM EST

I don't trust the Man (Burns) to split atoms safely and responsibly for profit.

"Depending on your perspective you are an optimist or a pessimist[,] and a hopeless one too." --trhurler
[ Parent ]
good for you (2.00 / 2) (#41)
by circletimessquare on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 02:26:23 AM EST

i don't trust humanity to do very well with hurricane katrinas every year, $10.00/ gallon gas, and well-funded islamofascism

so take your pick

welcome to reality: no such thing as the easy road, no downside

the Man splitting the atom looks more attractive every day to me


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

I call b-s fallacious reasoning (2.50 / 2) (#42)
by nostalgiphile on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 02:38:19 AM EST

What makes you tihnk that with nuclear power the average joe's light bill is gonna go down or energy is gonna be less expensive? You assume (incorrectly) that because it's more efficient it will be cheaper.

Well, guess what, the Man thinks that the price for his energy should be "wahtever the market will bear" (= alot), and the example of gasoline prices proves this fact.

So, if you present this "X vs. Disaster" (red herring) argument again, I'm gonna have to kick u in the ass with examples like California (most nuclear state in the country) ca. 2000, where the problem wasn't lack of energy, but a reckless policy of deregulation.

"Depending on your perspective you are an optimist or a pessimist[,] and a hopeless one too." --trhurler
[ Parent ]
well (1.00 / 2) (#80)
by circletimessquare on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 11:01:11 PM EST

you apparently assume "the Man" has far more power over your life than he does

really

you're a trapped slave, not because there is a slavelord with a whip at your back, but because you think like one. free yourself and you will find that your bogeyman "the Man" is a paper tiger, some bullshit you make yourself believe to reinforce your learned helplessness


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

nah (none / 0) (#119)
by binford2k on Mon Dec 18, 2006 at 02:11:03 AM EST

the sheeple willing to pay $10/gal for gas are the ones with power over your life.

[ Parent ]
Don't sweat it (none / 0) (#130)
by nightfire on Tue Dec 19, 2006 at 09:21:32 PM EST

Eventually we won't have a choice and people will stop protesting.  I suspect the anti-nuclear crowd will suddenly get a lot quieter as their lights go out. :)

Or even when electricity hits 50 cents a kWh.

[ Parent ]

Unfortunately not (none / 0) (#145)
by slashcart on Fri Dec 29, 2006 at 03:09:10 AM EST

We do have a choice, other than nuclear. We could burn coal. In fact, that is what we've been doing. Over the last several decades, we've ceased construction of new nuclear plants, and have switched to coal instead.

That has been the actual effect of the environmental movement. By opposing nuclear power so vociferously, the environmental movement has accomplished only one thing--it has crippled the only viable competitor to coal. As a result, the environmental movement, through its stupidity, has achieved a tremendous increase in coal-burning in this country. It has also achieved a tremendous increase in C02 emissions.

Granted, the environmental movement has never suggested coal-burning directly. But that is what they have actually achieved. Their own ideas for power production are totally unfeasible--windmills will never generate much energy. By recommending completely unrealistic sources of power, while protesting every nuclear power plant, they have unwittingly advocated the only remaining feasible alternative--more coal plants. The result of their anti-nuclear protests has not been more windmills but more coal. In fact, windmills remain at less than 1% of power generation, but coal has increased tremendously. That is what they have accomplished so far, and that is what they will probably accomplish in the future.

If the environmental movement hadn't protested nuclear power so much over the last several decades, then coal power would never have become so predominant, and the greenhouse gas problem we now face would be much less severe. Look at France as an example. They paid no attention to their anti-nuclear protesters and their C02 emissions are 85% lower than ours, per capita. Had the entire world gone that way, or even partly in that direction, then we would not now face this global warming catastrophe.

Perhaps the environmental movement can become even harder-working and even stupider. Perhaps, with enough hard work and mind-boggling stupidity, they can increase C02 emissions by another 50% in the next decade alone. Let's hear it for greenpeace!

We mustn't bother with "environmentalists". They're working very hard to wreck the environment, and no degree of effort will talk them out of it. They're too stupid and they're too irrational and they've already consumed too much attention. They've already gone too far. They hinder real alternatives, and so they must be ignored. What's required is a realistic environmental movement that's not Luddite and that doesn't constrain us to 500-year-old technology like windmills and dams.

We're running out of time already. Already, we face ecological problems. We must be RATIONAL about this. We must ignore greenpeace and begin immediate construction of serious, plausible non-polluting energy, which means nuclear--NOT WINDMILLS. Every decade wasted on windmill promotion, on bumper stickers that say stupid things like "split wood not atoms", on unfounded nuclear protests, is another decade of global warming.

I, for one, have no desire to undergo an uncontrolled global atmosphere experiment just to satisfy a few idiots at greenpeace. That is why I believe we should start the transition to nuclear power immediately.

[ Parent ]

You're forgetting something (2.87 / 8) (#16)
by Kasreyn on Thu Dec 14, 2006 at 04:37:33 PM EST

Namely the mountain of surplus corn (and iirc soy) which the entire American agricultural system is designed around finding a way to get rid of. (That is to say, finding a way to get rid of that isn't "solving world hunger", because that would be a handout, dammit!)

If you're upset about so much solar-panel land being wasted on biodiesel, how about you talk to the Nixon-administration geniuses who gave us the farmer-destroying corn surplus (provided they aren't dead or living in a non-extradition country)? Because if it's going to be wasted on Toaster Strudels anyway, I'd rather it go to biodiesel, thanks!


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
Have you been reading Michael Pollan? <n/t> (2.00 / 2) (#56)
by Fon2d2 on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 10:07:54 AM EST



[ Parent ]
guilty as charged -nt (none / 1) (#88)
by Kasreyn on Sat Dec 16, 2006 at 01:17:32 PM EST

nt


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Guys (2.33 / 3) (#20)
by tetsuwan on Thu Dec 14, 2006 at 04:48:51 PM EST

Biofuel is not the answer, solar is not the answer, nuclear is not the answer, clean coal is not the answer, hydropower is not the answer, nothing is really the answer by itself, except perhaps fusion power in another 50 years.

But just as hydropower is brilliant where it can be tapped freely, biofuels can be a good complement. As Sgt York pointed out, it cannot replace oil on global scale. But just as wind power possibly can produce 5% of world electricity, biofuels could reduce the need for oil by several percent. Think about it. If we by small but many measures reduce the marketshare of fossil oil to 50% a lot is won.

When doing these calculations, keep in mind that oil alone wouldn't last long if we relied completely on it.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance

We already have a resident peak oil crackpot /nt (2.00 / 3) (#30)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Thu Dec 14, 2006 at 07:04:10 PM EST


--
Keep banging those rocks together, MMM!
- Kasreyn


[ Parent ]
Yeah (3.00 / 2) (#38)
by tetsuwan on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 02:07:10 AM EST

And it's cheap and practical to increase the nuclear power output by 500% globally.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

Cheap, ofc not; no solution is cheap (2.00 / 2) (#47)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 08:09:55 AM EST

Practical. Definitely would be if it wasn't for spineless politicians who capitulate to the demands of clueless anti-nuclear activists and peak oil crackpots.

--
Keep banging those rocks together, MMM!
- Kasreyn


[ Parent ]
oil will not suddenly run out (none / 1) (#48)
by tetsuwan on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 08:17:56 AM EST

But it will get more and more expensive. It's no coincidence that Norway is making huge amounts of money on oil now and not in the 60s. Even with the facilities available today, North Sea oil would have been to expensive to sell.

And how come China, that can do whatever they fuckin' want regardless of environmentalists (and need loads of energy) don't invest more in nuclear power?

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

Oh, if oil will get more and more expensive (2.00 / 2) (#49)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 08:24:46 AM EST

why isn't it more expensive now? If you knew anything about efficient markets you'd know that all known price information is contained within the current price. That means that if oil will so surely get more and more expensive as you claim it already  would be. And it's not - hint: historically it's not at its highest.

Besides, there's a long history of extracting oil from less and less "accessible" sources, such as they have in Canada and Venezuela. They aren't extracting from those sources not only because oil is more expensive, but also because new methods have and are being developed.

Can't say anything about China, don't know the answer to that.

--
Keep banging those rocks together, MMM!
- Kasreyn


[ Parent ]
The oil price is not higher (2.50 / 2) (#57)
by tetsuwan on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 10:10:32 AM EST

because there are alternatives. There's plenty of coal and if oil was too expensive, alternative energy sources would be more valuable, and the demand drop. Also, if you were the king of Saud, would you rather have the money now, or when you're dead?

Furthermore, there are plenty of oil producers so that if you decrease your sale, others will increase theirs and supply would (in the short time scale) remain the same. And you know, as well as I do, as both the oil price spike 6 months ago and the one in 72-73 were political in nature. The oil price soared because of short time supply didn't match demand, or because people thought supply wouldn't match demand in the near future.

I would even go so far to say that the price of oil does not reflect information about the oil reserves, because they only do that if all the suppliers plan to maximize long term gain. And to repeat myself: if the price is too high, there will be a lot of investment in alternatives - reducing demand and profit from oil sales.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

OPEC doesn't want to too expensive (none / 0) (#127)
by doconnor on Tue Dec 19, 2006 at 03:56:06 PM EST

The oil market is not efficient. It is controlled, largely by OPEC. They don't want oil to be too high because people will start replacing oil with new technology and then they won't have any more use for the oil OPEC has stored up.

[ Parent ]
Just one point ... (none / 0) (#141)
by mrt on Mon Dec 25, 2006 at 07:04:30 AM EST

If you knew anything about efficient markets you'd know that all known price information is contained within the current price.

Unfortunately the Oil market is not efficient market. Unlike most mined commodities, the extraction cost of oil is subject to extreme variability. In Saudi Arabia, it costs ~$5 a barrel to pump the oil out of the ground. For deep drilling  projects that cost can exceed $15 (and for the 1.2 trillion barrels of shale oil sitting under Colarado, the extraction cost can exceed $30).

This biases the market towards the cheapest producers, all of whom are members of a cartel known as OPEC. Because OPEC sets production quotas, Oil markets are not true commodity markets, as the supply side is inelastic, which forces the demand side to be innovative or conservative in their consumption, which further distorts the price information available to the market.
-

I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous
[ Parent ]

Odd you should say that (none / 0) (#112)
by godix on Sun Dec 17, 2006 at 03:30:36 PM EST

And how come China, that can do whatever they fuckin' want regardless of environmentalists (and need loads of energy) don't invest more in nuclear power?

Earlier today I was reading about how China is investing in nuclear power. Eight billion dollars for four new nuke plants and a technology transfer from US to China so they can more more plants without using foreign companies. So the answer is 'Your loaded question is flat out wrong, China is investing more in nuclear power.'


- An egotist is someone who thinks they're almost as good as I am.
[ Parent ]
Four new plants? (none / 0) (#113)
by tetsuwan on Sun Dec 17, 2006 at 07:41:00 PM EST

That's nothing. Nothing. Of course China is investing in nuclear. They're increasing their consumption of all energy sources, be it coal, oil, hydropower or nuclear. I have no figures at hand at the moment, but I'd be very surprised if someone showed me that China is planning to get more than 15% of their total energy needs (i.e. not only counting electricity) the next ten years from nuclear reactors. I like nuclear power too (it produces 35% of electricity here), but it is hardly the solution to all of our energy needs.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

There is no *THE* solution (none / 1) (#116)
by godix on Sun Dec 17, 2006 at 09:04:01 PM EST

Well, except maybe fusion which doesn't exist now so attributing as a reasonable solution is like saying 'Maybe god will make it rain gasoline tommorow!' is a reasonable solution. So of course China is looking into other solutions besides nuclear, any nation that considers just a single source is being moronic. The point was you say China isn't investing more in nuclear power when in fact it is one of several options China is actively investigating to traditional coal power plants.


- An egotist is someone who thinks they're almost as good as I am.
[ Parent ]
Did you read the original parent? (none / 0) (#120)
by tetsuwan on Mon Dec 18, 2006 at 03:35:47 AM EST

This exactly what I say in my top comment. What the nuclear, nuclear, nuclear! -people are saying is that it's feasible to increase the power output by nuclear plants an order of magnitude the next thirty or forty years. I doubt it.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

hrmmm (none / 0) (#84)
by khallow on Sat Dec 16, 2006 at 08:13:16 AM EST

Now, you mention price. It's possible both physically and economically to "answer" the world's power needs with a number of single types of power, be it fission, solar, or wind. If a fleet of alien space ships shows up and threatens to unleash a retrovirus (it has to be "retro" these days) that will turn us all into talking cabbages unless we use wind power exclusively (food crops are exempt) for power generation. Well we can do that even if it means a lot of turmoil for society.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

what? (none / 1) (#90)
by tetsuwan on Sat Dec 16, 2006 at 01:39:51 PM EST

I have no idea what you are talking about. And even if we allow for a possibility that global warming is not really happening, the odds of a alien invasion within our lifetime is extremely slim. Or was this some kind of joke referring to pop culture?

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

sigh (none / 0) (#111)
by khallow on Sun Dec 17, 2006 at 02:47:29 PM EST

Ie, if there happened to be a highly contrived scenario that requires that you use wind power (or solar or nuclear) exclusively for virtually everything, we'd be able to manage it. It's possible both physically and economically.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

eh (none / 0) (#83)
by khallow on Sat Dec 16, 2006 at 07:56:56 AM EST

Igoring issues of cost, wind, solar, and nuclear seperately could provide all of the world's power needs including transportation (including storage needs).

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

ok (none / 0) (#114)
by tetsuwan on Sun Dec 17, 2006 at 08:04:20 PM EST

What solar? Current Silicon technology is not cutting it.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

yes (none / 0) (#117)
by khallow on Mon Dec 18, 2006 at 12:40:23 AM EST

I was thinking current solar technology. Besides it is steadily improving. Not going to stop doing that merely because the demand for solar has increased by two or three orders of magnitude.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

solar (none / 0) (#134)
by Rhodes on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 12:53:12 PM EST

of course "solar" has multiple ways-- are you mostly considering photovoltaics?  because there's also sterling engines, passive water heating, ...  

[ Parent ]
This weeks Nature also has a feature on biofuels (2.85 / 7) (#22)
by thankyougustad on Thu Dec 14, 2006 at 05:06:08 PM EST

Two articles on ethanol, one on the situation in Brazil and another on more on the US's "subsidized corn" programs. The third article in the series is one on thermochemical productions, which has very good potential for a lot of this planets countries, but that is pretty distasteful to me, living in Appalachia.

Nature pretty much corroborates your numbers analysis. It is noted, however, that ethanol has some distinct advantages. . . namely it takes an ephemeral, non portable source of energy and transforms it into a portable, storable form of combustible energy.
At this point I've only read the first article. Brazil produces so much ethanol from their sugar cane crops that they export it. Petrobras, the biggest Brazilian energy company, has plans to build a gigantic pipeline from the interior of the country to the ports. Reports of ethanols corrosiveness are well known, Petrobras solutions will be a huge boon to other countries looking to ween themselves off oil. Brazil exports so much that the US has actually slapped a tariff on imports, to the tune of 54 cents a gallon. Profit margins are so thin that this pretty much makes non-domestic ethanol impossible to get here.

Also to note is that although ethanol is a net energy loss, according to Nature a ton "of cane used as ethanol fuel represents net avoided emissions equivalent to 220.5 kilograms of carbon dioxide when compared with petroleum with the same energy content." This is certainly an important figure, since fear of global warming is an important policy driver. Nature also investigates some other environmental problems introduced by ethanol cultivation. Most importantly, though, it is noted that in order to replace 10% of today's global petrol production, Brazil would need to increase it's output by a factor of only 40. With new varieties of sugar cane expected to double existing crop yields, and 100 million hectares of old agricultural land in the centre-south (currently only 5.7 hectares are used to produce Brazil's crop) this seems like a likely, though not immediate, goal. 10% is huge, considering were are talking about one country. I think a lot more numbers need to be crunched before this can be decided one way or the other. In any case, ethanol isn't going anywhere in the US, since the Midwest corn producers are such huge lobbies, and they are working in a political climate that wants desperately to move away from mid-east oil.

Good write up.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

Thanks Sarge (2.25 / 4) (#24)
by mybostinks on Thu Dec 14, 2006 at 05:39:08 PM EST

I have been waiting for another queue entry since this one.

Excellent ... FP

net energy (2.75 / 4) (#32)
by Morally Inflexible on Thu Dec 14, 2006 at 10:55:36 PM EST

eh, really, fission solves all our energy creation problems (and people will support it as soon as they can no longer afford to keep their H2s running) After that it is a matter of storing it and moving it around. So there is a place for energy "sources" that are negative net-energy (hydrogen, anyone?)

Uranium supplies ain't that bountiful (2.50 / 2) (#43)
by brain in a jar on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 03:52:09 AM EST

construction of fission plants takes 10-20 years, the waste problem is not yet solved.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

Waste isn't a problem (2.00 / 2) (#65)
by LilDebbie on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 01:38:32 PM EST

I don't think anyone will care if we dump it in the middle of the Sahara or any other wasteland.

Last I checked, we've enough uranium to last us ~250 years at current total energy consumption.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]

at current total energy (none / 0) (#122)
by brain in a jar on Mon Dec 18, 2006 at 10:24:51 AM EST

is the problem, energy use has been rising, continues to do so.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

nuclear is such an option (none / 0) (#135)
by Rhodes on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 01:05:30 PM EST

so we'll have nuclear airships fly the waste across the oceans, evading terrorist attacks to dump it in "wastelands"?  

and the national governments like libya, won't mind?  or you bring it into a port and build a rail line to cross five nations-- and you remember the garbage ship that had a lot of problems finding a home.  somehow radioactive waste strikes me as more difficult to find a port for than "conventional" first world home waste.

so land is out.  let's dump it at sea.  except there is still enough excess energy to fund environmental groups which managed to stop the French from poisoning the sea.  

nuclear is not as much an energy gain because of enrichment and mining, transportation and waste disposal, the only advantage is that during the actual electricity generation, there is no gas emission.  

[ Parent ]

These are not really problems. Except politically. (none / 0) (#86)
by fyngyrz on Sat Dec 16, 2006 at 10:45:01 AM EST

Thorium; see Australia. Supply issue resolved.

Passivated glass. Waste storage issue resolved.

20 years to build new plants: Political issue. Resolvable; but won't be.


Blog, Photos.
[ Parent ]

Politics makes all the difference. (none / 1) (#102)
by Scott Robinson on Sun Dec 17, 2006 at 12:04:20 AM EST

Last I checked, the nations of the world aren't too inclined to ensure the other nations of the world can operate.

Certainly, if the balance of power (pun intended) were to dramatically change... the states on the downward arc could afford to waste a few bullets on stemming that movement.

[ Parent ]

This is the part where you give us references. (none / 0) (#140)
by sudog on Mon Dec 25, 2006 at 02:24:27 AM EST

Specifically, the only thing I see is you wandering around to different online forums and making bold claims about "passivated glass" being a waste storage issue resolution.

I see experimental techniques regarding super-cooling nuclear particulates enveloped in heavy metals being developed to shrink half-lives, I see vitrification techniques which encase nuclear waste in a storage medium which, while not permanent, will certainly push the problem onto our distant descendants, and I see other experimental long-term storage techniques like Synroc which embed nuclear waste particulate in a crystalline structure.

I see no reference to "passivated" glass except in automotive glass where they describe "passivated" glass as glass coated with a checmical to reduce its opacity to certain undesired wavelengths (visible and ultraviolent, for example,) but which also happen to trap RF as well.

So? Edify us. Feel free to use actual book references. Some of us really don't think the Internet is such a deep source of information and have no problem wandering down to the local library.


[ Parent ]

References (none / 1) (#143)
by fyngyrz on Mon Dec 25, 2006 at 05:19:37 PM EST

Sorry. Here you go:

One
Two (PDF)

Passivation is achieved by adding magnesium, which decreases glass erosion by groundwater by a factor of about ten. The general approach is good for thousands of years of containment, which is long enough to render the stored materials essentially harmless.

When considering this issue, it is important to keep in mind that (1) the volume of the materials in question is very small; (2) it is entirely practical to buffer the storage with other technologies (which is being done); (3) the risks (see reference one) are not only small and manageable, they are not likely to be subject to the limits of today's technology (by which I am encouraging you to consider that if waste escape occurs, we'll be considerably further up the technological slope and thus will have more tools to deal with it.)

When you say that the problem will be "pushed onto our distant descendants", you are overstating the case. In the situation where the storage fails (theoretical at best), then our descendants do indeed have to deal with some reduced level of a storage problem (the longer it takes before the failure, the less problem remains.) However, if the storage works as designed, which it almost certainly will, then at the end of the life of the glass, the radiation levels and chemicals present are no longer a problem.

Personally, I think looking at the obvious tells us we won't have a problem at all. Getting material off the planet is simply a matter of energy. Energy surplus should be easily obtainable in the short term (speaking with regard to waste storage times... centuries); fusion, better solar, who knows what else. With an energy surplus, waste may be stored in blocks, launched into space and aimed at some reasonable target (ie, the sun) and forgotten. We're in a short time period where waste storage seems like a problem because we can't get rid of it, and "permanent" storage seems like the only option. I can't take that very seriously. Our energy shortage is about as likely to be permanent as our use of HF was for international communications was. It's a bump in the road, no more.


Blog, Photos.
[ Parent ]

Don't be ridiculous (none / 0) (#131)
by nightfire on Tue Dec 19, 2006 at 09:23:28 PM EST

France can put up a reactor in a year.

Waste can be recycled.

Uranium supply (or more specifically fissile material) is not an issue for now.

[ Parent ]

two problems in the thinking get a -1 (1.42 / 7) (#33)
by GhostOfTiber on Thu Dec 14, 2006 at 11:43:08 PM EST

First, you're telling me what is feasible.

If me and Jesus were drinking again and I told him we were going to wait a few billion years for all this corn stuff to turn into this other stuff we're going to call oil, he would probably say the same thing.

Unfortunately, this is one of the major problems with your argument, you're not advancing the idea that people can make the stuff on their own if they were willing to put forward the effort and time and planting resources.  You also leave hybrid cars out of this and just assume the technology wouldn't get any better with some government money.  How high tech has the oil industry become with government money?  Seriously, you're killing the chicken before it's hatched.

The second problem is you're ignoring the cost to re-tool all the existing engines of the world.  It doesn't take much to convert a gas/diesel/petrol/coal-slurry engine to biodiesel/petrol/whatever but your math excludes the very real human cost of actually making the jump.  

As such, it's just diary worthy wankery, you're not really putting the effort into it to really explore the issue.  I suggest you need to rewrite it and reevaluate some of your assumptions.

[Nimey's] wife's ass is my cocksheath. - undermyne

Did you even read it? (2.66 / 3) (#35)
by Sgt York on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 01:14:31 AM EST

I'm not talking about homemade biodiesel from the fat vat behind McDonald's here. This is the large-scale production of biohydrocarbons and ethanol; no engine conversion is needed. The end result is gasoline, perhaps gasoline spiked with ethanol, but most car engines can handle that quite well.

You also seem to be under the impression that I'm advocating the adaptation of biofuels. I suggest that it is you that needs to reevaluate a few assumptions.

There is a reason for everything. Sometimes, that reason just sucks.
[ Parent ]

Some good news (none / 1) (#45)
by brain in a jar on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 04:50:16 AM EST

Solar cell efficiency recently hit 40% with tecnology which can be commercialized within a year or two.

And Nobel Laureate George Olah, is working on ways to synthesize methanol from inorganic substrates, e.g. electrolytically produced hydrogen and atmospheric CO2, so in principle you can put a plant in the desert near an ocean and churn out valuable liquid fuel with essetially zero emissions.

Hopefully it will work out.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.

Solar (none / 1) (#52)
by Sgt York on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 09:56:14 AM EST

linky, plz....be nice to see that. That would be huge, actually being able to get 40% of the energy of incident light.

And IIRC, there has been a metals & heat catalyzed CO2 + H2O -> MeOH for a few decades now. You burn hydrogen and oxygen in the presence of CO2 and a metal catalyst (Pd, I think) and you get MeOH. Burning the H and the O gives you heat and water to drive the reaction. I recall memorizing it in organic chem back in college, but I can't remember the name of the reaction. Is he working on a better system?

There is a reason for everything. Sometimes, that reason just sucks.
[ Parent ]

Um, correct me if I'm wrong (2.00 / 2) (#64)
by LilDebbie on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 01:35:19 PM EST

but can't we already get almost 100% of the energy by using much less complex reflective methods, e.g parabolic arrays, solar towers, etc?

Also, don't solar cells require energy to produce and replace when they fail it?

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]

no, heat cycle limitations then apply. (2.66 / 3) (#67)
by the spins on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 03:05:12 PM EST

carnot efficiency provides an upper bound; i can tell you now that real efficiency will be quite a bit less than even that.

 _
( )
 X
/ \ SUPPORT THE DEL GRIFFITH MODBOMBING CAMPAIGN

[ Parent ]

The same inefficiencies (none / 1) (#68)
by LilDebbie on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 03:15:06 PM EST

as traditional heat based generators though?

What kind of upper bounds we talking 'bout btw?

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]

theoretical limits are 100% (2.50 / 2) (#73)
by BottleRocket on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 06:43:52 PM EST

but that's if your heat sink is 0 degrees kelvin or if your heat source is infinity degrees. for a miserly generator running a combined cycle, like in a steam turbine power plant, typical efficiencies are 60-65%.

$ . . . . . $ . . . . . $ . . . . . $
. ₩ . . . . . ¥ . . . . . € . . . . . § . . . . . £
. . . . * . . . . . * . . . . . * . . . . . * . . . . . *
$ . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $
Yes I do download [child pornography], but I don't keep it any longer than I need to, so it can yield insight as to how to find more. --MDC
$ . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $
. . . . * . . . . . * . . . . . * . . . . . * . . . . . *
. ₩ . . . . . ¥ . . . . . € . . . . . § . . . . . £
$ . . . . . $ . . . . . $ . . . . . $
$B R Σ III$

[ Parent ]

Links (none / 0) (#118)
by brain in a jar on Mon Dec 18, 2006 at 01:46:52 AM EST

First wikipedias page on the methanol economy.

Olah has a book out "beyond oil and gas the methanol economy, but I haven't yet read it.

As far as I can remember he was talking about reacting CO2 with H2 (from electrolysis) to produce methanol. The trick seemed to be to find a way of separating CO2 from the atmosphere without using too much energy, otherwise you would need a higher concentration source of CO2 such as emissions from a fossil fuel plant.

Also here is a solar cell link though the story was circulated quite widely, so there is a lot of info out there.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

You failed to mention aquifer depletion. (none / 1) (#59)
by Fon2d2 on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 10:17:23 AM EST

That's another major issue with ethanol that almost nobody seems to mention. See here.

Not applicable (none / 1) (#60)
by Sgt York on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 10:50:41 AM EST

This technique uses ambient precipitation, and irrigation is not required. The effect would still occur as the soil would retain more water due to root systems, but growing grassland requires a lot less water than corn.

There is a reason for everything. Sometimes, that reason just sucks.
[ Parent ]

aquifer contamination (nt) (none / 0) (#82)
by khallow on Sat Dec 16, 2006 at 07:51:42 AM EST


Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

Prepare thyselves for the long emergency (2.80 / 5) (#63)
by LilDebbie on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 01:32:42 PM EST

I cannot wait.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

Why, pray tell, do you look forward to it?$ (none / 0) (#81)
by shinshin on Sat Dec 16, 2006 at 03:54:15 AM EST



____
We believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons --Dick Cheney, Meet the Press, March 16, 2003
[ Parent ]
Not a big fan of my fellow man (none / 0) (#85)
by LilDebbie on Sat Dec 16, 2006 at 10:13:25 AM EST

Nothing would please me more than to see their sense of self-importance dragged through the mud as they take to eating on another to stave off starvation.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]
So you welcome your own demise as well? (2.50 / 2) (#93)
by shinshin on Sat Dec 16, 2006 at 01:57:29 PM EST

Or have the skills that you've accumulated in your years of being a TS monkey somehome innoculated you from being a victim in the coming apocalypse?

____
We believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons --Dick Cheney, Meet the Press, March 16, 2003
[ Parent ]
My death is inevitable (none / 1) (#97)
by LilDebbie on Sat Dec 16, 2006 at 05:23:57 PM EST

Why should it concern me?

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]
So (none / 1) (#98)
by shinshin on Sat Dec 16, 2006 at 05:39:11 PM EST

you're indifferent to your own death, but you look forward to the deaths of all those around you?

You're one sick puppy.

____
We believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons --Dick Cheney, Meet the Press, March 16, 2003
[ Parent ]

luv you tew $ (none / 1) (#100)
by LilDebbie on Sat Dec 16, 2006 at 06:11:12 PM EST



My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]
Totally! (none / 0) (#123)
by Comrade Wonderful on Mon Dec 18, 2006 at 11:06:06 AM EST

Those good-looking successful people, you can't wait to see them get their comeuppance.

[ Parent ]
Just curious (none / 0) (#152)
by kingy on Sun Apr 22, 2007 at 01:09:41 AM EST

did you get this phrase from Kunstler's the Long Emergency?

[ Parent ]
Solving a non-existent problem (3.00 / 6) (#66)
by Enlarged to Show Texture on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 02:14:42 PM EST

After Armageddon, there will only be 144,000 people left. What's the problem again, exactly?


"Those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do." -- Isaac Asimov
Hey (3.00 / 3) (#71)
by Sgt York on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 05:26:28 PM EST

I'm just lookin' out for you heathens' well-being in the interim.

There is a reason for everything. Sometimes, that reason just sucks.
[ Parent ]

you know what? (none / 1) (#87)
by wampswillion on Sat Dec 16, 2006 at 11:38:18 AM EST

if i remember correctly, baldrason reached the same conclusion months ago regarding biofuels.  

how about that?

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! (3.00 / 3) (#95)
by Sgt York on Sat Dec 16, 2006 at 03:12:38 PM EST

Can I kill my own story after posting?

There is a reason for everything. Sometimes, that reason just sucks.
[ Parent ]

i'm serious (none / 1) (#96)
by wampswillion on Sat Dec 16, 2006 at 05:03:59 PM EST

and he even suggested the sea.  

[ Parent ]
Oh, well. (none / 0) (#103)
by Sgt York on Sun Dec 17, 2006 at 02:01:58 AM EST

I never thought he was stupid. In fact, he's always struck me as a very smart guy.

It's just that he's a very smart, very racist guy.

There is a reason for everything. Sometimes, that reason just sucks.
[ Parent ]

yes, i agree (none / 1) (#110)
by wampswillion on Sun Dec 17, 2006 at 01:06:25 PM EST

he IS a very smart guy.  all the more sad that he is a racist like he is.  a guy that smart ought to be able to think his way out of his hatred.

[ Parent ]
Have we established racism is wrong? (none / 0) (#124)
by Comrade Wonderful on Mon Dec 18, 2006 at 11:07:16 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Wampsy (none / 0) (#115)
by tetsuwan on Sun Dec 17, 2006 at 08:23:01 PM EST

Baldrguy is obsessed by maritime engineering to solve all of our problems.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

No problem (none / 0) (#89)
by svampa on Sat Dec 16, 2006 at 01:25:21 PM EST

The question is that the land you devote to biofuel is not devoted to food.

In the short term the solution is rather easy. We replace crop of food that allows the third bare survive for a crop of biofuel for the economy of the first world. Let's grow fodd for cars instead. That is already happening. Check here, here and here.



Um (2.20 / 5) (#91)
by trhurler on Sat Dec 16, 2006 at 01:42:02 PM EST

Hey idiot, nobody is seriously proposing using enzymatic ethanol (the kind produced from weeds) as our primary energy source. The point of it is to run vehicles, and it is more than adequate for that purpose.

The overall energy problems of the world can only be met over the long haul in basically one way: fusion. All sufficient hydrocarbon stores will eventually be exhausted (this will take longer than the hippie doomsayer capitalism hating crowd want to admit, but it obviously will happen sooner or later.) All the wind and solar you could ever hope to build won't even produce as much energy as biofuels could, so obviously they won't solve the problem, especially as energy demands continue to rise (which they will.) There's some interesting wave power research, but that has its own environmental problems, and might even, if deployed worldwide on a scale needed to generate most or all of our energy, cause tidal problems. Fissionable materials exist in finite quantities and while we SHOULD be using fission more as an interim solution (it may be dirty, but coal is dirtier and is inarguably killing and sickening a lot more people than all the world's fission plant contamination problems ever have or likely ever will,) they are not a really long term solution. (Decades, yes, maybe a few centuries tops.) Fusion, on the other hand, can be sustained basically until we will have to have left earth or perished. The only problem is, we have to keep things going until we get working fusion.

So in the short term, we need biofuels, hydrogen combustion, fuel cells, and fission power, with other types being used as supplements where appropriate (solar in deserts and other perpetually sunny areas, maybe some wave power here and there, maybe some wind power in really windy places, geothermal, etc.)

But yes, there IS a use for biofuels - at least, some of them. We can use waste oils profitably (they were going to exist anyway,) we can use enzymatic ethanol as a sustainable and cleaner alternative to gasoline, and while corn ethanol isn't sustainable in the US, various crop ethanols are very useful in other places (see Brazil.)

Your attempt to show that all biofuels are all useless relies on assumptions that aren't true. Namely, that we have to use them for everything or nothing at all, that all energy sources are suited to all energy needs, that the energy needs and available resources of all regions are of a kind, and that all sources of biofuels are only being produced for fuels (see biodiesel. As one example, restaurant chains could drastically reduce their need for mineral diesel in their logistics operations if they converted their waste oil.)

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

Did you bother to read the (2.66 / 3) (#94)
by Sgt York on Sat Dec 16, 2006 at 03:11:40 PM EST

last to paragraphs, or did you just get all upset when somebody said something you didn't like?

Oh, You didn't read them?

OK, I didn't think so. Didn't really expect it, eiter. Lots of numbers and data and stuff, and nobody likes to see that. Data and numbers just get in the way, right? If you had bothered to read it (and the rest, actually), you would have realized that "assumptions that aren't true" are, respectively, (1) not made, but instead explicitly addressed (2) also addressed; both portable and non-portable types are discussed (3) the last was not addressed because I could find no data on it. There is no hard data on exactly how much raw material is available, at least that I could find.

If you're going to rant and then go through all the trouble required to make it coherent, at least put forth the minimal extra effort required to make it pertinent.

Reading comprehension FTW!

There is a reason for everything. Sometimes, that reason just sucks.
[ Parent ]

I did read it (none / 0) (#137)
by trhurler on Thu Dec 21, 2006 at 12:11:05 AM EST

You're just wrong.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Oh, heavens, no (2.50 / 4) (#92)
by rhdntd on Sat Dec 16, 2006 at 01:50:59 PM EST

Biofuels are not the answer. Unless, of course, you want to try the sea.

Mustn't think about simple, adaptable organisms. It's not like algae are 10-250 times more efficient than any land crop at oil production. (Pick your own link.) Remember, the point of discussing biodiesel is subsidizing the good, honest, American corn farmer, not actually solving an energy problem.



-- 
"book chicks really seem to like anal"
  — Lady 3Jane
Did you see the JASON report? (none / 0) (#105)
by a517dogg on Sun Dec 17, 2006 at 10:44:28 AM EST

"JASON was asked by the Office of Biological and Environmental Research of the Department of Energy to assess the possibilities for using microorganisms to produce fuels as a metabolic product, in particular hydrogen or ethanol. We were asked to consider the prospects for achieving such biogenic fuel production in principle and in practice; and what the requirements and fundamental limitations are for achieving viability.
...Boosting the efficiency of fuel formation from microorganisms is an important research challenge for the twenty first century. It is perhaps the major technological application for the emerging field of synthetic biology. In addition to the exciting opportunities for producing ethanol or hydrogen, microorganisms, either individually or in communities, might be used to directly produce liquid hydrocarbons.
...The systems biology of microorganisms is more tractable than that of plants, and thus microorganisms represent an excellent opportunity."

Not gonna happen anytime soon, but still a cool possibility.  Running your car off amoeba farts...
Uff da.

forgot the link (none / 0) (#106)
by a517dogg on Sun Dec 17, 2006 at 10:45:03 AM EST

http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/dod/jason/micro.pdf
Uff da.
[ Parent ]
Thank you for telling us what biofuel researchers (3.00 / 4) (#107)
by Norkakn on Sun Dec 17, 2006 at 10:47:51 AM EST

have known for years.

And to make it a flame at that.  Ethanol, in the US, is politically, not scientifically motivated.  I realize that there are scientists, such as the ones who NPR interviewed concerning the praries, that are trying to make it work a bit better, but anyone who looks into it knows that it is a dead end, for the US.  (Brazil.. possibly a different story)

You reference the sea in your last comment.  I'm not sure if you were being a schmuck or not, but that was a lot closer to the truth.  There are algae that can be grown in a few days, are mostly oil, and live in saltwater.  The energy density per area is also amazingly high.  Most of the non oil energy can either me processed into ethanol, or recycled as food to the next generation.

I think that one of the biggest problems is people who think we need one solution.  There are some places where wind makes sense, there are some places where geothermal makes sense, there are a number of places where nuclear makes sense and there are a lot of places where biofuels make sense.  I'm not sure that there are any places where coal makes sense.  Given the amount of time it takes CO2 to normalize in our atmosphere, I don't want to have to apolagize when we are dying that we didn't do what we could back when we first knew.

More negative than I intended (none / 0) (#109)
by Norkakn on Sun Dec 17, 2006 at 10:58:12 AM EST

You have some very valid points, but I think you are  dismissing ideas too quickly, and being too negative.

[ Parent ]
Actually (none / 0) (#136)
by Sgt York on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 01:50:22 PM EST

I started off very positive; read the original diary entry this sprouted from, it is quite optimistic. I turned negative after a poster (MMM) suggested I run the land requirement numbers. I did, and they sucked.

There is a reason for everything. Sometimes, that reason just sucks.
[ Parent ]

Corn? (none / 0) (#125)
by ricardobeat on Mon Dec 18, 2006 at 10:59:40 PM EST

Making ethanol from corn may not be economically feasible, but sugarcane is a whole different story.

A little search for "sugarcane ethanol" on Google will put down your story :)

dont forget the beats (none / 0) (#150)
by caridon20 on Thu Feb 22, 2007 at 08:53:08 AM EST

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sugar_beet

Are working alternatives for the colder climates.

The fact that the US still tries to use corn is pure idiocy.

/C
Dissent is NOT Treason Quis custodiet ipsos custodes
[ Parent ]

Agriculture destroys the environment (none / 1) (#128)
by doconnor on Tue Dec 19, 2006 at 04:17:12 PM EST

Another problem with biofuel is that farming is that agriculture is the probably the world's most environmentally destructive industry. It converts vast amounts of land into an unnatural monoculture that completely displaces the natural environment.

It encourages people to live in rural areas, spreading the damage they do over a wide area, rather then concentrating the damage in relatively small urban areas.

When you hear about a species threatened because of habitat destruction, it is usually agriculture to blame.

Expanding agriculture to provide energy as well as food would likely be as bad for the environment as global warming, even if it was workable.

Instead we should be working towards eliminating agriculture and producing food in laboratory like conditions where environmental and ethical problems are virtually eliminated.


*sigh* (none / 1) (#129)
by SnowBlind on Tue Dec 19, 2006 at 05:14:16 PM EST

And here I thought someone else had figured out that the real gotcha about running out of oil is feeding all those people in the middle east that are using oil money to make up for lack oil.

All that food they eat is grown here or in Europe with the oil we buy from them. They run out, or the nutters win and they try and strangle us for oil, the real problem is what to do with the suddenly unfeedable without imports 80% of the population of Saudi Arabi and Egypt, or about 80 million very hungry people.

In the Middle east only Jordan, Isreal and Iran can produce enough food with their current agriculture output.

There is but One Kernel, and root is His Prophet.

Just as we can't run out of oil (none / 0) (#132)
by nightfire on Tue Dec 19, 2006 at 09:29:47 PM EST

.. we can't run out of energy.

No matter how desperate the situation gets, I will sell you the oils off my ass for $1 billion per liter.

What we're talking about is increases in prices for our existing energy sources and transport mechanisms.

Bio fuels may be a cheaper alternative to fossil fuel oil at one point.  It won't be because bio fuels are cheap, it'll be because fossil fuels are expensive.

They'll probably be reserved for air transportation, as the rest of our transportation industry will doubtless have converted to electric power.

As others have said, nuclear is the only real mid-term option we have available, and the world will gradually move towards it.  You can see the beginnings of it in US politics today.

The sky isn't falling, it's just going to get more expensive to prop up.

Please re-read the article. (none / 0) (#144)
by vectro on Wed Dec 27, 2006 at 10:56:33 AM EST

There's no mention of energy prices there. If energy gets more expensive, that would just make corn ethonol an even worse deal (since it is an energy-losing proposition).

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]
Just to put this to rest (none / 1) (#138)
by xmedar on Thu Dec 21, 2006 at 06:50:51 PM EST

The only biodiesel that can be produced on the scale required and without the massive energy inputs of conventional crops is from algae. Ethanol and hydrogen are non-starters, nuclear fission as someone already mentioned currently could sustain us for electricity production for ~250 years but once you have increased the use 10 fold or more to eliminate fossil fuels you're down to 25 years, for electricity production we could invest massively in renewables, wind, wave, tide mostly, solar is still behind them, though fusion is the only long term answer, unless someone here happens to be able to tap zero-point energy, inwhich case we really have to talk. I don't think the current energy problems are so much technical, they are mostly political, ask the oil industry lobbyists, certainly we won't see use of algae biodiesel in the US until the likes of Exxon-Mobil and Chevron go down, as their fortunes are tied to that of the US political and economic establishment, real alternatives will only become politically viable after the fall of the US, with the current weak dollar, massive deficits, crashing housing market and 2 lost wars this will hopefully come quickly, and then the rest of us can get humanity out of the hole dug by those people. As for the alternative in the article, yes it does work, and I'm sure it will be used, but whether it's use will be more for energy or just improving the land quality we shall have to see.

EXCUSE ME!!! (none / 1) (#142)
by mrt on Mon Dec 25, 2006 at 07:07:03 AM EST

The main point of the article was this:

They did it again in 2004, and found that in each hectare, there was an additional 4000kg of carbon in the soil. Yes, friends and neighbors, this stuff sequesters carbon.

Grasslands sequester carbon!! How about that? Get back in your SUV and go and buy that 52inch plasma. The good news has arrived!

-

I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous

i call 'troll' (none / 1) (#146)
by bezerk on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 08:40:56 PM EST

i know your numbers are within 10-20% of true; they're statistics, aren't they? and i know that anyone that isn't in favor of biofuels is chanting nuclear, nuclear, nuclear.

but that doesn't explain why i call troll, now does it? i call troll/shill/etc because this is the energy industry talking. "pay no attention to any energy source that could allow you to live off the grid." that is all i hear; you'll never replace what you already have so don't go there.

check it out, in another 20 years, at the rate that china and india are burning fuel, there won't be any left. and frankly my life won't have been improved by having the big energy catheter stuck in my veins, even if it was cheaper in the immediate short term.

and thats why i call "troll".

ok fine, but (none / 0) (#147)
by cDiss on Tue Jan 09, 2007 at 06:31:27 PM EST

I'd rather see you address the pressing issue of doing an a/b of san pedro.

step by step procedures are preferred.

Energy 2.0 (none / 0) (#148)
by Sinter on Sun Feb 18, 2007 at 05:33:38 PM EST

It may be infeasible if things remain as they are. But our current dependencies were by a cheap fossil fuel splurge.

In the long haul, things cannot remain as they are. Restructuring how we move around, how we build, how we consume ... inevitable. With that restructuring, and with the integration of solar-powered alternatives like wind, ethanol becomes a long-term prospect that fits the blend in an Energy 2.0 world.

We've constructed (with encouragement from those who profited) an intense dependency. We can choose to phase in intelligent alternatives and move smoothly to E2 ... or just react to one crisis after another ... and suffer the consequences.

ok lets just kill this pimentell idiocy. (none / 0) (#151)
by caridon20 on Thu Feb 22, 2007 at 09:24:56 AM EST

http://www.uidaho.edu/bioenergy/NewsReleases/Biodiesel%20Energy%20Balance_v2a.pd f
http://solarkismet.wordpress.com/2005/08/01/ethanol-energy-balance/
http://rael.berkeley.edu/EBAMM/FarrellEthanolScience012706.pdf

can pepole PLESE stop citing Pimentel, his papers (or more corectly his paper, as he releses just about the same paper every year) is full of errors and not worth the energy used to print it.

and finaly.
WHY would any idiot Keep trying to create ethanol from corn ehen you have cane and beet as a much better alternative ? they have as much as 18% shugar content and are easy to grow. Start doing the calculations on them instead and you weill get a different answer.
(yes i know it is about the US corn lobby, but this is a international forum, lift your heads a little.)

/C

Dissent is NOT Treason Quis custodiet ipsos custodes

Food, fuel and land | 152 comments (135 topical, 17 editorial, 0 hidden)
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