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Woodchip
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 7:13 am View user's profile Reply with quote Send private message

I know some here think going all green renewable energy is the way to go. Wind turbines, solar panels and whatever else fits into the catagory of go green. In light of the Japanese forever tarnishing the way to build and safe guard nuclear energy, lets take a look at what it will take to fulfill the greeners hearts desire:

"Late last year, two engineering professors, Mark Jacobson of Stanford and Mark Delucchi of University of California Davis, published two papers in Energy Policy offering their own detailed analysis of how the world could get 100 percent of its electricity from existing renewables—mostly solar and wind—by 2050. The task would be staggering. We would need nearly four million five-megawatt wind turbines—i.e., turbines twice as big as those currently on the market. (China just built its first five-megawatter last year.) Plus 90,000 large-scale solar farms—for reference, there are only about three dozen in existence now. Plus 1.7 billion three-kilowatt rooftop solar systems—that is, one for every four people on the planet. But it's doable. The main challenge, the authors found, would be mining enough rare-earth metals—like neodymium—for all those electric motors. So, again, mind-blowingly hard, but it's at least possible to go carbon-free without nuclear (or algae). What's more, the world wouldn't have to pay that much more for energy than it does today."
Bunyip
DBB Staff




PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 8:12 am View user's profile Reply with quote Send private message

Woodchip wrote:
I know some here think going all green renewable energy is the way to go.


I'm curious. What alternative is there to "renewable energy"?

There is a buzzword: "Sustainable". It wasn't always a buzzword. It used to mean "that which can be sustained" instead of all the happy-slappy connotations it has today. Eventually we're going to run out of oil. Sooner than we'd like, later than predicted, most likely. But the fact remains: eventually we're going to run out of liquefied dinosaurs to burn. Thus oil is not "sustainable".

Would it not be wise to have an alternative in place?

Personally, I'm skeptical of both sides of the debate in politics. Their motives are questionable at best, and once they have aroused their sheep with their alarmist words, the attention of the herd is all too often cynically manipulated away from the actual issue which kicked off the panic. However, I do think the technological "arms race" is potentially a very good thing. The thinking behind many of our current technologies is based on an assumption of cheap energy and with no thought for anything but expedience.

_________________
BELIEVE NOTHING, no matter where you read it, or who has said it,
not even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason
and your own common sense. - GAUTAMA BUDDHA
Zuruck
Ace




PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 10:39 am View user's profile Reply with quote Send private message

I follow Bun's logic. Because of the US's rate of oil consumption, we will forever be tied to the happenings in the Middle East. We simply do not have the reserves available to us where we could be oil independent; it's simply the truth.

Now I'm really going to piss off woodchip. If the country would have followed Jimmy Carter's advice and started moving in this direction 30 years ago, perhaps we wouldn't have to be on oil at all. It was a nice gesture by Carter to put solar panels on the roof of the White House, too bad Reagan came in and pulled them off.

I would love to see actual energy technology (that could rival the input / output ratio of coal / oil) developed here in the states. But it won't happen. Ethanol is a joke, but a good way to get the first primary state on your side.

I don't know, I just wish this topic could be talked about without both sides always fighting about it. Like you said Bun, oil will run out. It's not an endless supply and no one here likes having to send trillions of dollars to foreign governments to keep us running. Wouldn't it be nice to have our own energy and give the Middle East the big middle finger??
Bunyip
DBB Staff




PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 11:13 am View user's profile Reply with quote Send private message

Even with the Middle East out of the equation (and I'd be willing to pay a premium for fuel to make that happen), even if we found new oil reserves that are huge and easily exploited, we're still going to run out sooner rather than later. That's a fact. We've had almost a century of cheap energy - we need to divert some resources into finding our next energy source. There is a significant energy cost inherent in making a change and if we don't start now it will only become costlier. Personally I still favor nuclear power - fission if we have to, fusion if we can figure it out. There are MUCH safer reactor designs than the Japanese plants (and more in development) so what happened there is certainly a tragedy on many levels.

On another note, a little known fact is that one of the first production automobiles almost ran on ethanol - but gasoline was cheaper as it was basically considered a waste product. The fact is, it's still cheaper than ethanol unless we stop looking at impacting the food supplies and come up with a way to produce fuel ethanol cheaply and easily (this looked promising but the pace is glacial) Biodiesel has many of the same drawbacks, and until we can create biofuels without affecting fuel supply, expense is going to be an issue. Maybe we can stop paying farmers NOT to farm? That might be a good start Wink

Solar power is still a bad bet in many ways - the technology is improving, however, and one day soon it should be much more viable - the high-efficiency flexible printed solar panels I saw at the AUSA show for military use really opened my eyes. Wind power is another problematic technology, although there is much potential there as well. Let's not forget geothermal and tidal power too. Long term, I don't think we need solar farms. How about solar panels on every roof instead? There is actually a company making solar panel shingles/tiles that can be installed rather than traditional roofing. Put storage arrays in the walls or in a small utility room, and connect to the local electrical utility. A crowd-sourced solar grid. Forget about "cloud computing" - I think it's high time we enter the age of cloud energy production.

So what about my question, Woody Wink

_________________
BELIEVE NOTHING, no matter where you read it, or who has said it,
not even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason
and your own common sense. - GAUTAMA BUDDHA
Grendel
Ninja Admin




PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 12:53 pm View user's profile Reply with quote Send private message

Long term ? Fusion for the win. Wish they would pump some money into Bussards Polywell. Sad

_________________
Borders? I have never seen one. But I have heard they exist in the minds of some people. -- Thor Heyerdahl
Durch einen Stich bereits geschafft, erschlafft und ohne Saft und Kraft! -- Donald, examining a Deflator Dextrospirillus
Woodchip
Ace




PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 5:08 pm View user's profile Reply with quote Send private message

Well Bun one area is coal oil:

"Anderson said the Air Force plans to fuel half its North American fleet with a synthetic-fuel blend by 2016. To do so, it would need 400 million gallons of coal-based fuel annually."

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,340923,00.html

Also, while much work needs be done, there is also the idea of space based solar collectors that could then beam the stored energy to earth via micro wave transmitters.

Just a couple of ideas off the top of my head
Avder
Hotshot




PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 6:24 pm View user's profile Reply with quote Send private message

I think theres a lot of promise in renewables on the horizon. Solar is advancing all the time, as is battery technology. I read somewhere that one of the larger buildings in Chicago is going to have transparent solar panels coating its exterior and its expected to end up producing a few megawatts of power when its all said and done. I think this is potentially a great route for cities with lots of tall buildings to take in order to reduce their reliance on other energy sources. In addition, the advances in solar and battery technologies will hopefully make it a lot easier for the average home owner to take their homes "off the grid" by producing enough via solar and maybe a small generator for times when the batteries run low.

All that talk about solar aside, I still beieve in nuclear technology. We could really improve the technology in this country by simply doing what a lot of other nuclear using countries do and re-refine the spent fuel rods so they can be reused. Currently spent fuel rods in the US are considered unuseable waste after one cycle and are not used any further. Reclaiming the useable fuel inside those rods would help provide more fuel.

Honestly, a well designed plant will release little to no radiation into the surrounding environment. This chart right here can help put radiation amounts into perspective: http://xkcd.com/radiation/ Notice how living within 50 miles of a Nuclear Power Plant has a smaller dose than EATING A BANANA. I think as long as we design the reactors to survive anything mother nature can throw at it intact, and design it to disengage all the fuel in the event that something damages it, we really eliminate most, if not all the risk that the anti-nuclear hippies are crying about. And did you know at one point there were plans to build nuclear powered cars? Man, that woulda been cool.

Then again, if we rely too much on nuclear, we either need to find a way to synthesize new uranium and plutonium in an energy effecient way, or we just have the oil debate all over again when supplies of uranium start to run out.

Fusion would be great, but sustainable fusion is a pipe dream with current technology. The energy required to initiate fusion in a tiny amount of fuel far, far exceeds any energy that we could actually capture from the reaction. There are some indications that current mathematical models show that a fusion reaction that yields more energy than it requires to initiate and sustain may in fact be impossible absent a massive natural source of energy, like the gravity well of a Star.

One source of energy I havnt seen mentioned yet is hydro-electric. This one is really nice as water is always flowing in a stream, and the earth is gonna have tides until the moon drifts far enough away that they stop (thats not gonna be for a long, long time), so why not use that natural source of energy too?

What about geo-thermal? Another great natural source of energy.

I dont like ethanol at all. I hate corn in general. We need to stop growing so much of that friggin plant. Its in everything now in the form of high fructose corn syrup, and thats a whole other discussion along with corn subsidies, but I dont like ethanol primarily because it relies so much on corn and its disgustingly ineffiecient. I would say if anything its an energy sink, rather than a source, because the energy used to grow it could be used for much better purposes.

So in summation, I think the two biggest technologies we should be throwing our money at are Solar and Nuclear, with healthy injections from hydroelectric and geothermal. If we can get fusion to work in a practical application somehow, great, if not, no big deal. We should be able to harness more than enough energy from the other sources I listed. The only thing that needs to happen is the oil and coal lobbies need to get the fuck out of the way of progress.
Bunyip
DBB Staff




PostPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2011 7:47 am View user's profile Reply with quote Send private message

Coal (in any form) falls under the the same category as Petroleum, really. It's a very finite resource. It's all well and good if it will wean us from the Arab Oil tit, but the high start-up costs are almost literally astronomical. For the military it makes more sense, as fossil-based fuels (or the synthetics thereof) are energy dense and highly portable in a way that other technologies have not yet achieved - and a supply of energy is a mission-critical logistical necessity. For the civilian market, the concept (and the attendant $5 billion dollar per plant cost) may still be in the blue-sky realm - and it's also kinda shitty for the environment too, just like using oil if not more so. Either way, a reduction on foreign energy dependence through coal exploitation may be good in the shorter term but is not a longer-term solution.

Speaking of astronomical, let's talk about space-based beamed solar power. Great idea in theory, possibly even a great idea in practice. There are some issues however, such as the fact that the microwave footprint of the sattelites becomes an instant "no fly" zone unless low-power transmission is used - which means large rectenna farms - which is one of the problems with a photovoltaic solution as well, really. There are a bunch of technical challenges involved as well but overall it is a very interesting field, and realistically I think it will be a future necessity unless we can figure out to create an economical way to initiate a sustained, energy-positive fusion reaction.

Speaking of Space-based power: I recently read a very interesting proposal involving small sattelites (smallsats) in a relatively low, fast orbit. They can be made tough enough to launch from a relatively economical railgun-based launch system (MASS DRIVER!) due to their relatively small size. Of course, we'd have to build the railgun first Wink The idea was to place the sats in relatively low, fast orbits, and utilize higher power microwaves to beam power to smaller, linear reception farms. A sequence of sattelites in the same orbit could provide continuous power... and we could sell that power to anyone who wanted to build a receiving array along that orbit as well. (Or just switch the sats off when they're over non-paying territory).

Avder wrote:
I dont like ethanol at all. I hate corn in general. We need to stop growing so much of that friggin plant. Its in everything now in the form of high fructose corn syrup, and thats a whole other discussion along with corn subsidies, but I dont like ethanol primarily because it relies so much on corn and its disgustingly ineffiecient. I would say if anything its an energy sink, rather than a source, because the energy used to grow it could be used for much better purposes.


You're pretty hung up on corn - and I agree that it's a terrible way to produce ethanol, particularly if you're using the the edible bit. There are other, more promising technologies, including cellulosic ethanol and an interesting project called Algenol which utilizes a form of algae that produces ethanol directly which can be used without killing the algae. Cellulosic ethanol can utilize almost anything from grass clippings to specialty crops such as switchgrass. Bottom line is that there's more to ethanol than corn. I am somewhat skeptical of ethanol in the short term but in the long term it a renewable, dense, portable form of energy which may be critical in certain applications. Don't be hatin'

There's also an interesting possibility of growing algae utilizing sewage to create biodiesel (or maybe the Algenol come to think of it!) Killing two birds with one stone, that is Smile

_________________
BELIEVE NOTHING, no matter where you read it, or who has said it,
not even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason
and your own common sense. - GAUTAMA BUDDHA
Woodchip
Ace




PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 8:35 am View user's profile Reply with quote Send private message

There is another form of energy that I remembered reading about....Helium 3:

"The team estimates the moon probably holds more than 1 million metric tons of helium-3 on its surface, more than enough energy to provide the nation with more than 1,000 years of electricity."

http://www.energybulletin.net/node/192

Probably a ways off as it has to be transported here:

“If we could land the space shuttle on the moon, fill the cargo with canisters of helium-3 mined from the surface and bring the shuttle back to Earth, that cargo would supply the entire electrical power needs of the United States for an entire year,” he said."

Seems to me I read someplace that perhaps a railgun system could be used to shoot canisters towards the earth where they could be picked up and landed by robotic shuttles.
Thorne
Ace




PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 10:04 am View user's profile Reply with quote Send private message

Finally a realistic application for my patented Inter-Planetary Hamster Tubing Delivery System!

_________________
"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might;
for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going."
Avder
Hotshot




PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 10:24 am View user's profile Reply with quote Send private message

Anything dealing with the moon is a ways off, especially anything that requires a permanent settlement.

Ever read up on moon dust? You know, the stuff that covers the moon? Turns out its about as bad for your lungs as asbestos and quicker acting. They need to find a way to deal with that if theres gonna be permanent settlements on the moon.
Zuruck
Ace




PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 11:33 am View user's profile Reply with quote Send private message

Regolith (moon dust) is nasty bad.

Even though some of these ideas may not be plausible, the key here is that at least people are thinking outside the fossil-fuel box. The greatest day ever will be when we can pull all of our embassies and troops out of the Middle East and give them a resounding "Fuck Yo Oil Bitch" complete with bling'ed middle finger.
Bunyip
DBB Staff




PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 12:03 pm View user's profile Reply with quote Send private message

One of my tinfoil hat-wearing friends has told me that by this time next year, we will be using domestic and western-hemisphere oil exclusively, while the eastern hemisphere will be using Russian oil. The intent being to effectively embargo and deprive all of the Arab oil states of income and thereby squash them.

I think it a worthy goal although I sure hope his prediction of $10.00/gallon gasoline doesn't come true.

_________________
BELIEVE NOTHING, no matter where you read it, or who has said it,
not even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason
and your own common sense. - GAUTAMA BUDDHA
Zuruck
Ace




PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 12:18 pm View user's profile Reply with quote Send private message

Yeah that makes sense.

10 dollar gasoline is fine....just as long as you no longer want there to be an American economy. $4.50 gasoline brought this economy to a standstill.
Woodchip
Ace




PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2011 6:31 am View user's profile Reply with quote Send private message

Here's something new I picked up on while watching NatGeo. Seems locked in the oceans sediments are vast amounts of Methane clathrates, of which they can be used as a fuel source:

"The worldwide amounts of methane bound in gas hydrates is conservatively estimated to total twice the amount of carbon to be found in all known fossil fuels on Earth. [3]"

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

Now, even more interesting if I heard right, CO2 can be pumped down into the oceans sediments where pressure and temperature will transform CO2 into ice crystals and thus be a means to sequester it:

"The carbon dioxide, in liquid form, would be brought to the sequestration site by ship or pipeline, and piped into the sea floor with equipment like that used by the oil industry for drilling deep-sea wells. Once beneath the sea floor, the carbon dioxide would interact with the surrounding fluids and produce hydrate ice crystals, which would plug the rock pores, serving as a secondary cap on the carbon dioxide. Over hundreds of years, the carbon dioxide would dissolve in the surrounding water, and then would only have the potential of leaking out by diffusion, a slow process that would take millions of years, the researchers say. Within the next five years they hope to run a large-scale field test of this new approach."

http://www.technologyreview.com/read_article.aspx?id=17274&ch=biztech&a=f

Or from a different paper:

http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2008/07/11/0804397105.full.pdf+html
Bunyip
DBB Staff




PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2011 7:06 am View user's profile Reply with quote Send private message

LOL so we're creating landfills...err, sea-fills, for CO2? Talk about treating the symptoms rather than the disease.

_________________
BELIEVE NOTHING, no matter where you read it, or who has said it,
not even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason
and your own common sense. - GAUTAMA BUDDHA
Thorne
Ace




PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2011 9:13 am View user's profile Reply with quote Send private message

It's a little sad that only my children or grandchildren will be around to see how that backfires on humanity.

_________________
"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might;
for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going."
Behemoth
DBB Staff




PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2011 1:08 pm View user's profile Reply with quote Send private message

You're assuming alot there thorne.
Avder
Hotshot




PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2011 3:48 pm View user's profile Reply with quote Send private message

Anyone know off hand what the process is for breaking CO2 down into just Carbon and Oxygen? I know plants release oxygen, but they use the Carbon to create sugars and stuff that they use as food.

Heres another plant/CO2 question: is anyone researching a bio-engineered plant with an extremely high metabolism that could just be planted as a way of sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere? Anyone know what the most efficient plant per cubic meter is for removing CO2 and spewing out Oxygen?
Grendel
Ninja Admin




PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2011 4:44 pm View user's profile Reply with quote Send private message

Sugarcane is the most "efficient" plant w/ a photosynthetic efficiency of 7-8%.

_________________
Borders? I have never seen one. But I have heard they exist in the minds of some people. -- Thor Heyerdahl
Durch einen Stich bereits geschafft, erschlafft und ohne Saft und Kraft! -- Donald, examining a Deflator Dextrospirillus
Woodchip
Ace




PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2011 6:46 am View user's profile Reply with quote Send private message

Sugarcane is short term tho. Somewhere I read that redwoods or sequoias are possible the best carbon sequestering plants around.
Avder
Hotshot




PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2011 4:48 pm View user's profile Reply with quote Send private message

Yeah, thats why I said cubic meter and not square meter. I kinda figured a towering tree would be more efficient than something thats not even as tall as a full grown person.
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