Reply Sat 15 Mar, 2008 11:24 pm
Considering how dependent the world is on foreign oil, and how dissatisfied people are at paying the price asked for gasoline (at least in the US), why have I heard nothing about the development of synthetic fuels? Such profound silence about this topic is difficult to understand. Are they working feverishly to produce artificial gasoline and it's just that I somehow miss the frequent news items about it, or is there a longstanding, bizarre silence about solving a serious problem?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 3,754 • Replies: 45
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dadpad
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Mar, 2008 11:26 pm
What would you suggest synthetic gasoline be made from?
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Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Mar, 2008 06:34 am
If your point is that the problem is insoluble, fine, but a priori, it's not obvious that a substance couldn't be synthesized that burns properly.

My issue is hearing exactly zero on this topic on the scale of decades, even though it puts us at the mercy of the oil producers and industry.
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mushypancakes
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Mar, 2008 11:13 am
I haven't heard much about it either. To be fair, haven't done the research on it either.

What I am hearing a lot of even casually now is BioFuels.

That seems to pose problems of its own.

What about hydrogen? Not for all situations, but it's had success.
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roger
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Mar, 2008 11:45 am
I think Germany in the Second World War, and South Africa during the trade embargo both produced something like gasoline from coal. Coal can be used to produce methane (natural gas) as well. I'm not sure either process produces more usable fuel than goes into the production. The energy for production comes from more coal, and there are objections to burning coal.

Biofuels sound great, but if the basis is used cooking oil, used cooking oil could become very expensive as the process becomes wide spread. Soy oil, and similar vegitable oils are not only expensive, usable quantities take farmland out of food production. The same is true of ethanol made from corn.

Hydrogen would work. It has to come from somewhere, and there is no gain in energy, though the energy can be made more portable for use in vehicles.

In other words, from an energy standpoint, I haven't heard of a useful source of feedstocks, nor an acceptable source for the energy needed to produce the fuels. We, in the US, may give priority to energy independence, in which case, any of the above may be used. It won't be cheap.
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CalamityJane
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Mar, 2008 12:25 pm
I wish they'd push ethanol fuel more urgently. It's a good solid alternative to gasoline. We have plenty of cornfields to produce ethanol.
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spendius
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Mar, 2008 12:32 pm
And who produces the corn?
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dadpad
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Mar, 2008 02:18 pm
A sawmill owner in Alabama, Wayne Keith, has converted two of his trucks to run on wood. You can see his first truck at video.aol.com. His second truck gets about 7 km per kg of dry wood. About 2.4 kg of wood will provide the same mileage as a litre of petrol. It only takes about 45 seconds to get the engine to run on wood. The original petrol system is kept in place so he can switch from one fuel to the other on the fly. You can read more about his wood-fuel truck at www.sfws.auburn.edu. Source: NZIF Newsletter, Letter from Professor David South, Auburn, USA

http://video.aol.com/video-detail/wood-burning-truck/2199427265

http://www.sfws.auburn.edu/south/woodtruck.pdf
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farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Mar, 2008 02:59 pm
Its a STanley STeamer.

We have the technology to make diesel and jet fuel from both coal , oil shales, and tar sands, by insitu retorting.
All wed have to do is change the primary engines to burn diesel and JP, because the oil shales are actually wax shales which need a lot of high temp transformation and esterification. Same thing with coal. We have a hell of a lot of coal thats all too thin to be mined and too close to populqted areas for step back mining. SO underground retorting is a way to make it work. As far as environmental costs. In the US , we have 2 major oil shale fields that are about 200 mi squared each , or roughly the size of 1/3 of DElaware. In those fields is , together, over 2.4 and 1.2 TRILLION barrels of keragen based diesel fuel.

French fry oil is ok for small ops and company experimentation (weve been making"cooking oil" biodiesel for over a year now) and we have 1 guy almost half time on collecting raw fats, filtering, blending, heating and esterifying. For that we now get about 400 gal every 2 weeks. Its costing us (all things considered) about 2.50 a gallon. (We are writing off costs on a 1 year basis plus Pa has some energy inducements). Ive always been told that to keep the activity as R&D would be more advantageous, but we dont plan to get into the fuel business.

I think that the energy trades from ethanol are not as attractive as wed been led to believe. ANyway, Brazil is only using ethanol from sugar cane because its a "left over" its not a loss of sugar. In our case, corn ethanol elimanates corn from the food chain and drives up the commodity price for what?
Weve known about trash ethanol and switchgrass ethanol. Im no expert on ethanol but Im skeptical about its value and cost basis.

OH YEH, ethanol uses a lot of water resources to chill the fermentation tanks. IF the fermentation iis allowed to go on at ambient, the alcohol production is about 6% while if the fermentation is kept at 60 degrees F , the production is about 12%. WHen the distillation is completed that accounts for 2 times the alky.

COrn brewers wste does have a cattle food use so theres not a complete wste. However, it must be dried and mixed with dry molasses to make it palatable to the cattle(I read that in a cattle growers magazine, amybe cowdoc knows about feeding ethanol corn wste to cows or pigs)
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spendius
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Mar, 2008 06:56 pm
Waste of time fm.

Nothing can live with pumping it out of the ground a million gallons a minute.

Nothing.

It's an affectation.
0 Replies
 
dadpad
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 Mar, 2008 12:07 am
Regardless of what source material is used to create energy, Co2 is released converting it. We need desperatly to stop using/wasting carbon based resources and move onto a positive storage situation.

Sugar cane in Aust is about carbon nuetral.
A better Co2 outcome for sugar cane would be to return waste to decompose in fields. This of course leaves the mills that use bagass to fire boilers for energy production without an energy resource. Its a no win situation.

As far as I can see there is really only one answer and that is kill lots of people so demand is reduced.

Lets start with the rednecks

Getting back to the original question, which i find naive, at best, Synthetics are mostly made from oil or oil derivatives. You cant just "create" an energy source. It has to come from somewhere.
0 Replies
 
Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 Mar, 2008 04:40 am
dadpad wrote:
Regardless of what source material is used to create energy, Co2 is released converting it. We need desperatly to stop using/wasting carbon based resources and move onto a positive storage situation.

Sugar cane in Aust is about carbon nuetral.
A better Co2 outcome for sugar cane would be to return waste to decompose in fields. This of course leaves the mills that use bagass to fire boilers for energy production without an energy resource. Its a no win situation.

As far as I can see there is really only one answer and that is kill lots of people so demand is reduced.

Lets start with the rednecks

Getting back to the original question, which i find naive, at best, Synthetics are mostly made from oil or oil derivatives. You cant just "create" an energy source. It has to come from somewhere.

Obviously, you can't simply create energy from the void and then turn around and burn it, however, it's not obvious to me why one should assume that oil products are necessarily the only natural source of the required chemical energy. They may be, but I don't see that it's naive not to assume it from the beginning. Our bodies, for instance, metabolize a wide variety of things other than oil to produce energy. You apparently believe that even to ask the question whether something else in the world can be burned properly is naive.
0 Replies
 
dadpad
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 Mar, 2008 06:01 am
Your interpretation of synthetic and mine are obviously different Brandon.

I see articals on biofuels on a weekly basis. Biofuel from sugarcane or wood fibre and other cellulose products. Trash burners of many types from domestic to 40 mw power stations, Ethanol, methane hydrogen or 1/2 a dozen other proposed mobile and non mobile energy sources. Used vegetable oils are old news and The demand for canola as an input for energy production is beginning to impact on futures prices for that grain

Heres one
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10498512

Here's another
http://www.connellwagner.com.au/cwagner/uploads/documents/PER.pdf.

want more?
An Irish energy concern has been reported investigating the possibility of developing a wood pellet mill in Minnesota which would consume about 1 million green tons/year of wood. A Minnesota government official told IWR the company, Kedco Group of Cork, Ireland, is looking into environmental permits for the facility.

Two groups of investors spearheaded by Birchem Logging are also involved in the development of two wood pellet mills in Minnesota. The group will invest US$3 million to increase output 20% for an existing operation purchased earlier this year by Valley Forest Wood Products. It will consume about 120,000 green tons/year of wood. A second US$8.5-10 million greenfield pellet plant is being built by Mountain Timber Wood Products. A Birchem spokesperson said the mill will consume about 200,000 tons/year of wood and should be operational by fall.

In December 2007, Green Circle Bio Energy Inc., a Florida-based company owned by JCE Group AB of Sweden opened the world's largest wood pellet plant in Jackson. The plant cost US$65 million and will produce 500,000 tons of pellets annually enough to generate 2,400 gigawatt hours of electricity. The pellets will be shipped to Europe, as there is little demand from U.S. power plants for woody biomass. Source: RISI, Bioenergy Association Newsletter, February 2008

All of these combined might make an impact on oil consumption.

If oil was completely replaced with nuclear fuel tomorrow Yellow cake would run out in 3-5 years.

The only real answer is to reduce demand.
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 Mar, 2008 06:19 am
dadpad wrote:
A better Co2 outcome for sugar cane would be to return waste to decompose in fields. This of course leaves the mills that use bagass to fire boilers for energy production without an energy resource. Its a no win situation.

Decomposition releases the CO2 as well.

You need something like the little creatures that created all of the limestone beds if you really want to take CO2 out of the equation.

Besides, some recent studies on last year's global cold snap put the whole man-made-greenhouse-gasses-are-causing-global-warming explanation into question.
0 Replies
 
dadpad
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 Mar, 2008 06:25 am
DrewDad wrote:
dadpad wrote:
A better Co2 outcome for sugar cane would be to return waste to decompose in fields. This of course leaves the mills that use bagass to fire boilers for energy production without an energy resource. Its a no win situation.

Decomposition releases the CO2 as well.

You need something like the little creatures that created all of the limestone beds if you really want to take CO2 out of the equation.

Besides, some recent studies on last year's global cold snap put the whole man-made-greenhouse-gasses-are-causing-global-warming explanation into question.


Rate of decomposition and resultant co2 release is slower by several years compared to burning.

To be honest I'm still open on the whole man-made-greenhouse-gasses thing. I just seriously believe any step energy reduction is a good thing. we (me included) waste so much!
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 Mar, 2008 06:33 am
Excuse a little bit of a rant. (You'll get it whether you want it or not.)

So many problems, and no rational solutions are offered, the main reason being largely unfettered capitalism--which is to say, greed. The oil industry wants us to drive more, to power electrical plants by burning fossil fuels and to buy more and more junk wrapped in petrochemical plastics. Other industries want cheap labor in the countries once called the third world so they can maximize profits selling cheap goods at premium prices in industrial nations. They don't want to be hampered by environmental rules, and most of all, they don't want laws which guarantee economic and workplace justice.

As our digger expert here, DP, notes, the problem which most immediately comes to mind is the population of the planet. The lovers of wildlife and wilderness in their heart of hearts would agree that a huge die off would be a good thing--secretly, they wish the billions of the poor would just go off and die to leave them vast tracts of wilderness to visit and ooh and ah over. In Bangladesh, groups such as the Sierra Club and the World Wildlife fund opposed hydroelectric projects because of the alleged environmental degradation they would have caused. But the electricity generated would have been "green," and the flood control they would have incidentally provided would have helped to end the disastrous flooding which routinely occurs in that unfortunate country. Of course, much of this flooding is occasioned by the clear cut logging of forests upstream, to feed the insatiable appetite of the Japanese and Europeans for wood, especially hardwoods, although they'll take what they can get. North Americans, of course, still have relatively vast forests which they can eat up, for the present.

In primitive agrarian societies, many children are the closest thing to a pension plan that the hardscrabble farmer has. Many hands make light work, and people who cannot afford an ox, never mind a tractor, will opt for what they can produce at home--children. This was once the case in Europe, a thousand years ago. The manor court records of the middle ages in Europe show peasants making agreements that they would turn their rights in property over to a son or son-in-law in return for a seat by the fire, two meals a day and a suit of clothing once a year. That method of providing for one's old age still applies in much of the world. In nations in which the government spends their revenue for tanks and war planes, and dreams of conquering its tribal rivals, people go off into the forests to cut wood for fuel, and children suffer chronic eye disease from the smoke to which they are exposed in the hovels in which they are raised. Nations like Brazil clear cut rain forests for the hardwoods, and having removed most of the biomass, which in the rain forest is above the ground, they plant soy beans for cash crops. The soil is sufficiently poor that it is quickly exhausted, and the corporate farms move ahead in the wake of the companies cutting down the rain forest to feed the Japanese appetite for lumber.

Just about any reasonable solution to these problems will hit two stone walls--capitalist greed and the world population. These are actually problems "we" can solve, were it not for the fact the the "we" who must solve the problems are actually politicians who derive their greatest benefit from the capitalist interests who are not served to their liking by the solutions needed.

OK, rant over, back to DP.
0 Replies
 
dadpad
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 Mar, 2008 06:51 am
Rant away set. My answer will eventuate if our rampant greed for energy is not curtailed. I believe it will occor even if greed is not curtailed.
This world just cannot indefinitly support a growing population. at some poin the scale will tip.

Once the oil runs out it will be almost impossible to "produce" at the rate we do now. Half the western population will die either from starvation or early death.

Aboriginals have a saying... The land is the mother.

Most western countries have a saying also along the lines of "respect your mother".

Good advice I believe.
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 Mar, 2008 07:27 am
Now this topic is morphing into a discussion of "carrying capacity" .
OY, no wonder nothing gets done on A2K, we go so many times around the barn in different ways that we get lost.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 Mar, 2008 07:32 am
I agree completely, DP. I was pointing out why world population continues to grow, and why realistic solutions are not likely to be implemented.

It's bad for business . . .
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 Mar, 2008 09:14 am
My proposal is a bit radical....


Move all of our heavy industry into orbit.


IMO, this depends mostly on efficient, powerful lasers.


Once we have a good way to get stuff into orbit, you just ship up solar panels and beam power back down.


Let's save our hydrocarbons for plastics....
0 Replies
 
 

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