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Author Topic: "Peak Oil"
Colonel Panic
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Icon 1 posted December 06, 2007 18:48      Profile for Colonel Panic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
We haven't had a good, clean donnybrook in here for a while.

So what the heck, "P" is for pinata.

Here we go:

http://www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net/

Colonel Panic

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Snaggy

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Icon 11 posted December 06, 2007 19:22      Profile for Snaggy   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Soylent oil is people! [Eek!]
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GMx

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Icon 1 posted December 06, 2007 20:29      Profile for GMx     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Snaggy:
Soylent oil is people! [Eek!]

I like to get 35 miles per Edward G. Robinson. [Big Grin]
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littlefish
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Icon 1 posted December 07, 2007 01:22      Profile for littlefish   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Scaremongering poppycock, as an advert for sensationalist literature.

Another example of the "wisdom" of crowds.

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Callipygous
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Icon 1 posted December 07, 2007 04:52      Profile for Callipygous     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Colonel Panic:
We haven't had a good, clean donnybrook in here for a while.

http://www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net/

Colonel Panic

Jeez CP - that page you linked to was almost as long and unreadable as a post by ummm errr....one of the most distinguished members of this forum. In fact he may be his doppelganger or secret identity. We should introduce them. Anyway you don't seriously expect us to trawl through all that.

I think he is saying that the sky is falling, and if he is I agree. Or not. Perhaps.

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GrumpySteen

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Icon 1 posted December 07, 2007 06:42      Profile for GrumpySteen     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The biggest problem with the linked article is that it assumes that there is no substitute for petroleum products.

The human race will eventually deplete the easily accessible oil reserves. Nobody can really argue against that fact. It won't happen today or tomorrow and probably not in our lifetimes, but it will happen.

As the oil reserves are depleted, prices for oil will go up. At some point, the price will increase sufficiently to make plant based fuels and oils the cost-effective solution. When that happens, petroleum will be abandoned for ethanol and vegetable oil based products.

It's probably worth noting that ethanol and other vegetable based fuels and oils can be made and used with far less environmental impact than petroleum based equivalents. Sadly, we currently use a lot of diesel fuel in the growing, harvesting and shipping of corn to make ethanol. Still, when oil gets too expensive, it will become economically unfeasible to use anything other than ethanol and that much less oil will be used.

At the risk of sounding overly optimistic, maybe we'll even start growing crops that are suitable for the area they're grown in rather than corn in order to make the ethanol (it doesn't have to come from corn). That would cut down on pesticides, fertilizers, water usage and a lot of the other things that cause farming to have more impact on the environment than it should.

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Xanthine

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Icon 1 posted December 07, 2007 08:50      Profile for Xanthine     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
There are processes to make ethanol from sources other than corn. My dad knows of a guy in Texas who's figured out how to make it out of mesquite. But the corn farmers have a pretty bad-ass lobbying and marketing campaign going so they're getting all the attention. That and the mesquite guy is a pathetic salesman and is having a hard time finding investors for an otherwise very good idea.

Another idea I've heard floating about (I hang out with too many microbiologists and general microbe-o-philes) is just tweaking some bacteria to do the job. To me, that's probably the best way to go as growing bacteria requires giant buckets of growth media. Waaay easier on the environment than fields of plants.

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Richard Wolf VI
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Icon 10 posted December 07, 2007 09:50      Profile for Richard Wolf VI   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
In Colombia, ethanol has been used as an additive to gasoline for a year or so. I know that they elaborate it from sugarcane. Biofuels are OK as a transitional step to alternative energy sources.

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ewomack
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Icon 1 posted December 07, 2007 10:33      Profile for ewomack   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The data I've seen (and I'm in no position to say whether this is correct) is that no alternative for oil/petroleum yet exists. Nor does anything on the horizon look promising. At least in terms of energy put into the process versus energy we get out. Ethanol looks very expensive from this perspective, as does wind, and the current solar technologies. I like the bacteria option, though. I wonder how far along that is? As for nuclear, one study I read claimed that if all of the petroleum based energy were converted to nuclear right now, we could sustain our current energy levels for 2 years. Then the world would run out of uranium, another finite resource.

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Icon 1 posted December 07, 2007 10:54      Profile for ScholasticSpastic     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Hydrocarbons for energy will, indeed, be going down the tubes. However, they should continue to be available for other uses. Consider that, if we're willing to invest the energy, we can make hydrocarbons from other sources with existing technology. All we need to do is find a better energy source. I'm a big fan of fusion, but oceanic thermal gradients represent a massive energy reservoir that's far more reliable than wind-power. Orbital solar stations broadcasting microwaves to receiver stations on the ground may be an option. We need to start thinking bigger. The Earth is swimming in energy.

The difference between hydrocarbons and other energy sources is that we have to be willing to make the capital investment to use the other energy sources. Then we can save the hydrocarbons for making fertilizers for our crops and plastics for our clothing, furnishings, and utilities.

My chemistry Prof. and I were daydreaming about terraforming scenarios (as we're both collosal geeks) and we came up with a pie-in-the-sky idea for harvesting hydrocarbons from atmospheric sources. I'm going to need to learn more about metallic catalysts and organic chemistry to explore the idea, but it could end up being a zero-net-emissions hydrocarbon fuel idea. I really wish I could learn more about metallurgy at an undergraduate level! Imagine a reverse catalytic converter attached to a storage tank. It could be a foolish idea for any number of reasons, but I'm going to explore it.

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"As in repeating a well-known song, so in instincts, one action follows another by a sort of rhythm; if a person be interrupted in a song, or in repeating anything by rote, he is generally forced to go back to recover the habitual train of thought..." (Darwin, The Origin of Species)

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Xanthine

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Icon 1 posted December 07, 2007 10:58      Profile for Xanthine     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by ewomack:
I like the bacteria option, though. I wonder how far along that is?

I honestly don't know. Given that science is just beginning to appreciate the microbial world for what it is and not just a bunch of pathogens that must die, I doubt it's out of the bull session stage. But mark my words, someone is going to try it (and it won't be me [Wink] ).

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Icon 1 posted December 07, 2007 11:07      Profile for ScholasticSpastic     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Xanthine:
quote:
Originally posted by ewomack:
I like the bacteria option, though. I wonder how far along that is?

I honestly don't know. Given that science is just beginning to appreciate the microbial world for what it is and not just a bunch of pathogens that must die, I doubt it's out of the bull session stage. But mark my words, someone is going to try it (and it won't be me [Wink] ).
A professor at Utah State University is working on a project that will use algae farming to sequester CO2 emissions from power plants. The resulting algae can be used for fuel (I think they're cyanobacteria- these are greasy buggers). It doesn't actually reduce carbon emissions, but it takes a portion of them and fixes it into a loop. The idea seems to be little more than a circuitous solar alternative to solar energy, but it may be more efficient than traditional solar because algae have been using solar energy for billions of years.

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"As in repeating a well-known song, so in instincts, one action follows another by a sort of rhythm; if a person be interrupted in a song, or in repeating anything by rote, he is generally forced to go back to recover the habitual train of thought..." (Darwin, The Origin of Species)

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GrumpySteen

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Icon 1 posted December 07, 2007 11:15      Profile for GrumpySteen     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Right now, yes, more energy does go into the production of ethanol than you get back out of it. I addressed that point. A lot of the problem is due to the use of corn and other grains to produce the ethanol.

Read this and it will make more sense.

Using bacteria does sound like a very good option, too, but I'm vindicitve. I'd really like to know that billions of pounds of kudzu were being destroyed every year so that I can have pizza delivered while I search for porn on the internet [Big Grin]

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littlefish
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Icon 1 posted December 07, 2007 11:18      Profile for littlefish   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Bad people have been making hydrocarbons for years, when they couldn't get oil for political reasons. It is now actually cheaper to make than to buy.

The Fischer Tropsch is interesting for political, scientific and economic reasons.

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Icon 1 posted December 07, 2007 11:49      Profile for ScholasticSpastic     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by littlefish:
Bad people have been making hydrocarbons for years, when they couldn't get oil for political reasons. It is now actually cheaper to make than to buy.

the The Fischer Tropsch is interesting for political, scientific and economic reasons.

Damn! I knew it was a good idea, I'm just a century late with it. The Fischer-Tropsch process, combined with existing petrochemical technologies and alternative energy sources, could convert our current energy economy to one analogous to a giant plant.

[Edit: Hold on, I didn't look closely enough. My starry-eyed dreaming can only come true if we combine the Fischer-Tropsch process with an efficient reduction process that could convert CO2 to CO or even just to C. Preferably all in the same relatively simple mechanism. Preferably using a solid-state, chemically simple, mass-producable reaction substrate.]

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"As in repeating a well-known song, so in instincts, one action follows another by a sort of rhythm; if a person be interrupted in a song, or in repeating anything by rote, he is generally forced to go back to recover the habitual train of thought..." (Darwin, The Origin of Species)

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The Famous Druid

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Icon 1 posted December 07, 2007 12:10      Profile for The Famous Druid     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
There's an awful lot of sunlight out there, and wind, and tides, and hot rocks beneath our feet. Lack of energy isn't the problem, we just need to find a way of trapping it and converting it into useable form. We've already spent squillions on the infrastructure to distribute electricity, so powering our homes should be relatively easy, mobile power for vehicles is more of a challenge.

Hydrogen has a nasty habit of going BOOM, not an insurmountable problem, but existing solutions are expensive and cumbersome.

Ethanol would do the job nicely, or biodeisel, but using food crops as the base for either presents some pretty major problems. We're already farming most of the good land, so who's going to volunteer to starve so that I can drive my Hummer LTOCF ?

So for me, the most promising line of research is Algae. Some of those little buggers are very efficient at converting solar energy to vegetable oil, you can feed them any old crap (literally!) and your algae farms can be in places that aren't suitable for food crops. Plus, as Steen points out, it creates a market for 'feeder' biomass, kudzu would do nicely, but so would lots of other stuff that we're currently throwing into landfill. I quite like the idea of solving our energy, invasive weed, and waste disposal problems at the same time.

I for one welcome our new green slimy overlords.

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TheMoMan
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Icon 1 posted December 07, 2007 16:35      Profile for TheMoMan         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Hi All __________________________ Right now here in Mich. a startup company is building a wood chips to Bio fuel plant and is looking for investers. I have not done any research on them or if they really know how to do this, just that they are looking for investers. From what I know of some of the promoters it sounds like snake oil.

Canolla oil (rape seed) is supposed to be easily changed into an oil that diesels will tolerate, I have been looking at that,

Geo thermol how far down would I have drill to get 90C water, now that would heat a house, supply the hot water and run an absorbsion heat pump, just the pumping costs once the well is drilled.

Wind I have been toying with the idea of a windsox to act as a velocity increaser and to mount a windmill fan in the small end, this would also let the gyro action of the spinning mass not distroy the mill on wind speed changes. Thus far I have altered a computer cooling fan to be a magneto and put it in and old shirt sleeve and lit a few LEDs right now less than a watt but so is a cellphone.

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The Famous Druid

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Icon 1 posted December 07, 2007 18:02      Profile for The Famous Druid     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by TheMoMan:
From what I know of some of the promoters it sounds like snake oil.

Wouldn't you have to squeeze an awful lot of snakes to run a car?

/coat [Wink]

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If you watch 'The History Of NASA' backwards, it's about a space agency that has no manned spaceflight capability, then does low-orbit flights, then lands on the Moon.

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TheMoMan
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Icon 1 posted December 08, 2007 13:05      Profile for TheMoMan         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The Famous Druid______________ Speaking about oil how does J&J get the stocks for baby oil, Having raised two daughters and changed many diapers on them and the grand kids. Where does baby oil come from, nothing I found in a loaded diaper even remotely looked lik OIL. Pond scum once in a while but never OIL.

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Benjamin Franklin,

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nerdwithnofriends
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Icon 1 posted December 08, 2007 13:53      Profile for nerdwithnofriends     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I've always thought the fischer-tropsch process was pretty cool. I think the issue that needs to be addressed, though, is that up until now (as far I know) it's been used with coal to make synthetic diesel and gasoline.

Why not just use grass clippings? I mean, wouldn't any carbon source be viable? Take your grass, coke it (so that it becomes a purer form of carbon), run some hot steam over the heated coke (C + H2O -> H2 + CO), and then run that through a suitable catalyst to obtain a hydrocarbon of desired length.

If your coking/steaming process is powered by a conventional non-fossil source (say, nuclear or wind), then most of that energy you put into the process comes out in the form of liquid fuel, like charging a battery.

The cool thing about this approach is that if you were to set up fields of very carbon-dense plants (trees), they could handle all carbon-capture for you; you'd have a carbon-neutral cycle, which is certainly a nice thing.

I think if this technology were to be combined with modern (look at france!) nuclear technology, we could greatly benefit. Start moving from uranium to thorium- by some estimates, there is more energy in thorium than all petroleum and uranium sources combined. Where do you think all that geothermal heat comes from?

Of course, so long as people fear nuclear power, this will never work. But one can dream, right?

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TheMoMan
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Icon 1 posted December 08, 2007 15:56      Profile for TheMoMan         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
nerdwithnofriends ______________________ Right now I have fifteen acres of clover alphapha ready to try your process, bring your mower this spring and lets get it cut and baled, I my self think that sutible pressure will take it to peat and then coal with the gasses coming out during the squeeze.

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Benjamin Franklin,

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spungo
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Icon 1 posted December 09, 2007 09:57      Profile for spungo     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by The Famous Druid:
Wouldn't you have to squeeze an awful lot of snakes to run a car?

I could probably run an 18-wheeler, with all the snake-squeezing I do. [Wink]

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The Famous Druid

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Icon 1 posted December 09, 2007 11:33      Profile for The Famous Druid     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by TheMoMan:
Where does baby oil come from?

True story:

Many years ago, my sister worked for the Steamships Trading Company, who have a network of retail stores in quite amazingly remote parts of Papua New Guinea.

Unsurprisingly, many of their customers are illiterate and can't read the labels of the canned goods, so they got used to just looking at the pictures, which worked well until the stores started stocking Baby Food, with pictures of smiling happy babies on the label...

Apparently they had 3 stores burned to the ground before they worked out what the problem was.

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If you watch 'The History Of NASA' backwards, it's about a space agency that has no manned spaceflight capability, then does low-orbit flights, then lands on the Moon.

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TheMoMan
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Icon 1 posted December 10, 2007 03:02      Profile for TheMoMan         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Colonel Panic and others ________________________ I now have seemed to have created a question. If I took a suitable length of cylinder pipe fitted an end cap filled it with weeds and screwed on another end cap and started tightening the cap generating pressure how long before I would have oil?

How much pressure and how long?

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Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.


Benjamin Franklin,

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Stibbons
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Icon 1 posted December 10, 2007 03:18      Profile for Stibbons   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Plants make crap "oil" (as in, the stuff sucked out of the ground). The useful part of oil is made from algae, plants and dead animals just make burnt bits that degrade the quality of the oil. It would also take far more heat and time to make oil than we have available.

To make biofuels, you either need to...

1) to ferment the fruits of plants (maize, sugar beet, etc) which uses buckets loads of energy and hence CO2 in heating, sorting, refining, distilling etc (maize fuels in the US are particularly awful, with only a tiny saving in CO2 vs conventional oil - they are used for security of supply [if the oil dries up] rather than for ecological reasons).
2) break down plant material with nasty chemicals and enzymes to turn the cellulose into sugars, that can then be fermented etc. This is a promising outlook (using full plants means higher yield/unit area, you can use plants that need less refining), but still in development for large scale production.

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