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-   -   My Alternative Fuels rant (http://forums.macnn.com/95/political-war-lounge/348127/my-alternative-fuels-rant/)

 
SirCastor Sep 13, 2007 03:21 PM
My Alternative Fuels rant
I got started on this because of a posting in the regular lounge regarding Saltwater as a fuel source.

When The President announced several years back that he was approving spending for research into hydrogen fuel cell development, I was excited. I thought it was a step in the right direction. I've recently come to feel that It was a step in the wrong direction.

It seems every other week or so there's an announcement about a renewable fuel source which will save us from our oil woes. Hydrogen Fuel Cells, Sugar, obscure plants and corn for ethanol-type fuels. These fuels aren't anything more than simple lab tests, or even more likely theories written up by college professors and grad students.

<shameless EV plug>
I'm a big advocate of electric cars. They are an excellent replacement for gasoline and diesel cars (in most respects). But electric cars wreak havoc on the economy. Most every modern building in the US is wired with electricity. Since electricity can be generated at freely (after an initial cost) with solar, wind, geothermal, whatever, cost for using an electric vehicle are quite a bit less. The problem comes economically. Electricity as a fuel takes the service station out of business. It takes the fuel processor out of business. It takes the fuel delivery system out of business. Most of the fuel industry is removed from the picture when you plug in at home and some relatively simple electronics take care of everything.
</shameless EV plug>

By suggesting an alternative fuel, like Bio-diesel, ethanol, Hydrogen, whatever the options are, none of them are really going to provide relief to fuel pricing issues that are happening right now. They just move the cost from buying foreign oil to some domestic fuel which can be controlled more easily. Hydrogen production, Corn demand, etc can be controlled (IMO) to the same degree, it's just that the money's not flowing outside the country.

Consumers (Citizens) are interested in lower fuel costs. The government, which represents (or is supposed to) the Citizens, is not interested in lower fuel costs (IMO).
 
design219 Sep 13, 2007 05:19 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by SirCastor (Post 3482341)
By suggesting an alternative fuel, like Bio-diesel, ethanol, Hydrogen, whatever the options are, none of them are really going to provide relief to fuel pricing issues that are happening right now.
Nothing happens overnight, and converting to something other than oil would take many, many years, even if an alternative was perfected today. Our economies will survive whatever change will come and we should NOT give up on ideas because they take time.
 
BadKosh Sep 13, 2007 05:24 PM
I want a coal powered car so I can at least see some exhaust when I step on it.....

OK, so how about Nuke plants underground powering a grid with electric cars that use pick-ups like bump cars? Switch railroads to all electric the same way. Dump all the spent fuel on the moon where it will make the Russians feel right at home.
 
SirCastor Sep 13, 2007 05:53 PM
Yes, that is absolutely correct. I don't think technologies should be abandoned because they take time. If that were the case, we'd never get anything new.

My frustration isn't because the alternative technologies are bad. That's not the case at all. Hydrogen Fuel cells are a very promising, very real technology. So is Ethanol as a fuel. My concern for fuel problems faced by the consumer though, aren't being addressed. Instead of developing technology that already has an in-place superstructure (or near in-place) and proven performance (such as Electricity), the approach is to try to erect a brand-new superstructure that still has a lot of the failings the current one does. Oligopolistic Distribution, and high production cost.
 
Uncle Skeleton Sep 13, 2007 05:57 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by BadKosh (Post 3482466)
I want a coal powered car so I can at least see some exhaust when I step on it.....

OK, so how about Nuke plants underground powering a grid with electric cars that use pick-ups like bump cars? Switch railroads to all electric the same way. Dump all the spent fuel on the moon where it will make the Russians feel right at home.
Our roads and railways would be littered with dead animals and retards who got electrocuted from licking the contacts.
 
Doofy Sep 13, 2007 06:01 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by SirCastor (Post 3482341)
By suggesting an alternative fuel, like Bio-diesel, ethanol, Hydrogen, whatever the options are, none of them are really going to provide relief to fuel pricing issues that are happening right now.
You haven't got fuel pricing issues (not unless you're paying $7.82 a gallon, as I am) - you're having "meet the rest of the World" problems.
 
subego Sep 13, 2007 06:52 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by SirCastor (Post 3482341)
The problem comes economically. Electricity as a fuel takes the service station out of business. It takes the fuel processor out of business. It takes the fuel delivery system out of business.

Uhh, no.

The problem comes from the speed of delivery.

With a liquid fuel I can get 500+ miles of energy in under three minutes.

Edit: as soon as someone can invent a way around that, all that liquid fuel infrastructure gets thrown into the "liability" column virtually overnight.
 
subego Sep 13, 2007 07:13 PM
I don't want to just piss on the parade though.

I think diesel has a lot going for it. Diesel engines can run all sorts of crap. There are weed like (as in grow anywhere) nuts that are filled with greasy fuel.

Give a big (5k) tax credit for someone who buys a diesel. Problem is solved in 20 years without even trying, and you can keep millions of miles of pipe.
 
BadKosh Sep 13, 2007 08:48 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by Uncle Skeleton (Post 3482505)
Our roads and railways would be littered with dead animals and retards who got electrocuted from licking the contacts.
With railroads, the catenary is about 23 feet up for the "hot" side, with the rails being the grounds. Same for the bump cars, the hot is a few feet above the cars. Maybe giraffes would be in danger though. could be pretty good fuel savings huh?
 
peeb Sep 13, 2007 09:28 PM
Diesel is cool, for sure. Much more flexible, and you can burn your old pants in them.
 
Uncle Skeleton Sep 13, 2007 09:32 PM
Corn is ethanol's poison pill. The corn lobby has a lock on it, but getting ethanol from corn takes as much energy as you get out of it. Getting ethanol from sugar cane gives 8x as much energy as it takes to produce, but the US doesn't make enough sugar cane, and so then you're back to depending on foreign fuels, and wasting energy transporting it all over creation.
 
subego Sep 13, 2007 09:43 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by peeb (Post 3482749)
and you can burn your old pants in them.

This is exactly the way I wanted to put it.

Though I can't say I knew that until you put it that way. :)
 
el chupacabra Sep 13, 2007 10:32 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by Uncle Skeleton (Post 3482754)
Corn is ethanol's poison pill. The corn lobby has a lock on it, but getting ethanol from corn takes as much energy as you get out of it. Getting ethanol from sugar cane gives 8x as much energy as it takes to produce, but the US doesn't make enough sugar cane, and so then you're back to depending on foreign fuels, and wasting energy transporting it all over creation.
Its funny, in the 90's i remember reading articles about frustrated scientists who claimed corn would be the US-choice for ethanol production due to lobbying. They claimed cellulosic eth. had the most potential. It's sad how right they were.

I've invested a bit of money in ethanol research since some of my partners are in the industry. One company with just 2 mil initially invested has managed to come of with a decent means of processing cellulose. It angers me to think if the government had funded this as much as they fund oil, corn, and other dead end ventures we'd probably have it nailed by now.
 
el chupacabra Sep 13, 2007 10:39 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by SirCastor (Post 3482341)
Electricity as a fuel takes the service station out of business. It takes the fuel processor out of business. It takes the fuel delivery system out of business. Most of the fuel industry is removed from the picture

...They just move the cost from buying foreign oil to some domestic fuel which can be controlled more easily.
taking the station out is a good thing all that money can be saved and spent somewhere else in the economy... and the gas station punk can find a better place for his skills. As far as Exxon and shell, they will continue to run the renewable energy industry when it arises.

...and i'd rather have money stay in the american economy than be spent over seas. Prices would be cheaper since we wouldnt have a "king/dictator" skimming right off the top.
 
theDreamer Sep 13, 2007 10:58 PM
Well, I work for a contract company that works for the oil business, I will not get into details though we are always talking about what oil companies may do after oil is gone and what they are doing currently to make sure they will maintain control of their empires.

I do not know what I can say exactly since much of our information we are given and such is bound by contract with the oil companies we work for, but I will say that there are plenty of alternatives to oil and actually the more the better. Some I can mention are, the nuclear engine (currently in testing), actually that is the only one I can talk about, sorry.

I will say this, oil will be gone or in rare supplies in less than 50 years.
Also, how long have we really been using oil versus how long mankind has been powering things? This goes for horses, dogs, ox, oil, nuclear, wind, etc. If you look at the time of mankind v. oil usage it is a blip on the radar while it is prominent now it will be forgotten before I am old.
 
peeb Sep 13, 2007 10:59 PM
It's ok to have it spent overseas, to an extent - what goes around comes around, and you need successful foreign economies. The problem is being dependent on a volatile region that broadly hates you.
 
subego Sep 13, 2007 11:31 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by theDreamer (Post 3482810)
Some I can mention are, the nuclear engine (currently in testing), actually that is the only one I can talk about, sorry.

Can you give me more details before I make fun of it?
 
theDreamer Sep 13, 2007 11:55 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by subego (Post 3482837)
Can you give me more details before I make fun of it?
Go ahead and make fun of it, I prefer to see what you have to say.
 
nonhuman Sep 14, 2007 12:56 AM
A nuclear engine is new? The Russians were building nuclear powered ice breakers in the early 80s (late 70s?). We've been building nuclear subs for nearly as long. We've built nuclear powered probes to explore the outer solar system. People have been predicting nuclear (atomic) powered automobiles since at least the 40s.
 
subego Sep 14, 2007 12:58 AM
Quote, Originally Posted by theDreamer (Post 3482854)
Go ahead and make fun of it, I prefer to see what you have to say.

Well, I'd say it was the most appallingly misguided idea I've ever heard of, but I've heard of the "nuclear plane" and the "nuclear rifle", so that really isn't true.

Perhaps, if the nuclear car is a flop you can develop an engine that runs on Sarin.

Standard 5 year or 50,000 mile cancer treatment.
 
SirCastor Sep 14, 2007 01:30 AM
Quote, Originally Posted by nonhuman (Post 3482904)
People have been predicting nuclear (atomic) powered flying automobiles since at least the 40s.
fixed.
 
Doofy Sep 14, 2007 07:12 AM
Quote, Originally Posted by theDreamer (Post 3482810)
I will say this, oil will be gone or in rare supplies in less than 50 years.
This is, of course, complete crap.

According to an oil analyst in the North Sea I once spoke to:

Quote
Not in yours, your childrens' or your grandchildrens' lifetimes
If oil were going to go away within the next 50 years, right now the price would be doubling at least once a year.
 
theDreamer Sep 14, 2007 03:38 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by Doofy (Post 3483041)
This is, of course, complete crap.

According to an oil analyst in the North Sea I once spoke to:



If oil were going to go away within the next 50 years, right now the price would be doubling at least once a year.
Not true at all.
Oil is still a business and they have limitations on how much they can push the price. If they push to high to fast people will go to alternative means faster and oil business would collapse. Also read what I said, I did not say it would be 100% gone, it would be getting to the point of the price for oil is to much and to far out there to justify the costs to get it.

Also, those who are doubting the nuclear car.
Of course we have been building nuclear devices for large scale machines. To put a nuclear engine in a compact vehicle and maintain a level of safety is the problem. Also, if the car engine (nuclear) was built properly it would be no more dangerous than running off of electricity or battery power.
 
Uncle Skeleton Sep 14, 2007 03:45 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by theDreamer (Post 3482810)
I will say this, oil will be gone or in rare supplies in less than 50 years.
Quote, Originally Posted by theDreamer (Post 3483477)
Also read what I said, I did not say it would be 100% gone
Yeah, you pretty much did.


Quote
Also, if the car engine (nuclear) was built properly it would be no more dangerous than running off of electricity or battery power.
Um, car bombs? Something tells me your "built properly" doesn't account for the operator being evil.
 
theDreamer Sep 14, 2007 04:01 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by Uncle Skeleton (Post 3483486)
Yeah, you pretty much did.




Um, car bombs? Something tells me your "built properly" doesn't account for the operator being evil.
I will say this, oil will be gone or in rare supplies in less than 50 years.

Gone or in rare supplies.
The keyword usage of or changes it completely. Oil still might be available, but at such a high price no one would buy it.

Properly built. It means that not even a hydrogen bomb will affect the inside of the engine.
The program on the car knows these problems and are working on making sure that the engine is impossible to be touched.
 
SirCastor Sep 14, 2007 04:04 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by theDreamer (Post 3483477)
Also, those who are doubting the nuclear car.
Of course we have been building nuclear devices for large scale machines. To put a nuclear engine in a compact vehicle and maintain a level of safety is the problem. Also, if the car engine (nuclear) was built properly it would be no more dangerous than running off of electricity or battery power.
The Nuclear car may exist, but it will never ever make it past (and only a maybe at that) the concept car show stage. Few people would be willing to buy anything associated with "Nuclear". There's far too much negative association with the word. If the car proved to be 100% reliable in tests, it would still never sell.
 
theDreamer Sep 14, 2007 04:12 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by SirCastor (Post 3483505)
The Nuclear car may exist, but it will never ever make it past (and only a maybe at that) the concept car show stage. Few people would be willing to buy anything associated with "Nuclear". There's far too much negative association with the word. If the car proved to be 100% reliable in tests, it would still never sell.
Which, unfortunately, is true.
It upsets me that people have this huge negative view of nuclear power, yet they truly have no understanding of how good and helpful it is.
 
ShortcutToMoncton Sep 14, 2007 04:14 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by SirCastor (Post 3483505)
Few people would be willing to buy anything associated with "Nuclear". There's far too much negative association with the word. If the car proved to be 100% reliable in tests, it would still never sell.
Dude, I'd buy that **** in a heartbeat. A nuclear car? That's pimp!

greg
 
theDreamer Sep 14, 2007 04:20 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by ShortcutToMoncton (Post 3483517)
Dude, I'd buy that **** in a heartbeat. A nuclear car? That's pimp!

greg
You are one of a few.
The "average" person hears the word nuclear and thinks of what? A nuclear bomb, Russia, etc.
They think of all the bad things that have happened with the word "nuclear." Even though I am not saying these things are bad, but there are way more facts than the average persons knows (or was told) about these things, so they just get scared at the though.
 
subego Sep 14, 2007 07:09 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by theDreamer (Post 3483514)
Which, unfortunately, is true.
It upsets me that people have this huge negative view of nuclear power, yet they truly have no understanding of how good and helpful it is.

While what you say is true, saying it in this context is just jackasshatry.

As someone who is quite positive on the notion of nuclear power, I am highly skeptical of overcoming the colossal technological hurdles which would make this feasible within a realistic timeframe. Hurdles made larger by the stringent safety requirements to overcome that negativity you mention.

Still waiting on some details...
 
theDreamer Sep 14, 2007 07:16 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by subego (Post 3483654)
While what you say is true, saying it in this context is just jackasshatry.

As someone who is quite positive on the notion of nuclear power, I am highly skeptical of overcoming the colossal technological hurdles which would make this feasible within a realistic timeframe. Hurdles made larger by the stringent safety requirements to overcome that negativity you mention.

Still waiting on some details...
:lol:
"Jackassharty"
Go ask the "average" person about nuclear power and what they think of it. You knowing more is great, and are of the above average joe and have the understanding of how powerful nuclear energy, though you also see the hurdles we must step over before advancements are made. Though the thing is, experiments are not held back by safety requirements, to a certain degree, but if they wish to proceed they will have to find ways around them. Yet I would be full for seeing the technology and letting people know that we have this power and then letting them decide on how we can move forward for the better of mankind.

What details are you waiting on? Anymore and I am breaking rules about sharing information.
 
subego Sep 14, 2007 07:27 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by theDreamer (Post 3483664)
What details are you waiting on? Anymore and I am breaking rules about sharing information.

Well, you said the only one you could talk about was the nuclear car, so I thought you could... you know... talk about it. :)
 
theDreamer Sep 14, 2007 07:37 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by subego (Post 3483673)
Well, you said the only one you could talk about was the nuclear car, so I thought you could... you know... talk about it. :)
I can mention it and say that is is very far along.
I could do some digging, talk to my boss, and see what info he might be getting in on it, though he might wonder why I want to know. Though he is usually pretty open about such things with me, one of the few in our office he trusts and talks about anything with.

On other topics, while nuclear power is a great resource (especially in other fields) what other options do you guys seeing actually making it mainstream for cars or fuel sources?

On a fun note, I would love to have the "Back to the Future" style engine where I can just throw my trash in it. I have seen one, sort of, but it was very slow and had to use specific pieces of garbage.
 
subego Sep 14, 2007 08:12 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by theDreamer (Post 3483679)
I can mention it and say that is is very far along.
I could do some digging, talk to my boss, and see what info he might be getting in on it, though he might wonder why I want to know.

Well, I may be snarky but I don't want you to lose your gig. :)

What makes the least sense to me (and prompts me to want to poke at it), is not the nuclear aspect in and of itself, it's that it would seem to me that one could make a bajillion more dollars with the "spin-off" technologies that would need to be developed.

I mean, if you have invented something that can withstand the ridiculous impact a nuclear car engine would have to tolerate to be "safe", what the hell are you doing making a nuclear car? Maybe you should look into making armor plating.
 
theDreamer Sep 14, 2007 08:18 PM
Some people just want to do things because they can, and I agree with that.
I think nuclear power car is cool, but would it ever really make it? Probably not, maybe after my life it might be more practical.

Also, I think we have "cheaper" options that would overshadow nuclear power rather quickly. I mean electric cars (again) are making a go around, but this time with more support, but will this be enough to stop the world from using oil?
 
subego Sep 14, 2007 09:42 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by theDreamer (Post 3483698)
Probably not, maybe after my life it might be more practical.

I think we have different definitions of "very far along". ;)
 
stevesnj Sep 16, 2007 08:40 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by design219 (Post 3482459)
Nothing happens overnight, and converting to something other than oil would take many, many years, even if an alternative was perfected today. Our economies will survive whatever change will come and we should NOT give up on ideas because they take time.
Hydrogen Fuel Cell vehicles are used in many countries now for a few years, mostly busses, the US does not have any because our fuel stations won't allow the Hydrogen Generation Pump in their station because Gasoline is more profitable, hydrogen production is less profitable. Turbo Diesels that are highly fuel economical and in some cases cleaner than petrol engines but have yet to be big here in the US. I drove many Turbo Diesel Vehicles in Germany and I would get 50MpG !!! thats over double what I get now!! The US can make Turbo Diesels as nice and powerful as petrol based cars. A lot of the Audi's and Mercedes vehicles on the Autobahns were just as fast as their petrol counterparts. The Diesels of today are very quiet and don't spew black exhaust like the diesel's of 10 years ago. They are a totally different animal now. I plan to buy a turbo diesel in a few years and DOUBLE my driving distance per tank!!
 
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