8 posts • joined Monday 7th January 2008 18:16 GMT
Follow the money
Darren, you are right, of course. But it's worse than you state.
The politicians have two entirely different constituencies. First, the naive greenies who want to "save the planet" and think they have The Answer. More stealthy are the subsidy suckers, companies who produce the economically unjustifiable Windmills and Solar PV panels. They supply money to the pols as contributions, complimented by the votes from the greenies.
It's a marriage made in hell. Lots of votes AND plenty of campaign funds to advertise how GREEN they are. Even the odd, temporary job in their district pouring concrete for windmill tower footings. The fact that it's all going to be paid for by the poor electricity rate payer and taxpayer is irrelevant. It's not costing the Pols anything! They get re-elected and get to continue their scam. Personally, I think burying the cost in increased electricity rates rather than in more obvious direct taxes is brilliant. In a disgusting sort of way.
And yes, if the money were applied to energy research on low waste fission reactors (thorium) and other undeveloped technologies, we might eventually have a true solution. We sure do need one for that time to come when all the natural gas is consumed in space heaters and gas turbine generators. England will need LOTS more gas turbines for the rather obvious times when the wind stops blowing and the sky is overcast. But that never happens, does it?
I burn natural gas for central heat and hot water.
If I could get some electricity from that gas AND the heat of combustion, I would be ahead of the game. The electricity is then almost "free", resource-wise.
But remember that fuel cells run on hydrogen. If you "burn" natural gas (methane) in a high temperature fuel cell, the heat cracks the methane into hydrogen and carbon. The hydrogen runs the electricity generating fuel cell and the carbon simply burns to CO2. The carbon combustion produces only heat, just like burning the gas in a furnace.
So if I use the electricity produced to save me some money on power line delivered electrons and use the waste heat for my domestic needs, I am ahead of the game. BUT, the fuel cell has to be cheap enough to be paid for by the electricity it produces. Maybe it is. I have no information on what it costs to make one. So we wait and see.
IBM noodle picker
IBM made a memory system in the same period that used wide, 8 inch long strips of magnetic tape stored in canisters shaped like wedges out of a cylinder. These strips were removed and inserted with mechanical fingers and wrapped around a spinning drum to be read/written by a magnetic head traveling along one axis.
Now the best part; The large vertical holder supporting the ( 8? ) canisters was rotated by a HYDRAULIC MOTOR to quickly bring the correct canister to the read/write station. The cabinet quivered each time the drum rotated. The canisters seemed to blur and then appear at the new position. It wasn't really apparent that they rotated, the movement was that fast.
The large, two section cabinet also contained a high pressure oil pump, accumulator to store the pressurized oil and a drip tray at the bottom to catch the oil leakage from the plumbing!
I don't remember the system name but the IBM techs called it the "noodle picker" for obvious reasons. Lots of storage with faster access time than a reel of magnetic tape. A set of 6 or so had their own room at a state run computer facility. I helped install one of them.
Even in the Mother Country?
Politicians pandering to the voters by grandstanding as "defenders of the people's way of life"? Is this England or the USA? Heavens!
It is nice to know that if you corner an elected politician, of any nationality, they all fall back to the basics of demagoguery. "Theres a baddy out there and we aren't going to let him harm MY folks!" No sir. I'll talk him to death. Yep.
Sigh. Not only in America.
This isn't the silliest study I've ever heard of. Maybe number 10?
Let's see, pressure bottles of liquid CO2 traded in for a liquid fuel that gives drastically less mileage than a present day car. Vast networks of pipelines to transport CO2 to some refinery, both of which will cost a bunch.
I have a better idea. Build the refinery/fuel making plant and get the CO2 by extracting it from the air. It's hard to imagine that it could cost more than all the added infrastructure needed for this pipe dream. Then burn the synthetic fuel in ordinary cars and blow the CO2 into the air. Better mileage for your fuel dollar and you don't need the CO2 capture-storage system OR the fuel to H2 converter kludge in your car. That will lighten the car and further improve the mileage.
Sound silly? My solution is only a bit less ridiculous than the original proposal.
But the only product the academic needs to produce is paper and they get paid whether it makes sense or not.
One thing though; it makes battery powered electric cars seem very reasonable in comparison.
Increased oil prices?
More demand for oil causes the price of oil to increase. Increasing oil prices inevitably lower the demand for oil. Always.
Either oil use efficiency will increase or an alternative fuel (energy source) will be developed. Where is the problem? Aren't we trying to reduce the use of oil as an energy source? Even if the USA moves to coal derived liquid fuels, it still reduces the energy needed to transport the energy from distant lands.
I fail to see the problem. Although, there will be an increase in transport fuel costs in the near term.
fast breeders - slow breeders
Just to add to the debate.
There is a demonstrated technology called a Molten Salt Reactor that can safely produce the high temperatures needed to make hydrogen and can breed its own fuel from abundant Thorium. It produces far less long term radioactive waste and can actually "burn" much of the actinide waste it produces. Fuel can be reprocessed on site using a proven, non-solvent based technology called pyroprocessing.
A small scale version, complete with prototype pyroprocessing technology, was built and operated for years in the US in the 60s and 70s. Unfortunately, the technology lost out to the better politically positioned Fast Breeder Reactor. One reason might have been that the Fast Breeder produces Plutonium that could be used to make bombs, which still looked like a good idea to the military at that time. The MSR breeds U233, an excellent "fuel" that emits hard gamma radiation. It's very difficult to hide and tends to kill anyone not using good safety practices. The U233 would never need to leave the reactor site, since it is consumed as the fissile "fuel" that powers the reactor.
Search on MSR and thorium for more info.
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