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  • #31
    Originally posted by Macavity
    Going back to plug-in EVs for a moment, guys (and skroo in particular), this article might be of interest:

    Startup drills for oil in algae
    I've heard about this (and admit that I know relatively little on the subject), but it does sound interesting. A couple of things spring to mind using algae vs. fossil oil:

    - Properly refined, can it combust / lubricate to the same degree as regular oil?
    - Is it more or less corrosive against common metals?
    - What are production and combustion emissions like compared to regular oil?
    - Can it give a comparable fuel yield to traditional biodiesel crops?

    Using technology licensed from a NASA project, GreenFuel builds bioreactors--in the shape of 3-meter-high glass tubes fashioned as a triangle--to grow algae. The algae are fed with sunlight, water and carbon-carrying emissions from power plants. The algae are then harvested and turned into biodiesel fuel.
    [/I]
    I'm all for this - if it works. Not saying it doesn't, but as a newer approach to the situation it's probably worth being a bit guarded about it until proven.

    1) Conversion of current power plants from, say, coal or natural gas to biodiesel or biodiesel/dry biomass, possibly with an adjunct facility to convert harvested algae into biodiesel and dry-biomass fuels.
    Option two: nuclear power. Have to admit that I'm a major proponent of it, and it would solve a huge chunk of the energy supply issues we're facing.

    2) A further reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions (and possibly other emissions as well), especially if the bioreactors are installed in the post-scrubber smokestacks.
    Yes and no - while this is basically correct, you've still got to scale the bioreactors to meet output. Conceivably, this could lead to bioreactors occupying considerably more space than the facilities they're cleaning - something that's not attractive in large urban environments where space is at a premium (and where they're needed the most). One other thing would be guaranteeing the purity of the emissions they're cleaning: they may be great at scrubbing, say, CO, but what happens to the algae when (for example) a high sulphur or potassium content is introduced?

    Note: I am neither a chemist or biochemist, nor do I play one on TV. I'm just wondering how pollutants other than the ones intended to be removed by the algae would impact the algae itself.

    Also, speaking of alternative energy technologies, has anyone mentioned the pros and cons of photovoltaic cell and/or wind-turbine arrays as an energy source?
    Funny you should mention that - we've had both out in the desert for decades now. Problem is, the energy yield from them doesn't keep up with growing demand. It's still useful extra power, but not enough (with current technology) to still be much beyond the experimental stage.

    Comment


    • #32
      Originally posted by skroo
      Option two: nuclear power. Have to admit that I'm a major proponent of it, and it would solve a huge chunk of the energy supply issues we're facing.
      Me too. Frankly, I've never understood people's fear of nuclear plants. I first toured an atomic plant at age 10 or so. Before that I'd seen the NS Savannah when she was on tour in 1964 or so.

      Originally posted by skroo
      Funny you should mention that - we've had both out in the desert for decades now. Problem is, the energy yield from them doesn't keep up with growing demand. It's still useful extra power, but not enough (with current technology) to still be much beyond the experimental stage.
      Here in the Northeast, there are continuous fights about these things. The enviromentalists don't want acid rain from coal burning plants, but when other alternatives are mentioned, that's when the real fights start. We have cheap hydro power from small dams, but the enviromentalists don't like dams stopping fish. Dams have actually been destroyed in recent years due to environmental policies which call for them to be decommisioned and removed from rivers. We have remote mountaintops where the wind blows 24/7/364/ but the enviromentalists don't want turbine towers on them, because of the scenery and birds may hit them.

      The environmentalists love solar power, but the region only gets about 30% full sunshine, so it's not really viable. You can't fight the physics.

      Power demand and prices continue to rise, and people bitch about "corporate greed" of the power companies (many are municipal or not-for-profit), but can't seem to understand the fact that in many ways the public policies are the real culprit.
      Thorn
      "If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to be a horrible warning." - Catherine Aird

      Comment


      • #33
        Originally posted by Thorn
        We have remote mountaintops where the wind blows 24/7/364/ but the enviromentalists don't want turbine towers on them, because of the scenery and birds may hit them.
        The environmentalists are playing civil war on this issue. In general, they like wind turbines, but now that data has come out recently about the numbers of birds being killed by them, many are opposing them as you say.
        "\x74\x68\x65\x70\x72\x65\x7a\x39\x38";

        Comment


        • #34
          Originally posted by Thorn
          Me too. Frankly, I've never understood people's fear of nuclear plants.
          Nuclear power plants are great, just so long as they are not in my back yard. ;-)

          Seriously, for safety reasons, they are generally located near large waters sources (like the ocean.) Choosing to locate them on the West Coast, means placing them on the edge of "the ring of fire" which are spots where volcanic and tectonic plate activity are "common" (in geologic terms.)

          My bigger concerns with fission reactors on earth is cost, lifespan and waste. Initial reactors with plans of operations for 50 years, were later found to have operational lives of about 20 years or less (at full capacity) and more years at substantially less. Over decades, they have found problems with crystalization of concrete, weaknesses found in metals, and parts that do not live up to the projected life in the reactor.

          Yes, we do learn from our mistakes, but it seems like an expensive power source when all factors of production are considered--including waste "disposal" or containment, and the final process to decomission the plant (which may fall on tax payers if the company chooses to make the reactor an independednt utility and corporation, and then allow it to declare bankruptcy when it is no longer profitable.)

          Get some fusion reactiors that actually work, and generate substantillay more power than they consume, and run for more than a few seconds, and then we may have a nuclear power (other than solar) that I can get behind.

          Dams have actually been destroyed in recent years due to environmental policies which call for them to be decommisioned and removed from rivers.
          This is so lame. When the dam is destroyed, people won't see a lush green valley for a long time. What they will see wil be car parts, and something that resembles a junk yard as itis discovered people tossed trash into the man-made lake. Hundreds of years will be needed to have it be a valley again. Hydroelectric power is one of the cleanest and efficient forms of power generation we have. It is also very old, well tested, and can easily last for 50 years and longer.

          Such things also provide water source (for crops, livestock and drinking water) and flood control for houses. Part of me wants to construct a logical fallacy and say, "if a beaver can build a dam that is "natural" and birds can build nests and that is "natural" then humans can make freaking plastics, dams, houses, skyscrapers and pave roads and call that natural.

          Las Vegas would not be what it is today without one very well known reservior and how cheap electricity was made available as a result of its construction. Without dams, we would have no DefCon! (heh heh. Well, maybe it just would not be in Las Vegas.)

          We have remote mountaintops where the wind blows 24/7/364/ but the enviromentalists don't want turbine towers on them, because of the scenery and birds may hit them.
          If the mountain tops are not National Parks, then screw them. A National Forest? Plant them all over the place. Private property? re-appropriate it-- but only if there is enough power generated to power a city without significant loss due to transmission and distance.

          The environmentalists love solar power, but the region only gets about 30% full sunshine, so it's not really viable. You can't fight the physics.
          A study was presented on TV (Nova?) about 20 years ago, and it stated that we could cover ~5 to 10% of arizona with solar collectors, *and* had superconductivity at room temperature -> 120 defreegs F for power transmission, we could power much of the US demand for electricity. What this said to me, was we lose a LOT of power to transmission and distance. (An advantage of localized production of power when too far away from power generation sources, and a reason to consider solar panels on the roofs of people's houses.)

          There was one company that found a way to make photovoltaic cells that were flexible, and ran close to 14% efficiency. (Their claim.)
          Last edited by TheCotMan; August 19, 2005, 13:11. Reason: typo

          Comment


          • #35
            Mild rant ahead.

            Originally posted by Thorn
            Power demand and prices continue to rise, and people bitch about "corporate greed" of the power companies (many are municipal or not-for-profit), but can't seem to understand the fact that in many ways the public policies are the real culprit.
            Yep. This is actually one of my biggest pet peeves: blind environmentalism. While I'm in favour of environmental conservation and technologies that help promote it, the Sierra Club approach of 'do nothing unless it impacts nothing' completely fails - and unfortunately, most of the heavy-handed, feelgood legislation that gets enacted is backed by people like them.

            One of the few good things to appear recently from the 9th Circuit Court (itself probably the most left-leaning in the country) was its ruling that before action could be taken invoking the Endangered Species Act, proof of harm to an endangered species actually had to be provided. Previously, various eminent domain decisions ranging from closure of public lands to seizure of private ones had been undertaken on the grounds that there *might* be a problem - no proof required. That article gives an interesting overview of one particular case in Idaho in which motives were less than altruistic behind invoking it; where this applies to power generation is in the area of (as Thorn pointed out) hydroelectricity.

            These hypocritical fucks do things like bury boards with nails in them on established 4WD trails, place thorny scrub brush over established riverbank fishing sites, and lobby for a complete ban of hunting sports - yet I've never once seen any of them pick up a single piece of garbage either blown in or left behind by jackasses incapable of picking up after themselves. But, hey, as long as we're all a bunch of stupid townie fucks driving Priuses and fretting over the Santa Ana Sucker Fish everything's OK.

            There are so many good things we could do for the environment if it weren't for the damned environmentalists.

            Comment


            • #36
              Originally posted by skroo
              [...] yet I've never once seen any of them pick up a single piece of garbage either blown in or left behind by jackasses incapable of picking up after themselves.

              [...]

              There are so many good things we could do for the environment if it weren't for the damned environmentalists.
              In Indonesia, where I grew up, every year there are clean up hikes in the more popular mountain trails, for example up in the Gunung Gede/Pangrango national park. Furthermore, the park rangers can be very strict about some things, for example, I have seen people literally marched back up the mountain (2995m above sea level -- hike starts at around 1600m) because they were caught with eidelweiss flowers.

              Here in Glasgow, some friends of mine are involved with an organisation called the "Dirty Weekenders" who basically go and clean up stuff. On occasion, with flamethrowers.

              Not your traditional enviromentalists, them.

              Comment


              • #37
                Originally posted by theCount
                In Indonesia, where I grew up, every year there are clean up hikes in the more popular mountain trails, for example up in the Gunung Gede/Pangrango national park. Furthermore, the park rangers can be very strict about some things, for example, I have seen people literally marched back up the mountain (2995m above sea level -- hike starts at around 1600m) because they were caught with eidelweiss flowers.

                Here in Glasgow, some friends of mine are involved with an organisation called the "Dirty Weekenders" who basically go and clean up stuff. On occasion, with flamethrowers.

                Not your traditional enviromentalists, them.
                Do they use biodiesel in their flamethrowers?
                (We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming. Please, feel free to ignore this post if you so desire.)

                Comment


                • #38
                  Originally posted by Macavity
                  Do they use biodiesel in their flamethrowers?
                  Naw, you don't want to try to use any form of diesel (well, maybe straight vegetable oil, but I've never tried that) as an inflammable fuel - it's way too smoky once it does eventually get going. Believe me, I've made that mistake trying to get a bonfire going once. Think small-scale tire fire and you won't be far off :)

                  Kerosene, on the other hand, isn't nearly as bad and also mixes quite nicely with powdered laundry detergent. Or so I hear.

                  Comment


                  • #39
                    Originally posted by skroo
                    also mixes quite nicely with powdered laundry detergent. Or so I hear.
                    heh... the poor man's impromptu sticky flame, when NapB isn't available. i've tended to rely on the old standby of gas and styrofoam when i needed to get a bonfire or grill going under tough conditions.
                    "I'll admit I had an OiNK account and frequented it quite often… What made OiNK a great place was that it was like the world's greatest record store… iTunes kind of feels like Sam Goody to me. I don't feel cool when I go there. I'm tired of seeing John Mayer's face pop up. I feel like I'm being hustled when I visit there, and I don't think their product is that great. DRM, low bit rate, etc... OiNK it existed because it filled a void of what people want."
                    - Trent Reznor

                    Comment


                    • #40
                      Coming from the resident EMT, I have driven(yeah driven) a bio-diesel ambulance. The HP is amazing. You can use corn or soy. Sure, some of it is still oil, but it burns quieter and better than the pure stuff.

                      I am against the hydrogen engines in the north due to ice. I would hate for my tailpipe to freeze because I dropped water too much, or have the roads turn to a big sheet because of the constant drippage on the highways out of tailpipes. I prefer biodiesel. I would love to see a car that was biodiesel, in fact...I think I read about one on popular mechanics, let me check.....

                      Oh yes! The irony. Popular Mechanics September 2005 edition. Front page? "BOGUS MPG GADGETS! Our tests expose the mileage hype"

                      Page 74. "Fuel for thought" by none other than Jay Leno. There is currently a Corvette running a dieselmiester engine 26k PSI diesel engine. Need I say more?


                      Oh, and Mac, Gas is a combustion engine, Diesel is a compression engine. Flame Throwers use gas.
                      -Ridirich

                      "When you're called upon to do anything, and you're not ready to do it, then you've failed."

                      Commander W.H. Hamilton

                      Comment


                      • #41
                        Hybrids are a fluke which will exist until they actually manage to cram a full reformer/fuel cell or high temperature fuel cell combo under the hood of a car. Then you can stop worrying about batteries entirely and generate electricity directly from gasoline, or ethanol, or whatever hydrocarbon fuels you design the vehicle to support.

                        For the short term, I really think we should be pushing renewable, clean burning, 105 octane E-85... which has been consistently selling for almost a dollar less per gallon than gasoline...
                        45 5F E1 04 22 CA 29 C4 93 3F 95 05 2B 79 2A B0
                        45 5F E1 04 22 CA 29 C4 93 3F 95 05 2B 79 2A B1
                        [ redacted ]

                        Comment


                        • #42
                          Originally posted by bascule
                          <snip>
                          For the short term, I really think we should be pushing renewable, clean burning, 105 octane E-85... which has been consistently selling for almost a dollar less per gallon than gasoline...

                          I've been burning E-85 (85% ethanol) off and on for over a year--more on than off, now that gas has topped $3.00/Gallon. Where I live, it's consistently about 40 to 50 cents a gallon cheaper than gasoline.

                          While I haven't studied it yet, I am fairly convinced that my mileage suffers terribly on E-85, power seems about the same. I have also heard reports that it takes more energy to make E-85 than it provides.

                          BE SURE YOUR CAR IS RATED FOR E-85 BEFORE USING!
                          --BC, (Our other car is a diesel).

                          Comment


                          • #43
                            Originally posted by big chopper
                            I have also heard reports that it takes more energy to make E-85 than it provides.
                            Heh. :-) I think that is a problem with nearly any energy conversion system we have constructed. There has been theory of full energy conversion at the quantum level, and with atomic collisions, but most if not all of the systems we have built suffer from loss in conversion.

                            Consider perpetual motion machines: (Once started in "motion" continues without any need for added energy from an outside source.)

                            Many of the power systems we have today rely on tapping into a potential energy. This is a problem that exists with Hydrogen cars. [There is a potential energy between Hydrogen gas and oxygen gas where a spark can release potential energy and form water.]

                            As we run out of resources with high potential energy that can be easily tapped to be converted to a form of energy that we can easily use, we will eventually come to use energy systems that take more and more energy to make less and less easily used stable forms of potential energy that can be easily transport and loaded with the least inconvenience.

                            Costing more to do less is the ultimate, end-of-game cost when considering use of non-renewable resources. (Though fossil fuels are renewable with enough time and the right environment, I'm using the common meaning of "non renewable resources.")

                            Comment


                            • #44
                              just tossing out a thank-you to everyone who has participated in this thread thus far (and who i hope will continue to do so as the discussion continues and gas prices potentially keep rising)

                              this is far and away one of the most informative and eye-opening threads i've ever been a part of on any forum i can remember. what started as just a "hardware-hacker" type discussion of a quirky car mod that got some press almost instantly turned into a detailed analysis of alternative and under-utilized energy systems... and post after post was just packed to the gills with useful and verifiable facts. i have learned an immense amount from these comments, and i hope and pray that this thread never gets the axe either by mod maintenance or a forum box crash. it's like a complete primer read for anyone who ever wanted to learn more about moving away from mainstream gasoline engines.

                              thank you one and all for so many great comments. this is, to me, the epitome of defcon and our community... interested parties meeting with enlightened minds who enjoy sharing their knowledge with a receptive audience.

                              i owe you all a beer and then some. if i don't cross paths with you before DC14, be sure to stop by the BCCC contest table next year where i'll have plenty of frosty ones set aside for you. (and, those of you going to shmoo, consider the first two rounds on me when we go out to dinner the first night)
                              "I'll admit I had an OiNK account and frequented it quite often… What made OiNK a great place was that it was like the world's greatest record store… iTunes kind of feels like Sam Goody to me. I don't feel cool when I go there. I'm tired of seeing John Mayer's face pop up. I feel like I'm being hustled when I visit there, and I don't think their product is that great. DRM, low bit rate, etc... OiNK it existed because it filled a void of what people want."
                              - Trent Reznor

                              Comment


                              • #45
                                Originally posted by bascule
                                Hybrids are a fluke which will exist until they actually manage to cram a full reformer/fuel cell or high temperature fuel cell combo under the hood of a car.
                                True, but there's also the question of fuelling infrastructure to consider.

                                Originally posted by bascule
                                For the short term, I really think we should be pushing renewable, clean burning, 105 octane E-85... which has been consistently selling for almost a dollar less per gallon than gasoline...
                                I agree. The problem is that the California Legislature apparently doesn't. It's been possible to buy dual-fuel gasoline/E85 vehicles for several years now (shortlist), but good luck filling them with anything other than 87-octane in this state. We've got *three* E85 fuelling locations here. *Three*. In a state of 30 million people, and with the strictest emissions regulations in the country, we've got a workable low-emissions engine technology already in production and we can't use it. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

                                The only real downside to E85 is that it generally doesn't result in increased fuel economy, but rather just cleaner emissions. Having said that, that doesn't make it a bad fuel: running cleaner is still a good thing. At $3/gallon, however, using less is almost better.

                                Originally posted by Big Chopper
                                BE SURE YOUR CAR IS RATED FOR E-85 BEFORE USING!
                                This is *VERY* important. While you can probably get away with burning E85 in a gasoline engine, unless it's specifically set up to handle both you risk damaging the engine and/or fuel system components. Fuel pumps use the gas they transfer to cool themselves; E85 isn't as efficient at this, leading to pump burnout. Fuel lines and tanks may not be resilient to E85, leading to deterioration (and ultimately leakage). Emissions control equipment may be damaged by it. There are other issues specific to E85 in gasoline engines I can't remember off the top of my head, but here's another one to consider: octane.

                                People think that higher octane is automatically better. This isn't necessarily true: octane is a measure of the *resistance* to detonation that gasoline has. Given the space we've got here I'll just refer everyone over to a great explanation of what octane is here rather than go into it, but a low-compression engine running a 105-octane (or higher) fuel is asking for things like holed pistons. Even in a high-compression engine I wouldn't be too keen on using it unless it were specifically designed for it.

                                Originally posted by Deviant Ollam
                                this is far and away one of the most informative and eye-opening threads i've ever been a part of on any forum i can remember.
                                Glad ya liked it :) This is one of my favourite topics, and it's really nice to have had a thread like this here - for once, we got into something that didn't go way off on a tangent (sort of), or end up petering out.

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