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Thread: Oil spill

  1. #11
      Jaxilon is online now
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    What's better than oil...

    Like I said I'm not an expert but I do know that there have been a lot of motors that have been designed to run on hydrogen, electricity, methane, and who knows what. Often times the oil companies buy up such ideas for millions of dollars and then sit on them. It seems to me only recently that we have seen more and more electric cars, and now the start of hydrogen motors being used. A relative of mine told me about a guy he knew in his home town who came up with one such technology but he wouldn't sell it. He disappeared.

    While it's true these technologies were not up to snuff as far as the power you get compared to typical gas powered engines they were certainly stalled in climbing that mountain. Green has only recently become a buzz word and that is everyone's fault not just oil companies so I can't blame them for all that. What I can say is they have done their best to keep a stranglehold on anything that might threaten their golden egg (the sales of oil).

    I don't buy into all the conspiracies either but I'm certainly not entirely trusting in the men in power who are playing around with all that money and so on. I also wonder what Oil is for as far as the earth is concerned. Is it like blood to the planet, and if so, how much can we suck out of it before there are serious repercussions? I'm sure a little, even a lot has very little effect however, at some point a line may be crossed that causes real problems.

    A lot of why we are still on oil is because there is just so much profit to be made with it. So many things are like this but most of the time folks don't stop to ask themselves if this is right.

    And I know oil is used for a lot of other things, plastics and so on for example. No doubt it is highly useful and is in nearly everything we have around around us. Maybe that's ok but then again, maybe it's not ok. Maybe it's not ok at all. Maybe we are killing ourselves because we are too stupid to realize poison for what it is.

    Finally, to be honest, I've not spent time really digging into this problem. I'm not aware of what other types of things could be used instead of oil. I'm sure there are experts out there. I'm sure that big business and governments do their best to gag such individuals as well.

    GP is probably also correct. In anything there is some level of pollution and the earth can handle a lot obviously, but that doesn't mean we should just keep stabbing the elephant.
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  2. #12
      Iapetus is offline
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    To the question of "what can we use besides oil?", there are a lot of options.

    One of the problems is that oil is currently the cheapest because we already have the technology and gas stations in place. My family has a Honda Civic that runs on compressed natural gas (CNG for short) and it is fantastic. The biggest problem? There are only 14 gas stations in the entire state of Michigan that have the pumps that can fuel the car. When we bought the car, we couldn't even get it in Michigan - my parents bought it from a dealer in Albany, New York, and he flew out there to pick it up.

    Making this somewhat relevant to mapping, before he left I plotted out courses from one fill station to another, as he drove through New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. We didn't do our research well because apparently passes are needed to fuel up in Pennsylvania. Dad had to borrow some. Then, everything hinged on him stopping in Sandusky, Ohio, to fuel up. When he got to the gas station, they said that they don't understand why their station is still on the CNG websites, because they don't have it. http://www.afdc.energy.gov/afdc/locator/stations/

    ...so, my dad had to call my uncle and tow the car to the first CNG pump available in Michigan - in Adrian.

    My family is lucky that we live within a half an hour of three different pumps, otherwise we couldn't really own this car. There are pumps available that you can hook up to your own natural gas line at your house... except that they're in such high demand that it's almost impossible to get your hands on one.

    I've paid $1.94 per gallon for the past two years whenever I've driven that car. The price has never changed.

    So, we have some of the technology, but what we lack is the infrastructure. We also lack the knowledge, which is what T. Boone Pickens has been trying to work on. Right now this Honda Civic can't cross-country because the pumps aren't there. It is also a shame, because the US has a *ton* of natural gas that it can use, and it doesn't have to buy it from anyone.


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  3. #13
      cfds is offline
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    The alternatives for cars are
    -Electricty: the problems are capacity of accumulators and infrastructure (the last is easy enough to solve). The real problem that might arise is that (at least in Germany) the electricty producing companies are powerful enough without additionally serving the demand for cars.
    -Hydrogenium: the problem is the storage and I don't see a solution in the forseeable future
    -"Bio fuel": needs great ares to grow the plants, might help developing countries (no more cheap corn from the US to ruin local farmers) or cause them to completely devastate their natural resources (e.g. rainforest razed to grow sugarcane).

    But replacing oil as fuel for cars and heating homes is a small problem, compared to replacing oil as an ingredient in the chemical industry.

  4. #14
      jfrazierjr is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by cfds View Post
    The alternatives for cars are
    -Electricty: the problems are capacity of accumulators and infrastructure (the last is easy enough to solve). The real problem that might arise is that (at least in Germany) the electricty producing companies are powerful enough without additionally serving the demand for cars.
    You missed one(at least in the US): lack of power generation. Unfortunately in the US, regulation appears to be heading towards power generation means that cannot meet demand as it stands currently. In addition to battery capacity, you also have to take into account recharge time(and possibly life time vs cost to replace). Even if you could get a battery to hold a charge for 200 miles or more, currently it takes hours to recharge and that just won't fly in cases where people travel across the country for vacation or moving or even for daily business.


    Quote Originally Posted by cfds View Post
    -Hydrogenium: the problem is the storage and I don't see a solution in the forseeable future.
    Umm did you miss type this, or is this something I have never heard about before?

    Quote Originally Posted by cfds View Post
    -"Bio fuel": needs great ares to grow the plants, might help developing countries (no more cheap corn from the US to ruin local farmers) or cause them to completely devastate their natural resources (e.g. rainforest razed to grow sugarcane).
    Yea.. we need to be growing more trees, not less... Also, don't forget reusing existing used fry oil as bio diesel which would solve two problems if you discount the pollution issue(which is still less polluting than gasoline from what I understand).


    Quote Originally Posted by cfds View Post
    But replacing oil as fuel for cars and heating homes is a small problem, compared to replacing oil as an ingredient in the chemical industry.
    Really? While I know there are thousands of compounds derived from oil, I would never have guessed that oil was used much less for fuel than for other reasons...
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    I think what he's getting at is that plastics are made from petroleums and, while ubiquitous, I don't know which industry uses more. And it may be easier to get our vehicles powered by other things than it is to get our stuff made from different things.
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    Hydrogenium is an (antiquated?) term for hydrogen, especially when in a metallic state.

    But my understanding is that hydrogen is not a fuel source, only a storage medium. Most hydrogen comes either from reforming oil or natural gas (still a dependency on fossil fuels) or from electrolysis of water, which needs electricity. And every state transformation of energy (source->hydrogen->fuel-cell->electricity->power for a car) adds another transformation, each which introduces losses.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jfrazierjr View Post
    In addition to battery capacity, you also have to take into account recharge time(and possibly life time vs cost to replace). Even if you could get a battery to hold a charge for 200 miles or more, currently it takes hours to recharge and that just won't fly in cases where people travel across the country for vacation or moving or even for daily business.
    Well one option there is to go into a garage, hand in your discharged battery + wadge of greenbacks and carry out a charged one. Whilst I would admit there's problems with not having your own personal set of cells its more of a political / social problem than an engineering one. In a much bigger scale this is what the US esp Bill Gates is proposing with mini nuke reactors.

    I am also told that there are batteries where if you change the electrolyte for new "charged" electrolyte then you can go again. That's not true for lead acid batteries but if there are ones which have a liquid for both halves of the chemistry then you could drain old and pump in the new like petrol. That's essentially what the hydrogen fuel cell is like. Ok bit different but you get the idea.

    A lot of the issues surrounding the whole car + oil problem are not engineering ones but infrastructure, social, economic and political. Some of the eng ones are tough cookies cos oil is darned convenient when it works and doesn't leak all over the gulf. But we gotta face it that were going to have to make some changes in the future. If our whole lifestyle wasn't built with such a single source medium infrastructure then it would be less of a change to make now.

    Such a big topic and so many options and opinions that its hard to make fresh ground on it all.

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    @jfrazierjr: With "greater problem" I meant first of all "finding a replacement will be more difficult". I don't know the exact amounts of oil needed in chemical industry compared to fuel consumption either.

    The lack of power generation is a good point and if the administrations in Europe don't pay attention we will have the same problem here soon. Some services should not be in private hands but that is a different topic...

    And redrobes has probably hit the key issue: cars are one of the most important symbols of status and as long that doesn't change it will be difficult to get away from oil.

  9. #19
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    If it were merely status then we could legislate around that problem in no time. In some social circles carrying a gun is an important status symbol but we can legislate and manage without them. Transportation is something that we could cut down on but we cant do without.

  10. #20
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    so... answering a little in east and west of the thread (again, keeping it map related with casual references to compass directions) ... electricity poses 2 new problems - a lot of electricity is made from coal plants - thus adding to CO2, and general polution. Also, for now the batteries uses lithium which is rare, even with the huge deposit (worlds biggest) found in Afghanistan there isn't enough to convert all the cars to electricity. So we have to develop new batteries as well.

    Biofuel has the added value that you can convert existing engines - the disadvantage is that you use up "field space" where you could grow food. Of course you can make it from some food stuffs by products (like corn stalks and such)... I saw a US company made a "home-sugar-bio-fuel-tank-station"-thingy a year or two ago, that sounded like a great idea.

    Hydrogen still takes a lot of energy making, so that has to get better before its usefull.. but its clean in omissions ... so danish scientists (gotta plug my own country here) made a hydrogen pill some years ago - but when stuff like that come out its always... we can have a real-world-prototype-working-thing in 20-30 years.. .s*sigh*

    What we really could use are super conducters so we can store harnessed wind and sun and water energy - then we're getting somewhere...
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