View Full Version : misc. energy thread

04-21-2005, 06:17 AM
I was googling through "projected oil prices" and came up with this article. Any chance politicians will elevate this topic as one involving common sacrifice? Maybe something as scary as increasing MPG ratings for light trucks/SUVs


[ 04-21-2005, 07:18 AM: Message edited by: LeeG ]

Bruce Hooke
04-21-2005, 08:16 AM
I'm sure some people will chime in that this sort of prediction has been made in the past and hasn't panned out. It is beyond my skill to judge whether this prediction is more reliable than past similar predicitions, but it is noteworthy that this prediction is only trying to look 3-4 years into the future, which is much easier to do than looking 6-12 years into the future or more. It is worth keeping in mind that if oil prices skyrocket there will be a lot of pressure and incentive to deal with the politicial issues mentioned in the article that are slowing down production. Of course speeding up production just hastens the day when there really will not be much oil left.

That said, if this prediction is right, I'm guessing that at least initially it will make fuel efficiency standards for SUV's and light trucks a moot point as people rush to switch to vehicles that are more fuel efficient because they can't handle spending upwards of $100 for a tank of gas that will only take them 400 miles. However, at some point it might sink in that forcing the hand of those who do not make such a switch voluntarily would have benefits for all of us in the form of reducing our national oil consumption and thus reducing the price for oil, at which point we just might see some action, but don't hold your breath.

Garrett Lowell
04-21-2005, 08:22 AM
I do know that GM has teamed up with Shell to put in place a hydrogen dispenser at a gas station in Northeast DC sometime last year. You are familiar with the Hydrogen Fuel Initiative of 2003, no?

Garrett Lowell
04-21-2005, 12:53 PM

04-21-2005, 01:04 PM
nope. I'm still wondering why DC spent all that money for diesel/electric hybrid busses and not CNG busses.

Bruce Hooke
04-21-2005, 01:28 PM
Originally posted by Garrett Lowell:
You are familiar with the Hydrogen Fuel Initiative of 2003, no?Is that the Bush administrations project to develop hydrogen fuel vehicles (that some saw as simply a way to postpone the whole issue of fuel efficiency)?

04-21-2005, 01:29 PM
Originally posted by Garrett Lowell:
You are familiar with the Hydrogen Fuel Initiative of 2003, no?Sure.

The Hydrogen Fuel Initiative was a way to look like they are doing something without actually making any changes or improvements.

There are some major problems with hydrogen. Where do you get it? Most hydrogen comes from fossil fuels. Sure, you can make it from water, but that requires a huge amount of electricity -- and where do you think that electricity comes from? Fossil Fuels!

For all the fanfare, backslapping and bragging about the hydrogen initiative, they haven't actually saved any gas yet.

They could have produced a much better result in a number of different ways. A change in the CAFE standard would result in more efficient cars. Closing the SUV loophole would have discouraged waste. An increase in the hybrid-electric tax credit would result in more super-efficient cars.

The beauty of that approach is that it doesn't require years of research, billions of investment, and refitting every gas station in the U.S.. It's a simple legislative change and it would impact many more vehicles.

With a simple stroke of the pen, they could have tipped the balance in favor of efficiency.

The sad truth is gasoline is a wonderful fuel. It's easy to process, store and distribute. It's relatively safe, relatively easy to find and we have been perfecting its use for more than 100 years. It's unlikely that it will ever be replaced. If it is replaced, it will be by something less desirable.

But just because it's cheap and easy, doesn't mean we should waste it.

Bush can't change the laws of thermodynamics by decree. But he can influence patterns of behavior. If he were serious about energy reform, he'd concentrate on that which he can change, not pie-in-the-sky futurism.

[ 04-21-2005, 02:36 PM: Message edited by: ljb5 ]

Garrett Lowell
04-21-2005, 01:32 PM
I realize the HFI doesn't fit the agenda of this thread, Lee, but you should check it out. I find it interesting that there is much gnashing of teeth and beating of breast about oil consumption, yet no mention at all of this hydrogen fuel station or of the HFI.

Edited to add: Ok, responses while my reply box was open. I understand the issues hydrogen fuel represent. It is a step in the right direction, though.

[ 04-21-2005, 02:36 PM: Message edited by: Garrett Lowell ]

04-21-2005, 01:37 PM
A single hydrogen station?

Servicing how many cars?

Where do they get the hydrogen from?

04-21-2005, 01:46 PM
Last Friday on PBS, one of the administration's talking heads claimed that the Bush administration had put in CAFE standards for SUV's and light trucks... Either they're getting some really fine weed in the district or this guy was from a parallel universe! First I heard of any adjustment to CAFE since 2001 (start of Shrub misadministration), let alone putting SUV's and light trucks under the umbrella! :D

Garrett Lowell
04-21-2005, 01:48 PM
Yes, it is the first station, servicing a fleet of 6 GM H fuel celled cars. The H comes from Shell Hydrogen.

04-21-2005, 01:58 PM
Originally posted by Garrett Lowell:
Yes, it is the first station, servicing a fleet of 6 GM H fuel celled cars. The H comes from Shell Hydrogen.Six cars? In a nation of a hundred million cars? That's nothing to get excited about.

I suppose you have to start somewhere.

Yet still, it is a miserably small step at enormous expense.

There are so many easy, obvious, effective solutions that would yield vastly better results.

04-21-2005, 02:01 PM
has any one heard any more from the thermal depolymerization of waste? written about 23 months ago in discover magizine it was said that the cost per barrel was 15$ so at the current price they are making over 35$ a barrel prophet. if the plant were doing 200 barrels a day 7000$ to the good side. imagion if every sewage treatm,ent plant in america had such a plant we would be back to exporting oil again insteed of importing it.

if the goverment were run right we might not even need taxes wouldn't that be nice.

04-21-2005, 02:15 PM
Gee, I hope you meant they are making "profit." The last thing we need is barrels of "prophets."

Thermal depolymerization of waste sounds interesting, and I've never heard of it before.

I assume it is a form of recycling; plastics are chains of carbon and hydrogen, derived from fossil fuels. All you would have to do is break the chains (polymers) remove some extraneous chemicals and rearrange the atoms and you get your fossil fuel back.

Sounds simple in theory, but I imagine it's a little tricky in real life. Clearly, it would require the input of a lot of energy, probably electricity derived from coal. Some of the waste products could be really nasty. A landfill is a nasty mix of a million different chemicals, in many different forms.

By comparison, an oil well is easily accesible and relatively pure.

Nevertheless, it sounds promising. Our landfills are full of partially oxidized material, it would be nice to empty them and help ourselves at the same time.

[ 04-21-2005, 03:24 PM: Message edited by: ljb5 ]

George Roberts
04-21-2005, 05:17 PM
I expect that tar sands and related sources will come on line in short order. To do so they need a guaranteed well head price above $25.

By the way production costs of oil are for delivery to the well head not to your tank. There is a lot of cost in between.

04-21-2005, 05:58 PM
Originally posted by George Roberts:
I expect that tar sands and related sources will come on line in short order. To do so they need a guaranteed well head price above $25.Very likely. I have some friends who are working on that problem.

Tar sands are thicker than peanut butter. It's not like the old days where you could drill a hole and the good stuff came gushing out.

Now, you have to inject super-heated steam to coax it slowly up a pressurized tube. Once you get it, you've got to process it more. That means more energy, more equipment, more time and more money.

I don't think oil will run out soon, but the stuff that is left is getting harder to find, harder to get to and lower quality. That adds up.

It's basically the same if you're talking about oil sands, or reclaimed plastics or second-quality crude. The low-hanging fruit is nearly picked clean. Sure, there's other fruit, but it's more work.

There's a reason we drilled in Texas before Alaska. But where, when we are done with Alaska?

[ 04-21-2005, 07:01 PM: Message edited by: ljb5 ]

04-21-2005, 06:42 PM
gas is almost $3 a gallon here...thanx Bush

04-21-2005, 06:45 PM
the artical was in discover magizine may 2003 ( IIRC)
actually the feed stock for thermal depolymerizationcan be any organtic matter
they expect the production cost to start at 15$ and fall to 12 after they get everything runnng smoothly.
the first production plant is at a tyson pultry processing plant and will handle ( again from memory ) 40 tons of turkey guts feathers and ect. and produce 200 barrels a day. when all the waste from that plant is being handled other nearby meat packing plants will send their waste over

the graphics point out that oil is not the only product from the plant refind industrial chemicals from sulfer to potash to any number of others will be produced.

the waste is turned into a slurry and under high heat and pressure breaks down into simpler chemicals. the process is self propetuating because some of the products are natural gases such as CH2 ( ng) and C2H4 ( is that amonia or methane ) and CH4 these gases provide the energy via cogeneration for electricty to run the slurry maker and pumps and heat needed for the high pressure steam

I am sure they are using these relitively pure waste sources because the products will bemore predictable and thus easyer to learn from but the same process can be applyed to sewage sludge and garbage. anything organtic

04-21-2005, 07:21 PM
So what are they going to burn to produce the heat for this thermal depolymerization?

C2H4 is ethene, I think. Likewise, CH2 would be methene. CH4 is methane. Ammonia is NH4.


[ 04-21-2005, 08:22 PM: Message edited by: huisjen ]

04-21-2005, 08:18 PM
CH2 can't exist. Well, maybe for a moment, at extremely high temperatures, but it would be highly reactive.

In theory, the chemisty makes sense. All organic material is basically unburned fuel. That's why food gives us energy. It's just a matter of putting it into a useable form (liquid or gas) and keeping it clean.

Still, it's tough to imagine that they could do it cheaper than oil in the ground.

I hope Discover magazine is right. They're not the most rigorous of magazines, but they're usually pretty good.

04-21-2005, 08:31 PM
I checked. It would be methylene. I see your point about the structure though. Poof.


04-21-2005, 10:57 PM
Thankyou Dan
the process itself produces burnable gases that can either run generators or directly heat the slurry

what is the molecular formula for natural gas?

my experience in chemestry is failure due to glass allergy, every time I got around test tubes they broke. . once in geologic chemistry we had to do a one on one test with Dr Pashley. right in the middle of it just after heating a glass tube soft enough to bend it I grabed it bare handed. he was kind enough to look away while I talked myself back to abilityto think.

if you think about it pumping oil from the ground does have a cost even after then drilling is amoritised. I read an artical years ago about producing oil from old dirlds where a well is producing only a couple barrels a day and it wasn't worth it to maintain the pumps at 8 or 10$ a barrel I also read that the adverage well in america produces 8 barrels a day while the saudi adverage was 800.

their was also a follow up at 6 months saying the plant was progressing and producing small amounts of oil.

the system is also benifical to the meat packing plant as they can pay a smaller amount for the thermal depolymerization plant to take their waste than to a land fill. just today I read weber county is changing its landfill from rail ship to eastern utah to truck shiped to western utah because the union paciffic railroad had been blowing it regularly. the county had been sending 860 tons of waste to carbon county a day since its own landfill closed in 1996. the contract was signed with southern pacific just before union pacific bought them out. some times the UP would not send enough rail cars and other times send to many. one week they sent none at all. the weber county spokeman said " we don't have room ( at the transfer plant) to stack a weeks worth of garbage"

davis county has two landfills the northern one has a garbage to energy plant nearby creating steam that it sells to heat hill airforce base. their is talk of capturing the 700 cubic feet of methane gas (per second or per minute?) that is venting out of the land fill and selling it either to hill or to the natural gas company. I don't know that they would dig up the stuff that is already buryed for a therm depoly plant because their is a whole lot of dirt since they cover everthing very quickly now to keep the seagulls away

George Roberts
04-22-2005, 09:48 AM
Today's WSJ indicates that Saudia Arabia is going to invest enough money to keep the price of oil somewhere between $25 and $50.

So much for the time being ripe for alternate sources of energy.

Ken Hutchins
04-22-2005, 09:54 AM
Remember back in the mid 70's during the so called oil shortage when we were told all these new sources/technology of energy wouldn't be available for 10 years and we would be out of oil in 20 years? Well that was 30 years ago and they are still saying it will be 10 years before new sources/technology will be available and we still have oil, but at a higher price.