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Peak Oil...Scary stuff - Page 5

post #161 of 168
Energy is a complex blend of physics, economics and politics.

I think you can pretty much write off alternatives such as bio-energy, coal gasification, oil shale deposits and such as large sources of energy. They suffer from requiring more energy to produce than they provide. Or they require other scarce resources such as water to produce them. Due to politics though you will see them crop up from time to time.

Because of thermodynamics energy production is counterintuitive to our notions of high technology. We imagine lots of genius and high-tech going into the production of wonderful gadgets such as iPods and G5s. However, in the case of energy the least effort and the lowest tech is best. The more effort and transformations required to produce energy the less valuable it is. This is a key concept.

This is the beauty of oil. You stick a pipe in the ground and it flows out. With a little refining you wind up with gasoline which has an energy density of about 12 kW-hrs per kg (about 100 times more than Li batteries). This is the second beauty of oil, it has a higher energy density than any other common fuel.

Think of it. The next time you put 20 gallons of gas in the tank that is roughly equivalent to 750 kW-hrs of energy, enough to run a home for three months, and you can pump it in a few minutes. Amazing.

Ethanol used for fuel is probably not energy efficient. That is, when you add up all the fertilizer, tractor fuel, refining costs, refineries, tractors and clean up costs (all of which use or are made from oil) then the resulting fuel may have cost more oil to make than it produced. The fact that some of us are mandated by law to use gasoline mixed with ethanol from corn is one example of how politics clashes with physics.

Solar, wind and even nuclear all suffer from the fact that they rely heavily on fossil fuels for their production and operation. In other words, if all we had was electricity it would be difficult to extract and process the raw materials, build the required machines and clean up when finished. Cars, trucks, machinery and materials needed to build and operate alternative fuel technologies require fossil fuels and oil stocks.

While these alternatives produce more energy than they consume it is better to think of them as fossil fuel amplifiers than alternatives to fossil fuels. Oil has the remarkable dual role of energy source and feed stock. Solar, wind or energy might produce electricity but you can't make things out of electricity. Making oil out of carbon, hydrogen and electricity will be very expensive.

In the past hundred years we have built a huge infrastructure based on fossil fuels. Any alternative we try to adopt as the price of oil goes up will engender wide spread disruptions.

Jeremy Rifkin published a book called Entropy in 1980. He is a bit of a radical and certainly pushes his point of view. However, the book is an easy read and does a good job of showing how thermodynamics sheds light on our energy problems.
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post #162 of 168
How does hemp oil fit into the equation? I know the oil from the plant can be refined into jet fuel, but how energy intensive is the process?
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post #163 of 168
Quote:
Originally posted by neutrino23
Solar, wind and even nuclear all suffer from the fact that they rely heavily on fossil fuels for their production and operation. In other words, if all we had was electricity it would be difficult to extract and process the raw materials, build the required machines and clean up when finished. Cars, trucks, machinery and materials needed to build and operate alternative fuel technologies require fossil fuels and oil stocks.

this is only valid in an oil based society. All what you mention here could rather easily use energy derived from alternative energy sources.
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post #164 of 168
to the best of my knowledge, bio diesel is the only plant based oil that is really a positive energy/cost effective way to "grow" energy per se.

basically it doesn't have the refinement requirements that other plant based fuels do, so it works out ok.

the real problem is that the soybeans are worth more money as other products rather than as fuel.
post #165 of 168
Quote:
Originally posted by alcimedes
to the best of my knowledge, bio diesel is the only plant based oil that is really a positive energy/cost effective way to "grow" energy per se.

basically it doesn't have the refinement requirements that other plant based fuels do, so it works out ok.

the real problem is that the soybeans are worth more money as other products rather than as fuel.

From what I read, hemp was more efficient than soybeans, but this was 15 years ago so processing might have advanced. I can google, but if someone has any good sources please share.
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post #166 of 168
Thread Starter 
I read about a new type of solar power technology using some new processing that enables you to literally PRINT solar panels out of a (more or less) run of the mill printing press.

Not only is this process way way way cheaper, but it's way more efficient than conventional solar power.
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post #167 of 168
One the faculty researchers where I work is going to test that process for digital X-ray imaging.
post #168 of 168
Even the Arabs know we're running out soon.

Quote:
Ali Bakhtiari, head of strategic planning at the Iranian National Oil Company (NIOC): "Cheap oil is dead. You are never going to see oil priced at $25 a barrel again. These high prices, yes, they are exacerbated by Yukos, Iraq and so on, but more importantly they are a sign that we have major structural problems with supply.

"They are a sign that there is now no spare capacity for the fluctuations of the markets."

Then we can add some other major determinants. That the North Sea oilfields, long a cash cow for the British and Norwegian governments, have peaked and are declining at a faster rate than analysts expected.

Then factor in the millions of "lost" barrels of oil that were misrepresented by Royal Dutch Shell, to the tune of 23% of their total reserves. Mix up the fact that no major oilfields were discovered in the last 18 months, despite increased technological innovation.

And round it all off with the OPEC statement that producer countries have "no more supply" according to spokesman, Indonesian oil minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro. This just weeks after OPEC assured markets production was "no problem".

China:
Quote:
As an example, in the same year as China's consumption rose by a crushing 26% its main oilfield, Daqing, started to decline.

The Chinese state, not known for releasing accurate figures on anything, said the decline would be abour 7% a year. It may well be faster.

As Daqing produced about 50% of China's total oil needs, one does not need to be a mathematician to see the problem. China will need to import large quantities of oil to satisfy its astronomical growth in consumption - growth which shows little sign of slowing.

OPEC member importing oil:
Quote:
Indonesia became the first OPEC country to admit, in June, that it had become a net importer...

Saudi Arabia:
Quote:
Then there is the Saudi Arabian angle. Another major oil figure, the recently retired executive vice president of Saudi Aramco, Sadad al-Husayni, has frightened the markets with recent articles in Oil & Gas Journal.

In them he cites "proven developed reserves" of Saudi Arabia at only "130bn barrels", half of what Saudi Arabia normally claims to have underground.

A lack of transparency over reserve figures, many of which are thought to be groundless, has further undermined confidence in oil producers to match demand.

Add to this that Russia's oil minister has claimed that Russian output will fall in 2005...
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