Originally Posted by physguy
Huh? why would you use fossil fuel to do this? Of course for the first batch in principal but not after that. Intelligent design of the system would make it self sustaining.
But, it;'s not. There is no plan to have it work that way. Ethanol is intended for use in vehicles, not power plants of any type.
And I have a Ph.D. in physics. Balancing the equation is how you take into account conservation of matter when trying to document a chemical reaction, conservation is the underlying physical principal. But so what - my point is only that everyone needs to read these pronouncements critically and question inconsistencies.[/quote]
Well, you beat me there,. I only have four years. I understand your point, but haven't seen the expression.
I'm talking about oxygen. C6H12O6 + 6 O2 -> 6 CO2 + 6 H2O Oxygen is required to oxidize carbohydrates like glucose. Anaerobic bacteria get the O2 from sources other than air but are less efficient (slower) in oxidation. A number of bacteria are both aerobic and anaerobic switching between energy extraction method depending on the environment in which they find themselves. They are generally significantly more efficient when O2 is available.[/quote]
I'm not arguing that. But, you seem to be considering only air to plany matter interactions. There is plenty of oxygen several meters down, where there is soil, rather than compacted clay.
These bacteria are more or less efficient in their own use of food, but that doesn't change the equation for the actual breakkdown of plant (or animal) matter. In the end, all of the C)2 will be returned, in one way or the other.
Don't forget the sulphur based eco-systems that don't need O2 but have adapted to geo-thermal energy sources. I do know about these processes but again time and rate are the KEY issues, not completeness. [/quote]
Yes, there are those as well. What we are arguing here is really not much different, just a bit of time difference, from what I see. If plant matter breaks down in 6 months, or two years, it doesn't affect what we are BOTH saying.
If I'm creating CO2 at 10 tons/minute and only binding it at 5 tons/minute the CO2 goes up 5 tons/minute. If the other way around, CO2 goes down 5 tons/minute. The size of the reservoirs at the two ends of these processes is irrelevant to discussions about CO2 gas. Its a dynamic system not a static system. You even state this below (see bold).
I'm not sure I understand that statement about the reservoirs. Of course they matter. The end state is dependent on the size of the "container". That container is the ocean, for the great bulk. That's why the concern is about the problem of getting the CO2 into the ocean. If we can do that in a way that precludes its returning any time soon, we will have helped to reduce the problem. There are projects to test this theory, though one of them, has been halted, at least for the time being.
I'm not talking about mitigating the CO2 but the possible consequences - higher temperatures, sea levels, etc. Temperatures have been rising, whatever the cause, it is likely to have some of these consequences, whatever the cause and no matter what is done a this point in time, the latter according to those sounding the alarm. Despite the seeming inevitability of these consequences there is no, or little, ongoing discussion of mitigation.
The scientific community has agreed that the best way to slow the increase in temperature is to lower the CO2 emissions. It's the most understood part of the solution. We know how to do that. The question is of will.
Not sure what your definition of poor is. Coal is not a poor source of energy, its actually quite good and since the US has one of ( if not the largest I can't remember) proven reserves of coal it requires attention as to how to utilize it, as does any energy source.
When I say "poor" I mean that the impurities in coal tends to be much greater than that of most oil, and of course, gas. That leads to much pollution, including that of CO2. It also results in more soot being released, which causes other atmospheric problems.
Unfortunately, it;s difficult to remove these problem causing impurities from coal (read expensive). Coal producers, and the plant operators using it have been very resistive to improving this.
In the end, as I tried to intimate in the original post, the major energy source for the bulk of power requirements that is being ignored is nuclear. France is already 100%+ nuclear in their electricity generation. The are a net exporter of electricity from nuclear. Japan is close. The U.S. has very large proven reserves of uranium. New reactor designs, as proven by others, are very safe and effective. There is a waste issue, as there is with any technology as shown by recent articles on the toxic waste being generated by the production of solar panels, but it can also be dealt with and is less of a heath/environment risk than fossil fuels. As you put forth above on another matter, this is only a political problem - Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, but it nuclear the most effective way to lower carbon emissions. It is the source that could, in principle, support an electical/hydrogen economy (remember hydrogen is only a distribution medium, like electricity, not an energy source) and the technology is already here and now.
I have always been pro nuclear. I consider it to be the cleanest major power provider. What most people don't know is that it releases far less radioactive waste into the atmosphere than either coal, or oil. Despite some poor maintenance, it has had a very good record in the US, except for 3 Mile Island, though, even there, the release of nuclear isotopes were very small. Very.
Chernobyl, well, the Soviets were ever stupid about those things.
The newer generations of power plants are much safer, and even produce less waste. If the government could get off its ass, and do what is required about storage we could get on with it.
Whether fusion will ever come to our rescue is still an open book. We should be spending far more on research.
I've been lukewarm about the idea of a hydrogen economy, because, as you say, it's merely a way to move energy around. It's just a big hydrogen battery. Without non-polluting energy sources, it;'s a crock.
Actually, I think we agree about all this, except for some semantical points, and a bit of definitional confusion.