Skip to comments.Vanity---Alternative fuel
Posted on 11/16/2005 1:46:45 PM PST by dangerdoc
I am disgusted as I read the news. We buy oil from petty tyrants. South American thugs bad-talk us and threaten to shut off the tap. Middle-East royalty, two generations from living in mud huts fund jihadists who want to cut off our heads. We compete with communist slave-workers for oil driving up the prices. We may or may not be running out of the stuff creating the real possibility that we are going have to find a replacement anyway.
Honestly, our oil economy is going to hurt us at some point. I dont know if it will be now in the form of sending our wealth out to people who want to harm us or from having to go off the stuff cold turkey at some point in the future. I personally believe it will be the former. I am concerned about oil funded nuclear technology going to oil funded terrorists brought into our country because of our lack of foresight.
Last century a petrochemical economy made sense. This century things are changing and we need to stay ahead of the curve.
If we need to replace oil what should we replace it with?
Hydrogen? Dont believe what you hear. The best source of hydrogen is petrochemicals. It is not economical to produce, transport or store. Hydrogen fuel cells are not very efficient when you figure in the inefficiency in getting to the vehicle and trying to store enough in the car to get anywhere.
Ethanol? Corn farmers love it but it is too inefficient to produce and we would need to actually give up food production to provide enough.
Biomass? I have spent a few weeks google searching biomass, synthesis gas and associated chemistry. It seems like a reasonable approach. Synthetic gasoline and diesel should be fairly easy to produce on a commercial scale. It would be no more obtrusive than an oil refinery and would use fairly similar technology. It has not been commercially pursued because of the cost. Although synthetic fuels could probably be produced for less than $2 a gallon, the concern is that OPEC would respond by flooding the market with oil and bankrupt any company that invested in this type of technology. Ive seen some conspiracy theories that the oil companies are trying to suppress biomass but I dont think that makes sense. The oil companies expertise would lead them to dominate the field. Almost every step in conversion exists in modern petrochemical cracking plants. As an added bonus, it would divert money from overseas and back to the farm economy.
Ive read that Saudi Arabia can deliver oil at less than $10 a barrel and would deplete their reserves as quickly as possible if a reasonable oil replacement were ever seen on the horizon. This is not a conspiracy, just simple economics. They have a limited supply and will work to get as much for it as possible. If a their product will be made useless, they will try to sell all they can while they can. All of this prevents companies from investing in alternative fuel technology even though the prices keep going up.
I really dont like the government getting involved in economics and I know that the free market will solve the problem eventually but I am very concerned about where our oil dollars are going. I see this as a security issue. Can we begin development of a replacement strategy in a step-wisemannor. Do we need some sort of a price support structure to encourage the development. Do we need to summon the resolve and stop or ban the import of oil. I see real problems with almost any strategy that involves the government.
I am curious about peoples thoughts. I have numbers showing biomass is reasonable from an economic standpoint based on current oil prices.
Specifically I am curious if there are any petrochemical engineers, economists or even politicians out there with an opinion. I can share specifics but there are literally hundreds of pages and everything I have is available on the internet.
This will give you enough information to make your head explode... from an accomplished engineer (and top-notch writer):
Can we extract energy from vanity threads?
Its not just our economy that is run on oil, the entire planets economy is driven by oil. People hear oil and think of gas, diesel, oil for their engine, and other forms of fuel. But there are literally MILLIONS of products on the shelves right now that are made from oil. MILLIONS!
The governor of Montana, a Democrat, was on the Glenn Beck show recently, where he said that interests in his state can make and sell oil from coal for under $30 a barrel. 'Course, he can't get investors until everyone is sure that the usual sources will not suddenly undercut that price.
Then either generate H2 thru electrolysis, or drive electric vehicles.
If the situations were reversed, and we had the oil and the jihadists had the weapons and military might, I know what they would do....
They would take our oil fields first and solve the energy problem and the "funding our enemy" problem with one whack.
Anybody care to comment? My energy policy would be for government to get the h*** out of the way and let America produce and trade energy, but there are those national security situations (Saudis, Chavez, and so on).
I'm normally against government interference in the free market.
However, with oil, it is not a free market. OPEC controls the cost of crude.
If OPEC weren't artificially inflating the cost of crude, oil would be much less expensive until it started actually running out, then the price would rise as it became scarce and it would become cost-effective to invest in new sources.
What we have now is OPEC raising the prices to scarcity levels, but preventing any alternatives from coming on line by its ability to quickly drop prices in retaliation for any company investing in alternative sources.
Because of this environment, I would support some sort of very limited government intervention, such as an import tax to encourage domestic and alternative production, or (my preference) perhaps some level of incentives and regulatory streamlining to encourage domestic drilling - especially on public lands.
Additionally, it is pointless to do anything about crude without doing something about our limited refinery capacity.
As far as alternatives, I don't think any of them will be cost effective with the pricing situation as it is today. The turkey oaffal thing sounds interesting, but unil more specifics are released on the process, it still is an unknown. I like shale oil harvesting, but there has to be some reasonable guarantee on a return on the significant investment or it isn't worth the risk. With OPEC the way it is, you can't guarantee that a shale oil production facility will be able to produce at or below the crude price OPEC decides to set once the facility is online.
All it takes to keep these sources producing is for the price of oil to remain above about $35 or so until it is in full production. Then the price will likely go lower due to the extent of the production and the initial costs will be past and it will cost more to shut down than to continue to produce at the lower prices. If prices stay in the current neighborhood then we have some centuries' worth of oil waiting to be converted from coal.
Bio diesel will never be more than peripheral. Tar sands, shale oil, and oil-from-coal will provide plenty of oil for many years.
>>>>"Can we extract energy from vanity threads?"<<<<
If it doesn't get strained through MSM or a professional media hack it just isn't worth reading much less responding to, eh?
I say that we buy up as much of the Arab oil as we possibly can, as fast as we can. That will expedite their economic demise, and conserve our resources for future use.
Something that market forces dictate, not something dreamed up by self-satisfied, starry-eyed, know-nothing dilettantes.
>>>Bio diesel will never be more than peripheral. Tar sands, shale oil, and oil-from-coal will provide plenty of oil for many years.<<<
My diesel truck will run just as well on Diesel from coal, tar sands, shale oil or sunflower seeds hemp or whatever... diesel is diesel.
The US needs to start building more vehicles that have high effiency Diesel Engines and everything else (with the help of the free market) will fall into place. The rest of the world has seen the light.
Wow, you are right it will make one's head explode. so I am going to bump this for later reading also
I've seen several break-even numbers put out for oil shale and coal gassification, with $40.00 per barrel being the highest, so put a "floor" on the price, at $40.00 per barrel, with all revenue generated by this directed to funding research in private industry on promising technological advances in alternative energy sources.
Prices will stay higher than they should, but this is still lower than we are now, and domestic resources can come online and lessen the cycle of dependency.
Bio diesel will never be more than peripheral.
That is why I am against drilling in Alaska presently. Use that as last resort.
Boy, that pretty well sums up the entire controversy, doesn't it?
But how does that create "... the real possibility that we are going have to find a replacement anyway."???
"I have spent a few weeks google searching biomass, synthesis gas and associated chemistry. It seems like a reasonable approach."
Wow, that much time??
Some people spend their entire lives studying these subjects and yet aren't willing to make a conclusion like that!
Not when the new emission regs kick in.
You are right about diesel. the enviros will oppose it strongly because it is more efficient and would "delay" the day of reckoning.
What's the real difference between biomass and ethanol?
The best (partial) answer is Nuclear.
fwiw, you can convert a Dodge Cummings diesel-engined pick-up to burn WASTE VEGATABLE OIL (WVO) for less than 400.oo.
MOST diesels run BETTER/quieter/much longer on WVO!
The envirokooks are trying to outlaw diesel engines, because of their higher NOx emissions. There are solutions, but they are going to be somewhat costly.
But, you're right...the way to go is with compression-ignition (diesel) engines.
as soon as i can find a Dodge Ram diesel PU ,that i can afford, i'll take myself off the commercial fuel line.
Me, too. What's the sense of pumping oil down into the Strategic Oil Reserve at the same time as pumping it UP from arctic Alaska?
I'm so glad that others are saying it - I've felt like a voice in the wilderness saying the medium term solution to the problem is to encourage the use of diesel. That will reduce fuel consumption dramatically.
That is what has been said about tar sands and shale oil. The tar sands in Alberta are bit by bit coming on line and will put a ceiling on the price of oil somewhere above the $30-40 range. Once Alberta's sand andUtah's shale are fully online, Arabia as a source for our oil will dwindle. It will not be this year or next but it is inevitible. The continuing increase in production from Alberta may well be having an effect on oil futures now.
Biodiesel from algae seems promising, but there's a big up-front investment required, and a lot of land needed, which the envirokooks will oppose.
I drive a diesel, so yes, I agree. We are wasting a lot of fuel unnecessarily, due to public perception of diesels in the U.S. (and due to unfair emissions regulations, which are modeled around gasoline emissions).
The EURO5 thing looks like it will put the kibosh on small diesels, though. That will unquestionably result in higher CO2 emissions.
"For example, lets say you do manage to move our huge demand for oil towards alternative sources our demand for oil would drop dramatically making oil dirt cheap for the rest of the world that competes with us."
The problem of manufactured scarcity, with wide and disruptive variations in price, would be greatly diminished or even eliminated. The geostrategic risk associated with importing so much of our fuel for domestic energy needs, from such an unstable part of the world would also be greatly diminished.
So, demand might eventually fall worldwide, and the price would follow. I don't see the problem there, for the US or any other country, excepting the OPEC nations.
OPEC, by limiting production is bringing forth supply that has before not been counted.
Actually the oil price is not so far out of line as it would seem. Gold is almost double what it was in the late nineties and the price of oil relative to gold is not so onerous. The price of gold is an accurate measure of inflation. We don't see the inflation now because we subtract the price of oil and of housing from the CPI and start talking abourt Core CPI which is the CPI without the things that are going up.The inflation is here and it is manifest in oil and housing. That's where all the extra dollars are going. If/when oil and housing decline then the prices of most everything else will rise.
BTW, in my neck of the woods, one can get soy-based biodiesel locally. When petroleum-based diesel fuel was running close to the same price, I was using it (B99). Made my old oil burner run a little smoother, but the fuel economy went down a little. Now, though, petrodiesel is quite a bit cheaper ($2.55/gal vs. $3.20/gal).
Do you have biodiesel available over there?
Not bye bye to oil but hello to domestic production of maybe all we need from Alberta and Utah and coal.
Good point. My understanding is that 45% of the oil used in the U.S. is used in the form of refined gasoline. The other 55% is used as diesel fuel, aviation fuel, lubricants, plastics, etc.
Even with the elevated price of oil now ethanol still requires ggovernment subsidy to be marketable. It is a pretend alternative that is pushed and subsidized to keep tax money going to "the farmers."
It's in limited supply, but yes we do. There are two other conversions you can get for your auto - one, you can set it to run on vegetable oil: some hobbyists have done that with good results (it's by far the cheapest - only 2p a mile cost), and also one can set it to run on natural gas (more expensive, but less than petrol).
Diesels are less taboo over here - you can get many small diesel cars.
Because we would still be locked into a higher cost of energy than our competitors world wide. That would hurt us. As far as biomass being stable, that's unlikely. Crops vary significanlty. It rains too much, it doesn't rain enough etc.
And Mexico is now #3, which means two of our three largest suppliers are non-OPEC countries.
Here in the land of (beer) homebrewing, a number of people are instead starting to homebrew biodiesel. In fact, there's a co-op preparing to do so in decent quantities.
Years ago Saudi Arabia was less than 10% of the total oil consumed in the US. So it sounds like it is even less now.
"Because we would still be locked into a higher cost of energy than our competitors world wide."
Competitors? Who are we competing with on price?
I guess you're saying that you'd prefer that we us just continue to gyrate wildly, like a yo-yo on a string, while games are played with the current sources of supply? This doesn't sound like a good course to pursue.
And, biomass isn't the only game. Oil shale, oil sands and coal gassification, plus expanded nuclear power generation are doable now, provided OPEC doesn't pull the rug out from under it again by dropping to $20.00/bbl., and they will, if the past is any indication.
"Ethanol? Corn farmers love it but it is too inefficient to produce and we would need to actually give up food production to provide enough."
If the food value of corn really matters, then why is corn selling for $1.80 a bushel now and corn sold for $2.00 a bushel in 1965? Given the rate of inflation that bushel is worth about 25 cents 1965 dollars. Yeah, the production costs have gone up considerably with $3.00 a gallon diesel fuel and double digit inflation of fertilizer prices.
Might as well make ethanol and the incidental side product of high protein livestock feed rather than give corn away to feed the hungry who obviously aren't paying for their corn flakes..because they cost $4.00 a box for 12 ounces.
Let me see.... a bushel of corn is 56 pounds. At $4.00 a box times 70- 12 ounce boxes, somebody is making $280.00 a bushel minus the $1.80 paid to the corn farmer, or $278.20 a bushel.
We just as well burn corn as to get shafted. The land is already there. Farmers pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes than do the oil companies. Farmers still manage to invest in infrastructure. something oil companies have neglected to do given the huge profits of late.
We need the fuel. And the ethanol can be produced much cheaper than a box of corn flakes, which has about as much energy value as it has food value.
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