Electric cars are NOT a pipe dream. Fossil fuel cars are for greedy, selfish people.

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by cosmictotem, Apr 11, 2013.

  1. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    OK let's see how much oil that would use.

    Let's assume the central market is about a mile away. Let's further assume you use cheap schedule 40 12" PVC piping. 12" might not be enough for all deliveries but can probably deliver 90% of the food grandma will want. That's 55,000 pounds of plastic, and that means we'll need 14,000 gallons of crude oil to make one tube to one grandma.

    Now, let's say grandma lives there for 20 years before she passes on, and the house gets used for 50 years before getting torn down in favor of the latest/greatest new idea for a house (and presumably a new delivery system.) That's 280 gallons a year over the life of the house.

    Now let's say we get her a cheap car instead, like a Yaris. One trip a week over that 1 mile will be 52x2=104 miles a year. At 35mpg that's 3 gallons of gasoline a year for groceries, which means 6 gallons of crude oil a year.

    How are you going to get that extra 273 gallons a year of oil for grandma? And does that make pneumatic tube grandma one of those greedy, selfish people?

    The devil is often in the details.
     
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  3. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

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    What's wrong with good old fashioned trolleys? It's only 19th century technology.
     
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  5. cosmictotem Registered Senior Member

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    How are trolleys better than pnuenmatic tubes? You don't even have to leave your house for goods.
     
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  7. Buddha12 Valued Senior Member

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    2,862
    Better yet why not..........


    [video=youtube;fa1qZEENEAo]http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=fa1qZEENEAo[/video]
     
  8. cosmictotem Registered Senior Member

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    You forgot one thing: The piping isn't being burned and pumped into the atmosphere.

    And, if we want, we can experiment with using non-toxic material for the tubes.
     
  9. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Right. But you are using NINETY ONE TIMES the oil she would have used with a car! Doesn't that make her greedy and selfish, hogging far more resources than others?

    And all that oil has to be drilled, transported, made into plastic (which takes energy) and transported as plastic to the site. You're going to end up with a lot more pollutants in the air from that than from her Yaris. Modern cars emit little more than nitrogen, carbon dioxide and water.

    Sure. But you have to take into account the energy to make the tubes, the energy used to lay them, the energy used to drive the food along them etc. It's where most such schemes start to have problems.
     
  10. cosmictotem Registered Senior Member

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    Alright then. Forget the plastic pneumatic tubes.
    We can have an underground mini subway that delivers the goods driven by batteries charged by solar panels on the market roof.
     
  11. KitemanSA Registered Senior Member

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    624
    They are as renewable as solar and wind which uses a limited supply of solar hydrogen fuel. So in fact the issue is "sustainable". And if 500 million years of fission fuel isn't enough to tide us over...
     
  12. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Solar and wind power plants do not require regular additions of fuel. Terrestrial nuclear reactors do. The sun does indeed consume fuel, but on a timescale which means we will effectively never have to worry about it.

    Now, if we ever get D-T fusion working as a power source, you could reasonably claim that we have so much fuel for it that the energy available is effectively unlimited - and thus is a sustainable energy source.
     
  13. KitemanSA Registered Senior Member

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    624
    Actually, it isn't much at all. Coal produces about 100,000 times more per kWh and even wind energy produces about 8 times the weight of radioactive waste as a Liquid Fluoride Thorium Recycler would.
    As I pointed out, LFTRs are clean by comparison to wind too.
    This is a common misconception. Nuclear is among the LEAST subsidized energy forms around. They are required to pay by the kWh for waste disposal. They pay by the kWh for decommissioning costs. They are required to have huge amounts of insurance for unlikely event and are required to cross-insure for the rest of the industry. If the other energy industries were required to fund the same things that nuclear is, they would probably crumple under the weight.
    While I am not convinced that AGW is real, I still prefer to find other ways to power our would than fossil fuels... just in case. So if they ever figure out a good way to extract the C02 from the atmosphere and the convert it, then I may agree with you here, but ammonia is another good option for ground transportation fuel.
     
  14. KitemanSA Registered Senior Member

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    624
    500 MILLION years is not long enough for you?
     
  15. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    14,935
    That might make more sense. The cost is obviously a lot higher but you have made the system a lot more accessible and useful. Instead of a tube to each house you have a common rail line, and instead of just groceries you are moving people and (some) goods. Some thoughts on this:

    1) "Solar on a market roof" isn't nearly enough to run a light rail system, and of course that creates problems during nighttime. (A 100kW solar system is huge and you'd need 500kW to accelerate even one trolley car to speed.) However, using the solar power system to feed the grid during the day could offset some of the rail line's power consumption.

    2) Underground systems typically cost 4x more than surface system and use a bit more power. Probably keeping the line on the surface is a good idea.

    3) You need to hit a certain population density to make such systems work, and thus the "houses full of grannies" environmnet might not be a viable environment for a light rail system. But make it part of a larger network, and Granny will still be able to get to the store to buy her groceries.
     
  16. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Agreed. Coal is about the worst there is.

    Current reactors use U-235 as fuel. We have about 200 years worth of accessible U-235 at current rates of consumption.

    Several utilities have stated that without government underwriting of nuclear power plants via Price-Anderson they would never build new reactors. Like I said, they're not a bad choice, but they're expensive.

    Ammonia is not a bad method to transport hydrogen; the problem we have is that we don't have hydrogen. We can make it, but it's energy intensive - and if we have the energy we have better uses for it. We can make it from natural gas easily (via steam reforming and the Haber-Bosch process) but again, best to just use the natural gas directly in that case.

    If we ever get to a day when we have more energy than we know what to do with, hydrogen (most likely transported as either ammonia or methane) will become a good energy carrier.
     
  17. cosmictotem Registered Senior Member

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    748
    I'm not proposing moving people by rail, only goods. It is a waste of energy to move people when they can order what they need remotely via the Internet without leaving home. Therefore, the rail cars cab be smaller and require even less energy to run.
     
  18. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

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    53,489
    So, how do you think the boxes get there?
     
  19. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

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    Because you don't have to build tubes to every residence.
     
  20. gmilam Valued Senior Member

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    But Granny needs to get out of the house every now and then, or she starts to go stir crazy... and nobody likes it when that happens. I vote for the 19th century trolley technology. Much more versatile.
     
  21. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    14,935
    Problems there:

    No such system has ever worked. It's been tried; abandoned narrow-gauge railroads (some for cargo only) can still be found all over the world. The problems you run into:

    a) in densely populated areas the right-of-way just costs too much. Land is too valuable to dedicate it to a system that just moves lightweight goods a few miles and has no other use.
    b) in less populated areas there isn't enough local traffic to make such a system effective. You need to move a lot more material longer distances - which is why railroads still have some of the shipping market (cars, coal, ammonia etc.)
    c) the one exception to this has been mining railroads, where space is at a premium, distances are short, real estate (previously mined areas) is effectively free and roads are hard to build.

    If you don't want to "waste" energy then just have bicycle messengers deliver groceries, or use automated vehicles. We are rapidly gaining the ability to have a completely automated delivery vehicle share the road with cars. That way you're sharing a resource that is already there, and can be used by drivers, delivery trucks, pedestrians, bikers etc.
     
  22. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    7,715
    OK thanks for clarifying, but I think this needs spelling out, as some might say nuclear is as bad as fossil fuel, though for different reasons, and then it will have to be pointed out that renewables are nowhere near able to replace all these other sources, or will not be for decades. Hence I think it is a bit glib to assert electric vehicles are some kind of answer to a problem, when the issue of how to provide the electricity required in a non-damaging way has yet to be properly addressed. It seems to me that hydrogen vehicles might be thought even better than electric ones.

    The crucial issue in either case is how to produce and distribute the hydrogen or electricity, rather than the vehicles themselves.

    How do you envisage this being handled?

    P.S. By coincidence just read the attached, which supports my point:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22001356

    In short, electric cars CAN be better, but this is by no means a foregone conclusion.
     
  23. Pandaemoni Valued Senior Member

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    3,631
    We can all have gasoline powered cars and not threaten the health if the planet, we would just have make other, deep and difficult, sacrifices. At the same time, everyone else on Earth could switch to electric, and an individual can keep his gas-fueled car, as we similarly would be in good shape. That is, in a sense, the source of your frustration. Any one person, like you have, can give up his/her car, but that has no discernable effect on the environment. You'd need a massive conversion by billions of people, to begin to have an effect (and even then it could take a long time to detect the impact).

    There is a huge collective action problem. Simply railing against the selfishness of one's fellow man does absolutely nothing to resolve that. In fact, it could make it worse, since it is far more likely you will convince people that "people who go green are judgmental assclowns" than that they are selfish for not going green. (Or, stated another way, you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.")

    Yours is a noble and righteous cause, but your approach is all wrong.
     

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