# Fuel choices, Global Warming & Polution

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by Billy T, Nov 25, 2005.

1. ### CarcanoValued Senior Member

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Oh yeah! Wouldn't it be great if all homeowners were able to use the municipal water supply system to heat their homes in winter (with a heat exchanger) and cool their homes in the summer. Instead of putting solar arrays on your roof, why not just use the earth itself as a giant solar collector...or perhaps I should say 'absorber'.

There are a few local governments in Canada (where I live) that don't meter any individual's water useage, simply charging everyone the same flat fee. And I've heard of some people taking advantage of this by using their tap water as the 'ground source' heat medium. They remove and concentrate the heat from the water (about 50 degrees farenheit year round) with an exchanger in winter and then send it back out through the sewer system - no wasted heat going up the chimney!

3. ### Billy TUse Sugar Cane Alcohol car FuelValued Senior Member

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Apartment building where I live does this also. Ingeneral it is not a good idea to discurage excessive use by proportional charging, but in the case of this appartment all pay equally for the toatl uses and even if your neighbor is wasting water, you still same some by not don the same.

BTW some including Toronto, I think, Canadian citys take cold bottomwater from the great lakes for cooling (deep lake water at that latitude is surpizingly cold say 10 C even in the peak of summer.) It mainly office cooling. In general Canada is well ahead of US in efficient building conditioning.

5. ### Golgo 13The ProfessionalRegistered Senior Member

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It may typically be cheaper than gas (for the producers), but it still costs the end users more than an equal amount of gasoline and doesn't go as far.

I remember hearing the ethanol people back in the 90s when gas was still cheap saying "Wait for the price of gas to go up. Then ethanol will be competative". Gas still costs less than ethanol even when the price went up.

The reason behind this is as the cost of diesel goes up, so does the cost of ethanol. So it appears as it will always cost more than gas as long as farmers are running their diesel farm equipment to make the stuff.

7. ### spidergoatValued Senior Member

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As well as fertilizing their fields with chemicals derived from petroleum.

8. ### Billy TUse Sugar Cane Alcohol car FuelValued Senior Member

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You are just sadly miss informed.

I will admit that ethanol would be more than ten times more expensive than gas if it is from corn grown in green houses in Alaska. It may be some what more expensive if the corn is grown in only part of the year in the expensive fields of Iowa, which has frozen ground also for part of the year, and then later harvested with the high US labor costs. Either of these ways of producing ethanol is nonsense, economically possible only with great assistance of the tax payers and protective import duties.

Until the production from cellulose is technically possible (and hopefully economically possible also, but that is by no means sure) ethanol should come from sugar cane grown year round in tropical countries. PERIOD. The diesel fuel for tractors and transport of the cane to one of the many hundreds of alcohol production facilities, all near the farms, is less than 3% of the energy content of the alcohol produced. (Your gas is trasported hundreds of time farther, typically form the other side of the world!) The diesel energy required for production is even less than the electric energy produce at some of the larger facilities that burn the excessive* crushed cane (I.e. even if the alcohol were all discared, There still would be a net energy gain from the electric power poduced!!!!!!!!!) You are spouting such a volume of nonsense that if we could place a wind mill in front of you, at least a house or two could cut off their electric connection to the power line!

You: "The reason behind this is as the cost of diesel goes up, so does the cost of ethanol."
This appears to be a very-stupid, unfounded, comment. Read prior paragraph again (and again until you understand). It is the world price of sugar that controls the cost of alcohol. The cost of diesel has essentially nothing to do with the cost of alcohol. In Brazil, despite sugar now being at highest price in history, fortunately for me, the fall crop is beginning at the local pump to appear as alcohol and the PER MILE cost of using it in my flex-fuel car is again lower than gas {I.e. alcohol is again available, and priced at the pump (per liter) at less than 70% of the cost of gas.} If the sugar price drops to reasonable levels it will again cost less than half of what gas does - that is why 80+% of all cars sold in Brazil are now "flex fuel" and more than half of all on the roads can use 100% alcohol.)

Brazil is now exporting alcohol and rapidly expanding it production. Diesel has nothing to do with alcohol, except that diesel cars are illegal in Brazil to keep the use limited to trucks. - Part of the reason why Brazil is both energy self sufficient and a net exporter of oil, but alcohol is the main reason.
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*Unlike the processing of petroleum for gasoline, all of the thermal input required for distillation is obtained by burning only part of the crushed cane. At smaller plants, without electric generation facilities, much of the excess crushed cane is returned to the farms with the same trucks that deliver the cane from the farms and used for animal food**. Think even slightly, if you can, about which system needs to consume more energy for transport. - The one that bring the raw materials from the other side of the world or the one that brings them from farms typically 20 miles or less away. The one that produces electric energy with the excess heat naturally available at the plant or the one which needs fossil fuel, typically natural gas to run the distillation towers. the one that must transport the finished fuel approximately 500 miles from the few gasoline refineries or the one which transports it 50 to 100 miles, at the max, to the station's pumps from the hundreds of small distillation plants?

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**These small scale operations do not use any fertilizer. The cows that eat the excess cane provide that service, even distributing their "exhaust" in the field without using any fossil fuels! Cane is basically a grass. It grows well with little or no fertilizer, but some may be used to increase yields per acre or get a third crop from the same field annually. Of course the fields are rotated to produce soybean some years as that adds "fixed nitrogen" to the soil etc.. Any fertilizer used is always much less than that required by Iowa’s corn, which must be made to quickly grow before the winter returns!

Last edited by a moderator: Apr 20, 2006
9. ### Billy TUse Sugar Cane Alcohol car FuelValued Senior Member

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23,198
See my reply to Golgo13, especially the last parts, you seem to almost as badly informed as he is.

10. ### Billy TUse Sugar Cane Alcohol car FuelValued Senior Member

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Seems GWB is jumping on the alcohol band wagon now, but in his usual style, in a very destructive way.

Already under GWB, the big campaign contributors of Iowa's alcohol industry get $0.51/ gallon produced (of your tax money of course). Now GWB is adding ten cents more (of your tax money of course) for 61 cents / gallon total. Brazil and other tropical countries could compete even on that tilted playing field because, unlike Iowa growing corn, when the ground is not frozen, Brazil grows sugar cane 12 months of the year, although the fall harvest is the largest. The fact that land is relative cheap (factor of at least 5) and labor is also (another factor at least 10) also makes it possible for Brazil to let you drive cheap on pure alcohol (not just E85) as we do here. (80+% of all new cars sold can use 100% of either fuel. If rich people buying fancy imported cars had to buy the smaller, more efficient local ones, then "can use alcohol" percent of cars sold would be approximately 95 %.) Brazil is now self-sufficient in car fuel, thanks to the wide spread use of alcohol. To keep Brazil from exporting alcohol to US and under selling his friends, GWB is maintaining the$0.48/ gallon import duty in addition to helping his campaign contributors with $0.61 / per gallon. The net effect of all this is that you pay 48 + 61 cents / gallon too much to drive. Or the pump price could be more than$1.10/gallon lower. However, it might not be any lower in US, as Brazil will get as high a price as its alcohol exports as it can. Norway has lots of petroleum, yet the pump price there is over $7/gallon because the government does not want the population driving gas hogs and likes the income from more than 60% tax on gas. (Helps support free university education, subsidized public transport, good health care, which adds several year more life expectance than the US life expectancy, etc. Highly progressive income taxes also assure few poor or very rich, etc.) No where in Europe is the price less than$6/ gallon.

In view of this, it should be clear that US gas prices must rise and until they do little alcohol will be coming to US from Brazil - the $0.48/gallon tariff is probably not operative. It should also be clear that gas at$7/gallon will crush an economy built on the suburban infrastructure of US and the existing stock of cars. To change the housing pattern of the wealthy (move them back to the cities from suburbia etc.) will take at least 15 years to get the job even half done. It will also take that long to repair the neglect of public transit systems. It may only take 10 years to get the gas hog off the roads, but unfortunately for the US, oil will be around $200/ barrel before that happens and the economy so damaged (Both GM and Ford bankrupt etc.) that there will not be either capital to create the transportation system needed in the high liquid fuel cost era OR the money to import the "flex fuel" cars you could buy in Brazil three years ago, and many did to drive at lower cost. etc. America has had a nice dance, been the place most wanted to move to etc., but now is time to pay the piper and the US is already deep in debt, probably going deeper by a trillion dollars this year if oil remains in the$70/ barrel range. People who understand this are getting out of dollars and buying thing of real value, mainly commodities.

You get what you voted for - that is the US problem:
Yea! More of the same. Stay the course! Let us invade Iran! Yea, Yea!

Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2006
11. ### spidergoatValued Senior Member

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51,945
So we will be volnerable to politics in the tropics instead of the middle east. We will still be generating greenhouse gasses along with fewer particulates, which means greater temperatures, and disruption of rainfall patterns.

Presently, sugar adds to the calorie intake of humans on the planet. If this is diverted for fuel production, where will the food production come from? We will need to expand food production in other places, which is already in competition for space with other uses, like housing. Agriculture outside of the tropics depends heavily on fertilizers derived from oil, an unsustainable practice already damaging to the oceans and river deltas.

It is pure folly to think industrialized nations can continue their present lifestyle with only this small change in fuel. It's a temporary measure at best.

12. ### CarcanoValued Senior Member

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6,865
Terrific! The less sugar and alcohol people consume the better - we'll all be healthier and will breathe cleaner air.

After moving to alcohol fuel, the next step should be to replace the internal combustion engine with some sort of external combustion or fuel cell option.

The internal combustion engine is the number one cause of both noise and air pollution.

13. ### 2inquisitiveThe Devil is in the detailsRegistered Senior Member

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3,181
Unless you happen to be on an elevator full of vegetarians who had been eating their beans!

14. ### crazeeeeeemRegistered Senior Member

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Yeah but some are significantly less problematic than others. Ash Moshe Thezion. Electrical systems have no emissions, and the argument that the power stations carry the load need not apply

15. ### crazeeeeeemRegistered Senior Member

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174
Whats more, you can give up your beers and spirits and smoke the stuff

16. ### Billy TUse Sugar Cane Alcohol car FuelValued Senior Member

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23,198

(1)Yes to some extent, but there are many more places where sugar cane can be grown that where oil is found in the ground so instead of being "over the barrel" competion will assure you a fair price.

(2)No, the net effect of producing and burning alcohol from sugar cane is to Remove CO2 from the air. (All the carbon in the alcohol came from the air earlier when the cane was growing. The fields of uncut cane store a lot of carbon. The crushed cane that is feed to the cows, is converted into soil enhancers, the roots get plowed under and worms etc convert it to soil enhancers - Growing sugar cane is probably the main ECONOMICAL FEASIBLE war to remove CO2 from the air! (Trees do it, also, but they are being cut faster than they are growing to supply demand for lumber and paper. Some of this is stored in you house and some in the dumps, so they do help also.)

(3)Yes I think that particles, large enough to be absorbers of sunlight, rather than mainly scatters of it, can help. The diesel smoke is bluish as it is scattering (same reason sky is blue - the scatering is inversely proportiona to fouth power of the wavelength) but the black smoke that came from the power plants buring (not completely) coal was probably a aid in reduction of global heating. Unfortunately, people do not like it and it does have some bad effects in lungs so all US coal fired power plants have "bag houses " etc. to prevent its release to the air. Only the invisible CO2 and radioactive atoms now get released (the later being a much greater source of radiation than if the power were made in a nuclear power plant.)

(4)Tropical lands can not grow many crops, for example wheat. US could grow coffee, but should not. Brazil could grow wheat but should not. To each his own and then trade helps all.

(5)Yes the things removed from the soil must be replace, but not necessarily from a chemical plant consuming oil. Crop rotation, especially growing soybeans ever few years in the sugar cane fields, is wide spread practice in Brazil. (Some years world's major producer, but last year's dought returned that title to US, I think.) and puts "fixed nitrogen" back into the soil. The minerals need to be replaced, but there are plenty of them available with little need for oil to get them. (None if the trucks and mine equipment were using bio-diesel.)

(6)I certainly am not suggesting the "suburban infrastructure" of the US should be mainitained! It will take decades to replace it with an infrastructure that is sustainable on solar rather than fossil energy. (Sugar cane alcohol is solar energy.) Unfortunately, the US has maintained the cost of gas at less than half the price paid by the rest of the world for decades, and now, with its stock of suburban homes, gas hogs, decaying central cities* and public transport systems etc., finds itself in a position of impending collapse because of this.
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*Just last night, on CNN or BBC, there was feature on S. Korea. They, like Sweden and many others avoided "suburban sprawl" with high gas prices. An unexpected side benefit is that it is cheap to provide high bandwidth internet to the high rises where most of the population livets and that is why almost every one has high band width service at less than the cost of your US telephone. This type of high rise living has made central heating systems very common in Sweeden - heat, in form of hot water, is distributed as a utility. It comes from the "waste heat" of a power plant - so the fuel is used very efficiently compared to the US. etc.

US suburban sprawl infrastructure is the basic reason why US will collapse in the post peak oil era. Even if they were not overextended in debt, customers will not be able to drive to Wal Mart when US gas has the CURRENT EUROPEAN PRICES, (MORE THAN $6/GAL) etc. But Gas in US will soon be above$10/gal - economy and dollar both collapsed under the weight of excesive debt and inapropriate infrastructure.

Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2006
17. ### Kaiser StormhawkRegistered Member

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26
*Butting in on a long, ongoing conversation*

I don't know whether they have been posted or not before some environmental reforms I heard about or read were that coconut oil can be used as a clean fuel. I also read that Japan would try out a reusing plastic by building roads out of old plastic bottles and stuff. I don't know whether that would be useful, but I reckon that as the plastic gradually decomposes due to rain and stuff, it will dissolve in water, it will flow down into water bodies, and will pollute them.

Anyway, is anyone here a subscriber of Down to Earth, a fortnightly magazine that covers environment and related topics?

18. ### MaastAF E-7 RetiredRegistered Senior Member

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Billy T

You keep mentioning that fossil based fuels are going to skyrocket and the US will crumble, its just not going to happen. Reason being there is a efficient means to turn US coal into liquid fuel (diesel mainly), I posted that and the source in another thread, you may not have read it.

I do agree that ethanol is going to be an important fuel, and that corn is a expensive way to do it, however you're overlooking biodiesel as well, which has a decently higher energy density and can be produced as cheaply as ethanol, especially when you factor in the recycling of used vegetable oils from food prep.

A factoid; approx 70 percent of all electricity produced is lost to transmission losses.

I believe the most likely scenario are new nuclear power plants transmitting power over much higher efficiency distribution lines.

That power will be fed into plug-in hybrid vehicles. Those hybrids will first be powered by gasoline, ethanol, or diesel engines in conjuction with their stored power, eventually this will transition to all-electric drives with a fuel cell, fuel cell will be fed by hydrogen cracked by an on-board reformer cracking ethanol, methanol, or gasoline. Synthetic diesel from coal and biodiesel will continue to power the larger commercial vehicles which need the high torque diesels give.

The above will only happen if we do not take the easy way out and start liquifying our coal to meet all our liquid fuel needs. Who wants to bet we DON'T take the easy way out.

19. ### Billy TUse Sugar Cane Alcohol car FuelValued Senior Member

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23,198
No, bio-fuels will not increase as much as gasoline as they can be produced by many nations, but will be more expensive as demand grows more rapidly than supply.

US economy and dollar will have sever problems, because it has built a "2D infrastructure" instead of 1D one. (Surburan sprawl instead of high density corridors in green parks served by rapid rail, as many other countries, with more planned economies have done, Sweden for example.) 1 D infrastructure makes district heating feasible so instead of 2/3 of the heat used to generate electicity being wasted, approximately 2/3 is used. US heats it homes buy separtely buring more fossil, fuel, etc. US will soon pay dearly for its unsuitable (in the era of expensive energy) 2D infrastructure

Waste oil from cooking may make a 1% contribution to need for liquid fuel, but I doubt it. I am not forgetting bio-diesel -- I have made several posts describing Brazil's leading role in this area (already mixed in all the petro-diesel sold) and about the mamona plant it mainly comes from (you know it as the caster bean oil plant.)

You do not appear to understand how electric companies design power transmission system. I have posted this before so just hint at methodolgy: Compare incremental capital cost of more efficient system component (for example, larger wire size) to present value* of the energy saved over the life of the system. Thus when interest rates are low, it cost less to become more efficient. Interest rates are on the way up so new transmision lines will have smaller wires than those designed three years ago and be less efficient. etc.

Your 70% number is much too high, even if interest rates were 20%.
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*This calculation is much less certain than the (I^2)R loses, so the company's economic staff has much more influence on the design of the power transimission system than the electrical engineers!

Last edited by a moderator: May 11, 2006
20. ### spidergoatValued Senior Member

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Thank you for your reply. It's certainly alot to consider. Ever read "The Long Emergency" by James Howard Kunstler?

http://www.kunstler.com

21. ### Billy TUse Sugar Cane Alcohol car FuelValued Senior Member

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No. Looked just now at your reference and we seem to be singing the same song. The one “note” I may be the first to sing loudly is the 2D vs. 1D infrastructure problem argument. That is why in the coming collapse the US will be much worse off than most any other nations.

US has a 2D urban sprawl which makes owning a car essential for almost anyone contributing to the governments tax income. US has high pay scales, to support it unsustainable life style, and this is making it even less sustainable than the rising cost of energy as jobs can migrate to lower pay scale areas. (In a generation, only jobs that provide local services, like cutting hair of delivering pizzas will be left to employ US workers.)

Brazil, for example, has most of its population not owning cars, and they have 1D (vertical) homes (apartments, mine has 24 floors- about typical) near bus or subway lines in cities and very extensively use buses between cities. (The main terminal in Sao Paulo is the world's busiest - in the four peak hours daily, there are at least 100 big buses continuously at the docks, loading and unloading people.) In many smaller towns, at least a third of the population does not care about the price of gas - their horse drawn buggy can get 30Km on 6 hours of grass eating.

The US probably deserves what it has earned: The list of military dictators CIA has put into power is very long (most recently in Pakistan, but there was the Shaw of Iran, Penochet of Chile*, Noreigo of central America, and dozens more.) US makes "targeted eliminations" without knowing for sure who is in the car the pilot-less drone fires the hellfire missiles at, etc. US now ignores its own constitution - on GWB's word alone it locks up even US citizens for unspecified terms, giving no trial, no lawyers, etc. When I look this and at all the other things, like Iraq, that US has done, it almost makes me think that there is a just and vengeful God in the heavens.

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* BTW, it was on 9/11 that the CIA's agents killed Alendia, Chile's left leaning elected president.

Last edited by a moderator: May 11, 2006
22. ### MaastAF E-7 RetiredRegistered Senior Member

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Heh, you're right, insert a decimal in between the 7 and the 0 and that'd be close (7.4 is what I just found)

23. ### Walter L. WagnerCosmic Truth SeekerValued Senior Member

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So, looks like a lot of good info. You should check the posts on Bio Diesel, and on Windmill Power. Lots of good info there too.

Just read that Saab has introduced a new line of cars that will burn 85%-ethanol/15%-gasoline blend. I suspect that we will be seeing lots of this in the near future.

Also read that home-stills are now being sold in the US, to make your own moonshine, though being marketed so as to make your own fuel to add to gasoline.

Anyway, if you drive 15,000 miles/year, getting 30 miles/gallon, then you burn 500 gallons/year, and pay about $1500 for that gasoline (at$3/gallon, which is the current price.

If you can buy a home still, and throw in your garbage and ferment it to make 600 gallons of alcohol/year, essentially for free, then buying a still for \$3,000 would pay for itself in two years. I suspect lots of people will begin buying home stills, until the government gets in the act and regulates it (because of the occasional explosion/fire at someone's house from careless usage, alcoholism, etc.) out of usage, to allow "Big Business" to do it at manufacturing plants instead.

Corn oil and other vegetable oils (castor-bean oil, soy bean oil, etc.) would be the primary extract for bio-diesel, but the sugars could/should be fermented to alcohol, and the cellulose charred and converted into coal-diesel (or burned directly as bagasse at the power plant). In any event, these are all 'solar' technologies that are simply awaiting further development of the infrastructure.

That new coal-to-diesel plant coming on line in the US will be the first of many that should begin to make a huge dent in US oil imports. If charcoal-to-diesel also works well, then the US could readily become entirely self-sufficient for its energy.

The future looks bright indeed! Let's get off of fossil fuels and into renewable solar bio-fuels ASAP!