Why are we using fossil fuels?

Discussion in 'Earth Science' started by Calvin, Dec 13, 2004.

  1. elderone1 Registered Member

    Biodiesel is in limited use in many cities, most typically in buses. Cooking oils, once filtered and dewatered, are particularly useful, even though you may think you are following a rolling BurgerKing. Some is derived from wood and other vegetable waste, but mostly on pilot plant scale. Other posters are correct....it is a matter of current economics.

    As to diesel engine cleanliness, you can look forward to big improvements by 2006, when North American refineries must all have completed process changes to reduce sulphur in diesel from current 500 ppm to (something under 10 ppm I think......I'm too lazy to look it up again). Europe has been at this low level for years. It is the sulphur content that prevents engine design that gets to potential clean engine emissions, and in particular has prevented application of catalytic converters on diesel. Note that it is a pre-requirement that all supplies be upgraded before engine conversions are practical, because one load of dirty fuel would plug or contaminate the modified engines.

    We'll see dramatic decreases in carbon particulate through the same engine technologies. I think either Edmonton or Calgary (Alberta) has a special test run this winter on its fleet of buses, converted to use the clean fuel and fitted with catalytic converters just like cars. News reports say the results are dramatic.
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  3. Lava Let discovery flow Registered Senior Member

    Why are we using fossil fuels? Theyre simply our best large scale option for now. Next best bet is probably nuclear: nukes are more popular in europe than US I believe.

    There are other techs that are beginning to come online, or beginning to show real promise experimentally, but their time, for mass use, is in the future if at all. Examples are wind power, shit power, TDP, etc.

    There is one here-now tech that beats fossil fuel hands down - but it too has its issues. That is flat plate solar space heating. A suitably constructed south facing wall can provide a substantial proportion of heat required for a dwelling, and do it with paybacks of anything upto 20s and 30s of % per annum.

    Yet it remains almost unknown. Why?

    1. Lack of awareness
    2. Confusion between all kinds of solar energy in the public mind - this is a subset of 1 of course.
    3. The unfortunate fact that it does not reduce peak heating power requirement, thus there is no saving at installation time. It requires a small 3 figure amount of capital investment.
    4. The fact that it has to be installed at build time for the numbers to work, retrofitting is relatively expensive.
    5. The fact that builders couldnt give a flying fig about customers making savings later, they just want a mass saleable product at min cost, max speed, and with the max potential customer base.

    Thus it does not get used often.

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