May 30, 2007

Say, Joe, What Do You Know?

Hatched by Dafydd

Real Clear Politics links to a YouTube offering by Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE, 100%). Slow Joe looks directly into the camera and demands that we all answer the following question:

What is it you're willing to do to free us from the Axis of Oil and these outrageous oil companies who are sucking us dry?

Well, Joe, I'm willing to drill for oil and natural gas in ANWR, the Gulf of Mexico, and off the Santa Barbara coastline. I'm willing to build many more modern Pebble Bed Modular Technology and Integral Fast nuclear power plants across the country. I'm willing to fund research into solar-power satellites, high-temperature ceramic automobile engines and flywheel technology.

How about you -- Joe? Are you willing to do anything other than ban SUVs... except for members of Congress, of course?

(Jeeze, talk about your low-hanging fruit!)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 30, 2007, at the time of 2:45 PM

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The following hissed in response by: Pam

Dafydd, word to your momma! Great post, again. I'm for getting out of the ME when we can drill here and build a few new refineres. I have no problem with smaller cars or ethenol, but people are nuts if they think we can contiune to live in the lifestyle they want, get out of the ME, and NOT drill or add any new refineres.

The above hissed in response by: Pam [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 30, 2007 3:39 PM

The following hissed in response by: exDemo

The invisible hand of the market is working. That you don't see it until it works, is like those Dumbocrats that said we must coexist with the nice little Communists forever, even as the Red Bloc collapsed without a shot.

HEVs, and especially PHEVs are almost here. They are coming in now, growing to a river in but a few years, at most they will be a flood. They can reduce the need for fossil fuels by 60-80%.

It will be cheaper to drive on 75 cent a gallon electricity equivalent than $3.00 - $ 4.00 gasoline, so they will be purchased and adopted in large numbers. The invisible hand at work...

The collapse of oil demand, as the US ground transport electrifies, over the coming decade or so, will starve some Ragheads; but do you really feel sorry for them? By then Persia's overextended state should collapse as it tries to pay for foreign stooges in Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Iraq and also finance its own expensive Manhattan Project. That while the Mad Mullahs are increasingly being hated by their own subjects.

The above hissed in response by: exDemo [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 30, 2007 6:28 PM

The following hissed in response by: Rovin

(Jeeze, talk about your low-hanging fruit!)

Why do you insist on insulting bananas?

Two words-----supply and demand

The above hissed in response by: Rovin [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 30, 2007 6:30 PM

The following hissed in response by: Rovin

ok, three if you count the "and".

Slow Joe's been fun to poke at for most of our adult lives, yet he never seems to fall totally off the rocker----unlike some of his cohorts.

The above hissed in response by: Rovin [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 30, 2007 6:34 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dan Kauffman

Mine the Ocean floor for Methane Hydrate

The above hissed in response by: Dan Kauffman [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 30, 2007 7:29 PM

The following hissed in response by: LarryD

Finding viable alternatives to "petrochemical" fuels is hard, there are no silver bullets.

Biofuels are an agricultural product, they compete with food for arable land. Try scaling any of them up big enough to make a dent in our gasoline use and the problems become obvious.

Hydrogen isn't a primary fuel, there is no place on earth you can mine it in anything remotely resembling the quantities needed to run even 10% of our cars. Extracting it from water takes as much power as you get back, plus losses for inefficiencies on both sides of the fuel path. Current car designs actually crack hydrocarbons in the vehicle, which wastes all the energy in the carbon. This is intended to be a transitional design, but to get to a "hydrogen economy" electricity needs to be cheap and we'd need 9.16E+11 kWh/year more of it. Thats 9.16E+5 GigaWatts additional generating capacity. Our 2005 peak generating capacity was 1.02E+3, so we're talking about a nearly three order of magnitude increase in our generating capacity.

We don't have a way yet to safely mine Methane Hydrate (and MH does nothing for reducing the carbon footprint, if Global Warming is an issue)

The above hissed in response by: LarryD [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 31, 2007 7:14 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


My favorite transitional solution is to replace steel ICEs, which burn gasoline at about 1,350°F, with ceramic engines that burn it at temperatures closer to 5,000°F (in theory). That alone would dramatically increase mileage; and when you add the weight reduction from not needing either a cooling system (big radiator, hoses, etc) or an engine-block lubrication system (oil pump, etc), I'll bet you could certainly expect mileage in excess of 80-100 mpg.

Add a flywheel that is revved up by braking, then restores that angular momentum to the wheels when you start out again, and you might add another 10-20 mpg, especially in traffic.

Going from an mpg of 30 highway, 20 city to an mpg of 110 highway, 100 city would hugely reduce our reliance on foreign oil, were it to be widely adopted; and the best part is that we needn't change our gasoline delivery system, as we would have to if we switched to fuel-cell cars, or somesuch.

(I'm not sure how gas stations could remain economically viable; I wouldn't want to see them charging $50 a gallon, just to stay in business!)

And of course, replacing ordinary gasoline-burning power plants with natural-gas burners would also help shift our fuel supply from the Middle East and Venezuela to our own wells -- assuming the Democrats and "moderate" Republicans allow us to drill in the Gulf, in ANWR, and elsewhere.

All these changes would take years, but we would have early indicators whether they were helping or not.

Long term, I think we'll need solar-power satellites beaming electricity to earth by microwave... though you still have the problem of adding more energy, hence more waste heat, to the planet's ecosystem (but of course, you do for almost any other method of vastly increasing the world's electricity supply).

I'm not sure what to do about that. How do you get rid of a bunch of waste heat?

Greater efficiency would help, wasting less of the energy in the first place. We could use technology to minimize wasteage, thus reducing the excess heat... expanding into the "inefficiency gaps," so to speak.

For example, LEDs use less juice per lumen than incandescents, and even somewhat less than fluorescents, and they don't create waste heat. Also, we should be able to make LEDs with any color-mix of light desired (I prefer as close to daylight-color as possible). I hate fluorescent lights; the color and the high-speed flickering give me a headache.

If I could get LEDs that put out ca. 2,000 lumens -- within the range of a 150 watt light bulb (GE's Reveal 150 is 1,950 lumens, and their Soft White 150 is 2,650 lumens) -- I would buy it even if it cost $50 per bulb, 10x the cost of an incandescent. In our condo, light bulbs burn out at an alarming rate; I replace a bulb (100 or 150) about once a week. So the LEDs would pay for themselves within a few months.

Alas, I can't get LED lightbulbs anywhere near that bright; the biggest one I can find here is about 200 lumens... and that's a spotlight which shines only one direction, unsuitable for normal floor or table lamps. The biggest bulb that looks more or less like an incandescent (shining light in all directions except down) is about 60 lumens; so I would need the equivalent of 33 of them to get the light I want per bulb.

If the efficiency scales up linearally, that would use about 100 watts -- a savings of 33%. Plus, the bulb wouldn't burn out, and the room would be cooler.

(This seems equivalent to a halogen bulb; I have a halogen 100 watt that says it puts out 1,900 lumens; but when I used it in my condo, where the electricity is probably too variable, it burned out very quickly, even though it's supposed to last longer than a normal incandescent. Replacement cost would probably eat up the electricity savings. And it also puts out heat.)

I could see reducing the lumens somewhat; in theory, the iris should just dilate a bit more, and it should seem the same. But when I replace all my 150s with 100s, I very much notice the difference in light... and I don't like it as much.

Still, LEDs could help reduce our energy needs, if they could be scaled up to something actually usable: 60 lumens for a light bulb's output is ridiculous!

Finally, as we put microchips into everything, and as more and more old equipment and appliances are replaced by new, more efficient versions, that should reduce energy use; a huge chuck of our electricity use is wasted on generating unnecessary heat.

But still, I hope to see at least 100 new fission power plants built here in the next 30 years... modern designs, not those concrete-domed monstrosities from the 1960s: Pebble Bed or Integral Fast. The primary obstacles are entirely legal: grotesquely prohibitive environmental-impact laws and endless lawsuits.

Our energy policy should include building more and more reactors... and should include "not withstanding any other law" language to circumvent environmentalist hysteria. But fat chance getting anything like that out of our current Congress, or even a Republican Congress, if it's at all like the 109th was.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 31, 2007 3:07 PM

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