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July 13, 2008

Oil and coal won’t last forever

We concern ourselves with loss of habitat — rain forests, wetlands, river pollution — even though these trends may be reversible. But expenditure of petroleum and coal falls into the irreversible category. When they are gone, they are gone.

The answer is not to discover and pump more oil or mine more coal to be used as fuel from the finite supply produced in nature over eons. Nor is the long-run answer atomic energy, for the availability of radioactive elements usable as “atomic” fuel is also finite.

The answer to our need for energy in the form of fuel must be in renewable sources — solar, wind, organic, hydrothermal, wave (which are largely solar energy stored in different configurations).

Petroleum and coal are not recyclable, like metals, nor can they economically synthesized as the chemical base for numerous products, much less as fuel.

We cannot presume that practical sources of unlimited energy, such as atomic fusion, will become available before we expend all our oil, coal and uranium — if ever.

Our legacy to the future must be that we recognized the finite aspects of natural resources and ceased their profligate dissipation.

Harvey A. Jetmore Jr.
Roeland Park

Comments

Engineer

Pub 17
We are still talking about efficiency because that affects the size if the engine required to produce the power needed. Total power required depends on work to be done. However efficient your diesel is it must be able to produce the total power required unless you are going o supplement the power by 'plug in". You can run the diesel 24 hours per day but if you are going to use that power up in 4 hours you must provide a lot of storage. The amount of work to be done in getting from here to there and back depends on the rate you want to accelerate, the number of stops and starts you have to make, the sped at which you want to travel, the condition of the roadway and the weight to be transported among other things. Obviously it takes very little power or fuel to transport someone for a block on level ground on a motor scooter.

Pub 17

? Nothing special about the diesel except that it only needs to be big enough to charge batteries big enough to run an electric motor big enough to move four people around. How big? YOU tell ME. What's an electric motor as used in one of those foolish ZAP cars draw? How big an ICE do you need, running, I remind you 24 hrs a day, to charge the batteries? Should be an easy one to work up, since you can buy diesel engines off the shelf with single-digit horsepower ratings.

Engineer

Pub 17
There is nothing difficult about the diesel electric concept. But there is only so much energy to be developed from the combustion of a gallon of diesel fuel. Just how much output does the diesel produce from a gallon and how does it compare to an ordinary diesel?

Pub 17

Engineer
The premise is childishly simple. An internal combustion engine is incredibly efficient at some steady speed. It's no big achievement right now for an ICE to move four adults one mile at sixty miles an hour with shotglass full of gasoline. The ICE could do even better at a steady sixty if it weren't necessary to engineer in the capacity to speed up and slow down. The problem is in changing states.
The electrical motor complements it in that it's theoretically as efficient at 1 rpm as 1000. So you use the ICE at its peak efficiency to feed the battery, and the battery to feed the electrical motor. The ICE doesn't need to slow down and speed up, the electrical motor has a reliable supply of denki. What's difficult to understand about that?

Engineer

Pub 17
A straw man is a position you set up yourself so that you can attack that position. Any machine, in transporting you from here to there, can expend no more energy than it can generate, had stored in its system, or had stored and can produce. A "Tiny Diesel" is not going to git you to Denver very rapidly. To the corner store, yes, but no place very far very rapidly unless it is all downhill.

Pub 17

Engineer
BTW, in the majority of systems by count they are as described. A typical rural or fringe system is a near-perfect analog to a constant-velocity diesel/electric hybrid. Moreover, should you be so inclined you could probably build one yourself in about two weeks.

Pub 17

Engineer
As Gary has noted my statement was exactly correct. Gary meant to accuse the writer of setting up a straw man, or, more precisely, a false dichotomy.
Gary, my insulting response was an example, not of a red herring, which is dragging an emotive but false issue across the trail of an argument, but a 'cheap shot.'

Engineer

Pub 17
I suggest you recheck English 101 for the meaning of "straw man". It's a debate term which means the setting up of a weak argument which you can readily attack. For instance stating "My opponent will tell you that Bill Clinton is a man of impeccable moral character, but I can inform you right now that ...." A fed herring, on the other hand, is the type of argument usually presented in response to the charge that Obama has no meaningful experience in an executive capacity. In fact the letter was neither, it was simply an incomplete argument. BTW, elevated water tanks in a major system are to provide supplementary supply. In a major water system very large pumps are providing direct supply almost all of the time.

NoMoreMrNiceGuy

We are embracing plenty of alternative and renewable energy techonolgies. Billions of dollars in projects currently in progress and a long list of projects slated.
People continue to listen to bogus rhetoric by unqualified lawyers that know little if anything about the energy sector.
Of course people want what they demand but are they willing to pay the market price for it. Many of the alternative energy sources cost far more to produce per kwh.
The sheep will be screaming windfall profits again.

Gary

Your are right, Pub17. On the other hand, your insulting response is a good example of the red herring fallacy.

Gary

Your are right, Pub17, but that's no reason to be insulting.

Pub 17

The English 101 term you're seeking so desperately is "setting up a straw man," not "red herring." When the bell rings, go to History.

Gary

Notice that the writer mentions atomic fusion, which is a pipe dream at present, but fails to mention atomic fission, which is a proven source of energy. Does that give us an insight into his real agenda?

The letter is a red herring anyway. I am not aware of anyone who advocates relying completely on oil and coal for energy, while ignoring potential other sources such as solar, wind and tide. However, for anyone who likes air conditioning in the summer and heat in the winter, it is way too early to abandon oil and coal as our primary energy sources until other sources pan out as realistic options.

Pub 17

Rouge, I'm going to burn about 10% as much petro oil OR vegetable oil OR whatever the hail is going cheapest at the moment. Principle's simple--jes' like a water tower, you keep a tiny pump working 24/7 to keep a reservoir full (the battery). No new power plants, no new drilling.

OR we simply put everybody's Irish backsides in U.S.-built Priuses and halve private oil demand in six to ten years as the fleet ages OH YEAH, or in exactly the same number of years it's going to to bring in offshore oil.

But pliz to be paying in Euros, sahr, zhe dollaire may be utilise pour blowing le nez...

Rogue

Thats is the lamest remark you have ever made 17 Pubes! Diesel/electric hybids my aching butt. What are you going to bure to get the power to charge those hybrid batteries numbnuts? Coal maybe?

I swear to heaven you eco freaks have less sense than a chimp. I know you capactiy for thought doesn't extend beond muttering solar and wind, hommmmmmm.

Pub 17

And the oil won't come in for six to ten years, somewhere around the start of Sebelius' first term, and nobody will give a rat's ass because the world'll be driving diesel/electric hybrids.

Relax, Rogue, and have a Bud, mon cher ami.
BWAHAHAHAHAHA....

Rogue

The oil is in ANWR and offshore, but the "dipstick" resides in Roeland Park.

In the long run you are right Harvey, 50 to 100 years from now, but it the short run how about allowing a little drilling offshore and in ANWR. Over 70% of the folks are now for it, but hey that means nothing to zealots like you, right Dispstick?

 
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