[ExI] cure for global warming

Samantha Atkins sjatkins at mac.com
Sun Dec 26 11:13:06 UTC 2010

On Dec 25, 2010, at 7:50 PM, Keith Henson wrote:

> On Sat, Dec 25, 2010 at 7:13 PM,  John Clark <jonkc at bellsouth.net> wrote:
>> On Dec 21, 2010, at 10:32 PM, Keith Henson wrote:
>>> The best way I see is to come up with an energy source considerably
>>> less expensive than fossil fuels.
>> That would be a great way to cure global warming but unfortunately nobody has figured out how to make a cheap clean substitute for fossil fuels yet, nobody has figured out a cure for CO2 emissions (if that is indeed the cause of the problem) that is not worse than the disease.
> You must not have read the rest of my post where I discussed how to do it.
> The *easy* part is making a clean cheap substitutes for fossil fuels.
> We know how to suck CO2 out of air at a cost of around 100 kWh/t (360
> kWh per ton of carbon).  We know how to make hydrogen either directly
> from heat (S I process) or by electrolysis.  We, or rather Sasol,
> knows how to bulid a plant that will turn these two into synthetic
> fuel at a cost of around $10 per bbl.\

Hydrogen is a not a very efficient fuel.  Why not hype thorium reactors?  The better designs can produce electricity far cheaper than from the best grade of coal - which is currently the cheapest energy source we have.   There are many paths to syngas and such, it is true.  But not one of them produces energy that cheap.   Much of the case for such today is made on the basis of how "green" they are.  One case in particular that I know well gave up on more green sources for the gas, gave up on using concentrated solar to fire the original biomass and ended up burning natural gas in a process that doesn't produce a lot more than when into it and produces some nasty waste gases to boot.   This is not at all a panacea in any form I have seen to date.

> $1 B written off over ten years is $100 M/year.  The plant makes
> 34,000 bbls of oil a day or  about 12.5 M B of oil a year at a capital
> cost of $100 M per year.

So by your above figures it barely breaks even. You do know that 34K bbls is a barely registering drop in the proverbial bucket, right?

>  So the capital cost is around $8 per bbl
> plus maybe $2 per bbl maintenance and labor.  It's using gas as the
> source of carbon and hydrogen, but it would be just as happy on carbon
> dioxide from the air and hydrogen from water.

Not really.  Please do the math and show your work.  I know several people working various variations of this and I don't believe this story.

> The hard part is getting energy cost down to where you can make
> inexpensive synthetic hydrocarbons.  StratoSolar *might* do it.  The
> engineering to cope with maximum wind is very hard.

What for?  As a temporary until you can convert most transportation to electric?  Perhaps.  But electric is the way to go not far down the line. 

> Power satellites could also do it if you can get the launch cost to
> GEO down to $100/kg.-

That is step #1 - and it is a real doozie from here as you know.

Step #2 which we don't have much of a clue about is how to assemble and maintain that large a solar field in GEO in perpetuity.  We don't do space walks out there for some pretty good reason.s  Without major space robotics advances I don't see it happening for at least a couple of decades.  Fortunately we have better ways of resolving the energy crisis or looming crisis in the meantime.

>> So until somebody dose figure that out and if the problem is really as catastrophic as the doomsayers say it is then we'd better have another idea; and Nathan Myhrvold, the former chief technical officer at Microsoft, may have one, build an artificial volcano.

Now that is Big Thinking.  Incredibly stupid perhaps but BIG.

- samantha

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