[ExI] Whatever happened to peak oil by 2020?

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Thu May 9 07:18:55 UTC 2013

On Wed, May 08, 2013 at 05:10:31PM -0700, Adrian Tymes wrote:
> On Wed, May 8, 2013 at 2:33 PM, Eugen Leitl <eugen at leitl.org> wrote:
> > I'm sorry you dislike the numbers, or the conclusion one has to
> > draw from them.
> >
> > But I can assure you that the core technology is almost a
> > century old, and you will not be able to make it jump through
> > hoops by throwing money at it (which you don't have) overnight.
> >
> Just because a technology's been around for a while, does not
> necessarily mean there's no way to make it substantially better.

The operative word here is 'overnight'. Which means a few

> Among the examples:
> Our modern era seems defined by, if any one thing, a
> significant increase in the rate at which such technological
> developments are being realized.  (Kind of like what one

That doesn't apply to basic science progress and infrastructure.
Shifts in infrastructure take 30-40 years and take giant
input in terms of money and manpower as well as raw materials
and energy. 

Frankly, the money is not there, the energy is hardly 
there, and we don't have the science muscle anymore.
The specific areas are catalysts, electrochemistry, and
chemistry. I genuinely hope that basic research there
is still going on in Asia. 

> would see in the decades leading up to a Singularity.)
> This is not to say there necessarily is a way to improve
> synthetic fuels, merely that "it's an old technology" is not
> sufficient proof by itself.

I've delivered an argument. It's not my task to make
you understand it.
> Separately, the impression I got from the article is of an
> industry where all the corners have not been explored,
> where there aren't years-old, let alone decades-old,
> templates that haven't been substantially improved on
> since, and otherwise that there's probably much room for
> improvement - at least evolutionarily, if not revolutionarily,
> but even small little increments can drive something from
> "not profitable" to "sometimes profitable", and thence to
> "reliably profitable".

Profitability doesn't matter, the energy input and cost
and construction of infrastructure does. Notice that
this is all still driven by fossil, well past peak there's
no coal or methane to drive it, so all process energy
and input must come from renewable sources. That doesn't
exactly sound cheap.

My suggestion is got to hydrogen and methane/methanol
(C1 feedstock) economy, which gives you fuel gases and liquids
at much milder conditions and smaller scale.

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