[ExI] Cheap fuel from coal and solar

Keith Henson hkeithhenson at gmail.com
Fri Oct 20 23:24:01 UTC 2023

On Fri, Oct 20, 2023 at 12:01 PM <spike at rainier66.com> wrote:

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Keith Henson <hkeithhenson at gmail.com>
> Subject: Re: [ExI] Cheap fuel from coal and solar
> On Thu, Oct 19, 2023 at 9:42 PM spike jones via extropy-chat <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: extropy-chat <extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org> On Behalf
> > Of BillK via extropy-chat ...
> > _______________________________________________
> >
> >
> > >... China is the most likely to try to buy a hunk of Africa and enforce a border with military force.
> >...The future is impossible to predict, but I don't think you can defend PV...
> Ja, Keith the South Africans used the energy in coal to run the process of conversion to liquid fuel.

Nobody would sell them oil, they had no choice.

> As I understand it, that is highly inefficient in that it produced a loooootta lotta CO2 and requires a relatively higher grade of coal to make it go right.

At the time nobody cared about CO2.  I used to talk through the net to
the engineer who accompanied a shipload of coal from North Dakoda to
South Africa to see if it would work in those gasifiers.  It did and
the US built a 16,000 tons per day plant to make synthetic natural
gas.  That plant has been operational a long time now.
> If some external power source is available such as nuclear or possibly enormous arrays of PVs, the process is practical from a CO2 production point of view.
> >...To the best of my knowledge, Fischer Tropsch does not use a lot of water...
> It doesn't need a lot of fresh water, but it needs a lot of cooling water from what I have heard.

900 MW for the plant in Qatar.  The 1400 MW units at the Palo Verde
Nuclear Generating Station dump about  2800 MW.  (The relatively low
temperature limits the Carnot efficiency to around 33%.)  The Qatar
plant has access to sea water.  Palo Verde is out in the middle of the
desert.  They evaporate treated sewage.

> If you have the option of using evaporative cooling that is great, but it requires fresh water.  If we have the option of dumping the waste heat out at sea, it requires being reasonably close to the coast.  West Africa offers a lot of direct overhead sunlight, access to the sea for water and transportation both ways, even a fresh water source if it is extracted from seawater (which is an energy hog but it might be the best way to go out in the desert.)

No harbors, no infrastructure.  Unless you are right on the coast,
cooling water is a pain.  Possible, but I think long after the

> >...The Gobi is far to the north making the PV output highly seasonal...
> Ja, agree, far less energy available up that high for PV.  China has an authoritarian government so they have the option to clear an area of proles by just a simple: OK all you little commies, hit the road.  Dear Leader needs your farms, to make fuel for your tractors that you can no longer use because Dear Leader took your farms.

I could be wrong about this, but I don't think the Gobi has farms or people.
> China stretches far enough down there that maybe PVs are practical, maybe.  It would have some advantages over biting off a hunk of Africa, such as... they already own it.
> >...the Saudis have signed a deal for 300 GW of solar by 2030...
> Seems like a great place to plant lots of PVs.  Let's see if they can make it pay.
> >... the Saudis *could* switch over and sell this kind of synthetic oil for at least another generation...
> I don't see why not.  They have lots of sunshine down there, plenty of open land, access to the sea and the Med, which means they could deliver synfuels to the rich infidels in Europe, make buttloads of money.

Less than pumping oil at 3-4 dollars a bbl, but when they run out . .
 . .
> >...Sorry for all the math but I can't say if something is a good idea or not without working the numbers.  I realize I am an extreme outlier in this respect... Keith
> {8^D
> Me too Keith.  As I recall the numbers would work if you had ways to get coal in there, ways to get the synfuels out and plenty of space for PVs or a nuke plant, plus immunity from Europe's notions on how immoral it is to keep burning carbon.  Saudi Arabia has all that and knows that running farm equipment on batteries will not happen anytime soon, it knows that passenger aircraft cannot run on batteries, that rockets don't run on batteries, that plenty of necessary modern processes depend on the energy densities available in liquid fuels.  The demand for that stuff isn't going away until we go away (we meaning civilized humanity.)

There might be an even less expensive way to convert coal to diesel
using solar.  Jim Bowery set off this line of thinking using power


> spike

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list