[extropy-chat] Peak Oil news

Robert Bradbury robert.bradbury at gmail.com
Thu Mar 16 21:12:27 UTC 2006

I have tried to stay out of this discussion because I felt it was relatively
speaking a waste of time & energy.

I decided a years ago that any sustainable solution that was going to deal
with the problems of energy supplies and global warming could not rely on
the current approaches (digging reduced carbon out of the ground, oxidizing
it and disposing of it in the atmosphere).  I also decided that hydrogen was
not a good solution from the simple perspective that it is a gas that is
very difficult to handle under normal conditions (NTP, STP, SATP) .  Natural
Gas (methane) is somewhat better but still suffers from the problem of being
a gas under normal conditions.  So the vaunted "Hydrogen Economy" solution
is fundamentally flawed IMO.

The better alternatives are those which we already use such as octane,
propane, ethanol or methanol for the simple reason that they suffer less
from transport and manipulation problems at NTP.

Brazil is a good example of a country that has essentially solved its
"energy" supply problem in a sustainable fashion by embracing ethanol
derived from sugar cane as its primary energy carrier.

It looks like we finally have some people with throw weight pointing the way
towards a better path.

See the forthcoming:
Beyond Oil and Gas: The Methanol Economy
G. A. Olah, A. Goeppert, G. K. Surya Prakash (May 2006)

Various reviews that I have read seem to suggest that these authors are
thinking along the same lines that I have.

There are two possible arguments against this path.  First, that burning a
carbon based energy carrier in an internal combustion engine produces
pollution.  This problem does not exist if fuel cells are used and can be
resolved in internal combustion engines through catalytic converter.  A
hybrid engine approach moves us much closer to intermediate solutions
because they would allow you to optimize internal combustion engines for
minimal pollution.  Second, that corn or sugar cane as the "green" fuel
sources are relatively inefficient.  This is only true right now.
Optimizing crops for biofuel production is an ongoing process which holds
great potential for improvement.  It took centuries to "tune" current crops
for food production but our tools are now much better for rapidly producing
enhanced fuel crops.

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