Re: [NTLK] {OT} alternative fuels was Classic campers

From: Martin Joseph (
Date: Mon Dec 06 2004 - 10:26:10 PST

On Dec 6, 2004, at 1:36 AM, DJ Vollkasko wrote:
>> Hydrogen needs to come from somewhere and the most common source of it
>> is water, which needs to be split, which is a net LOSS of energy.
>> Usually this is done with coal or oil as the input, but nuclear is
>> also being discussed.
> Wind energy isn't much discussed anymore, it's very much a growing
> reality in Europe. The US used to be the world leader in technology and
> installed wattage, until the Reagan administration cut research
> subsidies and $$$ aids for installing stuff. Today, Denmark and Germany
> are the first in technology and installed wattage (with the Danish
> having the world's highest installed wattage per capita).
Actually it's still a growing business in certain areas in the US as
well. Overall, it's not useful in many places, and produces relatively
modest output. Still it's great where it works.
> Also solar energy isn't much discussed anymore. About *every* new
> public construction project involves solar panels over here, and many
> people who build new homes include at least a warm-water panel to save
> on fossil fuel for heating. And electricity is way cool if you can
> produce it on your own.
Solar is clearly the most promising and underutilized energy technology
here in the states... Especially in stupid places like las vegas or
> Nuclear energy isn't discussed anymore - we can't do without it yet,
> but they actually have a timeplan here to abandon that technology and
> go on to other platforms (research in those sectors strongly
> encouraged).
There are NEW discussions about nuclear power plants here in light of a
new technology for efficiently separating H from the H20s... Still the
cost, the danger, and the regulatory hurdles, will hopefully keep this
on the shelf.
> Tidal power plants are much discussed - I think the Danish and British
> are working on those. There's been quite some improved concepts, and
> impact on the ecology are vastly lower than with damming up creeks.
True, this is also a cool concept, but like all others, it also has
it's impact which isn't really too clear yet.
> Dammed-up rivers are also very much discussed - expensive construction,
> low efficiency, great ecological impact. Plus with kayaking and rafting
> becoming more and more important domestic touristic factors, this is
> less and less appreciated by the general public.

Here in the the Pacific Northwest of the USA we have many dams, which
were SUPPOSED to be removed due to there environmental impact on
threatened species like the indigenous salmon... However, due to the
Bush administrations "no species left behind" policy, the dams will
stay, and the Salmon will probably be removed from the "endangered"
> Bio-mass is much discussed: Something popular with pig and cattle
> breeders. Also communities start to employ this when renovating their
> sewage treatment plants. Many areas here also have separate bins for
> general trash, plastics, paper and vegetable stuffs. The last are
> brought to public composting plants, turn into high-quality
> fertilizer/compost, and there's ways to tap on methane, or even the
> warmth produced when the compost rots. Biomass is very promising and
> offers many chances. The installed base is not very high yet, as giant
> rotors and dams are more prestigious and spectacular.
True but this kind of methane scavenging seems like a gimme...
> Any of these can be employed to produce hydrogen, and with solar
> energy, you could even DIY.
> If you consider the regular fuel costs for, say, 100.000 km, you have a
> nice budget to start your own personal gas station...
Not around here, too many clouds...
>> This means you need to input even MORE energy to get your "clean"
>> hydrogen.
> ...which isn't much of a topic if the energy comes cheaply from the
> sun. Splitting H2O and storing the H is actually much more efficient
> than using batteries (which no solar power-cell owners have over here -
> they sell all the energy they produce to the nearest utilities
> provider, and take whatever they need whenever they need off the grid).
Hmmm, I am dubious as to how universal that is. Some people like
batteries :~) imagine a huge rack of AA's always at the ready...
>> This is also a problem with bio mass and biodiesel products,
>> as they are grown with petro derived fertilizers.
> Well, organic farmers around here (and not only them) are having their
> diesel engine refitted to work with raw, unrefined plant oils. They
> grow the plants themselves, press the seed for oil and use the remains
> for cattle feed, which - besides green fertilizer (plants you let grow
> one or two years which lets the field "rest" and which replenish the
> soil) fertilize their fields (besides providing meats to sell). This
> works.
Organic farming is a highly inefficient means of producing energy...
Plus this leads to mass deforestation (where that hasn't already
> I think we have many social, cultural and economical challenges in
> front of us. I'm not comfortable to just stick with the old concepts
> because they are established, if these have obvious flaws. Sometimes
> you have to try something new and see if this works; if it doesn't, try
> something else. But stagnation is going to kill us off w/o any doubt.
I agree, but feel the lowest hanging fruit is conservation... the
amount of wasted energy is truly absurd. If we all thought about
conserving our usage, then the input problem would be radically easier
to address...


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