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  #41  
Old Posted Feb 6, 2019, 12:08 AM
milomilo milomilo is offline
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Originally Posted by Nouvellecosse View Post
Well I have to disagree with the bolded part. There's no reason we can't use carbon neutral energy just because we currently (for the most part) don't. Without even counting renewable electricity generation, using fire for cooking or heating can be carbon neutral if done using bio mass such as wood, ethanol, or bio diesel since the process of growing the plant (trees, algae, etc.) used for fuel absorbs the same amount of carbon as is released when burning it. There may be some carbon released when transporting the fuel if trucks, tractors, etc are powered by fossil fuels, but they can also be powered using alternative energy. How easy it is to make such a transition and how much faith we have that it will happen are separate issues.

I agree that we shouldn't be vilifying one another because some people do better in this regard than others because it's currently a lot of work to made environmentally friendly choices and many people are just struggling with the basics. Not to mention that it isn't really an effective way to gain public support. But it just isn't true that it's impossible for humans to live with modern technology without emitting an unbalanced amount of carbon. We may need to make due without quite as much "stuff" though.
Yeah, but we have to get there first and we definitely do not have even close to the technology to do so yet. It's a paradox really, to get all the technology we have today and the technology we need in the future we have had to go through industrial revolutions and burn a lot of fossil fuels. We wouldn't even be capable of knowing about carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and its effect on climate without fossil fuels. But it seems that some people do truly think that all we need to do is stop using straws and drive electric cars and we'll all be fine, as long as those evil capitalists weren't stopping us.

I will disagree with your claim that it is impossible to live with modern technology without emitting an unbalanced amount of carbon, as that simply isn't true right now - how do you fly a plane across the Atlantic without fossil fuels? It's possible that we will find a way, but it's also just as possible we won't - there's no way of knowing.

Last edited by milomilo; Feb 6, 2019 at 12:28 AM.
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  #42  
Old Posted Feb 6, 2019, 12:15 AM
misher misher is offline
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Yeah, but we have to get there first and we definitely do not have even close to the technology to do so yet. It's a paradox really, to get all the technology we have today and the technology we need in the future we have had to go through industrial revolutions and burn a lot of fossil fuels. We wouldn't even be capable of knowing about carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and it's effect on climate without fossil fuels. But it seems that some people do truly think that all we need to do is stop using straws and drive electric cars and we'll all be fine, as long as those evil capitalists weren't stopping us.

I will disagree with your claim that it is impossible to live with modern technology without emitting an unbalanced amount of carbon, as that simply isn't true right now - how do you fly a plane across the Atlantic without fossil fuels? It's possible that we will find a way, but it's also just as possible we won't - there's no way of knowing.
And electric car and anti fossil fuel advocates are some of the stupidest people alive because they only look at the surface of things. Electric cars may be worse for the environment than gas guzzlers. But of course its about being on a high horse than truly saving the environment. https://www.politico.com/agenda/stor...ronment-000660

Btw we have the technology for solar planes (but not commercial passanger jets via solar). And for nuclear planes. We also have the technology for much faster rocket ships that can go to Mars and back via Nuclear Pulses Propulsion since around the 1970's. Just anything nuclear doesn't get advanced anymore due to environmental risks and simply fear. We've already theorized an engine using currently known technology that could reach other stars within a human lifetime as far back as the 80's.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_pulse_propulsion

We are developing hybrid and possibly electric jets someday...but spaceships are much cooler https://www.forbes.com/sites/michael.../#391b029a5c08

Last edited by misher; Feb 6, 2019 at 12:45 AM.
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  #43  
Old Posted Feb 6, 2019, 12:35 AM
milomilo milomilo is offline
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The energy density of batteries is far lower than jet fuel, and even worse you don't lose that weight during the flight - the first problem might be solvable but the second isn't (if using batteries at least). The added weight for a car doesn't matter so much (Teslas are surprisingly heavy), but for passenger aircraft it definitely will so I will stand by the comment that our current reliance on air travel requires hydrocarbon fuels. The best we might be able to do is use biofuels or just offset with sequestration sequestering.
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  #44  
Old Posted Feb 6, 2019, 1:44 AM
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The energy density of batteries is far lower than jet fuel, and even worse you don't lose that weight during the flight - the first problem might be solvable but the second isn't (if using batteries at least). The added weight for a car doesn't matter so much (Teslas are surprisingly heavy), but for passenger aircraft it definitely will so I will stand by the comment that our current reliance on air travel requires hydrocarbon fuels. The best we might be able to do is use biofuels or just offset with sequestration sequestering.
Two possible ways around these issues exist off the top of my head. One is means of storage can improve like kinetic energy storage (flywheels) or super capacitors.

Other technologies also exist such as hydrogen fuel cells. Also if we create solid battery storage its possible that they can contribute to the actual structure of the plane, helping to offset the weight.

There's also technologies that get a bit crazy out there that are theorized. For instance, a kinetic launch system to impart velocity to the plane and save lifting costs (aircraft carriers have a simple one). Hydrogen fuel cells that harvest hydrogen from air as you fly.

Also as lightweight materials improve like carbon fibre plane will keep getting lighter and stronger allowing for less efficient methods of propulsion to be used.
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  #45  
Old Posted Feb 6, 2019, 3:14 AM
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Originally Posted by milomilo View Post
Yeah, but we have to get there first and we definitely do not have even close to the technology to do so yet. It's a paradox really, to get all the technology we have today and the technology we need in the future we have had to go through industrial revolutions and burn a lot of fossil fuels. We wouldn't even be capable of knowing about carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and its effect on climate without fossil fuels. But it seems that some people do truly think that all we need to do is stop using straws and drive electric cars and we'll all be fine, as long as those evil capitalists weren't stopping us.

I will disagree with your claim that it is impossible to live with modern technology without emitting an unbalanced amount of carbon, as that simply isn't true right now - how do you fly a plane across the Atlantic without fossil fuels? It's possible that we will find a way, but it's also just as possible we won't - there's no way of knowing.
Again, that's not true. Surely you realise that fossil fuels are plant based chemicals formed by photosynthesis? They just happen to be extremely old and riddled with impurities. It's possible to create biofuels including jet fuels just as it's possible to use electricity to create (isolate) hydrogen. The idea that we don't have the technology is 100% false. All the technology exists, it's just that our economy is based around something else and such a large scale change of infrastructure and production methods is very daunting and expensive.
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  #46  
Old Posted Feb 6, 2019, 3:17 AM
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And electric car and anti fossil fuel advocates are some of the stupidest people alive because they only look at the surface of things. Electric cars may be worse for the environment than gas guzzlers. But of course its about being on a high horse than truly saving the environment. https://www.politico.com/agenda/stor...ronment-000660

Btw we have the technology for solar planes (but not commercial passanger jets via solar). And for nuclear planes. We also have the technology for much faster rocket ships that can go to Mars and back via Nuclear Pulses Propulsion since around the 1970's. Just anything nuclear doesn't get advanced anymore due to environmental risks and simply fear. We've already theorized an engine using currently known technology that could reach other stars within a human lifetime as far back as the 80's.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_pulse_propulsion

We are developing hybrid and possibly electric jets someday...but spaceships are much cooler https://www.forbes.com/sites/michael.../#391b029a5c08
The idea that electric cars are worse for the environment has been debunked 100 times over and was just a lie made up by right wing extremists to confuse the public.

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  #47  
Old Posted Feb 6, 2019, 3:59 AM
milomilo milomilo is offline
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Again, that's not true. Surely you realise that fossil fuels are plant based chemicals formed by photosynthesis? They just happen to be extremely old and riddled with impurities. It's possible to create biofuels including jet fuels just as it's possible to use electricity to create (isolate) hydrogen. The idea that we don't have the technology is 100% false. All the technology exists, it's just that our economy is based around something else and such a large scale change of infrastructure and production methods is very daunting and expensive.
It's possible to create biofuels, yes. But possible to create them cheaply and on a large enough scale to compete with fossil fuels, and without any fossil fuel input? Definitely not, otherwise we would be doing it. It's naive to think we could just write an edict mandating biofuel use and make everything OK.
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  #48  
Old Posted Feb 6, 2019, 4:57 AM
misher misher is offline
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It's possible to create biofuels, yes. But possible to create them cheaply and on a large enough scale to compete with fossil fuels, and without any fossil fuel input? Definitely not, otherwise we would be doing it. It's naive to think we could just write an edict mandating biofuel use and make everything OK.
Plus as we’re finding with ethanol we’re competing with growing food versus fuel as we only have so much good farmland.
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  #49  
Old Posted Feb 6, 2019, 10:22 PM
acottawa acottawa is offline
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Originally Posted by Nouvellecosse View Post
Again, that's not true. Surely you realise that fossil fuels are plant based chemicals formed by photosynthesis? They just happen to be extremely old and riddled with impurities. It's possible to create biofuels including jet fuels just as it's possible to use electricity to create (isolate) hydrogen. The idea that we don't have the technology is 100% false. All the technology exists, it's just that our economy is based around something else and such a large scale change of infrastructure and production methods is very daunting and expensive.
The problem is the amount of energy you have to put in to get the hydrogen (which takes massive amounts of electricity if you have to get it from water) or biofuels (to grow the corn, soybeans, algae, etc. as well as to convert it to biofuels). With current technology neither can be done at a scale necessary to displace fossil fuels.
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  #50  
Old Posted Feb 7, 2019, 12:24 AM
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The problem is the amount of energy you have to put in to get the hydrogen (which takes massive amounts of electricity if you have to get it from water) or biofuels (to grow the corn, soybeans, algae, etc. as well as to convert it to biofuels). With current technology neither can be done at a scale necessary to displace fossil fuels.
Though as always research is advancing. Direct injection brought gas engines up to 35% efficiency and Toyota is around 40% now with its latest engines.

I suspect with the rise of electric cars we may even see turbines in cars coming back which can be up to 60% efficient. FYI Turbines need to operate at a high speed continuously to reach that efficiency so with the ability of electric cars to store energy the Turbine can always be at peak efficiency even when the car is stopped. Possibly even stirling engines which are 50% efficient.
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  #51  
Old Posted Feb 7, 2019, 2:12 AM
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Originally Posted by milomilo View Post
It's possible to create biofuels, yes. But possible to create them cheaply and on a large enough scale to compete with fossil fuels, and without any fossil fuel input? Definitely not, otherwise we would be doing it. It's naive to think we could just write an edict mandating biofuel use and make everything OK.
That's not a technological limitation though. It's mainly that the process hasn't gained the necessary efficiencies and cost advantages afforded by economies of scale though mass production. Although it's also partly that fossil fuels are inherently cheap from the fact that it's pre-made energy that already exists and it just waiting to be pumped/dug up and burned. So yes that's going to be cheaper/easier than creating our own by growing, harvesting, and processing the bio-matter ourselves. So yes, it would require us to make a decision to invest the effort to choose to do it rather than to simply do whatever is the cheapest and easiest.

I don't even feel like commenting on the stale, worn out maxim of "if it was a good idea we'd already be doing it" since that doesn't really even warrant discussion. I mean, almost no advancement would ever occur if we all fell for that mindset. Almost every new innovation or idea would immediately be written off since it wasn't already happening. But if I must, in this case the reason it isn't already happening is because using pre-formed fossil fuel energy is cheaper when not counting the serious externalized costs/downsides we're currently discussing, and it's hard to factor these downsides into the economics of it since the people making the economic decisions are disconnected to various degrees from the downsides. In other words, the benefits of cheap are immediate and direct, whereas the benefits of avoiding the negatives is indirect and over time. Therefore a lot of people seek to keep enjoying the benefits of "cheap" by denying that the downsides exist, that the downsides are important, or that the downsides can be avoided.
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  #52  
Old Posted Feb 7, 2019, 2:14 AM
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Plus as we’re finding with ethanol we’re competing with growing food versus fuel as we only have so much good farmland.
That's why I wouldn't want to see the biofuels be used to the same degree that fossil fuels are currently used and instead should only be used in cases when alternatives such as batteries aren't feasible.

Also, we're in the process of using algae to create biofuel in the water so that farmland isn't occupied with fuel production
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  #53  
Old Posted Feb 7, 2019, 2:18 AM
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The problem is the amount of energy you have to put in to get the hydrogen (which takes massive amounts of electricity if you have to get it from water) or biofuels (to grow the corn, soybeans, algae, etc. as well as to convert it to biofuels). With current technology neither can be done at a scale necessary to displace fossil fuels.
I wouldn't recommend using hydrogen or biofuels in place of electricity when that's an option. That doesn't mean that hydrogen isn't suitable for a limited subset of activities that require great range such as shipping or aviation. Remember, even transmitting electricity over large distances results in loses due to friction, and the most efficient internal combustion engine runs at about 40% (40% or less of the energy in the fuel is actually converted to useful work while the rest is lost as waste heat). Yet this is considered feasible. We don't need something to be 100% efficient in order for it to be feasible. It just has to make sense for the specific application.
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  #54  
Old Posted Feb 7, 2019, 2:34 AM
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I wouldn't recommend using hydrogen or biofuels in place of electricity when that's an option. That doesn't mean that hydrogen isn't suitable for a limited subset of activities that require great range such as shipping or aviation. Remember, even transmitting electricity over large distances results in loses due to friction, and the most efficient internal combustion engine runs at about 40% (40% or less of the energy in the fuel is actually converted to useful work while the rest is lost as waste heat). Yet this is considered feasible. We don't need something to be 100% efficient in order for it to be feasible. It just has to make sense for the specific application.
The problem is you have to get the hydrogen, which usually either means adding steam to natural gas (which releases carbon dioxide) or adding electricity to water. Both processes are energy intensive.
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  #55  
Old Posted Feb 7, 2019, 2:58 AM
milomilo milomilo is offline
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That's not a technological limitation though. It's mainly that the process hasn't gained the necessary efficiencies and cost advantages afforded by economies of scale though mass production. Although it's also partly that fossil fuels are inherently cheap from the fact that it's pre-made energy that already exists and it just waiting to be pumped/dug up and burned. So yes that's going to be cheaper/easier than creating our own by growing, harvesting, and processing the bio-matter ourselves. So yes, it would require us to make a decision to invest the effort to choose to do it rather than to simply do whatever is the cheapest and easiest.

I don't even feel like commenting on the stale, worn out maxim of "if it was a good idea we'd already be doing it" since that doesn't really even warrant discussion. I mean, almost no advancement would ever occur if we all fell for that mindset. Almost every new innovation or idea would immediately be written off since it wasn't already happening. But if I must, in this case the reason it isn't already happening is because using pre-formed fossil fuel energy is cheaper when not counting the serious externalized costs/downsides we're currently discussing, and it's hard to factor these downsides into the economics of it since the people making the economic decisions are disconnected to various degrees from the downsides. In other words, the benefits of cheap are immediate and direct, whereas the benefits of avoiding the negatives is indirect and over time. Therefore a lot of people seek to keep enjoying the benefits of "cheap" by denying that the downsides exist, that the downsides are important, or that the downsides can be avoided.
This might sound like nitpicking on my part, but saying that "the technology exists, it just needs to be made more efficient" is effectively the same as me saying that the technology does not currently exist for biofuels etc to compete with fossil fuels.

What I said about us not currently using biofuels because the technology is not there is absolutely true. Biofuels would actually be very easy to integrate into our existing infrastructure, so if someone out there could produce gasoline and profitably sell it at 90c/l at the pump instead of a dollar, there's nothing stopping them. And if not here where gas is cheap, do it in Europe where gas is twice the price. Some probably blame big oil for holding back the technology, but those companies are not all idiots. It would only take one oil company to realize they can make money and they get ahead of the market. But none have done that, for... reasons? They don't like making money?

And I want to be clear I'm not saying this because I don't think biofuels can't be a part of the solution, but they will not be so long as it is cheaper to just use oil. That's why we need carbon pricing.
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  #56  
Old Posted Feb 7, 2019, 2:59 AM
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Yes, isolating hydrogen takes energy and energy is lost in the process. I don't see how that's an unreasonable trade off for a plane that may fly thousands of km. Even if you transmit electricity across thousands of km of power lines, energy is lost in the process. Transporting oil and gasoline by truck or train also results in energy loss. That fact that most ICE cars are non-hybrids and lack regen braking means constant energy loss. That cars use 90% of the 30-40% of the productive energy they capture from gas to move the vehicle rather than the driver results in wasted energy. But people aren't complaining about the inefficiencies in the status quo since they're taken as a given.

People are ready to write off anything new due to even the slightest imperfection, while people are willing to accept the huge imperfections inherent with the status quo. We need to look at the overall benefit /drawback balance rather than be so quick to complain that something new isn't perfect.
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  #57  
Old Posted Feb 7, 2019, 3:01 AM
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If you want, I can change my phrasing to 'the technology does not currently exist for biofuels to compete with fossil fuels at the current price point'
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  #58  
Old Posted Feb 7, 2019, 3:09 AM
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Originally Posted by milomilo View Post
This might sound like nitpicking on my part, but saying that "the technology exists, it just needs to be made more efficient" is effectively the same as me saying that the technology does not currently exist for biofuels etc to compete with fossil fuels.
It isn't nitpicking, it's just untrue. It's a completely different situation when a viable technology has not been adopted on a wide scale and is therefore not able to compete on price compared to if the technology isn't available. Almost every new technology starts out as unaffordable for mass implementation and the price drops as production scales up. I remember when flat panel screens were first introduced (yes, I'm old enough to remember when everyone still used CRT screens) and the price of LCD and panels made them unfeasible for most people to buy. I remember seeing a 27" LCD for something like $1700 when a 27" CRT TV was $350. But the technology was clearly available as they were being created and sold.But the efficiency to sell them at lower prices didn't come from huge changes in the technology. It came from efficiencies in the manufacturing process and the manufacturing costs were spread out over a small number of units at the beginning.

Contrast that with something like nuclear fusion. At this point no one has been able to create sustained nuclear fusion that releases more energy than was required to start the reaction. We'd need new technology for this to be viable since no amount of scaling or mass implementation is going to change the fact that getting back 60% of the energy you put in is not a useful way to produce energy. Same thing with graphene. There just isn't a way to mass produce large enough quantities to make many useful things with it. The technology itself doesn't exist so no amount of amping up the current process is going to change that. We need to invent a totally new process. This is just not the case with bio fuels.
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  #59  
Old Posted Feb 7, 2019, 3:19 AM
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Well, OK, but you have to place some faith that cost will come down enough (because it cannot be cheap enough right now). I don't disagree that it is likely to become cheaper, but it is no guarantee. If it was guaranteed, there would be no point putting in carbon pricing and nothing really to worry about, as there will be no point using fossil fuels when biofuels are cheaper.
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  #60  
Old Posted Feb 7, 2019, 4:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Nouvellecosse View Post
I don't even feel like commenting on the stale, worn out maxim of "if it was a good idea we'd already be doing it" since that doesn't really even warrant discussion.
The correct way to phrase that maxim would be "if it were a good idea, reasonable people would already be doing it". (I like your signature.)
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