Future of energy and the state of the human species

fsci123

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Well i thought that the original thread was out of topic so i spawned this one instead...

This thread is about how us humans may solve the energy crisis and a whole lot of other problems that plague the world today...
 

Urwumpe

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We don't even know what an energy crisis really is, because we are simply used to have too much of energy available all the time. Currently we have just a energy distribution crisis in most places, with energy being locally abundant, but temporarily rare in other places.
 

Zachstar

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One thing that needs to be said is that the word "crisis" as in a doomsday sence is used far too much.

In the other thread I saw numbers approaching a hundred USD flying about as the "end" point of gas. That is absurd.

Right now even the most inefficient fuel algae research will be more than profitable in the low teens. And many are profitable in the high single digits. That is going to put pressure on oil LONG LONG LONG before stocks dwindle and the huge gain in quality (Sweetness) and control over algae and other biofuels will make them very attractive even at a disadvantage to oil.

The speculators love talking about economy destroying 6+ USD gas for the United States and devastating prices for other countries to get the numbers up. So speculation would lock down vast amounts well before supply went out anyway.

The cold hard truth is we aren't going to live to see the day oil runs "out" Matter of fact there is a huge glut just waiting to be unleashed in the form of unused stripper wells that were shut down during the 80s and 90s due to low oil prices. They are all over the US and could deliver a massive amount of product to market once prices get high enough. Then there is the MASSIVE amount of untapped heavy sour that is starting to come into higher demand due to advancements in technology that can handle it at less advantageous conditions. Then shale. Tar sands... Gas to fuels.. Onward and Onward.

It isn't going to run out.
 

Krys

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Going 10 - 20 km by bicycle in city often is quicker than driving in jammed traffic.

The unfortunate thing is commuters, I commute to work every day doing about 120miles per day. I drive into the outskirts of london and get stuck in traffic. But there is no way I'm parking my car in the middle of nowhere and cycling the rest of the way.
That said, I don't really support the use of cars within city centers, but for more spread out areas, they can't really be replaced by walking, cycling or public transport- though capable enough public transport systems would certainly be helpful.

The only reason I drive is that the public transport can't get me to work on time 4/5 days a week. Every single day the train was 10-30minutes late.
Or not use cars at all - look at all the jams, there are on average 1 man per car, with occasional family dropping kids to the school next door. Irrational use of resources.

...

Unfortunately, many people would consider bicycle riding below their level of perceived importance.

I've offered to car share with many people. Unfortunately we don't normally go in the same direction. The only possible car sharers said no because I leave work the same time they do, and they'd have to wat 20mins for me to get to them.

I'd happily cycle to work, but I think 60 miles each way is a tad much for the every day person.

When I lived in cambridge I cycled everywhere, no one in cambridge would consider cycling below their "importance", it is just a way of life there.
 

N_Molson

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The first experimental fusion reactors should be available in 10-15 years. Once there, things should get a little better.

[ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ITER"]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ITER[/ame]
 

Urwumpe

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Matter of fact there is a huge glut just waiting to be unleashed in the form of unused stripper wells that were shut down during the 80s and 90s due to low oil prices.

Oh, be careful with such statements - oil is not like oil. It is not just about having oil sources available, but also the quality of the oil is important, and how much effort is needed for drilling and pumping it. Most oil we consume today and which we define as standard oils, are pretty good quality oils that need no or only weak pumps.

Also, you should be aware that the crude oil that is consumed does not end mostly inside your cars tank. Most of it goes into chemical industry, for example the production of fertilizer consumes large amounts of it.

Once the easy oil gets rare, the less easily extracted oil will be used and will first of all go into the fertilizer industry. Then into the various chemical industries, because there is still more money to be earned even if oil gets expensive. The buck will be passed to the small customer from many directions there. Gasoline is produced by constant fractions from crude oil together with many other products. Aircraft fuel and ship oil are produced at constant fraction to the gasoline. So when the oil gets rare at this branch of the petrol industry, the prices will raise at many points that will affect mostly the average customer. Gasoline will be more expensive. Cheap shoes from China will be more expensive, travel through the world in a jetliner will be more expensive.

That is also why oil shale is such a big business and so attractive today: Not because it means that the average Joe will still have cheap gasoline, quite contrary. It means oil shale extraction companies can earn big bucks from the farmers, the ill (pharmaceutics!) and shipping companies.
 
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T.Neo

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It isn't going to run out.

Yes, yes it is. It's a finite resource. Of course it is going to run out; it is impossible for it not to run out.

Even the worst oil-apocalypse scenarios probably wouldn't have all the oil on the entire planet used up, just that all the easy oil (as Urwumpe said) would be depleted, and the dregs left would be far harder to extract. Eventually it gets so difficult, that extracting the dregs just doesn't pay, and then you have a big problem.
 

fsci123

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The first experimental fusion reactors should be available in 10-15 years. Once there, things should get a little better.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ITER

I seriously doubt that fusion will come within the next 50 years...
How did we develop fission energy: THE A-BOMB
How will we develop pure fusion energy: THE F-BOMB
I say the earliest estimates for reliable fusion energy will be 2071AD...
 

Wishbone

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The H-Bomb, to be precise. The F*Bomb is a collective somewhat censored name for fusion, fission, isotope, bacteriological and chemical bombs, as well as some nasty varieties of conventional munitions.
 

T.Neo

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How did we develop fission energy: THE A-BOMB
How will we develop pure fusion energy: THE F-BOMB

Controlled fusion power and controlled fission power are very, very different.

THE F, uh, THE H-BOMB was first tested [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Greenhouse"]roughly[/ame] [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivy_Mike"]60 years ago[/ame].

We've been performing fusion for decades. There are even fusion devices ('fusors') that a knowledgable person can build and operate at home. The key is breakeven, and that is something we haven't been able to do yet with sustained fusion, unfortunately.

I say the earliest estimates for reliable fusion energy will be 2071AD...

2071? Really? You know the precise date, too? Sure it won't be 2070 then? Or 2072? Or 2069? :p
 

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The precise date, no - but it's bound to be a Tuesday!
 

fsci123

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Fusion by itself is hard and you barely acquire any usable energy from it... Like neutrons...
 

T.Neo

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Fusion by itself is hard and you barely acquire any usable energy from it... Like neutrons...

Yes it is hard. But you also get a very large amount of energy for it. Remember, the amount of matter turned to energy in a fusion reaction, is far higher than the amount of matter turned to energy in a fission reaction.

Not all the energy from a fusion reaction is released in the form of neutrons, but in Deuterium-Deuterium reactions, as well as Deuterium-Tritium reactions, you can get neutrons as the fusion product, along with other products (for example, D-D can either create Tritium or Helium-3 in addition to a neutron or proton (I think), D-T leads to a Helium-3 nucleus among other products, if I'm not mistaken.

[ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aneutronic_fusion"]Aneutronic fusion[/ame] is attractive for two reasons: It means you don't lose any energy to neutrons, and it reduces your flux of ionising radiation (important when you want to reduce the radioactivity of your fusion containment vessel, as well as when shielding is at a premium and you can't afford to shield against neutron radiation- for example, on a spacecraft).

Deuterium-Helium 3 is aneutronic, but Deuterium side reactions can create neutrons. Proton-Boron fusion is also aneutronic, but there are several side reactions that create neutrons and gamma rays.

You can also harness the neutrons for energy, but I'm under the impression that this is harder to do than with charged particles (because neutrons lack a charge).

He3-He3 yields protons, and you can directly convert the energy of those protons into electricity using an electric field, due to the fact that protons are charged.

D-T is the easiest fusion reaction, so that is why fusion bombs as well as fusion power research have used it so far. I'm not sure about D-He3, but He3-He3 is harder to achieve effectively than D-T, which is unfortunate due to its advantages.

Helium 3 is also exceptionally rare on Earth, and is only found in low concentrations elsewhere...
 
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Urwumpe

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Helium 3 is also exceptionally rare on Earth, and is only found in low concentrations elsewhere...

Interesting fact there: A deep bore drilling in Germany to 9 km depth resulted in significant amounts of He3 venting with gases out of the drilled hole.
 

fsci123

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But have we ever managed to initiate such anuetronic fusion...
By the way im selling 99.9% deuterium water
 

T.Neo

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But have we ever managed to initiate such anuetronic fusion...

Have we ever managed to initiate a breakeven fusion reaction? No? I figured as such...

But have we ever managed to initiate such anuetronic fusion...

By the way im selling 99.9% deuterium water

Really? Where did you get your heavy water?
 

RisingFury

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Fusion by itself is hard and you barely acquire any usable energy from it... Like neutrons...


Fusion provides far more energy per nucleon then fission does.

---------- Post added at 17:14 ---------- Previous post was at 17:11 ----------

Interesting fact there: A deep bore drilling in Germany to 9 km depth resulted in significant amounts of He3 venting with gases out of the drilled hole.


'Lots' of it is also trapped in underground oil and natural gas reserves...
 

T.Neo

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'Lots' of it is also trapped in underground oil and natural gas reserves...

I wonder what amounts of He3 we'd get if we bothered to seperate it out...
 

Zachstar

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Yes, yes it is. It's a finite resource. Of course it is going to run out; it is impossible for it not to run out.

Even the worst oil-apocalypse scenarios probably wouldn't have all the oil on the entire planet used up, just that all the easy oil (as Urwumpe said) would be depleted, and the dregs left would be far harder to extract. Eventually it gets so difficult, that extracting the dregs just doesn't pay, and then you have a big problem.

Wrong. It wont be a big problem again because high prices will cause Biofuel research and exploration to grow immensely. Oil from algae for instance is reported to be some of the best quality oil refineries have ever seen.
 

T.Neo

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I never said anything about biofuels, I said that fossil fuels were a finite resource, and they would stop being a viable source of energy once they became too much effort to extract.
 
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