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View Diary: Breaking: Bubbling ... the news isn't good (294 comments)

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  •  Aah, but if your fuel-sucking SUV ran on diesel (0+ / 0-)

    you could burn as many gallons of carbon-neutral diesel as you wanted without guilt, if we had large-scale TD plants.

    •  Probably best to find ways to move SUV's with (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joe wobblie

      electrical motors powered in other ways.  It's the burning part I don't like.

      #OccupyOMC - "We have a permit, its called The Constitution".

      by Evolutionary on Tue Dec 13, 2011 at 06:52:33 PM PST

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      •  Yes and no. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Ultimately, it'd be great if every car was fueled through noncombustive renewable resources.  However, there're a few things going for thermal depolymerization:

        1: It's a drop-in replacement.  You need almost no additional infrastructure aside from the plants themselves, and existing diesel engines and home heating furnaces would need no modification to make use of it.

        2: If non-fossil fuel sources are used for the feedstocks, a big rig running on diesel from TD would contribute less net carbon to the atmosphere than a Chevy Volt, since most of the electricity we use to recharge the car is generated by fossil fuels.

        This process seems like an excellent stopgap measure, allowing us to essentially take sources which currently generate net positive carbon and just wipe them off the tally slate.  It seems much better to invest in this technology, which also will help eliminate the impact of peak oil not only on our energy consumption but upon our ability to produce plastics, insecticides, fertilizers, and other petrolium products that our societies rely upon.

        •  Couple thoughts / reactions (0+ / 0-)

          1.  TD is worth pursuing for a variety of reasons ... however ...

          2.  TD fuels are drop-in fuels ... with caveats.  They have different cloud points and other characteristics than 'traditional' diesels which can cause problems, dependent on processes/such, with cold weather and due to the chemistry(ies) of the resulting fuel(s) can have interesting interactions with other fuels. (While they have huge other issues, Sasol FT fuels are -- at least in the burning process -- much lower polluting than traditional fuels and, when mixed (lets say 50/50) with traditional fossil fuels, result in improved engine performance without the risk profile of TD fuels.  NOTE:  This is not an endorsement of SASOL coal-based FT fuels which, generously, have easily 2x the carbon dioxide implications of traditional diesel fuels before we even consider other pollutants released in the process.)

          3.  Considering where we are going with liquid fuels/such, I don't see the productive benefit of attacking other paths toward reducing use of traditional fossil fuels. As well, the electricity profile is rather straightforward to change especially because introduction of EVs enables faster integration of intermittent reneweble energy production.

          Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

          by A Siegel on Wed Dec 14, 2011 at 08:23:13 AM PST

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          •  A correction: (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            A Siegel

            I realised that I made an error in the above reply, I meant to say that it's much better to invest in this technology now, when it can do the most good, as opposed to waiting for mass adoption of electric vehicles.  Sorry about that, I got distracted while writing.  I didn't mean to imply that we shouldn't pursue other alternate fuels and energy sources.

            I hadn't heard of the Sasol FT fuels; this is interesting, though certainly a different (practically the reverse -- it's building up chains whereas TD tears them apart) process from TD fuels.  I had also assumed that the TD fuels would undergo refining and adjustment as necessary to meet the needs of diesel engines.  

            I haven't been able to find any information about TD fuels and problems in diesel engines.  However, some of what you wrote makes me think that you might be thinking of a different process.  Biodiesel does indeed have problems with different flash points, corrosive effects on seals, and viscosity in cold weather, but as I understand it, the fuel produced through the TD process is practically identical to light, sweet crude (though it tends to be sweeter and a little lighter, containing very little in the way of sulfur or long-chain waxes and tars,) and I haven't heard of any problems with use.  

            if you've got any additional information, by all means, please give me some links so I can read up on it. :)

            Another problem with EV adoption and use is range and weight.  Any kind of long-distance trucking will have a problem with adoption of all-electric energy sources.  The freakishly high energy density of diesel fuel, and the ease of transportation and use, mean (at least to me) that diesel is going to be around for a while, even if it's mostly relegated to industrial vehicles and the trucking industry.  This is the sector where I think that TD fuels would help most right now.

            Home heating's another special case where it's significantly cheaper in many cases to use fuel rather than electric.  (It takes about 41 KWh to provide the same BTUs as 1 gallon of home heating oil; electricity prices in my area, which are among the highest in the nation with the added fees and surcharges, come out to about $0.24/KWh.  That means that if I used electric to heat my home, I'd be paying about the same as someone using oil would -- if they were paying $9.84/gallon, or about twice the going price.)  Furthermore, of course, swithing home heating over to electric would mean having to build significantly more electrical generation capacity to handle them.

            Of course, this is mostly an indictment of our for-profit electrical industry, but it's yet another consideration which is preventing many people from switching over to more efficient (in terms of 'greeness') methods of energy utilization.

            •  Thanks for substantive engagement ... (0+ / 0-)

              Re TD fuels, I am aware both of biodiesel and TD-derived fuels.  The issues/challenges aren't the same.

              Nice calculation re the liquid fuel vs electricity to highlight the implications even as I remain a big advocate of the value to reduce liquid fuels in heating due to the liquid fuel challenge vs the fungibility of electricity.

              And, that first 'TD fuels are worth pursuing ...' comment that started my comment wasn't meant as a simple throwaway. I do see reason to pursue as part of solution path(s).

              Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

              by A Siegel on Thu Dec 15, 2011 at 09:42:25 AM PST

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