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As the price of oil and consequently gasoline has risen precipitously I have watched with glee from the sidelines. Not that I am pleasured by seeing the suffering of the majority of my countrymen as they must dig ever deeper into their pockets, but I must admit to a certain amount of schadenfreude every time I see a big SUV pull up to a gas pump.

I've been driving economical vehicles for years and every time I see one of those gas guzzling behemoths I can only think of how selfish the owner must be. How little they are concerned about the damage they do to the environment, how they are reinforcing our dependence on foreign oil, and how that dependence forces us into policies which engender hatred and disdain around the world.

So when I see them now whine as they shell out $125-150 every time they pull up to the gas pump, I can't help but let out a little chuckle, if only to myself as I pull up to the same pump and only pay a relative pittance of maybe $30 to fill my humble Geo's tiny fuel tank for a whole week's worth of commuting.

I can't help but get the feeling that something wonderful has been lost. An opportunity to make scenes like this one obsolete. We had a chance 30 years ago to avoid this, but it looks now like we may be getting a second bite at the apple.

Embargo and the End of Prospective Energy Independence
The lost opportunity of 30 years ago that I refer to is the Arab oil embargo of the 1970's. The long lines at the gas stations, the skyrocketing prices, seeing my father unable to work some days because he could not find enough gasoline to drive his territory. I also remember the beginnings of technological innovations that if continued could have reduced, if not eliminated our dependence on foreign oil altogether.

Unfortunately, OPEC also noticed those innovations and realizing their livelihood would be threatened should we ever achieve energy independence, they finally decided to open up the spigots. That single act spelled an immediate cessation of any serious research and development into alternative energy technologies.

Well, today, more than 30 years later, we are faced yet again with very similar circumstances. But while there are some similarities, there are also significant differences. This time there is no salvation waiting at the end of a pipeline. There is no spigot to be opened. All the spigots are open now and spewing like so many hoses on a 4 alarm fire.

China Steals Our Backup Plan
I lived for a year in Colombia, South America in 2004-2005. At that time, I guess gas was running well under $3 per gallon here in the US. And in Colombia, almost on a daily basis we could read stories in El Tiempo (Bogota's major newspaper) of how the Chinese were quietly making "back door" deals to line up Colombia and other South American second tier oil producers with deals to buy all the oil they can pump in the future.

This went largely unnoticed in the US as Americans have always focused primarily on the big OPEC producers. But what most people don't know is that OPEC only produces about half the worlds oil. The rest is produced in these second tier producers like Colombia. The United States for years has looked upon these second tier producers as a backup resource, which it goes to when supplies out of OPEC get tight.

But while the United States has been myopically focused on OPEC and other large producers, China has quietly been making the kinds of back door deals described above. The Chinese are shrewd, and they know that it takes oil, lots of it, to feed a growing economy.

The Cause of the Disease
So what is happening now, what is keeping pricing so high is not the speculators that Washington likes to blame, oh no. They are the symptom, they are not the cause of this disease. No, what's causing our problem now is that our top tier producers are maxed out with additional demand by China and India right on it's heels. And our traditional second tier suppliers are too small to just pump out more, instead all their extra production is now going to China.

This situation will never improve. Our refineries are running near capacity and we just are not discovering enough new large oil fields. Even the large oil fields in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Brazil will not be able to produce significant quantities of oil for years to come. In the interim, Goldman Sachs is already projecting oil prices of $150-200 per barrel soon, possibly within months, and certainly within two years.

And even if new fields could be brought on line, there is not much additional refining capacity to take advantage of it. The obvious conclusion is that we must seek out alternatives of our own.

The Tragedy of Missed Opportunity
The greatest tragedy of the Arab oil embargo of the 1970's was not the economic hardship it caused, nor the realization that we as a nation were almost totally dependent on Arab oil. No, the real tragedy is that the Arab oil producers had the wisdom to recognize both the inventive genius of the American spirit and the inherent sloth and cowardice of it's political class at the time. They could clearly see that we Americans are a resourceful lot and if left unchecked, we would eventually find our way out of the energy problem. At the same time, they also knew that the American political class would always opt for a quick fix whenever possible.

And so, sensing that we might someday invent our way out of our energy woes, they realized they could ultimately lose the cash cow that was America. Within just two months of the declaration of Project Independence which declared a United States initiative to achieve energy independence, OPEC ended the oil embargo. They knew which side their bread was buttered on, and how much they had to lose. They had no other practical choice. And as a result, research and development came to a standstill.

Response to a Renewed Threat, a New Hope
Today we face a similar situation to that which we endured during the 1970's. But this time, nobody is going to bail us out. There is no additional production of which to avail ourselves and little additional refining capacity to take advantage of it.

There is no other choice, we MUST innovate our way out of it. The good news is, we actually have the technology already to do just that. There are two technologies which hold the promise of permanently and completely ending our dependence on fossil fuels. These are not "pie in the sky" theoretical ideas, these are cold, hard, tested, and functioning technologies that exist right now.

The first of these is clean burning algal biodiesel and ethanol. The humble microorganism that grows in every pond is actually a significant oil producer. Algae is capable of producing up to 100 times as much oil per acre as corn or soybeans.

Here is just one example

Another company that has jumped on the algal oil bandwagon called PetroSun has already gone into production in Arizona.

The facility, located in Rio Hondo Texas, will produce an estimated 4.4 million gallons of algal oil and 110 million lbs. of biomass per year off a series of saltwater ponds spanning 1,100 acres.

The technical problems have apparently been solved

Microalgae have garnered considerable attention, since acre-by-acre microalgae can produce 30-100 times the oil yield of soybeans on marginal land and in brackish water. The biomass left-over from oil-pressing can either be fed to cattle as a protein supplement, or fermented into ethanol.

The big problem has been figuring out how to collect and press the algae, and in the case of open ponds, to prevent contamination by invasive species. PetroSun seems to have figured it out, and this may be the first algae biofuel plant to get off the ground.

There are a number of other firms working on algal oil technologies as well.

Take a look at the video at this link. It's amazing!

A new feature film is also extolling the virtues of algal oil

But That's Not All
While the problem is being attacked from the fuel side, there is also another technology which promises to solve the automotive transport facet of the problem as well. It's called the Ultra Capacitor, and a new breakthrough technology has now made the prospect of a practical highway speed electric vehicle with a significant range a reality.

The vehicle will be produced by Zenn, a Canadian electric automobile company.

Target Launch of the cityZENN, powered by EEStor: Fall 2009

The cityZENN is planned to be a fully certified, highway capable vehicle with a top speed of 125 KPH/ 80 MPH and a range or 400 kilometres/250 miles. Powered by EEStor, the cityZENN will be rechargeable in less than 5 minutes, feature operating costs 1/10th of a typical internal combustion engine vehicle and be 100% emission-free! The Zero-Emission, No-Noise cityZENN will be designed to meet the transportation requirements of a large percentage of drivers worldwide.

And lest one be tempted to dismiss this breakthrough as vaporware, consider that none other than defense contractor Lockheed Martin is so convinced of the viability of the technology that they have signed a production agreement with EEStor, the patent owner of the technology.

In their words

"We've visited their facility. We were very impressed. They are taking an approach that lends itself to a very quick ramp-up in production. We've seen a lot of their testing and efforts to measure the purity of the powders that they use, and the chemistry. Well be working with them very closely this year to develop prototypes in certain pursuits."

These are not just ideas on some amorphous drawing board, these are real, tested, prototyped, and independently verified technologies capable of producing actual results almost immediately. It's time for us to abandon our impractical pursuit of limited non-renewable and highly pollutant technologies for these relatively clean, feasible, and practical technologies.

At this point, there really is no excuse not to. And by investing in these green technologies we can revitalize our economy and produce thousands if not millions of new jobs that can not be outsourced. We stand poised on the brink of a true green revolution which promises to revitalize our economy for years to come and clean our environment in the bargain.

You have a role to play
Contact your Senators and Congresspeople and tell them to stop wasting taxpayer money on subsidies for impractical grain based biofuels that yield only 20% more energy than is required to produce them and that are already beginning to deplete the world's food stocks.

Tell them it's time to start investing in the practical green technologies outlined here. Email them with the links contained in this diary so they can educate themselves on these technologies. We don't need to wreck world food supplies nor waste taxpayer money on impractical technologies. Instead, we should target public spending on building the infrastructure to refine, manufacture, and distribute these technologies. The R & D is already done, they don't have to spend a dime of taxpayer money on it. All we have to do is ramp up production.

Originally posted to MaverickModerate on Tue May 20, 2008 at 07:56 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Fresh air (15+ / 0-)

    Thanks, I needed some optimistic energy news.  

    Unsustainable is unsustainable, which means it will eventually end.

    by Must Have Been The Roses on Tue May 20, 2008 at 08:02:38 AM PDT

  •  With oil north of $120 a barrel.... (6+ / 0-)

    All these alternative techs are more than profitable.
    I think manufacturing oil from solar energy is going to be the final solution.  Chemical energy is just a very convinient medium.  It's dense, easily portable and simple, and our entire infrastructure is already based on it.

    If we can use the desert to manufacture oil out of the C02 in the air, it's a closed loop carbon cycle.

    We can then continue to push hybrids and electric cars to raise efficiency, but manufactured oil has the largest potential to bridge the near term gap.  And it will be domestic, which keeps the dollars and jobs here at home.

    I heard that breakeven is $40 a barrel to make oil.  So with $80 a barrel proffit, yeah, this is going to spin up quick.

  •  Ya gotta have a tip jar. (4+ / 0-)

    Do you have a child? Will you send her to the war?... anon

    by andreww on Tue May 20, 2008 at 08:17:22 AM PDT

  •  Algal biodiesel (4+ / 0-)

    I am highly skeptical that open algae ponds will be an effective way to produce biodiesel.  Algal systems in the wild are highly dynamic, and changing conditions can rapidly change the type of algae which predominates.  The greenhouse algae in the video is very interesting because it is a controlled environment.  

    1,612.5 pledged + 86 projected + 303.5 Supers + 24 more add-ons + 5 Pelosi Club = 2,031 The nomination is in the bag for Obama!

    by CA Pol Junkie on Tue May 20, 2008 at 08:23:36 AM PDT

    •  dynamic indeed.. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      armenia

      I have kept marine fish tanks, and what you say is quite true.

      One significant problem with the bags is how to provide sufficient carbon dioxide. Me thinks that if plain air is used, such mass quantities needed will open up contamination problems. That is why the most promising start to this is scrubbers on coal fired power plants. I like the thought of using wood instead myself.

      fascinating stuff. tipped and reced.

      •  " like the thought of using wood instead myself." (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mataliandy, armenia

        Or, how about waste from  brewing beer

        We’re a partner in developing a process to use the carbon dioxide byproduct from fermentation to feed fast-growing algae in silo-shaped bioreactors," he says. "The oil in the algae can be pressed to make biodiesel, and the rest can go into our waste treatment ponds to make methane."

        On the Web: New Belgium Brewing

        LOL

        here is another PM on the algae.

        The main focus now, says Cary Bullock, GreenFuel’s president and CEO, is figuring out "how to grow algae fast enough and cheap enough that it makes sense economically. That’s not easy to do."

    •  Tubes - not ponds. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      buckhorn okie, armenia

      It'll probably be tall structures like a radiator, with tubes winding back and forth containing the algae.  It'll be a continuous loop.

  •  Elec. cars: nice if wind powered, not if coal. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    buckhorn okie

    I hadn't heard about the algae - thanks.

    The two technologies I think we most need to develop are environmental awareness and moral systems that convince people to actually care.  

    I'm a scientist, but so often the science is already here, and the solutions are blocked by politics, and politics eventually comes down to what people care about.

    Proud author of DailyKos's 19 millionth comment! Kind of like winning the lottery, except not.

    by SunWolf78 on Tue May 20, 2008 at 08:24:58 AM PDT

    •  My thought was (7+ / 0-)

      that combining these two technologies is a good solution. Use the algal oil to produce cleaner burning ethanol or biodiesel to generate electricity that electric cars use.

      I had planned to include some new information on wind power in this article but thought it would be a bit much for one diary.

      There is a company in Texas who is planning on building a huge wind farm that will generate enough power to supply a sizeable city. However it will cost about 14 billion dollars.

      If we were to extrapolate that to enough wind power to fulfill the entire energy needs of this country, my calculations came up with roughly 9 trillion dollars. I'm not sure the country has the resources to do that. But it would be great to see it.

      A regime is at it's most dangerous when it believes it's own propaganda...but that is also when it is most vulnerable.

      by MaverickModerate on Tue May 20, 2008 at 08:33:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I am going to use this comment as your tip Jar (0+ / 0-)

        great topic - thanks!

      •  Hrm (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mataliandy
        $14 billion sounds really steep for anything less than 7000 megawatts (enough power to run most states). Got a link to the Texas story? (Non-pdf preferred, since I'm on my phone)
      •  why that way? (0+ / 0-)

        Doesn't it make more sense to just fuel internal combustion cars directly with biodiesel, rather than losing energy converting to electricity, and having to build an entirely new infrastructure?  What advantage is there in doing it your way?

        Liquid hydrocarbon fuels (gasoline, diesel, alcohol, etc) solve a LOT of problems, and there's already infrastructure in place for them.

        •  Well actually (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          CalGal47

          it's less efficient to power a vehicle directly with biodiesel than it is to power it with electricity. Even with current technology, electric vehicles have a lower operating cost per mile (1.5 to 4 cents per mile) than gasoline powered vehicles (roughly 15 to 25 cents per mile).

          I'm an engineer working on an Electric Vehicle project with several other engineers locally. We've amassed some pretty good data on the subject.

          The biggest problem with EVs has always been how much range you can get on Lithium Ion or Lead Acid batteries. The cost of the electricity is relatively trivial.

          A regime is at it's most dangerous when it believes it's own propaganda...but that is also when it is most vulnerable.

          by MaverickModerate on Tue May 20, 2008 at 09:05:00 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Need to rethink this (0+ / 0-)

            Seems to me that it would be best use of biofuels to supplant costly diesel fuel stocks, especially for commercial users such as locomotives, trucking, and off highway equipment, and at somepoint JetA.

            Fossil fuel generation of electricity for recharging of electric vehicles, while not ideal, isn't going to have much of an adverse impact for quite a few years, or at least until electric vehicles become commonplace.

            Better it would be to begin incorporating solar PV, wind and additional nuclear into the grid and use offpeak capacity of the powerplants for recharging vehicles.

  •  Awesome! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cat Whisperer

    Recommended! Highly!
    This gives me Hope. I could grow my own fuel!

    Blind faith in bad leaders is not patriotism - Rocky Anderson

    by librarianman on Tue May 20, 2008 at 08:29:19 AM PDT

  •  Your second item there... (0+ / 0-)

    Is battery technology, not energy. Not that we don't need good batteries too.

    And the first? I just don't see this as some salvation. Clever, maybe. Possibly even clever enough to let us eke out a little bit of fuel... but never enough for the wageslave to drive 30 miles one way to get to his $8 an hour job.

    Tell them it's time to start investing in the practical green technologies outlined here.

    No. Tell them to truly invest in fusion research. Tell them to fund and build the ITER. Tell them to fund the $2 million Bussard's team needed. Tell them to build a bigger Z machine.

    Rent's $1000 a month, and all you greenies are bragging that "we can find unclaimed quarters in payphone returns!".

    •  Is this snark? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mataliandy

      First, I never said that this was about two types of energy, I said it was about two technologies.

      Second, reading is fundamental. These technologies exist already, and in the case of algal oil are producing 30 to 100 times as much biodiesel per acre as grain does. That is a tangible and practical level of efficiency. So further R & D is not necessary, the only investment is an investment in infrastructure.

      Conversely, fusion which so far nobody has been able to pull off still would require years of research and development if ever, before it can be employed as a practical solution. There would be no clear end in sight.

      We need the technology now, not untold years down the road. These technologies are viable now.

      A regime is at it's most dangerous when it believes it's own propaganda...but that is also when it is most vulnerable.

      by MaverickModerate on Tue May 20, 2008 at 08:44:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Lots of technologies exist. (0+ / 1-)
        Recommended by:
        Hidden by:
        peace voter

        But do they scale? Worse, even if they do scale, what would it take to produce 1 million barrels a day? 30 years of engineering and investment?

        30 to 100 times as much as grain only makes it better than grain. Not necessarily good enough.

        That is a tangible and practical level of efficiency. So further R & D is not necessary, the only investment is an investment in infrastructure.

        So why pester my congressmen? If it's such a sure thing, someone will jump on this and use it to become the next multibillionaire.

        Conversely, fusion which so far nobody has been able to pull off still would require years of research and development if ever

        Wrong. If you don't even understand it enough that you say things like this, you shouldn't even be discussing it.

        Are you honestly saying that never in all the decades that man has been trying, that he's never once slammed two H atoms together and gotten helium? Not even once?

        Or, are you just sloppily trying to get the idea across that we've never gotten more energy out of it than was put in? Because that's different.

        Of course, if you did state correctly that it's never managed "breakeven"... well, that's not so good is it. Especially since biofuels never seem to breakeven either.

        We need the technology now, not untold years down the road.

        If you mean a fully developed infrastructure capable of meeting our demands for energy, yeh we need that now. But biofuels aren't there either. Of course, they're more trendy, who cares if the best that could be managed with them is a carefully rationed energy starvation. Who cares if there's not any actually marginal land outside of Antartica... let's go with the technology that only requires billions of gallons of water.

        •  TR'd for abusive comment (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mataliandy, peace voter

          Nothing I said warranted such an insult. If you had in fact read the diary and associated links, you would have found this information. Additionally, your comparison of gasoline engines to electric is not viable. They can not be compared in that way.

          Electric motors are FAR more efficient than gasoline engines. 52kilowat hours in a modern electric vehicle should get you a range of about 250 miles.

          A regime is at it's most dangerous when it believes it's own propaganda...but that is also when it is most vulnerable.

          by MaverickModerate on Tue May 20, 2008 at 10:39:57 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The reason you should pester your congressman (0+ / 0-)

          Is because the operations I outlined are just beginning, but they are real, practical, and viable. They actually work right now.

          But to scale, additional investment will be needed. This either means direct government investment OR tax incentives. It also means we should stop wasting money by giving subsidies to people for growing corn destined to produce ethanol.

          Wrong. If you don't even understand it enough that you say things like this, you shouldn't even be discussing it.

          I understand it quite well. The fact is, fusion can so far only be achieved under laboratory conditions or uncontrollable conditions (H-bomb). It's not a technology that is currently feasible, thought I'll agree that some day it might be.

          The difference here is that these technologies ARE feasible right now. They require very little energy input compared to energy output. Unlike grain based biofuels which require nearly as much energy input as they are capable of producing.

          If you can't undertand that, then maybe you should not be discussing it.

          A regime is at it's most dangerous when it believes it's own propaganda...but that is also when it is most vulnerable.

          by MaverickModerate on Tue May 20, 2008 at 10:51:43 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Lots of things are feasible right now. (0+ / 0-)

            Unfortunately, they all have fatal flaws. Usually scaling issues.

            Unlike grain based biofuels which require nearly as much energy input as they are capable of producing.

            You'll get no argument from me on that point. But quibbling that this biofuel is better than that biofuel is pointless. Starving rats fighting over breadcrumbs.

            If you can't undertand that, then maybe you should not be discussing it.

            I do understand it. I understand that people want to believe the answer is easy, and if they just try a little harder with the same wrong answer it will be magically right.

            Biofuels won't ever work scaled up, because plants and other organismss evolved to survive, not to continue pushing soccer moms' SUVs around to karate/piano/little-league practice.

  •  This Diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cat Whisperer, bythesea

    has got to be rescued!

    Blind faith in bad leaders is not patriotism - Rocky Anderson

    by librarianman on Tue May 20, 2008 at 08:38:22 AM PDT

  •  Now we need a comprehensive effort (0+ / 0-)

    from our government to drive the energy independence.  It's not enough for us to want it we have to get the PTB's to stop subsidizing traditional oil and start subsidizing the development of these existing technologies.

    Give a man a fish and you'll feed him for a Day. Teach him to surf the net and he'll never bother you again.

    by hedgerml on Tue May 20, 2008 at 08:46:31 AM PDT

  •  rechargable in five minutes? (0+ / 0-)

    Yeah, I wanna see THAT gas station.  People have no idea how much voltage/current we're talking here, the kind of tooling required, or the impact of thermal losses.  Even a 1% thermal loss when charging at that rate is a SERIOUS heat problem.

  •  Electric (0+ / 0-)
    CityZENN and other electric cars are certainly not vapor; they exist now. However, they come in two flavors: small, cramped shoebox EVs that are useless on highways, and $200,000 fully trimmed out sportsters that can outrace a Porche easily but use batteries that cost $40,000 each.

    To make electric viable, you need a car that:

    1) Is as cheap as a hybrid, or cheaper

    2) Is highway capable -- this is not negotiable, as city living is not affordable for many people

    3) Can be recharged without requiring a garage or extension cords from one's apartment, since most people need to park on the street.

    •  recharging time matters too (0+ / 0-)

      These things take a LOT of power.  It takes time to recharge the batteries.  Recharging enough power to move a car off a household circuit will take many hours.  "Gas station" rechargers will require elaborate safety controls due to the voltages and currents involved - and thermal losses from rapid charging will need to be addressed as well.

      •  Um, no (0+ / 0-)

        the recharge time for Ultracapacitors is very very fast compared to the recharge time for conventional batteries. The EEStore Ultracapacitor can be charged in about 5 minutes on a 220/240 volt circuit. Longer (twice as much?) on 110/115.

        A regime is at it's most dangerous when it believes it's own propaganda...but that is also when it is most vulnerable.

        by MaverickModerate on Tue May 20, 2008 at 09:08:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  you're missing numbers (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          CalGal47

          How many kilowatt-hours can you store in a capacitor that can be charged in five minutes?  220v @ 50a is only 11kw.  In five minutes, you're talking about ONE kilowatt-hour of power.  That's not going to move a car very far, or for very long.  Are you running numbers on this, or just repeating specs off a marketing brochure?  Think like an engineer!

          There are 32.91 kw/h in a gallon of gasoline.  Even if your electric car is TEN TIMES more energy-efficient than internal combustion (which it isn't), you'll need about 50 kw/h of energy storage to equal the speed and range performance of a gas-powered car.  That means more like 250 minutes to charge by your numbers - over four hours, assuming you CAN run 220v/50a at your house, and so can all your neighbors, without wrecking our existing overworked power grid.  No magic capacitor is going to solve this basic problem, because it's a function of real real physics and the limitations of the power grid.  All the capacitor can solve is the even uglier problem of STORING 50 kw/h of electric energy in something that fits in a car and isn't a deadly hazard to the occupants in case of an accident.

          This is a much, much harder problem than the electric car proponents will usually admit, hence all the hand-waving.  And this is why liquid-fueled internal combustion cars, for all their inefficiency, are likely to be the dominant form for the foreseeable future.  At least it's POSSIBLE to operate them in normal performance and safety parameters.

          •  Well actually (0+ / 0-)

            I AM an engineer, though a software engineer not an EE. Nonetheless, you might want to take a look a this, the link is included in the diary but here it is directly.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/...

            A regime is at it's most dangerous when it believes it's own propaganda...but that is also when it is most vulnerable.

            by MaverickModerate on Tue May 20, 2008 at 09:39:45 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  It says what I say (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              CalGal47

              "Based on these claims, a five-minute charge should give the capacitor sufficient energy to drive a small car 300 miles (480 km). However, standard household wiring is not capable of delivering the power required for this, so charging times this short would probably require purpose-built high capacity dispensing stations.[3] Overnight charging at home should still be practical[4], as is using a second EESU for the home which could be charged overnight using cheap, off-peak electricity to then charge the EEStor unit in the car in 5-10 minutes on demand.[5]"

              In other words, no five minute charges on your home circuit.

              The good thing about EEStor is that it at least seems capable of storing enough power to operate a practical car.  But charging remains an ugly problem.

              •  Yeah, in re-reading it (0+ / 0-)

                it looks like you need a 3900 volt circuit to get the 5 minute charge time. The 220 circuit could not possibly achieve this.

                A regime is at it's most dangerous when it believes it's own propaganda...but that is also when it is most vulnerable.

                by MaverickModerate on Tue May 20, 2008 at 10:27:18 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  btw (0+ / 0-)

              I'm a software engineer too, with a moderate electrical background.  But math is math, physics is physics, and I could have answered these questions in high school.  Seriously, check your numbers before making claims.

        •  more numbers (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          CalGal47

          Let's say that 100 kw/h are needed to really run a family car, which is reasonable.  To charge that car in six minutes (a decent timeframe) would require a charging system capable of delivering 1000kw of continuous power - one megawatt.  Even at one ohm (highly unlikely), we're taking a 1000 volt charging system!  Realistically, we're talking more like 2000 volts, and enough power to char a human being to a cinder if they should somehow get in the circuit.  And if we can charge with only 1% thermal losss (unlikely), we have to radiate away 10kw of heat during charging!

          Charging time is a MONSTER of a problem.

    •  Please actually read the diary and links (0+ / 0-)

      the Ultracapacitor only costs about $3100, and is expected to run about $2100 once production is ramped up. It can be charged in 5 minutes on a standard 220 circuit or on a 110 in about twice that amount of time.

      This could be done at a service station in just about the same amount of time that it takes to pump a tank of gas. People don't need gas pumps where they park their cars, and they don't need to charge their cars there either.

      A regime is at it's most dangerous when it believes it's own propaganda...but that is also when it is most vulnerable.

      by MaverickModerate on Tue May 20, 2008 at 09:13:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Okay (0+ / 1-)
        Recommended by:
        Hidden by:
        MaverickModerate
        So after actually reading a second time (I did actually read it the first time, you pompous jerk), here's what I dug up about the ultracapacitor technology you're plugging: for $3100 and 400 lbs, you get 52 kWh of storage. By way of comparison, a 12-gallon tank of gasoline stores roughly 420 kWH (125 MJ per gallon * 12 gallons / 3.6 MJ per kWh). So the ultracapacitor has one-eighth the capacity. In my case, I'd use two-thirds of my capacitor up just driving 45 miles to work on a day when I can't use the bus for some reason.

        It also means eight times as many trips to the gas station. So yeah, this is going to work a lot better when recharging is more ubiquitous.

        •  to be fair (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Bronx59, CalGal47

          Electric motors are far more efficient than internal combustion.  You can get about the equivalent of 100mpg electrically - really, you need 100kwh of storage for a family sedan at gas-equivalent performance.

          •  It's actually a lot better than that (0+ / 0-)

            A single 6 volt golf car battery will store aboue 1.5 kwh. Electric vehicles such as this one which can travel 65 miles on 21.6 kwh are a good example. That figure comes from the standard calculation of 225ah * 6 volts for the Trojan T105 batteries mutiplied by 16 for the 16 batteries this vehicle uses and divided by 1000 gives you the total kilowatt hours of 21.6.

            Granted this is not exactly a family sedan from an American perspective, but the practical extrapolation shows that it should be quite feasible to have a reasonable range on 52 kwh. Particularly considering that the Ultracapacitor weighs 300-400 lbs compared to over 1000 for lead acid batteries.

            We may not be able to have our cake and eat it too in terms of vehicle size and room, but if you spend any time at all in Europe, Latin America, or Asia, you quickly see that almost no one drives the kind of giant vehicles we do here. Even a typical midsized family sedan here would be considered enormous elsewhere.

            A regime is at it's most dangerous when it believes it's own propaganda...but that is also when it is most vulnerable.

            by MaverickModerate on Tue May 20, 2008 at 11:12:21 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  actually (0+ / 0-)

              21.6kwh for 65 miles... multiply by five to get the range of a typical gas-powered car (300+ miles) and you get about 100kwh, the same as I stated.  And that's for a subcompact!  I was being generous here.

              But that's just about storage, and I'm sure the energy storage problem will eventually be solved - by EEStor or something else.  What concerns me are charging time problems and grid load problems, which can't be solved just by using cooler technology.

              •  I'll grant that (0+ / 0-)

                I don't know how they expect to pull it off, unless the capacitor on Wiki is an older less potent version than what they are intending to go to production with. But it seems to me that any range in excess of 100 miles or so is wholely adequate for a commuter vehicle.

                The charging time seems like a non-issue. These capacitors can be charged in minutes ableit not at 220 volts.  Think about that. 5 or even 10 minutes at a charging station with some kind of cable coolilng system in place is not unreasonable. That's about what it takes to pump a full tank of gasoline. And from what I can glean, those appear to be the conditions under which these were tested.

                The grid load issues are a legitimate concern, and they are an example of the kind of infrastructural investment that would need to be applied. There is really nothing insurmountable here.

                The point is that we need a wholesale change in the way we approach energy use and production. The technology exists now to achieve that. Soon, as oil prices continue their upward march, we will have no other alternative.

                A regime is at it's most dangerous when it believes it's own propaganda...but that is also when it is most vulnerable.

                by MaverickModerate on Tue May 20, 2008 at 12:13:01 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  Tip Jar....by popular request (5+ / 0-)

    A regime is at it's most dangerous when it believes it's own propaganda...but that is also when it is most vulnerable.

    by MaverickModerate on Tue May 20, 2008 at 08:56:35 AM PDT

  •  Bioreactors Will Probably Never Break Even (0+ / 0-)

    You're better off watering switch grass with sewage on polluted land, removing contaminants during distillation.

  •  One could pay people (0+ / 0-)

    to collect cow patties at $15/barrel and convert the patties to methane, methanol, and biomass fuel.

    Half the US is suited for cattle.

    Milk at $3+/gallon would help subsidize the costs.

  •  It would also be possible (0+ / 0-)

    to create "oil grass" using biotechnology.

    Mow the lawn of your McMansion on Saturday and squeeze out the biodiesel oil for your Monday-Friday commutes.

  •  Algae oil is STILL oil, but Ultracapacitors..... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Overhead Wire

    .....are the SHIT!

    Once this technology is built into automobiles, the Prius and all other hybrids will look quaintly antique by comparison.

    The only real path to energy independence is to charge your electric car with your solar panels or windmill (or combo), telecommute where possible, and extend these concepts to the trucking, delivery, and railroad industries.

    Leave the oil in the ground - where it belongs.

    Celtic Merlin

    Bush & McCain - as inseparable as Shit and Stink.

    by Celtic Merlin on Tue May 20, 2008 at 01:57:27 PM PDT

    •  I agree (0+ / 0-)

      its still oil.  No more oil, lets ditch any oil ideas.  But the real way to get away from energy dependence of all sorts is compact walkable neighborhoods. No more sprawl.

      It's Electric - http://www.theoverheadwire.com

      by The Overhead Wire on Tue May 20, 2008 at 09:25:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Leave the Dead Buried But What About The Living? (0+ / 0-)

      The only real path to energy independence is to charge your electric car with your solar panels or windmill (or combo), telecommute where possible, and extend these concepts to the trucking, delivery, and railroad industries.

      Leave the oil in the ground - where it belongs.

      The first thing you might want to consider is that you can go blind staring at the sun.

      Solar energy is the most expensive and least likely of all alternate energy to be successful outside of very good applications in isolated niches.  It is a cypher now and for the foreseeable future in the total energy picture.

      The Bible, which was reportedly written by God Himself, says the last shall be first and the first last.

      Gaze on pictures of erupting volcanoes and ask yourself if there might not be some energy there from Mother Nature.  She offers it for free if you will just go get it.  

      Going to get it is a mite expensive but you want coach fare when you can go first class? :-)

      Best,  Terry

  •  Be Careful, MaverickModerate (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FishOutofWater, bryfry

    Algae produced biofuel has great promise but there are all sorts of sharks and charlatans pushing snake oil in the meantime.

    PetroSun [PSUD] is one I looked at because you featured it.

    What about Petrosun?

    I wrote this article because readers wanted to know about Petrosun Drilling (OTC:PSUD), an oil exploration company that has been promoting their algae biodiesel efforts since September.  Other than Petrosun, the only public companies I know of which are seriously looking into algae based biodiesel are large conglomerates: Boeing (BA), Chevron (CVX), Royal Dutch Shell (RDS-A) and Honeywell (HON), which can take the long view and have large research budgets to finance their efforts for as long as it takes.  If you click through the company names to the news stories, you will note the common theme: These are all research stage projects.  

    Petrosun has not filed even an unaudited quarterly report since March 2007.  Given that it is also promoting exciting technology, I detect the whiff of snake oil salesmen.  Although readers are clearly interested in this company, until they begin to file current information, I don't consider it worth my time to investigate further.  Petrosun's main product is much more likely to be snake oil than algae oil.

    OK, that's just an opinion by a fellow that didn't bother with much research but the CEO and others connected to the company have a record that only a Gonzo could love.

    This pinksheet company's primary assets are dubious oil and gas properties while it is pushing technology it paid little or nothing for.  It seems mainly to be a shell corporation used to launder money underwriting a tootball bowl game.

    Just a warning.  I have no thought you are in any way involved in deliberately promoting what looks to be a fraud.

    Best,  Terry

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