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thoughts on green economy (how to get there)

Post in 'The Green Room' started by stoveguy2esw, Jul 3, 2010.

  1. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    The next time you see a local farm being paved over for a warehouse or Walmart, ask yourself where the goods are coming from that are going into that space. Trucking long distance is way overrated. Freight should be by train. Buy local, even your wines. The amount of energy consumed to deliver a foreign product to our shores is ridiculous. Buy local when possible and you will be part of the solution.

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  2. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    I agree completely, but not everything can be purchased local. Its real hard to find a good Extra V olive oil made in Northern Illinois. Or pineapple for that matter. Some shipping will still need to happen, hopefully we can find better ways to make it happen.
  3. benjamin

    benjamin Minister of Fire

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    What advantage would combustion over electric have? I thought the gears that truckers have were adequate to maximize the efficiency of the diesels.

    There may not be much that can make transportation more efficient, certainly not publicly funded mass transit over most of the country (too spread out to be profitable, and people too spoiled to want to use it). But it is extremely easy to cut down on the use of transportation. Back around the end of the boom there was a story about China's oil consumption dropping off precipitously, slightly lower demand meant there was slightly less rush to get orders out, so cheaper shipping options were chosen, plants needed fewer generators, etc.

    We don't need to all buy Priuses to cut oil consumption. The argument has been made that the H3 consumes fewer resources than a Prius, and I won't stand by THAT argument except to say that consumption is not a solution to consumption.
  4. Delta-T

    Delta-T Minister of Fire

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    electric has the advantage of being able to access the full torque at just about any RPM.
  5. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    The multiple gears of large trucks are designed to allow the operator of the vehicle to maintain the proper engine speed to maximize the torque of the engine in relationship to environment (i.e. leaving a stop sign, climbing a hill, etc.). The reality is that many times the engines have more torque available than needed for average 60 mph road travel. Trains are in the same boat. Takes a bunch to get them rolling or for climbing hills but not so much on flat runs.

    On trains, the engine can be run at the most EFFICIENT rpm and the output transferred to electric drive motors to compensate for HP or speed or whatever the environment is calling for.

    Or yeah, what DeltaT said.
  6. Delta-T

    Delta-T Minister of Fire

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    Jags version sounds so much more "scientific". Go with what he said. Electric motors also make ozone which smells nice...to me. :)
  7. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Till ya let the magic smoke out. Once that escapes they aren't worth a darn.
  8. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    On diesels, electrics and gear ratios....

    Diesel engines typically make power over a much narrower range of usable RPM than a gasoline engine. The big straight-6 on a semi might have an idle rpm of 300-400 and redline under 2000. vs your typical car that ranges from say 700 to 6000 or more. Also diesels tend to have their tourqe peak very low in the band and run out of steam at their max rpm, as opposed to most (non-boosted) gasoline engines which have flatter torque curves and thus hit max rpm close to redline. The result is a very narrow useful power band - so to match that range to the same vehicle speed range you need more gear ratios on the diesel.

    (BTW big diesels on locomotives and such run even slower - 600-800 rpm. The REALLY big 2 stroke marine diesels on container ships can run as slow as 150rpm)

    Electric motors don't maintain the same torque over the powerband, actually its starts at max torque at zero RPM and decreases linearly to zero torque at the max no-load RPM based on the input voltage. This property of max torque at a dead stop is VERY useful and results is a power curve that looks like a parabola from zero to the max rpm with peak hp exactly in the middle. If you run high voltages and a motor capable of very high RPM its possible to get away with very few gear ratios - in fact the Tesla roadster uses a fixed ratio.
  9. rowerwet

    rowerwet Minister of Fire

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    something we all could do: I run synthetic oil in my cars, the brand is Amsoil, the big reason I do is the oil only requires a one year or 25,000 mile oil change. If you are following the recomended oil change in your car you are generating a gallon or so of motor oil (that comes from crude oil) every 3-5,000 miles or three months. Even if you recycle it, it requires much more energy to take care of than my gallon each year per car. A side benefit that they don't advertise is I saw a 2-3 mpg rise in my gas mileage when I switched to amsoil, without any changes in my driving. there are many other companies that make synthetic oil, but I don't know of any that offer the extended drain. so far I have run amsoil in my three vehicles for almost 10 years with no problems and the two oldest are high mileage 150k and 120k miles.

    oil will continue to fuel transportation unless something like cold fusion comes out, aircraft require the high energy per pound of kerosene, any decrease in energy of the fuel (biofuels) and you increase the amount burned on the same trip, and decrease the usefull load (passengers or cargo) by how much more weight was needed for fuel.
    Europe has a much smarter approach to emissions than we do, they count the ppm per mile not per gallon of fuel, a much more usefull approach allowing them to have much higher mileage from their cars than we get over here ( if the trip still needs to be made, making you burn 10% ethanol and reducing your mpg by 4 (random number, I know it does reduce it though) just means you burned more fuel, which doesn't help with the whole energy problem, it makes it worse).
    OTR trucks fall into the same issue as aircraft, they are limited to how much weight they can have per tire on the road, a bank of batteries is heavy and the energy per pound of batteries is bad compared to diesel, not to mention the time it would take to change batteries every hour or two, drivers only get to drive for so many hours a day. Batteries are just a fuel tank anyway, where are you going to get the power to charge them, coal fired plants are the biggest answer right now. Nuke plants are the most reliable, safe answer, we haven't built any in a long time.
    Trains could more easily use batteries to power them but how many cars of batteries would you need to replace the energy of 1,000-5,000 gallons of diesel in the tank of each locomotive? stopping the train to replace batteries ruins the efficiency of rail transport as most of the energy would be wasted stopping and starting. (remember Newtons laws about motion)
  10. rowerwet

    rowerwet Minister of Fire

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  11. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    When you say "combustion over electric" are you referring to the way diesel electric trains (and submarines) run? Using an engine just to generate electricity for the motors?


    This type of arrangement (which is getting the first introduction to cars I'm aware of in the upcoming Chevy Volt) has a HUGE efficiency advantage over pure combustion and over parallel hybrids.

    The reason is simple. Any combustion engine - but even more so gasoline (due to pumping losses, etc) - is its most efficent when running close to its max power. In your typical car, the 200hp engine loafs along outputting maybe 30hp at low RPM when you cruise on the highway. At this cruising power the engine is also burning up significant excess fuel to overcome the frictional losses and pumping losses. At low power output these losses are a greater fraction of the total and thus you burn more gas than if you fit a small 30hp engine and had to put the pedal to the floor to reach highway speed.

    So in comes the gas-electric. Here, rather than a 200hp gas engine we fit a 200hp electric motor, and pair it up with a battery and a small gas engine - say 50hp - running a generator.

    Whenever the battery runs down the engine runs to recharge, then shuts off. When its running the engine is always wide open throttle, running its most efficient. If we use a turbo-diesel in place of gasoline the benefits are even bigger.

    This way we can use a much smaller gas engine that's no more powerful than the HP needed for whatever max continuous speed we design for (say 80mph), but the battery and electric motor gives us occasional short bursts of high power for acceleration.
  12. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    I see two big limiting factors that we are giong to have to save oil for - The aforementioned aviation, and all the products that we derive from oil.

    Looking at the various sectors I predict:

    Cars -Trend to electric, but maybe also biofuels. We know that corn ethanol is energy negative, but I remember reading some research that cellulosic or algae derived ethanol may eventually be net energy positive. The only restriction then becomes space to grow the feedstocks.

    Trucking - I think we have to move as much shipping as possible to rail.Then what trucking is left maybe run on biodiesel? Less trucks also helps with traffic and road wear&tear;.

    Rail - Electirc. And a LOT more of it.

    Aviation - Has to keep relying on oil, or expensive synthetics made via Fischer Tropp. We really need to stretch oil out to keep this sector alive.

    Home heating - getting everybody on wood would be nice but then we will run out of trees :( So the trend will eventually go electric there too.

    Electric supply - Here is the million dollar question!
    hydo is aobut maxed out.
    Wind and solar are good options but we have to:
    1 - prove the lifespan is long enough that they produce more energy than used in build out
    2 - find economical ways to store the power produced. You cant match generation instantaneously to demand like with fossils. (ie. how do you get electricity at night from a soalr cell?)
    Nuclear fission is going to have to get ramped up big time but again you face the problems of:
    1 - long lead time to build new reactors
    2 - what to do with waste?
    3 - If you built enough nuclear to power the whole planet we might run out of uranium. Nobody wants to do the alternative and build breeder reactors that make weaponizable plutonium....

    A breakthrough in nuclear fusion would save the day but that has been 50 years away for 50 years now.


    And then all the other products that are made from oil and natural gas - fertilizers, pesticides, ashphalt, plastics, etc.
    I know there are bio-plastics, but I'm not to familiar with alternatives for all the other oil based products. The best bet might be to eliminate oil from energy uses early and save it for these uses.

    -Jeremy
  13. stoveguy2esw

    stoveguy2esw Minister of Fire

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    good post!


    aviation has to stay with fossil fr now , no other way unless someone can make a dirigable do 600MPH. electric is IMHO the best way to go for commuter transportation and customers if provided with a feasible option to gas they could plug in and run off "house power' commuting would accept a higher electric bill when they didnt have to buy gas(would likely save them money) long haul should revert to more rail running "biodiesel/electric which would be the easiest changeover in all of bulk transport.

    all industries which can be provided for electrical power should be on the front burner now (should have been there in the 70's but that as political and im not going there) ethanol is as best a "stretch what we have" scenario, fuel cells are also carrying baggage transportation needs to be heavily relegated to rail with biodiesel/electric (which would be the easiest conversion as they are diesel / electric now)

    PET products willnever go away unless cellulosic replacements are found (like sunchips bag im getting used to them now , just because the bags are compostable) this means everything from car parts to kids toys to medical needs.

    in the mean time we have a huge battle ahead, IMHO we need to religate our economy to using only domestic oil, drill here, refine here and use it for a bridge to the fuels of the future. to get this done , we have to wean ourselves off oil (thatds the hard part, because if allowed the public (we spoiled brats that we are) will demand SUV's the size of houses and drive them fast and hard while alone in the vehicle. this is political as well, so , DEMAND it from your rep and senators, pay attention to who gives money to what candidate. vote for the future. look less at party affiliation and more at what they actually think about this, i know i will be.
  14. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    I submitted a long detailed reply to the two posts above but it is gone. Did I get moderated or did it just never show up?
  15. stoveguy2esw

    stoveguy2esw Minister of Fire

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    dunno dune, i didnt see it, its happened to me before though not lately
  16. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    Part of the reason corn is negative is because just the kernals are used. If the whole plant were utilised, the result might be better. Not that I am in favor of this though. Millions of acres of former paper company wood lots are unused at this moment. The reason bio works for brazil is that the entire cane is used.

    90 years ago, 1/3 of trucks were electric. Hybird electric with battery swap stations in all truck stops could work for certain routes, especialy with lithium (the lightest of all metals) having twenty times the energy density of lead (the heaviest metal).

    Aviation; already proven to work on biofuel (Branson), this is the ONE place where biofuels are needed, however, more and more air traffic must be replaced by high speed rail.

    Home heating, passive solar, combined with better insulation, wood as back up only and or Combined Heat and Power (CHP) also known as Co-Gen.

    Electric, hydro is not maxed out. Also, don't forget tidal and current flow.
    Solar, not even close. Build out payback today is 1.5-3 years, with a lifespan of 30 years.
    Solar will always produce the most power when the demand is highest. Regardless, it clearly needs to be coupled with baseload producers.
    Solar thermal plants are now being built with built in storage, molten salt is now even being used as THE heat transfer medium, since thermal oils are limited to about 750F, and the plants easily reach 1000F. The higher the temp, the more efficiency. Off grid homes with storage batteries have existed for many decades. In fact, if your driveway is long enough, it is already cheaper to set up off grid than to pay the electric company to install more than a few poles.

    By the way, the smoke belching fossil burning electric plant, which sits at the Cape Cod Canal, is run in idle mode, most of the time, so it can be ramped up as needed, which is seldom. Meanwhile, it continues to eat fuel and spread polution and cost the ratepayers money. This is because you can't match demand with generation, with fossils, either, unless the steam is already up, and the turbines are warm and ready. Far, far from economical. Only engine driven generators can produce electricity from a dead stop, and the vast majority of generators worldwide are steam turbine, whatever the fuel source.

    As far as saving oil for manufacturing, I couldn't agree more. I can just imagine conversations, hundreds of years from now; Daddy, tell me why they burned all the oil again, I just don't understand.
  17. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    Great points Dune.

    I didn't realize how far solar has come. Almost makes me want to look into getting some. Wonder if they can make those solar shingles in a brownish color to match my roof?

    On the batteries - yeah lithiums are great. One of my other big interests is RC planes and the lithium batteries have absolutely transformed that hobby to the point where electric is now power competitive with gas and alcohol power. Price and flight duration is still an issue but they get cheaper by the day. lithium polymer is the standard now and the last few years in really big applications we have been using lithium-iron-phosphate (LiFePO4 from A123 systems, etc). The iron phosphate batteries are great- not quite the energy density of polymer but then can take 4-5C (10-15 minute) charging and 30-60C discharging bursts. And no matter what kind of abuse you put them through they wont catch fire and explode like LiPo's can.

    There is a home-builder that flew a small airplane ( a Van's RV-4) on a brushless AC motor and lithium batteries. It was demoed as oshkosh a couple years ago.

    Still a ways to go before its got the kind of energy density to use in aviation though. Energy densities according to wikipedia (in MJ/kg):

    Lead Acid 0.14
    NiCD 0.14
    NiMH (Toyota Prius): 0.4
    LiIon (Tesla Roadster): 0.7

    Gasoline 46.4
    Jet-A 42.8


    -Jeremy

    BTW - I know that idled plant on the cape very well. I can see the stack from the back yard of my mother's place in Sandwich....
  18. rowerwet

    rowerwet Minister of Fire

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    Aviation; already proven to work on biofuel (Branson), this is the ONE place where biofuels are needed, however, more and more air traffic must be replaced by high speed rail.

    Branson did pull of that publicity stunt, the US Military did a fighter flight with biofuel recently also, one problem with both of them is that the fuel is not as dense so more needs to be burned and carried reducing usefull load, the BIG problem is that biofuel reduces the life of the engines, the cleaner the fuel is the less coke builds up on the turbine blades inside the engine, JET-A is highly refined kerosene, held up to the light in it will look very clear and yellow, much clearer than kerosene or diesel. I am a 18+ year aircraft mechanic and an engine trade publication did a whole issue on "green" aviation recently, biofuels like branson used would reduce the engine time between overhauls by almost half due to coke build up in the engine based on testing.

    I personally think oil is not dino-juice anyway, most likely the waste product of little critters that live of the heat inside the earths crust, otherwise how did it last for so long without all the little critters in nature that love to eat it already having gobbled it up?
  19. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Check out Energen roofing by Certainteed. It is just coming on the market now.
  20. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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  21. vvvv

    vvvv New Member

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    "competitive with current systems" aint cheap + look @ the chimlis on that ghetto!
    http://www.jetsongreen.com/2010/01/energen-certainteed-solar-roofing-panel.html
  22. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    You are correct that it "aint cheap". You get what you pay for. How cheap is giving a substantial portion of your income to National Grid every year, now till forever, compared to a paid off system?
  23. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Can we get more specific than "ain't cheap". Does anyone have actual pricing? A slate roof isn't cheap either, but it lasts. I would expect solar roofing to also have a very long lifespan. Considering it is doing double-duty as roofing and a power generator, it could be a bargain.
  24. benjamin

    benjamin Minister of Fire

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    Yeah, I understand how to drive a stick shift, but where is the advantage of an electric "transmission"? We're talking about a percent or two max, in most cases, kinda like inflating your tires, for those people driving around on 20 psi it's a good idea, but makes no difference if you're not low.

    I was under the assumption that most big trucks had the gears to match the speed, unlike the typical small car with a manual transmission where "they" put a higher (numerical) ratio in a manual than in the same car with an automatic, often negating the fuel economy of a manual transmission.

    I assume you're talking about DC motors with that generalization, or maybe some more specialized multi phase? My understanding of the advanced dc electric vehicles is they convert the dc to high frequency ac and then convert the ac back to dc for the motor, pretty cool and maybe simpler than a transmission? We'll see how well Tesla's fixed ratio stands the test of time- remember that's just one half of the "hybrid drive transmission", it would be pretty ridiculous to connect an ICE to an electric drive system that then connects to a transmission, but it wouldn't be the first time I've been dumbfounded. I think Chevy put two speed transmissions into trucks into the 70's but we don't do that no more.

    Take my skepticism with a grain of salt, one great grandfather (a roundhouse boilermaker) swore "diesels will never pull the freight" long after they had taken over, another great-great grandfather bet his buggy company would outlast the Studebaker brothers buggy company because those "horseless carriages will never take off".
  25. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    They do, but with every lift and push of the accelerator you have LOST quite a bit of efficiency. Instead of running a constant velocity engine at its most optimum output (freight train), the truck is revving PAST optimum and then drops the rpm below optimum with every shift.

    With the design of trains, the operator has essentially an infinitely adjustable "dial" to max the efficiency of the pull. And with those big boys, even a 1 or 2% improvement = big bucks. So I guess my point is that with heavy haul stuff, it is proven tech that has never been adopted for the road (until recently with some smaller cars).

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