Wood burning vs. Natural Gas environmental impact — complete cycle study?

JRP3

Member
Sep 17, 2007
203
I do know how to do my own maintenance but I'd rather just use a tool than spend time fixing it.
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
17,870
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
I do know how to do my own maintenance but I'd rather just use a tool than spend time fixing it.
Just run it. People obsess with fixing things that aren’t broken. If it dies, 100$ gets you a new weed wacker. I’m old and cheap but I’ve had to learn not to try so hard and spend hours to fix cheap things. Like soldering together a hair dryer.
 

ABMax24

Minister of Fire
I'm not a buyer of the electric power tool argument. Handheld power equipment is such a small portion of both CO2 and atmospheric pollution, to me it doesn't make sense to buy a lithium ion powered power tool that gets used a few times a year where the batteries deteriorate over time with or without use. For that reason all my power equipment is gas powered, if a do a little maintenance on them they should last 20 years, my Honda mower is already 20 years old and should go another 20. I don't think you'll find a lithium ion battery that will last 10 years in similar equipment. If you want to make a difference change out something you use everyday, for me that would be an electric pickup instead of our diesel ones.

As for natural gas vs wood I'm not sure the 2 are really all that comparable, it's like trying to comparing a hatchback to a Kenworth. We can put together all the information we want but at the end of the day there simply isn't enough trees growing in North America to replace natural gas with wood based biomass. It absolutely makes sense to use waste wood fiber and biomass for energy, but the deliberate cutting of forests on a mass scale for fuel alone doesn't make sense. It makes far more sense to use that timber for lumber in an effort to displace concrete as a building material, this would be a far greater benefit in terms of CO2 reduction.

The other issue with natural gas "statistics" is regional variation in regulations. So many times people cite that gas is often flared as a waste product, for us here in Canada that simply isn't the case, with very few special circumstances we are not allowed to flare gas, it must be piped to market. Part of the reason for this is resources are owned by the government, and as such must not be wasted to ensure maximum royalty incomes from the resource. The only flares you will see are safety pilot lights on flare stacks to safely burn off the gas in the event of an emergency within the processing facility.
 
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semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
3,875
SW Virginia
@begreen My chainsaw has a catalytic converter!
What type is that? I may want one.

Strangely, some electric ovens also have catalytic converters for cleaning the smoke produced during a cleaning cycle.
 

JRP3

Member
Sep 17, 2007
203
Handheld power equipment is such a small portion of both CO2 and atmospheric pollution, to me it doesn't make sense to buy a lithium ion powered power tool that gets used a few times a year where the batteries deteriorate over time with or without use.
A good lithium cell will have very little degradation over time if not used, they key is to not store them fully charged for long periods. Any tool that is rarely used is a good candiate for electric since there is no gas to go bad or carb to gum up.
 

JRP3

Member
Sep 17, 2007
203
Handheld power equipment is such a small portion of both CO2 and atmospheric pollution,
"According to the Government of Canada (One-Tonne Challenge) a gasoline powered lawn mower emits about 48 kilograms (106 lbs) of greenhouse gas in one season. Gas-powered lawn mowers are very inefficient, which means that despite their small size they produce a lot of air pollution. In fact, running an older gasoline-powered lawn mower for one hour can produce as much air pollution as driving a new car 550 kilometers. Source: Ministry of the Environment-Canada."
 

ABMax24

Minister of Fire
"According to the Government of Canada (One-Tonne Challenge) a gasoline powered lawn mower emits about 48 kilograms (106 lbs) of greenhouse gas in one season. Gas-powered lawn mowers are very inefficient, which means that despite their small size they produce a lot of air pollution. In fact, running an older gasoline-powered lawn mower for one hour can produce as much air pollution as driving a new car 550 kilometers. Source: Ministry of the Environment-Canada."
CO2 production is proportional to the amount of fuel used, in the last 6.5years I've ran 31,000 liters of diesel through the engine of my F350, I've put less than 50 liters of gasoline through all my outdoor power equipment combined in that same time period. I'm an extreme case but everyone I know uses on order of magnitudes more fuel for transportation than they do in power equipment. I stand by my statement that it's a better use to put those lithium ion batteries in a device that's used everyday like transportation, there is a far larger possible carbon offset there.

A good lithium cell will have very little degradation over time if not used, they key is to not store them fully charged for long periods. Any tool that is rarely used is a good candiate for electric since there is no gas to go bad or carb to gum up.
In theory that's true, but I've got a bunch of 4 year old cordless powertool batteries that contradict that statement.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
4,697
Downeast Maine
It's really bad when you also include commercial mowing which means even larger engines being run in a very dirty way. After I have a mill shed, among other things, I'd like to convert my milling saw to electric. It won't be battery operated, but probably much cleaner than running my 395 in the top 25% of the power band, not to mention the reduction in noise.
 

JRP3

Member
Sep 17, 2007
203
I stand by my statement that it's a better use to put those lithium ion batteries in a device that's used everyday like transportation, there is a far larger possible carbon offset there.
It's not an either/or choice. I'm doing both.
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
17,870
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
Doesn't work if it stops running. I've got a Stihl 026 saw in need of a carb rebuild but haven't bothered because my electric saws do all the jobs well enough, and without smoke and with less noise.
You can send me your 026 and I’ll save it from the landfill. Put it next to my other ope that has lasted decades with zero carburetor issues because of my good “luck”. I’ve always liked the low weight and high power of that 026.
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
17,870
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
What type is that? I may want one.

Strangely, some electric ovens also have catalytic converters for cleaning the smoke produced during a cleaning cycle.
Hard to see but it’s the saw in my avatar photo. A dolmar or makita 6421. They made this same saw in 64, 73, and 79 cc versions. Same saw but different piston and cylinder so I know the bottom end is overbuilt. This is the famous Home Depot rental saw. The saw hot rodders like to remove the catalyst for more power and noise but it’s plenty powerful as is and the catalyst seems to prevent smoke and stink. You don’t smell like 2stroke exhaust after using it.
 
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ABMax24

Minister of Fire
It's not an either/or choice. I'm doing both.
Good for you, you are the exception and not the norm. Simple fact still remains that there is more demand and possible uses for lithium ion batteries than can be satisfied by current manufacturing. I don't believe that it's better off to build a litium ion powered trimmer that gets used once or twice a year in place of a gas model that does the same work. The fact is in the above scenario it will have taken more energy to create the battery than will likely ever be throughput through it. So go ahead and toot your own horn about owning such a thing, but just because there are no emissions in your back yard from such a device doesn't mean there aren't any somewhere else from it's manufacturing.
 

JRP3

Member
Sep 17, 2007
203
I've already pointed out the advantages at point of use that make it worthwhile for me, i.e. less noise, less maintenance, and no pollution to breathe in. I also reject your premise that there are limited lithium batteries for products. The cell chemistry for small power tools is not the same used for vehicles. There are different variations of lithium chemistry and lithium itself is at an all time low price, the exact opposite of a scarce resource. Additionally because power tool batteries are modular you can have multiple tools using the same battery since they aren't going to be used at the same time. So one battery can be used many times during the year for weed trimming, limb cutting, leaf blowing, chain sawing, etc. I'm not tooting any horn I'm simply dealing with reality.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
4,697
Downeast Maine
Lithium is extremely finite, and it is a huge issue for future battery technology. The US DOE and many other agencies across the world are spending billions of dollars on funding research for lithium alternatives for a reason

.
 

JRP3

Member
Sep 17, 2007
203
Lithium is extremely finite
It's not really, we've barely scratched the surface of lithium extraction. It's everywhere, including sea water. The only "issue" with production is that pricing has dropped so low that producers are scaling back production to increase pricing. This happens in mining all the time and is only a short term issue. Additionally lithium in the form of lithium carbonate or lithium hydroxide is what's used in lithium batteries and makes up only about 2-4% of a battery. Also as battery production increases there will be a larger supply of used batteries for recycling and a number of companies are already able to extract most of the lithium and other materials from dead batteries, contrary to the out of date paper you linked. Look up Redwood Materials, (ex-Tesla battery expert JB Straubel's new company), and also Umicore, RetrieveTech, and Battery Solutions.
 

ABMax24

Minister of Fire
I've already pointed out the advantages at point of use that make it worthwhile for me, i.e. less noise, less maintenance, and no pollution to breathe in. I also reject your premise that there are limited lithium batteries for products. The cell chemistry for small power tools is not the same used for vehicles. There are different variations of lithium chemistry and lithium itself is at an all time low price, the exact opposite of a scarce resource. Additionally because power tool batteries are modular you can have multiple tools using the same battery since they aren't going to be used at the same time. So one battery can be used many times during the year for weed trimming, limb cutting, leaf blowing, chain sawing, etc. I'm not tooting any horn I'm simply dealing with reality.
You keep twisting the conversation to fit your narrative, I said manufacturing not mining or in situ resources. Simply put companies like Tesla could sell more electric cars if they had more batteries to build them with.

As I originally stated its a better use of time, money and resources to go after everyday used items like vehicles for carbon reduction, the low hanging fruit if you will, compared to seldom used items like outdoor power equipment. Particularly when a new battery lawnmower or whatever has to be manufactured to replace an existing and functioning gas powered one.

Go ahead and run your battery powered equipment, I really don't care, but the "greener than though" ideology behind it doesn't hold water.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,602
Northern NH
The problem with Lithium these days is due to the power density and cycle characteristics everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. There are other non lithium technologies that are rapidly getting developed. The world will not run out of lithium, just like it will not run out of oil it just gets to the point where the price goes up high enough that the amount used in each battery goes down or alternatives are developed. The bummer is absorption chiller technology is dependent on Lithium Bromide with no good alternative and the run up of lithium prices are impacting the installation of absorption chillers.

There are also firms these days that lease the lithium in the batteries for a given life of the battery. Lithium in the batteries is not destroyed, it can be recycled once the value exceeds the cost to mine new.

One of the firms I am keeping an eye out for stationary storage batteries is EosEnergy that just went public, they use Zinc and other readily available materials to build stationary batteries. https://eosenergystorage.com/products-technology/ The batteries are far less toxic.
I am doing a few projects with lithium battries and many fire departments are starting to really make it hard to install lithium chemistry batteries as when they fail, they can generally a toxic pond of liquid and solid waste along with hazardous gases. All the fire departments can do is make sure there is wide buffer on all sides of the battery clear so that they can keep adjacent structures from catching fire and then let the battery sit for few days until its in theory out of charge. Then its time to call a hazardous waste contractor to decomtaminate the area.
 

JRP3

Member
Sep 17, 2007
203
You keep twisting the conversation to fit your narrative, I said manufacturing not mining or in situ resources. Simply put companies like Tesla could sell more electric cars if they had more batteries to build them with.
I'm not twisting anything, you're creating a false dichotomy, Tesla is not using batteries used by power equipment. Yes Tesla needs more batteries but first they need more machinery to build the type of batteries they use, which is exactly what they are working on. They also need to increase their automotive production capacity.

Go ahead and run your battery powered equipment, I really don't care, but the "greener than though" ideology behind it doesn't hold water.
You're projecting something that I've never stated.
 

JRP3

Member
Sep 17, 2007
203
The problem with Lithium these days is due to the power density and cycle characteristics everyone is jumping on the bandwagon.
Not sure what you mean. Tesla batteries are cycling for hundreds of thousands of miles already, longer than most vehicles last.

The bummer is absorption chiller technology is dependent on Lithium Bromide with no good alternative and the run up of lithium prices are impacting the installation of absorption chillers.
That doesn't make sense since lithium prices have been steadily dropping

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There are also firms these days that lease the lithium in the batteries for a given life of the battery.
I've never heard of that, any links?
 

ABMax24

Minister of Fire
Yes Tesla needs more batteries but first they need more machinery to build the type of batteries they use, which is exactly what they are working on.
So you're arguing that I'm wrong that there is a shortage of lithium Ion batteries while at the same time agreeing that there is a shortage of lithium ion batteries?

You're projecting something that I've never stated.
Yes you did, re-read post #33, and #36.


I really don't care if you reply to this or not. I'm done with this topic of conversation. There's no use me arguing with what appears to be a lithium-ion zealot.
 

JRP3

Member
Sep 17, 2007
203
Someone does indeed appear to be a zealot of some sort, I'm not the one who felt the need to get hostile. My posts did not say what you're implying, I posted facts and describe what I was doing, without judgement. You applied that yourself.
 
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andym

Member
Feb 6, 2020
217
Hicksville, Ohio
Less emissions was really not a factor in my decision to buy a battery string trimmer last summer. I could purchase the electric one with battery for cheaper than a comparable gas one. No gas to mix, no spark plug,no air filter, no carb, less noise, (my 5 year old could use it if allowed)......'greener than thou' had nothing to do with it. Also, the Dewalt 60v battery fits the other tools I already use. A very large portion of the battery outdoor power tools are sold for these reasons. For most consumers, I bet 'greener' would be at the bottom of the list. 'Handier' would top the list.
The interesting part is that battery outdoor power tools are not subsidized like electric cars, heat pump water heaters, or solar arrays. This means it is a market primarily driven by consumer demand, not government dollars.
People I hear talking about Teslas seldom mention how green they are. Rather they talk about how fast they are, how cool or techy they are, how much range they have, how much they cost, etc. For the ones who actually buy them it may be different, but I know lots of people that want one for reasons that don't include green.
 
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