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Cactus521

A question for Jeroen

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Sorry to single you out Jeroen, but you seem better educated on energy issues from your past posts on the subject than many.I wanted to hear your take on a couple of "alternate" energy sources being thrown about as a means of getting the U.S. out of it's latest energy mess--biodiesel and Ethanol based fuel. You seem to have a better handle on the economics of this. I've read about these fuels, but no one seems to be discussing the question of whether we (the U.S.) can produce them in enough quantity to really put a dent in gas/diesel use.I'd also be curious whether biodiesel could ever be engineered for use on jets, and whether Ethanol or E-85 could ever be used on piston aircraft. Curious to see what you can offer on the subject--thanks in advance for any insight you can give.It's funny--I was a teen during our energy crisis of the 70's. You'd think our country would have learned then how destabilizing it is to rely on people who don't believe as you do for such a critical resource. Regards,John

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As a senior in college (some 25 years ago) I was involved in a project to model the extraction of oil from shale using existing technology. According to the sources available at the time, we have more oil tied up in shale along the base of the Appalachians than known reserves in the Middle East. We have oil in the gulf, we have oil in Alaska, and we have coal available for 'gasification'. We have now found encapsulated oil droplets on the ocean floor referred to as hydrates. We have methane stored in coal seams...the list goes on.Absolutely we need to find alternate avenues, but we are by no means short of energy sources. Discounting the political fray, problematic is the fact that currently refinement of any source, alternate or otherwise, still requires the use of oil/oil derivatives. And according to the first law of thermodynamics we will always consume more 'raw' energy in the production of 'useable' energy, than useable energy netted.Consider the amount of gasoline consumed in the production of corn for ethanol conversion. And we can only currently use about a 15% mix with gasoline. We are a very long way from hydrocarbon independence, but I believe we may, in time, more widely augment oil with solar energy, wind, and thermal transfer systems (using relatively constant subterranean temperatures). These are sources that are somewhat perpetual and only need to be captured (kind of simplistic but you get the idea).Just my jaded views on the subject - I'm sure others will differ.Regards,Leon

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Here's my opinion...Ethonol and all that other garbage is merely a stop gap (and a bad one at that), and a poor excuse for the fact we can't refine the oil we do have and get the prices down. We just won't build refineries because in the 70's we didn't have the smog laws we have now, so now we think we still can't refine and refine it cleanly. TOTAL BS.We have enough Oil here in the US/Alaska alone to carry through the next 20 or so years and well beyond until we can finance and market an actual real solution to REAL alternative energy such as Hydrogen power and ION propulsion or whatever your choice happens to be. Do you really think that Ethonol is going to cost less?? If nothing else it will end up costing us more. Look at the Hybrids. For the extra money you're going to pay (if you can get one) does not by any stretch compensate for the fuel savings they say you're going to get. Gas would have to climb to about 5.00 per gallon to realize those savings.Here's a question: Why on gods green earth aren't we exporting Oil? Don't anyone tell me we don't have any. We got plenty in the ground still and we CAN do it in a manner that doesn't screw up the environment. Another poor excuse by morons in government to keep gas prices high. I bet we would sure take a bite out of poverty here in the US if we started selling oil.I'm getting sick and tired of government and the media trying to make the middle class consumer feel guilty because when we achieve something like being able to AFFORD THAT SUV, all of the sudden we're trying to polute the environment or take down the economy and causing a gas shortage. It's not the fault of the consumer that the government can't govern. We have a VERY BAD HABIT OF trying to TEAR PEOPLE DOWN when we get just a little bit ahead. I'm not going to make any excuses or feel bad what so ever for trying to achieve success. In fact to MAKE THIS AVIATION ORIENTED, If I ever can afford it, I'm going to buy the biggest fatest gas guzzling (clean burning) 707 or DC8 and sit on the ramp and run it full power until I empty the tanks, then do it all over again until I get tired, not when government gets tired.If you want to be green, then friggin do it right, don't do it half way with E85...Oh don't I feel good and less guilty now...oooooo....my weee weee hurts.I'm sorry to get on a politcal tangent here, and I've fought for this country, but we're going down fast. We can't enforce the laws we do have THAT WORK, we continually make new agencies and laws to override the ones we already have THAT ARE WORKING. 9-11 was a good example of a people problem not a law or procederal problem. The same goes for katrina. The same goes for Iraq. The same also goes for the immigration issue. Folks it isn't funny anymore and it's cost us thousands of lives and now it's costing us our economy.We have no one to blame but ourselves here. It's not OPEC's fault we can't refine the oil they've already given us that's sitting around here in the US. It's not OPEC's fault w can't pull oil out of the ground. It's not OPEC's fault we're letting other countries set up drilling rigs in the gulf off of our shores. The situation in Iran and Iraq have NOTHING to do with the fact we can't get our stuff together here in our own country. It's our fault we speculate on issues that don't even affect the actual cost of gas which drives the prices up. It should be illegal to do that based on those facts, but yet when someone like Walmart wants to use their own money and sell gas for almmost a dollar less per gallon our government threatens them with criminal action. So what, it's ok to jack the prices up but not to lower them? Man, what a total joke this whole thing is.

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Hi John: Not Jeroen; But here goes. Ethanol production in the US could bePRODIGIOUS if you leave the Plains states out of the question. The current solution seems to be to convert CORN to ETHANOL. Heck! Early Americans came to that conclusion which led to theWHISKEY REBELLION!Cane Sugar, which would grow in abbundance in southern climes, wouldproduce a TON of it. Ethanol as a motor fuel is just great as long as you understand thatengines that use it, only, should have a static compression ratio of over13:1. Also ignition timing would have to be increased to aid in efficient burn. Methanol would be lots more viable..except as a byproduct of combustion it produces formaldahyde. The reason I mention this isbecause Methanol can be produced from ANYTHING that ever grew! Even if you didn't ask I'll tell you that a Pilot Project is nowin operation in Carthage Mo...at Conagra's Butterball Turkey Plant,that is turning the waste from processing turkeys, into 300 barrelsof oil per day. This oil would qualify as Biodesiel. This fromthe waste of ONE Turkey processing facility. According to the gents that came up with the process. It willwork with old tires, Municipal sewage, crushed plastic, yard wasteECT. John, ref your last question. Jet engines are the Diesels of theAviation world. You can make a Diesel run on anything that will burn.The original Diesel was designed to run on powdered coal, and run theydid. Current Coal fired turbine power plants are nothing more than GIANTCOAL Fired jet engines. Could "Biodeisel" be used on Jets...Youbetcha! Denny

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Thanks for your responses so far. Interesting viewpoints. I probably should know more on the subject, but so much of what we read is hype these days--either by the politicians or those looking for the government grant to fund their research into an energy "holy grail". I do believe a large part of this latest spike in fuel prices is "imagineered" to borrow a phrase from Disney. The price of oil is more a measure of the fears speculators have about what may happen, vs. whatever the reality of the given moment is.-John

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