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Us Navy Ends Big Oil

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http://www.addictinginfo.org/2014/04/12/navy-ends-big-oil/

This technology is in its infancy and it’s already this cheap? What happens when it’s refined and perfected? Oil is only getting more expensive as the easy-to-reach deposits are tapped so this truly is, as it’s being called, a “game changer.”

I expect the GOP to go ballistic over this and try to legislate it out of existence. It’s a threat to their fossil fuel masters because it will cost them trillions in profits. It’s also “green” technology and Republicans will despise it on those grounds alone. They already have a track record of trying to do this. Unfortunately, once this kind of genie is out of the bottle, it’s very hard to put back in.

I'm sure this isn't as good as it sounds. Doesn't 'cracking' sea water in itself require a lot of energy? Discuss!

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The way the article is portraying this is BS. You need more input energy than you get out in fuel.

However, if you own a nuclear powered aircraft carrier and can use energy from the reactor to make your own jet fuel you are no longer dependent on tankers bringing that fuel to you so I can see why they are pursuing it.

Ultimately the technology could be used to solve our energy problems by using Thorium reactors to power the production of liquid hydrocarbons.

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As Scotty was fond of saying, "Yeh, canne change the laws of physics".

I suspect this is about using nuclear power plants on some ships to produce oil for others or perhaps as a means to store excess power. This is about not needing a supply line or curry favour with other nations to get oil supplies.

The scale thing would still bother me though as I suspect the average ship gets through a huge amount of fuel each day.

edit: Ah, yes of course, you use the fuel for your aircraft.

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The US military has had a long standing commitment to renewables for obvious reasons so this isn't news. The process appears to be carbon neutral but that is by the by, it is all about avoiding creating vulnerable supply trains. However it appears to need a nuclear reactor and it isn't creating energy but converting it from one form to another (with the accompanying loss) so the excitable journalist appears to be talking bobbins.

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Excellent. We needed to release more CO2 into the atmosphere. :P

EDIT: Congratulations to poster #2, ntb, who managed to get thorium in first.

It wouldn't be an energy thread on HPC without the mention of thorium!

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Excellent. We needed to release more CO2 into the atmosphere. :P

EDIT: Congratulations to poster #2, ntb, who managed to get thorium in first.

I'm obviously missing something but I'm delighted to have won this er, thing?

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I don't suppose this is quite the game changer implied but, if it's reasonably efficient, then it's an interesting alternative to batteries as a way of storing excess electrical generation capacity. Somewhere like Iceland, which has a huge amount of spare electricity generated from hydrothermal power, could do pretty well using it.

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This is actually a moderately big deal if it scales and works reliably. Hydrocarbons are fantastic because their energy density is huge, they are liquid or low pressure gases at ambient temperatures, and the containment required is a few mm of steel. Contrast with batteries which are low energy density, expensive and difficult to recharge. So, depending on which article you believe (maybe none of them), they can turn leccy into petrol at high efficiency, while at the same time, hoovering up CO2 from water. It solves the problem of generating power from renewables at inconvenient times and locations. If ( caution, massive speculation), the various fusion experiments come off, then you can eliminate fossil fuels with very little change to infrastructure.

I do think that this technology, or some variant of it, will be the answer. At lot of what we take for granted depends on high energy density fuels combined with cheap containment.

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I don't suppose this is quite the game changer implied but, if it's reasonably efficient, then it's an interesting alternative to batteries as a way of storing excess electrical generation capacity. Somewhere like Iceland, which has a huge amount of spare electricity generated from hydrothermal power, could do pretty well using it.

Be quite useful but not a game changer.

Bascially those reactors cost a shedload of money to put on the carriers. The energy they produce can't be all used up all the time, so it would be great to be able to use the surplus for something else. Jet fuel generation is one thing. Another could be generating fuel for the normal non nuclear fleet. It really depends on how efficient the process is and how much surplus power the reactor normally has.

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They could save a fortune by sticking wind turbine generators off both sides of the ship...the wind will power all the electrics...im getting one for my car!

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This is actually a moderately big deal if it scales and works reliably. Hydrocarbons are fantastic because their energy density is huge, they are liquid or low pressure gases at ambient temperatures, and the containment required is a few mm of steel. Contrast with batteries which are low energy density, expensive and difficult to recharge. So, depending on which article you believe (maybe none of them), they can turn leccy into petrol at high efficiency, while at the same time, hoovering up CO2 from water. It solves the problem of generating power from renewables at inconvenient times and locations. If ( caution, massive speculation), the various fusion experiments come off, then you can eliminate fossil fuels with very little change to infrastructure.

I do think that this technology, or some variant of it, will be the answer. At lot of what we take for granted depends on high energy density fuels combined with cheap containment.

Agree with all this, but would add that you may not need nuclear fusion to be the starting point in the process. As you can choose your location (as long as it has access to lots of seawater) then you could build a traditional nuclear power station on an island somewhere (without the usual problems of proximity to population and/or fault lines) and ship the resultant fuel to shore.

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Agree with all this, but would add that you may not need nuclear fusion to be the starting point in the process. As you can choose your location (as long as it has access to lots of seawater) then you could build a traditional nuclear power station on an island somewhere (without the usual problems of proximity to population and/or fault lines) and ship the resultant fuel to shore.

If it were economically viable, such a process would be perfect for smoothing the output of intermittent renewables like wind and solar power.

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If it were economically viable, such a process would be perfect for smoothing the output of intermittent renewables like wind and solar power.

As I've ranted of many times before..

Step 1 : Generate as much electricity as you can from zero carbon sources - more than your grid ever uses.

Step 2 : Divert the surplus into this kind of system for making liquid fuels.

Step 3 : Note that you've solved both the energy security and global warming problems in one go without many of your end users actually noticing.

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This tech could be used in France a lot I would think - they have lots of nukes and quite a few windfarms which doesn't go well together.

They could just keep the nukes running at full capacity all the time and whenever they have a surplus due to windy conditions or low demand or whatever, turn on the seawater crackers.

Same for Germany with all their windfarms.

Can the seawater cracking tech be ramped up and down easily though?

Also I preferred the idea that Audi are implementing wherein hydrocarbon fuels are being made from CO2.

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If it's practical and reasonably efficient it sounds like a better approach than electric cars. Would it satisfy the more rational greens (meaning the ones who aren't just "let's live in caves"), i.e. is it just adding CO2 from another source? If it's taking out what little can be put in to the water will it cycle back in to the sea from the atmosphere quickly enough to be carbon-neutral?

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Note that you've solved both the energy security and global warming problems in one go without many of your end users actually noticing.

Indeed. While electric cars are being pushed down our throats pretty hard, the practical problems of assembling enough batteries to power a 44 tonne artic, large ship or plane are way beyond our capabilities. Hydrogen is a non-starter - far too hard to contain from a temperature and pressure perspective.

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Indeed. While electric cars are being pushed down our throats pretty hard, the practical problems of assembling enough batteries to power a 44 tonne artic, large ship or plane are way beyond our capabilities. Hydrogen is a non-starter - far too hard to contain from a temperature and pressure perspective.

Could you pack enough in to make a decent railway locomotive though? (not the slow short distance things that have been used in the past). Would be worth it to get rid of ugly overhead electrification.

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There really are no 'zero carbon' energy sources - are there ?

Everything will have something in its process that requires carbon - today anyway.

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Could you pack enough in to make a decent railway locomotive though? (not the slow short distance things that have been used in the past). Would be worth it to get rid of ugly overhead electrification.

Overhead electrification may be ugly but it is far, far more practical.

For personal transport, battery cars are fine, especially within cities and even more so for 2+ car families. If you take the Vauxhall Ampera route and basically add a petrol generator to an electric car, you get around the range issue.

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Could you pack enough in to make a decent railway locomotive though?

A decent sized diesel loco is rated at 3000 HP, and I'd guess to maintain speed it will need about 1000 HP continuously which is 750 kW. So for a reasonable train journey (say London to Leeds and back) you're looking at a battery pack that do 750kW for 5 hours, or ~4000kWh. A big Tesla battery pack is 80 kWh, so lash 200 of these together and you're done. Each one weighs about ~ 1 tonne, so you're looking at 200 tonnes for the batteries.

So yes, you could do it if the 2 carriages after the engine were packed with batteries. However the train could only do one decent return trip a day.

Better to drive it using overhead leccy.

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As I've ranted of many times before..

Step 1 : Generate as much electricity as you can from zero carbon sources - more than your grid ever uses.

Step 2 : Divert the surplus into this kind of system for making liquid fuels.

Step 3 : Note that you've solved both the energy security and global warming problems in one go without many of your end users actually noticing.

It's a good strategy, but GTL isn't the solution.

Personally I like this one that the German Government is investing heavily in right now:

http://hydrogenious.net/index.html

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Indeed. While electric cars are being pushed down our throats pretty hard, the practical problems of assembling enough batteries to power a 44 tonne artic, large ship or plane are way beyond our capabilities. Hydrogen is a non-starter - far too hard to contain from a temperature and pressure perspective.

The absolute worst case is Aircraft - you pretty much have to have hydrocarbons.

I agree that hydrogen is a non-starter. The only thing in it's favor is that it's very easy to make. It's a nightmare to store, nightmare to handle and does not have a great energy density. Other fuels that have been mentioned are Ammonia (NH3, we know a lot about making the stuff), or Methanol - bit harder to make, but it's almost a like-for-like petrol replacement.

Interesting thing is that my back-of-the-envelope calculations put the total cost for the UK - Nuclear plant, assorted renewables, chemical plant, the lot - to give us energy independence and zero CO2 indefinitely - at perhaps £300-600 billion. Which is quite a bit of money, has to be said, but dilute it over 20 years and subtract the cash we'd spend on energy investment anyway, and it looks a bit better.

Won't happen, obviously.. It would upset the Coal Lobby, Oil Lobby, Gas Lobby, Anti-Nuclear lobby, Anti-Modern-Living lobby, Pro-Oligarch lobby, Al-Queda lobby, Anti-government-spending-on-anything-but-bankers lobby.. Even the pro-nuclear lobby would probably dislike having to actually come up with half-decent reactor designs instead of rehashing 1950-60s PWRs. But apart from that, yes totally doable..

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