Are You Ready For Cheap Energy?

Show cars, coming technology, industry predictions, things to come but not here yet

Re: Are You Ready For Cheap Energy?

Postby Jay » Thu Apr 22, 2010 6:52 pm

I still have faith in American ingenuity and technology. Sometimes it just takes some heavy prodding to get things moving. I hope to see the day when we all have ''Mr.Fusion" powering our cars.
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Re: Are You Ready For Cheap Energy?

Postby meteorite » Thu Apr 22, 2010 8:26 pm

I am very distrustful of "perpetual motion" machines. Growing wood takes energy, and maybe fertilizer which is another questionable input. Harvesting and transporting the raw material takes energy. I don't see quite where the process energy is coming from. and when ethanol burns, there are greenhouse gasses in the combustion process. It may be a cleaner fuel than petroleum or for that matter any fossil fuel but clean is a relative term.

Also, the reason petroleum products are used for high performance applications is a matter of energy density. Jet fuel, for instance, offers far more btus or kilowatts or joules or whatever per pound of fuel than just about anything else. So an aircraft using it can fly higher, faster, further, carrying more weight than an aircraft using a fuel that demands far more weight for the same energy output.

Also, Brazil may run on alcohol, but what mileage do their cars get? What is their range? What is their efficiency? And even if fuel is a buck a gallon at the distillery gate, what will it be with the costs of retailing it added?

Not suggesting there may not be the lead towards a solution to some problems in there somewhere, just colour me a little sceptical of too-easy answers.
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Re: Are You Ready For Cheap Energy?

Postby Sean » Fri Apr 23, 2010 1:47 am

Trees grow wild. So long as responsible forestation occurs, no big deal. And the greenhouse gases we get when we burn ethanol are gases that just came out of the air recently rather than millions of years ago in the case of petroleum.

Ethanol's fuel density is pretty good. Not necessarily 100% of gasoline, but pretty goddamn close. If E85 here used this rather than the corn ethanol, I'd be having my dad run it in his truck. You can certainly feel the extra power since the timing can be advanced to yesterday. A custom tune to optimize performance could probably even bring you more.

Not sure, but on E-85 my dad's E-85 capable F150 got 6 miles per gallon. Then again, I couldn't keep my foot out of it. There is seriously some good extra power in there. Trying to beat on it running 87 netted about 8 mpg for a few gallons of fuel. I bet the real life efficiency loss is ~10%.
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Re: Are You Ready For Cheap Energy?

Postby Sean » Fri Apr 23, 2010 11:40 am

This kind of stuff is exactly why I do appreciate rising gas prices.
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Re: Are You Ready For Cheap Energy?

Postby meteorite » Fri Apr 23, 2010 5:05 pm

Hey, cool it, gentlemen. I'm not trying to rain out your parade, just wash the rose-coloured tint off your glasses.

We know about ethanol for fuel. It's been done. (You mention Brazil; the IRL has used it for racing fuel since forever). No big deal that way. But I remain unconvinced that it's going to usher in a new ear of cheap fuel while saving the planet. By the way, in Ontario all gas has to contain 10% ethanol minimum, by law.

Just remember that, just like gasoline, ethanol has its downsides. Some are pretty subtle, like the fact that it's invisible when it burns (IRL now adds a bit of oil to it, so a fire can be seen). It corrodes metal and rubber fitting something fierce. The energy density issue means increased volumes must be made, shipped, distributed and stored. An upside is that when you have a dedicated engine, the effective octane rating is in the av-gas range so you can supertune to regain some of the lost performance - and economy.

Or, as usual, TANSTAAFL - there ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

(You'd never know that I've been a [qualified] ethanol advocate for decades, would you?)

Besides, one little point everyone seems to overlook. There are other uses for oil - some rather subtle but very important. For instance, it's an essential element in any metalworking, as a lubricant or coolant or usually both. It's the basic feedstock for huge numbers of the plastics we rely on. It's the basis of many preservatives, from ruststop to the paraffin used on your rutabagas. It's where your roads come from, as asphalt - even the shingles on your house. There's a good case to be made that burning it just because we have a surplus now is basically insane.

So don't put me in the opposition camp - just realize maybe I'm looking at a different picture.
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Re: Are You Ready For Cheap Energy?

Postby meteorite » Sat Apr 24, 2010 6:29 pm

TANSTAAFL.

I get nervous when the report says that the modus operandi is that combustion is slower. The big rap on diesels just about anywhere north of the Mason-Dixon line, and really seriously north of 49, is that they are difficult to impossible to fire up when it's really, seriously cold.

Another great idea - can it be made to work?
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Re: Are You Ready For Cheap Energy?

Postby Sean » Sat Apr 24, 2010 9:11 pm

It's not less willing to combust, it just doesn't burn as quickly, so it won't knock as much as normal. And the problems with diesels up north is that even with good glow plugs and lots of compression it's hard to achieve the temperatures necessary to ignite diesel.
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Re: Are You Ready For Cheap Energy?

Postby Jay » Tue Apr 27, 2010 8:06 pm

That's why god invented engine block heaters. However, I remember when the Alaska pipeline was being built from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, the diesel engines were never shut off unless in a heated garage. It was so cold that even a block heater would have been useless there. Too bad the former governor doesn't get lost in the wilderness and become a palinsicle....er..popsicle.
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Re: Are You Ready For Cheap Energy?

Postby Sean » Tue Apr 27, 2010 10:01 pm

Jay wrote:That's why god invented engine block heaters. However, I remember when the Alaska pipeline was being built from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, the diesel engines were never shut off unless in a heated garage. It was so cold that even a block heater would have been useless there. Too bad the former governor doesn't get lost in the wilderness and become a palinsicle....er..popsicle.


The problem is really that the motor oil turns into wax.
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Re: Are You Ready For Cheap Energy?

Postby meteorite » Wed Apr 28, 2010 5:55 pm

They don't say what sort of performance hit (power/speed/range) they are taking in order to use the fuel. Looking forward, of course, if a blend is better than nothing, and anything a potential enemy can muster is even less efficient, they're smiling. But the amount of energy recoverable from a pound of fuel still matters and can be decisive.
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Re: Are You Ready For Cheap Energy?

Postby Sean » Thu Apr 29, 2010 2:07 am

Denser fuels (think diesel versus gasoline, longer hydrocarbon chains in the fuel) seem to have more power per gallon. Wouldn't be hard to make bio fuels that are more like diesel or jet fuel than gasoline. In fact, they already do that. Soy biodiesel powers a lot of our city buses here.
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Re: Are You Ready For Cheap Energy?

Postby Jay » Thu Apr 29, 2010 11:33 am

If you want to call a collection of sod houses a 'city', I guess they do.

I've been through Nebraska a couple of times, but I don't remember a thing about it.

Isn't Nebraska the Indian word for ''pile of shit"?
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Re: Are You Ready For Cheap Energy?

Postby Sean » Thu Apr 29, 2010 2:48 pm

I wouldn't be talking if I were you, MG, I bet Omaha takes up more land area than all of Rhode Island. :P
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Re: Are You Ready For Cheap Energy?

Postby Jay » Thu Apr 29, 2010 8:31 pm

Looky there!! There's one really tall building...I understand it's the state law that no building can be bigger than the biggest corn silo...and has to look like one.

MG....funny picture and caption...
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Re: Are You Ready For Cheap Energy?

Postby Sean » Fri Apr 30, 2010 12:32 am

No, but there's city zoning laws in Lincoln that prevent building anything that's anywhere near as tall as the penis of the plains...err...state capital.
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