Thebastidge: More on petroleum
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    ********************Southwest Washington Surplus, your prepping supply store********************

    Saturday, May 05, 2007

    More on petroleum

    I had an elaborate post with charts and sources, but apparently it failed to post.

    The other thing I forgot about was that nukes not only compensate for fuel in cars, they also compensate to some extent for heating homes with oil (in 7-10% of American homes) and natural gas (Over 50% of homes). Oil is particularly significant in the New England area and in some of the more densely populated older cities around the country. (The places with higher pollution, in other words.)

    Natural gas is probably a better alternative for transportation than electric cars- Particularly in the short term. It can be retro-fitted fairly cheaply, the technology for converting new car production to natural gas is mature and reliable, it burns cleaner than gasoline or diesel, and there's an infrastructure in large parts of the country that could be converted more easily than a hydrogen infrastructure could be built. It's more efficient to use natural gas directly in your car than to convert it to hydrogen for fuel cells, and probably less volatile too.

    I bet most of you didn't realize that all the nebulous plans for fuel cell or hydrogen usage currently rely on a complicated theoretical infrastructure to inefficiently extract hydrogen from petrochemicals. Not the neat, clean vision of 'cracking seawater' into hydrogen and oxygen that you hear all the time in SciFi books and movies.

    With a couple hundred dollars per house, you could set up a 'tap' off your existing natural gas line to fill the tank on your car, and eliminate lines at the filling station. You get the same kind of performance hit as burning ethanol, but hey, TANSTAAFL. At least you're not sacrificing nearly as much distance capability as batteries do. and you get a consolidated bill with your home heating costs. A few bucks extra could separate the costs out with a second meter if road usage taxes are an issue- a one-time expense and a digitally-readable meter simplifies billing.

    With nuclear power running the vast majority of electrical generation, electricity taking over the majority of home heating, then coal (currently about half of domestic power generation, remember- the dirtier half) becomes available for gasification processes, which increases the supply of cleaner natural gas/propane/liquid petroleum gas (LPG) type products available for use in cars. Since domestic production of petroleum (and what the hell, throw Canada under that umbrella as well) is about 60% of our total current usage, we can cut our purchases from nasty places like the Middle East (the Saudi Princes can eat their damn Rolls Royce's for all I care) and the new People's Republic of Venezuela, and we don't even have to sacrifice those high-grade petrochemical feed stocks for making plastics in favour of other, more expensive options.

    The problem is that there aren't any nuclear plants in the pipeline. If we started today, it would be years before the first one came online. Many more years, before a simple plan such as the one I've outlined (in its barest bones) above could be effective. We've sacrificed decades of practical experience and improvements because of fear, most of it irrational.

    Here's an interesting site.


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