YOU!: Fix the US Energy Crisis


by russ_watters
Tags: crisis, energy
mheslep
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#181
Sep8-08, 11:51 AM
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Quote Quote by wildman View Post
Here is an interesting proposal from the CEO of the Bonneville Power Administration a few years ago:
Former. He's long retired.

... This power would be then converted into hydrogen which can be shipped to Texas in gas pipelines. ...
Robertson does not mention pipelines, nor is it possible to ship H2 around in existing CNG pipelines. Making H2, burning H2 in an ICE - these are not the main problems. Moving H2 around and storing it in today's vehicles are; at the moment nobody has a workable solution.
Ivan Seeking
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Sep8-08, 12:09 PM
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Quote Quote by mheslep View Post
Robertson does not mention pipelines, nor is it possible to ship H2 around in existing CNG pipelines. Making H2, burning H2 in an ICE - these are not the main problems. Moving H2 around and storing it in today's vehicles are; at the moment nobody has a workable solution.
Huh? The biggest problem is the source of energy - that hydrogen is an energy carrier and not a source. Hydrogen is already in use worldwide.
http://www.fuelcells.org/info/charts...ngstations.pdf

Also, afaik, no one intends to run the hydrogen market like the petro market [pipelines and ships]. There is no reason for it. Part of the advantage of an H2 economy is that energy can be decentralized. It may be that the only real hydrogen pipelines will be carrying water.
mheslep
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Sep8-08, 12:57 PM
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Quote Quote by Ivan Seeking View Post
Huh? The biggest problem is the source of energy - that hydrogen is an energy carrier and not a source. Hydrogen is already in use worldwide.
http://www.fuelcells.org/info/charts...ngstations.pdf
A handful of state sponsored H2 stations worldwide does not make them common. There are close to 200,000 gas/diesel station in the US. Note that it takes 15-20 tankers of 3k-5k PSI H2 tankers to deliver the energy of one gasoline tanker truck.

Also, afaik, no one intends to run the hydrogen market like the petro market [pipelines and ships]. There is no reason for it. Part of the advantage of an H2 economy is that energy can be decentralized. It may be that the only real hydrogen pipelines will be carrying water.
Decentralized helps, still have to get heavy grid multi MW connections or local power generation, and so far nobody has sufficient on vehicle H2 storage (DoE target vehicle range 300miles - nobody is close yet). Anyway Wildman's posted piece from Robertson was about centralized hydro power.
Ivan Seeking
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Sep8-08, 01:37 PM
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Quote Quote by mheslep View Post
A handful of state sponsored H2 stations worldwide does not make them common. There are close to 200,000 gas/diesel station in the US. Note that it takes 15-20 tankers of 3k-5k PSI H2 tankers to deliver the energy of one gasoline tanker truck.
I didn't say H2 is common. I said it is already being used. There are certainly issues, but you made it sound like the over 15 pages of stations listed couldn't exist.

Quote Quote by mheslep View Post
Decentralized helps, still have to get heavy grid multi MW connections or local power generation
I would debate this point if only because in the end, the practical production of H2 might be done by means other than electric. For example, one facility intends to use solar flux to crack methane, leaving nothing but pure Hyrdrogen and pure carbon-black. But I saw that there has allegedly been a big breakthrough at MIT? I saw that but didn't have time to read it.

Quote Quote by mheslep View Post
and so far nobody has sufficient on vehicle H2 storage (DoE target vehicle range 300miles - nobody is close yet). Anyway Wildman's posted piece from Robertson was about centralized hydro power.
LAWRENCE Livermore employees and visitors last January might have spotted a white Toyota Prius hybrid vehicle driving continuously around the square-mile site. The car was making history by setting a world record for the longest distance driven on one tank of fuel in a vehicle modified to run on hydrogen.

...The Prius, which has a combination electric motor and small internal combustion engine, traveled 1,050 kilometers (653 miles) on a tank containing 150 liters (almost 40 gallons) of liquid hydrogen. The overall fuel economy for the driving conditions used by the Livermore team was about 105 kilometers per kilogram of hydrogen, which is equivalent to about 65 miles per gallon of gasoline. Coincidently, 1 kilogram of hydrogen has about the same energy content as 1 gallon of gasoline. [continued]
https://www.llnl.gov/str/June07/Aceves.html
mheslep
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#185
Sep8-08, 02:12 PM
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Quote Quote by Ivan Seeking View Post
I didn't say H2 is common. I said it is already being used. There are certainly issues, but you made it sound like the over 15 pages of stations listed couldn't exist.
Sorry, I didn't intend that.

I would debate this point if only because in the end, the practical production of H2 might be done by means other than electric. For example, one facility intends to use solar flux to crack methane, leaving nothing but pure Hyrdrogen and pure carbon-black. But I saw that there has allegedly been a big breakthrough at MIT? I saw that but didn't have time to read it.
Yes Nocera's efficient electrolysis. Thats a big deal. With that coming down the pike, and setting storage aside for the moment, for fun I posted up somewhere the numbers to do an onsite solar fueling station. I came up with only ~3-5 acres out behind the station.

EDIT: Yes here's the solar powered fuel station musing.
http://www.physicsforums.com/showpos...2&postcount=14

Yes liquid H2. The cryo process eats up ~30% of every unit of energy in the H2. IMO, it is compressed H2 at 10K PSI (carbon fiber tanks $$$) and the tanks are still 3-4x the volume of existing gasoline tanks, or some kind of chemical hydride storage, or nothing. Levin et al and their ultralight 'Hypercars' make a plausible case for compressed H2, they get ~300mi, but one has to completely redesign the car and thus the auto industry - no more steel, all carbon fiber, etc.

Some wild speculation now: I wonder if it makes sense at all to use local solar/grid electric/whatever to make methane and not H2? That is, use the Sabatier process or some such - H2 from electrolysis and pull CO2 from the atmosphere. That is still carbon neutral, the storage / transportation of methane is a not a problem, 8 million CNG vehicles on the road already (just not in the US )
russ_watters
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#186
Sep8-08, 07:57 PM
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I'd say you guys are talking past each other. mheslp is simply saying that it isn't viable, while Ivan is saying it is being done. But the fact that it is being done doesn't have anything to do with whether it is viable or not. What makes it not viable is that it can't provide anywhere near the same performance (specifically, range) in a car as gasoline. That's a storage problem. And he's right: "there is no workable solution" to the storage problem.

Moreover, energy production is a practical problem, while the storage issue is a technical problem. Practical problems are known to be solvable - we can just build more power plants. Technical problems are not necessarily solvable, but even if they are eventually, there is no answer right now.
mheslep
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#187
Sep8-08, 10:51 PM
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Yep, what RussW said.
wildman
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Sep8-08, 11:29 PM
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On an earlier thread, someone said that you can't move H2 by pipeline. Why is that? Why can't we treat it the same as Natural Gas?
russ_watters
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Sep9-08, 05:46 AM
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That said, there are also the issues of economic and political viability. These issues are somewhat a matter of will: we just have to decide to do it and if we wait, the decision will happen on its own. But the "it" of the capacity issue is big enough that if we wait, the consequences are disastrous. And really, there are two completely separate capacity problems. The first, what has just been discussed is 'where do we get the energy to power our cars when we run out of gas?' But the second is 'how do we stop pollution?' (global warming and otherwise). Answering the first question mandates that we add new capacity. Answering the second mandates that we replace our existing capacity (or augment it with nonexistent technology). These issues are big enough that this decision to go really needs to be made now. We need to decide to do the only viable (economically, politically, technically) thing to solve this two-pronged energy problem: start building nuclear plants at a rate of 20 a year for the next 40 years.
mheslep
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Sep9-08, 12:58 PM
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Quote Quote by wildman View Post
On an earlier thread, someone said that you can't move H2 by pipeline. Why is that? Why can't we treat it the same as Natural Gas?
  • H2 Diffusion. Crudely: A seal that's tight enough for a CH4 molecule looks like a window screen to the smaller H2 molecule.
  • Embrittlement
  • Energy flow/pipe volume. For a given pressure, an H2 pipe needs 3.5X greater cross sectional area to push the same amount of energy down the pipe.

H2 pipes are therefore more elaborate than CNG pipes.
mheslep
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Sep9-08, 01:24 PM
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Quote Quote by russ_watters View Post
...We need to decide to do the only viable (economically, politically, technically) thing to solve this two-pronged energy problem: start building nuclear plants at a rate of 20 a year for the next 40 years.
8000GW of nuclear? Why? Did you mean worldwide? Current US electric is 1000GW, transportation/heating/etc another 1000GW equivalent of fuel, and the growth rate is declining w/ increasing end use efficiency (as you've pointed out?).

The missing part of this or Sen. McCain's build nuclear proposal is the fix for the broken approval / regulatory process in the US, or whatever it is that drives the current plant proposal costs skyward. That is the hard part, as attempted remedies are bound to bring out protests. As it is, I wouldn't favor building even plant #1 at a cost of $17B per 2GW plant. It certainly means taxpayer financing as the private sector won't touch capital that big for 6 to 10 year projects; Moody's has said as much. For the waste issue, Yucca is fine IMO, but McCain needs to say he's going to go ahead and turn it on, now not later. I'd support a fix, but where's the plan?
Count Iblis
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Sep9-08, 02:32 PM
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The waste problem is not as big a problem if you use fast breeder reactors. And why not use radioactive waste that cannot be reprocessed like caesium-137 as a heat source?
mheslep
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Sep9-08, 02:53 PM
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Quote Quote by Count Iblis View Post
... And why not use radioactive waste that cannot be reprocessed like caesium-137 as a heat source?
Cs-137 is bad juju. It enters biological pathways easily by chemically pretending to be potassium, stays in the body for a couple of months. We want to minimize hand-offs of Cs-137 and like biologically active radioisotopes, not increase them.
Count Iblis
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Sep9-08, 03:51 PM
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Quote Quote by mheslep View Post
Cs-137 is bad juju. It enters biological pathways easily by chemically pretending to be potassium, stays in the body for a couple of months. We want to minimize hand-offs of Cs-137 and like biologically active radioisotopes, not increase them.
Cs-137 will be produced anyway in nuclear fission reactions. So, why not design some fully automized factory in which you separate it and make some compound that contains it? This material would then presumably be red hot from all the heat generated by radioactive decay.

You can then make a heat exchanger out of it and use it in a powerplant or to produce warm water for homes. After 30 years the power of the Cs-137 heating element will be halved. You then recycle it in the nuclear waste reprocessing factory. The ability to do this safely depends on what we can do with machines and robots.

Robot technology is predicted to become much more powerful in the near future, so perhaps we should store radiaoactive waste in easy to access places.
mheslep
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Sep9-08, 04:28 PM
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I know it is a byproduct of U fission. Again, you increase safety by minimizing the number of times its handled after its produced. I suggest: all reactors->truck/train-> single, permanent waste storage. Stop. Not: all reactors->truck/train->waste reprocessing->temporary storage->truck/trains in all directions ->install power plants -> remove from power plants -> temporary storage -> trucks/trains -> permanent waste storage.
russ_watters
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#196
Sep9-08, 05:00 PM
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Quote Quote by mheslep View Post
8000GW of nuclear? Why? Did you mean worldwide? Current US electric is 1000GW, transportation/heating/etc another 1000GW equivalent of fuel, and the growth rate is declining w/ increasing end use efficiency (as you've pointed out?).
I think you slipped a decimal place there: Reactors (I said plants, but close enough) run at 1 GW apiece, so 800 of them is 800 GW. Assuming 2 per plant, that's 1600 GW, which would be enough to cover our electricity and most of our transportation, as well as convert much of our current fossil fuel heat to electric.

It was early, though - currently we have 100 plants, 300 reactors, so my math doesn't quite work out, but you get the idea.
mheslep
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Sep9-08, 09:07 PM
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Quote Quote by russ_watters View Post
I think you slipped a decimal place there: Reactors (I said plants, but close enough) run at 1 GW apiece, so 800 of them is 800 GW. Assuming 2 per plant, that's 1600 GW, which would be enough to cover our electricity and most of our transportation, as well as convert much of our current fossil fuel heat to electric.

It was early, though - currently we have 100 plants, 300 reactors, so my math doesn't quite work out, but you get the idea.
Yes, arg, inventing zeros again.
Astronuc
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Oct2-08, 09:57 AM
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Google CEO: How to fix U.S. energy problems
http://news.cnet.com/8301-11128_3-10056099-54.html
SAN FRANCISCO--The United States government has been unable to fix the country's energy problems, Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt said, but the Internet giant on Wednesday proposed its own 22-year solution.

"We have seen a total and complete failure of leadership in the political parties of the United States," Schmidt said in a speech at the Commonwealth Club here. "We've been working on a plan to help solve this problem."

Earlier in the day, Google unveiled that plan, which doesn't lack for chutzpah: Clean Energy 2030 aims to wean the United States from its dependence on fossil fuels within 22 years.

. . .
Energy efficiency is at the forefront of Google's thoughts: the company operates hundreds of thousands of servers, and the company has warned that energy costs could outpace server hardware costs. So a decline in energy costs makes practical sense, Schmidt said. . . . .
Energy independence or at least much less dependence on external resources makes good business sense - not to mention provides for more security.


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