# YOU!: Fix the US Energy Crisis

by russ_watters
Tags: crisis, energy
 Mentor P: 21,999 So many of my clients could be doing more for energy efficiency - and tightening the codes to require it would help a lot too. Even on a 5 year payback, most companies still won't do it on their own.
P: 1,591
Some energy recovery methods include: grey water heat exchangers (to recover heat from warm waste water).
Waste Water Preheater
 In fact, about a trillion kWh (= 3413 trillion Btu) go down America’s drains each year.
Active solar air heating systems.
Solar Heating Panel Wall

Well water heat exchangers and desuperheaters (to precool refrigerant and preheat water), energy recovery ventilators (to recover heat from exhaust air), Recovery of waste heat in cooling systems for preheating hot water benefit both of the systems (cooling and water heating) and can be incorporated in both home and commercial systems.
Desuperheater
 # Free or Cheap Hot Water - unlike any other heating and cooling system, a geothermal heat pump can provide free hot water using a device called a "desuperheater".
Magnetic refrigeration systems show potential in the future for low energy use systems for refrigeration of cold storage boxes and large commercial cooling units. These also work with just water as the refrigerant so environmental impact is reduced.
http:/Magentic Refrigerator
 With the goal of making refrigerators and air conditioners more efficient, several groups around the world are developing magnetic-refrigerant materials. A magnetic-cooling system could also be less polluting than current systems because it wouldn't use environmentally harmful chemicals, such as ammonia or chlorofluorocarbons.
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 Quote by russ_watters So many of my clients could be doing more for energy efficiency - and tightening the codes to require it would help a lot too. Even on a 5 year payback, most companies still won't do it on their own.
I am starting to see more use of energy recovery, but still, the first cost does scare many off of the idea.
 P: 1,695 There was an article published in Science magazine around 2000 by a couple of civil engineers in the northeast suggesting that you could replace half of all coal power with wind power and, after taking in consideration hidden costs such as healthcare for coal miners, it would not be significantly more expensive. The price tag was something like 250 billion. That sounds like a lot, but hey, its half the crooked medicare bill the administration barreled through not long ago. I can look for the reference if someone is interested, though you'll need access to Science magazine to see the full article.
 Sci Advisor P: 286 I don’t think using any type of combustible fuel, including Hydrogen, is a good idea. Burning Hydrogen generates noxious gases because the atmosphere is only about 21% oxygen. Realistically energy is simply an economics problem. The faster the price of fuel increases, the faster the politicians must respond to the loudly voiced discontent that will surely occur. I’m hoping oil prices skyrocket forcing the rapid development of fusion power generation.
P: 789
 Quote by GENIERE I don’t think using any type of combustible fuel, including Hydrogen, is a good idea. Burning Hydrogen generates noxious gases because the atmosphere is only about 21% oxygen.
Exactly what gases do you speak of in particular? If burned stoichiometric then H2 is quite clean, even if burned lean and hot so as to result in the production of NOx this can easily be cleaned up with the addition of a little more H2 and a scrubber and would still be as practical as a catalytic converter is today.

And if widespread H2 production were to be employed that used water as the source we could create as much O2 as a byproduct as any rainforest.

If nuclear, wind, PV, hydro, etc power production was more predominant then H2 production is a logical energy storage mechanism and has the ability to maximize resource utilization that might otherwise be wasted. As Russ addressed though, H2 production seems to be a low priority.

Cliff
P: 410
 Quote by GENIERE I don’t think using any type of combustible fuel, including Hydrogen, is a good idea. Burning Hydrogen generates noxious gases because the atmosphere is only about 21% oxygen. Realistically energy is simply an economics problem. The faster the price of fuel increases, the faster the politicians must respond to the loudly voiced discontent that will surely occur. I’m hoping oil prices skyrocket forcing the rapid development of fusion power generation.
I hope you don't really mean those last two sentences. Do you really wish for a disaster to force us to behave more logically? Think of the possibilities. Sometimes even the strongest societies don't survive disasters if they are sudden enough and cause enough damage. The result could possibly be the onset of another 'Dark Age'. Let's hope for better; that we can make progress without some form of cataclysmic event.

Second point:
A little history for those of you who are younger. Fifty or so
years ago there was great enthusiasm over nuclear fusion. After
all, it had taken only a few short years to control the fission process
for power generation. The great belief then was that we'd have
thermonuclear power generation within five (ten at most) years.
Then, after about twenty five years that great confidence was dampened
down to a cautious hope. Now, after roughly five decades of slow
but discernable progress, that optimism seems to be returning, so
I simply leave the little caveat - - - Don't pin too much hope on this
technology until you actually see it taking place. (Now, with that
said, some people at Princeton Labs do seem to be quite upbeat.)

KM
 Mentor P: 21,999 Someone said in another forum that fusion has been 25 years away for the past 50 years and will likely continue to be 25 years away for some time to come. For that reason, I would agree that any solution needs to be based largely one already existing technology - such as (imo) fission power.
Mentor
P: 21,999
 Quote by Locrian There was an article published in Science magazine around 2000 by a couple of civil engineers in the northeast suggesting that you could replace half of all coal power with wind power and, after taking in consideration hidden costs such as healthcare for coal miners, it would not be significantly more expensive. The price tag was something like 250 billion. That sounds like a lot, but hey, its half the crooked medicare bill the administration barreled through not long ago. I can look for the reference if someone is interested, though you'll need access to Science magazine to see the full article.
I'd be interested to read it and I'm not surprised since something like 20,000 people die prematurely every year in the US due to air pollution and coal for electric power is far and away the largest fraction of that. Still, thats an awful lot of windmills and I'm not sure its even possible to have that many in the US.

...[2 minutes of research later] Coal accounts for about 250,000 megawatts of capacity in the US (wind power accounts for about 4,500 - but at lower availability due to its variable output). The average installed turbine has a capacity of about half a megawatt and the largest about 1 mW. Assuming new ones average closer to 1 mW, thats 125,000 new wind turbines (assuming 100% availability).

At $250 billion, thats about$2 million per turbine, which I think is overly optomistic, nevertheless its a reasonable number for a multi-year (10 year, probably) project, considering my proposals were on the order of $100 billion a year. Certainly something worthy of study.  Sci Advisor P: 286 Skyrocket was a poor term to use. Nevertheless attacking the purse is the only means to inspire action. Obviously oil price inflation should be planned and sufficiently gradual to minimize economic damage. The point is moot as oil prices are rising now and with ups and downs will continue to rise. I’m suggesting a$5.00 per barrel tax dedicated entirely to alternative energy development; $2.00 of which to support an international. Consortium. In my mind only fusion power is worthy of investment. I’ve read that wind power widely used could provide 20% of the nations energy. As efficient technology presently exists, implementation should be immediate. Ditto for fission power, with plants built for 30 years of use. Hydrogen utilization at best can only be considered a means of storing energy, maybe a better battery. It must be: Produced Stored Transported to point of use Stored Combusted None of these methodologies presently exist (large scale), all require at least one decade of development and the commitment of immense monetary resources. I’m not aware of any stoichiometric process affordable by an individual on the consumer end. After this is all in place and functioning, production remains a problem. Hydrogen can be produced by combusting Hydrogen (in the sense of providing energy) but the best known process can only achieve 75% efficiency. We can burn coal, oil, and corn to make up the 25% loss. With the additional losses down the pipeline contributing another 25% (best case) loss of efficiency, what’s the point? IMO star power is a realistic goal, but maybe a pipedream restricting us to transmuting U235 with a little wind, water, and sun thrown in for flavoring. Once the implementation of the least poluting prime energy source(s) is realised, Hydrogen may be a good choice for utilizing the energy, but first things first. - -  Sci Advisor PF Gold P: 2,793 On topic book rec: Paul Roberts - The End Of Oil (2004, Bloomsbury, ISBN 0747570752) Not gonna get myself dragged into this thread (which is patently about to become a monster) summarising it, but if you're genuinely interested about the causes, effects and solutions for the impending energy crisis in the western world, it's the book for you. Emeritus Sci Advisor PF Gold P: 12,493  LIVERMORE, Calif. -- Untapped reserves of methane, the main component in natural gas, may be found deep in Earth's crust, according to a recently released report* in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS). These reserves could be a virtually inexhaustible source of energy for future generations. [continued] http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releas...-mid091304.php Also http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releas...-hit090904.php  Sci Advisor P: 286 Ivan Seeking - Methaneclathrates are thought to be formations holding immense amounts of methane at shallow ocean depths. Are these formations the same as the ones you've provided links to? I've only scanned the links at the momment. Mentor P: 21,999  Quote by GENIERE Skyrocket was a poor term to use. Nevertheless attacking the purse is the only means to inspire action. Obviously oil price inflation should be planned and sufficiently gradual to minimize economic damage. The point is moot as oil prices are rising now and with ups and downs will continue to rise. I’m suggesting a$5.00 per barrel tax dedicated entirely to alternative energy development; \$2.00 of which to support an international. Consortium.
I share your assessment of the economic reality here: The gas crunch of the 1970s is a good case in point. It led to an ultimately temporary shift away from large gas-guzzlers to small energy efficient cars. A gas/oil tax could both provide money to fund alternate energy (or expanded conventional energy) and encourage conservation.
Emeritus
PF Gold
P: 12,493
 Quote by GENIERE Ivan Seeking - Methaneclathrates are thought to be formations holding immense amounts of methane at shallow ocean depths. Are these formations the same as the ones you've provided links to? I've only scanned the links at the momment.
I don't know exactly how they are related - presumably they are - but this report suggests that methane forms naturally and continuously without the need for biomass. This is completely new information AFAIK. EDIT: This might expand our field of options significantly in that the gas is much more abundant than we ever realized.

Note also that about two or three years ago, a couple of reports surfaced indicating that a primordial layer of Hydrogen may be down there as well. Unfortunately, this rock-bound H2 is thought to be something like 50 KM deep.
Emeritus