No more fossil fuels!

  1. My teacher says in a couple of hundred years we are going to run out of fossil fuels. What then? I am pretty sure we will manage to make artificial fuels, wont we? Is that possible? The main Concern is plains, they wont be able to run on electricity. I am pretty sure we will have electricity. So, even if we do run out of them and cant make them again, we will still be able to function well as we have electricity, right?
  2. jcsd
  3. Astronuc

    Staff: Mentor

    It is being addressed:

    Search for Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis.
  4. SteamKing

    SteamKing 11,023
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    If you mean planes, yeah, they could be a problem. If you mean plains, they'll still be just sitting there.
  5. nsaspook

    nsaspook 1,388
    Science Advisor

  6. DrDu

    DrDu 4,641
    Science Advisor

    If you are optimistic, this might lead to the disappearance of cars.
  7. Fossil fuels are oil, gas, and coal. The Worldometers says world oil reserve will run out in about 40 years.

    Scientists and technicians are making progress in developing and harnessing renewable energy sources especially solar energy which are literally falling on our heads. I've seen on tv that France is using molten salt that enable their solar power plant to still operate when the sun is out.

    And most of all, I wish Allen J. Bard succeed in his endeavor about harnessing solar power. ”Bard’s current research focuses on harnessing the power of natural sunlight to produce sustainable energy. His lab at the University of Texas tests different chemical compounds in the hopes of discovering a material that will carry out artificial photosynthesis. Bard feels strongly that such discoveries must be sought and made because otherwise humanity will be in deep trouble as fossil fuels run out.”
  8. We can only wait and see for what future holds for us. Lets hope its good!
  9. We must stay in school and participate in the research whenever possible. Fossil fuels are technically ancient sunlight that was stored through photosynthesis. And plant leaves are harnessing solar energy more than scientists can explain the process. Achieving synthetic photosynthesis will require more than chemistry... I guess the endeavor will require quantum mechanics and nanotechnology among other branch of science.

    edit addendum: fascinating, I found this link a while ago through my email’s-subway-quantum-tunneling-enzymes
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2014
  10. mheslep

    mheslep 3,405
    Gold Member

    Don't be so sure. The only transportation that absolutely can not be pure electric is rocketry outside the atmosphere.

    EADS/Rolls-Royce distributed electric propulsion concept
    Last edited: May 15, 2014
  11. DrDu

    DrDu 4,641
    Science Advisor

  12. mheslep

    mheslep 3,405
    Gold Member

    Some good points but this argument sounds weak:

    The criticism is that biofuel is hyped? So what? The photosynthetic efficiency, by itself, is really irrelevant. What matters is, given a particular efficiency, is the particular biofuel process economic? I don't see Michel stating that it is impossible for biofuel to ever cost less than, say, $100/gallon.

    And these microbe approaches don't necessarily require arable land, pesticides, etc.
  13. Electric airplanes do exist - they are a niche market currently, (trainers) but slowly gaining ground.
    There are several solutions for air travel in a post-fossil fuel world:
    - Better electric planes. A solution to the battery problem will change the world.
    - Beamed energy from the ground. A plane could be charged in flight, using batteries only for takeoff, landing, and gaps between beams.
    - Biofuels: As others have mentioned.
    - Genetically modified giant ducks.
  14. There will always be fossil fuels. There will be a point were the cost to extract fossil fuels will exceed some economic and energy cost that will not be viable to extract and process the fuel.
  15. the answer is population management but nobody likes that answer, 15 billion people and no food will force change.
  16. Sci Fi writers love to scare us with visions of a post singularity world whee AI rules the planet, but personally the future I fear is the post fosil fuel era in which desperate genetic experiments have run amok and we all live in fear of our giant Avian Overlords.
  17. True, but it comes down to the same thing - fossil fuels will become a niche restricted to applications where they can't be replaced. Oil at too high a price will become worthless - it isn't like gold where it is prized for it's beauty.
  18. And what is it that makes you think there will be no food? This sounds like an unsupportable personal theory.
  19. russ_watters

    Staff: Mentor

    Yes, lack of enough food is pretty far down on the list of our problems.
  20. well if you have a sizable garden you'll have something to eat, mostly the coasts where most people live will go without. I'm sure their will be land grabs before people go completely hungry still if your not used to living like the amish. I just ordered this book

    I'm sure people will stretch out biofuels as long as they can but all the things petroleum creates will be rationed until the military takes over. I give it 300 years but really it will be much sooner than that. I don't know why anyone alive right now should care unless you have kids.
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