Monday, August 4, 2008

Post No. 31: We're Smart Enough to Think Ourselves Out of this Energy Bag

Responsive Comment by Guest Author The Laughingman to Posts Nos. 28 and 29 Regarding U.S. Energy Issues

© 2008, The Institute for Applied Common Sense

Excellent pieces!


The debate we are engaged in now is slowly bringing us to the awareness that the problem is not oil or water; it is the cost of energy...and food is energy too. Diverting water and organic resources from food to machine fuel production will prove counter productive...particularly when the BTUs put out by the new fuel produced amount to less than the BTUs put in to generate the new fuel.

Ethanol or C-2-H-5-OH (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethanol) remains a fine and wonderful thing. For the first 100 years of life in this republic, it was the only way you could pack acres of corn into a reasonably transportable form, and the only currency we had on our moneyless frontiers. Currency needs to be reasonably transportable, and must hold its value over time. Booze does both nicely.

But the only way to use it to "save" energy is to park the truck, put your heels up, and open a jug.

Electricity is a fine and dandy thing too, but we haven't figured out how to transport it efficiently, let alone store it. The electricity producers are looking at the batteries in electric vehicles as another source of cheap electrons. While these wondermobiles are plugged into the grid, supposedly "charging" themselves, Con-Ed is already planning to use the energy stored in their batteries to get the utility over "peak demand" humps without having to buy expensive electrons on the spot market to meet above average demand. This is a fine deal for Con-Ed stock holders. The utilities sell electric car owners ten volts overnight, and buy back the remaining eight, after transportation and storage losses, in the afternoon.

The car hasn't moved an inch, but utility costs have been reduced by better than 20%...all collected from a now stationary consumer's pocket.

The problem is that people will not give up random access transportation to save somebody else money. That's not green; that's stupid.

So, this dog will not hunt.

To your question of "What's next?" I submit the concept of elimination of waste.

70% of the energy we develop by burning fuel in an internal combustion engine currently goes out the tail pipe or radiator...unused. 50% of what we do use gets pissed away as heat through the brakes. Anybody see any opportunities for improved efficiency? (By the way, at the turn of the 19th Century, when kerosene was king, gasoline was a waste byproduct, which the producers burned to dispose of it [http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761570078/Kerosene.html].)

Electricity is about the same.

Alcohol is worse.

The answer is "Education."

Always was.

Always will be.

Thanks for the most excellent kick in the cranium...

© 2008, The Institute for Applied Common Sense



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