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Possible Future of Energy?

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posted on May, 3 2014 @ 09:30 PM
Hello everyone I am writing this thread because there have been a few breakthroughs recently in the energy field which has gotten me thinking about the future and the possibilities. Many of these discoveries have their own threads here on ATS which I will provide links to.

Let me say oil is king it has been for as long as I can remember and I am sure it will continue to be long after I am gone but at some point whether it is due to environmental concerns and repercussions or the process in which oil is converted into energy for us becomes too expensive we will have to find alternatives at least for our energy needs. Even after oil is no longer required for our energy needs it will still permeate our lives through plastics. As I look around my home there is plastic everywhere and I do not see that changing. Petroleum is also used in so many other products and processes that there are just too many to list in a thread like this.

Just so we are clear I am not against the oil industry but I do think we are at a point or close to the point where petroleum based fuel could become a thing of the past if the world embraces some change. Just to touch on the subject yes I do know there have been great strides in replacing petroleum based plastic with other sources of plastic even biodegradable ones but I don’t want to wander too far away from my train of thought with this.

The key to all of this is the Navy

U.S. Navy says it can now convert seawater into fuel.

US experts have found out how to extract carbon dioxide and hydrogen gas from seawater.

Then, using a catalytic converter, they transformed them into a fuel by a gas-to-liquids process. They hope the fuel will not only be able to power ships, but also planes.

That breakthrough right there can change everything. At the moment they say they can produce a gallon of fuel (liquid fuel) for approximately $6.00 a gallon which is some very high octane stuff and they are trying to get the cost down. For their needs being able to produce fuel on location for their jets and ships on location may even reduce the cost of fuel to the Navy when factoring in transportation costs but for you and I that is just too much but I will get to that.

For them to produce the fuel it requires more energy than what they are going to get back that is just basic sciences so please don’t think I am deluded into thinking this is free energy because it is not. The actual process and requirements to produce the fuel has not been released to the general public but I have read nickel is used in the process aside from that I believe the majority of the cost is taking into account the electrical needs.

One of the advantages to the Navy’s fuel is that it would be carbon neutral because it is extracting co2 from the oceans to make the fuel now consider if this fuel was used in vehicles like the cars you and I drive then at least some of that carbon would be captured by emissions equipment we already have on our vehicles. It is kind of a strange thought but the more you drive the more you are scrubbing co2 from the atmosphere as an end result.

I think that would make some if not most environmentalists happy, but lets face it there will always be "that group" on either side of the spectrum. This thread isn't for the extremist of either flavor.

To me the fuel itself sounds too good to be true but unless someone can crash this thread with some facts about the process creating huge sums of industrial waste which would make me change my tune then the only problem I see is the need for a cheap abundant energy source to produce the fuel.

So what are our options for the electrical needs. The Navy will be using nuclear which makes sense for them because many of their ships already have reactors but I think there are better options for a land based refinery. To me that leaves solar, wind, or geothermal and in the future there may be a better option than any of those.

U.S. scientists achieve 'turning point' in fusion energy quest - See more at:

That would be a game changer in and of itself but for now still out of reach so in my opinion the answer would be GEOTHERMAL. Hey I am not knocking wind or solar but for sustained electrical output I believe geothermal is the way to go.

In the US we could easily power the entire nation off of geothermal alone many times over however the outdated power grid just couldn’t handle it. The power grid itself is structured from east to west for the most part which has hindered plans of switching over to geothermal in the past.

What I propose is instead of trying to reroute and rebuild the entire US power grid to deliver power to the country which would be costly and time consuming we could build geothermal power stations to supply the needed electricity to convert Seawater into useable liquid fuel for the nations cars. We would need a power grid extending to the west coast and conversion facilities but then again we may not as carbon could be captured from the atmosphere and we have an abundance of salt mines and water sources.

Here is a little on geothermal.


edit on 3-5-2014 by Grimpachi because: dur

posted on May, 3 2014 @ 09:31 PM

Advantages Of Geothermal Energy
As our reliance on fossil fuels have started to increase, geothermal energy is seen as the new source of power generation by digging out the heat stored inside the earth. Though not used fully due to factors such as location and high costs but in the years to come when fossil fuels would start to diminish, it will turn out to be the cheapest source of power generation. Geothermal energy suffers from its own advantages and disadvantages as described below.

GeothermalEnergy Advantage

Advantages of Geothermal Energy:

1. Significant Cost Saving : Geothermal energy generally involves low running costs since it saves 80% costs over fossil fuels and no fuel is used to generate the power. Since, no fuel is require so costs for purchasing, transporting and cleaning up plants is quite low.

2. Reduce Reliance on Fossil Fuels : Dependence on fossil fuels decreases with the increase in the use of geothermal energy. With the sky-rocketing prices of oil, many countries are pushing companies to adopt these clean sources of energy. Burning of fossil fuels releases greenhouse gases which are responsible for global warming

3. No Pollution : This is one of the main advantage of using geothermal energy since it does not create any pollution and help in creating clean environment. Being the renewable source of energy, geothermal energy has helped in reducing global warming and pollution. Moreover, Geothermal systems does not create any pollution as it releases some gases from deep within the earth which are not very harmful to the environment

4. Direct Use : Since ancient times, people having been using this source of energy for taking bath, heating homes, preparing food and today this is also used for direct heating of homes and offices. This makes geothermal energy cheaper and affordable. Although the initial investment is quite steep but in the long run with huge cost saving it proves quite useful

5. Job Creation and Economic Benefits : Government of various countries are investing hugely in creation of geothermal energy which on other hand has created more jobs for the local people

Though above said advantages prove that geothermal energy has big capability in itself in creating clean and safe environment and also it is an excellent source of cheap, reliable, simple, clean and renewable power but it also suffers from few drawbacks which is why it is not being utilized everywhere to its full capability. Here look at some of the disadvantages of geothermal energy.

- See more at:

There have also been some advances in geothermal as well which is why I believe that to be the correct path to go down please see below.
Drilling surprise opens door to volcano-powered electricity

The main issue I am trying address with this thread is our dependence on oil for liquid fuel. With prices in my area at $3.70 and being normal that isn’t very far off from the Navy’s projection of $6 a gallon. The refining process itself for oil is energy intensive which many people do not know. My Grandfather was a roughneck in the oil fields my father and uncle both worked the fields at one point I grew up hearing stories so I am not anti-oil but I am able to see that at some point things are going to change no matter how we feel about it.
So I may be wrong about the seawater conversion process but if I am not and the main cost in it is the electrical needs then we could have an oil substitute for your driving pleasure at a lower cost than what we are paying now.

Well I hope you enjoyed the thread it didn’t cover everything I wanted but it wasn’t meant to be all inclusive I only wish to get the conversation going on if this is a viable option worth debating. I would like to hear both sides both for or against and why.

Before posting this I want to add that what pushed me to write the thread now was a debate on the proposed keystone pipeline to where it was brought up that they want 7 billion dollars from the American taxpayer to fund the project which got me thinking about how that money could actually help the US and create sustainable jobs. Maybe this would qualify.

edit on 3-5-2014 by Grimpachi because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 3 2014 @ 10:13 PM
Good post... great topic. We certainly need new, clean ways to generate electric power.

It would be ironic if we moved from oil back to steam... but why not? It would be cheaper and that's the metric, after all.

posted on May, 3 2014 @ 11:15 PM
a reply to: Baddogma

Thanks but I am really expecting soon that there will be some completely logical reasons why this couldn't work.

Idealey we would restructure the power grid however because there are a lot of people vested in the current paradigm that it would take a miracle for approval.

The reason I focus on fuel for our vehicles is the relative ease at which a company operating independently could set up a working model and as long as it could generate profit then that trend would spread.

In the second half of my OP I linked the discoveries they have made making it possible to drill for thermal so the coupling of that technology with the Navys seems like a good fit. A carbon neutral fuel for cars is just a perk but the true goal is a cheaper energy source to replace what we have.

posted on May, 4 2014 @ 01:22 AM
I can think of one problem. In the energy market, the supply and demand have to be almost identical at all times. Demand for energy is much higher in the middle of the day and early evening, which we call the peak demand. With coal plants, we can simply stuff more coal into the machines to raise production for peak times. With geothermal however, increasing and decreasing production quickly and efficiently is much more difficult. So then we are stuck with imbalances of supply/demand, which obviously has serious economic repercussions.

posted on May, 4 2014 @ 01:42 AM
a reply to: faint1993

OK well I am glad you touched on coal because there is yet another possibility in generating liquid fuel from their excess power however I don't think you really got my proposal. I am not saying we should revamp the electrical grid for geothermal in fact I have said the opposite at least for now.

The geothermal is to generate the electricity needed to convert seawater to fuel for our cars we can call them sea refineries the Geo stations are simply their power supply.

Now to address the coal plants there are two issues their. Coal plants may not burn as much at night on off peak hours however they do not shut down in fact from what I have read they are not simply adding more fuel and adding more pressure during peak hours. They remain pretty steady in power output throughout the day. It is far too costly and time consuming to shut down stacks and restart them hours later but this leaves us with excess energy during off peak time that no one is using or paying for energy companies also charge less during those hours which is why most smelting refineries run primarily at night. The second thing is that excess energy if substantial enough could be put into maybe a small sea refinery.

I guess I should touch on one misconception though. The Geothermal plants could also have peak or non peak hours simply by the amount of water pumped down into the thermal vents to where they can control the amount of steam at their whim. In that geothermal paper they discuss how they can drill wells right into or near magma beds which they then cap with stainless steel plugs. The amount of energy available will depend on the amount of wells and how far down it is till they get near the magma.

Idealely yes one day the country would get the majority of power from geothermal but before that could happen the entire electrical grid would need to be replaced but as things are now we could have sea water conversion plants powered by geothermal facilities in the near future.
edit on 4-5-2014 by Grimpachi because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 4 2014 @ 10:38 AM
Geothermal, I would think would not be a long term solution.What happens when we,as we always do,over exploit this source? The internal energy of the planet,while immence, is still finite. It drives plate tectonics and keeps the planet alive and ever changing.

What happens to the planet when we extract so much energy that the natural processes driven by that energy start to slow and cease to operate. It would probably take a long time to get to this point, however what will happen as it slows?

I don't think that anyone has actually considered this when they speak of this type of energy usage.

posted on May, 4 2014 @ 11:56 AM
a reply to: lonegurkha

Geothermal energy will last millions if not billions of years. There are geothermal vents on the ocean floors if your worry is that we would drain the energy off of the earths core with power stations well it just doesn't work that way. Much of the cores heat comes from radioactive decay unless physics has changed that decay is a constant.

As far as long term solutions go its right up there with the sun shining as in dependability for the future.
edit on 4-5-2014 by Grimpachi because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 4 2014 @ 10:39 PM
It is a shame that the world's economies do not promote the development of alternate energy sources. Artificial scarcity is the best way to control the masses. Imagine if we could take a solar panel, a pond, and boom, we have "gasoline" (hydrogen fuel). Why we would actually be free! But nope, the aristocrats can't allow that. What would they do without their lust for power and greed? Gotta control us all.

posted on May, 6 2014 @ 06:18 PM
I would like to thank xuenchen for finding this article on the process which details further how this fuel is made.

Low-Cost Methanol From Carbon Dioxide — Relatively Cheap Conversion Method Developed

A relatively low-cost means of converting carbon dioxide into methanol has been developed by researchers from Stanford University, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, and the Technical University of Denmark.

Methanol is used for a number of different purposes, primarily though, as a fuel, in the production of many important adhesives and solvents, and in the production of plastics. It’s been suggested by researchers in some fields that methanol could be used as a replacement for gasoline (at least partially) — despite its corrosivity — with only minimal adjustments to vehicle design.

Artist's rendering of the nickel-gallium active site, which synthesizes hydrogen and carbon dioxide into methanol. Nickel atoms are light grey, gallium atoms are dark grey, and oxygen atoms are red. Image Credit: Jens Hummelshoj/SLAC

The new low-cost conversion method is all down to the discovery of a new nickel-gallium catalyst — one that converts hydrogen and carbon dioxide into methanol with fewer side-products than the conventional catalysts.

“Methanol is processed in huge factories at very high pressures using hydrogen, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide from natural gas,” stated study lead author Felix Studt, a staff scientist at SLAC. “We are looking for materials than can make methanol from clean sources under low-pressure conditions, while generating low amounts of carbon monoxide.”

Ultimately, according to Studt, the goal is a process that can be scaled up to the industrial level while remaining “nonpolluting and carbon neutral”.


posted on May, 8 2014 @ 08:03 PM
It seems I spoke too soon when I said petroleum will always be needed for plastics. Well actually they still are but not as much as I thought before.

Biodegradable Plastic Option From Shrimp Shells

When treated with sodium hydroxide chitin turns to chitosan, a polysaccharide used medically, for water filtration and to enhance plant growth. Somewhat ironically it has also been shown to help plants fight fungal infections. Despite its variety of uses commercial consumption of chitosan does not get close to matching the available supply of chitin from waste shrimp shells.

The Institute's substitute for plastic bags is a product made by combining chitosan with a protein from silk, which has been named Shrilk. In Macromolecular Materials and Engineering the Institute's Dr Javier Fernandez and Dr Donald Ingber describe their process for producing Shrilk and 3D printing the product into a chess set. "You can make virtually any 3D form with impressive precision from this type of chitosan," says Fernandez

"Our scalable manufacturing method shows that chitosan, which is readily available and inexpensive, can serve as a viable bioplastic that could potentially be used instead of conventional plastics for numerous industrial applications." says Ingber.

Subtle differences in the manufacturing process can leave the Shrilk too brittle for most uses, but with experimentation Fernandez and Inber were able to detail a reliable method for what they wanted. Adding wood flour removed the problem of shrinkage which would have ruled their product out for some purposes.

Most importantly, the pair claim Shrilk breaks down within two weeks in the environment, and even serves as an effective stimulant for plant growth, a assertion they support with the below video of a blackeye pea in soil with Shrilk added.


Click on the link to see the video.

Imagine if petroleum plastics were used more responsibly. With molding for one homes could be produced to withstand far more than they do now we already coat them with petroleum products like paint, but I am talking foundations and walls being constructed out of it. Those houses would outlast anything we have today.

As for bottles, grocery, bags, food containers, disposable utensils, and the like that fill out dumps each day this new plastic would be ideal. You could even cycle them into mulch piles for the garden.

This thread I may keep going to where I add these new discoveries to show that the future can be bright if we choose.

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