Originally posted by ollncasino
One downside however is that the process requires electricity, suggesting that it may be merely transforming one source of energy into a different
edit on 19-10-2012 by ollncasino because: (no reason given)
That's not really a "downside". ALL
energy "production" is merely transforming one source of energy into a different form. The Law of
the Conservation of Mass dictates (assuming that we are only using Classical and Relativistic physics, of course) that neither matter nor energy can
every be truly "created" or "destroyed" per se, but rather that it only changes form.
Thus when you burn coal, those dead dinosaurs and plant matter are essentially acting as a "battery" for solar energy from the Jurassic. When you
burn ethanol you are simply using corn as the "battery" and the ethanol itself is merely "corn with the impurities taken out" so to speak. Just
like gasoline is refined from petroleum.
Indeed, with the exception of nuclear power and geothermal, virtually ALL energy production on planet earth is driven ultimately by the Sun. Wind,
hydroelectric, coal, oil, natural gas, wood stoves...you name it. Although, I suppose it would be fair to state that tidal production is one part
solar and one part lunar. The earth's hydrosphere is dependent upon the Sun because otherwise all of our water would be ice...but it IS the moon's
gravitational pull which pulls the tidal currents around.
What humanity needs MOST of all is a super kick^ss battery. To date, liquid fuels have proven to me the best "batteries" around in terms of their
energy density (energy/volume) and their overall portability. The downside to them all is that each and every liquid fuel that is stable at room
temperature requires LAND in order to produce...and usually land that is either inconveniently located in the Middle East or which could/should be
used for food production instead. ANY technology that allows us to produce a relatively standard liquid fuel (gasoline, ethanol, methanol, or
pentaborane) WITHOUT being dependent upon controlling just the right type of geography is a HUGE WIN.
Even better, this is one technology that the oil companies will have a REAL bitch of a time in thwarting assuming the inventors don't just sell the
patent to Exxon-Mobile....which I actually find somewhat doubtful. I'm guessing there is far more money in licensing said patent out, as opposed to
a one-time transaction.
It's easy to keep claiming that fuel cells aren't practical because of the "infrastructure" when all those gas stations simply refuse to install
hydrogen tanks. It's easy to say that ethanol isn't a "good" solution when you are forced to choose only between standard gasoline and
E-85...which of course often necessites buying a newer "flexfuel" vehicle. Never mind the fact that 99% of the vehicles currently on the road (for
the most part anything made since the late '80's/ early '90's can run anywhere between a 50%-75% ethanol blend w/ ZERO problems and a VERY
negligible loss of gas mileage. In Brazil the law states that all pumps allow the user to set the percentage of ethanol manually to make sure they
use as LITTLE imported and/or non-renewable fuel as possible...there is NO REASON we couldn't give people that same choice here.
But...if it's possible to synthesize gasoline from thin air...then there is NOTHING AT ALL stopping you from putting it in your tank. Even
better...the whole "15 years away from refinery-scale" production might be the BEST thing about it. Some things become a lot cheaper on a massive
scale...but some things become more expensive. Personally, I hope that the "sweet spot" cost/production capacity comes out in a small to midsize
form. While it probably isn't very realistic for everyone to have one of these units in their garage...imagine how awesome things would be if you
had a BUNCH of smaller scale companies in every city in America. Imagine if instead of 5 oil companies in the world...there were five right in your
TOWN. The competition would be fierce, the revenue generated would be local, and most cities have all kinds of empty and rotting industrial space
which could be repurposed and put to good use again.
This is a beautiful, beautiful thing.