New Mars Forums

Official discussion forum of The Mars Society and MarsNews.com

You are not logged in.

Announcement

Announcement: As a reader of NewMars forum, we have opportunities for you to assist with technical discussions in several initiatives underway. NewMars needs volunteers with appropriate education, skills, talent, motivation and generosity of spirit as a highly valued member. Write to newmarsmember * gmail.com to tell us about your ability's to help contribute to NewMars and become a registered member.

#276 2022-10-21 17:36:21

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 7,413

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

Calliban,

I have empirical values from actual installations on how much steel and concrete are required per TWh of power produced per year using data gathered from actual solar thermal implementations, so then I can work backwards from there to determine how many millions of tons of steel and concrete are required to produce TeraWatt-hours of power per day, in order to obtain the CO2, turn it into Methane, and then Propane.

Having real-world data on the demonstrated performance of existing systems and technologies, already deployed at utility scale for many years, is how I can "know" that something will perform as-advertised.  To me, this kind of performance data and analysis is better than all the theoretical possibilities in the world.  This assumes that the end goal is to derive a practical solution sustainable into perpetuity, rather than a wish-list of competing funding priorities.

165 million metric tons of steel is required to generate about 6.875TWh of electricity per day.  I need 66,000t of steel to generate 1TWh of electricity per year.  I multiplied by 365, so I need 24,090,000t of steel to generate 1TWh of electricity per day.  I multiplied again by the amount of power I expect I need to generate to capture (CO2) or synthesize (CH4 / C3H8) the required quantities of output products, based upon what we could expect in terms of average daily consumption rates with the types of passenger vehicles I had in mind.  I then used the data I've collected about existing catalytic processes and figures from industrial scale operation of those processes.  We're mostly using thermal power and generating a limited set of short-chain hydrocarbon products, so that we don't lose so much of the power in the conversion processes.

3,465,000,000,000,000Wh in steel (at 21,000Wh/kg of steel) / 6,875,000,000,000Wh of electricity generated per day = 504 days (if we were only generating / converting to electricity from the solar trough concentrators)

I need a very similar tonnage of concrete as well.

My SWAG is that 3 years of continuous operation is required before all the energy invested into the materials is paid back, in full.  Say it only operates for 25 years instead of the 40+ years of service life that NREL's metal-based reflectors have already demonstrated.  That's an 8X gain.  If it operates for 40 years, that's a 13X gain, and 75 years would be a 25X gain in output.

It's not like these fuel synthesis plants, which will be located in several different states, need to be built in a year.  I expect it'll take 10 years or more to construct, but we need to start while energy, capital, and labor are still available.  My first order of business is to replace gasoline with Propane, and unsustainable personal transport with sustainable personal transport.  America presently consumes about 369 million gallons of gasoline per day.  Replacing gasoline with Propane, and diesel truck engines with spark-ignited Propane burners, will be a monumental achievement all by itself.  While that work is in-progress, we're going to work on replacing kerosene / jet fuel with Propane.  We already have LNG-powered ships, so I presume that those can be Propane-powered as well.

I'm aware that none of this will be easy and it'll probably take more time and cost more money than we think it will, but at least it's technically feasible to do without running afoul of various basic math and physics issues, which is more than I can say for the photovoltaics / wind turbines / batteries.

Offline

#277 2022-10-21 18:08:13

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 28,820

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

Tell that to Tesla Energy Generation And Storage Business

Tesla Energy revenues increased 38.6% year-over-year to $1,117 million (5.2% of the total revenues), while the cost of revenues stands at $1,013 million. Tesla reports that its battery energy storage systems deployment increased 62% year-over-year to a new quarterly record of 2,100  MWh.

AA13bauT.img?w=768&h=362&m=6

Tesla offers three main types of ESS products:

Powerwall for home installations (13.5 kWh usable / 7 kW peak / 5 kW continuous per unit)
Powerpack for commercial installations (Up to 232 kWh / Up to 130 kW per unit)
Megapack (3 MWh units the largest project by utilities)

Offline

#278 2022-10-21 19:00:26

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 7,413

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

SpaceNut,

Tesla's energy storage business is the energy equivalent to pissing lighter fluid on a forest fire.  You're obviously having some effect on the fire, but it's not actually helping anything and won't stop the fire from incinerating you.  Compared to how much stored energy the US uses per day, everything that Tesla has produced to date is almost too small to measure.

2,100,000,000Wh <- This is how much energy storage Tesla deployed over 3 months
23,333,333Wh <- This is how much energy storage Tesla deployed per day
12,435,300,000,000Wh <- This is how much gasoline energy we use per day for passenger vehicles alone
532,941 <- The multiple of the amount of energy US passenger cars use every day, as compared to the amount of energy storage Tesla deployed over 3 months

Teslas are only 25% to 50% more energy efficient than non-optimized combustion-powered vehicles, except that they're nowhere close to that after the embodied energy cost of the batteries is taken into consideration.

266,470.5 <- That's the average daily energy storage demand multiple (of what Tesla actually created per day in their best quarter) for US passenger vehicles to use electricity alone, while completely ignoring the energy used to create the batteries in the first place.

It takes 100 barrels of oil of input energy to create 1 barrel of oil of energy equivalent, in the form of Lithium-ion batteries.

Can you spot the energy deficit discrepancy there?

Offline

#279 2022-10-22 00:25:35

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 7,413

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

Calliban,

I overestimated the energy consumption associated with a low carbon steel, but we'll presume that my over-estimate on the steel's embodied energy would then be applied to the shipment of materials, fabrication processes, manufacturing equipment, etc, since all of that could entail substantial embodied energy.

Offline

#280 2022-10-22 08:08:32

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 28,820

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

Comparing global to a local or personal use is just as you said a drop in the bucket for what can be delivered from the sun. So why would we need to create more when that much is arriving every second and then some to earth.
Oh, it's because it's not an AC power source that allows you to plug in devices to a grid.

Offline

#281 2022-10-22 16:01:08

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 7,413

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

SpaceNut,

My gasoline consumption figures were for the United States only, meaning no other countries.  America alone consumes 369 million gallons of gasoline PER DAY.  If you believe the hype, then a Tesla is anywhere between 25% to 50% more efficient than the combustion engines they replace.  That means the energy supplied by electricity must be equivalent to between 184.5 (50% more efficient) and 276.75 (only 25% more efficient) million gallons of gasoline.  Real world studies on Teslas operated in California say that they're only 23% more efficient than combustion engines, well-to-wheels (all energy inputs and outputs accounted for in the real physical world, in a place called "California", not some non-existent theoretical world or an alternate universe where this universe's physics don't apply).

That implies that the energy equivalent contained within 276.75 million gallons of gasoline will be required to truly "replace" the energy from gasoline for passenger cars ALONE (meaning, exclusive of all trucks, farming equipment, ships, aircraft, and electric power generating turbines that use coal or gas as their fuel source), in America ALONE (meaning, ignoring gasoline consumption of passenger cars from all other countries on planet Earth).  If 100% of Americans were driving Tesla battery powered cars, then we would need to supply the energy equivalent, in terms of gasoline consumption, of the energy contained within 276.75 million gallons of gasoline, EVERY SINGLE DAY!

276.75 million gallons of gasoline, at 33,700 Watt-hours per gallon, (276,750,000 * 33,700) contain 9,326,475,000,000 Watt-hours of energy, or 9.326475 TeraWatt-hours (TWh) of energy.  This is the amount of energy required for 100% of all Americans to drive Teslas instead of Ford / Chevy / Chrysler / Toyota / Honda / Mazda / VW / BMW / Mercedes-Benz.  The 369 million gallons of gasoline is for Americans to drive all of those brands, plus a handful of Teslas.

My plan was to reduce that gasoline consumption figure to 1/3rd of the present level of consumption using 25hp to 50hp passenger vehicles (right-sizing gasoline engines for driving at 55mph to 75mph- the legal speed limit on highways across all 50 states), which means 3,108,825,000,000 Watt-hours or 3.108825 TWh.  25hp to 50hp is a reasonable amount of horsepower to propel a 1,000 pound to 1,500 pound motor vehicle at 55mph to 75mph.

That is where my 6.875TWh of solar thermal energy input requirement comes from.  It wasn't a random number.  I didn't pull it out of my butt.  I took what I believed the energy requirements to be for CO2 collection, which was based upon actual data from real world CO2 capturing plants presently in operation, input thermal power into the Sabatier reaction to produce Methane, and input power into another catalytic process to convert Methane into the Propane fuel used for transportation.  Those input energy figures were used to determine how much total input solar thermal power would be required for us to drive these new plastic chassis cars.  The total power and input material requirements assumed that the thermal power produced by the solar plant was first converted into electricity first, which is not required for the Sabatier reaction, nor is it required to drive the fans to collect the CO2.  As such, I have a very comfortable buffer, if using mostly thermal processes to drive fans, drive catalytic reactions, etc.  If certain parts of the plant require electrical power or more thermal power, then I have excess power available.  This is being conservative in my estimates of the total power requirements, i.e. "being realistic".

A YouTuber who goes by the name "Robot Cantina" proved that by taking a 1,300 pound Honda InSight (he called it a "street legal Go-Kart") and 200 pound test driver (himself), stripped of its hybrid power train batteries and liquid-cooled engine (1,300 pounds is the new vehicle curb weight with the existing engine and hybrid power train removed), and replacing it with a 25hp to 40hp air-cooled Harbor Freight "Predator" riding lawn mower / cement mixer / go-kart engine from Harbor Freight (naturally-aspirated, turbocharged, or supercharged, carbureted or electronic fuel-injected; he tried all of the above combinations to see what worked best, using his home garage to build the engine and a local chassis dyno to configure and tune the engine).  He achieved 30mpg to 60mpg in real-world driving on real roads (in city traffic and on a highway), dependent upon actual engine configuration (there were many, and testing continues using a Saturn Ion chassis donated to him for more testing) and various options added to the engine.

Our current annual fuel consumption shows a national average fuel economy, total gasoline consumed per year divided by total number of miles driven in passenger vehicles per year, of just 13mpg.  That's pretty terrible.  Bare minimum, my proposed solution more than doubles that, and could feasibly quadruple that without invoking any new technology.  Basically, no electronics are required.  If electronics and new technology are applied, then as Calliban has pointed out, certain hybrid vehicle engine configurations have already demonstrated average fuel economy of more than 100mpg.  At that point, using batteries to power cars makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Both the Honda InSight and Saturn Ion are sub-optimal test mules that are heavier than they need to be, because both are based upon sheet metal construction technology, which is considerably heavier than the plastic I proposed using, for equivalent strength.  However, they're also existing cars that don't need to be designed, fabricated, assembled, and tested.

If we pursue this course of action, versus trying to power everything with batteries, then it's very possible to reduce our gasoline consumption to 1/4 or less of the current figure, at which point in time no matter how you try to slice it, an all-electric future uses inordinately more energy than one powered by Propane.  The corollary is that an all-electric future means vastly increased fossil fuel consumption and environmental damage from all the heavy mining activities.

Back to Tesla:

Tesla's battery sales figures are across all countries on the planet that purchase Tesla batteries, which is a lot of them.  Americans are not Tesla's only customers.

Making a battery by burning a bunch of diesel or natural gas in South America to mine and refine the Lithium, bringing the Lithium and other materials to the US on ships burning bunker fuel, burning some more natural gas or coal to make the battery, and finally burning some diesel to truck the car to a dealership, doesn't make your battery powered car "clean and green".  All I can say is that it's a darn good thing there's no tailpipe on that car, because the process of producing said car was absolutely filthy.

Offline

#282 2022-10-25 16:50:56

Mars_B4_Moon
Member
Registered: 2006-03-23
Posts: 9,175

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

Canada commits C$970 million to new nuclear power technology

https://www.reuters.com/business/energy … 022-10-25/

Offline

#283 2022-10-27 10:31:47

Mars_B4_Moon
Member
Registered: 2006-03-23
Posts: 9,175

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

Molten Salt Reactors: Maritime’s Nuclear Option

https://www.worldenergynews.com/news/mo … ion-735139

Offline

#284 2023-02-18 13:52:07

Mars_B4_Moon
Member
Registered: 2006-03-23
Posts: 9,175

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

Solarpunk Wants To Change the World — Should We Take It Seriously?

https://antoniomelonio.substack.com/p/s … -the-world

Offline

#285 2023-02-18 14:11:34

Terraformer
Member
From: Ceres
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,812
Website

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

Solarpunk has long been a joke. It got taken over pretty quickly by innumerate communists (like, literal would describe themselves as communists communists, I'm not using it as a shorthand for silly lefty here). People who don't get that you can't power a skyscraper off a single solar panel. Or that a skyscraper requires concrete and steel and glass, which all require energy to produce and labour to assemble and aren't something that a decentralised society (who's going to make all those people vountarily labour to build it?) concerned about efficiency would build.

Like, we could just have traditional villages, walkable ones, with train stations. And rooftop solar thermal. All things that we could do back in the *19th century*, but that's not shiny and new enough for them.


"I'm gonna die surrounded by the biggest idiots in the galaxy." - If this forum was a Mars Colony

Offline

#286 2023-02-18 15:46:47

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 7,413

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

Mars_B4_Moon,

Solarpunk is a movement of hope and a return to harmonious coexistence  with the planet —  without hierarchies, capitalism, and the destruction of our environments and children’s futures. It signifies a receding back to nature and the things that truly matter in life.

Instead of devastated, ultra-capitalist dystopias, Solarpunk represents a utopia in which humanity and nature exist in harmony. Solarpunk worlds, for the most part, are no longer capitalist. They do often involve sophisticated technologies, but these are to be utilized in sustainable and mutually beneficial manners.

Okay, so what is Solarpunk?

The answer to this question can be both simple and complex. Let’s begin with a simple definition: At the moment, Solarpunk is still primarily a fictional genre. A genre that, roughly speaking, has positioned itself as the antithesis to Cyberpunk.

Instead of devastated, ultra-capitalist dystopias, Solarpunk represents a utopia in which humanity and nature exist in harmony. Solarpunk worlds, for the most part, are no longer capitalist. They do often involve sophisticated technologies, but these are to be utilized in sustainable and mutually beneficial manners.

However, Solarpunk has evolved into more than that. It has reached into the real world. Solarpunk is activism. Solarpunk is exactly what its name implies: punk. It’s a counter-movement to our profit- and growth-oriented society.

Solarpunk is anti-capitalist, ecological, anarcho-communist, communal, and socialist — as you can see, it’s a lot of different things.

Solarpunk activism can take many forms: mutual aid, community projects, self-organization, decentralization, urban and guerrilla gardening, sustainable designs, green technologies, and a variety of other things. Solarpunk is diverse — and thus can help bring people together. It’s a movement that has yet to find its footing. An evolving movement that everybody can help shape.

They're a bunch of self-described communists and anarchists who think their own dystopia is preferable to capitalism, despite the fact that the only reason the diptwaddle who wrote that is able to share his brain vomit with the world using a computer is due to capitalism, not communism.

First comment in reply to this moron:

Solar punk isn't a leftist or communist ideology. There are many examples in our society where a market economy can be working while respecting the environment, I am thinking at the community level.

Labeling solar punk as leftist will just destroy the movement before it had an opportunity to start.

Good thinking.  Let's do that now before mass-moronism mass-murders hundreds of millions of additional victims.

Moron's response to the only comment generated by his brain vomit:

strongly disagree.

First, who are you to say what Solarpunk is or isn't? Everyone can interpret it their way (like I did); there are many different streams of thought. I merely defined it in the only way that makes sense from my viewpoint. There are several reasons for that. Here are some of them:

- Market economies (i.e. capitalism) is founded on philosophies of individual greed, profit, expansion, appropriation, growth and the subjugation of natural 'resources.' This seems to me incompatible with Solarpunk's vision of solidarity and harmony.

- Solarpunk implies a high level of technological sophistication, often resulting in high degrees of automation. How would this be compatible with a market economy? When there are no jobs, how are people supposed to survive capitalism? Solarpunk, in my opinion, goes more in the direction of FALC (Fully Automated Luxury Communism). I wrote about that in another essay.

- Capitalism means inequality and the enrichment of a few while most others must labor to survive. This does not seem very Solarpunk to me.

- Neoliberal visions of a bright technological future ('techno-hopium') are mostly utilized to strengthen and solidify the status quo and the current order of inequality. There is not much else behind them, but the belief that somehow we can continue to extract resources at a growing pace without ever suffering the consequences.

Those were just some immediate thoughts that came to mind, there are many more I might go deeper on. Maybe in some upcoming essays.

Finally, your statement that 'leftists will destroy the movement' seems to me very... weird? Why do you believe that? For me, the biggest danger for Solarpunk seems to come from its co-option by neoliberal ultra-capitalists.

Cheers

He's yet another moron who can only spread his moronism due to the capitalist system he so despises, the one that even the communist Chinese use because they would've starved to death en-masse if they hadn't.  He thinks his special brand of moronism will result in a "new utopia", as he defines it.  It sounds like hell on Earth to me.

Why does this particular moron think communism is some kind of utopia?  Most likely, he's never lived under communism.  These sorts of people are the very first ones that "true communism" executes, as practiced by actual communists rather than the pretend kind of communists who don't exist.  Individual greed is somehow worse than collective greed for unstated reasons.  Somehow, when small numbers of individuals have absolute control over the lives of everyone else, living conditions will improve.  Show me one country where that actually happened at any point in time in human history.

Fully Automated Luxury Communism?

The communists were still tilling fields by hand while the US was using combine-harvesters.  We were using fully integrated circuits while they were still using vacuum tubes.  There was nothing automated or luxurious about the way the communists lived.  The Soviet Union was a slave labor system.  The Chinese and North Korean communists simply took slavery to the next level.  The ones who survived communism lived hand-to-mouth.  The ones who didn't are never addressed by clowns like this, or excused away as "not real communism" or "someone else did it".

Leftists of all flavors are welcome here. Fascists and any sort of authoritarians most definitely not. This is a publication from the working class for the working class.

This guy clearly doesn't understand the entire concept of "anti-authoritarianism".  Telling people they're not welcome if they don't share your viewpoints is precisely what actual authoritarians are doing, but thankfully it also limits their audience and appeal.

Moron's description of himself:

I’m an anarchist author and writer, dedicated to bringing attention to the deep injustices and inadequacies of the status quo.

I have a master’s degree in business economics (please don’t ask) and a bachelor’s degree in teacher education. My day job is teaching high school mathematics and physics to new generations; my purpose writing, helping (working class) people, and fighting for a better future.

Born in the war-torn Yugoslavia of the 1990s (Bosnia, to be precise), I grew up in a wealthy strip of land called Austria, where I live to this day. My dog’s name is Leo.

Apart from eloquent long-form essays, I also write radical books of fiction. You can buy my anarcho-communist debut book The Factory: A Marxist Tale of Revolution here.

Working class people don't have masters degrees in business economics.  There's nothing "working class" about him, other than choosing to be a high school math and physics teacher when he really wants to be an independently wealthy anarchist or to become a "hero of the people's revolution" (who then immediately become slaves to an all-powerful state that mass-murders them).

He grew up "in a wealthy strip of Austria, where he lives to this day".  He could've decided to be an orphan who grew up in Bosnia after the war, where he was born, but I guess that was a little "too working class" for him.  He clearly didn't think it was time to move back to educate his own countrymen using his business economics degree.

He's a marxist / anarcho-communist who is SELLING his brain vomit for profit.  If you want to be an actual marxist / communist, then stop doing capitalist things in your spare time, comrade.

At least he's a modestly useful idiot, since he's a high school teacher.  That's the nicest thing I can say about him.  He neither practices what he preaches, nor abstains from enjoying the benefits of the excess wealth generated by capitalism.

How am I supposed to take him seriously?

Offline

#287 2023-02-19 02:31:41

Terraformer
Member
From: Ceres
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,812
Website

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

>people can label it as they like
>unless they don't label it as leftist; such people must be driven from the movement

Prefer the tabletop game derived noblebright tbh. In the future there is HIGH ADVENTURE! And its precursor, nobledark. An antidote to the grimdarkness induced apathy.


"I'm gonna die surrounded by the biggest idiots in the galaxy." - If this forum was a Mars Colony

Offline

#288 2023-02-19 04:36:33

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 7,413

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

What this graph shows you, is that to replace a combustion turbine, you need between 1,000% and 2,000% more minerals to deliver the same unit of power ...  It's divided into Copper and everything else ... You need somewhere on the order of 400% more minerals and metals an electric vehicle compared to a conventional car.  This is understating what's actually going on, because as I stated at the outset the advantage hydrodams have over windmills and solar panels is that they operate very differently.  Hydrodams, especially in Norway, operate more than 90% of the time.  Windmills and solar panels, self-evidently, do not.  So, if you adjust this data for energy delivered as opposed to power, the actual requirement to deliver the same unit of energy to society is a 2,000% to 7,000% increase in the metals required to deliver the same mile of driving, the same hour of heat, the same hour of illumination, the same hour of compute time.

This is a change in demand from 700% to on the order of 4,000% in total supply of these metals, and this is the increase in demand and therefore increase in supply that will be required in the coming two decades.  Not to put too fine or too hyperbolic of a point on this, but if it were to be achievable, it's the largest single increase in demand or supply of metals in all of human history.  It's never happened, so in the title to my presentation when I put the question and used the provocative word "delusion", by delusion I don't mean people are delusional about their aspirations, I think they're suffering some modest delusion about what the possibilities are in the mining sector.  I mean, the whole thing distills to mining.  Is it possible?  Can the world increase the production of these kinds of metals, not by 10% or 20%, not by 50%, not by 200%, but from 700% to 7,000%, and in time frames that are meaningful, which is in the next decade or two?

Mark P Mills

According to Mark Mills, humanity moves, refines, grows, or otherwise processes, for all possible uses, approximately 100 gigatons of materials per year.  This includes all fuels, all metals, all other construction materials like wood and concrete, all food, and all biomass materials.  For the "energy transition" to happen, we will need to extract and refine approximately 100 gigatons of minerals and metals over the next 20 years.  He says, "I don't think that's going to happen.  This is not a statement of politics or of aspiration or an objection to motivations, it's just not going to happen.  The world is not capable of doing that with the technologies that exist today."

I think Mark Mills is correct.  That will not happen without burning absolutely insane amounts of hydrocarbon fuels.  Anyone who thinks we can do this without drastically and negatively impacting the environment needs a masters degree in basic counting.

There's a reason a I suggested synthesizing hydrocarbon fuels from scratch using solar thermal power.  In terms of climate and environmental damage, it is far and away the least damaging, second only to nuclear power, which many people are terrified of because they don't understand it, even if they say otherwise.

Offline

#289 2023-03-12 07:57:30

Mars_B4_Moon
Member
Registered: 2006-03-23
Posts: 9,175

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

CASC’s new breakthrough on closed Brayton cycle high-power thermoelectric conversion system can be used for space tugboats and deep space exploration in the future. System-level thermal tests of the He-Xe based system have been carried out in March.
https://twitter.com/CNSAWatcher/status/ … 2996160514

https://m.weibo.cn/status/4877843455020734

Performance evaluation for a combined power generation system of closed-Brayton-cycle and thermoelectric generator with finite cold source at room temperature on hypersonic vehicles
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/a … 4222013470

Closed-Brayton-cycle (CBC) power generation system is a potential high-power electricity generation scheme for hypersonic vehicles, but finite cold source onboard limits its power level. One of power enhancement approaches is building a combined closed-Brayton-cycle and thermoelectric generator (TEG) power generation system, aimed to extend the available temperature range of cold source. In this study, a combined power generation system based on supercritical carbon dioxide closed-Brayton-cycle in combination with multi-stage thermoelectric generator is advanced on hypersonic vehicles to promote electric power, in which the cold source is hydrocarbon fuel at room temperature. Analysis results indicate that the electric power rise percentage realized by TEG is as high as 68.3%. At the maximum CBC power, the TEG power and according total electric power increase with the highest temperature of TEG coolant, but the increasing rate of electric power becomes lower due to the decrease of conversion efficiency. In addition, although the simple recuperated CBC has advantage on power output with finite cold source, the total power of combined system with recompressing layout is always higher, due to a larger heat absorption capacity of fuel for the thermoelectric conversion of TEG.

The idea for new craft and there are already discussion on newmars on cargo Tug vehicles and supply ships, Dream Chaser, Cygnus spacecraft, ATV, Zeus, Dragon II unmanned, Tianzhou, H-II Transfer Vehicle with robotic arms also called Kounotori


Some other discussions on newmars

'Lunar Cots Cargo'
https://newmars.com/forums/viewtopic.php?id=8845 Boeing Starliner OFT-2 https://newmars.com/forums/viewtopic.php?id=10256 Starship Mini, Other https://newmars.com/forums/viewtopic.php?id=10016 , COTS - status https://newmars.com/forums/viewtopic.php?id=4682 , SLS and what asteriod will we go to https://newmars.com/forums/viewtopic.php?id=7024

US solar power installations slow in setback for climate goals
https://www.ft.com/content/2f8b47f5-c40 … 245bd77347

Tidal power entrepreneur claims B.C. Hydro is in a conflict of interest
https://www.straight.com/news/707646/ti … t-interest

Energy tax ‘makes wind power turbines unviable’
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/ener … -hlshf6gnk

Mayors call for wind power moratorium amid whale deaths
https://www.thecentersquare.com/new_jer … 7a5e9.html
A group of 30 New Jersey mayors are seeking a temporary moratorium on new wind power projects

Last edited by Mars_B4_Moon (2023-03-12 08:01:46)

Offline

#290 2023-03-12 13:51:39

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 7,413

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

Void posed some interesting questions in his thread about "energy optimism" (for photovoltaics and wind turbines), something he personally favors, possibly because he's an electrical engineer and, quite naturally, wants to work with something he's very familiar with, namely electrical and electronic devices.

As for the resources kdb512, it is not my responsibility to solve the world.  I try to work on a little piece of the problem and you come in and blame me for not fixing everything.  It's not my problem.

Fair enough, but I'm not blaming him for anything.  I'm explaining why no "Energiewende" / "transition off of hydrocarbon fuels" has taken place, as well as why it never will take place if we keep doing what we've been doing.  I'm indicating that the solutions people seem dead set on pursuing come with unsolvable math problems attached to them the moment their ideas are scaled up to the degree required to actually replace the machinery powering the modern world we use, as it is.  Everybody seems very fixated on doing things in very specific ways that they find aesthetically pleasing.  His response to being told about the unsolvable math problem is to ignore it.  That's precisely what everyone else is doing.  They know there's a problem with trying to scale up their ideas, so they become really irate over that fact, and then go back to doing what they've always been doing.  This is how typical human behavior impedes accomplishment.

We have 100 widgets, but we can't make any more widgets.  We need 1,000 widgets.  That's an unsolvable math problem, if the answer has to involve making at least 1,000 widgets.  If instead you can make 100 whatzits and they can do whatever those 900 widgets would've done for you, then a workable answer is to make 100 of the whatzits as a substitute for the 900 widgets.

I don't want to hear that windmills do not generate enough power, because that would indicate that all of the world is stupid as to make windmills.

Windmills do make electricity, which we want, or at least most people do, but every bit of a windmill is made by using or directly from hydrocarbon fuel products.  If the end goal is to quit using hydrocarbon fuels, which the photovoltaic and wind mill advocates claim they're doing, then I would think that all the smart people who built them would devote at least a few of them to making new windmills so we could at least stop using hydrocarbon fuels to make them.

I don't want to hear that hydrocarbon fuels are bad when they're keeping 8 billion people warm, clothed, and fed, plus making all of the windmills and all of the photovoltaic panels that our advocates want.  Rather than expressing so much bitter hatred for hydrocarbon fuels, you'd think that photovotlaics and wind turbine advocates would be the greatest proponents of increased fossil fuel usage, if only to make the things they want to make, none of which are presently made any other way.

And so, if I completely agree with you then I have to suppose that most of the world is stupid and/or liars.

Most of the world is very particular about the aesthetics of any given solution, whereas I'm not.  I don't fixate on this because it impedes accomplishment.  The stated goal of our climate changers is to keep 8 billion people warm / fed / clothed / housed without using any hydrocarbon fuels.  Material resource limits will prevent them from achieving that, long before they can get within a country mile of their goal.

If we want to descend into my futurism fantasy world (I don't, because it's not real), a place that I personally find aesthetically pleasing, then it's a world where nuclear fusion reactors remove the requirement to strip mine the entire planet, to clear-cut huge swaths of the ground for windmills or photovoltaics or solar thermal concentrators, and turn it into a toxic waste dump in the process, only to discover that we never had enough of the rare materials required to make everything electronic.  The fusion reactors provide the input energy to recycle the CO2 and water to make new hydrocarbon fuels, since nothing else we have has ever replaced them.  We've merely displaced where hydrocarbon fuels are used in the production and operation cycle to a place where people who don't want to see hydrocarbon fuels being used, don't have to be reminded of what reality is- that all of the new machines they're making are direct artifacts of intense hydrocarbon fuels usage and nothing else.

The very same people who assert that the "other people" who think we should just go on burning coal / oil / gas are not being reasonable or are bad / unclean / evil, are every bit as unreasonable about what a minimally workable solution will look like.  I came up with a solar-based solution because they're dead-set on using solar power because they think it "harmonizes with nature", but they don't like the appearances of my proposal because it doesn't have enough electronics or electrical devices associated with it.

I didn't make those design decisions because I was happy about any of it.  I made them because that was the only way to do it and still have the materials math work out.

Making Silicon wafers requires temperatures as hot as lava.

Apart from Silicon, very scarce and energy-intensive materials are used to make the rest of the photoelectric devices.

Quantities of Copper that we cannot source are require to make the electrical conductors.

Aluminum as a substitute sounds great until you realize we only make about 3 times more Aluminum than Copper, but Aluminum requires even more energy input than Copper, not for mining Aluminum, which is very easy compared to obtaining Copper, but for stripping off the Oxygen molecule from the Alumina.

1kg of Copper from sulfide ore = 16.6kWh to 34.7kWh
1kg of Aluminum from bauxite = 63kWh to 95kWh
1kg of Titanium from ore = 250kWh to 261kWh
1kg of Metallurgical Grade Silicon, for making microchips and photovoltaics, from ore = 2,109kWh to 2,155kWh

The "from ore" part listed above means you've already obtained the ore, so this is NOT the energy required to obtain the ore.

This is the real reason why we use Copper, if possible.  Taking Aluminum from virgin ore to metal requires 3 to 4 times more energy than the most energy-intensive processes used to refine sulfide ore into Copper.  Obtaining bauxite ore is a rounding error compared to making the metal itself.  Copper ore tailings accounts for 46% of all ore tailings from all types of mining, so now you know where all that energy went in the realm of global mining activities.  Most of the mining machines, from what Professor Michaux said, are already electric, but they burn coal or diesel at an onsite generating station and then power cables provide the electricity to the giant excavating machines.  The mining trucks are a notable exception to that rule, with onboard diesel engines and diesel electric power trains.

Producing virgin Aluminum metal is only rivaled in energy intensity by making Titanium, Tungsten, Silver, and the metallurgical grade Silicon used to make semiconductors.

Offline

#291 2023-03-12 14:25:33

Terraformer
Member
From: Ceres
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,812
Website

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

Hmm. StackExchange thread on how much silicon (metallurgical grade, not the glass cover) is used in a solar panel. At least 1.3kg per m^2 according to the IEA Life Cycle Report for solar PV linked in the thread, so ~2.5MWhr (for just the silicon wafer).

Under optimistic conditions (equatorial, no clouds, aligned right) we would get maybe 4000hrs of sunlight @1kW (very rough estimates don't @ me). The cells are ~20% efficient, so would make 800kWhr of electricity per year. Over three years to pay for the wafer alone...

Regarding windmills, a thing doesn't have to be good for *everyone* to get done, it just has to be good for the right people who have some influence to get it done. If the playing field is tilted in favour of wind, say by not requiring a supplier to be able to provide a consistent energy supply, or putting taxes on other sources, or giving out subsidies, wind can do quite well.


"I'm gonna die surrounded by the biggest idiots in the galaxy." - If this forum was a Mars Colony

Offline

#292 2023-03-12 16:04:00

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 7,413

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

There's another fundamental reason why we don't use Aluminum in electric motors and generators and transformers until we scale to huge sizes, and even then it's less common, and that is the effect of magnetic fields as they travel away from the source that created them.  Magnetic fields become exponentially weaker as you move the conductor away from the magnetic field.  Aluminum is half the weight of Copper, but requires 60% more volume to have equal electrical resistance.  In practice, this means that electric motors or generators must become much larger and likely much heavier to produce the same electrical output, as compared to one built using Copper conductors.

Terraformer,

Using the quantity of Aluminum-coated steel I suggested, 31.4kg/m^2, requires a maximum of 686.36kWh of energy to go from ore to Iron to steel (654.69kWh, at 20.85kWh/kg for 31.4kg steel, plus 31.67kWh/kg for the 0.3kg of hot-dip Aluminum coating).  The energy to make the steel and Aluminum is more than repaid during the solar concentrator's first year of operation, if it was sited in an equally advantageous location.  However, it can reflect a much greater percentage of visible and Ir wavelength light than a photovoltaic can directly convert into electricity.  As an added bonus, it lasts for about a human lifetime before the mirror needs to be replaced, which could mean an electroplating operation followed by more polishing, or it could mean scrapping the entire machine and starting over.

Even if you add in more steel for the rest of the device, plus concrete pads, plus concrete for storage of hot water or steel for tanks of liquid air, the total energy cost still doesn't approach that of electronics and batteries.

There's a reason we can sell a 2,312 pound Chevy Spark for $13,600 USD (with both the manufacturer and dealership making a profit off of each sale, however small), but an iPhone 13 or 14, that only weighs 1 pound with all packaging included, costs $1,300 USD.  The cell phone was 10X more energy intensive to make.  Teams of tens of thousands of people were required to make modern cell phones do what they do.  This is not to say cell phones are bad, nor that we should make fewer of them, but we'd only be lying to ourselves if we asserted that they weren't astonishingly energy-intensive and complex and difficult to make.

When it comes to energy intensity of the infrastructure which provides the power to do everything else, energy input math matters, and it matters quite a lot.

Regarding windmills, a thing doesn't have to be good for *everyone* to get done, it just has to be good for the right people who have some influence to get it done. If the playing field is tilted in favour of wind, say by not requiring a supplier to be able to provide a consistent energy supply, or putting taxes on other sources, or giving out subsidies, wind can do quite well.

This is outright admitting that the only reason modern wind turbines exist, is that they were forced into existence by people who were after a specific result they found pleasing, and that they had to do a bunch of highly manipulative things to force them into existence.

If we have to tilt the playing field in favor of a technology, it typically means that the technology has some major unresolved issues which prevented it from being naturally adopted because it was the best option available.  We're starting to see why now- short service lives, scarce / energy-intensive metals, and overall difficult to maintain, based upon the sheer number of devices which need to be built.

If you live in a place with lots of wind and very little sunlight, then you'd be a fool to try to use solar panels.  It would be equally foolish to refuse to admit the shortcomings of what you favor when better options are available.  However, this requires someone to choose reason over their personal preferences, and that is very seldomly done.

Offline

#293 2023-03-13 04:55:55

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 7,413

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

There's another consideration not taken into account by our electrical and electronics devices advocates, who cannot see past their personal preferences and prejudices.

Opportunity Cost

If these people were truly interested in using solar power to provide the means to transition away from burning such huge quantities of hydrocarbon fuels, then we've had the technology at-hand to do that, for at least the past 50 years.  It was always going to be a materials-intensive and energy-intensive endeavor.  No part of modern photovoltaic or wind turbine technology has changed that paradigm at all.  If anything, every new generation of electrical and electronics technology requires more energy and labor input than the prior generation.  The only way that is sustainable, long-term, is if materials and labor have no functional caps on what can be devoted to them.  As they are so fond of pointing out when it comes to coal / oil / gas, we live on a finite planet.  There is no "infinite anything" about Earth or any other planet.

During the past 50 years, 1% to 2% of the total global energy consumption has been replaced by electronic photovoltaic and wind turbine systems that do not burn hydrocarbon fuels in operation.  At that rate of adoption, it would take another 2,475 to 4,950 years to complete the transition.  Nobody alive today will still be around to witness the completion of the project.  Those electronic devices are not easy to make or recycle or repurpose, and require vast quantities of hydrocarbon fuels to create them.  There is no way to reduce the quantities of materials they require, either, because the very first generation of electronic technology, which truly replaces hydrocarbon fuels, has yet to be built.  The slow rate of adoption is a direct result of their poor performance at scale, and the as-yet unsolved problem of storing energy in an economical way that doesn't grossly exceed material resource limitations.

In order to improve the rate of adoption of this new energy system, that's 1 to 2 orders of magnitude more material intensive, I had to determine how to improve the overall energy intensity of the new energy system by about that much, as compared to current electronics-based solutions.  That is what the Aluminum-coated steel reflector technology did for my proposed solution, along with primarily using direct thermal power over much more energy-intensive electrical systems.  It has approximately the same energy intensity as borosilicate glass, but steel can withstand rough handling that would fracture any kind of glass, and far less of it is required for a given strength.

Silicon wafers are so thin and brittle that finger pressure is sufficient to shatter them, hence the glass protective cover plus composite or Aluminum backer, plus Aluminum frame.  Aluminum or composite is very stiff for a given weight, and the reason for using it is reducing flexing to almost nothing.  The thin films are radically different, and will flex quite easily and repeatedly without breaking, but are also easy to scratch, so a glass covering is required.

If we could devise cheap / long-lasting / non-toxic inks (this is asking for a lot) that can convert photons into electrons with roughly the same efficiency as a Silicon-based semiconductor, then this is definitely the way to go if we're dead-set on using photovoltaics, especially when the time comes to recycle it.  Thus far, none have that combination of characteristics, and the lower voltages produced require larger conductors to efficiently transport the power produced off of the panel.  So, even if we could solve the problems with the inks, we need huge quantities of plastics, cover glass, and an Aluminum or composite backer board.  All of those materials taken together add up to a solution that is considerably more energy-intensive than sheet steel.  That said, a half-way intelligent design could make the cover glass and back board easier to recycle or reuse if the thin film was not bonded to the cover glass and/or backer board.  In practice, bonding the thin film to the Aluminum backer acts as a heat sink to regulate temperature and improve service life.  It's not strictly necessary for all applications, but this application is commercial electric power, so very large panels that generate enough internal electrical resistance to affect durability, with an expected service life of 20 years or more.

As fossil fuels become increasingly scarce, until we start synthesizing them from scratch and at scale, the window to get this project completed is closing, and the reason it's not happening as fast as you think it should, is that it's not possible for it to happen, using the currently favored solutions.

At a global scale, your realistic energy storage solutions use air, water, rock, or synthesized hydrocarbon fuels, because those options don't run into severe material constraints.  At a global scale, your realistic energy generating options are solar thermal or nuclear thermal (fission or fusion).  You can try to look for all possible exceptions which support your beliefs or aesthetic preferences, but nothing else scales to the degree required.  All other options are not viable at global scale, because insufficient quantities of the required materials exist or can be extracted for realistic input energy costs.  You can get really upset about that, ask all manner of "whatabouts" which won't affect the situation in any meaningful way, or outright refuse to accept it, but none of your objections will change reality.  If this really irks someone, then they can either invent something that truly does change the paradigm, or they can accept reality and move on to more practical solutions.  If you want to get this project done within your lifetime, then I would suggest the latter over the former.

Offline

#294 2023-03-13 06:40:56

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 3,398

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

Hybrid powerplants are another thing to add to the mix of options.
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/a … 7X14000057

Typically, this involves using solar heat to preheat boiler feed water.  But we could build hybrid boilers, in which coal or biomass provide input to the superheater and economizer sections and concentrated solar contributes intermediate heat.  In this way, you get to produce superheated steam, have an efficiency of >40% and a 90% capacity factor on the powerplant.  But the contribution from the solar (or geothermal) heat reduces the amount of fuel burned, by up to 50%.  That reduces CO2 emissions and allows the powerplant to remain proffitable with more expensive fuel.

Another option would be to incorporate thermal storage into a thermodynamic plant.  If wind power is producing a lot of excess, we activate heating elements in a molten salt tank.  The molten salt then provides intermediate level heat to the boiler, reducing coal or biomass consumption.  In the UK, solar power is weak and highly seasonal.  A hybrid plant incorporating a molten salt energy store, could use solar trough heat in late spring, summer and early autumn and absorb excess wind electricity in the winter months.  The downside of this type of thermal storage is that you only get at most 40% of the input electricity back as output electricity.  That is less wasteful if you can use the condenser heat for district heating.  A hybrid could in principle use a flexible fuel approach.  Biomass is seasonal and storing it for long periods is difficult, because fungus grows on it when it is damp.  Biomass will be most readily available in autumn and winter.  So we want a hybrid plant with mills capable of grinding biomass when available and coal when it is not.

If we can build a thermal powerplant, in which solar thermal, wind electricity, biomass and coal each contribute one quarter of thermal energy, then we have reduced coal consumption and CO2 emissions by 75%.  If we can use the waste heat that comes out of the condenser for district heating, then overall fossil fuel energy consumption is reduced by 85% relative to baseline.  In the future we don't neccesarily have to stop using fossil fuels entirely.  We just need to use less that we do now.

A hybrid would work best if all elements of it were integrated on the same site.  The solar troughs obviously have to be built close to the thermal store.  But there are lots of other things worth taking advantage of.  Wind and solar power can be used to carry out feed water treatment for the plant.  Feed water can be stored, so intermittency in water treatment can be tolerated.  We could also use solar or geothermal power to preheat feed water.  The feed pumps themselves could be driven by compressed air that is provided by mechanical wind turbines.  The condenser extraction pumps and the mills could be air powered or hydraullically powered as well.  The hydrogen used to lubricate and cool the alternator could be generated from intermittent energy sources.  There are lots of ways in which parasitic loads can be met using stored intermittent energy.  If we can do this, we can increase the net power output of the steam plant another 10%, as the plant no longer has to use its own electrical output to meet internal loads.  If our thermodynamic plant can be colocated with a wind farm, then both can make use of the same step up transformers and switch house.  If wind turbines are hydraulic, then we could even mount a hydraulic turbine on the same shaft as the steam turbine.  That allows a single alternator to serve both the steam powerplant and the wind farm.

Last edited by Calliban (2023-03-13 07:38:21)


"Plan and prepare for every possibility, and you will never act. It is nobler to have courage as we stumble into half the things we fear than to analyse every possible obstacle and begin nothing. Great things are achieved by embracing great dangers."

Offline

#295 2023-03-14 01:59:35

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 7,413

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

Bayer Process for Alumina Extraction from Bauxite:

Alumina-Extraction-from-Bauxite-Ores.jpg

The Bayer process produces the Alumina product eventually used to make Aluminum metal, via the Hall Heroult Process.  The Hall Heroult Process uses massive amounts of electricity and a large graphite anode to greatly reduce the melting point of the Alumina to 1,000C, from 2,000C or so.

This is the only practical alternative to Copper.  As energy-intensive as Copper mining is, making Aluminum is bonkers.

Alcoa says the best smelters consume 13kWh/kg of electricity, whereas the worldwide average is 15kWh/kg.

Worldwide production of aluminium in 2010 was 41.4 million tonnes. Using the figures above this means that 621 billion kilowatt hours of electrical energy were used in the production of aluminium. To put that in perspective, the total world production of electrical energy was 20,261 billion kilowatt hours, meaning that more than 3% of the world’s entire electrical supply went to extraction of aluminium.

So, 621TWh to make 41.4Mt of Aluminum metal.  We need 4 billion tons of Aluminum to replace 8 billion tons of Copper, ignoring the issues with electric motors and generators producing exponentially weaker magnetic fields.  The world consumed 22,848TWh of electricity in 2019.  To produce 4 billion tons of Aluminum would require 60,000TWh of electricity, or 3X the total global annual consumption.

3X our global annual electrical power consumption, merely to make enough Aluminum for the conductor wires, since there's no way to make enough Copper, in order to try to make these electric-everything fantasies a reality...  Is that looking realistic to anyone else here?

That's one of many required metals.  From where I'm sitting, the math was never subjected to what I would call a "basic sanity check".  Grade school math was all that was required to know how much metal would be consumed, and therefore how much energy would be required.  I'm sorry that these people promised all this electronic and electrical stuff without doing their homework on what it would take when scaled up to the degree required, but you need to recognize fantasy-based thinking, or ideas that don't pass basic sanity checks, and then move on to practical solutions.

I presented one of many possible practical solutions.  It's not the best possible solution, but it's very simple and workable.  I'm sure others here could come up with better solutions that don't require impossible amounts of energy and metal.  New technology could change the math, but that's either fusion or technology we haven't even thought of yet.  I wouldn't bet the future of my children on it.

Offline

#296 2023-03-15 13:27:36

Mars_B4_Moon
Member
Registered: 2006-03-23
Posts: 9,175

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

Nuclear power to be reclassed as 'environmentally sustainable'
https://www.scotsman.com/news/environme … le-4065514

Offline

#297 2023-03-15 16:17:11

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 3,398

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

This is interesting.
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/a … 9921004080

'Energy production by laser-induced annihilation in ultradense hydrogen H(0).  The energy efficiency from mass to useable energy is around 46%.'

That would give the annihilation fuel about 100x the energy density (per unit mass) of De-T fusion.  A starship equipped with an annihilation engine could accelerate to half the speed of light.  A fuel with this sort of energy density would also make travel around the solar system a complete doddle.  Going from Earth to Mars would be about as easy as travelling from Britain to Australia on an aeroplane.  This energy source would also, obviously, be revolutionary for Earth based civilisation.  I have no idea how it works.  I do know that very high intensity lasers can break the vacuum, converting laser energy into x-rays.  Could this actually disintegrate baryonic matter?


"Plan and prepare for every possibility, and you will never act. It is nobler to have courage as we stumble into half the things we fear than to analyse every possible obstacle and begin nothing. Great things are achieved by embracing great dangers."

Offline

#298 2023-03-15 17:07:22

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 28,820

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

We have seen that laser to rise the chamber heat levels is a key part of making fusion possible.

Offline

#299 2023-03-16 03:02:46

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 7,413

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

We can't come up with enough Aluminum or Copper to make photovoltaics and wind turbines work at a global scale, nor Lithium and Sodium for batteries to store electrical power.  There is nothing remotely sustainable about power generation schemes which would require more Aluminum / Copper and Lithium / Sodium than has ever been mined throughout human history.  Our scientists and engineers should've said something to our decision makers about humanity's ability to produce the quantities of metals required to scale up these technologies.

It's not "just" a matter of obtaining more metal.  We would also need recycling and industry expansion at rates far beyond what humanity has demonstrated thus far.  For the parts of the Earth where a lot of people live, seasonal solar variability can differ by a factor of 5 to 7.  That either means we need drastically more energy storage than enough to make it until the next sunrise, or we need generation capacity that is a considerable multiple of peak demand.  For electrical devices, generation remains far easier than storage.  Unfortunately, land is not unlimited, so pretty soon you start running out of ideal places to put all this stuff.  As it ages, what are you going to replace it with when you need all the metal you can possibly get to create the first generation of these electronic devices?

It took 100 years for us to invent and then refine all of our technologies for using petroleum-based energy.  Why did we think it would take less time to replace most of that using technology that is far more energy-intensive and far more complex, per device providing a like-kind substitution?  We would have had to start this transition process around the same time that we started using combustion engines.

If we never mined another kilo of Uranium or Thorium, we're already sitting on enough nuclear material, in terms of spent fuel, to provide 100% of our electricity demand for the next 100 to 300 years.  I'm not saying that's how it should be done, but the fact remains that it very well could be if no other better alternatives are available.

Terrformer indicated that 3 years of energy generation are required to "pay back" the energy that went into the Silicon semiconductor in a photovoltaic panel.  That's only half-correct.  If you're going to make another generation of Silicon-based semiconductor photovoltaics to replace it, 25 years later, then 6 years of energy generation is what's actually required to do that.  You have to consider the energy required to mine or recycle the Copper / Silver / Aluminum / glass / steel / concrete to replace all of it.  By the time you tally that up, half of your net energy gain is gone.  If the next generation of photovoltaics devices aren't using the same materials, then it starts to look an awful lot like a break-even scenario, at best.  If the panel is inappropriately sited, like the ones in Germany, then you can actually lose energy.  At some point, you cannot recover from that.

The material requirements of these 3 types of energy generation, possibly 4, are long-term sustainable:

1. Nuclear fusion
This would be ideal and requires the least quantity of materials.

2. Nuclear fission of Uranium or Thorium converted into Uranium in a breeder reactor
This is second best, but still an exceptionally efficient use of materials and energy.  People who think devoting a land area the size of a sports stadium to store all of the nuclear waste in America is a bar too high, haven't given any thought to how much electronic waste will be generated by photovoltaics / wind turbines / batteries, which will require a land area larger than the City of Houston to properly recycle all of it.  When compared to the number of people we need to educate and train to use and maintain nuclear reactors, the tiny quantity of radioactive waste generated is a non-issue.  People are the actual rate-limiting factor for mass-adoption of nuclear power.  You cannot simply "declare" that you're going to use nuclear reactors without a serious long-term investment into education, training, and support infrastructure.

3. Solar Thermal to make steam, with air / water / rock power storage, and to make liquid hydrocarbon fuels
This requires less than 1 year of steel / Aluminum / concrete production, at 2019 production rates, in order to meet 100% of humanity's current electrical demands.  It's also very materials-intensive, just to be perfectly clear.  However, materials abundance is not an issue.  No technology metals are used.  Drastically less Copper or Aluminum production is required.  I proposed this solution because a large contingent of people want to use something they consider to be "renewable".  This solution meets requirements for the most people, in the most places.  It stores heat energy, it uses abundant metals, it's recyclable without undue effort, it does not leave behind any radioactive waste, and the least amount of toxic waste of any wind and solar solution.

We can make a society run on steam and compressed or liquid air from solar power.  The cars and trucks will still "refuel" in 5 minutes.  If liquid air becomes cheap enough, then cars could become backup home generators as well.  The freight trains will still function like normal trains.  The cargo ships will still function like normal ships.  Aircraft will still need to use combustion engines.  Some form of district heating / cooling is required for major cities.  Air pollution within cities will be far less of a problem if we were using liquid air and steam.

4. Wind turbines made using traditional methods that generate direct mechanical horsepower
These will use the same storage mediums for solar thermal if they need to store energy, they need to be made from recyclable materials, and the total material requirements are very high.  Wind energy is 1% to 3% of solar energy, so you're starting with a much more limited resource and banking on shrewd placement of the devices to accomplish the goal.  This is not sustainable using composite blades longer than jumbo jet wingspans.  Composites are functionally non-recyclable.  You can burn them, but this is pretty toxic stuff.  The leftover fibers would need to be melted back down into new fiber.  It would be better to use bamboo or plywood or Aluminum, but that limits how big the blades can be.  If the blades can be designed for shorter lifetimes using bamboo and balsa, then you can have larger blades.

You can still generate electricity from a solar thermal or mechanical wind turbine, but the stored energy needs to be pumped into a centralized storage location and you need a single electric generator connected to a single feeder line tied into the grid.

For people who think this is somehow "being transported backwards in time", I will ask you when was the last time the only emissions associated with running vehicles in a city was water and air?  You're getting the benefits of heat and power without burning things.  COVID is the closest thing you've ever seen to the air quality improvement which would be associated with a society mostly powered by steam and air.  If we were to build out this technology set, then it would mark the very first time in human history when most of the world is not powered by burning something.  If you insist on trying to make everything electric / electronic, then the energy and materials requirements associated with doing that will absolutely guarantee that we're going to keep burning massive amounts of hydrocarbon fuels until we run out entirely.

You have to step back for some perspective on what the results have been from what we've done and what we're presently doing.  None of our advanced new technology has delivered on its promise.  We keep thinking that if we can just do this / that / the other, our problems will be solved.  Wrong.  That problem will be solved.  There will be a brand new problem which takes its place.  The new problem may also be solvable, or it may not be.  Creating a new problem is part of a decision making process where you assert that the new problem you have no experience dealing with, is somehow preferable to your existing problem(s).  Is it?  Without any prior experience, how can you tell?

I would rather reap the benefits of a true energy transition without wrecking the environment in the process, but that's just me.  To do that, we're going to have to accept when we're asking more of our technology than it can realistically deliver.  We're already running into limits, and the supply of materials will only become increasingly constrained in the future.  As the population contracts, materials and capital will be further constrained, as will the available labor pool.  It's time to do things the right way, which includes acceptance of limitations.

Offline

#300 2023-03-16 06:10:48

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 3,398

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

Agreed Kbd512.  With a lot of elements of a solar thermal plant, I wonder what there is to actually wear out.  The troughs track the sun, so we would need to periodically change the bearings, drive motors and linkage chains.  The heat pipes are filled with non-corrosive oils at 300°C and are non-pressurised.  The mirrors themselves will need corrosion protection and will eventually need replating with aluminium, but the steel concave mirror should last for a century.  There are no real stresses acting upon it to cause fatigue other than wind stress.  The steam plant will easily last 50 years with semi good maintenance.  Concrete structures could last centuries if we stopped trying to reinforce them with iron, which causes them to explode with the slightest hint of moisture.  The major components of a solar thermal plant could be made to last a very long time if we applied reasonable design factors to equipment.  A lifetime of a century does not seem unreasonable.

The thing I really like about the idea of a liquid air/N2 economy, is that energy can be shipped, piped and stored relatively easily.  Liquid nitrogen contains about 200kWh of expansion energy per cubic metre.  The worlds largest supertankers, carrying 500,000m3 of oil, average about 1.2MWh shaft energy per km travelled.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/TI-class_supertanker

If we build a LN2 transport ship of comparable size and run it at full speed off of the liquid N2 it is carrying, it will consume 1.2% of it's payload every 1000km travelled.  This suggests to me that it should be plausible to ship LN2 long distances to where it is needed.  A single 500,000m3 tanker, could carry some 100 million kWh of stored energy.  That is 1GW x 4 days.  Tanker transport adds about $0.02 to the cost of a gallon of gasoline or diesel.  That is about 1/50th cent per MJ, or 1/20th cent MJ work energy harvested.  Because LN2 contains only 3% of the work energy of diesel, it would cost more, something like 1.5 cent per MJ or 5.4 cent per kWh work energy.  But that is still only 10-20% of the existing cost of diesel per unit work energy, so it could be sustainable for countries that cannot produce enough LN2 on their own footprint.

The storage facility for the LN2 could be nothing more elaborate than a lined and covered pit.  Or we could build concrete tanks above ground, with a thin walled steel dome structure to keep rainwater out.  If we really wanted to build a system that would last long term, we would build local distribution tanks like this and transport the LN2 to vehicle refuelling stations through buried pipes by gravity.  This way, there is nothing to replace as there are no moving parts.  The ship arrives in port and pumps its LN2 into the storage tank.  The tank then drains by gravity through the pipe network to the refilling stations.  The gravity head provides the pressure head needed to operate the fuel pumps.  With systems this simple, we could afford to install fuel pumps in a lot more places.  We need to, because LN2 has only 3% of the energy density of diesel.  The pumps themselves could calculate the total fuel dispensed very simply, by measuring the static pressure in the fuel line and extrapolating flowrate when the valve is opened.  That way, no moving parts are needed to measure flow and the only thing to wear our is the piston valve on the refilling machine.

Last edited by Calliban (2023-03-16 06:36:41)


"Plan and prepare for every possibility, and you will never act. It is nobler to have courage as we stumble into half the things we fear than to analyse every possible obstacle and begin nothing. Great things are achieved by embracing great dangers."

Offline

Board footer

Powered by FluxBB