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Thread: Peak oil put off again

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    Senior Member 4wd's Avatar
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    Peak oil put off again

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/n...s-BP-says.html

    I seem to remember the oil was going to run out in about 1985 by some predictions, no need to worry yet according to BP anyway.

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    Re: Peak oil put off again

    I too remember the teacher at school explaining the oil reserves were going to run out in 25 years. That was more than 25 years ago
    "At the end of the day, I think it's going to get very dark."

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    Re: Peak oil put off again

    I have been doing a lot of interesting reading around this subject.

    The problem with energy use as a topic is that it is all in different units no one can grasp or compare properly- BTUs, barrels, KW/hr and so on.

    Put simply, the human race is consuming around 3 cubic miles of oil energy equivalent each year at present- you can imagine the volume involved in something which is a cubic mile, much less 3 of them.

    Now, if you forecast modest economic growth, and population growth and energy consumption trends, you will perhaps arrive at the idea that we will be using about 5 CMO by 2050.

    To obtain the amount of energy in just 1 CMO, (which is a shit load of energy however you look at it) you might decide to use:

    - 200 hydro-electric plants, of roughly the same size as the 3 Gorges dam, 18 gigawatts (assuming 50% availability)

    - 2,500 1GW nuclear reactors (by example, each of the new Hinkley point C reactors will be 1.6 GW each, costing about 18 billion quid total).

    - 7,700 solar power plants, each 10 times the size of the one in Spain (900MW assuming 25% availability).

    - 3 MILLION wind turbines of 1.65MW assuming 35% availability.

    - 4.2 BILLION PV panels of 2.1KW assuming 20% availability.


    So, as you can see guys, the human race is going to have to adapt what the hell we are doing.

    We can start with the fact the average American is using 1800 gallons of oil energy equivalent a year. Your typical African, by contrast manages to get to use 300, if he is lucky.

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    Re: Peak oil put off again

    ... the area of solar panels needed to power the world expressed graphically here

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    Re: Peak oil put off again

    http://www.forbes.com/2010/08/09/ene...ology-oil.html

    How the hell are we going to get out of this spiral as the human race? Assuming the climate change folk are right, how long would it take to put the mega tanker astern?

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    Re: Peak oil put off again

    I personally don't see how anyone can logically dispute climate change itself. Certainly the climate is changing and always has. Likewise, I don't believe anyone can argue that humans chuffing out 35 gigatonnes of carbon a year is having absolutely no effect on anything. My question is what gives us the right to emit it in the first place.

    Whilst I am confident then that human green house gas emissions are definitely a problem, I'm not sure I agree with all the terrible global warming predicitions- IE if we hit so many degrees above 'normal' or so many ppm we are doomed etc etc etc.

    So, if we want get away from all this carbon (and NoX and Sulphur and christknowswhat else that come out when you burn oil or coal) obviously the millions of tonnes of coal and remaining oil and gas need to stay right where they are.

    With the above posts taken into consideration, I can't see how else you would continue to give people the energy they need (and with the same number of people, as population is the other half of the equation) without using nuclear energy.

    As such, if you want to go massively into nuclear power, then in my mind the automatic choice is to use thorium.

    If you're talking of annual non-renewable energy use along the lines of 5 billion tonnes of coal, 30 billion barrels of oil, 5 trillion m3 of natural gas and 65,000 tonnes of uranium, then thorium is going to right up your street because that lot combined could be provided by 5000 tonnes of thorium, a substance far more common place in the earths crust and best of all, it occurs naturally in a single isotopic form- Th232. That means no fuel enrichment whatsoever which is a serious bonus in anyone's book.

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    Re: Peak oil put off again

    Quote Originally Posted by Uwork4menow View Post
    I personally don't see how anyone can logically dispute climate change itself. Certainly the climate is changing and always has. Likewise, I don't believe anyone can argue that humans chuffing out 35 gigatonnes of carbon a year is having absolutely no effect on anything. My question is what gives us the right to emit it in the first place.

    Whilst I am confident then that human green house gas emissions are definitely a problem, I'm not sure I agree with all the terrible global warming predicitions- IE if we hit so many degrees above 'normal' or so many ppm we are doomed etc etc etc.

    So, if we want get away from all this carbon (and NoX and Sulphur and christknowswhat else that come out when you burn oil or coal) obviously the millions of tonnes of coal and remaining oil and gas need to stay right where they are.

    With the above posts taken into consideration, I can't see how else you would continue to give people the energy they need (and with the same number of people, as population is the other half of the equation) without using nuclear energy.

    As such, if you want to go massively into nuclear power, then in my mind the automatic choice is to use thorium.

    If you're talking of annual non-renewable energy use along the lines of 5 billion tonnes of coal, 30 billion barrels of oil, 5 trillion m3 of natural gas and 65,000 tonnes of uranium, then thorium is going to right up your street because that lot combined could be provided by 5000 tonnes of thorium, a substance far more common place in the earths crust and best of all, it occurs naturally in a single isotopic form- Th232. That means no fuel enrichment whatsoever which is a serious bonus in anyone's book.
    One half of me thinks you are right for quickest immediate changes but the other other is wondering about a legacy for future generations.

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    Re: Peak oil put off again

    Quote Originally Posted by essexpete View Post
    One half of me thinks you are right for quickest immediate changes but the other other is wondering about a legacy for future generations.
    Hi Pete

    Of course this is a concern.

    However, if you elect to use thorium in a molten salt reactor, there are some major knock on bonuses to be had.

    Firstly, if your fuel is liquid, and mixed with the coolant, then you don't need to worry about 'over-cooking' it as you would in a solid fuelled reactor. This means the fuel can stay in there as long as you want. In a conventional reactor, where those fuel pellets are about 10-13mm in diameter, those little geezers experience some serious heat stress- at peak power, there could be a difference of 500 degrees C from the core to the edge of one- a distance a dew millimetres. Over time they want to swell, crack, disintegrate and move about. Too much movement and grief and you could rupture your cladding which is the first layer of defence against a serious radioactive leak.

    Second, in a molten salt reactor, where you are removing the fission products constantly, the reactor can continue to operate and keep it's fuel for a very long time- in fact you could theoretically achieve near 100% burn up of every gram of thorium you put in there. It would take time but then a typical reactor lives for 50 years anyway. You can't do this in the solid fuel design- the fission products build up very quickly and they absorb a lot of neutrons over time. Unless you swap the fuel out, your reactor power is dropping all the time and of course those fuel rods become home to a load of highly radioactive fission products which themselves are red hot as well. As such, they can't achieve anything like the burn up of uranium they are putting in today's reactors. They can't even achieve 10% burnup, much less 100%, in fact most designs don't yet approach 1%. So periodically, they have to shut it all down, take off the lid and remotely swap fuel rods in and out and move them around in the core to keep the power sensible, which is not ideal if you want to generate base load electricity. Not only that but you are forever having to remove and store red hot and highly radioactive fuel rods despite the fact you haven't even begun to make a dent in the uranium contained within them. Even once they have cooled, you have to reprocess them or put them into very long term storage (thousands of years) forever- not only do they contain un-used fuel, but they contain your fission products AND transuranic elements (which are virtually immortal).

    With thorium then, you are thus able to generate a heck of a lot of power and produce far less radioactive waste in the first place on a per MW/hr basis simply because your fuel is getting burnt up not being stacked in a corner forever somewhere. And the good news is, most fission products, whilst pretty radioactive, they aren't that long lived- 300 years will see a lot of them out as they decay. The long lived ones are transuranics- Plutonium, Americium- all the heavier elements that your uranium fuel created when it accidentally absorbed neutrons instead of splitting. In a molten salt reactor burning thorium, the amount of these transuranic elements is much reduced, and in fact, if you left them in there long enough, they will eventually be burnt as fuel as well.

    Put simply with thorium molten salt reactors you have a design that runs on a widely available naturally occurring isotope and requires no enrichment whatsoever. And will consume all it's fuel to a high degree of burnup, creating a much smaller volume of radioactive waste than a conventional reactor, and those wastes are mostly fission products which have much shorter half lives, requiring long term safe storage for 300 years or less.

    Now throw in the real magic. Because you are using molten salts as your coolant, the thing runs at very low pressures. Not like a PWR, where your primary coolant loop full of water is sat in excess of 2000 PSI, so you can't really have a big impressively radioactive steam explosion. There is no water involved either so you can't have a hydrogen explosion, like at Fukishima. Also, salts take some serious heat to keep them molten, their capacity to absorb heat is massive compared to water, so you could configure your molten salt reactor to have a coolant loop temperature of say 600 degrees, maybe even 800 degrees. Not just 300 degrees like a PWR. At 800 degrees, a lot of very cool industrial scale processes can be done with relative ease, but first and foremost, you can generate electricity using turbines that run using the Brayton cycle. This alone means you can get in excess of 50% efficiency from the heat you're dishing out and trying to convert into electricity. Not only that, but with 800 degrees of waste heat to dispose of, you could produce hydrogen using the sulphur-iodine cycle virtually as a by-product.

    All this from a reactor which can't melt down, can't explode and burns a fuel so readily available it is almost trivial to obtain it. It is also rather more difficult to obtain weapons grade nuclear materials from.

    Downsides?

    - Fluoride salts are pretty corrosive, they attack a lot of metals when they are hot.

    - How do you constantly reprocess your fuel/salt mixture which is sat at 800 degrees and contains fission products and fuel?

    - No one has built anything like this design for 50 years.

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    Re: Peak oil put off again

    No one disputes climate change, when you think about it, asking whether or not anyone does is ridiculous. As far as human impact is concerned CO2 is very minor. Behind: land use change (in all its forms( deforestation, urbanisation, agriculture)) & pollution.

    Ever since the IPCC has been using models to indicate the effect of co2 on warming, the estimated figure has been dropping. From 6degrees to doubling down to 1.5 degrees. This ignores the latest research suggesting as little as 0.3-0.5 degrees. Remember two important points 1. The IPCC parent organisation UNCCC is based on Malthusian principles (Google) 2. Climate models have no skill (cannot predict) so when (they) say in such a time this will happen, they are trying to exhort money by scaring people. Sadly for them 90% of people don't particularly care anymore, as they are bored with oft repeated scare stories.

    will the globe warm? Yes for a few more years, although satellites say we haven't for 18 years, Elnino will guarantee 2015-16 is warm. From then on a very-very (almost imperceptible to begin with) gradual decline. The quiet sun guarantees this.

    we damage the environment in many ways, most are more important.

    we are some way off peak oil, however we are some way off peak stupid. That's why new nuclear plants are so expensive, because we have not built new ones when they were cheap. Now we are throwing money at renewables for nearly no energy, the nuclear industry wants to feed from the same trough.

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    Re: Peak oil put off again

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew100 View Post
    No one disputes climate change, when you think about it, asking whether or not anyone does is ridiculous. As far as human impact is concerned CO2 is very minor. Behind: land use change (in all its forms( deforestation, urbanisation, agriculture)) & pollution.

    Ever since the IPCC has been using models to indicate the effect of co2 on warming, the estimated figure has been dropping. From 6degrees to doubling down to 1.5 degrees. This ignores the latest research suggesting as little as 0.3-0.5 degrees. Remember two important points 1. The IPCC parent organisation UNCCC is based on Malthusian principles (Google) 2. Climate models have no skill (cannot predict) so when (they) say in such a time this will happen, they are trying to exhort money by scaring people. Sadly for them 90% of people don't particularly care anymore, as they are bored with oft repeated scare stories.

    will the globe warm? Yes for a few more years, although satellites say we haven't for 18 years, Elnino will guarantee 2015-16 is warm. From then on a very-very (almost imperceptible to begin with) gradual decline. The quiet sun guarantees this.

    we damage the environment in many ways, most are more important.

    we are some way off peak oil, however we are some way off peak stupid. That's why new nuclear plants are so expensive, because we have not built new ones when they were cheap. Now we are throwing money at renewables for nearly no energy, the nuclear industry wants to feed from the same trough.
    With the rate of R & D in the various sectors required, I very much doubt my 8 week old daughter will ever get to drive a car with an internal combustion engine. They will be gone by then.

    The rate of progress in the nuclear sector is improving, as it is in the renewable sector. You have to remember that fossil fuels have had billions of investment spent on them, perhaps over a 150 year time frame. Think of the improvement that could be had in other areas with that kind of effort.

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    Re: Peak oil put off again

    Re the car engine. Possibly depends on whether people will accept having to add ad-blue to their diesel cars, they are already available, but the Mass market is questionable. The next development in petrol is to add KERS found in F1 cars. Basically powerful electrical storage to accelerate the turbos. Hydrogen has serious issues. Electrical, other problems. Tesla could go bust any time. They are running a most peculiar business plan.

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    Re: Peak oil put off again

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew100 View Post
    Re the car engine. Possibly depends on whether people will accept having to add ad-blue to their diesel cars, they are already available, but the Mass market is questionable. The next development in petrol is to add KERS found in F1 cars. Basically powerful electrical storage to accelerate the turbos. Hydrogen has serious issues. Electrical, other problems. Tesla could go bust any time. They are running a most peculiar business plan.
    Tesla are selling a very high performance niche model though. There are a handful of far cheaper models aimed at the other end of the market- Nissan do a leccy Micra type thing, and Renault do one too.

    They won't set the world on fire, but with 100 miles of range and performance which will suit any typical Micra driver, all for the cost of 2 to 'fill' it using off peak juice, and very low running costs, as far as I can see the internal combustion engine is on it's last legs.

    Obviously we will still need diesel/kerosene or something approximate to it them to power jet aircraft, HGVs and machinery, so we have to solve that problem yet.

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    Re: Peak oil put off again

    HGVs will increasingly run on CNG when the fracking gets going, as they are in the US.

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