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Science

Making Crude Oil From Tires 40

Posted by Hemos
from the ultra-recycling dept.
brokeninside writes: "According to this story at allAfrica.com British researchers have found a way to turn scrap old automobile tires into crude oil that is the similiar to "North Sea Brent crude." Needless to say, this could have a profound effect on gas prices should the technology be commercially viable. According to the article, the company Coalite plans to have commercial production of crude from tires by April 2001."
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Making Crude Oil From Tires

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  • You claim to be such an authority on fuels and engines, perhaps you can tell the PhD's at the auto companies how to do it.

    <sigh> You know, you're my first-ever encounter with an omniscient being.

    Please allow me to bow down to you.

    As evidence of your clear understanding of *every field anyone ever discusses on /.*, allow me to suggest that readers take a look at this link [slashdot.org].

    I come to Slashdot because I enjoy a friendly and intelligent discourse with other technically-literate people. Apparently, I contribute well: I seem to have proven that one's collected karma is limited to 50.

    I don't know everything. I don't even profess to know everything. However, I have worked in a variety of fields. I've repelled off the sides of running MAN B&W [manbw.dk] 40-foot-tall marine diesel engines to change sensors. I've also repelled off the face of the JumboTron at the SkyDome [skydome.com], changing trinilights.

    In my hobbies, I do all sorts of things that would likely disturb you. At the moment, there are two car engines in my living room.

    I am paid a handsome annual salary to design engine management systems for marine engines. And I don't mean little yachts, either. I have saved over $450,000 in diesel fuel costs this year alone for one of our bigger local customers, a great lakes shipping company that runs a fleet of live-bottom bulkers.

    I am familiar with engine and fuel chemistry, theory of operation, practical operation, the electronics and computer systems that control them, and every environmental law in both Canada and the United States to which they must conform.

    And yet, I clearly don't know as much about engine and fuel systems as you do; you're so savvy that you clearly have a more informed opinion on everything than I do.

    Little fact of biology: if the human body didn't produce something to fit those receptors, we wouldn't have those receptors. Selection would stop removing the defective mutations and the unused receptor system would eventually become non-functional.

    Ah, yes. It's another field in which you are a self-proclaimed expert.

    No doubt due to the fact that most Europeans pay more in extra taxes to their bloated, inefficient, bureaucratic governments for those same functions than Americans do via charity. This has the further benefit that Americans can tell a poorly-run charity to go to hell, and send their money elsewhere (or keep it); Europeans can't do that to their governments.

    Add political science to the list... (though, I *do* happen to agree with you on that point, Canada *does* follow the European mindset there)

    and the Social Security system is one of our biggest fiscal time-bombs

    ...and an economist... (though, again, I agree with you, though earlier in that paragraph, you called Gore repugnant; based on your enviro-wackiness, I'm not sure if you've figured out who to vote for yet.)

    An aircraft can easily be 20% or more fuel by weight at takeoff. Suppose you can raise that to 30% for your electric aircraft, and the batteries hold 20 WH/pound; the net aircraft energy-to-weight is 6 WH/pound.

    ...and an aviation expert...

    There's oxygen in the electrolyte (H2SO4), so the battery as a whole has something a bit closer to the elements of life.

    And a biochemist...

    Bunch of misconceptions in this response. A 200 mAH cell does not have to be discharged at 200 mA or less. The press release said "in a 200mAh device, 9A in 10 seconds" (whatever that means). Nothing in the press release mentioned how big this 200 mAH cell is, how much it weighs, or the voltage. That 200 mAH cell might be the size of the end of your pinky finger, in which case a decent-sized battery would be umpteen amp-hours.

    ...and an electrical engineer...

    this implies a peak power output of 450 KW from a 10 KWH battery pack. This is equivalent to about 600 horsepower. With the proper power electronics and motors, an electric car with these batteries could eat Corvettes for breakfast. Taking a full charge in 5 minutes means that regenerative braking is a lot easier, and so is quick charging.

    ...and an automotive engineer.

    You are truly omniscient. I wish I was as intelligent and universally-informed as you are.

    You must carry your Bachelor of Science in [insert name of irrelevant field chosen only by career students] from [insert name of school with low expectations] with great pride to your wonderful job as [insert menial janitorial or food service position] at [insert name of pretentious but passe hotel].

    (I'll try to get to your other post tomorrow; I had no time last night.)

    Thanks, but don't bother. My self-mandated daily act of charity will not be tolerating you.

  • Thanks for the link. It helped me remember some of the details I have forgoten.
  • There are serious issues with methanol, such as converting your iron cylinder walls to formates, and cold-starting. There are problems with alcohol/gasoline blends in general, such as how to make an inexpensive, reliable and accurate fuel-composition sensor so that the mixture can be set properly for starting. Who is talking about methanol?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    As I make it, about half of the mass of the tire isn't accounted for by their numbers. Where does it go?

    A large proportion of a tire is powdered carbon filler (mostly harmless).

  • While gasoline is the most cost-effective and practical fuel for personal transportation, it is not the most efficient. That title goes to reactor-grade uranium. One uranium fuel pellet 1.5 cm long and 1 cm in diameter has the same amount of energy as twenty tons of coal.

  • Don't believe me, then you must.. a) be living in a large polluted place (read almost any large US city), you have become use to the pollution and don't know it.

    Toronto, Canada, actually. In order of size, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago then Toronto are the largest *metropolitan* cities in North America. Highway 401 across the top of Toronto is the second busiest freeway in the world, after only the Santa Monica in L.A.

    Do I qualify?

    b) be living in the country or smaller city where the affects of polution are not yet significant.

    I grew up outside Ottawa, Canada. While it's Canada's capital, the metro population is under a million. The big freeway ("The Queensway") is a paltry four lanes wide in each direction. 'Tis a small town.

    OR the worst but most likely category..

    Oh, but you have no concept...

    c) you do not care about anything but your own well being (i.e. as long as the environment does not become shit in your lifetime, you will do what ever you like regardless of the long term impacts).

    No, I'm simply reasonable. Do you want to save the environment, maybe increasing the average lifespan by two years? Great! And as you shut down the economy to do that, unemployment rates get increased, and you give people an extra two years of welfare misery. Congratulations. The lynch mob is standing outside your house, waiting for you.

    You know, I love environmentalists. They're such idiots. One of them, the sister of a friend of mine, came up to me, all proud that she'd just bought a 1970s VW Microbus. And she was telling me that it was what her "hippy forefathers" would have driven. And how it got such great gas mileage and therefore was *so* environmentally friendly.

    Over the exhaust pipe, her back bumper had the big black stain of a rich fuel mixture. And when she dropped the clutch and pulled away, the blue cloud of blow-by oil from her worn-out engine would have killed a NYC pigeon. And yet she feels that what she's driving is more environmentally friendly than her brother's absolutely perfectly restored 1972 Dodge Demon with a *blueprinted* 340-4bbl. While it only gets 10MPG, that car passed an emissions test, blowing cleaner than a 1997 model spec, even though it has no emissions control equipment.

    I'd bet money that Jen's Microbus is well over 5,000 PPM of unburnt hydrocarbon.

    But, do you believe in Darwinism? I don't really care about air pollution. It'll eventually remove asthmatics from the gene pool.

  • umm can we say nuclear plants....oh wait people are to scared of it. Sorry, everyone would rather choke to death on the noxious fumes from coal burners, bah they can all die anyway
  • I see that, despite your self-professed ability to change sensors on diesel engines and rappel over scary heights, you weren't able to refute a single claim of fact that you quoted. (Opinions don't count.) We still haven't seen the test results for the Dodge Demon vs. the 1997 car (we saw a claim but no numbers nor any way to confirm them), nor how the results hold up over time. (That's a legal requirement that said Demon didn't have to meet.) You're reduced to using sarcasm instead of challenging my sources.

    I wish I could say I was surprised.
    --
    Build a man a fire, and he's warm for a day.

  • 13.2 on the quarter mile? While that's impressive, my *truck* would show you taillights.

    Ever hear of the legendary Chrysler (Mopar) Hemi?

    The only reason it's as slow as 13.2 in the quarter is because the batteries are current-limited. The NEC battery can drain, for short periods, at a rate of 45 times the one-hour charge rate. That's 450 kilowatts for a 10 KWH battery, or about 600 horsepower.

    The '68 Hemi 'Cuda did 0-60 in 6.0 seconds. The tzero is already down to 4.1, and that is faster than anything Mopar sent off the line. I doubt that your truck is that quick no matter how much power you've got, because you'd need non-street tires to keep the rears from breaking loose. (Chalk up another advantage of electrics: traction control.)

    Hell, do you even know who Carrol Shelby is? (Hint: not a chick.)
    I owned one of the later vehicles to which he lent his name.

    I also used to walk by his office on a regular basis. It was on the way to the IP folks who were busy safeguarding the output of my brain and turning into money for the Chrysler Corp.

    There's this little thing I've got that I'm trying to lend you. It's called perspective.

    By their very nature, batteries are full of nasty, caustic chemicals. The more potent the battery, the more potent the chemicals.
    Not quite true. In general, the more dense the energy store, the more potent the chemicals. Gasoline is one of the most potent of all. A quarter-cup in the bilges of a boat can blow it to smithereens. Sulfuric acid has nothing on hydrocarbons.

    Sulfuric acid is also easy and clean to deal with. Dump some baking soda on it, and you've got sodium sulfate. That's just about as harmless as you can get. Spilled gasoline is a nasty groundwater contaminant; you certainly don't want to drink it.

    And all those exotic battery electrolytes will leak into storm sewers, killing your precious fish in whatever lake they get to.
    As opposed to all the aromatics and other stuff in the leaked and spilled gasoline causing cancer in everyone 20 years down the road. Since we've already got batteries with amazing performance that require nothing more dangerous than H2SO4, I don't see the problem. Besides, our cars already carry a load of H2SO4; it's a known quantity.
    But even if that's the technology of the future, where are you going to charge the batteries? Plug them in? Remember the power shortages and rotating blackouts in California this summer?
    Okay, the sun hasn't been out in two days and the weather is calm. Plug them into your furnace and/or water heater. (You do have a fuel-cell furnace, don't you? Well, you will. Plug Power has them coming, and you'll not lack for juice as long as natural gas comes to your meter.)
    Retooling to get away from a piston engine? Could happen, but there'll be lots of kicking and screaming.
    No there won't be, outside of the obsolete engine plants. Detroit has already flirted with steam (late 60's, before the 3-way catalytic converter was invented to take the smog precursors out of intermittent high-pressure combustion gases). There have been similar flirtations with gas turbines. Detroit has always been in search of the better mousetrap. The internal-combustion engine is their means to an end, not an end in itself. This is as it should be.
    You're also blissfully ignorant of the old car collector like myself. Gasoline will not go away. Old car enthusiasts tend to be educated, affluent, and enjoy *driving* our cars. And we vote.
    Tried buying leaded fuel recently? There's aviation gasoline and perhaps some horribly expensive racing fuel, but you won't find much else in the States. I don't know what your situation is in metro Toronto; you may still be able to find the stuff. I haven't seen it in quite a few years.

    Gasoline is going to go the same way. It's going to be shoved out by cleaner alternatives that don't make outrageous demands on the nation's balance of trade and give power to belligerent dictators in the world's backwaters. Gasoline will be something that costs a lot of money and is hard to find because it's a niche product and has few remaining vendors. Most people will have something that they can either charge overnight at home, quick-charge on the road (that NEC battery goes from 0 to full charge in 5 minutes), or they'll have a fuel-cell vehicle that burns natural gas, alcohol or hydrogen. Without exception they will be quiet, clean and inoffensive.

    It's my understanding that Toronto is one of the most polluted cities north of the Rio Grande, due in no small part to the traffic on the freeways. You might not have the option of driving your truck in town in ten years; it might be an electric, the bus or your feet. You might leave, but a lot of people might stay or even move there because they like it that way.

    Like communism, it's a great idea. Like communism, it also forgets a few very basic things about how the world works.
    Aside from the possibility that electrics don't allow some people to engage in conspicuous rudeness, noisiness and smelliness (oh yeah, and consumption), I don't see what it is that this movement allegedly misses, and where the folly lies. All I see is your desire to thumb your nose at people who think that what you're doing is damaging, obnoxious, or both. You started with the claim that the personal automobile would be the casualty of the end of gasoline and/or the ICE, and that claim holds no water. You've not put up anything else that withstands scrutiny, either. It looks like the folly is more yours than theirs.
    --
    Build a man a fire, and he's warm for a day.
  • Let me get this straight . You are saying your complete life has been devoted to IC Engines and Petroleum based products and your complete field of expertise(as u claim) is limited to this narrow niche and unlike the other guy in this fight(yes unfortunately I have to call this a fight not a discussion given the standard of language used) you have absolutely no employable
    skills in any other field.
    Well I sure can understand why you would be hostile to anything that eliminates gasoline from the world economy and renders u unemployed and forced to take the commuter bus with all the other derelicts.
  • I think fuel cells are the best bet so far, the only thing holding them back is price.

    ? Fuel cells get you a higher efficiency process than internal combustion from a given fuel, they're not energy producers in and of themselves. Systems like solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, or salinity gradient generation could be used to generate power which is converted into hydrogen or hydrocarbon fuel. That fuel can then be shipping to western PA. (Hopefully soon we'll then use fuel cells to turn that fuel into power for our machines, thus reducing the fuel we need per machine.)

  • you have absolutely no employable skills in any other field.

    <grin> I can program in Assembly language. It's great for everything from embedded controllers to whole operating systems. Ever harness the real power of your computer?

    Forget the sound card, that's for script kiddies. I hooked up three very old (and very loud) floppy disk drives to my computer and made them play Flight of the Bumblebees in three-part harmony.

    (Well, actually, it was four, if you count the fact that light percussion was done by toggling one head-to-disk (drive enable) solenoid; the heavy percussion was done with three at once.)

    Useful? Well, I got top marks in my high school computer class. Everyone else was playing Chopsticks by drawing notes onto a score with an early Macintosh music program.

    The teacher's level was such that he knew approximately what BASIC was, in the great scheme of computer languages.

    C++ is for amateurs; libraries are for the lazy.

    (Oh, I'm really gonna get it for that one... Go ahead, at least if you moderate me down, the 49 karma points will be more interesting to look at for a change than the 50.)

  • c) you do not care about anything but your own well being (i.e. as long as the environment does not become shit in your lifetime, you will do what ever you like regardless of the long term impacts).

    No, I'm simply reasonable. Do you want to save the environment, maybe increasing the average lifespan by two years? Great! And as you shut down the economy to do that, unemployment rates get increased, and you give people an extra two years of welfare misery.

    <sniff> <sniff> Yup, it's cheap scare tactics all right!

    Here's some more perspective. Back in the 30's, 40's and 50's there was a rapidly increasing amount of goo being dumped into the lakes, rivers and skies over most of the industrialized world. Several rivers in the USA caught fire, and I believe that Europe was much the same. Sulfur and nitrogen oxides from coal-burning plants created noxious hazes over many of the cities of the nation. Then the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act came to the USA, and the equivalents to pretty much all of western Europe. Most organizations had to radically reduce their emissions of NOx, SOx, hydrocarbons and CO into the air, take most of the nitrates and phosphates out of their wastewater, and pretty much stop dumping heavy metals. Toxic semi-organic stuff like poly-chlorinated biphenyls had to go entirely. I can just hear you, had you been around then: "The economy is falling! The economy is falling!"

    Here we are after about 35 years of this, and the USA is enjoying its biggest economic boom of the century. We're also enjoying the cleanest air that the once smog-bound Los Angeles has had in decades, and fish have returned to many of the rivers which were once flammable. Anyone claiming this isn't progress is grossly ignorant, deluded, or lying.

    Over the exhaust pipe, her back bumper had the big black stain of a rich fuel mixture. And when she dropped the clutch and pulled away, the blue cloud of blow-by oil from her worn-out engine would have killed a NYC pigeon. And yet she feels that what she's driving is more environmentally friendly than her brother's absolutely perfectly restored 1972 Dodge Demon with a *blueprinted* 340-4bbl. While it only gets 10MPG, that car passed an emissions test, blowing cleaner than a 1997 model spec, even though it has no emissions control equipment.
    Reasoning by anecdote is so much fun; it lets you prove anything with but a single example. <grin>

    The thing you may not know is that tailpipe tests are done at idle. This also happens to be when the exhaust gases are coolest, and the catalytic converter is working particularly poorly. On top of this, idle has the lowest cylinder pressures. Therefore, you have the worst conversion, offset by the lowest production of NOx. It's not too surprising that the Demon would fare well under these conditions.

    The problem for you is that these aren't representative conditions; people don't do a whole lot of miles at idle. If you tested the cars under load, they'd tell a very different story. That's when you'd be comparing a hot, working 'cat against the catless, EGR-less Demon - with actual cylinder pressures and temperatures in the operating range. That's when the 1997 car would be clean as a whistle, and the Demon would be pumping out huge amounts of crap. Fortunately for your anecdotes you can't demo this without a chassis dyno, so the examples to disprove your assertions are nowhere as easy to come by as your simple "proofs".

    But, do you believe in Darwinism? I don't really care about air pollution. It'll eventually remove asthmatics from the gene pool.
    Athsma and other allergies appear to be a product of environment (specifically, not enough immune-system challenges in early childhood) and have little to do with genes. Worse air pollution will probably increase athsma, because people will keep their children indoors.

    Weren't you lecturing about simplistic analyses a few responses ago? Pot, kettle, black.
    --
    Build a man a fire, and he's warm for a day.

  • Actually thats funny!

  • Reasoning by anecdote is so much fun; it lets you prove anything with but a single example. <grin>

    Absolutely. Or, the anecdote can be used as an illustrative example.

    Let's consider something. The Demon was *blueprinted*. That's an automotive hobbyist's term for building the motor to closer than new tolerances.

    Now, why would you do that? For power.

    What's the consequence of more power? More efficiency.

    What's the consequence of more efficiency? Closer stoichiometry.

    And that means....?

    Less emissions.

    The thing you may not know is that tailpipe tests are done at idle.

    Really? Hmmm... I guess that's why they put cars onto dynamometers in most modern emissions testing programs...

    You know, all people who make generalizations are idiots. <grin> The Demon passed a 25 MPH dyno test, a 2500 RPM idle test, and a factory idle (750RPM) test.

    This also happens to be when the exhaust gases are coolest, and the catalytic converter is working particularly poorly. On top of this, idle has the lowest cylinder pressures. Therefore, you have the worst conversion, offset by the lowest production of NOx.

    Actually, a cold cat would generally result in *more* unburnt HC leaving the exhaust, and therefore a failed test. But if the car were inefficient at idle, you'd probably find that the cat got hot.

    But it's an especially interesting question, since the 1972 Dodge Demon, even in California emissions trim, didn't come with a catalytic converter.

    What we're proving here is that older cars with simpler engines and good care can pass the same standards as a modern car.

    It's all about maintenance. Stop demonstrating your ignorance.

    It's not too surprising that the Demon would fare well under these conditions.

    It's not too surprising that the Demon passed the 25 MPH dyno, either. And if you had ever done more with a car than cry helplessly when you blew a tire by the side of the road, you might know that.

    The problem for you is that these aren't representative conditions; people don't do a whole lot of miles at idle.

    You've clearly never been on a metropolitan freeway at rush hour.

    If you tested the cars under load, they'd tell a very different story. That's when you'd be comparing a hot, working 'cat against the catless, EGR-less Demon - with actual cylinder pressures and temperatures in the operating range.

    <sigh> I suspect you're fat. I've got a weight reduction plan for you that simulates EGR wonderfully.

    Step one: Take a crap. Step two: replace x percentage of your food with your crap. Step three: enjoy the weight loss, weird infections and onset of scurvy.

    Would you work any more efficiently if you ate your own shit? No. Why would you expect a car engine to?

    If your ignition timing isn't too far advanced, your NOx production is *very* limited.

    You'll note that on many cars, the EGR valve is vacuum-operated. At full-throttle, there is no vacuum with which to hold the EGR valve open. Similarily, speaking as one who has *designed engine management systems for a living*, I'll tell you that most car engines with electronically-controlled EGR valves close them at wide-open throttle.

    Now, if you want to simulate a catalytic converter, go to a sex shop and buy a butt-plug. Drill a 1/4" hole through it. Insert it, and now try to dispose of your waste the way you're forcing the engine to.

    Ah, yes. We've made the engine so much healthier with all these great ideas!

    That's when the 1997 car would be clean as a whistle, and the Demon would be pumping out huge amounts of crap.

    Test report forthcoming.

    Fortunately for your anecdotes you can't demo this without a chassis dyno, so the examples to disprove your assertions are nowhere as easy to come by as your simple "proofs".

    Again, I live in Toronto, Canada. That is in the province of Ontario. Ontario has "DriveClean". Click on this link [driveclean.com] to go to their site and read about their dynos. You'll note two things. The Demon was *voluntarily* tested (it's more than 20 years old), and you'll also note that the dyno test runs at 40km/h. That's approximately 25 MPH.

    I grow weary with your self-righteous ignorance. Are you sure you're not a Baptist, too?

  • As a young, affluent, self-centered Canadian, you
    should be commended for your efforts to
    avoid the lower classes.

    I'm sure I speak for those plebians when I say
    please keep up the good work.

  • > I am no envirnmentalist, So you say .... > but I want clearer air and water. .... that makes you an environmentalist, at least as much as most people that call themselves that. gpig
  • Yes, but you're also talking about used tires. ones that take up space in landfills. Wasn't it in Great Britain that a tire dump caught fire and burned for a couple of years, yielding much toxic smoke and a couple of thousand gallons (Imperial) of usable oil?

    This reminds me of an article I saw in NASA Tech Briefs (a handy pub.) concerning recyclable (sp?) plastic. There are seven types of recyclable (sp?) plastic. The major problem was that they all melted at different temperatures. So, before plastic can be recycled, it needs to be separated into the seven different types. The method published in NTB eliminated that requirement. It was Pat. Pendg. I believe that was in '88.

    Another problem was that the plastic industry wanted virgin plastic polymers.

    I suppose that's one reason why oil from coal hasn't taken hold. After all, why take those extra couple of steps, when all you have to do is kill more Nigerians?

  • It is possible IMHO that fossil fuels are less polluting in a solid form as in Tires than in gaseous form as in CO2. That is if the piles of tyres never catch fire.

  • Actually thats funny!

    It gets worse. I gave the source code for the routines that step the drives to make the noise to a friend of mine.

    He's since turned it into a MIDI player.

  • Well, here you go Firestone...you can turn your fuck up into big profit!
  • If I was made Prime Minister of Canada (yes, that's where I live) my first order of business would be to ban all fossil-fuel burning personal use automobiles!!!
    Then I, as an affluent and intelligent young Canadian, being forced to ride on public transportation...
    Hold it right there. That assertion is false, therefore all that follows is false.

    The day is coming very soon when you won't even think of burning fossil fuels to get somewhere. You could get one of VW's 78-MPG cars today, and run it off of spent fryer grease (but you'd be a bit eccentric). Or, wait a bit and you'll be able to get something like the tzero [acpropulsion.com], which already has acceleration better than anything made by Mopar. That's with current batteries, too. When you consider the performance potential with new batteries such as the NEC proton polymer battery [nec.co.jp], you could be talking 0-60 in 3 seconds. That's more fun than I've ever had.

    Banning cars will cause the affluent to leave.
    Using gas taxes to push electrics will have the wealthy enjoying the quiet and clean lifestyle first. After all, most of the early adopters are either rich or upper-middle class. And you can bet that the auto companies will just love a ban on gas-burners once they've got production of electrics ramped up. Forcing replacement of the existing fleet is a bigger market opening than the replacement of R-12.

    You say you're affluent and intelligent, why aren't you on this bandwagon already?
    --
    Build a man a fire, and he's warm for a day.

  • So let me get this straight: I buy a tonne of tires for my vehicle, which can later be rendered down to 438 liters of crude oil (and thence to a probably similar amount of gasoline). That much gasoline will move the car about 6,000 kilometers; a tonne of tires would cost US$3,000 and last for over a million kilometers. This is supposed to solve the oil crisis? Can't people do math?
  • by Tau Zero (75868) on Friday October 20, 2000 @11:25AM (#689796) Journal
    The computer that I am writing this post on is powered by coal. What happens when (and if) all the fossil fuels are used up?
    We'll never use up all the fossil fuels. We never used up all the spermaceti (though we came close), but we don't use it any more regardless. It's just not economic.

    There are a number of economic and technological forces moving in the favor of alternative energy. To list a few:

    1. Electricity from wind is now below US$0.05/KWH, and the trend is still downward. (The problem with wind isn't the supply, it's that it isn't available on-demand. Storage technologies are key to making wind really workable, and storage is still very expensive except in a few places where there is very favorable geography.)
    2. Electricity from photovoltaics is about 5x more expensive, but falling pretty steadily. Figure that it's about 10 years behind wind. Storage is the same bugaboo.
    3. This year saw a surprise, when it was announced that a common every-day one-celled alga could be made to produce pure hydrogen just by denying it access to light and sulfur. Efficiency is already 1%, and the researchers think they can get it to 10%. Consider what the output of a thousand acres of desert might be...
    4. New batteries are on the way, the NEC proton polymer cell [nec.co.jp] is just one of the more interesting.
    5. There is a lot of room for improvement in the form of co-generation and other advanced technologies. Fuel cells which heat your house and your shower as a by-product of making your electricity are already on the market and ready to take over lots of functions. When hydrogen comes through the pipeline to your doorstep, anyone with a fuel cell will be ready for it.
    If you look at a century-old house in a city, it probably has a coal bunker and a coal chute for filling it. Nobody uses them any more. I expect that we'll find fossil fuels to be increasingly outmoded and disused, like coal and coal chutes. I expect the process to start making noticeable inroads in a relatively short time, perhaps 3-5 years from now. I'm already prepared for a reasonably priced electric car; when it hits the market, I'll buy one.
    --
    Build a man a fire, and he's warm for a day.
  • by Mad Hughagi (193374) on Friday October 20, 2000 @08:52AM (#689797) Homepage Journal
    Coalite plans to produce up to 35 million litres of oil a year

    While it may not solve the oil crisis, it is sufficient to supplement a very desirable commodity. You also have to remember that there are dumps full of old tires that do nothing but take up space - they don't decompose and they aren't worth anything to anyone (unless you like making tire-swings). If anything at least this will free up some landfill space and since many of these tire dumps are unsafe (if they catch on fire you're talking about quite a deadly soup of toxic smoke - it happens!) it's probably a good thing that we get rid of them.

    While I think that we should be moving away from fossil fuels, there is no doubt that almost every country on the planet will try to squeeze out every last drop of oil that they can, reusing these tires is just a step in process. Don't be surprised to find a lot of this 'recycling' in the years to come as we quickly work our way down to the bottom of our oil wells - rising oil prices only help to accelerate projects which might currently be deemed uneconomic.


  • If I was made Prime Minister of Canada (yes, that's where I live) my first order of business would be to ban all fossil-fuel burning personal use automobiles!!!

    Then I, as an affluent and intelligent young Canadian, being forced to ride on public transportation where I may be forced into personal contact with hotel chambermaids, unwed 18-year-old single mothers, the homeless and other derelicts, will no longer find that Canada is able to provide me with the lifestyle that I expect for the work that I do.

    As a result, even faster than the high taxes and lack of opportunity in this socialist hellhole are driving me out, I'll be a brain-drain statistic before you're able to reneg on your first campaign promise.

    Idiot. Don't you realize that everything is cause and effect? Banning cars will cause the affluent to leave. That will mean less people starting businesses, and less skilled labor for established businesses. Which means more businesses fail. Which means higher unemployment. While Canada clearly wants to be a third-world nation, this is the best way to exacerbate the problem. (Here's why the economy always goes bad when the NDP gets elected!)

    Try learning something about how the world really works.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Um... no one seems to addressing the positive side of this mess. We have a hell of a lot of used tires laying around doing nothing but polluting the environment and breeding disease right now. We're going to burn fossil fuels for some time. We might as well use up some garbage to do it instead of drawing more crude oil.
  • People can do math. It's just that they're not generally sad enough to calculate the sort of crap posted here. pick pick pick nothing will ever work. we're all doomed. oh *handstapleforehead*
  • Fossil Fuels such as oil run the world. The computer that I am writing this post on is powered by coal. What happens when (and if) all the fossil fuels are used up?

    I would imagine that most /.-ers and people in general want a cleaner environment. I am no envirnmentalist, but I want clearer air and water. Unfortunalty, fossil fuels is not the cleanest scource of energy. The reason that we still use the is purely economical. After all, it is cheaper to mine/drill for coal,oil, and gas, burn them in our power plants and cars, than to use alternative scources of energy. We may want the electric car, but we don't want to play 10x the price for one.

    I believe that the only way we will abandon fossil fuels is if they become too expensive to use. Exxon and other gas giants are always looking for newer scources of fuel (the Alaskan oil reserves for instance). Until the economic price of oil goes up, we will never start to use those "alternative" scources of energy that are cleaner.

    Therefore, this discovery worries me. Sythetic rubber in tires are made from coal and petroleum. Basically, all we are doing is taking a fossil fuel that we already mined, and reusing it for energy. We are simply lengthening the overall "life-time" of these fossil fuels. I really believe that companies need to point their research at alternative energy sources, but there is no economic benifit for them to do so as long as we can extract more from our oil like this discovery has done.

    Now I know that my agrument sounds kind of shoddy, but as long as there are cheap fossil fuels, the world will still use them and pollute. If we want to stop using fossil fuels we need to encourage economic benifits to research alternative energy sources; yes I know I sound like Gore. But I think he is right in the fact that the economic cost of alternative sources of energy are greater than the cost of using coal and oil.

    Case and point. In the 70's during the energy crisis, there was a movement towards alternative energy sources. This was because oil cost so much that companies wanted to do the research. As soon as the energy cost of oil went back down, the motivation to develope alternative energy sources diminished.

    In conclusion, I don't want us (society) to abandon fossil fuels. I personally like not having to pay lots of money for gas/electricity. But I also think that if we encourage alternative energy sources, we will be better off in the end.

  • Ok why should we limit our options? While I have some older mopar vehicles that run on gasoline I would not mind running them off moonshine. If it was at the pump or if I would not get arrested for producing it(not likely but possible). On the other hand I would be open to other alternatives such as electric. But it would seem to be better to goto alcohol for legacy vehicle that are on the road now. Would that not have a better effect in the short term than slowly selling electric vehicles. Henry Ford himself wanted to use alcohol. Would help farmers. Of course there are some alcohol in the vehical laws that might have to be considered. Personally I will go the alcohol way until they have other alternatives that can be implemeted now at a good cost. And for diesal engines there is the vegitable oil. I can not wait until they are using alot of vegitable oil instead of diesal fuel because I don't really like the smell when I am in traffic. I am working on a plan for myself and so are many others. The more that do this themselfs the better. BTW why are you talking about cat convertors on the microbus... it does not have one. So what is the point? WE are all ready for a change! So lets do it instead of talking about it. There are so many good ideas that are not being used. Lets use them.
  • Yeah replacing those lead battery cells every few years is really worth the cost. Electric cars won't be a viable altarnative unless someone works out cold fusion. Thats great your electric car can go from 0-60 in 3 seconds, but how many miles does it go on a single charge? I bet far less than my $12 tank of gas. The truth is that nothing is more cost effective than a gallon of gas right now.
  • I buy a tonne of tires for my vehicle, which can later be rendered down to 438 liters of crude oil...
    As another poster noted, we're sitting on decades of scrap tires. Illegal dumping of tires is a serious problem. Anything that can turn them into a useful product and do so at a profit is a terrific solution to this waste-disposal issue.

    The real arithmetic error is in the tires-to-oil conversion. The tonne of tires is 1000 kg. Assuming a density of 0.9, the 438 liters of oil produced from the tires would have a mass of 394 kg. While there is some steel in a tire (in the bead and outer carcass belts) it isn't anywhere near 60% of the mass. As I make it, about half of the mass of the tire isn't accounted for by their numbers. Where does it go?
    --
    Build a man a fire, and he's warm for a day.


  • While I have some older mopar vehicles that run on gasoline I would not mind running them off moonshine.

    Absolutely. You would probably have to do a small retrofit (fuel pump diaphrams, fuel hoses, carburetor floats, timing adjustments) if they're pre-1990 models. Otherwise, it's no big deal.

    On the other hand I would be open to other alternatives such as electric.

    My issues with electric cars are as follows:

    Toxic chemical hazard, especially in accidents. (I don't wanna get third-degree chemical burns to my face because of a fender-bender; any electric vehicle is likely to carry a lot more battery electrolyte than a modern car carries gasoline.)

    Electrical Infrastructure. Do we really have the electrical capacity to charge these things? No. Do we want to build more coal plants to recharge them? No. Nuclear? No.

    Temperature Issues. I live in a northern climate. Batteries lose capacity in cold weather. At least once an internal combustion engine is running in the cold, it regulates itself to an efficient temperature. Are we going to waste precious battery power to run electric battery blankets when we're driving electric cars through subarctic cold snaps?
    But it would seem to be better to goto alcohol for legacy vehicle that are on the road now. Would that not have a better effect in the short term than slowly selling electric vehicles.

    Absolutely. In fact, my 1976 Dodge Ram has an aftermarket fuel pump. The fuel lines and fittings are all alcohol-safe. And the carburetor float is made of stamped and soldered brass. My truck *loves* running on alcohol; with minor timing and mixture tweaks it runs less than 2 PPM unburnt HC out the exhaust when running 10% methanol. That's impressive, since the motor has never been rebuilt, has over 130,000 miles on it, and never came with catalytic converters.

    Henry Ford himself wanted to use alcohol. Would help farmers. Of course there are some alcohol in the vehical laws that might have to be considered. Personally I will go the alcohol way until they have other alternatives that can be implemeted now at a good cost.

    Alcohol is, at the moment, the only alternative fuel that has any prospect of large-scale viability. Here in Toronto, Canada, it's fairly well available; most gasoline has at least 3% ethanol in the mix, though there are some that advertise more. But in the Ottawa area, there are gas stations that sell 10% methanol, and that blend seems to give a good burn with a little tweaking. A vehicle with a properly-running EFI system should cope with this with no problem, since the oxygen sensor and the knock detector will recalibrate the timing and the fuel/air mixture on the fly in ways that my truck cannot.

    I've also run the truck on 75% methanol, which caused issues because I didn't actually set the ignition timing and carburetor jetting appropriately. But rest assured, that'd be quite a nice replacement for pure gasoline, and on most vehicles, the retrofit would be minimal. (Most EFI engines, especially more recent ones, are even designed to cope specifically with this.) The bigger issue is one of supply, since not enough is produced now to do that.

  • But it would seem to be better to goto alcohol for legacy vehicle that are on the road now. Would that not have a better effect in the short term than slowly selling electric vehicles. Henry Ford himself wanted to use alcohol. Would help farmers.

    Alcohol could be used on existing vehicles with some engine modification. As for some of the reasons why alcohol was not used originally (especially as a fuel additive, when it looked like petroleum was the way to go for the primary fuel source), read here about the secret move to get lead used [thenation.com] instead.

  • Solar power won't work well in certain areas of the country. In western PA its cloudy almost 2/3 of the time. I think fuel cells are the best bet so far, the only thing holding them back is price. Hopefully that will change.
  • Aaah - someone else who:
    (a) has actually read Ayn Rand; and therefore
    (b) thinks she was a dangerous fool.

    Or am I putting words in your mouth?


  • The day is coming very soon when you won't even think of burning fossil fuels to get somewhere. You could get one of VW's 78-MPG cars today, and run it off of spent fryer grease (but you'd be a bit eccentric).

    Oh, no doubt, I think they're a great idea. Gas mileage is all important. (As a side note, my daily driver is a 1976 Dodge Ram with a 400CID (6.6L) big block V8. It gets about 7 miles per gallon when I drive it gently. And it'll not only out-accelerate any little "souped-up" Acura I've ever come up against at a stoplight, but it's also a lot of fun to drive.)

    Or, wait a bit and you'll be able to get something like the tzero, which already has acceleration better than anything made by Mopar.

    13.2 on the quarter mile? While that's impressive, my *truck* would show you taillights.

    Ever hear of the legendary Chrysler (Mopar) Hemi?

    Ever hear of the Chrysler 340? Or the 440-6 pak? Chrysler built at least ten cars, in mass production, during the musclecar era that would have blown that thing away. I'll list them for you, as well as totals produced, if you're interested.

    Hell, the Dodge Omni GLHS was faster than that 13.2, and it was a little mid-80's hatchback. (With a Shelby turbocharged 2.2L or 2.5L engine...)

    The Shelby Dodge Viper runs 12.8 on the 1/4 mile, and it's a lot more practical and streetable than this car that you're talking about. (And, by the way, the Shelby cars are built that way at Chrysler's factories.)

    Hell, do you even know who Carrol Shelby is? (Hint: not a chick.)

    Finally, while not a Mopar, in the mid-1980s, GM built the Grand National, which was a black Buick Regal with a 3.8L SFI turbo V6. It had a curb weight of close to 4,000 pounds, was luxury everything, and was faster than that electric car.

    Get to know your automotive history before you start spouting about automotive future.

    That's with current batteries, too. When you consider the performance potential with new batteries such as the NEC proton polymer battery, you could be talking 0-60 in 3 seconds. That's more fun than I've ever had.

    By their very nature, batteries are full of nasty, caustic chemicals. The more potent the battery, the more potent the chemicals. Gasoline is bad, yes. But I can't wait for the adoption of electric cars en masse. Every car accident will be a haz-mat team call; because of need for range, batteries will be stuffed everywhere in the car and they'll be ruptured in every minor fender-bender. Car accident burns won't be thermal anymore (well, there will still be some of those); the majority will be chemical. And there'll be a lot of them.

    And all those exotic battery electrolytes will leak into storm sewers, killing your precious fish in whatever lake they get to.

    Sure, I read the article; the new NEC battery is an exception, it uses a conventional sulphuric acid electrolyte to achieve its phenomenal power to volume ratios.

    But even if that's the technology of the future, where are you going to charge the batteries? Plug them in? Remember the power shortages and rotating blackouts in California this summer? I can't wait to see what those will be like once the state's commuters are all plugging in at night. Gonna have to build a few new nuclear or coal power plants to supply Sacramento alone (let alone L.A.) Oh, but wait, that's bad for the environment, too. Sorry.

    Forcing replacement of the existing fleet is a bigger market opening than the replacement of R-12.

    The replacement of R-12 wasn't much to the car companies. A few retrofit kits for the orifices on older A/C systems, a new cylinder of gas to fill new car A/C with, no big deal. Retooling to get away from a piston engine? Could happen, but there'll be lots of kicking and screaming.

    You're also blissfully ignorant of the old car collector like myself. Gasoline will not go away. Old car enthusiasts tend to be educated, affluent, and enjoy *driving* our cars. And we vote.

    You say you're affluent and intelligent, why aren't you on this bandwagon already?

    Because I'm smart enough to see the folly in it. Like communism, it's a great idea. Like communism, it also forgets a few very basic things about how the world works. That didn't stop it from fucking up a whole lot of lives, though.

  • What happens when (and if) all the fossil fuels are used up?

    We've got another 100 years of petroleum (Discover, June 1999), and we have at least that long with coal. I'm sure we'll come up with something by 2100.
  • we've got ample proof that pure laissez-faire capitalism will not do anything that's not economically productive in the very short term.

    Really? So when's Amazon.com going to turn a profit?
  • My issues with electric cars are as follows:
    • ...
    • Electrical Infrastructure. Do we really have the electrical capacity to charge these things?
    • Temperature Issues....Are we going to waste precious battery power to run electric battery blankets when we're driving electric cars through subarctic cold snaps?
    Addressing your concerns in order:
    1. Peak electrical demand is typically on hot summer afternoons. Recharging demand will probably be minimal at that time, because most vehicles will either already be charged or be on the road. Recharging demand will be maximum in the overnight hours, and will actually make for more efficient use of the existing infrastructure. There won't be any need to upgrade lines and transformers until electric vehicles account for a large fraction of the fleet. (The demand-side management folks have been salivating over this for years, because it will add lots of revenue with very little capital expenditure. The revenue comes out of gasoline company pockets.)
    2. Batteries heat themselves once in operation; most battery vehicles have to worry about cooling them, not heating them. Insulating them would probably suffice even for Toronto weather. The only thing you might want to do is to pre-heat the batteries after a cold-soak, else you'd have to put up with limited performance until they warmed up.
    FWIW, unburned HC and CO are the reasons that the US EPA wanted oxygenated fuels. What you're saying is that they were right.

    There are serious issues with methanol, such as converting your iron cylinder walls to formates, and cold-starting. There are problems with alcohol/gasoline blends in general, such as how to make an inexpensive, reliable and accurate fuel-composition sensor so that the mixture can be set properly for starting. You claim to be such an authority on fuels and engines, perhaps you can tell the PhD's at the auto companies how to do it. (I'll try to get to your other post tomorrow; I had no time last night.)
    --
    Build a man a fire, and he's warm for a day.

"Stupidity, like virtue, is its own reward" -- William E. Davidsen

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