Benefit: Secure Energy Source. A number of nations produce fuel through the FT process. China, Qatar and South Africa lead the world in current production and new capacity under construction. [See the figure.] While Qatar turns natural gas into liquid fuel, both China and South Africa use coal. South Africa supplies 30 percent of its transportation fuel in this way. The United States has more coal than any other nation, with currently estimated reserves of 270 billion tons. CTL production utilizing coal would increase the nation's energy security.
* America uses approximately 1.1 billion tons of coal annually — or about 3 million tons per day. Given that it takes approximately one-half ton of coal to produce a barrel of CTL diesel:
* It would require 2.3 millions tons per day to replace all domestically refined diesel.
* That would increase annual coal demand by 839 million tons, or 83 percent.
Yup, lots of good ideas out there. Another one I saw in the Scientific America Magazine couple years ago was to put PC panels all over the Arizona desert and generate electricity for the country. Would have to build a new transmission system. They projected a cost about equal to what this country pays farmers to not grow anything on there land.
coalnewbie wrote:I have another idea ban cars from all metro areas. Then I will take a big truck and extend the chassis, in fact I have invented a name for it - I will call it a bus. Massive energy saver.
I think we had the answer to all of these problems and they all worked without government money, paid taxes into the system rather than took money out of the system and were very efficient and offered lots of employment and was the back bone of the National Economy. But they tore it all up when the Government decided to get into the transportation industry. Let's see, hmm, what was it? Oh I remember! It was called a RAILROAD. And they had these strange kinda railroads in the cities that had odd vehicles which ran off of electricity. I think those were called STREET CARS.
There is a lot of active research work on finding the right fast growing algae for an oil product feed stock. The big problem is scaling the process large enough to make a difference. The company that does that will be very, very rich. Genetic engineering is being used to make the "right" algae. Some designs have produced an algae that nature hasn't, can't, didn't, etc. There is some biological danger here. Caution should be primary.
My engineering guess would be that liquidified natural gas (LNG) will be a big fuel for motor transportation in the future. Huge amounts of natural gas in shale deposits are being actively developed. Converting a gasoline engine to LNG has been done. During the energy crisis during the Carter administration, my employer JHU/APL developed a LNG powered car. It was a standard Chrysler product with the engine modified for high compression. The engineering challenge was in the LNG storage tank. It ended up as structural fiber composite tank that was part of the rear suspension system. In simple terms a tank mounted side to side that was also the structure for the rear suspension. I never drove the car but it did sit in it. No different to the driver than the factory gasoline model. The whole idea died because gas prices came back down and the infrastructure to support compressing natural gas to LNG was not there. JHU/APL had a compressor station for refueling the car. So did a gas station 10-15 miles away that was part of a test run by the local electric utility. They ran several big trucks on LNG.
Buy now all the engineers that developed this vehicle have left this earth but their work is still available in engineering reports. I'll see if I can get a copy. When evaluating some proposal as a future energy source always look at the energy density. If it's not high, ideally close to gasoline or diesel it's not going to fly.
Yanche wrote: The whole idea died because gas prices came back down...
That seems to be the fate of many of these projects. That article I linked to for coal to liquid fuel suggests a cost equivalent to $45 per barrel. That's far less than conventional oil prices right now. Private investment isn't going to happen though, OPEC could open the spigots up for a few months and any company using this process would quickly find themselves going bankrupt. At some point they aren't going to be able to do that, I can't wait to see the day when the US domestic coal resources can compete and we can tell OPEC to take hike off a cliff.
The main problem as I see it is getting heat straight to electricity. Whatever happened to the Stirling engine? All I see is small stuff/models and kits. Any leads on say a 5KW generator that would be the ultimate - heat/DHW/electricity. Hey you engineers, why can't we see a practical mid sized Stirling engine what's the problem here?
I ran some numbers on liquid natural gas once twenty years ago when I liked running numbers, the conclusion was two gallons of liquid natural gas to equal one of Diesel.
The highway through town has several liquid natural gas tankers on it they haul from KGB road in Wassila, to Fairbanks, where a natural gas distribution system has been started, thier biggest problem I understand is the 300 mile trucking cost and the liquification which requires energy since it is cooled to very low temperatures to liquify.
They also rolled a trailer south of town about 30 miles away, closed the road, I understand pumped off what they could, down to the lowest port in the tank, and then gave the rest to the atmosphere. The trailer was on it's side so it was not equiped with a drain in that position.
Last I heard they were going to go north out of Fairbanks to get some of that gas that can't get to market because we can't figure out how to build another pipeline. When my sister lived in Barrow the gas bill was like 40$ a month but the water bill ran in the three hundreds.
Not to get off of the subject of electric cars too much, but; here is something to give some perspective. Here is another video from Jay Leno's garage. To me this has to be one of the neatest cars ever made. It is yet another example of the brilliance that came out of the Turn Of The Century Mind and yet another example of a sad, "what might have been.'
I built an electric motorcycle. It's fun, but here in Maine I don't see electric cars making much headway. Most "It cost X dollars to run an electric car" are based on eleven cents a kilowatt. Our rates are $.17.9. Add that to the "batteries and humans don't like freezing" and I don't see the electric car being used year 'round here.
Liquefied natural gas....compressed natural gas.... 6 or 7 years ago a natural gas pipeline came to town. Until then we never had any at all. A local paper mill hooked up to it as well as the electric company is making power with it. Some homes are converting for heat. This Fall it was announced that (across the street from me) will be a new industry. They are dumping 3 or 4 million bucks into a plant to put the gas into tanks. I'm not sure if it's going to be liquefied or compressed, but they talked about it competing with LP gas. Who knows where this will lead?
Yanche wrote:(LNG) ... The whole idea died because gas prices came back down ...
It seems like the only entity large enough to provide price support to these fledgling industries is the federal government. But as soon as the government gets involved it becomes mostly politics and money transfer from the rest of us to the favored industry, whether it makes sense or not. Look at the debacle of ethanol production in this country. I keep reading that natural gas production is expected to go WAY up in the foreseeable future. If LNG is big enough maybe private industry will get behind it for the long term, and we will be saved from ourselves in spite of politics.
The whole time I was reading this, I had in the back of my head that I was going to post a vid of Jay Leno's Doble & White steam cars ( among the many others ) he owns. Wsherrick beat me to it!
That car will crank along at 70 mph ... no transmission, due to the tremendous torque of steam power. Probably 20 HP but 2,000 ft.lbs. of torque! Only uses 2 quarts of water (unlike the Stanley) & recycles that water in a condenser. Absolutely ingenious!! Plus it'll run on whatever makes heat: Gasoline, diesel, propane ... if you can find a way to burn it, it will work. Could even start a coal fire in there if you had the patience & a machine shop.
The White was built in MA ... long before pampered poodle liberals took over Beacon Hill & gave handouts to illegals. Back when MA was a respectable state -- one that took charge, & had a solution to any problem. Definitely not the MA we all know & hate today.
I have driven a few Stanleys and a couple of steam powered tractors (I believe they were Case), you wouldn`t believe the power those things have & the speed of the cars, they could easily get away from you if you didn`t pay attention, theres really no engine noise.