"The future ain't what it used to be."

Abundance of fosil fule


Temporal Novice
Another study done for the Dept of Defense. The full PDF report is available at the following link. Seems we can set policies now that would have us off oil in 15 years. Nahh! Let's have endless wars in the Middle East and Central Asia instead!


Executive Summary

Recent terrorist events have again raised new questions about the security of U.S. energy. In the light of Middle East regional instability, it is fair to ask: Are there any alternatives to the status quo? How might the U.S. hurry the inevitable shift in primary energy supply, which has happened many times before in history, to a more stable, clean alternative to oil?

This study looks at historical global energy transitions, catalogues the present situation, looks into potential new technologies, envisions a new, all-electric world, and then posits a strategy that could dramatically and fundamentally change the shape of energy usage in the U.S. and the planet in the next fifteen years.

About 26% of the total energy consumption in the United States is used for transportation. Oil, 60% of which is imported, provides nearly all that energy. To solve the problem of dependency on imported oil, changes must occur in the transportation sector.

In sum, it looks like the world - led by the U.S. - is moving toward the day when hydrogen will replace oil as the major source of energy for transportation. The only question is how we get there. There are three major scenarios that describe possible energy environments of the next few decades: Awash in Oil and Gas, Technology Triumphs, and Turbulent World. Within the alternative vagaries of unlimited fossil fuels, new hydrogen-based technologies, or broad-based chaos that begs for change, a path must be planned that is based upon evolutionary change but will respond to revolutionary influences.

Where is this all going in the end? What does the world of transportation look like in, say, 2050? It's our guess that it's an all-electric world. Almost all vehicles (and most of the rest of our tools) will be electrically powered - the question is where and how the electricity is generated. Breakthroughs in generation, distribution and storage are almost inevitable and will eliminate all of the major problems associated with electricity today.

Keeping in mind possible technological breakthroughs that could leap over hydrogen fuel cells and produce electricity directly on a vehicle, we nevertheless jumped into the present methanol-ethanol-natural gas argument as a source for H2 and then assessed all of the major alternative vehicles that are presently under development.

There are a number of fundamental considerations that will always be major factors in any changes to a new energy source: political and economic feasibility, environmental impact, utilization of existing infrastructure, potential geopolitical disruption, et al. Using Think Toolsä technology, we arrayed all of these against all combinations of energy source/vehicle to isolate which options presented the best near-term, mid-term and long-term benefits. Always preserving the capability of rapidly accelerating the pace because of some major event or science breakthrough, a solid 15-year development path was designed.

The beginning of the strategy is already being played out: all manufacturers can now produce E85 engines (that can run on any combination of gasoline and ethanol up to 85% ethanol), with no changes in engineering and manufacturing cost. They should do so immediately. That would open up many hundreds of thousands of new vehicles to using ethanol, a domestically produced alternative fuel that can be distributed through the existing infrastructure with essentially no change at all.

An increasing number of manufacturers are producing hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs). Electricity is produced in an HEV from an internal combustion engine/generator set and stored in batteries. Either the engine or the batteries is then used for powering electric drive motors under the most efficient conditions. HEVs are the first step toward an all-electric vehicle, and if the engine were an E85/HEV engine it would at the same time be much more fuel-efficient while a larger portion of the fuel would come from North America.

Efficiency could be significantly increased above that gained from powertrain upgrades by integrating full-system design measures that take into consideration elements like aerodynamic drag, rolling friction, heating and cooling efficiencies, etc. The best example of this is the Hypercar® that has been developed in Colorado. Hypercar® design ideas combined with the HEV drivetrain could theoretically produce average fuel consumptions around 90 mpg.

The HEV/Hypercar® could easily be upgraded with fuel cells when they become commercially available. That would be a natural evolution along the developmental path to national independence, vehicle efficiency, and environmental friendliness.

All of these initiatives must be implemented while keeping in mind the larger objective of maintaining geopolitical stability. It would make no sense to solve our domestic energy problem by causing a number of equally significant, enduring crises in other parts of the world . . . that we then have to deal with for decades to come. We must take a holistic approach to dealing with this system.
While the following does not deal with the "transportation" piece of alternatives to fossil fuel, it at least provides some food for thought about what is possible to reduce dependency on fossil fuels in other areas of energy needs.

I've recently (in December) put a 3.3kW solar power generating system on the south-facing roof of my home in Huntington Beach. For the last two months of meter readings by SoCal Edison, I have generated more power than I have used. This prompted me to do some rough, back-of-the-envelope, "what if?" calculations of how much power could potentially be generated by such systems in a given area. Here's what I came up with:

Guesstimate of number of homes in Huntington Beach that have adequate southern exposure, such that they could generate sufficient power if a system were installed: ~24000 homes.
Conservative assumption that you could get 30% of these homes to install the system. So this brings the potential installations down to: ~7200 homes.
Assume an average system installation capable of generating 3kW. This would yield a potential power generation of: ~21.6 MW. (By comparison, Hoover Dam has a total power output capability of 1434 MW)

That's just for one city in SoCal. The implication here is that it is possible that a MAJORITY of the power required of any given area could actually be generated LOCALLY. This would cut down transmission costs, not to mention cut down pollution created by coal and natural gas plants that currently generate quite a bit of electricity.

My next project involves a land purchase I am about to make in SW Colorado. The goal is to design an integrated power generation system using both solar and wind turbines, with a computer controlled switching system, static inverter, and battery regulator/charger subsystem such that I can be completely self-sufficient on electrical power when I go to build my house on the property.

One major philosophy that I believe more people need to adopt is to stop waiting around for "government" or "industry" to solve this problem! We all need to learn to begin to TAKE ACTION OURSELVES to do our part to solve these problems. Think of it this way: If there were 478,000 homes that decided to do what I did here in the SW US, those homes could generate the equivalent power of Hoover Dam! And if you divide that number by an average of 7200 homes per community, that is only about 67 communities.

And this does not even consider the HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of acres of desert land here in the SW US!

Kind Regards,
Not enough fuel for aerospace projects.
Hey Creedo. Did you read this part of my introductory statement?

"While the following does not deal with the 'transportation' piece of alternatives to fossil fuel"

This would imply that I am not even attempting to address aerospace projects! (Aerospace generally deals with transportation, doesn't it?).

Believe me, Creedo, I understand power requirements for aerospace vehicles VERY well. But the point of my post was to stimulate enthusiasm of what people can do, for themselves, to make themselves self-sufficient on electrical needs. Do you have any comments on THAT aspect?

Kind Regards,