RE: tidbits on oil

From: Vandergraaf, Chuck (
Date: Sun Jan 20 2002 - 15:15:30 EST

  • Next message: Glenn Morton: "RE: tidbits on oil"

    A Hawaii-based web site devoted to OTEC ( http://
    <> dbedt/ert/otec_hi.html#anchor351481 ) lists some of
    the disadvantages associated with this potential energy source. At this
    stage of development, the technology still requires more energy than it
    produces. A temperature difference of at least 40 F (22 C) is needed year
    round and the ocean must be deep enough near the shore to allow shore-based
    I'm not very optimistic about fusion [just think of the highly radioactive
    pole pieces that will be produced in an intense neutron field] and I think
    it would be a mistake to continue our misuse of currently available energy
    resources in the faint hope that, when the time comes, scientists and
    engineers are able to "pull the fusion rabbit out of the hat" in the nick of
    IMHO, it's important to consider the use of energy. Even if we would be
    able to supplant fossil fuel with energy supplied through fusion, fission,
    or temperature gradients in the ocean, we will still need to convert this
    energy in a portable form. For transportation, batteries won't do the trick
    (yet) and environmentalists continue to frown on trolley buses as they
    require "unsightly overhead wires that create visual pollution. "(I'm not
    making this up; some 20-odd years ago, this was the argument used against
    the use of trolley buses in Winnipeg, MB).
    It's high time (probably too late already) to reserve fossil fuel (in
    particular oil) for transportation, lubricants, and as feedstock for the
    chemical industry. There's no good reason to heat houses and factories with
    oil anymore.
    My guess is that the first evidence of the impact of a decrease in oil will
    be a sharp reduction in air travel: trains can run of electrical energy and
    ships can go back to using coal, if necessary. But it's a bit of a stretch
    to think of coal-powered 747s. ;-)
    Chuck Vandergraaf
    Pinawa, MB

    -----Original Message-----
    From: Walter Hicks []
    Sent: Saturday January 19, 2002 7:22 PM
    To: Glenn Morton
    Cc: Jack Haas;
    Subject: Re: tidbits on oil

    Although I have dominantly worked as an engineer, 3 decades ago I did my
    Ph.D. thesis on the dynamics of fusion plasmas. At that time, the major
    problem was instabilities. Some 15 years later I had the good fortune, on a
    business flight, to sit beside the then head of the tokamak project at MIT.
    He said that the primary problem was no longer instabilities and
    confinement, but rather the difficulty of extracting the heat in a useable
    fashion,. His claim was that nobody even had a decent idea for a line of
    research to offer in order to get funding.

    I see that Hutchinson of MIT will be speaking at the ASA meeting in August.
    I hope to be there and hope he has something to say on this subject.


    Glenn Morton wrote:

     The problem with all the alternative energy sources I have looked at is
    that they can't come anywhere near providing the energy which oil gives us.
    And I agree that the funding for alternatives, especially fusion, is far too
    little. We need to fund fusion research and solve that because that is the
    real answer as I see it.

    Walt Hicks <>
    In any consistent theory, there must
    exist true but not provable statements.
    (Godel's Theorem)

    You can only find the truth with logic
    If you have already found the truth
    without it. (G.K. Chesterton)

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