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Biofuels Could Replace Fossil Fuels in the Shipping Sector

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GlennA
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nuclear battery = thermopile ?
GlennA   4/9/2012 11:12:05 AM
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I think what you are describing is a thermopile.  The heat from radioactive decay is used by a thermocouple to generate electricity.

Does someone on this forum have experience with this technology ?  What the power output would be ?  And the shielding required ?

ttemple
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Platinum
Re: End of oil ?
ttemple   4/8/2012 8:56:35 AM
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Naperlou,

Is there any concensus on how oil is formed?  I looked it up (because I honestly don't know), and one article I read used the phrase "it is a known fact", which immediately makes my BS detector go off.

The article stated:

"The answer to how is oil formed in nature, lies in the two most widely acclaimed theories - biogenic theory and abiogenic theory. So let's see, what these theories have to say."

Then it went on to form a conclusion that it presented as "fact".  I don't know how you form a factual conclusion based on two "widely acclaimed theories", but they did it.

How is oil is formed? (this is not a trick question) you made the statement "If you think of how oil is formed" in such a matter of fact way that I felt like the answer should be obvious.  When I tried to think of how oil was formed, it wasn't obvious to me, which made me curious.

By the way, I also believe that there is much more oil than we supposedly know about, but I don't have any theory to back it up.  If you just do some simple math, if oil were as scarce as we are led go believe, we would have probably never found it in the first place.  The "known" oil reserves are somewhere in the vicinity of 10's of cubic miles.  When you compare that to the volume of the earth it is a needle in a haystack.

I like the "nuclear battery" idea.  I have long thought that nuclear reactors could be scaled down to the size of a baseball if we worked at it.

jmiller
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Platinum
Re: I don't get it.
jmiller   4/7/2012 2:39:40 PM
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I like your example of a balanced portfolio.  It is very similar.  I hope that the government allows these mulitple groups to continue to work and can provide support to each equally if necessary.  In some cases one or more group may have captial already established, while a new and emerging technology may need capital.

jmiller
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Re: Biofuel vs. Fossil Fuels
jmiller   4/7/2012 2:33:21 PM
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Great job on the hypothetical example.  I always hate the idea of government regulations and "helping" us go in the right direction...because as you said, "the government knows best."

There is such a balance between the government helping expand a new and emerging technology and dictating the direction that we as independant businesses choose to put our resources.

naperlou
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Blogger
Re: End of oil ?
naperlou   4/6/2012 1:36:06 PM
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GlennA, the market has already adjusted to the price of oil,  I remember the first, and especially the second, oil shocks.  I had small sports cars at the time.  They were not relaible, but got great gas mileage (that is not why I bought them).  When I had to borrow my father's third car, an old Oldsmobile Delta 88, it was a real problem.  It got about a third the gas mileage that my regular commuting car got.  I couldn't afford to run it (well I could, but i didn't want to).  Cars with those mileage characteristics do not exist any more. 

On a more global note, the amount of oil required to produce a dollar of economic output in the US is well below what it was in the 1970s.  We also are finding much more oil that we thought existed.  The Middle East is the easiest place to pump oil, expect for the turmoil it causes.  That will move production elsewhere over time.  We have lots more oil than thought.  That trend will not change.  If you think of how oil is formed, it makes no sense that it is only available in a very limited number of locations.  Any replacement for oill will have to be as easy to use.  That will take some time, but it will come.  How about nuclear batteries?  Weren't those talked about at one time? 

Ann R. Thryft
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Blogger
Re: I don't get it.
Ann R. Thryft   4/5/2012 8:12:33 AM
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I see what you mean about the future of computation, as far as wearable computers go. And I certainly get how fast everything is changing, having covered electronics and electronics-related design and manufacturing for over 20 years. I suspect we will see both personal computation devices, since people like to personalize, and public access devices. OTOH, such dependence on the cloud still assumes we have 100% uptime of both electricity and Internet access, and I don't think we can make that assumption.


Ann R. Thryft
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Re: I don't get it.
Ann R. Thryft   4/5/2012 8:06:41 AM
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Thanks for going into more detail about your thoughts on both topics. It would certainly be better if we could somehow predict the future well enough to figure out innovations first and regulate second--or if we had the luxury of decades to prepare. But that's not the case with several environmental issues facing us. The EU is ahead of the US on first mandating (not exactly the same thing a regulating) and then working with industry to figure out how to meet those mandates, in several of these areas. Yet this doesn't seem to be stifling innovation at all; instead it appears to have the opposite effect. Japan is a also a good example of the same principle. In both locations, everyone seems to understand that they are all in this together. They are citizens--members of the polis--as well as business people. Meanwhile we've been dragging our feet over here in the name of not stifling innovation, which, in comparison, implies our innovative spirit must not be strong enough. That doesn't sound like America to me.


williamlweaver
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Platinum
Re: I don't get it.
williamlweaver   4/5/2012 7:52:05 AM
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@Ann, I wasn't presenting my view of future... just a collection of possibilities to illustrate how quickly technology is advancing. Imagine 10 year's ago in April 2002: Google was 3.5 years old, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Twitter did not yet exist, stylus-based PDAs were only used by early adopters and techies, and cars could net yet automatically parallel park.

Through examination of innovation rates in information technology, we can draw similarities to innovation rates in other industries, such as energy and manufacturing. I personally find it difficult to expect that we will be pulling into the local convenience store to pump 87 octane gasoline in the year 2212. My point against Regulation-Catalyzed Innovation is that innovators need to be "on board". After the Chicago Tylenol murders in 1982, product-safety Regulations were created that often trailed innovations in product safety -- no manufacturer of any product wanted their product altered or sabotaged before purchase. But when dealing with Alternative Energy, Regulations that are in place BEFORE innovations have a chilling effect on other innovations as inventors scramble to meet them, diverting time, personnel, equipment, and energy from other projects. My lament is against Politically-fueled Regulations that are put in place to satisfy a political ideology or political favor.

As for the visions for the possible future of computation it appears that at least two innovators are announcing a reprise of the "Stone Age" in ceramics and glass. Corning has presented its vision in "A Day Made Of Glass 2", while only yesterday, Google announced its "Project Glass". Corning's vision is inline with my mention of "public access" while Google's vision includes wearable computing, initially in the form of glasses.

 

Ann R. Thryft
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Blogger
Re: I don't get it.
Ann R. Thryft   4/4/2012 4:59:01 PM
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I don't agree with your view of the future regarding cloud computing for several reasons, but the most important one is, it assumes everyone always has a) electricity and b) internet access. That's not the case and probably won't be, either ever or for a really long time. Beyond that, I don't at all get what it is you think we'll be accessing the cloud with. Public access devices don't seem realistic to me, partly for the reasons just mentioned. I also agree with Beth, I think people will continue to want their own personalized handhelds.


Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: I don't get it.
Ann R. Thryft   4/3/2012 8:42:37 AM

We need a multi-pronged strategy to dino-based fuel alternatives, both because we're running out probably a lot sooner than 2212, but more importantly, because they're harmful to the environment. Meanwhile, we're going to need all kinds of alternatives in the short term, including some we can source closer to home--while we're working out long-term strategies that can hopefully eliminate environment-harming practices like combustion engines. And we should certainly not wait until 200 years from now to find those alternatives.

BTW, "politics" comes from the Greek words for city and citizens. We may be in the business of technology, but we are also citizens, and must make rational and sensible decisions about our resources.


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