Monday, July 27, 2009

Replacing Fossil Fuels by Using More Natural Gas?

One thing that I do not understand is why natural gas is being pushed so much by "environmentalists", particularly because natural gas does produce quite a bit of carbon dioxide when burned. Not as much as coal, mind you, but enough to be a major contributor of carbon dioxide pollution. Renewable energy sources such as wind and solar are hardly efficient and are basically a roundabout way of burning natural gas as natural gas burning generators have to take up the slack when the wind is not blowing or the sun is not shining. There are also vehicles that run on liquified natural gas as opposed to gasoline. If we look at the annual estimated end use statistics for natural gas since 1949, you will see that consumption has risen greatly*.

Consumption Graph

Also, looking at this graph, you can see that the annual wellhead price for natural gas has risen sharply to meet demand since the year 2000*.

Price Graph

Natural gas is as much as a fossil fuel as coal and oil yet much of the renewables paradigm is leading to a rapid increase in natural gas consumption both on the atmosphere as well as depletion of consumers wallets. Because of the rapid fluctuations in price that natural gas is subject to, this increasingly expensive fuel energy source is an impractical alternative for running an energy grid. It will also make coal cheaper by comparison and lead to increased usage of coal in the long run as natural gas prices continue to climb at a much faster rate than coal prices.

To make a long story short, natural gas is a fossil fuel and like all fossil fuels has major disadvantages. The renewables movement only increases our reliance on fossil fuels in the form of natural gas and coal while derailing interest and funding from viable sources of energy such as nuclear power. I do not mean to come off as being harsh in regards to solar and wind power, but the only practical application that either of these two energy sources seem to have is for the operation of small appliances or for pumping water.

*As provided by the US Energy Information Administration.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Those Krazy Katholics Are At It Again

In case you thought that all of the sexual abuse scandals involving the Catholic church were over and done with, we have another round of cover-ups by a Bishop who wanted to hide the misdeeds of the priests in his parish. Refresh my memory, but how many "moral authority" by default cards does a religious organization get before it is considered a degenerate cult? After all of this, I would SERIOUSLY think twice about letting my child be an altar boy if I were a parent and a Catholic one at that.

Oh, and religion turning a blind eye towards sexual abuse is not strictly confined to the Catholics...just look at what self-proclaimed Christian prophet Tony Alamo was doing. The transportation of grossly underage girls across state lines for sexual purposes is hardly befitting for a man who claims holiness in his actions.

Here we see him claiming that this is some sort of government conspiracy against him as well as "Jesus" by extension...



Tony Alamo is found guilty on all ten charges...



Suffer the little children indeed.

Could This Be the Beginning of the Thorium Age?

Lots of exiting things have been happening on the horizon for the future of thorium-based energy, particularly in the form of the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR) concept. I would like to draw your attention to a recent Tech Talk sponsored by Google. Kirk Sorensen, an expert on the LFTR as well as being a brilliant man gave an informative as well as enlightening speech on potential of the LFTR in regards to the future of energy. It is quite a long video, but I strongly recommend that those of you who are interested in the future of clean energy watch it in its entirety. Not only can the LFTR provide a cheap source of plentiful, environmentally friendly electricity, the waste heat from an LFTR can be used for many applications ranging from an economic means of desalinization to the production of synthetic fertilizers and fuels with no need to use petroleum or natural gas. Hydrogen can be thermochemically produced from water at the operating temperature of an LFTR, and carbon can be extracted from the atmosphere. By doing this, you can synthetically produce alkanes that form the basis of organic chemistry such as the production of polymers and the refining process of petroleum into liquid fuels. By doing this, you could produce synthetic fuels like dimethyl ether or methanol and they would be carbon neutral when burned since the carbon used for their production was originally extracted from the atmosphere.



Next, there have been a whole series of LFTR-related recent posts over at the fascinating blog, The Nuclear Green Revolution run by Charles Barton, a man whom I admire. His father was a researcher over at the Oak Ridge project during the Molten Salt Reactor (MSR) experiments of the 1960's before the MSR project was de-funded for political reasons. He offers a personal insight into both the convoluted history behind MSR-type reactors as well as the political issues that caused the project to be canceled in the first place. Mr. Barton has a series of essays looking at the economic means of lowering the costs of construction and operation of nuclear reactors as well as promoting new nuclear research.

Preface

1. The Keys to Lowering Reactor Costs: Economies of Scale or Serial Production?
2. The Keys to Lowering Reactor Costs: Advanced Materials
3. The Keys to Lowering Reactor Costs: Inherent Safety
4. The Keys to Lowering Reactor Costs: Nuclear Waste
5. The Keys to Lowering Reactor Costs: Labor Costs
5a. Addendum: Estimated US Energy Use in 2008: ~99.2 Quads
6. The Keys to Lowering Reactor Costs: Some Siting Considerations
7. The Keys to Lowering Reactor Costs: Investment Costs
8. The Keys to Lowering Reactor Costs: Research and Development

Confessions of a Nuclear Blogger, Part I

Finally, we have a post by davidwalters over at the Daily Kos comparing the economics of scaling behind the different potential sizes of the LFTR. He also has an interesting analysis of a means of their deployment as well as their potential to be used for naval transportation. An LFTR-powered cargo ship would be orders of magnitudes cleaner than ones that use conventional sources of energy, such as marine diesel which is one of the dirtiest grades of liquid fuel in existence.