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otseng
In was mentioned in the SUV thread that we will never run out of oil. I disagree. I think our supply of oil is limited and that no new oil is being formed.

Thoughts?
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Mike
Good one, Otseng...

In the other thread, I don't think that it was meant that we'll never run out of oil. I think it was more that we won't run out of oil before we find a viable alternative.

Mike
cyclone
I agree--that's the point I was going for. A guy I work with drives a Toyota Prius, and he said a dealer he spoke to last time he was there talked about new Toyotas coming out with the hybrid technology--a RAV4, another car, and a Tacoma. And he said Ford has purchased that technology, so it's clear they're coming out with something, and GM has announced plans to do the same. Granted, this isn't complete independence from oil, but it's a good start, and it's not hard to imagine other technologies stretching that even further. If someone would get busy on my teleportation idea, the whole issue would be moot. I realize it takes some imagination and faith in the human spirit of invention, but look at the technological leaps in the last century! Amazing! And I have no reason to doubt that we will continue to make great advancements. A finite supply of oil is a great incentive, but really, how long do we have before we're completely out? Long enough. So, IMO, most of the people presenting doomsday scenarios wherein we run out of oil entirely are at least extremely premature, at worst, hysterical and annoying.
Wertz
I read an article in Wired a couple of years ago that described research which suggested that deep oil fields are actually in a slow process of regenerating themselves - almost like an organism. Sadly, all of my back issues of Wired were lost during my last move (and all those stripey spines used to look really cool on a bookshelf) and I can remember little more about the article. Does anyone else know anything about this?
Stefan Fargus
Oil fields certainly do regenerate, and that is a fact... What one needs to keep in mind however, is that it takes MILLIONS of years for it to be produced. I think it is a given that we are using it up at a much faster rate than it is made.

It is very much a shame with all of the technology available that no scientist can come up with cleaner, synthetic alternatives to fossil fuels. Or is it, perhaps that oil barrons have always barred any such research from taking place? Anybody here ever been to the Smithsonian and seen the "perpetual engine"? Guess who owns the patent... All of our wonderful friends at Texaco! Don't think for a second that this is the only alternative technology they own, either. These companies are very well known for "buying out" any technology that threatens their investments in oil, and completely squelching it before you or I even get to see it.
otseng
QUOTE(Stefan Fargus @ Jan 15 2003, 12:21 PM)
Oil fields certainly do regenerate, and that is a fact...  

Got any proof on that assertion?
cyclone
QUOTE(Stefan Fargus @ Jan 15 2003, 05:21 PM)
It is very much a shame with all of the technology available that no scientist can come up with cleaner, synthetic alternatives to fossil fuels.

A couple things:

1. It's entirely possible such things are in the works--just because it hasn't been announced this week doesn't mean it's not an eventuality. And it's all well and good to say "What with all the technology available," but it's also pretty evident that we don't currently have the technology we want, or we'd be doing it already. It's like saying, "What with all the technology out there, why can't we teleport from place to place?" Sure, there's technology, but not THAT technology, because, well, we don't have that technology yet.

2. Synthetic alternatives? Made out of what? Or rather, what are synthetics generally synthesized from?
Wertz
QUOTE(Stefan Fargus @ Jan 15 2003, 12:21 PM)
Oil fields certainly do regenerate, and that is a fact...  What one needs to keep in mind however, is that it takes MILLIONS of years for it to be produced.  I think it is a given that we are using it up at a much faster rate than it is made.

Yeah, but this more recent research seemed to indicate that it happened much much faster than had previously been suspected (and not through the usually accepted organic decomposition means). Damn - I'll see if I can find out more about that article (or, indeed, any subsequent research)...
Hugo
In a column in an 1875 edition of the Scientific American it was projected major American cities would be knee deep in horse manure by the late 20th Century.
Stefan Fargus
QUOTE(Wertz @ Jan 15 2003, 06:16 PM)
QUOTE(Stefan Fargus @ Jan 15 2003, 12:21 PM)
Oil fields certainly do regenerate, and that is a fact...  What one needs to keep in mind however, is that it takes MILLIONS of years for it to be produced.  I think it is a given that we are using it up at a much faster rate than it is made.

Yeah, but this more recent research seemed to indicate that it happened much much faster than had previously been suspected (and not through the usually accepted organic decomposition means). Damn - I'll see if I can find out more about that article (or, indeed, any subsequent research)...

I'd definitely be interested in seeing more on it... In either case, however, I'd still like to see dependence on "dirty fuels" be eliminated in favor of more advanced, and much cleaner technologies. Unfortunately... Certain parties who will go unnamed in the White House, have virtually eliminated all R&D funding for such technologies, slowing their development even further. This shouldn't come as any great shock however... Put an oil barron in charge of energy policy and guess what... His decisions are going to favor continued and most probably increased use of oil, regardless of any research that has ever been done.
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Hugo
Government did not need to subsidize the internal combustion engine.
Stefan Fargus
QUOTE(hugo @ Jan 15 2003, 06:40 PM)
Government did not need to subsidize the internal combustion engine.

Henry Ford didn't have today's multi-trillion dollar oil industry holding him back from inventing it, either.
cyclone
That's just sad--your proof that oil companies have squelched the production of an oil-free car is the non-existence of an oil-free car? Hey, there's no such thing as a functional perpetual motion machine, either. Big oil strikes again! Just because something doesn't exist (yet) doesn't mean someone is preventing it from being made. Just keep your shirts on, something will come around. GM is introducing a line of hybrid SUVs soon--see if that holds you for a while.
Eeyore
QUOTE(hugo @ Jan 15 2003, 12:40 PM)
Government did not need to subsidize the internal combustion engine.

Couldn't it be cheaper to subsidize development of alternative fuel using vehicles as a matter of national defense? How many wars will we have to fight in the middle east keeping our interests protected?
cyclone
You're begging the question, assuming a possible war in Iraq has nothing to do with Saddam's exploits, his abuses and his violations; rather, the BA's reasons for opposing Hussein are a smokescreen to hide their true purpose--getting the oil. I have said repeatedly that I don't buy it--it's not as though we're not buying oil from them now, and it's not as though the ME will just shut down their operations to spite us. They need our business just as we need their oil. And while lots of anti-Bushies seem to think Bush plans to waltz in and "take" Iraq's oil, nobody seems to know just how he'll do that. In any case, we have a fine system set up around the internal combustion engine, and while there's nothing wrong with exploring alternatives to oil, there's no burning need to find one this friggin' minute. If there were, we would.
Hugo
QUOTE(Eeyore @ Jan 15 2003, 04:49 PM)
QUOTE(hugo @ Jan 15 2003, 12:40 PM)
Government did not need to subsidize the internal combustion engine.

Couldn't it be cheaper to subsidize development of alternative fuel using vehicles as a matter of national defense? How many wars will we have to fight in the middle east keeping our interests protected?

We should stay out of the Middle East. The Arabs need to sell oil to us just as much as we need to buy their oil.
Stefan Fargus
I found in my research an interesting piece of writing regarding the purchase of alternative energy patents and squelching of technology by energy and oil companies here. I'm looking for more and will post when I find them.
AuthorMusician
Is there an unlimited supply of oil? No, and there isn't an unlimited supply of anything. How long can we continue to use fossil fuels? Who knows, but current estimates are around 50 years. As with all extrapolations into the future, this number is wrong.

Do we have alternative fuels? Yes, alcohol from biomass. Electricity (a kinetic energy, not potential as with fuel--chemical bonds--hydrocarbons) from solar and geothermal.

Do we have alternatives to internal combustion piston engines? Yes, several non-piston designs, electric motors, and hybrids. We could also use external combustion (steam).

Is the US serious about transition from fossil fuels/piston engines to alternatives? IMO, no. Seriousness won't take place until some sort of crisis is at hand.

Do we fight wars over oil supplies?

Maybe not, but it sure as shooting looks like it. Oil is the "lifeblood" of our society, as the industry likes to remind us.
Hugo
QUOTE(Stefan Fargus @ Jan 17 2003, 12:08 AM)
I found in my research an interesting piece of writing regarding the purchase of alternative energy patents and squelching of technology by energy and oil companies here.  I'm looking for more and will post when I find them.

Please, let us not get into conspiracy theories. New technologies are unstoppable. The US ain't the only country in the world either.
GenX_Futurist
Posted this in 2 other locations as well...

Hydrogen power related link that's really cool

Oil's days are numbered as an environmentally conscionable fuel source. Fortunately for oil, there are more appropriate and more "permanent" uses for it in advanced materials processing. Hydrogen promises to out perform oil in every way down the road. In popularity, and in terms of how much of it there is. Hydrogen, is 1 of the things we can be pretty sure we are not going to run out of. The classic argument is that hydrogen requires more energy to produce than can be gained from it, current-tech-dollar per current-tech-dollar. However, we have so much energy available to us in the world in the way of wind, in the way of newer solar materials which take advantage of "nano" advances, and there are a few "intriguing" energy ideas out there. Sure some of it may as well be science fiction to us in our discussions right now, but most of what is keeping us where we are is the need for current rivers of money to keep flowing wherever they already do. I think that someday soon, ESPECIALLY with the threat of infrastructure vulnerability, every home may find itself completely independent from the classic power grid, if not at LEAST partially, beyond the usual, candles, kerosene stove, chopped wood etc.. I'd like to see tidal energy capturing systems and pipelines pumping de-salinized (sp?) ocean water into areas that are otherwise threatened by current water shortages like the California valleys which are being threatened by loss of access to water from the Colorado river. SO many jobs would be created if we as a society could see our way to GET ON IT. Bring that technology to 3rd world countries too.
I am personally offended at the notion that I have to fire up my deadly pollution pump to get to work every day... or ride another bigger pollution pump.... oil dirty. BAAAAAAD oil. Did a good job till now, but it's time to grow up as a nation and assume some responsibility for our world and the condition it's in. How bout all those oil disasters huh?
AuthorMusician
GenX Futurist,

I truly enjoy people such as yourself: forward-looking, open-minded, creative folks who acknowledge what is but can see what could be.

Just this morning, I learned about a guy in Aspen, CO who is working on a new automotive design. The article just gave a short sketch, so I've put this on my to-do list for research and article-writing activities.

Thanks for bringing up tidal energy and desalination. If we look at the true sources of energy--wind, biomass, and petroleum all go back to the same place: the sun. Petroleum is a unique among these because geothermal energy is another fundamental, contributing energy source. Tidal is another unique one in that the moon's gravity becomes a fundamental energy source.

Desalination isn't an energy source but points to another crisis coming upon us, and that is water in the American West.

Hydrogen is certainly plentiful but locked into stable chemical bonds like H2O. Breaking these bonds to make straight hydrogen does indeed take more energy than what is yielded when H and O combust back to water. That's just the nature of physics; however, the same thing can be said about hydrocarbons.

The thing is, we don't create hydrocarbons for combustion; we mine them. Nature made them. So the part about using hydrogen in something like fuel cell technologies has a new twist to our use of energy--we will actually manufacture the fuel rather than mine it.

Where do we get the initial energy to manufacture the fuel? This energy must come from sources that already exist in the universe, right now, else we end up with a total net loss in the chemical bond transactions. In plain language, we can't burn coal, natural gas, or petroleum to make hydrogen fuel without coming full circle back to the problems we are trying to solve.

So, this leaves solar, geothermal, and gravity (tidal) sources. But here's a problem too: How can we collect enough solar, geothermal, and gravity energies to satisfy energy demands? Nature gradually collected solar and geothermal over millions of years to produce the hydrocarbons we now use. You can think of fossil fuels as representing highly concentrated energies. No direct conversion energy technologies we have today come even close to the amount of energy locked up in fossil fuel hydrocarbon chemical bonds. The indirect technologies (hydroelectric, make steam from geothermal to turn turbines) do come close. Tidal turbines might come close.

Well, for now we can try to spread out and diversify. GenX Futurist, you brought up feeding electricity back into the grid through individually-owned solar collectors. This has taken on some amount of momentum--some people around here are doing just that. I have even seen solar panel roofing shingles on the market (!). Death Valley could be set up with massive arrays of solar collectors that might rival Hoover Dam for megawatt output. The US has two coasts where tidal power could be harvested. We have several areas where geothermal is relatively easy to develop. The Midwest produces lots of biomass, as do our wildfire-prone Western forests.

I do believe this is eventually where humanity will go: spread out and diversify. The other part of this is to create more efficient devices that use the collected energy. We have the vision; now it is simply a matter of focus.

You and I share a critical time in history where humanity can choose to go one of two ways: cooperate and survive or continue ancient rivalries and die. Will the peacemakers find peace? Will the meek inherit the earth? The resistance to abandonment of fossil fuel energy sources is fierce. Yet, the rain and wind have flattened the Rocky Mountains--twice over. Perseverance will win in the end, IMO.

Peace! flowers.gif
Eeyore
Ride on peace train. Keep up the good work author musician.
santasdad
The real point of interest for us is not when we run out, but when we reach peak-production. Once we cross this line its all downhill for oil production as we have to work harder and harder to get at whats left. Most estimates place the time of peak production as within the next few years (within a decade). The US crossed the peak production line 30 years ago, the world is very close, then its downhill all the way.

Doesnt take a rocket scientist to see that the rapid growth of demand in oil (esp from the southern hemisphere) doesnt mix well with a decreasing available yearly supply.

We will never see the end of oil in our lifetimes but we will see the arrival and departure of peak production. Then prices will start to rise, alot.
AuthorMusician
santasdad,

That's a compelling argument I'd not seen before. Thanks! This puts an entirely different light on the need to develop alternative energy sources, especially in the United States because we have the technical abilities, the money, and the entrepreneurial drive to do so.

Thirty years ago was 1973. By 1975, alternative energy was being pushed--which coincides with the realization that the peak had been reached. I bet if one looks at the history of the US and the ME, that was when our involvement headed upward and has lead us to this war situation with Iraq.

Man! I've got a lot of work to do!

Thanks again biggrin.gif
Hugo
QUOTE(santasdad @ Feb 8 2003, 10:59 AM)
The real point of interest for us is not when we run out, but when we reach peak-production. Once we cross this line its all downhill for oil production as we have to work harder and harder to get at whats left. Most estimates place the time of peak production as within the next few years (within a decade).  The US crossed the peak production line 30 years ago, the world is very close, then its downhill all the way.

Doesnt take a rocket scientist to see that the rapid growth of demand in oil (esp from the southern hemisphere) doesnt mix well with a decreasing available yearly supply.

We will never see the end of oil in our lifetimes but we will see the arrival and departure of peak production. Then prices will start to rise, alot.

Alternative sources of energy will arise without any need for government intervention. I believe the predictions of running out of oil have been going on since the first oil strike.
Hugo
QUOTE(AuthorMusician @ Feb 9 2003, 09:41 AM)

Thirty years ago was 1973. By 1975, alternative energy was being pushed--which coincides with the realization that the peak had been reached. I bet if one looks at the history of the US and the ME, that was when our involvement headed upward and has lead us to this war situation with Iraq.

Man! I've got a lot of work to do!

Thanks again  biggrin.gif

Relax, I think it coincided with OPEC reductions of oil production.
santasdad
Hugo,

I never suggested we were about to run out of oil. Technically that will never happen as we will probably switch from oil once it is unprofitable to extract it. I also never made any comment about what should be done about it or who should pay for it, just that it is going to happen. Anyway, peak production is not the end of oil, just the beginning of higher prices. Less supply and more demand...

These are not crackpot ideas but very mainstream ones held by petroleum engineers, very large companies and government agencies. The only disagreement is over exactly what year this will occur.
Hugo
QUOTE(santasdad @ Feb 9 2003, 02:20 PM)
Hugo,

  I never suggested we were about to run out of oil. Technically that will never happen as we will probably switch from oil once it is unprofitable to extract it. I also never made any comment about what should be done about it or who should pay for it, just that it is going to happen. Anyway, peak production is not the end of oil, just the beginning of higher prices. Less supply and more demand...

  These are not crackpot ideas but very mainstream ones held by petroleum engineers, very large companies and government agencies. The only disagreement is over exactly what year this will occur.

No disagreement here. At some point in time oil will become less efficient than other sources of energy. Government does not need to speed up the timetable.
santasdad
To be honest I have no idea what will happen during this future time or what should be done. By the time oil prices really skyrocket I should be happily at peace in the ground. I dont plan on breeding so I cant say I care about posterity either.

The transition from an oil economy to another type of energy may be smooth, or not. They will probably have other problems then too, I dont care about those either. If I had a 200 year lifespan I might care but at the moment it means as little to me as the eventual death of the sun.
Aahz
It is interesting how this question hits one.

In one manner yes there is an unlimited supply of oil. Nature is still making oil it just takes a while. The next big oil reserves will be under the rain forests around the world. Of course it will take a couple million years but nature is still producing it..smile.gif

Now is the an inexhaustible supply at current consumption rates? Nope....of course there isnt.

Something else I have some fun with on occasion. You see oil is basically hydro-carbons right. Hydro carbons are just Oxygen, Hydrogen and carbon. Sure there is other stuff also in petroleum but the fuel is basically hydrocarbons. hen we burn these fuels they become different compounds. Carbon monoxide being one of them plus others. The point is that we gain energy by "cracking" the molecule which converts into heat energy. May be too deep here but that is kinda what happens. Meaning that the hydrogen, carbon and oxygen are still present they are just in different forms. Which means that eventually they will end up being oil again...hehe

ok ok so I was bored its cold and windy outside so there ya go..LOL


GBYA

Aahz
AuthorMusician
QUOTE
Relax, I think it coincided with OPEC reductions of oil production.


Sorry hugo, I meant the US peak production had been met. That lead to more dependence on foreign oil.
GenX_Futurist
Even though I have read here somewhere about oil fields replenishing themselves... and you might therefore be able to talk about how we may never reach the limit of how much oil we can suck outta the ground, I would argue that you need only look at the average skyline of the average city and conclude that there does indeed seem to be a limit as to how much of it we can pump into the air we breath and not suffer for it or ultimately raise toxicity levels so high as to be lethal... thus ending our use of oil as a fuel.... <ramble ramble>.

I read in the paper here this week in Everett about how some salmon are EXTREMELY sensitive to pollutants and when it rains in early spring after a short dry spell, that toxicity washes right into the streams and very few of the salmon even make it past "civilization" on their way up to spawn.

They are killed by the poison we apparently don't mind scattering into our immediate environment and make our children breath. If smoking cigarettes is bad for developing children's lungs and for their respiratory development, can you possibly argue that petroleum fuel vapor is not considerably worse? You would need to be very selectively conscientious to not draw a similar parallel/conclusion.

It's because I believe that we will come to our senses and stop using oil for a fuel, and that I read somewhere that oil fields replenish themselves over a long period of time, that I also believe that there is no actual limit to the total amount of oil we can "harvest".. unless we become extinct and cease to extract it.

Also, lol... as I ramble... it isn't a stretch of the imagination to be able to "create oil" using nanotechnology, or most anything else for that matter if nanotechnology someday kicks in with its estimated potential. I don't much buy into a limited supply of anything but time to get our act together and pull our heads outta the oil-wells.
Minute Man
QUOTE(Stefan Fargus @ Jan 15 2003, 06:53 PM)
QUOTE(hugo @ Jan 15 2003, 06:40 PM)
Government did not need to subsidize the internal combustion engine.

Henry Ford didn't have today's multi-trillion dollar oil industry holding him back from inventing it, either.

Tired argument. Do you have any idea what all major auto manufacturers do to ensure they will be able to sell cars???

There are no underhanded ties with the automakers and the energy sector. Show proof.

Yes, there is an infinite supply of oil. Any one hear of biodiesel? My car is currently running on it just fine...all we have to do is plant most of the country with oilseed crops and the sun will then produce all the concentrated fuel we need by that process of photosynthesis.

And modern diesels are approaching petrol engines on specific output. How does 225 Hp from 3.3 liters of displacement sound? Or how about 325 Hp from 6? That is the new Ford Powerstroke.

I'm getting 153 Hp from 1.9 liters but its significantly modified.
Izdaari
QUOTE(AuthorMusician @ Feb 8 2003, 03:25 AM)
Hydrogen is certainly plentiful but locked into stable chemical bonds like H2O. Breaking these bonds to make straight hydrogen does indeed take more energy than what is yielded when H and O combust back to water. That's just the nature of physics; however, the same thing can be said about hydrocarbons.

The thing is, we don't create hydrocarbons for combustion; we mine them. Nature made them. So the part about using hydrogen in something like fuel cell technologies has a new twist to our use of energy--we will actually manufacture the fuel rather than mine it.

Where do we get the initial energy to manufacture the fuel? This energy must come from sources that already exist in the universe, right now, else we end up with a total net loss in the chemical bond transactions. In plain language, we can't burn coal, natural gas, or petroleum to make hydrogen fuel without coming full circle back to the problems we are trying to solve.

So, this leaves solar, geothermal, and gravity (tidal) sources. But here's a problem too: How can we collect enough solar, geothermal, and gravity energies to satisfy energy demands? Nature gradually collected solar and geothermal over millions of years to produce the hydrocarbons we now use. You can think of fossil fuels as representing highly concentrated energies. No direct conversion energy technologies we have today come even close to the amount of energy locked up in fossil fuel hydrocarbon chemical bonds. The indirect technologies (hydroelectric, make steam from geothermal to turn turbines) do come close. Tidal turbines might come close.

Well, for now we can try to spread out and diversify. GenX Futurist, you brought up feeding electricity back into the grid through individually-owned solar collectors. This has taken on some amount of momentum--some people around here are doing just that. I have even seen solar panel roofing shingles on the market (!). Death Valley could be set up with massive arrays of solar collectors that might rival Hoover Dam for megawatt output. The US has two coasts where tidal power could be harvested. We have several areas where geothermal is relatively easy to develop. The Midwest produces lots of biomass, as do our wildfire-prone Western forests.

You left out a couple of possibilities for enough energy to make the hydrogen fuel: solar power satellites in stationary orbit beaming power to ground stations. Those are currently thought to be very feasible - if only we had a relatively cheap and hassle-free way to get to orbit to build and maintain them. That's certainly not the Space Shuttle, but an SSTO space plane could be the answer, and that's one avenue I think we should be working on.

Nuclear power is another possibility, which won't fly at present due to political opposition, but that could change with a changing energy situation and the development of cleaner, safer reactors (fusion maybe?). Another worthwhile path to explore.

As for the original poll question, I didn't answer it. I think supplies are finite, but I don't think they're nearly as small as most people do who emphasize that fact, and answering "finite" might give the misleading impression that I agree with their agenda. Nonetheless, I think we need to aggressively pursue energy independence so we can stop funding terrorism by buying Middle Eastern oil. In the short term, that may mean more drilling. Long term, we need to move to renewable sources.

P.S.: Minute Man, biodiesel sounds interesting. Got a link for more info on it?
Ultimatejoe
Who needs Fusion? (Which currently requires so much energy to sustain that it is completely unfeasible.) Nuclear Fission is already relatively safe and clean.

Nuclear Waste can be classified into three types; cool, warm, and hot. These categories describe the radiation levels of the waste produced; hot being the most active. Cool materials are radioactive for a matter of months at best and can be stored safely in water. Warm materials generally have a half life of about 70 years and can be stored relatively safely in any sort of standard holding facility. More importantly, it can be converted into two materials: Synglass, and Synrock, both of which are stable and easy to handle. Hot material, the sort of stuff you'd be afraid of getting in the hands of terrorists (I could learn to hate that word) has a half-life of thousands of years. However, the amount produced of this classification by most reactors in a year would probably fill a broom closet at best.
Minute Man
Radioactive materials? The shorter the half-life, the greater the intensity....more fission per unit time means a shorter half-life.

Of course some go through multiple fission reactions which can make it hot and long half life...

Biodiesel links?

For the DIY'er

Commercial and proto-governmental


We will NEVER run out of oil.
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