Energy and stuff; where do we go?

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Re: Energy and stuff; where do we go?

Postby Trotsky » Mon Mar 05, 2012 9:40 am

Assuming we get a much more efficient way to harness a larger amount of solar energy than we have now (which proves difficult) not having the million year solar battery in the form of fossil fuels and all fissionable material still means less resources. So, if the breakthrough is made before those peter out, then yes, we would have to get used to having less energy.

And even if we do manage to seize obscene amounts of energy, that still is not infinite. We may want to reconsider the "infinite growth" economy myth someday. We may be far from reaching our limits, but that doesn't mean the limits do not exist.
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Re: Energy and stuff; where do we go?

Postby Vox Contra » Mon Mar 05, 2012 10:02 am

Trotsky wrote:Assuming we get a much more efficient way to harness a larger amount of solar energy than we have now (which proves difficult) not having the million year solar battery in the form of fossil fuels and all fissionable material still means less resources. So, if the breakthrough is made before those peter out, then yes, we would have to get used to having less energy.

Why would it mean less resources?
I’m having a hard time making heads or tales of what you’re saying
If we can capture more energy then we’re producing now how does that mean we need to get used to having less energy

Trotsky wrote:And even if we do manage to seize obscene amounts of energy, that still is not infinite. We may want to reconsider the "infinite growth" economy myth someday. We may be far from reaching our limits, but that doesn't mean the limits do not exist

True, very big numbers ≠ ∞
However, a million or so years is still a very long time, and the sun will be around a lot longer then that. And you can do an awful lot with 4 trillion terawatts.
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Re: Energy and stuff; where do we go?

Postby Quasigriz » Mon Mar 05, 2012 10:21 am

Efficiencies in solar energy capture aside, there really needs to be some innovation in energy storage and deployment. Battery tech has changed realatively little since the late 1800s. NiCad, NiCm and Li are the standards now, but still lose substantial ammounts and are expensive. Perhaps residential capacitors or something else needs to be researched for times when the sun isn't shining.

I've talked with friends about the idea of harnessing rf for power generation, but never tried to prototype anything. There is plenty of residual rf energy floating around. Even harnessing small amounts could be beneficial to low power devices. I understand Tesla did some work on wireless power.
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Re: Energy and stuff; where do we go?

Postby Kolokol888 » Mon Mar 05, 2012 10:49 am

Quasigriz wrote:Efficiencies in solar energy capture aside, there really needs to be some innovation in energy storage and deployment. Battery tech has changed realatively little since the late 1800s. NiCad, NiCm and Li are the standards now, but still lose substantial ammounts and are expensive. Perhaps residential capacitors or something else needs to be researched for times when the sun isn't shining.


I'll acknowlage that energy storage is the major sticking point but batteries have improved a great deal in the past 200 years. I can't verify this claim but the former head of GM believes in 20 or 30 years carbatteries will hold 400 miles of energy. If/when we get to that point you can kiss the internal combustion engine goodbye. The shear comfort and userfriendlyness of electricity will be the reason for switching to to electricity.

One of the main problems with renewables is the reliability of it.
Example: Norway has a fuckton of hydro but only in spring and summer. Denmark has a fuckton of wind but only when it blows hard meaning fall. Denmark gets the excess energy from Norway in the spiring and summer and vice versa in fall. That is unless the wind isn't blowing in which case energy has to be brought in from Germany and Sweden. Sounds simple enough right - wrong! These electrical cable has a waste element to them. This only works because there's still conventional energy (coal and nuclear) available for when the weather doesn't cooperate. What if Germany and Sweden also used wind? Now what... it's winter so no sun, the wind isn't blowing and the mountain snow isn't melting = no energy. And it requires enourmous international cooperation and investment which most areas of the planet is incapable of.

Producing energy is one thing - producing it reliably is quite another. All transport and all storage involves waste.
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Re: Energy and stuff; where do we go?

Postby Vox Contra » Mon Mar 05, 2012 11:21 am

Quasigriz wrote:Efficiencies in solar energy capture aside, there really needs to be some innovation in energy storage and deployment. Battery tech has changed realatively little since the late 1800s. NiCad, NiCm and Li are the standards now, but still lose substantial ammounts and are expensive. Perhaps residential capacitors or something else needs to be researched for times when the sun isn't shining.

Agreed; the current methods of energy storage fall into categories with one or both of two major problems. The inefficiency of the storage / retrieval process, or the small amount of energy that can be stored per unit size of the battery.
Really Big storage systems like thermal sink, or water reservoir can store huge amounts of energy, but waste a whole lot of it transferring it from one form to another a couple times over.
Batteries allow for fewer state conversions, better efficiency, and the ability to operate off grid, but their capacity is extremely limited. Carbon Nanotube Capacitors look promising, but they’re quite a few years off, assuming they don’t hit some major obstacle that makes them unfeasible.
Until then, it looks like were stuck with something pretty close to what we already have.
But that doesn’t mean we have to be stupid with the way we run things.
The grids could be set up for renewables to provide a lot of power when it’s optimum for them to run, then use nuclear or other sources to normalize & fill in the gaps. And we’re probably going to keep using hydro carbon fuel for transportation for along time. But no one says we have to keep digging it out of the ground; there are promising methods available for making it for ourselves in huge quantities.


I've talked with friends about the idea of harnessing rf for power generation, but never tried to prototype anything. There is plenty of residual rf energy floating around. Even harnessing small amounts could be beneficial to low power devices. I understand Tesla did some work on wireless power

I think if you actually calculated the available energy from radio & wifi signals in a volume of space you’d find it’s extremely low.
Tesla did try some experiments with wireless power transmission, but ran into some major problems that made it unfeasible. Namely, since the power was transmitted spherically from the source, you needed to dump obscene amounts of power into the air to get enough of it to show up where you wanted it, the amount at any point varied with relation to how far you were from the source, and anything made of metal could act as an antenna and pick up that power (it’s not that big of a deal if your pluming picks up stray radio waves, but it’s a real bitch when they start picking up the equivalent of 120V AC power. Same would go for your car or any other big metal thing)
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Re: Energy and stuff; where do we go?

Postby Quasigriz » Mon Mar 05, 2012 11:22 am

Kolokol888 wrote:
Quasigriz wrote:Efficiencies in solar energy capture aside, there really needs to be some innovation in energy storage and deployment. Battery tech has changed realatively little since the late 1800s. NiCad, NiCm and Li are the standards now, but still lose substantial ammounts and are expensive. Perhaps residential capacitors or something else needs to be researched for times when the sun isn't shining.


I'll acknowlage that energy storage is the major sticking point but batteries have improved a great deal in the past 200 years. I can't verify this claim but the former head of GM believes in 20 or 30 years carbatteries will hold 400 miles of energy. If/when we get to that point you can kiss the internal combustion engine goodbye. The shear comfort and userfriendlyness of electricity will be the reason for switching to to electricity.

One of the main problems with renewables is the reliability of it.
Example: Norway has a fuckton of hydro but only in spring and summer. Denmark has a fuckton of wind but only when it blows hard meaning fall. Denmark gets the excess energy from Norway in the spiring and summer and vice versa in fall. That is unless the wind isn't blowing in which case energy has to be brought in from Germany and Sweden. Sounds simple enough right - wrong! These electrical cable has a waste element to them. This only works because there's still conventional energy (coal and nuclear) available for when the weather doesn't cooperate. What if Germany and Sweden also used wind? Now what... it's winter so no sun, the wind isn't blowing and the mountain snow isn't melting = no energy. And it requires enourmous international cooperation and investment which most areas of the planet is incapable of.

Producing energy is one thing - producing it reliably is quite another. All transport and all storage involves waste.

Germany does have a lot of wind power, I saw lots of them in the hills of Western Germany. But, they also have nuke and coal plants for main power. Btw, the largest mobile machine in the world is in Germany, a strip mining monstrosity.
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Re: Energy and stuff; where do we go?

Postby The Road Rascal » Mon Mar 05, 2012 12:11 pm

Did someone say Bagger 288?

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Re: Energy and stuff; where do we go?

Postby Trotsky » Mon Mar 05, 2012 12:59 pm

Vox Contra wrote:
Trotsky wrote:Assuming we get a much more efficient way to harness a larger amount of solar energy than we have now (which proves difficult) not having the million year solar battery in the form of fossil fuels and all fissionable material still means less resources. So, if the breakthrough is made before those peter out, then yes, we would have to get used to having less energy.

Why would it mean less resources?
I’m having a hard time making heads or tales of what you’re saying
If we can capture more energy then we’re producing now how does that mean we need to get used to having less energy


I meant if such energy source appeared before oil, gas, natural coal, uranium and whatnot cease to be profitable to exploit, then it's in both sides of the equation, so we would be all those sources down later.

Vox Contra wrote:
Trotsky wrote:And even if we do manage to seize obscene amounts of energy, that still is not infinite. We may want to reconsider the "infinite growth" economy myth someday. We may be far from reaching our limits, but that doesn't mean the limits do not exist

True, very big numbers ≠ ∞
However, a million or so years is still a very long time, and the sun will be around a lot longer then that. And you can do an awful lot with 4 trillion terawatts.


I expressed my doubts regarding our ability to use all that energy. And even if the limitations don't come from the energy flank, to me it's clear economy cannot grow indefenitely. As in, if everyone habitant consumed as much as those who spend the most, planet would be in pretty bad shape in no time. Now, I'm no tree hugger, I see environment as a means to an end (human happines perhaps?) but I don't think we want to live in a scarred world. Not for the whales, not for the pandas, for us.
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Re: Energy and stuff; where do we go?

Postby Kolokol888 » Mon Mar 05, 2012 1:22 pm

Quasigriz wrote:Germany does have a lot of wind power, I saw lots of them in the hills of Western Germany. But, they also have nuke and coal plants for main power. Btw, the largest mobile machine in the world is in Germany, a strip mining monstrosity.


No nukes no more, Angie got scared by Fukushima and shut them down :shakinghead:
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Re: Energy and stuff; where do we go?

Postby wither » Mon Mar 05, 2012 2:01 pm

The nuclear issue is a perfect one to look at how risk is assessed by the public at large in general and by 'experts' in particular.

Nuclear energy can, if everything goes extremely well, virtually solve our current energy quandaries. However, mining uranium and disposing of the waste products has not been solved.

Both of these problems are solvable- at an economic price. The current message that we can have cheap, consequence-free power from nuclear reactors is simply not credible. What we should be discussing is what is the price we would be willing to pay for power that does not come with the current attendant foreign policy problems. Would 50% more be acceptable? 100% more? 200% more?

Keep in mind that nuclear fuel is mostly imported (Canada), and that US uranium reserves are quite a bit more expensive to physically extract, and the local effects (devastating) to mining our own locales will require significant (and costlier) mitigation.

Until then, people would prefer to be poisoned by coal to meet their needs, rather than a) use less electricity, or b) entertain nuclear.

Efficiency is the cheapest, lowest risk way to address energy policy, and it can save lives along the way. It flattens the future growth curve, and makes our economy (personal and national) less vulnerable to energy commodity spikes, Finally, it allows energy substitutions to be more efficiently integrated into the economy. In other words, long-term investments in energy substitutions become more feasible when long-term volatility in present solutions is reduced.
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Re: Energy and stuff; where do we go?

Postby Atanamis » Mon Mar 05, 2012 2:20 pm

wither wrote:Keep in mind that nuclear fuel is mostly imported (Canada), and that US uranium reserves are quite a bit more expensive to physically extract, and the local effects (devastating) to mining our own locales will require significant (and costlier) mitigation.
That's only true of uranium, and not at all true of thorium. The US has great deposits of Thorium, and India is in the process of doing the hard work making thorium production cheap. The damage that coal plants are doing to our nation is undeniable, and the only solution ready NOW to replace it is nuclear. We need one more generation of nuclear to help us transition to next generation power systems. Another hundred years with a focus on power distribution and independence, battery improvements, and more efficient methods of power capture, and we will look back and wonder what people were so worried about. Coal plants are doing much more damage to our population and environment though than latest generation nuclear plants would do, and we can solve the issues of reuse and storage.
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Re: Energy and stuff; where do we go?

Postby Dr. Strangelove » Mon Mar 05, 2012 3:18 pm

Quasigriz wrote:Efficiencies in solar energy capture aside, there really needs to be some innovation in energy storage and deployment. Battery tech has changed realatively little since the late 1800s. NiCad, NiCm and Li are the standards now, but still lose substantial ammounts and are expensive. Perhaps residential capacitors or something else needs to be researched for times when the sun isn't shining.

I've talked with friends about the idea of harnessing rf for power generation, but never tried to prototype anything. There is plenty of residual rf energy floating around. Even harnessing small amounts could be beneficial to low power devices. I understand Tesla did some work on wireless power.



How would you get it out of the cables without corrupting the signals? Most of it is just echoes anyway. The energy that you can use is being used.
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Re: Energy and stuff; where do we go?

Postby Quasigriz » Mon Mar 05, 2012 3:59 pm

Dr. Strangelove wrote:
Quasigriz wrote:Efficiencies in solar energy capture aside, there really needs to be some innovation in energy storage and deployment. Battery tech has changed realatively little since the late 1800s. NiCad, NiCm and Li are the standards now, but still lose substantial ammounts and are expensive. Perhaps residential capacitors or something else needs to be researched for times when the sun isn't shining.

I've talked with friends about the idea of harnessing rf for power generation, but never tried to prototype anything. There is plenty of residual rf energy floating around. Even harnessing small amounts could be beneficial to low power devices. I understand Tesla did some work on wireless power.



How would you get it out of the cables without corrupting the signals? Most of it is just echoes anyway. The energy that you can use is being used.

There are, albeit small, ammounts of energy in rf transmissions. It merely needs to be harnessed. My idea was along the lines of a crystal radio. Although the more I've looked into, it seems realatively ineffectual.
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Re: Energy and stuff; where do we go?

Postby boethius » Mon Mar 05, 2012 4:02 pm

Atanamis wrote:That's only true of uranium, and not at all true of thorium. The US has great deposits of Thorium, and India is in the process of doing the hard work making thorium production cheap. The damage that coal plants are doing to our nation is undeniable, and the only solution ready NOW to replace it is nuclear. We need one more generation of nuclear to help us transition to next generation power systems. Another hundred years with a focus on power distribution and independence, battery improvements, and more efficient methods of power capture, and we will look back and wonder what people were so worried about. Coal plants are doing much more damage to our population and environment though than latest generation nuclear plants would do, and we can solve the issues of reuse and storage.


Thorium will truly be too cheap to meter. They were about 100 years premature on that slogan, but it will come. Those supernovas that created all the heavy elements packed a lot of energy, and produced a bunch of elements containing huge amounts of locked in energy, just waiting for clever beings to figure out how to use it.
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Re: Energy and stuff; where do we go?

Postby Dr. Strangelove » Mon Mar 05, 2012 4:27 pm

Quasigriz wrote:
Dr. Strangelove wrote:
Quasigriz wrote:Efficiencies in solar energy capture aside, there really needs to be some innovation in energy storage and deployment. Battery tech has changed realatively little since the late 1800s. NiCad, NiCm and Li are the standards now, but still lose substantial ammounts and are expensive. Perhaps residential capacitors or something else needs to be researched for times when the sun isn't shining.

I've talked with friends about the idea of harnessing rf for power generation, but never tried to prototype anything. There is plenty of residual rf energy floating around. Even harnessing small amounts could be beneficial to low power devices. I understand Tesla did some work on wireless power.



How would you get it out of the cables without corrupting the signals? Most of it is just echoes anyway. The energy that you can use is being used.

There are, albeit small, ammounts of energy in rf transmissions. It merely needs to be harnessed. My idea was along the lines of a crystal radio. Although the more I've looked into, it seems realatively ineffectual.



You are a freaking A-shopper aren't you. Explains a lot. :popcorn:


Seriously, I thought you meant you wanted to recapture the residual radiation in the RF cables. I am not sure that is practically or economically feasible. If what you mean is picking up waves out in the open, then.. I don't know man. Would you not need a monster antenna array to soak it up? Kind of like those old radar screens from WW2?
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