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Old 28-04-2006, 16:03   #106
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I am new to the forum but I have been looking at this question for quite a while. The best hope for boats in the near term is diesel/electric, the new dc drives and direct port injection diesel gen sets offer real advantages in fuel consumption. A diesel gen set is built to be very efficient at a samall range of speeds, adding or subtracting units as power demand changes improve overall efficiency greatly. If I were to build or repower a boat I would use a diesel/electric system with a few battery banks for good measure. While all the great ideas to power our lives are still on the drawing board we can do something NOW to save fuel but. it comes at a steep price.

If we all used new diesel technology accross the board in transportation we would add years and years to our shrinking fuel supply. While it is nice to think we are going to solve the problem if we put our minds to it it is not that simple. Liquid fuel from petro sources have the best numbers in class of energy we know of today. Bio diesel has the next best hope, we should develop this science to reduce our need for petro fuels. Liquid fuels in general are going to be hard to beat with the options we have today and in the near future.

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Old 28-04-2006, 22:49   #107
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A couple of points Steve. One form of biofuel, Methanol made from wheat, is actually better than petroleum based fuels. It is also more environmentaly freindly, in that the Co2 that is unlocked when burn't is basicaly reabsorbed back into plants in a cyclic fashion. In otherwords, we are not adding to the Co2 amount in our atmosphere.
The other point, we actually DON'T have a "shrinking" oil supply. It is the political control of the reserves that is the problem and is what is inflating the price. It's all about supply and demand. Now that we have reached a level that we can now produce alternative fuels for similar costs as petroleum based fuels, I expect you won't see much more of a rise in Oil cost. Once the alternatives have come on line that is.
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Old 29-04-2006, 13:15   #108
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Hi Wheels; I hope I can call you Wheels!

I am not up on wheat based biofuel however, alga based biodiesel has less BTU's then petro diesel not too much but enough to make the case for petro with the easy pickins we have had. The tar sands in Canada could power North American needs for a long time and cut our ties to the Mid East oi Barrons. The price of fuel is still cheap enough that we bitch and complain but don't change our habbits or desires as a group. I see a lot of hybread cars around here but California's CARB won't allow VW. Mercedes or BMW to sell their very efficient diesel cars here. A toyota hybread on the highway gets 35-40 mpg, a VW TDI Jetta gets over 50MPG and it is a much larger car.

Bio fuel have promiss but they still take more energy to produce then the contain in most cases. Bio diesel made from alga grown in sewage treatment plants offer a real option but it will take a long time to develop into a viable fuel source if it ever gets off the ground.

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Old 29-04-2006, 21:47   #109
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Alan-
When you say "It is also more environmentaly freindly, in that the Co2 that is unlocked when burn't is basicaly reabsorbed back into plants in a cyclic fashion." I think you misstate the point. When petrochemicals are burned, the CO2 produced from them is abosrbed back into new plants in exactly the same manner. Well, perhaps not exactly, but last time I heard the theory was that crude oil was produced from PLANTS and ANIMALS, organic matter, that had simply been compressed underground for a long time. Old plants or new plants--it is still plant stock, plant CO2, being released and then hopefully reabsorbed.

Methanol, or what is more common in the US, ethanol, is still damned expensive as a fuel source. Yes, Brazil has made it work but it unless I misunderstand, they have made it work by using vast amounts of sugar cane which is a plant that rapidly destroys the ground it is grown in--unless you bring in large amounts of fertilizer to restore it. Brazil has large amounts of fertile soil and rainforest that they can afford to consume in order to provide cheap energy--as every older civilization and society including Italy, England, and the US have done. Italy and England of course did a good job deforesting themselves, among other countries. Brazil...we shall see how their policies really play out.
There is "new" science suggesting that microbes may be able to convert all sorts of things into alcohols for fuel at very low cost (energy cost, financial cost, etc.) but that's still in the list of things to come, along with the algae/sewage processes that Steve refers to.
Brazil is still a unique case, although we could certainly plant sugar cane where the Everglades used to be, that would make the Florida cane lobby very very happy. Other than that, US production of alcohol as a fuel source is, AFAIK, not going to be feasible. Even if the Archer-Daniels-Midland agrobusiness heavies want you to think it will pay, for anyone except them.
I'd sure like to see any numbers you have indicating otherwise--and showing what the real long-term costs in Brazil have been. (Call me an honorary Missourian, I'll hold my breath until someone can show me.<G>)
Right now? Right now, we can start deploying wind farms instead of arguing how they spoil the view. Or, we can tell the folks who say "they spoil my million dollar view from the patio" that they can indeed BUY AND OWN that view, let them pay the value of the energy not being produced, and we can turn that into a synthetic gasoline rebate!
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Old 30-04-2006, 04:08   #110
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Yeah I thought I probably couldn't explaint he Co2 part very well. OK, let me try another way.
To grow the grain, the plant absorbs Co2 from the air. Burning the fule releases the Co2 back into the air. The plant takes it back up again. So we maintain a Co2/O2 balance. Burning fossil fuels just unlocks vast amounts of Co2 that have been locked up for millions of years. Burning it just adds to the Co2 we already have.

I do agree about wind generation. I also think there are many other green sources as well. Even if it is just better conservation.
But that is getting me away from my dream of a totaly new power source to propell my boat.
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Old 30-04-2006, 05:29   #111
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Wheels : I’m not certain I can agree with that reasoning.
By way of analogy:
I have “new money” (recently earned) wealth, and another has “old money” (inherited wealth).
We each spend the same amount, depleting our bank accounts equally.
How is the spending of “old money” different from the consumption of “new wealth”? We’re both “poorer” by the same amount.

If CO2, recently captured by growing plants can by analogized as an “earned dollar”, and historically captured CO2 (in fossil fuels), can by analogized as a “saved dollar” then:
Earn a dollar, spend a dollar - a short-term zero balance.
Spend a ‘saved’ dollar - a long-term zero balance.

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Old 30-04-2006, 11:31   #112
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Alan, I have to say Gord's analogy fits my take on it 100%.<G>

But who needs new power sources when sailboats are still perfectly functional on solar power (wind) the way they always have been? So, you pack some extra food and water and wait. Sooner or later the wind comes back up. The frantic ones can swim ashore.<G>

I think "new power" is vastly overrated. Maybe it happens, maybe it doesn't. Meantime, there's plenty we can do with existing systems. it's just that no one wants to pay for doing it.

Wanna see a lot of fuel at the pump? Easy, bring bas the 'gassguzzler tax' of the 70's. Any vehicle getting 20mpg or less at 65mph, has to pay the difference between 20mpg and 40mpg. Drive an SUV that gets 17mpg? No problem, you can buy gas at $7/gallon and half of that comes back to the rest of us as a rebate for the thrifty cars.

I see roughly half of the parkway traffic--which legally is supposed to have NO TRUCKS--consists of single people in vehicles that were manufactured and sold AS TRUCKS by their makers.

Gas prices? Yeah, my politicians have made those high by allowing conspicuous consumption to be the top value in society today. Of course, I can't really blame them--they're just doing what the voters wanted.

Wanna cut electric consumption? Simple, ban incandscent light bulbs, force people to use the florescent ones that use 20% of the power for the same light. Ban big hungry CRT TV's in favor of the LCD ones. The prices can be adjusted to make things work out as part of the whole.

Wanna see gas mileage go up 20%? Get rid of rush hour traffic jams. Remove the oll plazas, demand faster accident response, and if you catch someone rubbernecking on the highway? Confiscate their car and drivers' license both for five years.

No new technology needed. Just a willingness to CHANGE the way we do things, from "fat and careless" to lean.
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Old 30-04-2006, 13:09   #113
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Yep I agree with many of your statments.

As for the Co2 Analogy. One last try. This isn't my idea by the way, this is a major scientific view.
Lets say we have (just for argument) a 50/50 balance of Oxygen and Coarbon Dioxide in our atmosphere at present. If we grow plants, it absorbs say 10%(for argumnet) of the total Co2. When we burn the plants, it releases 10% back. So the balance of Co2 remains at 50/50.
Fossil fuel locked up 10%(argument again) millions of years ago. If we burn it today, we unlock it and raise the overall Co2 level and send our balance toward 60/50. And that is what has been ruffly happening since the industrila age. Vast quanitites of Co2, that have locked away for millions of years are being unlocked and are adding to our atmospheric level of Co2. The main concern I see, is that the oceans are becoming slightly more acidic.
HOWEVER,
firstly I am not crying chicken little. I think there is more to all this for starters. I mean, in begs the question of, What was the Earth like when all the Co2 was in the atmosphere millions of years ago anyway? I mean, it's not like we are producing something new. It has always been X amount. I dunno.
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Old 30-04-2006, 16:23   #114
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hmmm

Talk about thinking outside the box,HUH You guys are loosing me.To be or not to be,What was the question?
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Old 30-04-2006, 16:25   #115
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It's better to aim, a duck to death?
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Old 30-04-2006, 16:50   #116
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I have been offline for a couple of days, but judging by the incredibly indepth responses here, I should have bowed out sooner. Keep at it
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Old 30-04-2006, 22:55   #117
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Well no one has come up with 42 as an answer yet, so I don't think that was the question.
Dman, it may not be you that got lost.
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Old 30-04-2006, 23:11   #118
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42 is the answer to the universe. I have known that since I was about 12. Now, if we can just relate "42" to efficient propulsion we will have it made
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Old 01-05-2006, 03:56   #119
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Alan-
"As for the Co2 Analogy. ...Vast quanitites of Co2, that have locked away for millions of years are being unlocked and are adding to our atmospheric level of Co2. The main concern I see, is that the oceans are becoming slightly more acidic."
Oh, I understand the point. I'm just saying that how we balance CO2 (releasing it vs. storing it) is the issue. Burning fossil fuels, is only one small part of the equation, and whether we burn them doesn't affect the question of whether we want to modify the CO2 balance.

" What was the Earth like when all the Co2 was in the atmosphere millions of years ago anyway? " Last I heard, it was similar to Venus. 800F on the surface, and other minor differences from what we know and love.

Chemically, or globally, speaking, CO2 is a nice stable compound that doesn't do any harm. Oxygen is the real nasty stuff that tries to combine with everything and causes all sorts of problems. It's always trying to combine with something or other, once our globe is "stable" it should all be locked away in other compounds anyway. Hard luck on the life forms that want it, but fortunately of no consequence to the ones that live on sulfur or chlorine instead.

By any chance did you catch the recent PBS on "Global Dimming" ? Apparently the particulates we've been making (which are one reason diesel engines have been unable to meet US EPA requirements for passenger cars while they have been popular in the EU) have been SHADING the earth and the thought now is that they've countered global warming from our heat emissions by about 40%. So if we keep cleaning the air up--we'll cook. Not to mention the effect on rain, storms, and other things.

But putting that in the longer perspective (which is that we should be in the middle of an ice age according to many geologists, and that global warming has literally saved our butts) all it goes to show is that the humna race is too damn stupid to allocate the money for the basic research that is still so badly needed to figure out whether we are killing the planet--or keeping it suitable to sustain our life.

No question that we need to tread more carefully either way, but then again, consider what happens if we really screw up the planet: All life as we know it perishes. OK, that's happened before. A little hard on the human race, but give the planet another blink (50,000 years) and there'll be something to replace us. And no doubt, whatever they are, they'll still be plagued by roaches.<G>
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Old 01-05-2006, 05:40   #120
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hmm

Can anybody get pyramids into the discussion?
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