Oil Poster

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31 Responses:

  1. citizenx says:

    Soon, we'll be able to change anything into oil.

    The bad part is I think I'm going to have to give up my turkey offal habit.

    • gfish says:

      By the time we hit peak turkey offal, I'm sure science will have found a way to synthesize it.

    • mcfnord says:

      The stink of this process is overwhelming.

      • usufructer says:

        Making ethanol is incredibly rank as well. As is running methane-producing digesters. Makes you yearn for the days when you could just be slowly poisoned by the happy coal power plant.

        • fantasygoat says:

          I make ethanol on a regular basis (via fermenting sugar) in my kitchen and I find the smell quite pleasant.

          • usufructer says:

            Joke aside, are you actually distilling it to near 100%, or are you using it at the concentration the yeasties provide? Making it isn't so bad (though it does release carbon dioxide, which has to be dealt with at industrial levels of production) but the process of turning it into near pure alcohol leaves you with lots of odors and some really gross waste.

            There was an ethanol operation going in St. Paul, MN. All of the people who lived around it hated it because it stank up the entire neighborhood. A few friends of mine were arrested and held for two days a few years ago because they were stopped on the street near the plant late at night with no good excuse. The cops thought they were local terrorists trying to take the facility out of production.

            Muscatine, IA is similarly horrible smelling (depending on wind conditions) due to a corn processing plant on the south end of town, where they produce everything that can be produced from corn, including alcohol.

            • fantasygoat says:

              I distill it to 95%, which is the highest concentration you can get outside of a lab due to ethanol's natural tendancy to bond to water molecules.

              The smell I'm refering to is mostly from the brewing process. I find the distilling process basically odourless.

    • solarbird says:

      Using 2001 numbers for total waste produced in the USA (just what I cound find handy), and taking the second-highest efficiency number I can find (a bad idea, since most waste will not be as carbon-heavy as the materals they've been testing - but I'm giving them every benefit of the doubt here), I come up with a daily theoretical production of roughly 928,000 bpd oil, or about 4.6% of our current consumption. Using the higest numbers I've seen quoted gets it up to 5.8%.

      Don't get me wrong; if it works, yay. But this isn't Mr. Fusion. You cant throw a banana peel into your car and fly off from it.

      Also, and about as importantly, I haven't found good EROI numbers for this process. What's the actual usable energy output in return for energy expended? Things like that matter. For comparison, system throughput on light sweet crude at this point is around 10:1 - ten units out for every one in. It used to be higher. The only sites I saw in an admittedly highly superficial Google search quoted raw numbers incorrectly for things like cellulose ethanol (I'd suspect they're confusing it and biodiesel, from the data given) so I'm not apt to trust them.

      Again, I hope it works, but things like inputs availability and EROI all matter quite a lot.

      • Changing World Tech make a point of this in their literature: they're not here to replace conventional oil supply, only increase it very slightly. I like their tech much more on the points that it greatly reduces organic waste going into landfills and it lets you do stuff like recycle tires and turn them into usable light, sweet crude! I wish I knew the o-chem it took to understand this stuff.

    • earle says:

      "If a 175-pound man fell into one end , he would come out the other end as 38 pounds of oil, 7 pounds of gas, and 7 pounds of minerals, as well as 123 pounds of sterilized water."

      New, efficient, Soylent fuel. The miracle fuel of high-energy plankton gathered from the oceans of the world.

    • taffer says:

      Looks like I picked the wrong week to give up turkey offal.

  2. usufructer says:

    It's a cool poster, and I'm certainly in the camp of "we should cut down on oil use", but 'projected discoveries' on there reminds me of this quote (likely urban legend): "Everything that can be invented has been invented." --Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, US Office of Patents, 1899.

    You can't project stuff like that. Maybe they'll figure out a way to safely mine undersea deposits of methane hydrate. If crude jeeps going up, it'll be a when, not a maybe.

    We're a resourceful species on a resourcefilled planet. Market forces will cause more change than a thousand "buy no gas" days. Cheer high gas prices.

    • Oooh, this one should be fun.

      /dons sunglasses

    • heydusty says:

      Good point. For instance they neglect to account for magical canada sand. Granted it does say the numbers are from 2004, which was prior to adjusted estimates for the Alberta reserves (there is a footnote reference beside Canada on the reserve chart, however).

      Disclaimer: I'm all for oil use reduction, as well, just pointing out facts.

      • lpetrazickis says:

        The standard extraction process also requires huge amounts of natural gas. Currently, the oil sands industry uses about 4% percent of the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin natural gas production. By 2015, this may increase by a factor of 2.5 times.

        Given current growth rates, yes. OTOH, if we actually try to rely on tar sands as a major source of oil, the natural gas requirements get even steeper. And we don't have quite that much natural gas around.

    • cjensen says:

      Methane mining from the ocean floor? There's way too much coal in the world for that to happen. Running out of oil isn't a problem given the amount of coal in the world, though making gas from coal will be much more expensive than from oil. They're all greenhouse-gassy though.

      From wikipedia:

      There are today 200 years of economically exploitable reserves at the current rate of consumption. Reserves have increased by over 50% in the last 22 years and are expected to continue to increase

      Is there a rule that says all oil production graphs must show peaks within plus-or-minus five years of now?

      • treptoplax says:

        Is there a rule that says all oil production graphs must show peaks within plus-or-minus five years of now?

        Yes. And the rule is, "If it's more than five years out, nobody gives a rat's ass."

        Incidentally, if you really believe oil is about to run out, you can buy oil futures and get rich; last I heard, the market seems to think oil prices will remain relatively flat.

        • kaneda_khan says:

          Oil obviously can't run out for decades. The trailing edge of the supply curve looks pretty much like the leading edge, if somewhat steeper due to improvements in extraction (and resulting damage to the fields).

          But it has strategic importance. When it becomes clear that meeting all demand is no longer possible, its price will be measured in military force, with perhaps a token payment to the beleaguered owner.

  3. ultranurd says:

    I thought we had already hit the peak? Wikipedia informs me that only some people think we have...

    I guess I'll just happily ride my bike to work as the world ends around me. Le gran sigh.

    • exiledbear says:

      Estimates put the peak anywhere past us, or 5 years into the future.

      I'd take the oil futures markets as a sign that we're coming up on the peak soon, as it is the market's job to discount (or predict, to use a less financial term) the future.

      I wouldn't be scared of what's happening, but I would advise that you start thinking about what's truly important to you and start reordering your life around that.

  4. wdr1 says:

    Peak is forcasted for 2007? It'd be interesting if someone tracked actual usage over the next several years & see how closely it matches the projections in the poster.

    • solarbird says:

      Colin Campbell has a long history of jumping the gun on this. Other people are suggesting 2010-ish is a better guess. Of course, there's always CERA, which gives out numbers which more or less translate to "2035 or so we might plateau, but really it's effectively never, now here, go buy some candy, kid, y'bother me."

      Personally, I've been volunteering my time collecting signatures for a Washington State renewable energy initiative, primarily so that skillsets and experience get built up before it's really, you know, vital or something.

  5. romulusnr says:

    While very informative in the non-greyed area, it is otherwise more peak-oil FUD. If you presume that we have currently reached peak oil, then it makes sense to grow a downward curve from here on out.

    But for starters, it does not mention oil shale, a potentially lucrative source of oil, the presence of which in the U.S. alone is estimated to have potential yield at least equal to that of the entire Middle East. All that has to be done is to improve the technology and make the means easily viable, and a number of energy companies are starting do to just that.

    It also doesn't mention coal, which albeit is largely outdated and less-then-ultra-safe and technologically stagnant, but which in terms of energy, the amount estimated in the U.S. alone is, again, potentially more yielding than all the oil in the Middle East. All that would need to be done to make it viable would be to improve and/or deploy the technology to do it (and convert into oil analogues).

    Peak oil is FUD, and it may seem like "good FUD" to encourage development of alternative energy (like ethanol, although U.S. corn-based ethanol is 1/4 as efficient as tropical sugarcane-based ethanol), but it also encourages expansion of nuclear power. Despite the two publicized mine disasters in the western world in the past year, the danger from coal is nothing compared to the danger from a nuclear disaster IMO.

    • For some reason people always bring up the fear that nuclear disasters are scary and dangerous, but I think that's FUD, because nuclear is cleaner than coal and because of the two major accidents than anyone can actually think of, Three Mile Island vented some absurdly low amount of radioactive gas into the atmosphere (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Mile_Island -- the relevant part is near the end of the second paragraph), and Chernobyl occurred because of human error and deliberately running a reactor out of specification. Especially in the case of Chernobyl, nobody builds reactors like that anymore, although I think there are still reactors of that design in use.

      You could argue that there will always be "human error" and that the effect of human error could be catastrophic if we're dealing with nuclear power plants, but nuclear power plants, aside from the above two examples, have extremely good safety records. Coal power plants, on the other hand, expose local populations to more radioactivity on a regular basis than nuclear power plants (http://www.ornl.gov/info/ornlreview/rev26-34/text/colmain.html), so I think nuclear is actually a safer choice.

      Regarding the peak oil is FUD argument, you could be right, but your post requires technology to be developed to harness the potential energy stored in the oil shale and other resources, and (maybe I'm just not read enough), but I haven't seen nor heard of tech that can do that. Nuclear, on the other hand, is here and can deliver gigawatt-capacity power plants.

  6. brighty18 says:

    Hi. Thanks for posting this! (I wandered into your journal via Premiump, by the way.) As wonderful as alternative fuels may sound and even as wonderful as they may BE I think the big problem will be the changeover. We are an oil-based economy and it's going to be hard to change that. Virtually all of our food production (fertilizers, farm machinery, factories, packaging, distribution, etc.) is utterly dependent on oil. It takes over a barrel of oil just to raise a steer to the point that it can be slaughtered. I read that if fossil fuels entirely disappeared tomorrow there would be something like 4 billion too many people on earth to feed. Now that's scary. As tasty as turkey-offal-based fuel might sound, we need to start planning ahead and I really don't see that coming. Do you?