miriam_e: from my drawing MoonGirl (Default)
[personal profile] miriam_e
Almost every technology we have relies upon fossil fuels. We need to work out ways to break that chain of dependency. I don't count using oil to make plastics as an example of a bad thing, but I do see the use of oil as fuel to run the processes in making that plastic as bad. Plastics are amazing materials that we should value more. Correctly used they are light, flexible, resilient, non-toxic, and can last thousands of years, potentially being handed down to our descendants. Using them for disposable items is obscene.

We could use solar furnaces instead of oil and coal for almost all industrial processes that currently require fossil fuels, but it does require effort. And it would help to have a government which is not corrupt and whose heads are not buried in the sand.

The most important change is to design our buildings properly. We've been building them badly for thousands of years and it feels like we've learned almost nothing over that time. They are our biggest standing consumer of energy -- much worse than transport. We need to insulate and light them sensibly so that they need as little additional heating, cooling, lighting, and shading as possible. It is actually easy to do.
● Clerestory lighting and skylights, and ponds or other reflective surfaces oriented correctly outside windows can greatly reduce the need for artificial lighting.
● Insulation and passive convection heating and cooling, can vastly reduce energy needs, especially if a sunroom is used to gather heat in cold climates, and appropriately calculated roof eaves ensure light is admitted in winter, but not summer. Strategic placement of deciduous trees can also help in this respect.
● Building underground, if designed with sensible lighting and heating/cooling can bring great improvements to many aspects of homes and commercial buildings:
- better thermally insulated
- greater thermal mass (so they change temperature slowly)
- much better sound insulation (play the drums without upsetting the neighbors)
- double use of your land (you can still use the land on the "roof")
- safety from bushfires, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and if designed right, even floods
- better protection from thieves and other hostile invaders

Any other thoughts?

Date: 2015-05-03 06:03 am (UTC)
greylock: Raist (Default)
From: [personal profile] greylock
Kinda related, but there is a company called Foyson Resources which is investing in a 50tph pilot plant at Berkley Vale that is aiming to take waste plastic and basically re-cracking it to convert it back to liquid hydrocarbons. The same process is supposed to use the syngas to power the plant. It's an interesting take on recycling.

Hasn't been proven, of course.

Thought you might be interested.

We could use solar furnaces instead of oil and coal for almost all industrial processes that currently require fossil fuels

Including steel production? I was going to argue that you need coking coal, but apparently it is possible with arc furnaces. There's no reason I can find that suggests solar can't do that, but I spent five minutes on google.

The main issue with coal production is that it's primarily used in poorer countries, (and India and China), where they are looking for the cheapest and easiest means of hooking up the population. Add it (or char) are also burnt in homes.

I'm wondering how resilient a distributed solar network would be in terms of flood/fire damage. I must look into that.

The new Tesla battery is interesting. We've been waiting for something like that before looking seriously at solar, but I am also curious how much "resource shifting" will happen as a result. I gather some home solar panels have a high failure rate, plus the raw materials like graphite, scandium and lithium need to come from somewhere, so there's something of a risk that - purely at the mining level - we'll swap digging up the Hunter Valley for digging thumping great holes in Fifield.

Building underground, if designed with sensible lighting and heating/cooling can bring great improvements to many aspects of homes and commercial buildings

Not great for population density issues.

I'd love an underground house.

Date: 2015-05-04 11:33 am (UTC)
greylock: Raist (Default)
From: [personal profile] greylock
I'm also a little disappointed they are concentrating primarily on producing fuel, mostly diesel, as far as I can see.

Sadly, there's just more of a ROI on that.
I'm not surprised they're keeping quiet.
I suspect the tech won't work.
The kinds of people investing in it.... worries me.
It suggests other, smarter people have doubts.

If we could move most mining and refining (and possibly some manufacturing) off Earth we would eliminate some of our planet's worst burdens.

I've researched a few articles on 'space mining' and there are a few issues.
The first is obvious. Do we really want to mine the moon, or asteroids? Do we trust NASA or anyone to move an asteroid into orbit? Because as soon as we can do that, we're pretty much in mass driver territory.

The second, the transportation costs are pretty rubbish for bulk commodities (iron ore and bauxite) because they are so common on Earth.
Even at the good old days of $150/tonne they're not viable.

The electricity goes to the wealthier members of those societies, not the poor, he was saying.

True, that. They're looking at electrifying in PNG (around Ramu) which could give three million people access to power (gas fired) using the income from PNG LNG. Which is nice.

China is closing down its coal-powered generators in Beijing and coal demand generally has fallen by about 10% recently, I believe.

I'd be wary of those numbers. Not the trend, but specifics.
China has all the benefits of 1960s era environmental issues, and a 21stC economy. Plus a central government.

I suspect a lot of people will do the same and the dopey power companies will suddenly find they killed the goose that laid golden eggs.

I consider grid connection a net social good. Not everyone will have renewables, and it's good to have redundancy.

You simply build down instead of up.

True, but you can only go down so far.

Edited Date: 2015-05-04 11:33 am (UTC)

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