Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Cementing us in the Stone Age

The article is just dripping with sanctimonious finger-wagging horseshit.

Get this straight, there is no such thing as "Clean Energy."

It must be produced from either burning coal (specifically, in this case), natural gas or oil, OR you build a nuclear reactor. In either case, you will still be using the resultant heat generated to power a turbine(s) to get your juice.

The "alternatives" aren't all that useful, and still require the use of metals (mined and processed from the ground, with ALL of the drawbacks of any type of mine), plastics (more oil) and, this is the elephant in the room, close proximity to the end-user.

Power transmission isn't something that can, practically anyway, be accomplished from thousands of miles away, regardless of generation method, and MORE SO with shit like wind and absolutely with solar.

Get this muddle-headed "thinking" out of your dim heads, and right now; if you want juice in this country, and you want it without having to tend your very own systems and you want as much as you can use at any point in time, live with the fact that you are going to be using the juice made from burning a fucking rock.

Got it?

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Anonymous Mark B. said...

This is another of those "articles" that deserves Robb Allen's injuction:

"Warning: Journalist Does Not Understand The Subject They Are Writing About."

The whole "article" threatens to collapse on itself into a Singularity Of Horseshit. This little gem particularly caught my eye:

"Building a coal-fired power plant today is betting that we are not going to put a serious financial cost on emitting carbon dioxide," said Severin Borenstein, director of the Energy Institute at the University of California-Berkeley. "That may be true, but unless most of the scientists are way off the mark, that's pretty bad public policy."

(Emphasis mine, of course.)

Uttered by a guy who not only helped cook the books but tried to cripple the peer-review process so they'd stay cooked. Yeah, there are only a couple of TRILLION dollars worth of "research" and "development" grants at stake here.

Meanwhile, a guy with absolutely no scientific background becomes a near-instant near-billionaire by pushing a fairy tale. Someone who, as the favorite son of a prominent politician, not only would've flunked out of an in-state law school (Tennessee) had he not been told he was gonna flunk out if he didn't drop out, but also managed to flunk out of divinity school (Vanderbilt). If he were any dumber someone would have to water him twice a week.

And while I'm on dumb, where do those idiot proponents of plug-in hybrids think that power is going to come from anyway? The automobile manufacturers ought just to reintroduce the Stanley Steamer; at least it'd be more honest.

Honesty and intellectual curiosity do seem to come at a premium in public-policy debates these days; we've all been granted the privelege of paying for it.


1:20 PM  
Blogger theirritablearchitect said...

"... The automobile manufacturers ought just to reintroduce the Stanley Steamer; at least it'd be more honest..."

Funny you should bring that up, as I've been looking at several small-scale steam engines recently, for the purpose of being able to run a gen-set. I'm sure you can guess why.

Ya wanna know who's designing and building some of the most ingenious, cost-effective units available? Guys like you and me, right outta their own garages. It's old tech, for sure, but some of this stuff is way small, running multi-piston steamers in the same orientation with the power shaft off of a slipper plate. Some are claiming 30 horses out of something not much bigger than a loaf of bread. The boiler is more tricky, for me at least, and I'm really quite interested in learning more about the HOW to do it all.

I've also been looking at a bunch of different diesel engines, again, lots of older stuff, mainly British Listers and the like. Stationary stuff that was developed to run on a variety of farm-sourced oils.

I have some other bits too, and if I had half a brain, I'd be all over trying to develop a better mousetrap, 'cuz it's looking more like I'll be needing it, shortly.

2:10 PM  
Anonymous Mark B. said...

I've been fascinated with a lot of those more mature technologies as a matter of simple curiosity -- my course of study was mechanical engineering at The Cow College Up The Kaw lo these many moons ago, though I hasten to add that I never matriculated.

Those older direct-heat and simpler steam engines were and are capable of some impressive torque and horsepower numbers. Their principal practical limitation is that as low-speed powerplants they tend to be susceptible to load-application stalling. That can and has been overcome using relatively clever mechanical load-matching devices and/or slip clutches but they still perform much better with steady-state rather than dynamic loads.

You stall one of those and you have anything from a minor inconvenience to a huge mess on your hands. Hydraulicing a largish steam engine can have catastrophic consequences; they tend to break stuff in particularly spectacular fashion.

You're right about the boiler part, which was why the Stirling engine was once seen as an elegant solution to the problem of boiler blowouts, but it's not that esoteric in lower-pressure systems. The technology is mature after all and the material and weldment requirements are pretty much plug-and-crank math. I know I have old textbooks in my library at home that cover almost all of it.


2:47 PM  
Blogger theirritablearchitect said...

I obviously need to cover several tomes that were previously beyond my curiosity.

4:23 PM  

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