The "Flight of the Phoenix" Revisited
We can live with a Fossil Fuel Future: Oil, Gas, Coal and Shale Oil
Volume 12, Number 16: 22 April 2009
The title of this essay is The "Flight of the Phoenix" Revisited. This title is taken from a 1965 movie.(1) For those who have not seen this rather superb effort, it featured a crash landing of a C-82 in the Sahara Desert in the 1950s. This was caused by a severe dust storm that drove the C-82 far off course. After a few days of waiting, the 11 survivors came to the conclusion that they were not going to be found by an air search. The predicament of the survivors may serve as an analogy to our energy situation today: deeply entrenched opinions, zero tolerance for other views, very little real information, and much confusion. Three options emerged that were equally unattractive, widely disparate, dangerous, and with low odds of success. They were: walk out; ride out in a camel caravan (if one should ever pass), or fly out in a re-created plane.
Two of the survivors died in an attempt to walk out, and two were killed by members of a small caravan. It finally became clear to the remaining seven that their only chance was to rebuild the plane. This was an idea that most initially thought was insane. The C-82, sometimes referred to as the Sky Truck, consisted of two long booms, each with a large engine, bracketing a large central hull. It was owned by an oil company, and its hull was full of oil field equipment: cutting torches, welders, winches, cable and so forth. So the opportunity to rebuild a plane was there, by salvaging the undamaged boom. And much like the legend, The Phoenix did "rise from the dead" and fly again, and seven lives were saved.
For the Phoenix survivors, the critical resource was water, with about 12 days of supply left to complete their reconstruction. For our country, the critical resource is oil. And just as the Phoenix survivors rebuilt their plane, our task is to rebuild our energy system. But the Phoenix survivors mode of transportation was still a plane, just as our energy system will continue to utilize oil.
Whatever the ultimate mix of energy resources turns out to be, this re-creation will be very difficult, and will take time -- and at least some failure of the other options -- before the activists get on board. One can only hope our country will exhibit the same ingenuity, tenacity and success in solving our energy crisis that the survivors of the Phoenix did.
2. On Our Energy Situation, Price Stability and Supply Security.
Today, with the collapse of our financial system, and the slippage in oil prices, it is hard to spend much time on long-term energy planning. However, our country is still in a serious energy situation. Perhaps no one has stated it stronger than Matthew R. Simmons, a Houston investment banker. He has made many presentations(2.1) on the state of the oil and gas system. It is sick, he concludes, and its vital signs are terrible. Simmons asks many questions in his talks. Why did prices jump so high to $147 by early July, 2008? Why did they then plunge 74% by September? And does anyone know a price for oil?
This theme was continued in an opinion piece(2.2) in The New York Times. In this commentary the writers noted that "compasses are spinning," stating that "everyone seems uncertain whether increase in supply or decrease in demand will affect prices as they have in the past." Indeed, they say that "some wonder whether the market is broken in some way creating a bubble of artificially expensive oil."
When the price of crude oil sky-rocketed from $95 to $147 per barrel, it was easy to see the "clear and present" danger of such a situation. Less clear is the impact with a price retrenchment from $147 to $35 per barrel. In such a situation, energy planning and implementation becomes almost impossible. In particular, coal gasification, shale oil processing and many alternative energy (AE) ideas become almost impossible to fund.
While the barrel price of $147 may now look like a bubble of artificially expensive oil, Simmons thinks not. He notes(2.3) that much of the global supply is from fields that are rather old and getting older. He considers the idea that OPEC has major spare crude production capacity to be a myth. And, therefore, he concludes "the era of cheap oil is over." So it is highly likely we will see expensive oil once again ... and soon.
The three main options or pathways might be described as equally unattractive, widely disparate, dangerous and with low odds of success. These pathways are alternative energies, fleet electrification/nuclear power, and fossil fuels.
The sub-title for this essay states that we can live with a fossil fuel future. Warmers and environmentalists will see this as "an insane idea." Indeed, our new energy secretary, Steven Chu, has stated (3.1) that "Coal is My Worst Nightmare." I would argue that we don't have the luxury to "turn up our noses" on the use of this fuel. I would say it is a very necessary resource.
2.2 Price Stability.
Here, I will argue that a key pathway to price stability is to reduce our call on global oil. What is necessary is an aggressive move to reduce our call, not eliminate it. Surely the U.S. is not the only major buyer of global oil. China and India have become very big overnight, and will be very big in the future. But the U.S. is viewed as one that should do something about it.
Now oil speculators are broadly accused of manipulating the market. This is possible, but all they do is simply buy and sell crude oil contracts. In order to perform this task, perhaps several times a day, they strive to read the market. Here I argue that our call on global oil is an indicator to such risk takers. If the speculators of this world are convinced that we are not going to put our energy house in order, if they can't see any progress in our ability to cut demand, or in our ability to increase supplies, they will soon start to bet again that our call on oil will go up. And, in the absence of any other inputs, they will, once again, place their bets that future prices will be a bit higher and not lower. And their next bids will also be a bit higher.
I will argue that the best of the three non-perfect, and drastically different policy initiatives, is a fossil fuel focus. As with the Phoenix situation, some will think such a pathway is absolutely insane. The hope is that, in the future, they will come to the conclusion that it is the only way out of this situation. Here we would boost our conventional supplies of domestic oil and gas, we would increase our use of coal generation, and we would start to utilize coal gasification, coal liquefaction and shale oil. While perhaps not pretty, this pathway has the best odds for reducing our call on global oil, and the best chance at providing large amounts of additional energy for the future.
I will argue that the other pathways -- a huge expansion of nuclear plus fleet electrification, and an intensive alternative energy focus -- will not lead to the price stability we need.
2.3 Supply Security.
Interest in supply security is in no way a pitch for energy independence. This in no way is another "Project Independence." Indeed, energy independence is a virtual impossibility; and as such it is also an erroneous objective. Supply security can be achieved by building on a strong and reliable mix of all supply options. This includes all domestic options, including coal, offshore oil, and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Now the environmentalists insist we can't touch ANWR oil, because the area is so pristine. I would argue we don't have the luxury to "turn up our noses" on the use of this resource. Many presentations of this topic describe it as a pristine refuge, a cathedral of nature, and America's Serengeti; and they inevitably show a picture with magnificent mountains in the background -- the Brooks Range. But these mountains are about 50 miles from the featureless coastal plain.
George Will(2.4) raises the possibility that "some people use environmental causes and rhetoric not to change the political climate for the purpose of environmental improvement." For them, "changing society is the end, and environmental policies are mere means to that end," as he describes it; noting that "the unending argument in political philosophy concerns adjusting the balance between freedom and equality." The overall good, in the view of these people, according to Will, "is to enlarge government supervision of individuals' lives."
Supply security also includes oil from the Middle East and syn-crude from Canada. One might well ask, in this context, why it makes sense for multi-billion-dollar investments in Canada for tar sands mining, processing and upgrading, but not for an analogous effort in the U.S. on coal and oil shale mining, processing and upgrading. How much difference can there be, when crude oil prices exceed $100 per barrel?
2.4 On Our Coal Situation.
One of the purposes of this essay is to put in a good word for coal. It would seem that coal has become the pariah of any energy plan. Even without the so-called global warming crisis, coal has been viewed by many activists as unacceptable, due to the criteria pollutants -- sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, and particular matter -- as well as the mercury it emits. Many activists have conveniently ignored the fact that the criteria pollutants have been effectively controlled(3.2) at an affordable cost, and that efforts are underway to reduce mercury emissions.
Perhaps the activists have recognized for a long time that they needed something more in order to shackle coal the same way they shackled nuclear energy; and that is where the global warming issue rises to the fore. Hence, we have had a tidal wave of publications against coal; and the conventional wisdom is that the threat of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is far worse than high-level radiation from fuel rod disposal and even international terrorism.
Many critics of coal insist(3.3) we must move into a carbon-constrained world. At the same time, however, we are facing the most serious energy situation ever. Of course, our politicians have jumped in head-first, many with well meaning -- but terribly misguided -- ideas, plans and bills. The Democrats, for example, have come up with such winners as suing OPEC(2.5), or blaming the Exxons of the world, and threatening the imposition of windfall profits taxes. And if that doesn't intimidate the oil companies into coming up with more oil and cutting prices, there are intimations of nationalizing their industry. The critics have also come up with the phrase clean coal. And any coal that doesn't meet their definition of clean -- which is coal used in a carbon-constrained plant -- is dirty or ugly or filthy coal. This definition clearly needs to be challenged; and later in this essay I will go into my rather extensive experience with coal and my reasons for why I think the so-called clean-coal "edict" can be challenged.
The climate change situation facing our country has been described as the most awesome threat it has ever faced. Barack Obama, as a senator, stated that "the future of our planet is at stake." Harry Reid(4) called climate change "the most important issue facing the world today." Well, not hardly, as the U.S. Senate shelved this awesome issue after only 3½ days of debate.
These and other politicians of their ilk seem to have two naive convictions. The first is that all climate alarmism is true. Many politicians seem to have zero comprehension of the huge uncertainties wrapped up in the AGW issue and the mantra of fear utilized by its supporters. They accept as gospel that society must move to a carbon-constrained world. Their second naïve conviction is that all alternative energy hype is true. They accept, with blind faith, that society will find alternative energies (AEs) rapidly and in huge quantities, so we can replace oil, gas and coal painlessly. All we need to do is pour money into research and bet on incredible long shots.
3. Emerging Strategies: Focus on Alternative Energies.
The warmers and activists argue that we have many types of AE from which to choose: solar, wind, hydrogen, etc, etc, etc. However, they seem to have no comprehension of the odds of success, nor of the science, technology and investment required to make these AEs economical.
3.1 Wind Energy.
(1) Recent growth. In previous writings I noted that although California had built over 15,000 windmills by 2000, these produced power only 18% of the time and contributed only 1¼% of the total state generation. Since that time, growth of this energy source in Texas has been notable. In 2006, for example, Texas passed California as the state with the most wind capacity as noted below.
Table 1. Key Installed Wind Capacity - mws
(2) Key problems with wind energy. Surely, much of the above growth in Texas is due to government support at all levels. In spite of this support, however, there are many problems.
(i) High equipment and installation costs, even with many subsidies.
(ii) Limited availability of the installed capacity and, hence, limited generated power.
(iii ) Very remote locations frequently requiring new and long transmission lines.
(iv) Impact of working with governments. While government support may help get a market started, it comes at a price. For an example, the reader is referred to a recent Houston Chronicle commentary(5.1) on what government involvement can lead to, when it gets into market creation for an AE such as wind energy. The writer was reporting on a conference in Houston on wind energy that was attended by 10,000 people. He commented that the more the hype blows, the more Robert Bradley -- a former director of public policy analysis for Enron -- "hears the voice of his old boss, Ken Lay." Bradley spent 16 years at Enron, and the writer noted that his ex company "was a major backer of the state's 1999 mandate calling for the development of renewable energy sources, including wind generation." So he asked: "Is it really the winds of change we're hearing? ... or just Enron's ghost laughing?"
A more detailed essay(5.2) by Bradley can be found in a brochure from Lindenwood University, wherein he noted that:
"Enron lived, thrived, and perished in and through the mixed economy. Enron's artificial boom and decisive bust had more to do with government regulation than free markets. Ken Lay's meteoric rise and stunning fall were not the saga of a capitalist wildcatter, they were the tragedy of a political rent-seeker in action, prominently including government intervention sought in the pretext of addressing climate change and promoting 'green' energy."
For more on rent-seekers, wind energy, Enron and Ken Lay, the reader is referred to a book(5.3) by Christopher Horner, especially the section entitled Enron: Leader of the Axis of E's. Here one will find dozens of nuggets, such as President Clinton naming Lay "to his exclusive panel of insiders, the Council of Sustainable Development." This administration liked Lay for a variety of reasons, including that he would represent "an icon of responsibility in their GW endeavor."
(v) System penetration. This attribute was described in a brief summary(5.4) of the hype used by politicians, plus some key comments on system integration. The case study is from the Canadian province of New Brunswick (NB). The energy minister for NB started with a claim that they would add 4,500 mws of wind energy to an existing system of 4,000 mws. He made this claim when the neighboring state of Maine, which had twice the population of NB, had all of 42 mws installed. He then back tracked to 1,250 to 2,000 mws. Setting aside how many turbines they might actually want, there is the question of system design. Even adding as little as 15 percent wind generation to an existing system requires constant monitoring and adjustment to prevent power fluctuations and grid instability. However, the writer cites German input that this should be more like four percent or 160 mw. He concludes that obtaining 1,250 mws from wind in NB is unrealistic, and that the idea of 4,500 mws is an "impossible dream."
(3) Conclusions on wind energy. With this panorama of problems, it is hard to believe that this source of energy -- in spite of major government support and promoters such as T. Boone Pickens -- will be the solution to our crisis. Perhaps the prognosis that is the most interesting comes from a 2002 essay(5.5) on net energy. Two conclusions stand out:
(i) Most optimistic assumptions. Even under such conditions, this analysis suggests that "Wind Power is capable of furnishing only a small fraction of the net energy needed to power the U.S."
(ii) Machines constructed everywhere it is practicable. However, even under such a scenario, "they would only be able to provide a pitiful amount of the net energy" needed.
The above very negative comments were published in a sustainable energy forum, a forum one would expect would be very supportive of wind energy. However, any conclusion on the future of wind energy should be put on hold until the future of high energy density batteries is known (see Section 4.2).
There is little question that biofuels will play a role in our energy system. However, projections range from unbelievably bullish to an area beset by many problems. One input(6.1) comes from a key environmentalist. This scientist avoided the problems of the efficiencies of processes to produce ethanol and questions on energy returns on energy input (EROEI). Rather it asked the question on the amount of electrical generation that could be achieved from wood grown on the net forest area of commercial timberland, namely 483 million acres. The answer was 17.5 percent. He concluded that the idea that biofuels are going to end US dependence on foreign energy supplies "is an illusion."
Another reference(6.2) reported world consumption of 10 billion gallons of biofuels in 2006, including ethanol and biodiesel, noting that "this is 650,000 barrels per day, but less than 0.8% of worldwide crude oil consumption."
A summary of the potential, and problems, of biofuels follows.
(1) Basic Ethanol Production.
(i) Ethanol from corn. While modestly boosting the supply of liquid fuels, this fuel may actually be increasing our overall energy demand. Many references report that this fuel requires more energy to produce than it delivers. Bloomberg(7.1) reports that David Pimentel, a Cornell University of Ecology and Agriculture professor, argues it uses 29 percent more energy than it delivers. Warmers argue the opposite. For example, consider the story(7.2) of "a fuel ethanol enthusiast" that reported elation on hearing that the EROEI "had been greatly increased from 1.38 to 2." When informed that even if that increase was true, it "was not nearly high enough," he became incredulous, outraged and insulting. This writer compared this value for ethanol to a value of 10 for U. S. oil, in 2000, for a very mature oil industry.
Ethanol enthusiasts seem to prefer talking about the oil imports displaced. For example, one reference(7.3) cited 170 or 206 or 500 million barrels of oil import reductions due to ethanol production in 2006. These comments were made by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) or its friends. However, the RFA also noted that ethanol production amounted to 4.86 billion gallons for 2006 or 116 million barrels. But since ethanol has about two-thirds(7.4) the energy content of gasoline, the116 million barrels drops to 77 million barrels or only 2¼ percent of U. S. gasoline consumption.
There is little question this level will grow. Even without the results of the recent election, there were many signs of major new growth coming. And the farm lobby remains very strong. Today, this incredibly subsidized field -- including both corn and ethanol -- would make Ken Lay rather jealous. Bloomberg, for example, has noted(7.1) that the federal government has 20 separate laws to boost ethanol use, and 49 states offer additional support.
Nevertheless, the future for ethanol is not all that rosy. There are problems. For example, ethanol production is now rapidly impacting many food markets, such as those for beef, butter, cheese and milk. It is also putting many businesses at risk, such as dairy farms and cattle ranches. Dr. Steven Chu, has been (6.3) a staunch opponent of ethanol from corn, as have others(7.6, 7.7). However, in spite of such expressions of concern, Barack Obama is from a corn state and is supportive of the farm lobby. Hence, significantly larger mandates for ethanol use are very likely.
(ii) Ethanol from sugar cane. Supporters frequently point to Brazil and argue "if they can do it, so can we." However, they conveniently ignore that all of the ethanol produced in Brazil comes from a far superior feedstock: sugar cane. They also forget to mention that Brazil, in parallel with their ethanol efforts, has also become one of the giants in offshore drilling and production. While ethanol is a major fuel in Brazil, albeit subsidized , the prospects for this fuel in the U.S. have been rather dismal. For one thing, Brazilian sugar cane production in 2007 was over 100 times greater than that of the U.S.: 528 million tons versus only 3.7million. And U.S. production is located only in Florida and Louisiana, although other feedstocks (such as sugar beets and molasses) could also be used. While there seems to be little chance that ethanol from sugar will become a significant fuel, this option might best be filed under work in progress.
(2) Second generation biofuels. Dr. Chu's key work at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboatory (LBNL) was the Helios Project. This included the Energy Sciences Institute, a joint effort by BP, Cal-Berkeley, Dupont, the University of Illinois and LBNL. Unlike his position on corn ethanol, Dr. Chu has been reported (6.3) to be a big proponent of cellulosic ethanol. Hence, one can expect an acceleration of effort in this area.
(i) Ethanol from cellulosic feedstocks. A recent report(6.4) by Sandia National Labs and General Motors claims that "the U. S. could produce enough ethanol to displace nearly a third of all gasoline use by 2030." The report said that "annual ethanol production from plant waste and energy crops could reach 90 billion gallons by that date, with 75 billion from cellulosic feedstocks such as switch-grass, corn stover, wheat straw and woody crops."
The 90 and 75 billion gallons are 2140 and 1790 million barrels or 5.9 and 4.9 million barrels per day, which represent 63 and 53 percent of our gasoline consumption, which is even more bullish than the news item cited. This article did quote two scientists:
(a) Cole Gustafson, North Dakota State University biofuels economist: "the 90 billion figure is the most aggressive he's heard to date, far surpassing a federal mandate calling for 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel to be blended into gasoline by 2022." And he went on. "I really question if we can even make that," noting that "this technology has been very slow to evolve."
(b) David Pimentel of Cornell University called the 90 billion gallon number "off the wall." A more reasonable number, in his estimation, is "10 billion gallons a year from cellulosic ethanol within the next 10 years."
In spite of such concerns, however, significantly larger efforts are very likely in this area.
(ii) Biodiesel. This field (8.1) has had "some of the highest growth rates ever seen in the chemical industry." For example, global growth from 2002 to 2007 was over 50% per year. And for 2007 growth was at the triple digit level.
A wide variety of feedstocks have been used: vegetable oils, animal fats and oils, and other biological waste items such as cooking oils and grease. This spectrum of feedstocks has led to production plants all over the globe, ranging from local to industrial size. Key feeds include soybeans and palm oil.
Major potential has been identified for most countries, with Malaysia, Indonesia, Argentina, the U.S. and Brazil leading the way. Table 2 summarizes the top 15 countries, showing a potential of almost 800,000 barrels/day and accounting for nearly 90 percent of the global total.
Table 2. Top Seven Potential Biodiesel Countries
Billions of liters/year
Thousands of barrels/day
|Total in Report||
(iii) Butanol based. The LBNL is one of several organizations pursuing this chemical. In a recent speech, the speaker stated (8.2): "Forget Ethanol ... Another alcohol, Butanol, is a much better renewable fuel." A great deal of research has been invested on this fuel; and it holds much promise, with many key advantages: it is less corrosive, easier to blend, and can be moved via pipeline. Its major disadvantage is cost. A fermentation process is used, but is still under development. Dupont has been working on the "butanol bug" since 2004. Although the final feedstock(s) remain to be defined, the initial pilot plant and commercial plant will be based on wheat, as there is a surplus of wheat in the U.K. These plants(8.3) will be located at Hull, England, and will be 5K and 110M gallons per year, respectively. This is almost an oxymoron statement, as one does not commit to the size of a commercial plant until the pilot plant has operated for some time and the final process design is pinned down. Could there be a bit of hype in this statement? A suggestion that there are serious problems with this development was noted (8.4) in a blog that asked the question "why these industrial giants are bothering with bio butanol when it is at best an inadequate improvement on the scam of corn ethanol." This writer also cited a report(8.5) by Robert Rapier that concluded that "biobutanol is not remotely at the level the hype implies." Both writers(8.4, 8.5) agree that "though superior to corn ethanol, biobutanol's inefficient, energy-wasting fermentation process makes it at least 10 years from being a useful fuel source."
Promoters of H2 frequently claim its only emission is water vapor, which comes from the fuel cells employed. This is a rather tiresome use of duplicity. For example, in a 2004 paper(9.1) the writer, a professor emeritus of environmental studies, noted that "given current technology switching from gasoline to H2 powered fuel cells would greatly increase energy consumption ... [and] nearly double greenhouse gas emissions."
With most AE approaches the devil is in the details. Here this primarily concerns H2 supply. One might cite several routes to get H2:
(1) Electrolysis. H2 could be extracted from water via electrolysis. This would take a gigantic amount of electricity and is an extremely expensive route to hydrogen. Furthermore, any emissions caused by this new demand for power would need to be allocated to hydrogen.
(2) Electrolysis by thermo-chemical cycles. In theory H2 could be extracted from water via electrolysis by thermo-chemical cycles. For example, the Hybrid Sulfur Process(9.2), derived from a Westinghouse process, uses two reactions: (i) a low temperature production reaction: (2H2O + SO2 ? H2SO4 + H2) and (ii) a high temperature regeneration reaction (H2SO4 ? H2O + SO2 + ½O2). The high temperature reaction (850 - 950 ºC) would be based on energy obtained from advanced nuclear reactors. While this research is encouraging, it must be classified as very early-stage.
(3) Steam Reforming. Essentially all H2 produced in the world today is via a process called steam reforming. The raw material for this process is inevitably natural gas. It has been estimated(9.1) that about 15 trillion cubic feet of gas would be needed annually for the United States. This would boost the consumption of natural gas in the U.S. by about 66 percent. Even today, gas supply continues to call for major imports from Canada, as well as from the world, via specialty tankers. In addition, any emissions caused by this new demand for H2 would need to be allocated to hydrogen.
(4) Solar-themal processes. It is possible a relatively new process, but essentially unproven, could emerge; or it is possible a brand new and essentially unknown process could emerge. A recent reference(9.3) argued that use of solar energy with water or biomass should be explored. Indeed, "various solar-thermal processes have been investigated including the direct thermolysis of water; low- and high-temperature thermochemical water-splitting and the conversion of biomass."
The authors of this report advocate "solar-thermal biomass gasification to syngas using 'rapid aerosol reactors' in a 'power tower configuration'." Sounds like a huge amount of technology. However, such an approach could provide a variety of products, and could precede the emergence of the H2 economy itself, but be ready to provide that fuel if and when such an economy emerges.
As hinted above there are also major problems with hydrogen distribution, storage and use (the current fuel cells were developed for the space program and may not be optimized for autos), not to mention cost. And as suggested above, there are rather huge problems with hydrogen production. So Hydrogen is a very extreme long shot as a replacement for gasoline.
3.4 Solar Photovoltaic.
I will cite two writers on this subject.
(1) The first writer(10.1), Robert Bryce, gives his own experience on his home in Austin, Texas. His unit cost him $7445, after a subsidy of $15,000, and saved about $386 in 2007. It supplied 31 percent of his power. The payback, based on 2007 results, would be 19 years. If it had not been subsidized by the city, this value would be 58 years. In short, this writer sees solar as having a very long way to go. He calls solar "The 1 Percent Solution." Bryce also cites the U.S. Government 2006 projections for 2030: solar generation (5 bkwh) and for total generation (3351 bkwh). This is only 0.15 percent of the total required.
(2) The second writer(10.2), asks why is solar so expensive? Total cost today averages $8.25 per watt, of which the solar panels would amount to $3.75 per watt. For the 3,240 watt unit in Austin, the installed cost would have been $26,730. Hence, the solar panel is very expensive and installation is even more expensive. He also addresses the potential for major improvement, analogous to that seen in the chip industry. He notes that the rate of improvement is nowhere near the chip history. And it will not be. While computer chips are getting exponentially smaller and will thus need less raw materials, the same opportunity for size reduction does not exist with solar panels. Prices for solar panels haven't declined over the past five years, because most manufacturers are paying multiple times more for raw materials than in 2002. Also, with the current fuel and power inflation, it seems rather unlikely that cell costs will come down.
3.5 Conclusion on AE.
The above is a sampling of key, prominent areas of AE. In spite of its costs, its embryonic status, the need for major research breakthroughs, the need for subsidies, its low availability (and, hence, the need for backup generation capacity), in some cases the low liquid fuel contribution, the remote locations (and, hence, the need for transmission capacity), the various forms of AE can make a contribution. But can they be the solution to our current crisis? The previous inputs would suggest not. Others agree. For example, Robert Bryce has concluded "it should be obvious that the U.S. cannot give up its reliance on oil ... nor can it give up its reliance on coal and natural gas." Put simply, he says that "America will be using fossil fuels for decades to come."
4. Emerging Strategies: Focus on Electrified Transportation.
At least two equally crucial elements are needed for this pathway to become relevant: a superior battery -- other than the lead acid unit and the nickel-metal hydride unit -- and huge amounts of new electrical generation capacity.
4.2 High Energy Density Battery R & D.
As a former employee at a national lab in Canada, and as a business manager of key research projects at a major chemical company in the U.S., I do not want to minimize the role of R&D. The job of a research scientist has never been easy. It requires an incredible knowledge of a specific field, plus an equally incredible tenacity to process a never ending array of details. Then, as the current pathway fails, a scientist has to pick himself up and start all over again. Never has this picture been more applicable than on specific battery research, where I will limit my comments to the Sodium Sulfur and the Lithium ion batteries.
(1) Sodium Sulfur battery (NaS). One area that looks very promising is the emergence(11.1-11.2) of the Sodium Sulfur battery (NaS, where Na is the chemical symbol for Sodium and S for Sulfur). Note that this approach was pioneered by Ford Motor Company, over 40 years ago, for automobiles. Their approach used a beta-alumina ceramic membrane as the critical separator. It was also researched extensively by my old chemical company(11.3). One key problem for this battery in autos was the very high operating temperature of 350ºC, which constituted a major safety problem.
However, the NaS unit was brought to the demonstration stage for electric utility power storage by a Japanese company and American Electric Power (AEP). Many NaS batteries are in use in Japan; and AEP has tested a 1,200 kw unit, with plans to add a unit twice that size. Another utility is planning on a 5,000 kw unit.
A slightly different application(11.4) involved an installation at a major bus company. This was the first installation on the customer side of the power meter in the United States. It used electricity to drive three compressors, which were used to refuel natural gas busses. This battery was capable of providing one megawatt for up to seven hours a day. It permitted buying power at off-peak times, plus cutting back a shift in operations.
(2) Lithium ion battery (Li-ion). First note the distinction between Lithium and Lithium ion batteries. Most Lithium batteries can not be recharged, so for this essay our interest is focused on the Li-ion unit. While much of the development has been for small applications such as laptops, interest is now moving rapidly to units large enough for hybrid vehicles or full electric vehicles. Surely, developments in the smaller units may well have a spin-off on the bigger units.
Recent developments(11.5) on the Li-ion battery -- where the initial work is 100 years old -- are surely encouraging. There are many major organizations active in this field, and many technical developments emerging. Two are noted here.
(i) Plastic film separator. Exxon-Mobil, in conjunction with it's affiliate, Tonen Chemical, have developed and are now producing(11.6) an advanced performance film for the Li-ion battery. The new films are co-extruded using specialty tailored, high heat resistant polymers. These separators offer enhanced permeability, higher meltdown temperature and melt integrity. As such, the film offers significant increases in thermal safety margin, and overall quality control.
(ii) Silicon nanowires. The key development(11.7) is the use of silicon nanowires to replace the existing carbon anode, and thereby reinvent the rechargeable lithium-ion battery. This revised battery "produces 10 times the amount of electricity of existing lithium-ion."
The market(11.8) for Lithium-ion batteries is anticipated to grow ten-fold from 2008 to 2015, reaching $9 billion. Applications in cell phones, laptops, power tools, military and space are proving the technology for the large emerging units for hybrid vehicles and full electric automobiles.
While there has been a tidal wave of news items on the Li-ion battery, there has been very little hard data on Li-ion battery costs, performance and lifetime; and until such data emerge, this battery must be considered a work in progress. Still, and in spite of the short supply of such information, there have almost been as many news items on new demo or prototype vehicles, examples of which follow.
(a) ExxonMobil Chemical reported(11.9) its new film technology will be used in Electrovaya's electric vehicles. The Maya-300 will have a range of up to 120 miles at speeds of 25-30 miles/hour.
(b) The above market report(11.8) cited about a dozen major corporations involved in materials science and battery engineering including GE, LG Chem (see GM, below), Samsung and Sony.
(c) Reva, The Indian electric car manufacturer of the iconic G-Wiz unveiled(11.10) new Li-ion battery technology that would boost the range 50% to 75 miles.
(d) Toyota announced(11.11) delivery of 500 Prius PHV's, powered by Li-ion battries, in late 2009. This new Prius was designed to use either the Li-ion battery pack, with plug-in capability, or the nickel-metal hydride battery for the conventional gas-electric system.
(e) BMW also announced(11.11) it will lease all-electric Mini-Coopers in America by March of 2009.
(f) GM announced(11.12) plans to develop and assemble Li-ion batteries in Michigan, based on cells from LG Chem. These batteries will be used in the GM Volt and other next generation vehicles. The unit for the Volt is 6 feet long and weighs 400 pounds. The Volt is designed to plug into a wall outlet and be able to travel 40 miles on battery power alone.
(3) Conclusions on new batteries. These two areas surely look promising. While it is way too early to decide specific applications, a few observations may be worthwhile.
(i) NaS Unit. This unit looks like a fit for standby power. It is rugged looking and reliable looking. It would seem that it could be built just about as large as a particular application needed. It does not appear to be a fit for the vehicle market, primarily due to its high operating temperature.
(ii) Li-ion Unit. This looks good for vehicles and clearly is getting attention today. With the new technologies reported above, the previous problems with fires and explosions should be a thing of the past.
Surely more hard data are needed on both of these units. However, the progress of these two R&D efforts may well have motivated Senator McCain to announce his $300M award idea for a battery that ultimately can truly break open the auto application. However, inventions cannot be dictated by government fiat. For example, note the development times for the above batteries.
4.3 Power Support.
(1) Nuclear. If an acceptable battery emerges, it just might see the rebirth of nuclear power. I believe this is the spirit in which Senator McCain called for 45 new nuclear plants during the past election. However, as one who spent part of his career on trying to get a Michigan nuclear project rolling -- about half a dozen tiny assignments, plus dozens of letters to the local newspaper, only to see it ultimately converted to a natural gas plant -- I am convinced a program to build 45 nuclear plants will be extremely difficult to launch, and even more difficult, if not impossible, to implement.
(2) Fossil Fuel-Based. If an acceptable battery emerges, it just might have to be supported by other types of power plants than nuclear. For any fossil fuel plants built to support auto/truck fleet electrification, we would clearly need the fuels to fire such plants, which is not an easy path for environmentalists/warmers to tread.
5. Emerging Strategies: Focus on Fossil Fuels.
5.1 Oil and Natural Gas.
We can do much more to improve domestic oil and natural gas supply. No way, the warmers scream. Indeed, for any help from oil and gas, we will need to get away from the anti-oil crowd. This group -- whether it is outer continental shelf (OCS) oil or ANWR -- inevitably bad-mouths such initiatives as providing only a tiny amount of energy that will never help our situation. In reality, however, it is their ideas on AE that will net only tiny amounts of energy. Their bad mouthing of ANWR and OCS oil includes their claim that such developments would only cut (2.6) three cents off the price of a gallon at the pump. However, if one assumed ANWR would yield 10 B barrels of oil over a 25-year life, we are talking about 1 MBPD; and there would be a cut of the same size off our global oil call. Only three cents? Please!
While U.S. oil production peaked over thirty years ago, natural gas(2.7) is enjoying a bit of a boom. In 2009, gas production surged(2.8), due largely to unconventional gas (UCG) resources such as the Barnett Shale, which had not been tapped in the past. This UCG resource -- shale gas, tight-sands gas, and coal-bed methane -- has shown a rather surprising increase(2.9), especially in view of recent dire predictions regarding North America's increased dependence on imported LNG. Note that the EIA projects unconventional gas will represent about half of total U.S. production by 2012.
While this increase in UCG speaks volumes about drilling technology and geological savvy in managing these resources, it does not speak well of the state of conventional gas resources. This includes the fact(2.10) that decline rates for gas wells have almost doubled over the past ten years. Perhaps more ominous is the well known dramatic decline rates for shale gas. All of these inputs suggest we will soon be looking strongly at LNG again.
This fuel is undergoing massive expansion in China, India and elsewhere; and we are seeing some of that here. But we can do much more with coal. Coal use can be expanded today, not only for power, but for gaseous and liquid fuels as well. For coal, the resource base is almost unlimited. The U.S., in fact, has been called the "Saudi Arabia of coal." Clearly, we need a program(2.4) here on coal, analogous to the Canadian effort on the Athabasca Tar Sands.
5.3 Shale Oil.
We also have vast reserves of shale oil. This is more difficult and costly to process than Alberta tar sands or coal; but it has, nonetheless, a significant potential.
5.4 Overall Contribution and Impact.
Now activists argue it would be years before any supplies emerged from this fossil fuel strategy. This is partially true in the sense that new off-shore platforms, coal-based plants, pipelines, and oil shale units have a long construction span. But price relief can come much quicker than that. All that is needed is for the speculators of the world to become convinced that we are finally going to put our energy house in order. To achieve that, we would have to launch a dedicated, definitive and aggressive program to maximize use of all domestic energy resources, but primarily fossil fuels. This would include ANWR and OCS oil. It would include new coal fired power plants, and some coal gasification units and coal liquefaction plants. Once the speculators become convinced we are going to reduce our call on global oil, starting soon, but extending over a set of future dates, the price of oil would start to come under control.
Today, we don't have any supply security on liquid fuels; and we don't have any price stability on such fuels and, to a lesser extent, on power. Fossil fuels are the way to such security.
6. Additional Comments on the Fossil Fuel Focus Program.
One cannot expect the warmers/environmentalists to salute the fossil fuel focus plan. As with the nuclear option, opposition will be loud, massive and entrenched. Indeed, this could well be the fight of the century. However, we don't have a century. In fact, we may possibly have less than a decade.
6.1 The Climate Change Situation.
(1) Background. I have followed this issue extensively for 20 years. I have studied it rigorously and attended many conferences. I have subscribed, at one time, to dozens of scientific journals, and used the university libraries in Houston to complement this input. I have used the Internet voraciously. And I have written on this subject. My recent comments(12.1 -12.4) have focused on what I call the key witnesses for the defense of the skeptical perspective. These witnesses include:
(i) Key Non-Scientists, but authors with some unique perspective on this issue;
(ii) Distinguished Veterans (DVs), mostly scientists, mostly retired, but with incredible accomplishments. I use italics here on the DVs to differentiate these veterans from those of the military. These are veterans from the research community, some with emeritus in their title. I have developed a listing of over 60 such scientists. In a recent paper(12.3) the views of eleven DVs were noted: four experts on hurricanes, three on physics and four on various aspects of food production. In another paper(12.4), the views of 17 physicists, all skeptical on GW, were noted.
(iii) Others, including active scientists, TV Meteorologists and State Climatologists.
(2) Conclusions on the Climate Change Situation.
In a recent paper(12.3) the views of the above witnesses have been noted. Their lifetime publications and comments give the nature of their views on the GW issue: all skeptical. There are simply too many highly educated, high-horsepower individuals -- who are concerned that we have not diagnosed the climate scene completely or correctly -- to ignore their views.
As an example of this inadequate or incomplete diagnosis, consider the most recent inputs(12.6) from Bjørn Lomborg. He argues that, while GW may bring an increase in heat-related fatalities, it would also lead to a far bigger reduction in cold-related deaths. There are six times the number of cold-related deaths in Europe than heat-related deaths, while for the globe the corresponding numbers are 1.8 million and 400,000. So GW would result in a net saving of 1.4 million lives by 2050 on this vast difference alone. This writer thus concludes that "if our starting point is to prove that Armageddon is on its way, we will not consider all of the evidence and will not identify the smartest policy choices."
Today, the proponents of this issue are a heterogeneous mix. This includes the behind-the-scene organizers; it includes many who are intimidated by the fear of job or funding loss; it also includes many fellow travelers who are riding the political winds, or feel the need to be politically correct; and it includes many who have been simply brainwashed on the issue. A slight variant of this last category was noted(12.7) recently, as those who have accepted GW simply because "endorsing global warming just makes their lives easier."
Consider the behind-the-scene organizers(12.9) and check out the Grassroots Partners and Advisory Committee members for "We." This organization -- We Can Solve It (initiated in part by Albert Gore Jr.) -- has come out with some rather professional, high-power TV ads aimed at convincing the viewers that there is a climate crisis and that it is urgent and solvable. However, the very best one can say about the GW issue, and the need to move to a carbon-constrained world, is that it is premature. The very worst one can say is that it's a fraud.
6.2 The Environmental Situation in General.
I have followed the environmental issues in general for over 40 years, and for the coal area, in particular, for over 30 years. My position in this area is that we can live with this fuel. One might ask: what are my credentials for taking such a position? This position is based on inputs from three areas: (1) emissions control improvements, (2) over 75 years of individual exposure to coal, oil and key chemicals; and (3) experience obtained via service on The National Coal Policy Project over the period 1977 to 1979.
(1) Emissions Control Improvements. As noted above, the key pollutants from coal-fired power plants have been controlled. On balance, we've achieved much cleaner generation of electricity from coal since the Clean Air Act of 1970, as two additional sources also note.
Peter Huber(13.1) notes that fossil fuels extract more power from less of the Earth's surface than AEs "and are therefore greener," adding that soft energy sources "are horribly land intrusive." Huber agrees that much progress has been made with some of the worst forms of pollution, such as big smokestacks. He warns, however, of the danger of doing less and less with more and more regulations. Hence, he advocates "visible green objectives," such as wilderness conservation and park creation. As noted on its cover, his book may make you examine your assumptions, which is something that is sorely needed today.
Bjørn Lomborg(13.2) paints a picture of a world where human welfare is improving in just about every way one might measure it. He notes that the "achievement of dramatically decreasing concentrations of the major air pollutants in the western world ... is amazing by itself." And this has been achieved while the economy has increased dramatically. Coal-based power plants have experienced tremendous improvement in emissions control. With such improvement in the environment in general, and with coal units in particular, it is strange that we hear so much bad news about the environment. Could it be that environmentalists often lie? Within this context, Lomborg demonstrates many ways in which professional environmentalists do indeed play fast and loose with the truth.
(2) Individual Exposure to Coal, Heavy Oil and Critical Chemicals.
In-spite of much progress on the pollution front, the public is still concerned about a heavy reliance on coal and heavy oils. As a means to soften such concerns, I will offer a view of my trip through life, particularly as it has been involved with coal, heavy oil, and other potential environmental problems. Now I know this represents only a sample of one; and I don't want to present this odyssey as any sort of scientific proof that these commodities have never had major problems in the past. Rather, I present it as food for thought and to raise the possibility that certain concerns may have been overstated.
(i) Saskatchewan. I start this trip early in my life in the city of Saskatoon.
(a) Home heating. I was born into a coal-fired home, and spent my first dozen years living with coal. Everyone had a coal bin, and you had periodic coal deliveries. And there was always a certain amount of coal dust. Over this period, we converted initially to a coal stoker -- which was a major improvement in convenience -- and later we went to fuel oil and eventually to natural gas.
(b) Source of electricity. I was also born into a city with a coal-fired electric system and spent my first 22 years living with this system. The local utility had two large coal-fired steam-electric stations. One of these was about a third of a mile away. The newer unit was about five miles distant. And there were undoubtedly emissions from these plants.
(c) Local refinery. This refinery was about as small as a refinery could get, but one always knew it was around. We lived about five miles east; yet when the west wind blew (which was most of the time), the aromas would drift our way. And one could also see the plant flare at work.
(d) What does one do with a used coal bin? When I was 18, I took a summer job in construction. My first assignment was a project where a building was being renovated, and a coal bin had to be torn down. This basement room had plaster walls and ceilings, complete with supporting lathing. Coal dust was everywhere. It took about a week to complete the job; and each day I came home as black as one could get. OSHA-type rules did not exist back then. Nevertheless, I could not get into the house until I stripped down to my briefs, and was as hosed down as one could get. So I could clean the outside of my body, but the inside had to fend for itself.
(e) Local asphalt plant. For two summers, I had a job as an inspector at the city's asphalt plant. There were at least two problems at this plant: dust from the hot gravel and tar-oil vapors.
(ii) Ontario. After graduating I went to work in Ontario, with a major oil company.
(a) Refinery Design. This job included work for refineries in Calgary, Vancouver and Norman Wells, Northwest Territories. It was clean work, but our offices were across the street from the largest refinery in Canada.
(b) Petrochemical Plant Startups. The first startup was on a detergent alkylate plant. Everything that could go wrong with a new plant did; and I was involved in this startup, for almost a year. It used benzene as one of its raw materials, a known toxic substance. Before World War II, this chemical was made from coal tar and was recognized as a bad actor. Several precautions were taken, but there were bound to have been trace benzene leaks all during this time.
The second startup was on a heavy oil steam cracker for ethylene, propylene and butadiene production. Fortunately this startup went fairly smoothly.
(iii) Michigan. Next, I worked for a huge chemical company in Michigan.
(a) Steam and power system. Coal fueled this plant, and the first environmental problem of concern was not chemical but coal dust. We had just moved into a new apartment in 1960, when we discovered our car and our outdoor window sills would periodically turn black. If we ran a damp sponge over the inside window sill, it would also turn black. This was enough to quit if relief could not be obtained.
The plant needed electricity for many pumps, compressors, mixers and for the electrochemical manufacturing of chlorine. It also needed steam for many heat transfer functions. Both electricity and steam could be produced via a co-generation process in which this company was the world's leader. But the power plants were old, with no stack-gas treatment. When I complained about the problem, I was told be patient, that relief was coming. We lived with this situation for the better part of a year before it arrived.
(b) Chemical exposure. I spent brief amounts of time in an olefins - refinery complex, a glycol ether brake-fluid plant, a polystyrene plastics plant, a styrene butadiene latex system plant, and finally a herbicide production plant. So I was close to some serious safety and health problems.
In 1962 the military came to my company, and ten others, to make Agent Orange, a mixture of two commercial herbicides(15): 24D and 245T. My group had a project in this area on scheduling and inventory control and I avoided visits to that rather odiferous plant if at all possible.
One of the herbicides, if it was not manufactured properly, could contain an impurity, a chemical called dioxin. Our scientists developed analytical technology that could measure dioxin to below the parts per trillion level. Because of this new capability, they found that dioxins were all over our society, as a result of burning many substances. They were found in auto mufflers, cigarette smoke, wood soot and many other places, including chemical plants and paper mills.
(iv) Texas. We had just moved into a new home in February 1982, when within a month we discovered our car and the surface of our pool would turn yellow. This was deja-vu all over again, as in the case of our Michigan experience, except the residue was yellow, not black. My immediate reaction was that a sulfur plant some 20 miles away must have blown up. But I was wrong. Turns out it was just pine tree pollen.
Over the balance of my career, I was deeply involved with hydrocarbon supply, coal and lignite planning, power supply planning, and coal gasification work. This led to visits to coal/lignite mines in North Dakota, Wyoming and Texas, plus many power plants throughout the U.S.
(v) Summary on personal exposure to coal dust, tar and critical chemicals. I believe one can conclude that I have had more than my share of exposure to coal dust, tar and critical chemicals. I am now 76, and going strong. Again, I realize that this is only a sample of one; but it is food for thought. Can the portrayal of hideous problems associated with coal be just a bit over-stated?
6.3 The National Coal Policy Project - 1977 to 1979.
There were also environmental concerns, back in the 1970s, on the further use of coal and lignite. As a result, our corporate energy manager, along with a leading environmentalist, initiated what was called the National Coal Policy Project, under the auspices of Georgetown University. Here, several environmentalists met with several industrialists to try to define a future pathway for coal that would be acceptable to both camps. This was an excellent idea, but it was an incredibly difficult and frustrating project. Indeed, it was decided early on "to leave the task of making projections to others." However, some 200 recommendations were made(2.5). I don't want to dwell on these, however, as they are 30 years old. Instead, I want to recount my impressions of this activity. In doing so, I note that I was on the coal transportation sub-committee, and that these impressions come primarily from that activity.
My first impression was that the environmentalists were better prepared for these meetings, as if they had spent all of their time getting ready for them. In contrast, all of the members of the industrial side would go back to their regular duties and have very little time to do any homework. My second impression was that we could never get the environmentalists to make a list of the problems and define their priorities, at least as far as I could see. Later, I came to the conclusion that they would never provide such a list. My final impression was that the attitude of some members of the environmental movement "scared the devil out of me." They were so intense, so certain of their cause, and so socialistically oriented, such that in their mind no discussions were really needed. They seemed to be saying "get us elected and get out of the way."
Today I hear what all the activists and politicians have to say about coal; and I'd swear they are the same people I met 30 years ago. They are so intense, so certain, and so socialistically oriented, that in their minds, no discussions are really needed. They just seem to be saying "get us elected and get out of the way."
Today, our country is in the most serious energy situation it has ever faced. It could make the gas lines of the 1970s look like kid stuff. Here, I have argued, directly and indirectly, the following points.
- While the various forms of AE can make a contribution, they will not be the solution to our current crisis. Robert Bryce, in Section 3.5, has stated it well: "It should be obvious that the U.S. cannot give up its reliance on oil ... nor can it give up its reliance on coal and natural gas." Put simply, "America will be using fossil fuels for decades to come."
- The pathway to price and supply security is to reduce our call on global oil via a substantial boost in our conventional supplies of domestic oil and gas, a start on coal liquefaction, a start on shale oil, a dramatic improvement in electric vehicles, including hybrids, and the power system to support such a move (a power system based on coal-fired plants, coal gasification units, and to a lesser extent, nuclear units), and a boost in AE and on energy efficiency and conservation (Note: this is not a call for another "Project Independence," but one of showing the world we can and will manage our energy situation.)
- AEs are not the pathway to the desired price and supply security. They are useful in specific areas; but in no way are they the overall solution. Perhaps the most exciting activity in this area is the development of high energy density batteries. The least exciting activity, indeed the almost criminal activity, is the incredible support for corn-based ethanol.
- The climate change situation, in regard to fossil fuel use, is manageable; and the need to move to a carbon-constrained society is premature at best.
- Even the need to move to a "clean coal" society must be carefully reviewed and more realistically defined.
- The environmental situation, with respect to coal utilization, is manageable, which judgment based in part on my own lengthy exposure to coal, and in part on the tremendous improvement in emissions control over the past 30 to 40 years.
It will take leaders of great courage and wisdom to develop and manage such a program. It will take leaders of intelligence and ingenuity to get the Phoenix -- our country -- off the ground and flying in the right direction. Unfortunately, at a time when we need such leaders, they appear to be in short supply. Let us hope they emerge very soon.
Gerald T. Westbrook
Click here for Gerald's bio
References and Notes
(1) The Flight of the Phoenix (1965) included actors James Stewart, Richard Attenborough and Hardy Kruger. It was a tense and character-driven film about a small but diverse group of men struggling to overcome the adversity of a harsh and deadly environment, who also had to come to grips with each other and the character strengths and flaws inherent within themselves, in order to complete a nearly impossible task, one that would determine their very survival.
(2) Oil and Natural Gas References.
(2.1) Simmons, Matthew R., The Oil and Gas System is Sick, presentation at The Commercial Club of Boston, February 11, 2009.
(2.2) Mouawad, Jan and Henriques, Diana R., Why is Oil So High? Pick a View, The New York Times, June 21, 2008.
(2.3) Simmons, Matthew R., How Mature are the World's Super Giant and Giant Oil and Gas Fields and are they Still Important, presentation at The Pioneer Oil Producers Society of Houston, March 16, 2009.
(2.4) Will, George F., Opposition to ANWR drilling? It's collectivism in drag, Houston Chronicle, December 16, 2005.
(2.5) Evans Thomas W., A strong case to be made for suing OPEC profiteers, Houston Chronicle, June 20, 2008. Evans is a former advisor to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush.
(2.6) Based on a Real Clear Politics blog: McCains Half Hearted Oil Solution, June 20, 2008.
(2.7) Kohl, Kieth, Natural Gas Production, Energy and Capital, September 15, 2008.
(2.8) Fowler, Tom, A role for coal, new drilling, Houston Chronicle, February 10, 2009.
(2.9) Steinhubl, Andrew, et al., Unconventional resources to keep pivotal supply role, Oil & Gas Journal, January 26, 2009.
(2.10) Letourneau, Jim, Where is the North American Natural Gas Market Headed, Seeking Alpha, June 15, 2007.
(3) Coal references.
(3.1) Johnson, Keith and Steven Chu: 'Coal is My Worst Nightmare', The Wall Street Journal, as reported in http://blogs.wsj.environmentalcapital - - -, December 11, 2008.
(3.2) Deutch, John and Moniz, Ernest, A Future for Fossil Fuel, Wall Street J., March 15, 2007.
(3.3) The Future of Coal, MIT News Release, March 14, 2007. This news release is for the report: Future of Coal - Option for a Carbon Constrained World.
(3.4) National Coal Council, Coal: Americas Energy Future, as reported in Industrial Environment, May 1, 2006, and as posted in Goliath Business News.
(3.5) Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, Where We Agree - Report of the National Coal Policy Project, Westview Press, Boulder, CO, 1978.
(4) Herszenhorn, David M., After Verbal Fire, Senate Effectively Closes Down Climate Change Bill, New York Times, June 7, 2008.
(5) Wind energy.
(5.1) Steffy, Loren, Wind Whispers of Enron, Houston Chronicle, June 2, 2008.
(5.2) Bradley, Robert L., Corporate Social Responsibility and Energy: Lessons from Enron, Institute for Study of Economics and the Environment, Lindenwood University, April 2008.
(5.3) Horner, Christopher C., The Politically Incorrect GuideTM to Global Warrming and Environmentalism, Regnery Publishing Company, Washington, DC, 2007.
(5.4) McQueen, Ian, Sing a Song of Turbines, Telegraph-Journal, Canada East, June 20, 2008.
(5.5)Tyner, Sr., Gene, Net Energy from Wind Power, Minnesotans For Sustainability, January 2002.
(6) Biofuels in general.
(6.1) Anthrop, Donald F., Biomass potential, Oil & Gas Journal, September 5, 2005.
(6.2 Radler, Marilyn, Ethanol and oil markets, Oil & Gas Journal, April 3, 2006.
(6.3) Gardner, Timothy J., "New ethanol" to face crunch under a Chu DOE, eleconomista.es, November 2, 2008.
(6.4) Lammers, Dick, Can ethanol be the fuel of the future?, Houston Chronicle, February 15, 2009.
(6.5) Philpott, Tom, New Energy Secretary Chu: Big proponent of cellulosic ethanol, BioDieselNow, December 17, 2008.
(7) Ethanol from corn.
(7.1) Carrol, Joe and Parker, Mario, Ethanol Bust Makes Losers of Bush, Gates, D. E. Shaw (Update2), Bloomberg.com, November 21, 2007.
(7.2) Delaney, David, Why Ethanol Can't "Solve" the Fuels Problem, Peak Oil and the Fate of Humanity blog, July 2, 2005.
(7.3) Rapier, Robert, Mythbusters: Ethanol and Foreign Oil Displacement, The Oil Drum, as reported on The Intelligence Daily, August 8, 2008.
(7.4) Wald, M. L., Alternate Fuels: All Gallons Are Not Equal, New York Times, May 28, 2006.
(7.5) Editorial, Risky lans and ethanol, Oil & Gas Journal, January 26, 2009.
(7.6) Streifeld, David, Uprising Against the Ethanol Mandate, New York Times, July 23, 2008.
(7.7) Boudreaux, Don (?), Issue: Ethanol, America 2012: Business and Media Institute Special Report, Undated.
(8) Biodiesel and Biobutanol.
(8.1) Johnston, M. and Holloway, T., A global comparison of national biodiesel production potentials, Environmental Science & Technology, 41 (23), 2007.
(8.2) Verma, R. P., Buanol - A possible Alternative Energy Source, International Symposium on Biofuels, September 25, 2007. See http://petrofed.winwinhosting.net/uploa/4_Verma.pdf.
(8.3) Campoy, Ana, Betting on a Biofuel, Wall Street Journal, June 30, 2008.
(8.4) Submitted by New Energy News Blog, IS BIOBUTANOL THE BIOFUEL? NOT YET, Energy Stocks Blog, July 2, 2008.
(8.5) Rapier, Robert, The Problem With Biobutanol, R - Squared Energy Blog, Jun 12, 2007.
(9) Hydrogen references.
(9.1) Anthrop, Donald, Hydrogen's Empty Environmental Promise, Cato Institute Paper No. 30, December 7, 2004.
(9.2) SRNL Hits Milestone in Nuclear Hydrogen Production, as posted on Green Car Congress, March 10, 2009, with original date of July 6, 2007.
(9.3) Perkins, Christopher and Weimer, Alan W., Producing Hydrogen Using Solar-Thermal Energy, Chemical Engineering Progress, February 2009.
(10) Solar photovoltaic references.
(10.1) Bryce, Robert, Gusher of Lies - The Dangerous Delusions of "Energy Independence", PublicAffairsTM, 2008.
(10.2) Chernova, Yuliya, Shedding light on Solar, Wall Street Journal, June 30, 2008.
(11) High-energy density batteries.
(11.1) Priore, Suzanne, AEP Dedicates First Use of Stationary Sodium Sulfur Battery, American Electric Power, September 23, 2002.
(11.2) Davidson, Paul, New battery packs powerful punch, USA Today, July 4, 2007.
(11.3) From 1966 to 1978, I was project business manager for Membrane Systems at The Dow Chemical Company. One of several projects was a research effort on an NaS battery. At the same time, Ford was developing this chemical cell based on a ceramic membrane. The Dow approach was based on a specialty glass in a hollow fiber configuration. Both Dow and Ford invested many years of research effort and dollars, along with significant government support. Neither of these efforts reached the light of commercial reality. However, the Ford effort probably contributed substantially to the Japanese results. I periodically compared notes with a colleague in Dow who had similar responsibilities on a Magnesium dry cell, then under development. I believe he had been on that task for about 20 years. A major part of this time was devoted to quality control. Note that for the future batteries of this world, the quality control needs would surely be exponentially greater than for this dry cell example.
(11.4) MTA LI Bus and NYPA Install First Sodium Sulfur Battery Energy Storage System in State, January 9, 2009, as reported in http://www.nypa.gov/press/2009/090109a.htm.
(11.5) Buchmann, Isidor, Is lithium-ion the ideal battery, Created: April 2003, last edited: November 2006. See http://batteryuniversity.com/partone-5.htm.
(11.6) ExxonMobil news release, ExxonMobil Chemical's New Generation of Lithium-ion Battery Separator Now Produced on a Commercial Line, Ma8, 2007.
(11.7) Stober, Dan, Nanowire battery can hold 10 times the charge of existing lithium ion battery, Stanford Research, December 18, 2007.
(11.8) PRLog (Press Release), Worldwide Nanotechnology Thin Film Lithium-Ion Batey Market, Strategies and Forecasts, 2009-2015, February 16, 2009.
(11.9) MB-BigB, Exxon to help power new hybrid cars, March 12, 2008.
(11.10) Murray, James, G-wiz debuts lithium-ion model, Business Green, January 6, 2009.
(11.11) environmental LEADER, Lithium-Ion Prius to arrive in Late 2009.
(11.12) Krisher, Tom, GM to put together its own batteries, Houston Chronicle, January 13, 2009.
(12) Global warming.
(12.1) Westbrook, Gerald T., The Skeptics on the Global Warming Issue: The Distinguished Veterans, IAEE Newsletter, 4th quarter, 2005.
(12.2) Westbrook, Gerald T., Global Warming: Who to Believe? AICHE, April, 2007.
(12.3) Westbrook, Gerald T., Global Warming: Witnesses for the Defense of the Skeptical Perspective, Energy Tribune, May 29, 2007. See www.energytribune.com/articles.cfm?aid=500.
(12.4) Westbrook, Gerald T., Global Warming: Witnesses for the Defense of the Skeptical Perspective - Physicists, IAEE Energy Forum, 3rd quarter, 2008.
(12.5) Westbrook, Gerald T., Warming debate needed, letter, Oil & gas Journal, November 3, 2008.
(12.6) Lomborg, Bjørn, Global warming will save millions of lives, The Telegraph, March 12, 2009.
(12.7) Lindzen, Richard, Climate Alarm: What We Are Up Against, and What to Do, Heartland Institute Conference, March 8, 2009.
(12.8) See: http://www.wecansolveit.org/. In particular select: About us, for access to Grassroot Partners and Advisory Committee members.
(13) Coal plant emissions.
(13.1) Huber, Peter, Hard Green - Saving the Environment from the Environmentalists, Basic Books, New York, NY, 1999.
(13.2) Lomborg, Bjørn, The skeptical environmentalist - Measuring the Real State of the World, Cambridge University Press, 2001.
(14) The commercial herbicides were:
- 24D or more precisely: 2,4-D. The chemical formula is 2,4 - dichlorophenoxyacetic acid and
- 245T or more precisely: 2,4,5-T. The chemical formula is 2,4,5 - trichlorophenoxyacetic acid.