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Beyond T Boone Pickins

What is the real answer to the energy issue?

Hamsters…on little wheels…lots of them!

My candid response to the Pickens Plan thread is included while the bigger issue, in this newly presented thread, revolves around broader solutions we can all propose, be they car related or beyond. Your thoughts, comments, solutions, and freewheeling fixes are appreciated. Let’s wing-out and brainstorm our energy future. From transportation, heating and cooling, lighting, housing, water, food, comfort, and whatever else we need.

While I must respect TB Pickens, as 15 years my senior, for his past ingenuity and successful entrepreneurship in providing us with energy resources that still support us today, I to find his current ongoing involvement self-serving. At this time in his life, it should be the reverse. He, of course, is allowed to comfortably provide for his and his immediate and future family. Past that, shame on him, for not committing the remainder of his financial resources to developing realistic sustainable energy resources enabling the future of Planet Earth, else his future family will have nowhere to live!

As for his contributions to Oklahoma State University (an ISU graduate), I again defer to his financial resources while I am appalled at the amount of control he exercises over these benevolent bequests. EGOMANIAC! The University should demand to administer the dispersal of his bequests with perhaps input from a committee equally representing TBP and OSU interests. He has no business directing the course of any University into the future and no University should succumb to such arrangements. As for the focus on sports, need I say more (yes we beat them more than once)?

He has the resources to create a tombstone of monumental proportions upon which he can have inscribed an epitaph, of extraordinary length if so desired. Said tombstone to occupy a place upon the OSU campus, I would bet, if he so desired and willed the funding. It should not be in the form of a program, building or complex . . . just a fitting memorial to his life as a graduate.

We have much bigger challenges to conquer, than one ?silly man?s selfish proposals? to insure our grandchildren have a place to live and strive for their and their children?s future.


Live close to work and walk or ride a bicycle.

Eat more beans, its all about the Poo. For your viewing pleasure

In the end, it will be nuclear, solar and wind, with hydro, low head hydro, doing an amazing amount…

a sp. error = convert to Pickens . . . never could spell and probably will never be able too . . . quesionable use of english as well . . . soSoSO

A local landfill is already burning the methane from the land fill in engines and returning the power back to the electric grid. The methane from the landfill is enough to run four 1500 horsepower engines each driving 1.01 megawatt alternators.
One of the problems is that only about 55% of the gasses coming out of the landfill is actually methane, there is also some nitrogen and about 40% of it is carbon dioxide. But, if you have to flare it off anyway, you might as well do it in an engine.

Caddyman is exactly correct. “In the end, it will be nuclear, solar and wind, with hydro, and low head hydro” The algae-based biofuel looks interesting right now, but it will be well down on the list.

As much as I love cars, I fear that a society/economy designed around using a 4000 lb vehicle to move one 200 lb human is just not sustainable in the face of world population pressure, regardless of the energy source. Tell your kids to consider carefully any life decisions that assume that transportation model.

Caddyman is exactly correct. “In the end, it will be nuclear, solar and wind, with hydro, and low head hydro” The algae-based biofuel looks interesting right now, but it will be well down on the list.

I don’t think so…It’s the EASY solution…but not the best…

Solar has made TREMENDOUS strides in the past 10 years. It’s growing fast too…especially in Europe. Solar panels put out DOUBLE the amount of power they did just 5 years ago for the same footprint at half the cost. And they expect the technology to double again in less then 10 years with the cost going down. Europe even has Solar farms.

Wave generators are just now seriously being looked into. They offer some of the greatest potential especially for coastal areas (which accounts for 60% of the US population).

Wind farms can also help reduce electric usage. Or even individual wind generators. I know a guy who owns a island off the coast of Maine. He’s completely off the grid. His only complaint is he has to use propane to heat the house and run his dryer and refrigerator. But he’s working on ways to eliminate propane completely.

I think the move to getting off the grid or reducing the amount of electricity we buy from the grid is really becoming viable. It’s big in Europe…and just now really starting to take off in South America. We could reduce our electricity usage by 30% with Solar and wind.

Agree that we need all forms of energy in the future. In the other thread I recommended a book entitled “Sustainable Fossil Fuels” by Marc Jaccard. This academic makes a courageous 100 year forecast and concludes that we need all sources, as you say, but the vast reserves of coal and overseas gas will supply the buk of future energy. To take a stab at the future, I envisage:

  1. Electricty supplied by clean coal (in the US and Europe), solar, nuclear, hydro (large and low head), geothermal (where available), some gas with co-generation of heat, and wind.

  2. Transportation energy provided by gasoline, diesel, 10% biofuels, mostly from cellulose and algea, plug-in hybrids, all electrics, Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), fuel cells using hydrogen (mostly busses and local delivery vehicles). Vastly increased use of public transit. The effective miles per gallon, excluding electricity, can be raised to 80 mpg for the average vehicle. This will basically make the US self-sufficient and back out oil imports. The trucking industry will keep needing diesel, but railroads will get a larger share of the transporation pie. Railroads will have increasing electrification of busy lines.

  3. Space heating for homes by solar, geothermal (ground effect) heat pumps, some natural gas in high efficiency furnaces, propane in isolated areas.

  4. Office buildings have the best opportunities to use passive solar heating, heat generated by machines and occupants to be nearly off-grid. Considerable design rethinking is necessary to achieve this.

All the above, except for commercialized fuel cells, are aready available. The high oil price and national security will drive the further developemnt and implementation.

So Picken’s project may have some role in all this, but it can’t achieve the scope he claims.

The overall benefit of all this will be reduced greenhouse gasses, as energy is used much more efficiently and renewables and nuclear will play a much larger role.

The world is NOT RUNNING OUT OF ENERGY, it is running out of CHEAP OIL AND GAS!

Ultimately, solar. Possibly converted to some other form like electricity for storage and transport. But it may be a very, very long time before we get there.

Unless, of course, the dark energy question can be resolved!

We waste more than half our energy. We do it because it just isn’t important to us and energy is still really cheap. I have a summer home that is off the grid powered by 200W of solar panels. I get by quite easily by using a chest freezer converted to a fridge. It uses 20% of what a normal refrigerator uses in energy. Our houses are full of of energy wasting wall warts and appliances that are on all the time. If we ran out of oil tomorrow, I would be driving my car in a week on wood chips. We don’t have an energy policy because those with money don’t want one. What people don’t realize is converting to solar will take 30 years. Europe’s demand for solar panels has really pushed up the price.

To respond to EngPlanet, I believe the criticisms to be rather short sighted. Mr Pickens is taking an active role in positive change. Oil and gas is what he knows and so naturally it is his area of expertise and source of ideas. No one is stopping anyone else from also contributing in their own and perhaps more " sustaininable" way.
As for Oklahoma Stae University, I would challenge EngPlanet or anyone for that matter to contribute their hard earned money and not have a say in how it is dispatched. The University has the option of refusing any gift they see fit and yes, it is Mr. Picken’s money and he does have business directing the course of the University’s future if that is the business arrangement.
Philanthropy is not a zero sum game. My EngPlanet is welcome to effect his own social change and become part of his own version of the solution.

We could be energy independent tomorrow if we were only willing to change our lifestyles.

Very true. It is not going to happen, but it is true. High oil prices are likely doing more than anything else right now to that end.

Our scientists and researches can find many ways to extract energy from many sources. Most people don’t realize how many sources, and how many ways, are available NOW. Ways of being much more efficient in the use of energy are NOW available, and being researched. One example: a way to extract the water vapor from air to an A/C, resulting in a 75% energy reduction to cool the air, is in the experimental stage. Further development depends on the usual forces of backing, etc.

Electric will in the short term be provided by “clean” coal (at the expense of West Virginia and Wyoming, no coal is really clean when mined) with increasing wind and solar and possibly some nuclear but nukes are real expensive. (I do think that there are small scale hydro opportunities all over but I doubt how much they will be exploited.) There are also a lot of relatively easy efficiency gains that can be made. Compact fluorescent light bulbs are barely scratching the surface. Heating will go to ground source heat pumps, high efficiency gas and propane furnaces and, increasingly, passive solar, wood and bio/pellet stoves.

Transportation is a bit different. Short term there will be more bio-fuels, especially bio-diesel. I can see CNG for motor fuels IF there is the investment for the infrastructure. In the longer term cars will be electric and trucks bio-diesels. Hydrogen and fuel cells sound good but I just don’t see it when electric is a more viable option. I could possibly see fuel cell trucks. Railroads will go to bio-diesel and increasingly overhead electric. Aviation may shift to some bio-fuels but the days of cheap jet travel are gone forever.

More important than fuels are the coming modal changes in transportation. Railroads will have a MUCH larger role in middle and longer distance freight and middle distance passenger. The cross country trucker and the long distance car road trip will be things of the past. Trucks will be used for local and regional delivery and cars for local and regional trips, up to 150 miles. From 150-700 miles passenger trips will be by overhead electric powered high speed rail (TGV type).

Farm machinery, long haul 18 wheelers, long haul railroad freight trains, and merchant marine will have to continue using liquid fuel (ethanol) because of its high energy density (78,000 Btu per gallon). Biodiesel cannot be made from crops easily. Personal mobility vehicles will run on batteries (~4 miles per kilowatt hour) for a decade or two. Clean coal is an oxymoron. When CO2 is compressed to over 72 atm, it becomes a superfluid, but it will still float on water. So it will leak out slowly and always be a health threat.

Isn’t liquid CO2 heavier than water and thus sinks to the bottom? Unless it is stored in some kind of bag, it will slowly dissolve in water forming seltzer water.