Best Source of Energy

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What energy source(s) should humanity invest in?

Coal
2
4%
Oil
1
2%
Natural Gas
3
7%
Biofuel
4
9%
Solar
7
16%
Wind
5
11%
Hydro
9
20%
Nuclear
12
27%
Other
2
4%
 
Total votes: 45

Cirion Spellbinder
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Best Source of Energy

Post by Cirion Spellbinder » Thu Feb 18, 2016 12:11 pm

What energy source should humanity invest in? Why?
Last edited by Cirion Spellbinder on Thu Feb 18, 2016 7:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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brimstoneSalad
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Post by brimstoneSalad » Thu Feb 18, 2016 4:12 pm

Nuclear. But this is kind of a false dichotomy; natural gas release or production is going to be a biproduct of many activities, so it's "free" energy. You have to burn it, and it's better to burn it for energy rather than just start giant fires everywhere and waste it.

Biofuel (ethanol) is also important for transportation, BUT it requires energy to distill ethanol, and produce the crops, which should come from nuclear.

There's the original source, and also the form it's converted into.

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Post by Cirion Spellbinder » Thu Feb 18, 2016 7:20 pm

brimstoneSalad wrote:Nuclear.
Because it's safe, clean, and sustainable.
Do you think we should use new nuclear technology, like the thorium reactor, or build more of what we already have built?
How do you recommend convincing others that nuclear is the way to go? Most people I've talked to seem to think the infrastructure damage caused by the periodic catastrophe makes it more dangerous, even if it kills less people.
brimstoneSalad wrote:But this is kind of a false dichotomy; natural gas release or production is going to be a biproduct of many activities, so it's "free" energy. You have to burn it, and it's better to burn it for energy rather than just start giant fires everywhere and waste it.
That's interesting. I'll update the poll to allow multiple sources.
brimstoneSalad wrote:Biofuel (ethanol) is also important for transportation
How so? Couldn't we have transportation run on energy produced by nuclear if we built new infrastructure?
brimstoneSalad wrote:BUT it requires energy to distill ethanol, and produce the crops, which should come from nuclear
I don't know much about agricultural techniques, but wouldn't some of the energy be from biofuel, to power vehicles?

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Post by brimstoneSalad » Thu Feb 18, 2016 7:35 pm

Cirion Spellbinder wrote:
brimstoneSalad wrote:Nuclear.
Because it's safe, clean, and sustainable.
Well, it's actually unsustainable. You may be misunderstanding the meaning of sustainable here. ;)
We have a limited amount of nuclear fuel. It would get us past the next few hundred years, though, which is enough time to transition to fusion.
Cirion Spellbinder wrote:Do you think we should use new nuclear technology, like the thorium reactor,
No, that's unnecessary. But:
Cirion Spellbinder wrote:How do you recommend convincing others that nuclear is the way to go? Most people I've talked to seem to think the infrastructure damage caused by the periodic catastrophe makes it more dangerous, even if it kills less people.
People are morons. They might be willing to accept Thorium where they reject conventional (and very safe) nuclear power.
Cirion Spellbinder wrote:
brimstoneSalad wrote:Biofuel (ethanol) is also important for transportation
How so? Couldn't we have transportation run on energy produced by nuclear if we built new infrastructure?
This is non-trivial.
Infrastructure is not free, and that would mean gutting and replacing something enormous.

It's easier just to use nuclear power to produce liquid fuel for cars which only need to be slightly modified to use it.

As battery technology improves and gets cheaper, and more cars start being electric, we can transition to electric-infrastructure, but this is a long way off. Ehtanol is perfectly fine for now.
Cirion Spellbinder wrote:I don't know much about agricultural techniques, but wouldn't some of the energy be from biofuel, to power vehicles?
Biofuel, like ethanol, takes energy to make -- as I said.
You have to distill ethanol, which means boiling it to remove most of the water. It's energy intensive. Right now we use mainly natural gas for this (which is good, but we need to be using natural gas for cooking food and heating homes). Natural gas can also (using more energy) be converted into liquid fuels.

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Post by Cirion Spellbinder » Thu Feb 18, 2016 8:14 pm

brimstoneSalad wrote: We have a limited amount of nuclear fuel. It would get us past the next few hundred years, though, which is enough time to transition to fusion.
I suppose it is not sustainable, but I'm certain we won't run out of fuel before we die out as a species. Nothing is truly sustainable. If we don't leave our solar system, the sun will eventually make all energy production impossible for us. If we do, the heat death of our universe will make all energy production impossible.
brimstoneSalad wrote: No, that's unnecessary. But:
Do you think the infrastructure costs for new nuclear technology are too high for the benefit they provide?
brimstoneSalad wrote: People are morons. They might be willing to accept Thorium where they reject conventional (and very safe) nuclear power.
They did seem more open to new technology, actually.
brimstoneSalad wrote:It's easier just to use nuclear power to produce liquid fuel for cars which only need to be slightly modified to use it.
Is the liquid fuel produced with nuclear power or produced from nuclear power?
brimstoneSalad" wrote:As battery technology improves and gets cheaper, and more cars start being electric, we can transition to electric-infrastructure, but this is a long way off. Ehtanol is perfectly fine for now.
That seems reasonable.
brimstoneSalad wrote: Biofuel, like ethanol, takes energy to make -- as I said.
You have to distill ethanol, which means boiling it to remove most of the water. It's energy intensive. Right now we use mainly natural gas for this (which is good, but we need to be using natural gas for cooking food and heating homes). Natural gas can also (using more energy) be converted into liquid fuels.
That makes sense, thank you. Would natural gas be an inferior liquid fuel when compared to ethanol?

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Post by brimstoneSalad » Thu Feb 18, 2016 8:50 pm

Cirion Spellbinder wrote:Nothing is truly sustainable. If we don't leave our solar system, the sun will eventually make all energy production impossible for us. If we do, the heat death of our universe will make all energy production impossible.
Since the clearly limited amount of the nuclear fuel we currently use is a major point of criticism, it's important to clarify the amount of time it will last us, and the other alternatives available after that runs out (like using breeder reactors, or other fissile materials).

As opposed to something like solar, the nuclear fuel we use now could plausibly run out before human civilization expires in the foreseeable future, we'll just have to switch to other methods of producing power (which we will have plenty of time to develop).
Cirion Spellbinder wrote:Do you think the infrastructure costs for new nuclear technology are too high for the benefit they provide?
More R&D costs and time. We shouldn't need to wait for these things.
Cirion Spellbinder wrote:They did seem more open to new technology, actually.
Right, they just don't want to be wrong about what they already believed.

Like when Republicans advocate the same measures as democrats in healthcare, it's suddenly acceptable because it's "not Obamacare".
Cirion Spellbinder wrote:Is the liquid fuel produced with nuclear power or produced from nuclear power?
I have no idea what you're asking.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_(physics)
Cirion Spellbinder wrote:Would natural gas be an inferior liquid fuel when compared to ethanol?
It has to be chemically altered to be turned into a liquid. I'm not an expert in this field, so it would take me a lot of research to compare the energy economics of the two (if you have a research paper in a science class, it would be a good project).

As it stands, I would recommend just using the gas (like natural gas) for application where gas is useful (like cooking and heating, where transfer to homes is better done with gas distribution infrastructure) and using liquids (like ethanol) for applications where the energy density of liquids is required (like transportation). If you run out of one and have more of the other, then start thinking about converting one to the other form. Any conversion tends to be more energy intensive than just sticking to the original form.

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Post by brimstoneSalad » Thu Feb 18, 2016 8:56 pm

Also, I should note that solar has its place too: In low-energy activities that are highly dispersed, like lighting in parks. A light pole with a panel can store enough energy during the day to provide LED illumination at night. This removes the necessity of power distribution infrastructure (buried wires, etc) throughout the park, which can be a much bigger savings than the cost of the solar panels.

Solar has limited practical uses in off-the-grid situations. It's not a replacement for the grid, though, and it's not a solution to the world's energy needs.

Certainly put solar panels on your roof if that's economically viable for you -- it could save you a little bit on the power bill, and take advantage of the otherwise wasted space of your roof -- but in terms of the grid's power, and power for industry, that needs to be nuclear.

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Post by Volenta » Sat Feb 20, 2016 8:25 pm

brimstoneSalad wrote:natural gas release or production is going to be a biproduct of many activities, so it's "free" energy. You have to burn it, and it's better to burn it for energy rather than just start giant fires everywhere and waste it.
Never heard of this before. Can you give me some examples of this activities other than oil extraction (which isn't particularly future proof either)?

And isn't flaring, maybe apart from places that do not have the pipeline infrastructure, mainly done because it's cheaper than selling it in times of overabundance?

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Post by brimstoneSalad » Sat Feb 20, 2016 8:57 pm

Volenta wrote: And isn't flaring, maybe apart from places that do not have the pipeline infrastructure, mainly done because it's cheaper than selling it in times of overabundance?
This may be, which only says we need to increase demand for natural gas in these situations so it's not wasted. You can only drop the price so far until the cost of pumping it to cities (and other costs) becomes higher than the return.
We definitely need to address the issue of natural gas waste.
Volenta wrote:Never heard of this before. Can you give me some examples of this activities other than oil extraction (which isn't particularly future proof either)?
Oil and mining are the main ones as far as I know. We need oil and carbon from coal for industry (aside from energy) too.
You're right that it's a limited source and will eventually run out.

Some landfills are tapped for gas, but I don't know how common this is.

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Post by Unknownfromheaven » Fri Apr 01, 2016 4:22 am

I think geothermal energy is the best option, since it is unlimited provided by our own earth.

What do you think about the futuristic Venus Project ?
All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force..We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter.” ~ Max Planck - Quantum Theory and Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918.

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