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Main - Serious discussion - Alternative Energy New reply

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Belsaw
Posted on 09-20-17 01:31 PM (rev. 2 of 09-20-17 01:33 PM) Link | #89242
It seems there was a thread like this somewhere but it's very old.

We all know about fossil fuels and their literally dirty problems, right? Well they're worse than you think. Coal and oil combined kill more than nuclear. Additionally, coal-fired plants release more radiation than nuclear plants. And don't get me started on how Saudi oil funds extremism and terrorism.

This is why I believe a combination of algae, hemp, solar, spent nuclear fuel, thorium, and wind must begin to be utilized ASAP. Not twenty years from now, right now to the next few years. Otherwise, we'll continue to screw ourselves over.

So let's talk about the various types, shall we?

Algae oil is by far the biofuel with the highest energy output. It is also carbon neutral as algae takes in more CO2 than other plants. Algae can also use wastewater like raw sewage and it doesn't need farmland so it doesn't compete with food crops. Algae can be grown on the rooftop of the factory that produces the oil.

Hemp oil is another possibiliy but due to its low energy yield it's probably best to use for bioplastics. The problem is, hemp and marijuana are still federally illegal not because it's bad for your health (alcohol and tobacco are both by far worse than marijuana) but because it goes against corporate interests.

There's also the silanes (silicon equivalent of hydrocarbons) but the single chain silane is highly reactive and extremely dangerous. The higher chained silanes are as stable as diesel however. Burning silanes produces sand and water instead of CO2 and water so it's extremely clean. Problem is, the energy needed to produce silanes is more than the energy produced by burning silanes. Not to mention producing silanes is very expensive. Even if there was a sort of "siloleum", it would eventually run out just like petroleum unless it was renewable.

Solar is getting cheaper and more efficient but the main problem is being able to store it when the sun is not shining like at night.. The best places for solar energy are southwestern US, northern Chile, North Africa, the Middle East, Namibia and Botswana, and Australia. But there's also another problem with solar, silicon solar panel production is a toxic process. Which is why perovskites and graphene are being proposed but they're currently pretty expensive compared to silicon. Another problem is fossil fuel corporatists like the Koch Brothers have declared a "War on Solar".

Wind is more or less like solar except the problem of the sun not shining is now the wind not blowing. A Japanese company invented a typhoon turbine that would have been ideal for offahore wind farms during Hurricanes Harvey and Irma but you know, fossil fuel corporatists don't like that.

And finally let's get to the hardcore area in my opinion: nuclear. First off, oh my god, nuclear power desperately needs better PR. You can be against nuclear proliferation while being for peaceful uses of nuclear power. The reason Chernobyl and Fukushima happened was due to bad plant design and poor management. The crankery surrounding nuclear power is amazing. It turns out that so-called anti-nuclear "environmentalists" were sometimes paid by fossil fuel corporatists to protest nuclear energy.

Okay, now onto what I think are the best the types (nuclear fusion has been its infancy for over 50 years now) of nuclear energy:

First is thorium. Thorium is more abundant than uranium and is weakly radioactive. There is probably thorium in dirt beneath you right now. Unlike uranium, thorium is fertile not fissile. This means it is considered subcritical. Thorium can be used in molten salt reactors (MSRs) called liquid fluoride thorium reactors (LFTRs). In LFTR, thorium-232 is used to breed proactinium-233 which quickly decays into the fertile uranium-233. Because U-233 is highly radioactive, it is very difficult to use for nuclear weapons. If the LFTR were to get too hot, a solid fluoride salt plug at the bottom of the reactor melts and the nuclear fuel drops down in a chamber below. This will cause the fuel to spread out and the large surface area causes the reaction to stop almost immediately. Thus, MSRs are essentially meltdown-proof.

LFTRs are not new technology. They have existed since the 1950's but Nixon shut down funding because LFTRs are not ideal for producing nuclear weapons. A nuclear plant with one LFTR would probably cost about US$2 billion with production and maintenence costs included at a liberal estimate as they don't need as much protection as a light water reactor. Two plants for each US state would cost about US$200 billion. Compare that to the Iraq War which cost over US$2 trillion. Pardon my language but what the fuck is wrong with this country? Now, continue for the final part to see why I don't think thorium should become widespread just yet...

Finally, there are waste-annihilating molten salt reactors (WAMSRs). WAMSRs use about 96% of the uranium-235 in spent nuclear fuel which is about 95% U-235. Do the math and WAMSRs use about 91.2% of the U-235 originally in the fuel rods. The nuclear waste produced by both LFTRs and WAMSRs have much shorter half-lives than the nuclear waste produced by other reactor types. This is why I think we should use WAMSRs before we use LFTRs; we need to use up the spent uranium fuel then we should start using thorium as fuel.

So, what are all your opinions on this? Should we just stick with solar and wind? Use thorium exclusively? Hope fusion becomes viable one day?

LeftyGreenMario
Posted on 09-20-17 02:39 PM Link | #89252
Maybe we can try a combination of alternative energy. And I think you forgot about geothermal energy and hydropower, though both are mostly dependent on location.

I'm pro-nuclear power by the way. The scares are overblown though I suspect that nuclear power sites might be hotspots for terrorists to try to strike and you have to store nuclear waste somewhere, given their extremely slow degradation, probably even slower than the entirety of human civilization. Anyhow, France can be a pretty good mouthpiece for pro-nuclear promotion, getting most of its electric energy from nuclear alone.

I don't think we should stick to just solar and wind if more options are available like as I said above. But we should also invest in those technologies since being oil-dependent and the Koch Brothers are impediments to humanity's advancement so we need to overcome the Koch Brothers and other companies, though that's difficult because they're so convincing otherwise.

StapleButter
Posted on 09-20-17 02:42 PM (rev. 2 of 09-20-17 02:48 PM) Link | #89255
nuclear has the issue that we don't know what the hell to do with the resulting nuclear waste, other than burying it deep and hoping it doesn't leak (and eventually finding out it leaks anyway because radiation consumes everything).

there is also the fact that a nuclear power plant can basically turn into a nuke if something goes wrong. the risk is very real, even if authorities try to minimize it.


also, there's another issue to this: our use of energy, and how much we think we need.

green energies will run us into similar problems as the current ones if we try to deploy them on huge, industrial scales.

this means people will have to give up their smart toothpicks :P

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Baby Luigi
Posted on 09-20-17 02:45 PM Link | #89260
I think you should definitely learn about the potential of tidal energy, which I think is a rather new form of alternative energy (the technology itself isn't that new, but not many people know about it compared to solar and wind energy so I'm guessing that the way we use it today is rather new) and it's extremely promising: what tidal energy does is capture the energy emitted by waves and tides to generate electricity from the ocean. Tidal energy is also far more predictable than solar and wind energy, making it a more reliable way of powering stuff consistently. The two biggest drawbacks to it are possible disruption of wildlife and the cost, the latter which can be easily solved as with any other alternative energy if more development, research, and funds are allocated to the development of such technologies. The former, well, burning fossil fuels in the rate of what we're doing is the worse evil in the long run.

Swingball
Posted on 09-20-17 02:51 PM Link | #89266
Hydropower and uhhh nuclear seems complicated and, yeah, rots slowly.

Maybe stick with the best sources we have at least until everything's cheaper down the road.

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Baby Luigi
Posted on 09-20-17 02:56 PM Link | #89271
How are these technologies any more complicated than fossil fuel technology?

I mean, they are probably more sophisticated, but humanity should always be pushing for better technologies. Hell, the reason we're here today is because we built upon countless generations of technology, from bones and sticks to guns and rockets.

Swingball
Posted on 09-20-17 03:15 PM Link | #89293
Hydropower, yes we should use.

I dunno about nuclear...

What are we gonna productively do with the waste?

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Baby Luigi
Posted on 09-20-17 03:16 PM Link | #89296
That's the biggest problem with nuclear. The large amounts of waste. People bury that crap but if we rely too heavily on it, we'll have too much wasted space on those things. We already have a garbage problem already, don't need even more waste to deal with.

Swingball
Posted on 09-20-17 03:22 PM (rev. 2 of 09-20-17 03:25 PM) Link | #89301
Let's stay with the sources of energy that we can at least manage waste productively...

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Baby Luigi
Posted on 09-20-17 03:29 PM Link | #89302
Like not sticking with fossil fuels.

Swingball
Posted on 09-20-17 03:34 PM Link | #89304
I mean the ones mentioned in the OP.

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Baby Luigi
Posted on 09-20-17 03:37 PM Link | #89306
All alternative energy has their own disadvantages. For example, nuclear energy is a far more powerful source of energy than wind, solar, etc. and therefore requires less land allocated to farms to generate the same amount of energy. As my twin LeftyGreenMario said, the best way to maximize efficiency is to use a variety of different alternative energy rather than relying on one or completely dismissing a viable form of alternate energy.

Belsaw
Posted on 09-20-17 03:43 PM (rev. 2 of 09-20-17 03:52 PM) Link | #89308
There's a process called glassification. Combine it with the nuclear waste of a WAMSR which only lasts a few hundred years and voila, massive reduction of nuclear waste.

Also, a reactor cannot become an actual nuclear bomb as they use different mechanisms. The explosions at Chernobyl and Fukishima were caused by build up of steam and xenon at Chernobyl and ignited Hydrogen at Fukushima. The release of radioactivity could have been prevented with a better-designed plant.

And yeah, I forgot about geothermal and hydropower. I think Australia has been experimenting with tidal power but the coal lobby is very powerful there. The biggest issue is grid energy storage since battery technology is pretty far behind currently. There's research going on with solid state, sodium, graphene, and molten salt batteries. But most of it is slated for the next decade so it seems we're stuck with (exploding) lithium-ion batteries for now.

Swingball
Posted on 09-20-17 04:14 PM Link | #89315
Posted by Baby Luigi
All alternative energy has their own disadvantages. For example, nuclear energy is a far more powerful source of energy than wind, solar, etc. and therefore requires less land allocated to farms to generate the same amount of energy. As my twin LeftyGreenMario said, the best way to maximize efficiency is to use a variety of different alternative energy rather than relying on one or completely dismissing a viable form of alternate energy.


OK, take multiple energy sources that have easy waste management.

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Baby Luigi
Posted on 09-20-17 08:08 PM Link | #89334
I find it strange you're fixated on the waste management while ignoring all of the benefits nuclear power has over other alternate energies.

Belsaw
Posted on 09-20-17 08:44 PM Link | #89339
The waste issue can be solved if we can just somehow convince the US government to spend money in the right places. Like vastly lowering the defense budget and using the now freed up money for areas like housing, healthcare, and energy.

Swingball
Posted on 09-20-17 09:09 PM Link | #89343
I feel like I'm surrounded by scholars. :P

I feel like an idiot. :P

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Belsaw
Posted on 09-20-17 11:38 PM Link | #89355
I'm no scholar though. :P

I have only begun throughly looking into this topic for over a year now and am a bit interested in doing things related to energy in general.

LeftyGreenMario
Posted on 09-21-17 12:52 AM Link | #89359
Posted by Swingball
I feel like I'm surrounded by scholars. :P

I feel like an idiot. :P

Well, you can always start somewhere. I walked into politics and environment ignorant and I think I remain ignorant right now because most of my time is spent being nerdy with Mario and modeling rather than learning about alternative energy.

Gamer Boy
Posted on 09-21-17 04:41 PM Link | #89378
I'm imagining living in a house with solar-power shingles on the roof covered by a giant water-filled glass ball while having a waterwheel built over a stream nearby, a couple of windturbines overhead and a gas generator as a backup.

Think it's feasible? :P

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Main - Serious discussion - Alternative Energy New reply

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