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To: Sailtrader who wrote (207)9/13/2008 11:35:15 PM
From: mindmeld
   of 227
 
Sailtrader, we spend more money on the military than the rest of the world combined. Even if we cut our military spending down by 50%, we'd still have plenty of firepower left to take on Iran and win.

As a famous man once said, how many yachts can you ski behind? Converted to our military spending: just how many simultaneous wars would you like us to be able to fight?

Do you want Iran to stop feeling so able to act with impunity? Make it so that we no longer care about oil and give Israel the green light to do what they need to do.

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To: mindmeld who wrote (208)9/14/2008 6:25:31 PM
From: Sailtrader
   of 227
 
Do you want Iran to stop feeling so able to act with impunity? Make it so that we no longer care about oil and give Israel the green light to do what they need to do.

Key ingredient in the above: "Make it so that we no longer care about oil"...........

Maybe in 15 or 20 years after all the energy alternatives are up to speed AND PROFITABLE.

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To: Sailtrader who wrote (209)9/16/2008 3:17:39 AM
From: mindmeld
   of 227
 
Right. The thing is that in the US, if it's 15-20 years out, no one cares and no one takes action. We need to start thinking long term. This country will still be here and our kids certainly should care about where this country will stand 15-20 years from now. So as responsible citizens, we should be advocating for policies that will solve our problems with respect to oil now, so that 15-20 years from now, we are oil independent. That's the goal.

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To: mindmeld who wrote (204)9/16/2008 9:51:56 AM
From: Eric
   of 227
 
I totally agree with your points.

We could have been on the road to solving our energy problems many years ago if the Republicans had not resisted.

They don't want the world to change. Now we will be paying the ultimate price.

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To: Eric who wrote (211)9/16/2008 10:10:27 AM
From: Sailtrader
1 Recommendation   of 227
 
Eric, how about nuclear power generation?

Think about which party stopped nuclear plant development and how many coal burning power plants that could have been prevented, how much more natural gas that would be available. Not a subject without controversy, but still part of our current picture.

The French generate 80% of their power with nuclear plants.

This situation we are in on energy is not a single party deal, it involves decisions made by every US citizen -- republican, democrat, independent and non voters.

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To: Sailtrader who wrote (212)9/16/2008 7:41:44 PM
From: Eric
   of 227
 
Nukes work and many years ago (almost 35 to be precise) I thought we would have licked fusion reactions by now but it is a much harder problem than anyone envisioned then. I don't think we will have a working, sustained fusion reactor running for at least 50 years so that leaves us with our good, old fission reactors. A number of years ago when the U.S. industry failed to get any more ordered they sold most of their nuclear divisions to a few Japanese companies as it just didn't make sense to stay in the business. As a result we don't have the manpower, skills and equipment to scale nuclear reactors in this country.. in fact we are barely keeping the U.S. Navy nuclear program functioning.

My beef with nukes is this:

Numero Uno, and this the big one:

The waste problem has not been solved and the Nevada repository simply will not work. It is geologically not stable and ground water permeates the structure so in the long run it's a pretty safe bet that waste will not be stored there. As you probably know every reactor site in the U.S. has cooling ponds to store used fuel rods and waste. They are almost full at most sites and they are rapidly running out of room.

#2

Reprocessing waste is expensive, especially if you end up with plutonium.

#3

Reactors need lots of cooling water to dump the condensation cycle heat. We have to get rid of roughly 60% of the heat the reactor creates to condense the cooling water so it can be sent back to the reactor heat exchanger after it leaves the turbines. So we need a big river, ocean or something else to dissipate the heat. You will find no reactors in dry areas because fresh water is simply not available. My German friends that I visited with in San Francisco said that Germany is committed to getting rid of all their reactors in the next ten years or so because of the problems noted above.

Plus we are running out of Uranium, probably a 70 year supply at existing consumption. There are other possibilities but they are expensive.

So when I look at Solar and Wind and a few other renewable sources to me it's a no brainer which way I would go.

Storage of electrical energy is the Holy Grail in energy research right now. We have a couple emerging technologies that will probably work.

I really like the proposal put out in the January issue of Scientific American, A Solar Grand Plan:

sciam.com

This and Desertec in Europe and North Africa can generate all of the electricity we need... with no pollution!

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To: Eric who wrote (213)9/19/2008 2:08:40 PM
From: Sailtrader
   of 227
 
Eric, thanks for the detailed reply. I have no disagreement with the points you raise on nuclear plants. I do think most of the problem with determining where nuclear waste sites could be related to the "not in my back yard" phenomena.

Solar coupled with a way to store power would certainly be the best situation. However, since that will take decades to put in place, I firmly believe we are going to have to use any and all options available to become energy independent. Failure to do so could have major economic implications for the U.S economy.

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To: Sailtrader who wrote (214)9/20/2008 2:04:06 PM
From: Eric
   of 227
 
Dave,

Yes we certainly need all hands on deck for this problem. The energy crisis facing this country is now firmly on our collective front door.

I don't blame the nimbys at all. Our government totally blew off the problem many years ago when nuclear waste was first being generated. In my state the Federal Dept of Energy and the Washington State Dept of Ecology are dealing with a massive clean up at the Hanford nuclear reservation where plutonium for the first A bomb was made. We have a large amount of ground water that was contaminated that is now leaking into the Columbia river. It looks like the clean up costs for this alone will exceed 50 billion dollars and we still have to spend much more after that for the other problems remaining there. I'm not against nukes, just the long term "real" costs of operating and disposing of them.

Solar power doesn't have any of those problems.

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To: Eric who wrote (215)9/22/2008 12:42:29 PM
From: Eric
   of 227
 
This story came out over the weekend.

For those of us who believe in Peak Oil here is a story on Matthew Simmons. If you saw the doc "A Crude Awakening" you will love this read.
_____________

Here comes $500 oil

If Matt Simmons is right, the recent drop in crude prices is an illusion - and oil could be headed for the stratosphere. He's just hoping we can prevent civilization from imploding.

By Brian O'Keefe, senior editor
Last Updated: September 22, 2008: 10:01 AM EDT

Matt Simmons argues that Saudi Arabia's oil supplies are much more limited than everyone thinks.

(Fortune Magazine) -- Matt Simmons is as perplexed as anyone that it has fallen to him to take on OPEC, Exxon, the Saudis, and all the other misguided defenders of conventional wisdom in the oil patch. Why should one investment banker with a penchant for research be required to point out what he regards as the obvious - that from here on out, oil supplies can't meet demand, and if we don't act soon to solve this crisis, World War III could be looming?

money.cnn.com

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To: Sailtrader who wrote (168)9/30/2008 7:25:43 AM
From: Lynn
   of 227
 
I'm posting the entire article for easy reference later (I'm dial-up):

'Major discovery' from MIT primed to unleash solar revolution
Scientists mimic essence of plants' energy storage system
Anne Trafton, News Office
July 31, 2008


In a revolutionary leap that could transform solar power from a marginal, boutique alternative into a mainstream energy source, MIT researchers have overcome a major barrier to large-scale solar power: storing energy for use when the sun doesn't shine.

Daniel Nocera describes new process for storing solar energy
View video post on MIT TechTV:
newsoffice.techtv.mit.edu

Until now, solar power has been a daytime-only energy source, because storing extra solar energy for later use is prohibitively expensive and grossly inefficient. With today's announcement, MIT researchers have hit upon a simple, inexpensive, highly efficient process for storing solar energy.

Requiring nothing but abundant, non-toxic natural materials, this discovery could unlock the most potent, carbon-free energy source of all: the sun. "This is the nirvana of what we've been talking about for years," said MIT's Daniel Nocera, the Henry Dreyfus Professor of Energy at MIT and senior author of a paper describing the work in the July 31 issue of Science. "Solar power has always been a limited, far-off solution. Now we can seriously think about solar power as unlimited and soon."

Inspired by the photosynthesis performed by plants, Nocera and Matthew Kanan, a postdoctoral fellow in Nocera's lab, have developed an unprecedented process that will allow the sun's energy to be used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen gases. Later, the oxygen and hydrogen may be recombined inside a fuel cell, creating carbon-free electricity to power your house or your electric car, day or night.

The key component in Nocera and Kanan's new process is a new catalyst that produces oxygen gas from water; another catalyst produces valuable hydrogen gas. The new catalyst consists of cobalt metal, phosphate and an electrode, placed in water. When electricity -- whether from a photovoltaic cell, a wind turbine or any other source -- runs through the electrode, the cobalt and phosphate form a thin film on the electrode, and oxygen gas is produced.

Combined with another catalyst, such as platinum, that can produce hydrogen gas from water, the system can duplicate the water splitting reaction that occurs during photosynthesis.

The new catalyst works at room temperature, in neutral pH water, and it's easy to set up, Nocera said. "That's why I know this is going to work. It's so easy to implement," he said.

'Giant leap' for clean energy
Sunlight has the greatest potential of any power source to solve the world's energy problems, said Nocera. In one hour, enough sunlight strikes the Earth to provide the entire planet's energy needs for one year.

James Barber, a leader in the study of photosynthesis who was not involved in this research, called the discovery by Nocera and Kanan a "giant leap" toward generating clean, carbon-free energy on a massive scale.

"This is a major discovery with enormous implications for the future prosperity of humankind," said Barber, the Ernst Chain Professor of Biochemistry at Imperial College London. "The importance of their discovery cannot be overstated since it opens up the door for developing new technologies for energy production thus reducing our dependence for fossil fuels and addressing the global climate change problem."

'Just the beginning'
Currently available electrolyzers, which split water with electricity and are often used industrially, are not suited for artificial photosynthesis because they are very expensive and require a highly basic (non-benign) environment that has little to do with the conditions under which photosynthesis operates.

More engineering work needs to be done to integrate the new scientific discovery into existing photovoltaic systems, but Nocera said he is confident that such systems will become a reality.

"This is just the beginning," said Nocera, principal investigator for the Solar Revolution Project funded by the Chesonis Family Foundation and co-Director of the Eni-MIT Solar Frontiers Center. "The scientific community is really going to run with this."

Nocera hopes that within 10 years, homeowners will be able to power their homes in daylight through photovoltaic cells, while using excess solar energy to produce hydrogen and oxygen to power their own household fuel cell. Electricity-by-wire from a central source could be a thing of the past.

The project is part of the MIT Energy Initiative, a program designed to help transform the global energy system to meet the needs of the future and to help build a bridge to that future by improving today's energy systems. MITEI Director Ernest Moniz, Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics and Engineering Systems, noted that "this discovery in the Nocera lab demonstrates that moving up the transformation of our energy supply system to one based on renewables will depend heavily on frontier basic science."

The success of the Nocera lab shows the impact of a mixture of funding sources - governments, philanthropy, and industry. This project was funded by the National Science Foundation and by the Chesonis Family Foundation, which gave MIT $10 million this spring to launch the Solar Revolution Project, with a goal to make the large scale deployment of solar energy within 10 years.

web.mit.edu

I just saw a reference for the above article on one of the coffee shop boards. Having been away from SI for quite a while (house selling/moving overload), I did a thread search for, "MIT," and saw the headline for the article and it's URL were already posted.

Lynn

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