ENGINEERS: Don't we have the technology to use natural resources for energy? : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I've just been thinking that after the crash we Americans will be trying to rebuild our society without the help of foreign fuel for one thing. Haven't we the knowledge to create sources of energy from coal, tires, trash and other elements of our environment or have these types of inventions been squashed? Mary

-- Mary (, January 24, 1999


I wouldn't count on any inovation happening very quickly in a post Y2K world.

Check out this post:

-- d (, January 24, 1999.

It may take us some time to learn how to mine coal, Mary, but eventually we will get there.

-- dave (, January 24, 1999.

The basic technology is there - there are iron smelters on the Natchex Trace dating back to Lewis and Clark times - and colonial ironworks before pittsburg was a trading post.

But - these were using manual methods and easily retreived surface deposits long ago used up. The readily available mineable resources are played out, and so we are using high-tech and energy intensive methods to scratch resources for daily use, and will continue to do so until fusion reactors come on-line and we begin mining the asteroid belt.

(Come to think of it - those are kinda high-tech, energy intensive too, aren't they?)

The last days of easy resources and no-infrastruture dependencies are equal to manual labor on a single family farm with everything produced locally - which is essentially mid 1850's technology, maybe even early 1800's technology. Everything since relies on the infratructure providing goods or services from someone else who specialies in that technology who thne relies on someone else providing goods and services.

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (, January 24, 1999.

There are a number of commercial trash incinerators ("waste-to-energy plants") in my Northeast area. That's where my town's municipal solid waste goes. It is highly regulated by the EPA and state equivalent for emissions. (Our "tipping fees", before waste hauler costs, are pushing $100 and expected to go lots higher.) I expect (I hope wrongly) these plants to be more susceptible to embedded system problems simply because they are operated by smaller outfits than our more traditional electric plants and perhaps less likely to be corrected. (I doubt my town has given any consideration to where its trash will go if the incinerator is not working.) This type of facility can also burn tires if it is set up to handle them (they have to be sliced up first, and the incinerator has to be able to handle the higher temperatures). Compared to other waste disposal systems (like landfills), they have been a major white elephant to the towns locked into contractual arrangements. It could take the coal and petro plants shutting down for anyone here to believe that more trash plants to be promoted.

-- Brooks (, January 24, 1999.

Why focus on the OLD WAYS when you could re-invent what has already been discovered. Without robber barrons to squelch the tecnology we could all enjoy free and pollution-less energy to run our homes, businesses and fuel our vehicles. Too good to be true? Not this time.

-- (, January 24, 1999.

Thought we were talking engineering solutions here. Show me real power coming from these, not press releases. Till then, I'll believe in mining asteroids.

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (, January 24, 1999.



Cute :-) Lots of laughs in the straight-faced descriptions of supposed GEET technology.

A nice touch is the collection of quotes from Arthur C. Clarke, a federal judge, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, the New York Times, and others. From Mark Twain: "There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such trifling investment of fact."

Check out the photo of the "GEET - Chevy Suburban Conversion (42 mpg)" taken by "Bob Colvin - GEET of MD / WI / Lessor Antilles"

-- No Spam Please (, January 25, 1999.

The only 'free' power system I know of that works is Ocean Thermal System technology. It isn't complicated - and is actually a form of solar energy that uses the surface of the ocean in the tropics as a solar collector. Unfortunately, the bulk of the worlds population is not in the tropics. And it does require quite a bit of startup investment. But work it does.

-- Paul Davis (, January 25, 1999.

Paul - I wish more could be gotten from this kind of source.

But it requires a rather unique combination of the correct water depth, water temperature mix (cool and warm) and relatively stable conditions (middle of the Gulf Stream or North Sea wouldn't work- the water mixes too rapidly) to be effective. Obviously - also access to the shore for power transmissions - which are not permitted at some beaches- limits applicablity to near coastal conditions only. (This isn't as bad as it sounds - most large cities worldwide are coastal.)

For example - it can be tested off the coast of HI (deep cold water plus warm shallow water for HI cities - but would not be useful even along the Gulf Coast, Great Lakes, or much of the East Coast - for example Houston's very shallow warm sandy coastline can't generate the thermal difference to be effective in generating the delta T between the various fluid heat exchangers, even under an NH3 cycle. Same with tidal energy - a lot is there - but it isn't useful in commercial quantities.

Unfortunately - solar can only help minimize the need for commercial plants - you cant get enough energy from the sun to do much of anything useful commercially (industrially) - you need too many square miles of collectors.

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (, January 25, 1999.

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