The Hyperloop Attracting Money, Getting Students To Do The Engineering

Thunderfoot has another Hyperloop video. I’ve posted about the Hyperloop before. I have a great deal of skepticism about the Hyperloop and even more on how the engineering seems to be progressing.

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Green Tech Hokum

Stories like this get to me. Here is yet another much ballyhooed “technology” that supposedly extracts CO2 from the air and turns it into other stuff. Even a cursory glance at the website  and you can see that’s it’s all fluff and no substance.

http://money.cnn.com/video/technology/innovationnation/2014/09/23/plastic-made-from-air.cnnmoney/index.html?sr=fbmoney040815plastic1030video

Looking at the details, if you know what to look for, you see stuff missing.  If these people were really making pellets from the air, as they claim, there should be a lot more hardware.  It’s telling that the company’s website does not include a process diagram.

Technology

I mean, to make the quantities of plastic pellets we see in the videos, the amount of air flow required require something much bigger than that little dryer tube.  As Thunderf00t says, you are going to need a LOT of air. Remember that CO2 is at best .04% of the atmosphere that you are pumping through your process.  So to get any measurable amount of C02 you are going to need to pump a LOT of air.

Which means big things like this, though this one is pretty small.

Doing large scale gas compression requires big machines.  I know exactly how large because I used to work on them. Here are some examples.

Types of Gas Compressors

http://www.documentation.emersonprocess.com/groups/publicreadonly/documents/webpage/ad122_gtp.hcsp

I’m reminded of this.  Back in the early 1990’s Molten Metal Technology involved Al Gore and my cousin’s in laws and a bunch of  very foolish people from MIT. They were very smart people, absolutely  enthralled with the potential of melting toxics into molten steel.  The fact that to anybody who knew anything about steelmaking this was purely ridiculous escaped them.  .

Steel making  is by and large making a huge effort to remove and control impurities, not dumping them into the furnace.  It took me ten seconds of hearing about what was involved to figure out that it was more than likely a scam.  Time and bunch of lost money proved me right.

So when you see stuff that looks too good to be true, it probably is. Right now removing CO2 from the atmosphere to “solve” the global warming crisis that is not happening seems to be the way that the technical scammers are working with crooked government to find ways to extract money from your pocket.

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/531346/can-sucking-co2-out-of-the-atmosphere-really-work/

I suppose that the problem is that to most people technology is all magic and they can’t  tell what’s real and what’s not.  Frankly, it’s not easy to separate the Carbon and Oxygen in CO2.  It take a lot of energy to separate CO2 because the molecule  has two double bonds.  So in order to get the CO2 out of the atmosphere in the first place take a lot of energy, getting the carbon separated from the oxygen take energy and making monomers takes yet more energy.  Which will do wonders for cooling the planet. Of course as they say you could use noncarbon sources of energy. Those sources though are already on the back side of the efficiency and capacity curves and trying to use them is already creating energy poverty issues.  In the end, the best way to Carbon is to plant trees.

 

The Law Of Unintended Consequences Hits Biofuels

This should be a shock to nobody but the Greens.

http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2016-07-27/as-corn-devours-u-s-prairies-greens-reconsider-biofuel-mandate

Ever since the beginning of the ethanol mandate it was obvious to anybody with eyes to see that the whole thing was a boondoggle and a huge waste for everybody except ADM.  What the Greens failed to understand is that if you prop up corn prices by buying, distilling and burning massive amounts of corn whisky in cars, two things are going to happen.  One the price is going to go up, making things like cow feed and other uses of corn more expensive  and 2. farmer are going to, without restraints, plant ever larger amounts of corn, which will 1. push out other crops like wheat and 2. require more land use to plant even more corn.  Which is why you can now go from Eastern Colorado to Western NY and essentially see nothing but corn.  Millions of acres of corn, across the country, grown to burn.  Somehow this was supposed to be environmentally friendly?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corn_ethanol

There’s something insane about using food crops for fuel.  Especially since growing the food crops and getting the product takes more fuel than you get back as heating value energy in vehicles.

Should We Use Food Crops For Food, Not Fuel?

The fact is that grain alcohol has a low heating value and lower flame temperatures than most of the other carbon fuels.  It’s not really a good fuel.  In fact, the only reason it’s used at all is it’s green stamp of renewability.  Is a fuel renewable though if, as more than likely, the system to grow, harvest, process and transport the fuel would collapse if energy could not be drawn from other sources.  Of course the other energy uses are typically invisible to the average Green who only sees the E10 sign at the gas pump and feels better about it.  I tend to look at that E10 symbol differently.  I see 100 car train loaded with corn in covered hoppers the same size as houses, pulled by locomotives, trains that go to huge grain elevators to be transferred to barges that stop at refining plants that distill the corn. Then I see yet more trains of huge tank cars, rolling across the country to oil refineries with the ethanol ration because you can’t ship ethanol in a pipeline.  All that to get my 10 gallons of gas diluted and make my car have higher gas usage due to the decrease in gas mileage.  When you see that E10 symbol, think of trains like these.

And of course some of the other unintended consequences, like a lot more burning cars on the road thanks to ethanol’s other bad habits

How A Smear Grows

 

The Nation has yet another attack on Exxon for “environmental crimes” due to the appearance of that fifty odd year old Humble Oil report. I’ve posted about this before. Here’s the Nation’s post.

 

On April 13, ExxonMobil filed suit to block a subpoena issued by the attorney general of the US Virgin Islands. Following revelations from the Los Angeles Times and InsideClimate News, the subpoena charged that the company may have violated the territory’s anti-racketeering law. It questioned whether Exxon told investors, including the territory’s pension fund, one thing about climate change (that it wasn’t a danger) while its own scientists were privately telling its management the opposite….

What’s more, by enabling increased global warming, Exxon’s alleged lying has damaged many people around the world. Crucially, the victims include investors and business owners. The poor suffer first and worst from climate change, but they rarely file—much less win—lawsuits against polluters. But when people of means are damaged, they don’t hesitate to sue for compensation…

Exxon’s exposure on this front is immense. If the allegations are true, the oil giant has in effect transferred massive amounts of risk and loss onto the rest of the market and virtually every business enterprise in it. By confusing the debate, Exxon helped delay government action against climate change. The company made buckets of money, but the resulting higher temperatures and extreme weather events have cost investors, governments, businesses, and ordinary people many billions, with much larger costs ahead. Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, has warned that as climate change intensifies, “parties who have suffered loss or damage [may] seek compensation from those they hold responsible….”

Nor is the right’s cheerleading without its complications for Exxon. The right conflates the First Amendment argument with its cuckoo belief that climate change is a hoax, but Exxon has a different goal: to protect its public image. Exxon needs to be perceived as a good corporate citizen, and in 2016 a good corporate citizen doesn’t deny climate change.

http://www.thenation.com/article/note-to-exxon-lying-about-climate-change-isnt-free-speech-its-fraud/

Note that last sentence.  “in 2016 a good corporate citizen doesn’t deny climate change.  As an engineer who’s worked on scientific instruments and somebody who’s been around science at all sort of level for a long time this is appalling on a bunch of levels. First, who are the Nation to decide what a good citizen is, corporate or otherwise.  Second, in a free society, it isn’t the citizen’s role to affirm or deny anything.  It’s the government that’s required to make it’s case.  Which you don’t do with nuisance lawsuits and legal extortion threats.  Third, when presenting science you need to base what you say based on what you know, not what you believe.

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