Re: Hemp fuel? [was Re: Hydrogen cars, etc. [Re: QUOTE: Bey on e

Warrl kyree Tale'sedrin (
Tue, 18 Nov 1997 02:53:56 -0800

> From: Michael Lorrey <>

> Warrl kyree Tale'sedrin wrote:
> > Now, it is a given that eventually we will run out of fossil fuels.
> > When the supply actually runs low enough to drive the cost of
> > fossil-fuel-derived gasoline high enough, something will be done.
> > Today, though, we are not at that point and we have no reason to
> > believe we're anywhere particularly close to it.
> no it is not a given. All of those projections people put out of "30
> years" or "50 years" of oil left are projections based on consumption of
> reserves retreivable at current market prices. Obviously, as prices
> rise, more difficult to retreive reserves become cost effective
> resources. Eventually, even oil shales will truly become cost effective
> reserves, as they are not now. Oddly enough, as market prices rise, the
> number of decades of reserves available INCREASES.

And all this does is move "eventually" farther out.

If we continue (into the indefinite future) to use fossil fuels --
even if we eliminate all fuel uses and simply continue to use them at
the current rate as a raw material for synthetics -- we WILL
eventually run out of fossil fuels. Including the oil shales you
refer to.

That's probably several hundred years of "eventually". But it will
still happen.

> The only real excuse to not use fossil fuels is because of global
> warming, if it really exists.

I am pretty well convinced that it's very real -- and I'm very glad.

Eliminate the likely effects of human pollution (and don't be
short-sighted, we aren't NEARLY as polluting today as we were a
hundred years ago, and possibly not even two hundred years ago, at
least not in the ways that matter most), and you're talking ice age.

If we can boost the temperature another three to five degrees, the
climactic change might restore the Sahara Prairie -- which would make
life a lot easier for a lot of poor people.

Shorelines? TWO degrees warmer, we're back to the temperature of
about a thousand years ago. Do we have lots of evidence of sea
levels dropping since then? We should have good records from China,
and maybe Japan, and Arabia... the Maldives were a major cultural
center a thousand years ago, and they are a bunch of pretty low
islands, so their records should be really informative... and who
knows, even Europe might have something, in spite of the Dark Ages.

> > And unless someone in the meantime finds it worthwhile to put a major
> > effort into tuning external-combustion engines (what we should have
> > done in the first place), the "something" that will most likely be
> > done is finding a way to make gasoline from some other raw material.
> > Perhaps hemp oil or soybean oil.
> external combustion? you mean a fireplace powered car???? ;)

No. Think steam engines. Given the same level of technology and
development, an external combustion engine has *vast* advantages over
internal combustion. It's easier to switch fuels. Since it burns
steady (rather than in bursts) it burns the same fuel more cleanly
and efficiently.

Unfortunately there HAS NOT BEEN the same level of development.
We've put many times more effort into internal combustion engines.
Today we do not know how to make an external-combustion engine
suitable for use in an automobile, that is nearly as good as the
Rankine-cycle internal combustion engines that the automakers use by
the millions.

I've read about some interesting schemes. For example, a hybrid
vehicle using some sort of energy storage device; the charging
mechanism is a standard IC engine (about the size of a
riding-lawnmower engine) which runs intermittently but at a set,
constant speed when running. This addresses some, but not all, of
the inherent relative disadvantages of the internal-combustion
engine. Since it's properly tuned for its actual operating speed, it
runs cleaner than a normal IC engine and with less wear -- but still
inferior to what should be expected of a similarly-developed steam
engine, if such an engine existed.
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