Includes thoughts and comments about energy needs, resources, conservation and their relationship to politics at home and around the world.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Because I am still somewhat computer illiterate I will make this initial posting a rather short one. In future postings I will comment on the problems humankind face as we draw closer to the depletion of fossil fuel resources which we have depended upon so heavily since the beginning of the Industrial Age. The problems are numerous and impact every aspect of our lives, from the air we breathe to the water we drink, from the clothes we wear to the automobiles we drive, from the price we pay for the forms of energy we consume to the medications we take when we are sick, from the homes we live in to our impact on global warming. Political viewpoints will enter my comments as well because of the close tie between most energy resources, the regions of the world where those resources are found, economic impacts, and the environment. Let me start with the environment.


All fossil fuels produce particulate matter (soot and dust) when burned which enters the atmosphere ultimately settling out in surrounding areas. Other products of combustion include among others, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides. The effect of these products on living creatures is of concern in a variety of ways. Carbon dioxide is the primary component of so-called "greenhouse gasses", sulfur dioxide can combine with water to form "acid rain" and nitrogen oxides are primary ingredients of the "smog" found in the Los Angeles Basin and other large urban areas of the world where the lack of air movement allows the smog to build. The issue today is what can and is being done about these pollutants.

We know that "global warming" is real and. like global cooling, it is cyclical. We can't do much about the cyclical part of it, but we can alter humankind's contribution to it. A major step would be to replace fossil fuel (oil, gas and coal) burning electricity generation plants with nuclear power. I would argue that we never should have halted the building of nuclear power plants. There are other non-polluting options for generating electricity which can be employed where conditions permit. Future postings will deal with the options.

We have accomplished a lot in curbing the generation of "acid rain" with the installation of stack gas scrubbers in fossil fuel powered plants and through the desulfurization of fuel oil and coal. This problem could be eliminated entirely by moving to nuclear power.

The generation of smog producing nitrogen oxides in automobile exhausts has been greatly reduced with the development of more combustion efficient engines, exhaust catalytic converters, positive crankcase ventillation and fuel vapor recovery systems. By themselves, electric powered automobiles have yet to become a serious substitute for internal combustion engines. Autos combining conventional internal combustion engines with electric power are growing in popularity. Other approaches such as ethanol/gasoline blends, solar power etc. will be the subject of future postings. Reader comments are always welcome.


Blogger Rod Adams said...


As a former nuclear submarine officer, I agree with your comments about the emissions produced by burning fossil fuels and the fact that such emissions are eliminated when using nuclear power.

Since you have a long history with the oil industry, I would like your opinion on a theory that I have proposed and continue to try to develop.

It seems to me that at least some of the funds and political clout that has supported the antinuclear movement during the past thirty or more years has come from the fossil fuel industry. Many engineers and others associated with the oil industry have disagreed with this theory, claiming that their colleagues never worked against nuclear power.

However, from a business point of view, it seems logical that the established energy industry would do all it could to slow down the introduction of a formidable competitor.

What do you think? Do you think that the fossil fuel industry has at least some participants that would invest in supporting the efforts of people opposed to nuclear power?

12:31 PM

Blogger Energy said...

I came across your comment in a review of some of my original blogs. I agree with those in the energy business who say the oil companies do not opposed huclear energy expansion. Exxon/Mobil have been in the nuclear business for many years.

12:40 PM


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