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Author: Subject: Future chemistry
draculic acid69
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Future chemistry

Does anyone else think about where the planet is going to be 500-1000yrs from now ? I think we'll be well and truly on the way back to the stoneage. With estimates of oil reserves left being at a few hundred years worth left at current consumption (this can go up if we discover more reserves or down if we keep being greedy so who knows) levels unless we dramatically start substituting the fuel and plastic/packaging industries with sustainable/recycled materials and processes in a circular economy to stretch these reserves we'll be at the start of industry again almost except without the possibility of the advantages we have from oil. Imagine what happens to industries like airtravel/shipping/trucking/pharmaceutical/agriculture etc all those things that really can't be substituted with non petrochemical products which society really really depends on to keep everyone fed/healthy. And with no oil it basically spells the end of organic chemistry (my major concern even though I won't be alive to see it) and that means most modern medicine goes with it. Unless we come up with more bio processes to make common medicines or chemical building blocks once oil goes we'll
be pretty much plunged into darkness (metaphorically) and have to live like the Amish unless we spend the next few hundred years developing a contingency plan and the first step towards this is a circular economy like Iceland or Sweden (it's one of those countries) has.
This is more of an incoherent rant than anything I just wanted to vent my thoughts on the issue. Any ideas?comments? Thoughts?
Aloesci
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I think that we will have good carbon capture technology to fix some of those problems in the future.

I remember reading somewhere, that there have been chemists at various universities in the US and the UK who have done things like use electrocatalysts containing nickel and phosphorus to make plastics and other larger organic molecules out of CO2 and water. Some are even looking at making pharmaceuticals this way.

Most critically, theres a number of companies worldwide trying to commercialise CO2 capture, so hopefully by 500-1000 years time we will have something to show for all this!
arkoma
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Surely we will be an interplanetary species long before then.......that being said:

IMHO we're on the brink of a massive paradigm shift in the "energy business". The "battery problem" is a good ways in to being solved, and massive solar capture can't be far behind with better methodology than covering acres of land with arrays. All rooftops alone would be massive amt of gigawatts. How about power satellites? When I saw Spacex's booster land tail first vertically on an oceangoing barge I almost wept as the the Sci-Fi I read as a kid (and still do) is becoming science fact before our eyes. And then there are Thorium reactors too.

Petroleum will be a feedstock and niche fuel I believe in my lifetime, not our primary energy source, and it is highly likely that by advances in catalysis or who knows what that plain old CO2 will be the ultimate feedstock. I actually have quite a bit of hope for our species.

 Quote: Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Mark Twain

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chemist1243
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“500-1000yrs from now”

No way i could even speculate. Humanity seems to be advancing so fast that i dont think its even a problem. Maybe it seems that were screwed because we aren’t smart enough to see the solution yet.

Economy founded on products dependent on oil! I guess thats how many idiots it takes to turn on a light bulb

And of course without petrochemicals there is no chemistry as we know it today.

I feel sorry for the generation which has the misfortune of experiencing the greatest fall humanity will ever know.
draculic acid69
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 Quote: Originally posted by Aloesci I think that we will have good carbon capture technology to fix some of those problems in the future. I remember reading somewhere, that there have been chemists at various universities in the US and the UK who have done things like use electrocatalysts containing nickel and phosphorus to make plastics and other larger organic molecules out of CO2 and water. Some are even looking at making pharmaceuticals this way. Most critically, theres a number of companies worldwide trying to commercialise CO2 capture, so hopefully by 500-1000 years time we will have something to show for all this!

Yeah I've also heard that diesel and other hydrocarbons can be made from steam+carbon monoxide w/rhodium catalyst. This alone could solve the fuel/transport /environmental issue caused by fuel problem if it used the gas off of steel plants or other co/CO2 emitting industries.
draculic acid69
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 Quote: Originally posted by arkoma Surely we will be an interplanetary species long before then.......that being said: IMHO we're on the brink of a massive paradigm shift in the "energy business". The "battery problem" is a good ways in to being solved, and massive solar capture can't be far behind with better methodology than covering acres of land with arrays. All rooftops alone would be massive amt of gigawatts. How about power satellites? When I saw Spacex's booster land tail first vertically on an oceangoing barge I almost wept as the the Sci-Fi I read as a kid (and still do) is becoming science fact before our eyes. And then there are Thorium reactors too. Petroleum will be a feedstock and niche fuel I believe in my lifetime, not our primary energy source, and it is highly likely that by advances in catalysis or who knows what that plain old CO2 will be the ultimate feedstock. I actually have quite a bit of hope for our species.

As to your first sentence: 1st fact: it takes 9yrs to get to pluto.to get to another galaxy would take possibly several lifetimes.
2nd fact: that out of the billions of planets we'd need to find one or be found by them that's habitable in the "Goldilocks" zone and then find one that has life and not just any life like plants/insects actual conscious life with technology and the ability to planet hop which is pretty much the pinnacle of a civilizations ability has got to be rare.not something I think we'll accomplish in the next thousand years.
3rd factor:to get there U would need to find a way of providing water air fuel and food in a place none of these things exist
4th factor: say we find another planet with intelligent life, what stage of evolution are they at? And are they technologically advanced enough to also travel between planets.
Also while we're capable of getting from one planet to the next (for now) how much longer will humans exist
before we wipe ourselves out or civilization collapses from overpopulation,starvation,nuclear war,racial/religious conflict, natural event etc and what are the chances all of these obstacles will be overcome and all these million to one shots perfectly line up. Will this happen before we go extinct. I personally doubt we'll be an interplanetary species anytime this millennium.

I think every house should have a solar setup on the roof big enough to supply the house at the least +more to be fed back to the grid. A connection to the power grid would only be used to prop up residential supply on cloudy days.

As to your third paragraph: if oil became a niche chemical that would be ideal, allowing us to stretch our oil reserves for the longest time possible giving us more time to develop necessary alternatives for our needs
Im not as hopeful for our species though.we have so much potential but greed,idiocy, religions,corporations,
beuracracy, governments and slack laziness are also hurdles we need to overcome.unfortunately technology won't change these things. Only common sense and decency will. I'd give us 50/50 odds. Seriously depends if we change things for the better or not.

[Edited on 3-3-2021 by draculic acid69]
draculic acid69
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We're basically fukd once we're out of oil.your right on point.
It's sad to know that it's coming.wont be the next generation of two
but it's coming.and if we're not prepared it will hit like a ton of bricks
Fyndium
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You really are on a chemistry forum and think that the crude petroleum is the only source for plastics, rubbers and other modern products?

Even the nazis produced hydrocarbon fuels through process called Fischer-Tropsch. South Africa turned coal to fuel with it during the embargo. Only reason it hasn't gone international scale is because it is still cheaper to pump oil from ground than synthesize it from coal, biomass or other sources.

In the future, this is likely to change, and these events are always a turnover when they balance each others in cost, and when the other one gets more expensive, the cheaper option gets more investments, thus improving technology, further bringing down the price, and the development will go through a logistic curve. Meanwhile, ways to produce electricity, aka energy develop further, allowing even more variables to produce synthetic fuels. If we presume a very cheap electricity source, we would already produce the majority of our hydrocarbon fuels from sea water through electrolysis with hydrogen, and any suitable carbon source could be applied, including carbon dioxide from atmosphere. This would likely result to crashing prices of liquefied gaseous products because megascale plants would be built for it and they would produce a lot of "crap" alongside, like nitrogen, oxygen, argon, and noble gases.

It's not the science that fails us. It's the politicians. In an ideal world, we would have widespread thorium nuclear energy cheaply available - but nope, we needed uranium plants to make nuclear weapons, so no money for thorium technology. Now when the times have changed, politicians deem any nuclear power inherently bad, and it must be replaced with something that is much less efficient and more polluting.

I see an analogy for crude oil in my chemistry hobby. The availability of chemicals has always been a culprit. Let's say that we have freely and cheaply available chemicals like we have had crude oil. We are used to that, and instead of putting effort to find out means to produce and recycle our own chemicals, we just buy then by the need, and the laziest ones just buy the final product and skip all the work.

Now, the crude oil availability is getting more and more limited and the cost rises, what you do? End your hobby? Start crying? Or find out how you can make it from feedstock that is available cheap and easy, and be independent on that one for the foreseeable future? This is what I've been doing for the most of my time: I look into how I can turn otc bulk stuff into something useful in a practical, high yielding method.

This is the future of hydrocarbon fuels. It just needs technological adaptation, and in the long run it's only good for the world. It makes us independent from anyone who happen to have reserves and they can pump our resources to sell it to us for a high price. In the long run, this development will render crude oil too cheap to be economically recoverable, crushing oil producing countries' economies. The supporting technology will also make leaps in other areas. For example, graphene filters are researched to work as a filters to make pure water easily from dirty, saline water.

I've always though it's a stupid idea to pump something from ground and use it carelessly, because there is no such thing as unlimited supply. It has always been inevitable that petroleum will be just an era in human history, which is slowly coming to an end.
arkoma
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There. Is. No. Future. For. Hydrocarbon. Fuels.

 Quote: It has always been inevitable that petroleum will be just an era in human history, which is slowly coming to an end.

^^^ Quicker than you think. There is a fella from South Africa that now lives here in the US that has managed to make the electric car COOL, FAST, and good looking. GM now sells "crate" drop in electric drive lines.

And who the hell said "inter stellar" species? The fourth rock is a lil' ole planet named Mars, and I do believe that same fella from South Africa is going to succeed in quest to get us there, and then Mars will put us within reach of the belt with it's massive resources.

Such "Doom & Gloom" here is kind of surprising to me. The only thing I see that could knock us to the stone age would be a "Captain Trips" type epidemic, or, gODS forbid, nuclear war.

*edit* this is within our reach https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space-based_solar_power

[Edited on 3-3-2021 by arkoma]

 Quote: Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Mark Twain

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chemist1243
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Good point about the investment in other ways of producing these normally oil derived products, however there is still a long way to go. I think once people start to see the problem future generations face, then we could atleast do something to mend the inevitable.

And The problem isn’t that we cant make the same stuff without oil, the problems is that oil is far too integrated into society make the switch.

Even if we begin working on new technologies as officials see a noticeable scarcity in oil, we just use oil for so much stuff. We literally live, breath, and excrete petroleum products from our body’s. Not to mention the fact that making things from coal eventually poses the same problem as oil. In fact, pretty much an natural resource will run out quickly if you use it as much as oil.

Not to mention overpopulation, because we all know humans WONT stop breeding like rabbits until we are shoulder-to-shoulder and then some. So the world population will just keep increasing along with the demand for more space and more resources. Either that or something(hint: oil leaves) happens and people die, possibly due to a lack of the most widely used natural resource known to man aside from oxygen. Or not enough food is also a likely problem, as people already seem to be starving in many places.

How will we dispose of all the bodies? What will we say to those who need food when we our selves can barley find it? Something big has to happen, weather it be colonizing space or simply nature taking its course, man kind will have to deal with some serious issues in a bit.

Getting chemicals will probably be the least of our problems when the oil supply runs thin. I would be more concerned with things like setting up my own basic electricity generator, buying some tools, and finding a sustainable food/water supply.

Those who thoroughly understand or have experience in electric work will of course be very resourceful, as electricity is infinitely useful for some of the most basic of tasks. Once all that happens, i could start getting basic chemicals. Most Bases could come from ash, sulfuric acid probably wont be able to be made because huge sulfur deposits arent found naturally in most places, but if you live close to an ocean you could probably make a small bit of HCl from electrolysis(this is where electricity would be quite useful)

Most metals needed could probably be scraped from old buildings and wires, alcohols could be made from fermentation, the list goes on.

Worst case scenario, you have a chance in a semi-apocalyptic world. Best case scenario, you just have some rather useless survival skills in a society which simply mines out whatever they need from one of the infinite asteroids floating around in space.

I wonder, how hard would it be to go an entire day, without using a single petroleum derived product or utility? I see a new challenge brewing

[Edited on 3-3-2021 by chemist1243]
draculic acid69
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Just seen on the news Australia is planning to phase out a lot of plastic by 2025.
$190 million dollars being spent on this, polystyrene and non compostable plastic food packaging will be phased out, no more mixed plastics (unrecycleable or problematic)no more single use plastic cutlery and a few more things I didn't catch. I guess there is hope common sense will prevail as this is a good start. As for the mixed plastics thing I seen somewhere that a tomato sauce bottle has 7different layers in there bottles which is a problem for current recycling methods. [Edited on 4-3-2021 by draculic acid69] [Edited on 4-3-2021 by draculic acid69] Fyndium International Hazard Posts: 1013 Registered: 12-7-2020 Location: Not in USA Member Is Offline  Quote: Originally posted by chemist1243 Good point about the investment in other ways of producing these normally oil derived products, however there is still a long way to go. The decision to do things is easy when you gotta do it. Population growth is a factor of developing countries. The developed countries, at least some of them, even face decay because of low birth rate. One more reason to get the poor people up and educated. The most catastrophic scenario is an actual crisis, which will cause political turbulence, because people don't like their standard of living dropping, so they will start voting politicians that promise them things and use harsher measures. This is pretty much the way all extremist political movements have risen to power in history, and I see this as one of the biggest threats in the coming 100 years of future. Resources can be allocated, but angry and stupid people are no to be stopped without tragic cost once they get going. The rate of solar energy hitting earth is many orders of magnitude higher than any human energy need by far. This correlates to biomass production, which, when properly utilized, would be more than enough to supply all energy produced by non-renewable sources. It's the old infrastructure that is braking the change, because it's cheaper to run old machines than make new ones for quite a long time. The chemical analogue for crude oil has nothing to do with chemistry hobby. It was an analogue, literally. Second to that zombie apocalypse, there are already lot of places in our planet where the sort of apocalypse scenario is real, while the other part lives in deep peace and literally eat themselves to death. metalresearcher International Hazard Posts: 614 Registered: 7-9-2010 Member Is Offline Mood: Reactive "Population growth is a factor of developing countries." Indeed, but in the developed world, every person consumes at least ten times the resources. So we have to stop population growth anyway, everywhere. No child benefit from the government when you already have two kids. If you really want more, you'll have to fund raising them without subsidies. "This is pretty much the way all extremist political movements have risen to power in history, and I see this as one of the biggest threats in the coming 100 years of future." Politicians are indeed the biggest threat. Companies already do much to climate change, but politicians only have words. National interests are indeed more important than global ones. The biggest problem is that energy and resources are dirt cheap. Electricity has never been so cheap as now (with inflation). That results in our current throwaway society with plastic oceans. In 1904 it costed$2 2021 dollars per KWh, now 20 cents. Same applies to oil, metals, resources, etc.
Do we really need so many resources and energy ?
woelen

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We are talking here about a time span of 500 to 1000 years. I think that we (as a species) are at a point of decision right now, for a few decades already. We have the power to destroy our technological society (and probably even ourselves), bujt we also can bring our species beyond this dangerous time we are living in now. It is a matter of politics and of collective behavior.

If our technological society survives for the next 100 years or so and becomes more durable from an ecological point of view, then I think that there is a long and bright future for us, starting with the ability to produce and use large amounts of energy (e.g. nuclear fusion) and in the wake of that we most likely develop towards a space-faring species on a large scale within our solar system. For me it is well imaginable that this level can be reached somewhere in this millenium (e.g. by the year 2500 AD). With the opening up of large energy resources, we can increase the speed of travel 10 times or so, making travel within the inner part of the solar system a matter of weeks and travel towards the middle regions of our solar system a matter of months.
If, however, we screw up things, and society crumbles and goes down in rioting, looting, poverty, diseases and famine, then we will enter a long long dark age. Once we lose our technology, we will have a much harder time to build it up again. The first time (around 1750 AD) we still had a world full of easy to mine resources. If we need to bootstrap from nothing again, things will be much harder. All low-buried 'fruits' are used up already and we need a lot of technology to mine the remaining fruits. In a second run we will depend on what nature gives us in the form of wood, spices, biologically produced chemicals, and so on. It _might_ be possible to bootstrap a technological society from these limited resources, but it will be much slower and harder to achieve a decent level of technology with only resources from living nature.

Then of course, there is a third possibility, not a slow crumbling of society, but a massive world wide event, such as a nuclear war. Such an event can wipe us out completely, but I am not that pessimistic. I still believe that people are sane enough not to go that path of destruction.

So, I think that within a century from now the decision will be made . . .

_________________________________________________________________________

When it comes to interstellar space travel I am very very pessimistic. I think that we as human species never will do that. Imagine that we indeed can use nuclear fusion as power source and have virtually unlimited access to energy. With nuclear fusion drives it is possible to get speeds of appr. 0.1% of light speed (appr. 300 km/s) for a stop and return mission, but that is where the limits of that technology are. With current chemical rockets we can achieve speeds of appr. 0.01% of light speed for a stop and return mission (for simple flyby we nowadays already can reach appr. 0.03% of speed of light, but for real exploitation we need stop and return).
So, if somewhere in this millennium we master nuclear fusion technology, also in space fare, then we can reach destinations in our solar system in weeks, months. But reaching our neighbor star Proxima Centauri will take 4000 to 5000 years. Reaching interesting star systems with possibly inhabitable planets will take tens of thousands of years or even hundreds of thousands of years! Going to another galaxy will take huge geological time scales (e.g. Andromeda will take 2.5 billion years).

The art of wondering makes life worth living...
Want to wonder? Look at https://woelen.homescience.net
Fyndium
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 Quote: Originally posted by metalresearcher Indeed, but in the developed world, every person consumes at least ten times the resources. The biggest problem is that energy and resources are dirt cheap.

Developed countries also have high efficiency in production and recycling. The issue is, it's cheaper and easier to ship trash to developing countries, which also do not have developed recycling and waste management systems. I dare to say that majority of environmental pollutants like plastics come from those countries. It's not to blame them, it's us who fuel them, and instead of doing things for it, we silently accept it because it is beneficial to us in the short term - say who doesn't like $10 chinese rbf's and condensers when the same stuff costs 150$ for a brand one?

But our way of living is quite sustainable and becomes even more so when technology develops, and same applies to developing countries. If the entire world operated at the highest technological standards, producing all food via synthetic nitrogen sources in controlled crops yielding over 10T/Ha twice a year, and all resources are recycled over 99% efficiency and energy is produced via sustainable methods, including solar, nuclear, biomass, etc, the earth could sustain over 60 billion people.

I also had to say for the earlier post that hydrocarbon fuels have many benefits as an energy storage medium. We have fully matured infrastructure and highly efficient reciprocating engines to readily utilize the fuel, and it's energy density and long term stability in ntp is yet to be surpassed by anything below nuclear. People fancy about hydrogen fuel, but it's practically non-useable, as even if liquefied, it's energy density is still far away and it requires extreme pressures, causing more efficiency losses and also safety and structural factors. It also tends to diffuse through pretty much anything, so the storage is always somewhat temporary. Biofuels, on the other hand, have also the downside that they use food crops, that rise food prices and cause other issues in supply chain.

The work Musk is doing doesn't mean the whole world will be Tesla, but he will certainly bring great elements in human society that will carry on and give incentive to develop those. A breakthrough in global wireless internet would be a nice thing for start. Even bigger, if a cheap, high energy density stable low cost battery that charges quickly is developed, it would really start a compete over fuel-powered engines. Even two of those attributes, cheap price(=no rare elements) and quick charging would make a very big impact. Electric cars are an emerging technology, meaning it has big limitations still, but many promising attributes. Reciprocating engine is exceedingly complicated machine with all it's equipment like transmissions etc, while electric motor does have only one moving part. Only reason it is much cheaper to make them is because of highly developed infrastructure.

It's only a good thing that energy is cheap. I would like it to have 10 times cheaper than what it's now. Electricity costs about 60-100€ per MWh. Cheap resources allow economies to utilize higher standards for production, if the competitive market works correctly. Expensive resources force economies to use substitute and rudimentary methods, what makes them cut corners from the non-necessary functions. This is why developing economies tend not to care so much about waste management, efficiency factors, etc and stuff is outright produced in less efficient ways. People literally burn wood to cook food and heat and only few % of energy is utilized. If it's burned in a large scale facility, over 90% can be recovered as electricity, heating, etc and it can also be used to produce other stuff like syngas, which can be used to produce hydrocarbon fuels via fischer-tropsch.

Highly developed societies also allow people to educate and work in a very narrow areas of expertise, which is not possible in a society where most of your time goes looking for food and shelter. Instead of pumping dirty water from dug-up well far away from home, you can work in a research team working on some little detail in a large enterprise with a million moving parts. The pay they get from their jobs they use to buy other commodities like food and water from other people who do them instead of DIY'ing. Scale of economies would highly benefit from huge masses of people getting good education and employment.

What comes for space expansion, it's for the most part still sci-fi, but the near planets are likely reachable within a couple of centuries. I believe that direct travel through space will never be used other than for short trips, and unless some quantum leap is eventually discovered that allows us to skip space through wormhole-type mechanism, the other stellars may remain unconquered for good. I never say never, because pretty much everything we use in the 21st century would have landed you in a nuthouse in 1700's.

[Edited on 4-3-2021 by Fyndium]
arkoma
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 Quote: but the near planets are likely reachable within a couple of centuries

I may not be here to collect, but I propose a gentleman's bet of $1US that there will be permanent human residents on the fourth rock by 2075, and native born Martian's by 2100. IMHO, it took waaaaay bigger balls to get on one of those tiny ass, leaky boats in a European port, headed into the absolute unknown, in 1500 than it would to sit atop a torch rocket bound for Mars. At least now-a-days, your family would at least know if you drilled in................ *edit* not that it is likely, but if SpaceX called now, I could be waiting with my tooth brush packed within 15 minutes........(and some cannabis seeds, mmm, Matt Damon Turd Pot) *edit* Ares Blood Bud.........can smell it now [Edited on 3-4-2021 by arkoma] [Edited on 3-4-2021 by arkoma]  Quote: Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Mark Twain Smash. All. Icons andy1988 Hazard to Others Posts: 127 Registered: 11-2-2018 Location: NW Americus ([i]in re[/i] Amerigo Vespucci) Member Is Offline Mood: No Mood Oh what a fun discussion. "We find all the no-life-support-wealth-producing people going to their 1980s jobs in their cars and buses, spending trillions of dollars' worth of petroleum daily to get to their no-wealth-producing jobs. It doesn't take a computer to tell you that it will save both Universe and humanity trillions of dollars a day to pay them handsomely to stay at home." Buckminster Fuller (1982) Really think about that. EDIT: Well... I got too political I suppose so I withdrew a bit. There was a pretty damning analysis of the proposed hydrogen economy somewhere, perhaps here, or on the Just Have a Think YouTube channel (top notch quality content on this sustainable energy topic, I highly recommend!). Arguments against the widespread use of hydrogen include issues like energy lost in conversion and also the implausibility of material science sufficiently mitigating hydrogen embrittlement. I like the dark ages analogy, that was pretty good. [Edited on 5-3-2021 by andy1988] Fyndium International Hazard Posts: 1013 Registered: 12-7-2020 Location: Not in USA Member Is Offline  Quote: Originally posted by arkoma if SpaceX called now, I could be waiting with my tooth brush packed within 15 minutes I could really give it a thought too. Even if you ever did nothing special actually but just chill on board, your name and face would be remembered in the remaining history as one of the first persons to land there and people would pay big buck for you to make speeches in all kinds of conventions about everything between Earth and Mars. The bread and circuses - one of the pragmatic issues of society: the people who actually do important things, get no money nor fame, but the people who go all around fancy and cool do. Vomaturge National Hazard Posts: 260 Registered: 21-1-2018 Member Is Offline Mood: thermodynamic On the issue of running out of petroleum, I want you to do an experiment on yourself over the next week: estimate the mass of every piece of plastic packaging, plastic cased electronic device, motor oil, petroleum derived pharmaceutical, etc that you use. Then estimate the mass of fuels you have used. Gasoline, natural gas/lpg, and calculate electrical power conservatively by saying 1 kwh=100 gm of petrochemicals burned. I have a feeling that you'll find the fuel use vastly exceeds any "synthesis use." Then remember that most of the synthesized products can be recycled, and the fuel use cannot be. The key to not running out of petrochemicals is to find a cheap, efficient, clean alternative source of energy, and then find a way to put it into use gradually without disrupting current economies and technologies. It might not happen in the next few decades but it will happen long before oil reserves dry up. We take the path of least resistance, and if coal power generation is costing$10 per kwh, an economy car costs \$6 to drive a km, and solar+ batteries costs half that, those "uneconomic" technologies will be popping up everywhere.

as far as cutting fuel usage in the meantime, im intrigued by biomass-->syngas--> methanol. If I recall, a kilogram of random cellulose waste can produce about twice as much alcohol as you'd get by fermenting a kilogram of corn. I'll try to find a source for that. No way can we make enough to supply our current fuel needs, but it's just another source of energy to add.

I now have a YouTube channel. So far just electronics and basic High Voltage experimentation, but I'll hopefully have some chemistry videos soon.
woelen

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I fully agree with Vomaturge. The use of fossil fuels for production of energy is _the_ main problem of our society. If we can produce energy in a clean and safe way in huge amounts, then the availability of chemicals, derived from oil, gas, and so on, is not a problem at all. Given enough energy, we can make those compounds also from organic matter, produced by nature, and if really needed, we might even be able to make them from water and CO2! So, I see no problem in oil being used up, as long as our technological society survives and finds alternative ways to produce large amounts of energy.

The current 'green energy' sources, like solar power, wind mills, geothermal energy and who knows what more will follow are not sufficient. They are nice and important add ons, but there is not a single silver bullet which will solve the problem of energy demand. Thorium nuclear reactors may be another addition, which is feasible with current technology. I really hope that controlled nuclear fusion will become feasible in the near future. That would be a fantastic step forward!

I believe that we are capable of solving the problem of energy demand, but whether we really do so I am not 100% sure about. If we do not in let's say the next 100 years, then our society is doomed and it will crumble and we will fall back to a future of warlords, miniature countries in constant war with each other, and finally entering a new dark age and having great difficulty of getting out of that again (see my previous post). A few happy rich ones may have a good life parasiting on the remains of our society and the resources of other people, but nearly 100% of the people will have a standard of living not better than the people of e.g. the year 1000 AD.

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Fyndium
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 Quote: Originally posted by Vomaturge as far as cutting fuel usage in the meantime, im intrigued by biomass-->syngas--> methanol. If I recall, a kilogram of random cellulose waste can produce about twice as much alcohol as you'd get by fermenting a kilogram of corn. I'll try to find a source for that. No way can we make enough to supply our current fuel needs, but it's just another source of energy to add.

This one study finds that corn produces much more ethanol than starch:

https://www.theseus.fi/bitstream/handle/10024/42578/Otulugbu...

But..

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cellulosic_ethanol#Economics

Since cellulose cannot be digested by humans, the production of cellulose does not compete with the production of food, other than conversion of land from food production to cellulose production (which has recently started to become an issue, due to rising wheat prices.) The price per ton of the raw material is thus much cheaper than that of grains or fruits. Moreover, since cellulose is the main component of plants, the whole plant can be harvested. This results in much better yields—up to 10 short tons per acre (22 t/ha), instead of 4-5 short tons/acre (9–11 t/ha) for the best crops of grain.

So, while the efficiency per unit is much lower, the raw material is much less expensive, making starch alcohol a viable option.
chemist1243
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Nuclear power is probably our next BIG source of energy. We have more than plentiful amount of thorium/uranium, and nuclear tech would be way better now than it was in the Chernobyl plant, where some workers in the control room didnt even know what they were doing.

Then its just a matter of using all that energy wisely and finding a way to either store the waste really really well or somehow recycle it. I dont see any huge road blocks, especially if Elon keeps improving electric-travel. The only real problem is that when using thorium you’d have to have something like plutonium to bombard it with neutrons until its fissile enough to use in a reactor.

Am I missing something?
draculic acid69
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 Quote: Originally posted by chemist1243 Nuclear power is probably our next BIG source of energy. We have more than plentiful amount of thorium/uranium, and nuclear tech would be way better now than it was in the Chernobyl plant, where some workers in the control room didnt even know what they were doing. Then its just a matter of using all that energy wisely and finding a way to either store the waste really really well or somehow recycle it. I dont see any huge road blocks, especially if Elon keeps improving electric-travel. The only real problem is that when using thorium you’d have to have something like plutonium to bombard it with neutrons until its fissile enough to use in a reactor. Am I missing something?

Problem with nuclear power is the danger that goes with it.
It only takes one fukup and the next thing U know we're abandoning entire cities and eating radioactive tuna.something with such a low margin of error and such a high,long lasting and wide reaching level of damage imo isn't worth the benefits. At least with current methods.it has a big upside but a huge risk and until that risk is severely diminished nuclear is a risky bet.its already gone wrong a few times. How many more "accidents" can we afford before an entire country or continent is Chernobylized.
Praxichys
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I was recently reading about sea level rise and was intrigued to discover that from the 1950s-1970s there was a notable slowdown in the rise rate attributed to a boom in manmade water retention.

Supposing humankind's accelerating use of fossil fuels continues to boost the water cycle, an upside may be that we could slow the sea rise to our economic advantage by creating vast dams and manmade lakes. Conceivably this would make more fresh water available for drinking and irrigation than ever before, facilitate the creation of huge tracts of arable land from otherwise desert or tundra, and hydroelectric power and freshwater foods could be plentiful and cheap.

With HDIs soaring in countries historically impoverished, fossil fuels unfortunately continue to be the go-to, inexpensive, readily-available energy source for massive improvements to quality of life. Regulating against that requires the buy-in of the common man who at this juncture is still concerned with catching up to a Western standard of living; it is a humanitarian debate on its own as to whether suppressing this growth is wise or justified, and in any case the citizen is apt to ignore what does not serve him best, making any regulation largely unenforceable. This is already widely evidenced by the numerous environmental disasters and rampant disregard for ecology already practiced in these nations despite their governments referring to regulation already in place, often fully accepting the futility therein with abject silence.

Unfortunately I think there is not much we can peacefully do but engineer a comfortable future with a shifting climate and rising sea as a given. By the time social engineering has found a way to overcome cultural barriers, nationalism, and can turn the will of the common man on a global scale toward a peaceful solution, we will have done better to regionally engineer countermeasures rather than globally engineer a climatic reversal. However, just as oil-bearing countries today are sought globally as economic allies, countries with the forethought to construct economically advantageous countermeasures could position themselves as the future of inexpensive global energy.

Countermeasures also have the advantage of existing in the realm of current economic and technological feasibility which is important from a cost and time-assessment standpoint, two major qualities a reversal-based idea has yet to demonstrate. Their potential profitability puts them far ahead of any solutions which currently stand as pure economic drains. We may well preserve ourselves by intelligently leveraging the very greed that originated this crisis.
chemist1243
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If we compare the possibility for accidents now to the possibility for accidents 32 years ago in a poor soviet power plant with undereducated workers, we are just being silly.

The margin for error is what we make it. Of course there will be accidents, but by planning the location of the plant, preparing for the worst case scenarios, strict management and safety procedure being enforced, ect ect (and more ect) - we can make it work and turn what would be catastrophic into a managable and unlikley event.

It’s a wonderful plan - all humanity needs is someone(s) who can execute it perfectly.
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