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Posts tagged “CTL”

By Robert Rapier on Jan 27, 2011 with 65 responses

Vinod Khosla and the Gasification/Fermentation Debate

Vinod Khosla Prognosticates Vinod Khosla is once more offering up his prognostications on the future of the energy business: What Matters in Biofuels? Given the likely continued dominance of the internal combustion engine, cellulosic and sugar-derived fuels offer one of the lowest risk advances to quickly and affordably achieve low-carbon transportation. I predict that long before 2022, half a dozen technologies within and outside our portfolio will be market competitive and will blow away the cost structure of corn ethanol. In the same article, he offers his view on those he deems energy Luddites: The old fashioned bias among traditionalists, mostly Luddites unfamiliar with the vibrant new research especially in startups, is that Fischer-Tropsch synthesis (FT) of liquid hydrocarbons from… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jan 25, 2011 with 31 responses

Great Green Fleet Neither Great Nor Green?

In my recent interview with Tom Hicks, who is the Deputy Assistant Secretary to the Navy (Energy), he explained some of the Navy’s energy initiatives. One of those is to sail the “Great Green Fleet.” The goal is that in 2012 they will put a carrier strike group in local operations entirely on alternative fuels and then in 2016 they plan to deploy that strike group on all alternative fuels. By 2020, the goal is that 50% of all of the Navy’s energy consumption will come from alternative sources. The reasons for these goals are obvious. The U.S. Department of Defense consumes more oil than any other organization in the world, and most of that oil comes from other countries…. Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jan 10, 2011 with 36 responses

When Economic Recovery Collides with Flat Oil Production

A theme that I commonly discuss in articles and presentations is the problem of economic recovery when oil prices are high. If the market is well-supplied and there is ample excess oil production capacity, oil prices tend to be moderate and stable, and economic growth can proceed without much headwind. However, the world has now had essentially flat oil production for several years in the face of historically high prices. This implies — and I believe it is true — that there are serious supply constraints within the system. I believe that some countries do still possess spare capacity, but that the overall amount isn’t large. I think if there was much excess capacity, we would see countries taking advantage… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Nov 3, 2009 with no responses

We’re Number One!

The U.S., that is, in total fossil fuel resources. At least those were the findings of the Congressional Research Service in a report they just released: U.S. Fossil Fuel Resources: Terminology, Reporting, and Summary The primary reason is our huge coal reserves. While we are 12th in oil reserves (Table 5 of the report), our coal reserves are by far the largest in the world. All together, the fossil fuel reserves (oil, natural gas, and coal) of the U.S. are reported at just under one trillion barrels of oil equivalent (BOE). The global total is reported at 5.6 trillion BOE. While I think you have to take data from some of the listed countries with a grain of salt –… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jun 9, 2009 with 1 response

The Long Recession

Sometimes people ask me what I think will happen as a result of peak oil. Well, it depends. We could see alternatives – natural gas, ethanol, GTL, CTL, etc. – fill the gap of falling oil supplies for a while. It just depends on how quickly production falls. But if the alternatives are not up to the task, then I think what we will see – borrowing terminology from The Long Emergency- is The Long Recession. Here’s how it would work. As economies heat up, demand for oil increases. This puts upward pressure on oil prices, which can ultimately cause a recession such as the one we are in now. Historically, spiking oil prices tend to consume disposable income and… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Mar 31, 2009 with no responses

The New and Improved CTL Scheme

“In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is.” – Jan L. A. van de Snepscheut A very short paper (two pages) appeared in the latest Science detailing an improvement on coal-to-liquids (CTL) technology. A couple of people have e-mailed me to ask for my take on it. You can get the executive summary from the quote at the top, or from my version, which is: “In the world of energy, people sometimes have trouble distinguishing make-believe from reality.” – Me Wired Magazine weighed in on the (subscription-only) Science report – Producing Transportation Fuels with Less Work – a few days ago: Bad News: Scientists Make Cheap Gas From Coal If oil prices rise… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Feb 4, 2008 with no responses

Coal-Based Ethanol

The handwriting has been on the wall on this issue for a couple of years. In fact, I first mentioned it in March 2006 in Improving the Prospects for Grain Ethanol. Here is an excerpt of what I wrote: This is an option that most environmentalists will abhor. However, it is the one most likely to take place in the short-term. The natural gas input into ethanol production is a serious long-term threat to economic viability. Since natural gas is a fossil fuel, and supplies are diminishing, it will put upward pressure on the price of ethanol over time. However, if the energy inputs could be produced from coal, ethanol prices would be insulated from escalating natural gas prices. Using… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Aug 28, 2007 with no responses

The Week in Energy – September 1, 2007

As I mentioned in the previous post, I plan to start posting on a more infrequent basis. Every 5-10 days, I will post some short excerpts/links to energy stories I found interesting, odd, or comical. I will keep my own comments to a minimum. And while I plan to leave the comments section open, I don’t plan to spend time there as it is too easy to get sucked into endless debate. Anyway, I was targeting this weekend for this essay, but I have slowly chipped away at it each morning this week, and I think there is enough there to post. Let me know whether you find this format useful. I am open to changing, as long as I… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jul 21, 2006 with no responses

Oil from Montana Coal

I have been kicking around the idea of writing an essay on the coal-to-liquids (CTL) dream of Montana governor Brian Schweitzer. However, a story just appeared in the Billings Gazette that emphasizes many of the points I would cover in an essay: Making oil from coal is bad for Montana The essay argues that we shouldn’t do it, mainly due to global warming and pollution concerns. I agree that we shouldn’t do it, but I think we will do it as we become more desperate for energy. However, the cost of a CTL plant is double the cost of a conventional refinery. This means that CTL is still not an economic option, even though the process is viable from a… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jul 2, 2006 with no responses

Summary of Archived Essays

I generally get a lot of e-mails asking for comments on biodiesel, butanol, or any number of subjects I have previously written about. But once an article goes into the archives, it is not nearly as accessible. I am about to be on vacation for a week, so I thought this might be a good time to review some previous articles on various subjects that have scrolled into the archives. Ethanol1. Grain-Derived Ethanol: The Emperor’s New Clothes Synopsis: In my first blog essay, I hit a number of the popular pieces of misinformation regarding grain ethanol. 2. Improving the Prospects for Grain Ethanol Synopsis:Here I looked at some potential breakthroughs that could make grain ethanol truly viable. 3. Ethanol from… Continue»