Peak Uranium by Ugo Bardi

12 01 2017

Posted on by

THIS should get Eclipse all stirred up……..

[ This is an extract of Ugo Bardi’s must read “Extracted”.  Many well-meaning citizens favor nuclear power because it doesn’t emit greenhouse gases.  The problem is that the Achilles heel of civilization is our dependency on trucks of all kinds, which run on diesel fuel because diesel engines transformed our civilization by their ability to do heavy work better than steam, gasoline, or any other engine on earth.  Trucks are required to keep the supply chains going that every person and business on earth depend on, as well as mining, tractors/harvesters, road & other construction trucks, logging etc.  Since trucks can’t run on electricity, anything that generates electricity is not a solution, nor is it likely that the electric grid can ever be 100% renewable (read “When trucks stop running”, this can’t be explained in a sound-bite).

Alice Friedemann   www.energyskeptic.com  author of “When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation”, 2015, Springer and “Crunch! Whole Grain Artisan Chips and Crackers”. Podcasts: Practical Prepping, KunstlerCast 253, KunstlerCast278, Peak Prosperity , XX2 report ]

Bardi, Ugo. 2014. Extracted: How the Quest for Mineral Wealth Is Plundering the Planet. Chelsea Green Publishing.

Although there is a rebirth of interest in nuclear energy, there is still a basic problem: uranium is a mineral resource that exists in finite amounts.

Even as early as the 1950s it was clear that the known uranium resources were not sufficient to fuel the “atomic age” for a period longer than a few decades.

That gave rise to the idea of “breeding” fissile plutonium fuel from the more abundant, non-fissile isotope 238 of uranium. It was a very ambitious idea: fuel the industrial system with an element that doesn’t exist in measurable amounts on Earth but would be created by humans expressly for their own purposes. The concept gave rise to dreams of a plutonium-based economy. This ambitious plan was never really put into practice, though, at least not in the form that was envisioned in the 1950s and ’60s.Several attempts were made to build breeder reactors in the 1970s, but the technology was found to be expensive, difficult to manage, and prone to failure. Besides, it posed unsolvable strategic problems in terms of the proliferation of fissile materials that could be used to build atomic weapons. The idea was thoroughly abandoned in the 1970s, when the US Senate enacted a law that forbade the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel. 47

A similar fate was encountered by another idea that involved “breeding” a nuclear fuel from a naturally existing element—thorium. The concept involved transforming the 232 isotope of thorium into the fissile 233 isotope of uranium, which then could be used as fuel for a nuclear reactor (or for nuclear warheads). 48 The idea was discussed at length during the heydays of the nuclear industry, and it is still discussed today; but so far, nothing has come out of it and the nuclear industry is still based on mineral uranium as fuel.

Today, the production of uranium from mines is insufficient to fuel the existing nuclear reactors. The gap between supply and demand for mineral uranium has been as large as almost 50 percent in the period between 1995 and 2005, but it has been gradually reduced during the past few years.

The U.S. minded 370,000 metric tons the past 50 years, peaking in 1981 at 17,000 tons/year.  Europe peaked in the 1990s after extracting 460,000 tons.  Today nearly all of the 21,000 ton/year needed to keep European nuclear plants operating is imported.

The European mining cycle allows us to determine how much of the originally estimated uranium reserves could be extracted versus what actually happened before it cost too much to continue. Remarkably in all countries where mining has stopped it did so at well below initial estimates (50 to 70%). Therefore it’s likely ultimate production in South Africa and the United States can be predicted as well.

The Soviet Union and Canada each mined 450,000 tons. By 2010 global cumulative production was 2.5 million tons.  Of this, 2 million tons has been used, and the military had most of the remaining half a million tons.

The most recent data available show that mineral uranium accounts now for about 80% of the demand. 49 The gap is filled by uranium recovered from the stockpiles of the military industry and from the dismantling of old nuclear warheads.

This turning of swords into plows is surely a good idea, but old nuclear weapons and military stocks are a finite resource and cannot be seen as a definitive solution to the problem of insufficient supply. With the present stasis in uranium demand, it is possible that the production gap will be closed in a decade or so by increased mineral production. However, prospects are uncertain, as explained in “The End of Cheap Uranium.” In particular, if nuclear energy were to see a worldwide expansion, it is hard to see how mineral production could satisfy the increasing uranium demand, given the gigantic investments that would be needed, which are unlikely to be possible in the present economically challenging times.

At the same time, the effects of the 2011 incident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant are likely to negatively affect the prospects of growth for nuclear energy production, and with the concomitant reduced demand for uranium, the surviving reactors may have sufficient fuel to remain in operation for several decades.

It’s true that there are large quantities of uranium in the Earth’s crust, but there are limited numbers of deposits that are concentrated enough to be profitably mined. If we tried to extract those less concentrated deposits, the mining process would require far more energy than the mined uranium could ultimately produce [negative EROI].

Modeling Future Uranium Supplies

Uranium supply and demand to 2030

 

Using historical data for countries and single mines, it is possible to create a model to project how much uranium will be extracted from existing reserves in the years to come. 54 The model is purely empirical and is based on the assumption that mining companies, when planning the extraction profile of a deposit, project their operations to coincide with the average lifetime of the expensive equipment and infrastructure it takes to mine uranium—about a decade.

Gradually the extraction becomes more expensive as some equipment has to be replaced and the least costly resources are mined. As a consequence, both extraction and profits decline. Eventually the company stops exploiting the deposit and the mine closes. The model depends on both geological and economic constraints, but the fact that it has turned out to be valid for so many past cases shows that it is a good approximation of reality.

This said, the model assumes the following points:

  • Mine operators plan to operate the mine at a nearly constant production level on the basis of detailed geological studies and to manage extraction so that the plateau can be sustained for approximately 10 years.
  • The total amount of extractable uranium is approximately the achieved (or planned) annual plateau value multiplied by 10.

Applying this model to well-documented mines in Canada and Australia, we arrive at amazingly correct results. For instance, in one case, the model predicted a total production of 319 ± 24 kilotons, which was very close to the 310 kilotons actually produced. So we can be reasonably confident that it can be applied to today’s larger currently operating and planned uranium mines. Considering that the achieved plateau production from past operations was usually smaller than the one planned, this model probably overestimates the future production.

Table 2 summarizes the model’s predictions for future uranium production, comparing those findings against forecasts from other groups and against two different potential future nuclear scenarios.

As you can see, the forecasts obtained by this model indicate substantial supply constraints in the coming decades—a considerably different picture from that presented by the other models, which predict larger supplies.

The WNA’s 2009 forecast differs from our model mainly by assuming that existing and future mines will have a lifetime of at least 20 years. As a result, the WNA predicts a production peak of 85 kilotons/year around the year 2025, about 10 years later than in the present model, followed by a steep decline to about 70 kilotons/year in 2030. Despite being relatively optimistic, the forecast by the WNA shows that the uranium production in 2030 would not be higher than it is now. In any case, the long deposit lifetime in the WNA model is inconsistent with the data from past uranium mines. The 2006 estimate from the EWG was based on the Red Book 2005 RAR (reasonably assured resources) and IR (inferred resources) numbers. The EWG calculated an upper production limit based on the assumption that extraction can be increased according to demand until half of the RAR or at most half of the sum of the RAR and IR resources are used. That led the group to estimate a production peak around the year 2025.

Assuming all planned uranium mines are opened, annual mining will increase from 54,000 tons/year to a maximum of 58 (+ or – 4) thousand tons/year in 2015. [ Bardi wrote this before 2013 and 2014 figures were known. 2013 was 59,673 (highest total) and 56,252 in 2014.]

Declining uranium production will make it impossible to obtain a significant increase in electrical power from nuclear plants in the coming decades.

Advertisements

Actions

Information

66 responses

12 01 2017
Eclipse Now

Oh, so electric trucks aren’t a thing? 😉 Never heard of trolley trucks? Not real high tech, just rig up a few power lines and a dodgem-car whip, and you’re good to go. So retro they’re almost cute, and you’re saying they don’t exist? 😉 Never heard of electric mining? 😉

Oh, and re: uranium depletion: never heard of breeder reactors that get 60 to 90 times the energy out of uranium, and increase the EROEI into the multiple hundreds, possibly over 1000? Never heard of America having 1000 years worth of energy in so called ‘nuclear waste’, with all those actinides to burn? The UK having 500 years of the same? There may be an energy infrastructure crisis that will create various bottlenecks, requiring fast tracking various build outs. But an energy crisis itself? So much hogwash.

Oh, and we have 50,000 years of uranium and thorium on land, and uranium-from-seawater can be captured by dangling a dongle in the ocean in the right currents and just letting the water rush past. Ocean uranium is ‘renewable’ in the sense that erosion tops up the particles faster than we could use them.

This post is beneath you Mike, and requires so much special pleading you’re starting to sound desperate.

12 01 2017
mikestasse

YES…. I’ve heard of trolley trucks. And Alice Friedeman mentions them if you bothered to keep up.. she’s established that there is already a 23 mile (40km) section of electrified roadway to do this for freight from the Los Angeles port to distribution centres. That alone requires 1% of California’s electricity generation, and, wait for it…….. it would need to be expanded over SEVEN THOUSAND times to satisfy the truck traffic currently in place.

Another dead end.

I’ll bet there is a million years of Uranium left if you’re willing to do anything to get it. Doesn’t mean it’s worth the effort.

ME? Desperate? Give me a break mate……. but don’t come knockin’ on my door WTSHTF, you were well warned.

12 01 2017
Eclipse Now

“That alone requires 1% of California’s electricity generation, and, wait for it…….. it would need to be expanded over SEVEN THOUSAND times to satisfy the truck traffic currently in place.”
Exactly what are you calling a truck here? Big mining truck, or little delivery vehicle? I think you’ll find that those smaller 1 and 5 tonners can be converted to EV’s.

Also, you haven’t disproved ‘rechargable’ boron powder for trucking.
https://eclipsenow.wordpress.com/recharge/

Or that we’ll pump whatever synthetic gas we need to while building out more trains and trams.

Or that, if there was a fuel crisis, we could ration, ramp up GTL, CTL, etc etc etc while other things are accelerated.

“Another dead end.”
Declares Mike when a thousand other possibilities haven’t been explored.

“I’ll bet there is a million years of Uranium left if you’re willing to do anything to get it. Doesn’t mean it’s worth the effort.”
Utter unscientific hogwash! The atomic bond has 2 MILLION times the energy of the chemical bond. That means it’s WORTH IT! You could mine ordinary dirt outside your house and find thorium worth processing because the nuclear EROEI is just that friggin high mate!

“ME? Desperate? Give me a break mate……. but don’t come knockin’ on my door WTSHTF, you were well warned.”
Yeah, I was warned 12 years ago that TODAY would be WTSHTF. I guess I’ll just go hang myself then, as I totally missed preparing for the end of civilisation as we know it. (Looks outside window). I might wait on that for a bit longer.

14 01 2017
Eclipse Now

PS: I didn’t explain trolley tucks well above. I never intended to imply that we’d rig up a trolley-truck network for interstate long-haul trucking! That was only ever intended for mines, where the economics of diesel versus trolley-trucks might already be bending back in favour of this quaint old technology. You were right to question me if you thought I was implying interstate trucking would be replaced by trolley-trucks. That’s just not what I intended. As I have already said, coastal populations like Australia’s could – in a really sudden oil crisis – build masts on cargo ships and just sail stuff around. Essential inland infrastructure would be supplied by a mix of oil rationing, emergency CTL programs (nasty for the climate, but essential in a sudden oil crisis), and other alternative emergency fuels as the nation built longer term sustainable measures. And those are? Rather than clunky interstate trolley-trucks, the electric alternative would of course be smooth, state of the art, and very convenient fast rail!

12 01 2017
Chris Harries

Good old Ugo, always comes up with relevant, incisive articles.

There are nuke supporters in Australia who disagree with this on the grounds that new prototype reactors (particularly what is called Generation IV design) will enable the burning of all existing high level stockpiled wastes and beyond that would be mostly self generating in fuel. In addition they could be built down to small 50 megawatt generating units, the net wastes having very short half-lives compared to what comes out of traditional reactors.

I’ve often challenged these folk, mainly on the grounds that such a reactor does not actually exist in the flesh as yet and they’ve left their run a bit too late since we are likely to crash well before a new technology can be put in place all over the world. But they are adamant that this will be the way of the future.

12 01 2017
Eclipse Now

Chris, have a read of these wikis then get back to me and tell me breeder reactors don’t exist!

There are 2 main types of breeder reactor. (Breeders are reactors that can burn the longer-lived nuclear wastes down to stuff that only has to be stored for 500 years).
1. Fast Neutron reactors.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fast-neutron_reactor
A famous prototype Fast reactor was the American EBR2, an Integral Fast Reactor prototype that reprocesses all its waste on site.
“Costing more than US$32 million, it achieved first criticality in 1965 and ran for 30 years. It was designed to produce about 62.5 megawatts of heat and 20 megawatts of electricity, which was achieved in September 1969 and continued for most of its lifetime. Over its lifetime it has generated over two billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, providing a majority of the electricity and also heat to the facilities of the Argonne National Laboratory-West.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Experimental_Breeder_Reactor_II#Integral_Fast_Reactor

Russia had the old BN-350, and then built the Bn-600. Note: the Japanese paid Russia a billion for the technical specs on their old BN-600, and “The operation of the reactor is an international study in progress; Russia, France, Japan, and the United Kingdom currently participate.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BN-600_reactor

They have now build the BN-800, and have exported the plans to China who will be building their own soon.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BN-800_reactor

Russia are building the BN-1200 soon.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BN-1200_reactor
The French had the massive 1200MW Superphenix until ignorant activists shot RPG’s onto the site and Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt closed it down again. What a waste! The French could be breeding up all their own nuclear ‘waste’ into fuel again.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superph%C3%A9nix#Closure

China will mass produce breeders cheaper than coal in just 8 years!
http://nextbigfuture.com/2014/06/china-seriously-looking-at.html

2. Thermal (slow neutron) reactors run hotter
My favourite thermal reactor is the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor which CANNOT ‘melt down’, as it is already a liquid. China has an enormous LFTR project.
http://www.technologyreview.com/news/542526/china-details-next-gen-nuclear-reactor-program/
Thorium is currently a massive and expensive waste problem from mining all those rare earths that wind and solar rely on. But if we can burn thorium, wind and solar and nuclear can all be friends. We can have the best of both worlds. Various future breeders are mentioned here.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breeder_reactor#Future_plants

13 01 2017
mikestasse

That link you gave re an RPG being fired at Superphenix makes no mention of it at all, and I’ve never heard of such an event… what wiki does say is..:

In June 1997, one of the first actions of Lionel Jospin on becoming Prime Minister was to announce the closure of the plant “because of its excessive costs”. As Jospin’s government included Green ministers, pro-nuclear critics argued that Jospin’s decision was motivated by political motives.

It could be argued that starting new nukes is also ‘motivated by political motives’, like keeping economic growth going.

I happened to see the French news on SBS the day it was closed, and all they said was that it was a total failure riddled with incidents, and hence the high cost. A complete waste of money and resources.

As far as the Chinese building them…… fine…… they need to reduce their population by several hundred millions!

My experience with Chinese made stuff means I’m really glad to be on the opposite hemisphere.

13 01 2017
Chris Harries

Eclipse, where did I say that breeders don’t exist? Prototype breeder plants were built decades ago.

What hasn’t existed is a massive commercial build of Generation IV reactors or thorium reactors – both of which have been mooted as the solution to the world’s energy and climate situations.

I’ve no doubt there will be breakthrough on these fronts, just as there have been remarkable breakthroughs in horizontal drilling and fracking technologies and in the mass production of solar cells. The point I was making is that the ‘new nuke’ lobbyists may have already lost the race against time to deploy these technologies worldwide when the pressing need was to do it the day before yesterday.

The problem for the global economy is how to absorb a monumental cost of global transition that gets industrial society to the same place it is in now, albeit using a different power source(s).

This conundrum applies to the renewables space too. China’s hugely ambitious renewable energy plan announced a week ago will require the burning of an awful lot of coal over twenty years. If you are to argue that they could (should) supply that power by nuclear energy then surely they would be more sensible to use that nuclear energy directly rather than convert it to intermittent energy. Like everyone else the Chinese are madly pressing all buttons not knowing what’s going to come out in the wash.

(I call this the ants-running-over-a-burning-log syndrome. Fascinating to observe.)

12 01 2017
David B. Benson

Oh dear. There was a fine fast reactor, the EBR-II, which ran for 30 years. The Russians have three, ever larger versions of a similar type.

GE-Hitachi offers the PRISM, a commercial version of the EBR-II but so far nobody has ordered one.

13 01 2017
mikestasse

The ‘E’ in EBR stands for EXPERIMENTAL….. the only one I could find was in Idaho and was decommissioned years and years ago….

12 01 2017
samsavvas

Eclipse, I thought that Bardi dealt with breeder reactors in his post mate! Can you tell me if commercial breeder reactors exist anywhere… or more importantly, are on the drawing boards around the world or are being built? Please don’t get me wrong – I and many others (including many apparent ‘pessimists’ such as Mike and Ugo) would likely welcome a truly sustainable nuclear power industry. The problem is, from everything I’ve seen and read, there is no prospect of creating one, either in Australia or elsewhere around the world. Nothing adds up to the extent required to satisfy any solid definition of sustainability and that – basically – is the conundrum that Ugo is pointing to. Everything you have spouted in your response above is what I call ‘hopium’. I know – from extensive readings of your posts elsewhere, that you are well read on all matters nuclear. However whether a nuclear power industry can be a reasonable response to resource depletion, growing pollution, energy inequity or indeed, climate change remains entirely (and I mean ‘entirely’) unresolved! Please convince me otherwise. Show me the economics please. Show me the sustainability modelling. Until then – hopium!

12 01 2017
Eclipse Now

“However whether a nuclear power industry can be a reasonable response to resource depletion, growing pollution, energy inequity or indeed, climate change remains entirely (and I mean ‘entirely’) unresolved!”
This type of response is what I call world-view predetermined “doomium”.

A nuclear power industry is NOT the answer to resource depletion, only energy resource depletion. It can, however, provide abundant clean energy to run Plasma Arc burners that can recycle EVERYTHING in your local rubbish tip. Yes, even asbestos, old joggers, every kind of plastic, and soiled baby nappies.
https://eclipsenow.wordpress.com/recycle/

A nuclear power industry is NOT going to solve energy inequity, but as world geopolitics starts to come up with mechanisms for policing every kind of nuclear activity, it can help with it. But ultimately, inequity is a political problem.

Climate change WILL remain unsolved if we don’t ramp up nuclear power. Dr James Hansen says “It’s nuclear power or climate change.” It’s that simple. The developing world is desperate to climb out of their poverty and have a lifestyle like ours. Only possible with abundant clean power.

But no, nuclear power will not save the whales, stop deforestation on its own, make safer roads, paint the Harbour Bridge or help Auntie May stop being such a grouch. Nor should it have to. Abundant reliable clean electricity is quite enough, thank you very much. I think you should just show some gratitude that such a thing is possible.

12 01 2017
Eclipse Now

Hi Sam,
GenIV plants don’t exist yet but we have over 400 reactor years experience with various types of foundational breeder reactors. Check my post above in answering Chris Harries. Not only do they exist in history, but China are about to start factory producing a few varieties. Remember, there are lots of different kinds of *breeder* reactors. Maybe you were reading that there were no GenIV plants ready for commercial production? Try googling the PRISM reactor, as it is *nearly* ready, but that’s GenIV, a very specific type of breeder.

12 01 2017
Eclipse Now

Sam, the short answer is China is about to factory produce a genuine GenIV breeder reactor soon. It’s not my preferred reactor, as I don’t really like water around nuclear reactors. But it’s so much better than coal!
“China will mass produce breeders cheaper than coal”
http://nextbigfuture.com/2014/06/china-seriously-looking-at.html

13 01 2017
mikestasse

They mass produce all sorts of things cheaper than anyone else, and it’s all CRAP!

12 01 2017
Chris Harries

The main point I make is not what technology may be technically possible, but what is possible at this point in history as chaos speeds up asymptotically.

Society’s energy crisis is not really electricity – fixing that is like dealing with the low hanging fruit and the ding-dong fight between renewables and nuclear is in that limited realm.

Society’s real problem is dealing with a host of interconnected problems all arriving at once and in a very short space of time. We may talk glibly about converting all the worlds cars and ships and freighting trucks to run on bountiful clean electricity (if there was such a thing) but we’re talking about over $100 trillion in investment just for the elemental conversion of manufacturing plant.

This is not possible without the global financial system, stretched as it is, doing a nose dive, even if the race-against-time factor could be technically resolved.

12 01 2017
Eclipse Now

Meh. Just words Chris. Just words! I was told years ago that EV’s were impossible, and now there are over a million on the roads now. And Elon Musk is just getting started.

I was told that we had to replace all 2 billion cars with EV’s, and now robot cars could possibly mean the end of individual car ownership (for the majority) and one robot EV displaces 10 cars, requiring only 200 million cars instead. I was told we’d be in Mad Max by now, but here we all are. I was told NOTHING could replace coal, but breeder reactors exist that convert a 100,000 year nuclear waste storage ‘problem’ into today’s energy solution. A fellow forum member was told all these things, and believed them, and committed suicide. For nothing.

I’m not saying I know the future. Trump could ensure many of us disappear in a big white flash! I wouldn’t bet against nukes. France built out 75% of their grid as nukes in 15 years. Dr James Hansen says we should build breeder reactors, and deploy 115 GW of reactors a year, which is SLOWER than France ALREADY did, AND includes population growth and the cleaning up of developing nations. I’m not saying we ARE going to build out that fast, just that on a reactor per GDP basis, we’ve ALREADY beaten this rate. It’s history. We’ve done it before.

12 01 2017
Chris Harries

Eclipse, I value smart technology and am often amazed by technological innovation. And I give the nuke crowd the benefit of doubt in that regard, even if I challenge them to deliver. But the human condition is much deeper than what can be delivered by a simple energy transition.

This is the nub of the problem – i.e. those who think we can basically sustain the society we have by a change of horses at the front. It presumes that our core problem is merely a technological deficit. It ain’t.

As for what’s possible. Robot EVs haven’t replaced 10 cars yet. It’s a neat theory but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. How does this happen at peak hour the most cars are in use? By plenty of car sharing? Great. At present we are a million miles from there. Even simple car sharing amongst workers going to the same destination rarely works out because it conflicts with modern day demand for individual autonomy.

I’m just using this as an example illustrating that the human predicament is principally not about technology but about values and culture. If sustained economic growth is not possible, then we bring on a global economic problem that wouldn’t be nice to contemplate.

I’m all in favour of technological innovation, but not with blinkers on. Most of society wants to have its cake and eat it too. Most of society naively dreams of slipping behind the wheel of an EV as if this will fundamentally change the precipitous course that society is on.

(This delusion is widely shared by the majority the populace. I’m not having a go at the nuke crowd specifically.)

12 01 2017
Mike

How could anyone tell you EV’s were impossible when they were being built over a hundred years ago?

12 01 2017
ejhr2015

Here is Tim Morgan’s Surplus Energy Economics article on ECoE. Another short term issue closing in on us:
https://surplusenergyeconomics.wordpress.com/2017/01/09/85-perfect-storm-gets-nearer/

12 01 2017
Eclipse Now

EJ,
that article does not seem to refer to nuclear power, and has no argument against the abundant, clean, sustainable electricity that nukes can provide, and the abundant, clean, sustainable (although maybe little bit more expensive) jet fuel they can create. It’s got a bit of economics wrapped around a typical peak energy rant, and yet doesn’t seem to understand that the *inevitability* of peak energy is a myth. Breeders exist. In the real world. Disprove that, and you can have your peak energy economics article back. Until then, it’s a tired rerun of peak energy myths.

13 01 2017
mikestasse

You will believe any old crap……..

13 01 2017
Eclipse Now

“You will believe any old crap……..”
(Sighs) Mike Mike Mike. It’s not that hard, really.
****
“Crucially, that includes free hydrogen fuel for the first seven years or million miles, available at hundreds of stations Nikola plans to build across the country.

This plan looks, well, let’s say ambitious—but then, so did Tesla’s Supercharger setup: In 2012, the electric car company moved to soothe range anxiety among potential buyers by building an international network of proprietary stations where they could recharge for free. (Starting January 1, the charge-for-life deal is kaput.) Nikola aims to entice individual truckers and fleets into going with hydrogen by making sure they’ve got somewhere to fill up, for free. Nikola would keep those stations stocked by building solar farms to generate the energy needed to create hydrogen fuel.

Right now, fuel cell vehicles work only where the infrastructure needs are minimal. Cities around the world have started operating hydrogen-powered buses, because you need just one place to fill up, not a whole network. Sandia National Laboratories researchers think a hydrogen-powered ferry service could work in San Francisco because, yup, you only need one or two places to fill up.”
https://www.wired.com/2016/12/tesla-inspired-truck-might-actually-make-hydrogen-power-happen/

13 01 2017
mikestasse

It IS all crap. Susan Krumdieck, an energy engineer with a PhD in exactly that stuff told me she worked out it was all crap ages ago when she did the sums.

You just want to believe anything that will keep your cushy lifestyle going, even if it doesn’t.

13 01 2017
Eclipse Now

Hi Mike,
it’s crap and you’ve got a Phd friend to say it’s crap? Quick, someone had better read that Phd and make all those trucks vanish! The purchase price includes the first million miles of hydrogen fuel, for free.

13 01 2017
mikestasse

Do you know how many such scams are on the internet…..? Wake up to yourself. You are too naive for words.

13 01 2017
Eclipse Now

“Do you know how many such scams are on the internet…..? Wake up to yourself. You are too naive for words.”
Says the guy pushing an end of the world prophecy! 😉 They’re not a dime or dozen on this here internet. 😉 Mike, you’re too funny!

13 01 2017
mikestasse

The difference is, I’m not making money out of what I do, nor am I trying to defraud people…..

13 01 2017
Eclipse Now

I hear you. There is always the potential for get-rich-quick schemes or even dodgy new business schemes to try and get ahead, even if well intentioned. The rest of that article shares some of the risks. They might be financially mismanaged, or jump the gun in the wrong direction. That’s not my point. My point is over 1000km on one tank! That’s game changing, even for an energy sink like hydrogen. So whether or not this particular incarnation of it works out is not my point. What is possible is!

“Trucks need more infrastructure, but not a ton more. Nikola CEO Trevor Milton says 364 stations across the US should suffice. They’d sit about 400 miles apart, comfortable range for a truck that can triple that distance. Milton bases that number on computer analysis of common trucking routes, and says his company would start by building up the network in one to-be-determined region in 2018, and spread from there.

This good news for everyone who thinks the most abundant element in the universe is a good way to make things move is that, unlike Tesla, Nikola will let anybody pump hydrogen, for a modest price. “You’re gonna have nationwide infrastructure now,” Milton says.

Even a few dozen stations would be a major boost over the 31 currently operating in the US—one each in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and South Carolina, with the rest in California. That means automakers like Toyota and Honda, which actually sell (some) hydrogen-powered cars, could piggyback off Nikola’s investment. “We’re all about proliferation of hydrogen as a fuel,” says Toyota spokesperson Brian Lyons. If someone else is paying for it, even better.

Yet that rosy future only pans out if Nikola can sell enough trucks to justify building that infrastructure, and stick around to keep it running. That’s hardly a given, because truckers aren’t risk-takers, says Jim Mele, editor-in-chief of Fleet Owner magazine. Looking at Nikola’s offer, he says, “The numbers sound right, but there’s no way to know if they’re true.” The explosion-friendly nature of the stuff that took down the Hindenburg isn’t even the problem here—hydrogen’s safe if handled properly. It’s that this scheme is based on a whole lot of new: new technology, new company, new infrastructure, new business model.”
https://www.wired.com/2016/12/tesla-inspired-truck-might-actually-make-hydrogen-power-happen/

13 01 2017
mikestasse

So you’re going to believe a dodgy start up that they can do 1000km on a fill of Hydrogen, but not my PhD friend who says it can’t be done…….?

13 01 2017
mikestasse

See, I’m not the only one who doesn’t believe A WORD of it…..

Combining the nature of their claim and lack of any actual substance other than a digital rendering it looks more like a scam. But Nikola claims that they have received 7,000 pre-orders for their Rig which only exists in computer screen for now. Nikola also pointed out that they had received a $2.3 billion in form of deposits. Let’s hope something like hype and dump scam where somebody’s trying to capitalise on hype before the operation evaporates and everybody involved disappears.

http://www.junkyardlab.com/single-post/2016/08/05/Nikola-Motors-Scam-or-legit

Here’s why it’s weird. A number of folks put down deposits on a $375,000 semi cab that was marketed as being entirely electric — as in, you can plug it into the wall and take power from the grid, all across the country. Now, the trucks will be powered by compressed hydrogen gas, which relies on an infrastructure that’s so far into its infancy it’s barely experienced cell mitosis. All of a sudden, your ability to fill up around the country has disappeared — and with it, I imagine, more than a few of those deposits, which I hope are refundable.

https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/news/nikola-motor-companys-electric-truck-just-became-a-lot-harder-to-sell/

“Much of the specs on https://nikolamotor.com/ make the truck seem too good to be true…”

Not exactly a surprise, given the level of hype that runs all thru this press release.

It’s easy to make promises about a design which exists only on paper. It’s not necessary to make any of those inconvenient compromises which happen when you try to make something that will both work in the real world, and is affordable to build in a commercial vehicle.

Or, to be more succinct: It’s vaporware.

This has FRAUD written all over it…..

13 01 2017
Eclipse Now

Yup. Not really a surprise. Unless of course they actually mean it, actually have something worked out, and actually want to change the world like Tesla, their ‘cousin’ industry. I wouldn’t be surprised either way! But again, if a hydrogen truck CAN do over 1000km, it certainly reduces the necessary size of a ‘hydrogen highway’ required, and certainly makes it economically possible for trucking companies to consider setting up their own fuelling stations out of water + electricity at their own depots.

13 01 2017
mikestasse

Those trucks don’t need to vanish, because they DON’T EXIST to start with…. they’re all just computer renderings.

13 01 2017
Eclipse Now

Hi Mike,
as you are wrong about breeder reactors, EV’s, and so many other things I’m not going to take your word for it that cities are also unsustainable. You have way to many presuppositions clouding your judgement on that one.

But I did look more into the Nikola claims, and I think I agree with you about them. Something’s a bit off. They even have conflicting claims about exactly which gas will power their trucks! This next article mentions natural gas! So I’m going to take down my references to it.
http://arstechnica.co.uk/cars/2016/08/elon-musk-tesla-semi-artic-lorry-analysis/

But here’s the good news from the above link is that not only are urban EV trucks being built, they’re FAR more economical than petrol ones!

“Tesla isn’t the only company going after this market; Wrightspeed, Proterra, and BYD are already building heavy duty urban electric vehicles, and Mercedes-Benz is about to enter the fray.”

and…

“For argument’s sake, the cost delta [between a diesel heavy duty truck and an electrified one] is about $150,000. However, you’re talking about a vehicle that burns 14,000 gallons a year. So you can save so vastly much more fuel and brake maintenance as well that you’re looking at a three-to-four year payback. The scaling properties work in your favor. It costs more to build [a heavy duty] powertrain, but you save so much more in fuel that the economics are compelling. Which is why [we should] do that and not cars; I think people just don’t bother to do that calculation.”

These will probably be shorter distance trucks more like city delivery vehicles than the big interstate freight trucks. So what happens in an oil crisis?
1. We sell more EV’s
2. We sell more electric light vehicle trucks and buses for our bigger cities
3. We sell more bicycles and rickshaws
4. We enact the legislation many nations have that already prioritise essential diesel and liquid fuels to essential industries.
5. Those nations that don’t have such legislation will quickly copy it.
6. 1 to 5 above suddenly stretches out the oil age to give our trucks the energy they need to keep things running as we build the non-oil age, like more trains, trams, trolley-buses and a hydrogen highway just for trucking! (As EV’s will already be an established market by then and charging mostly on excess overnight energy). In a real transport emergency,
7. Most of the Australian population live within 50km of the coast. In a REAL fuel emergency, we can slowly meander stuff around by converting cargo ships into sailing boats! In a real emergency, where there is a will there’s a way!
8. Unless we are really stupid and go into a full scale nuclear war, I don’t see collapse back to the stone age as all that likely. There are simply too many other ways of getting by without oil, and too many of them are ALREADY more economical than oil!
9. What distance do you accept that a large hydrogen semi-trailer could get? Are you really going to tell us all that the Australian people, whether it is corporations or governments, could not quickly mandate a hydrogen highway!? It’s ELECTRICITY AND WATER for crying out loud! So what range are you happy with? Half diesel? A third? So the truck driver fills up more frequently, and some trucked goods cost more. Maybe that’s even a good thing, and will help people value product miles more. But that’s hardly Mad Max!

13 01 2017
Chris Harries

Tesla keeps the dream alive that everyone can still own their private car when cheap oil runs dry or climate change forces a change of technology. Whilst supporting EV technology, the annoying thing is that most people have no idea about the implications of private travel and scaling up world production and maintaining roads without asphalt and so forth.

This morning I noticed this, slightly different way to put new technology to work that’s more in keeping with the real future that’s looming. It’s still just technology, but it’s worth best fitting whatever new technology that comes along to future social needs.

View story at Medium.com

13 01 2017
Eclipse Now

Hi Chris, love it, especially that last paragraph about how electric buses can better serve a car-restrained world. It fits right in with the ‘peak car’ thing that The Guardian was talking about. Car brands did not measure in the Top 20 coolest brans for young Europeans!
https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/apr/30/have-we-really-reached-peak-car

I’m with you. I’ll maintain the 1 to 10 displacement ratio precisely because I think we’re going to see better city design in the coming decades. Point number 1 on my EV page says we should pursue New Urbanism first!
https://eclipsenow.wordpress.com/recharge/

So I thoroughly enjoyed your article, and will put it up on my blog.

13 01 2017
mikestasse

The main problem with this approach is that it takes for granted the existence of cities. Cities are unsustainable, because they require the routine importation of resources — food, timber, minerals, and fuels — from the surrounding land, and give nothing back. The land that the city is on cannot supply the citizens with enough food, shelter, fuel and other material goods.

This is in contrast to villages, camps, and other small settlements, which throughout history have served as a sustainable model for human communities.

Cities are always drawing resources from their surrounding region, and in the modern world, from the entire globe. Densely populated cities may reduce the impact of so-called “development” on their immediate area, but they do not address the fundamental impacts of cities, or of the modern globalized city.

For example, while some neighborhoods in New York City are extremely dense and use relatively low amounts of energy, this is a limited point of view. Rainforests are falling and mountains are being mined away to supply these dense cities with resources. Any serious attempt at environmentalism must take into account the impact of producing and transporting materials into the city, and must address the fundamental issues of resource extraction and the expansion of global industrial civilization.

At best, dense urban growth and public transportation are mildly effective “harm reduction” strategies. At worst, these approaches to environmentalism provide a green veneer to corporatized, profit-driven, and extraction-dependent cities. They obscure the problem, and thus contribute to

13 01 2017
Chris Harries

Yep, Mike, I don’t advocate any ‘solutions’ as such. There aren’t any ‘solutions’ to the human predicament. Just ways to try and forge forward. There is a problem with trying to make unsustainable human habitats try to adapt to decline, but deleting cities and starting from scratch is not what humans will do, even if they are forced into that in the long run.

That said, as motor corporations are already gearing up to manufacture ten billion EV cars to replace there current fleet of petrol ones, I think it’s much better for such technology to be applied to public transport as a higher priority than to individual urban transportation. As for freight we’ll have t minimises it dramatically.

The intense blog focus on EVs is society’s bald statement that they don’t want to give up their cars. For many purposes individual transporttion will still be necessary, but public transport lost most of its patronage simply as a result of the cheap fuel era that allowed us two lumpy inefficient cars per household and millions of hectares gobbled to allow for road infrastructure.

13 01 2017
Eclipse Now

Did you check The Guardian?
***

UCL’s David Metz, formerly chief scientist of the UK Department for Transport and author of Peak Car: The Future of Travel, has taken up the saturation theme. “Saturation of daily travel demand is to be expected and is a likely explanation for the observed cessation of per capita growth of personal travel.”

Metz believes we’ve entered a “fourth era” of travel. The first era was our roaming hunter-gatherer phase, the second era was our age of settled communities during which we travelled primarily on foot. The third age was the new era of speed and distance unleashed by the railways. The fourth age, Metz argues, is now dawning: one in which the per capita growth of daily travel “has ceased”.

‘We should expect the transformations unleashed by globalisation and technology to affect virtually every area of our lives – including driving’. Photograph: David Jones/PA Archive
Metz attributes this mostly to the diminishing marginal value of additional car travel now that we can move fast and far on mature transport infrastructure, like buses and trains. The amount of time people are willing to travel has been relatively constant throughout most of history: roughly an hour a day. As technology enabled us to travel faster, we were able to travel further within that travel-time budget, which vastly expanded the circle of possibilities open to us. Now that modern transport, especially roads and modern automobiles, is ubiquitously available, we have almost everything we need within our “travel budget”. Therefore, we gain little from more driving.

Consider the supermarket. Metz cites a Competition Commission finding that 80% of urban Britons have three supermarkets within a 15-minute drive, and 60% have four choices. Why drive more to get to more supermarkets when you already have three or four close by? It’s like this with many goods and services in our lives. In short, because we already have easy access to plenty of options, there’s little value to us in driving more.
https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/apr/30/have-we-really-reached-peak-car

13 01 2017
Chris Harries

I hadn’t seen that one, but per capita car ownership and per capita mileage driven per annum have both peaked during he past decade in Australia, Europe and the US. In earlier essays this peak car phenomenon has been put down to the fact that youth now identify with their peers via their IT devices, whereas when we were young blokes it was all cars, cars, cars. Hot ones at that.

Further to this, many urban youth now don’t bother to get a drivers licence, these being harder to get, and young people are also affected by concerns over climate change.

This all does bode well for an elevated use of pubic transport and (importantly) active transport by the next generation.

Still, car ownership is massive and the car lobby very vociferous if anything infringes even slightly on the rights of the motorist. It’s going to take a bit to turn all that around.

13 01 2017
Eclipse Now

A bit to turn around? Like young people not rating cars in their top 20 ‘cool’ brands any more? Like a transport app that links up the cheapest way to avoid traffic jams, and co-ordinates your train and robot-EV trip for you? Like being able to relax and talk or blog or facebook while in a robot-EV, instead of driving the stupid thing through stupid traffic? Like getting an even *cheaper* trip if you car-share your robot EV? Like getting an even *cheaper* trip than that if you get on a robot bus? Money talks. The culture is already shifting somewhat away from individual car ownership with the young. They’re primed and ready to accept transport as a service.

Telstra’s chief scientist says that it is not only possible that human driving should be illegal by 2030, but desirable. Including this year still to run, that’s only 14 years away!

13 01 2017
Chris Harries

There will be a protracted interface problem since I don’t know of any plans to convert driven cars to robot ones. Nearly all cars sold today and for the next ten years at least will be standard cars. I reckon it will take more like 25 years for a phased conversion. (I would like to see a government make it illegal for working people to drive cars when all they can afford is a second hand one that already exists! Many people would go to gaol if you tried to stop them from driving.)

Also I wouldn’t get too starry eyed about a perfect transport future. There will be untold snags like this one:
https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2017/jan/13/uber-lyft-cars-public-transport-cities-commuting
More to the point, this dreamy era where golden technology promises to make life perfect may come to a grinding halt if the global economy collapses under the strain of resource and population limits.

We are going on an adventure, for sure, and amazing change will happened it will be very challenging and entertaining. But we should keep our feet on the ground. A lot of it won’t be pretty.

13 01 2017
mikestasse

The ‘E’ in EBR stands for ‘Experimental’. The only one I could find was built in Idaho and was decommissioned a long time ago…

13 01 2017
Chris Harries

Eclipse, this goes back to my earlier post about the energy and vinanicallogistics of converting nearly all the world’s infrastructure to new technology within a very short period. What may be theoretically viable for one truck has to apply to the entire worlds transportation.

So…. though I’m in favour of new technological development, where I press the button is on the more urgent need to drastically limit demand because we are up against hard limits that fancy technology alone can’t fix.

13 01 2017
Eclipse Now

Hi Chris,
please define “a very short period”.

13 01 2017
13 01 2017
Chris Harries

Well, I define short as short.

In context, I mean within the timeframe that most commentators say that we have to act before our civilisation is donged on the head by various Limits that are banging on the door right now. Some say it’s too late, some still say we’ve got a decade or two. Even the world community at the Paris COP had to come to terms with the fact that we’ve got almost no time to act (even knowing that each country doesn’t want to bravely get out there and lead the pack).

I’m neither a protagonist nor an antagonist re nuclear prospects.I simply say it as I see it. I do that in relation to the miracle renewables ‘solution’ too, that has enamoured so many people.

One problem I see in the nuclear realm is that the coming century is almost certain to be one of great upheaval with dramatic social and political breakdown being the order of the day. This is the social milieu in which the ‘new nuclear’ industry would have to come into being and flourish – as if everything was calm and organised and neatly in control. There’s something I find jarring about that prospect, but you may be able to assure us that the security aspect in these circumstances is not a major hurdle?

13 01 2017
Eclipse Now

Hi Chris,
good points. Security of nuclear material might become an issue if a state goes rogue on us. But nations are much more like to go rogue in the decades ahead *without* reliable clean power. I don’t think civilisations are just suddenly ‘donged on the head’ by a limit. With economic systems, democratic governance, scientific enquiry and cultural movements reacting to all these things, we can adapt. What we need is a war-time-commitment drive towards some of the solutions, and then we’ll make it.

13 01 2017
Eclipse Now

Anyway, back onto trucking: while I’m more a fan of trains than trucks, there is of course one other thing we could turn to.

“it takes a quart of boron to match the energy in a gallon of gasoline.”

4 times more energy dense than petrol, says Dr James Hansen.
Don’t hate me, I’m only the messenger.
http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/20080804_TripReport.pdf

14 01 2017
mikestasse

And what will be the Boron depletion rate if all trucking switched to it…..?

14 01 2017
Chris Harries

The fishing industry proved that you can stave off limits by switching from one fish species to another as each fishery became depleted. This strategy worked for a couple of decades. There is now a general problem of over-fishing and the industry is beset with the burden of fuel costs as fishing boats have to go further and further for smaller catches.

The problem with resources switching is that it doesn’t actually resolve the overall limits problem, it just kicks the can down the road for a while. Should we do it anyway? More to the point, its safe to say we will do it anyway. Humans, being humans, will do whatever it takes to try to keep the show on the road. They’ll happily do all that well before applying the brakes.

14 01 2017
Eclipse Now

Boron depletion rate? You’re funny Mike. That’s like asking what would be our wind depletion rate if we all switched to the wind. We recycle it indefinitely. Eventually it would be about cost against the other longer term options, not boron supply. The normal EROEI concerns of boron are not applicable as they are with oil. With oil we’re mining it for a once-off use. Boron we can put a stack of energy into obtaining it, because it’s our energy carrier, not source. That’s a question of economics, not energy, because it’s the market value of the infinitely recycled material that is the question.

There are other longer term options, like electric fast-rail — which is of course my favourite. But who knows what Tesla and the other majors will develop for long-haul interstate trucking? Trucks that have multiple battery packs that just switch out every few hundred km’s? Tesla did it for family cars. They could swap out 2 cars in the time it took to pump one petroleum vehicle. I wouldn’t bet against electric trucks just yet.

But as I said above, in a really sudden oil crisis, most Australians live within 50km of the coast. For the short term we could rig up cargo ships to *sail* our stuff around the nation! There were plans for this sort of thing in WW2. Once stuff gets to our cities, electric vehicles can take over. As Chris has shown above, they’ve already got electric buses, and I’ve linked to electric garbage trucks and city-wide delivery vehicles. Who knows how many of them the councils will have adopted by the time an oil crisis hits just because it will save them *so* much money!? Once it gets to our local shops, how do we get it? Pfft. Easy. Buy a few pushbikes, get fit and lose some weight. The elderly can hire one of those new rickshaw drivers who will get work during the crisis, car pool with that guy that already bought a Tesla, etc. Intercity stuff isn’t the challenge that interstate stuff is, and as I have shown, interstate is hardly insurmountable.

14 01 2017
mikestasse

Serious question actually…… not knowing anything about it, I looked it up..:

Boron is rare in the Universe and solar system due to trace formation in the Big Bang and in stars. It is formed in minor amounts in cosmic ray spallation nucleosynthesis and may be found uncombined in cosmic dust and meteoroid materials. In the high oxygen environment of Earth, boron is always found fully oxidized to borate. Boron does not appear on Earth in elemental form. Extremely tiny elemental boron was detected in Lunar regolith.

Although boron is a relatively rare element in the Earth’s crust, representing only 0.001% of the crust mass, it can be highly concentrated by the action of water, in which many borates are soluble.

YEP……. sure sounds like a solution.

14 01 2017
Eclipse Now

Yup! Pure boron is rare just like perfect, un-rusted iron is rare. But here’s the bit you quoted but apparently didn’t take in the first time around. “it can be highly concentrated by the action of water, in which many borates are soluble.”

Now this is where the geopolitics of it all gets interesting.

“Russian Boron Deposits: The most prominent boron deposit of Russia is Dalnegorsk (Russia), also one of the three known major datolite boron deposits of the globe with an average B2O3grade of 9-10% B2O3 , and a total reserve of 230,000,000 tonnes.”
http://www.boren.gov.tr/en/boron/reserves

So if we say the world burns 86 mbd, that’s 12 million tons of oil equivalent energy per day. I’m allowing a 1:1 conversion, because even though boron has 4 times the energy density of diesel, I’m just going to assume thermal inefficiencies from a totally different engine setup, the energy cost of supplying a can of concentrated oxygen can every few hundred km’s (or whatever it actually is), etc. I’ll cripple boron by a factor of 4, just in case I’ve missed something and the story is too good to be true.
https://www.unitjuggler.com/convert-energy-from-boe-to-Mtoe.html?val=86000000

I’m going to assume that every decent sized town would have their own boron recycling factory, but that it still takes about a month to recycle boron. So they’ll need 31 days * 12 mtoe = 372 million tons of boron to replace oil worldwide.
Russia alone could *nearly* supply that. But here’s the real deal.

Russia is NOTHING compared to Turkey! Russia only holds 7.7% of the world’s boron reserves: Turkey holds 72%! That makes for interesting geopolitics.
http://www.boren.gov.tr/en/boron/reserves

Annual boron production is only 4 million tons, so production will have to be scaled up massively.
http://www.boren.gov.tr/en/boron/production-of-boron

It’s currently used in the glass and ceramic industry, cleaning and bleaching industry, as a flame retardant, in agriculture, metallurgy, energy, health and cement. Some of these industries may have to find substitutes.

But here’s the kicker. We don’t HAVE to replace all 86 million barrels of oil a day. Only 22% of the 86 million barrels of oil a day is diesel.
http://www.petroleum.co.uk/refining

We don’t HAVE to replace all that diesel! City garbage trucks and delivery vehicles can be electric. We’re specifically worried about long-haul trucking which can’t be electrified.

Also, we don’t HAVE to replace all long-haul trucking with boron! As the world’s oil situation finally becomes clear to governments, many of the busiest routes will be evaluated for fast rail development, and that of course will be electric.

So what is your figure for long-haul trucking? Diesel = 22%, but that covers all intracity garbage trucks and service utility vehicles, all of which can be electrified.

22% of oil – city diesel – new fast rail = what? 15%? 10% for long haul trucking? What figure are you happy with?

Now here’s my last question. Do we have to assume a month turn around for ALL boron? What if some areas take a bit longer, because they’re out in rural hinterlands, but what if in some city areas it only takes a few days to get boron recycled? What if we average those 2 out, from the tiny percent of boron packs that might take a few months, to the majority that gets recycled every few days, and just get an average turnover of a week to recycle boron?

Can you see where this is going? Russia ALONE could supply the world’s boron needs, let alone Turkey with it’s volumes 10 times over. Then there’s the possibility of developing a boron dongle to dangle in the ocean and extracting boron from seawater. Our oceans contain LOTS of useful metal, in ppm though. Various tricky chemistry and processes are required to get it. But when it’s uranium or something recyclable like boron, it’s worth it.

So don’t give me trite answers about ‘peak boron’, as I’m actually a bit bored by this routine. It’s just so cliche of you!

15 01 2017
mikestasse

Boy you sure know how to make analogies…… Iron is the most common element in the Earth’s crust. In fact, 95% of the planet is made of it! A bit more than 0.001%….

I don’t believe your asserion for one second. If it’s RARE, it’s rare, and if we start using it instead of fossil fuels, there is no way Boron can keep up….. and you and your sea dongles…. LOL!

You seem to have no idea of the resource throughput we now take for granted thanks to fossil fuels. NOTHING you can see around you would exist without them, and once they’re gone (one way or another) your cushy lifestyle will be gone too.

You admitted (eventually) to having been ‘taken in’ by the Nikola truck scam. I put it to you that you are being taken in by every other scam you come across.

Just because we can do something doesn’t mean it becomes a solution for a disintegrating civilisation.

15 01 2017
Eclipse Now

Mike,
You seem to only want to quote the first part of that sentence about how rare it is, without remembering the second part about how it concentrates. So here’s another source.

It’s rare, but as the following history of boron extraction shows, it concentrates:
“Almost never found free in nature, it is very low in abundance, composing only 0.001% (10 ppm)[39] of the Earth’s crust. It is known to occur in over a hundred different minerals and ores, however: the main source is borax, but it is also found in colemanite, boracite, kernite, tusionite, berborite and fluoborite.[40] Major world miners and extractors of boron include the United States, Turkey, Argentina, China, Bolivia and Peru. Turkey is by far the most prominent of these, accounting for around 70% of all boron extraction in the world. The United States is second, most of its yield coming from the state of California.[41]”
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228489527_Borax_Boric_Acid_and_Boron-From_Exotic_to_Commodity

The USGS 2015 report claims world reserves of 380 million metric tons, p39.
https://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/commodity/boron/mcs-2016-boron.pdf

Mike, if we replace ALL diesel with boron at a 1:1 ratio (which is probably too conservative when we’ve already seen boron has FOUR TIMES the energy density of oil!), that’s still ‘only’ 19 million tons per day of use. (86mbd oil * 22% converted to tons). Then just multiply by the number of days you think it will take to recycle the boron, on average. Two week recycling time? That’s 283 million tons, well within the world reserves. (And I just read that boron use in many other industries can be easily substituted).

If you’re sceptical about the energy density or feasibility of boron as a fuel, Dr James Hansen’s Science Council for Global Initiatives promotes the book Prescription for the Planet. See Chapter 5, “The fifth element” on page 155.
http://www.thesciencecouncil.com/prescription-for-the-planet.html

More technical specifications by Graham Cowan, who calls them ‘ash ingots’ or pellets
http://www.eagle.ca/~gcowan/235_248.pdf

But hang on. That’s to replace ALL diesel fuel, including all those diesel cars and trucks that just do city driving. We’ve already seen that most city trucks can be replaced by electric garbage trucks and buses and delivery vehicles, ALREADY having a 480km (300 mile) range. That will only improve with time! Oh, and these EXIST Mike. Are you pretending they don’t?
View story at Medium.com

480km is AMAZING for all electric tucks. Let’s forget boron for a moment, and pretend there is no such thing as boron. We’re forced to consider TODAY’S electric trucks for long haul trips. All the busier routes have been replaced by rail. Now we’re considering less frequented routes to smaller country towns. Is Mad Max inevitable in this world? Well, all electric trucks get 480km range in city driving, but we’re talking about electric trucks carrying heavier loads at higher speeds on highway driving, not city driving. Let’s cut the range down to 300km before a recharge. Is that it? Is that the end of the world as we know it?
Are all country towns not supplied by rail going to give up and go Mad Max?
With TODAY’S trucks doing say 300km on a charge, they could:-
1. Stop for a half hour super-charge, then continue! Dear oh dear, the truck driver gets a lunch break! That’s got to be the end of the world, right there!
2. What about trucks pulling in to a depot and having their batteries swapped out? Tesla did it for cars. Maybe multiple battery packs are just swapped out on a larger scale.
3. Maybe instead of swapping the battery they swap the truck! They just unhook the trailer, and swap the flat truck for a freshly charged truck. Then they wouldn’t even need the supercharger, and truck could take longer to charge which might prove kinder to the grid. When it’s fully charged, it’s the next truck in line to take the next trailer in the depot on it’s merry way!
4. Such a daisy-chain of EV’s would probably raise freight prices as it would require each freight company to have more trucks. Remember that with the volume of trailers travelling along highways, the moment the dead truck was recharged and ready to do it would be back on the roads. I doubt they would even have to double their vehicles! This is just a different business model on EXISTING battery technology.

Now let’s get a little hypothetical. Robot-trucks are on their way. That means no driver salary! That means freight companies may EVEN COME DOWN IN PRICE with an all electric fleet limited to smaller, 300km range robot-EV trucks all swapping out their trailers at the next depot.

But boron is still an option, and who knows. If companies don’t want to do all the trailer swapping and recharging of a small electric fleet above, they might just go with hydrogen trucks and quickly refill them every 200km, generating their own hydrogen every night with electricity + water.

15 01 2017
mikestasse

Yep, everyone will just write off their fleet, and we’ll build a new one…… with fossil fuels.

15 01 2017
Eclipse Now

Thanks for answering the questions put to you, the data supplied to you, and the USGS references given you with such a trite reply. True to form, again! The truth is that the next energy infrastructure will be built with whatever mix exists in different countries. Oil isn’t going to vanish overnight, but it will become more expensive, so rationing will ensue to keep things ticking over while the next generation of gear is built out. There are a *thousand* things we can do to save oil in a sudden crisis. It might be tough. There might even be a recession, maybe even a depression. But Mad Max? Collapse? *Inevitable?* Sorry pal, but that’s just the wishful thinking of someone that seems to have had a really *bad* mid-life-crisis.

13 01 2017
rabiddoomsayer

There is so much more we could do with energy efficiency. But efficiency is not sexy and does not get anywhere the attention it deserves. Amory Lovins has done a huge amount, but generally we do not do the free let alone the inexpensive.

Housing is probably the worst. My personal biggest hate is black roofs in a mild winter / hot summer climate. At construction a white roof is the same cost as any other, even painting with a titanium white will noticeably reduce air conditioning costs. There are so many other bad design issues, only partially offset by legislation

Now a black roof in a mild summer/ cold winter climate makes perfect sense.

Energy efficiency could make what we do have go so much further.

14 01 2017
Eclipse Now

Hi Rabid,
yes, of course! My sister-in-law has a Phd in energy efficient architecture and passive solar, has featured on the ABC’s science show Catalyst, and taught the subject for years in Melbourne universities. I absolutely agree. And as others have been discussing here, it goes much further than individual building designs into New Urbanism and Ecocity housing designs, how we ‘deploy ourselves in the landscape’ (Kunstler quote), etc.

However much I like Amory Lovin’s work on energy efficiency, I *do* not like his contradiction of other National Renewable Energy Laboratory studies. Ever notice the great contradictions amongst renewable fanboi ‘studies’ when it comes to weaning off oil?

Position 1: We’re going to charge about half our electric cars at night! When businesses close down for the day, so much electricity is wasted on excess night-time ‘baseload’ power that we could charge half today’s car fleet if only they were electric! That’s nearly half the car fleet on today’s grid, without a single new power station. That’s amazing! (Page 10 of the NREL study below). http://energyenvironment.pnnl.gov/ei/pdf/PHEV_Feasibility_Analysis_Part1.pdf

Position 2: We’re NOT going to do anything at night because… who needs power at night? Amory Lovins says the requirement for baseload electric power is a myth, and there’s no real need for power at night. Except for running fridges and hospitals and night transport and some industries and replacing half our oil with EV’s on the *existing* night grid according to the NREL study above! If the huge spare night-time capacity of a *reliable* baseload grid can only charge half the fleet, then no baseload at night means we must charge the whole fleet during the day. Just how many times over are we going to build out the grid again? How are we going to charge all those EV’s? Are we going to double the grid? Triple it? Quadruple it to allow for extra capacity to store energy for that cloudy, windless day AND charge our transport fleet at the same time? No. Watch Amory’s ‘efficiency gains’. We’re going to halve our electricity supply according to Amory. While replacing oil. Ummm, no Amory. It doesn’t add up.

15 01 2017
Idiocracy

I’ve been flat-out for the past few days so I’m behind on this post, but I properly LOL’d on the opening sentence… and boy did Eclipse take the bait!

Here’s a highlight reel of his most absurd statements for those who can’t be arsed reading the rest of his bla-bla-motherfuckin’-bla…

“The developing world is desperate to climb out of their poverty and have a lifestyle like ours. ” – WTF do you know about the “developing” world? I’d bet most of them would just like to have their native lands back! The ONLY reason they’re so desperately poverty stricken is because we have imposed our hyper-civilised ‘one right way’ of living onto them all whilst hoovering the natural wealth out from beneath their feet. Read some Daniel Quinn would ya!

” Abundant reliable clean electricity is quite enough, thank you very much. I think you should just show some gratitude that such a thing is possible.” – Clean my arse! Your reactors are NOT environmentally neutral. Full stop… stop pretending they are. I’d be much more greatful if we could just have our abundant reliable clean biosphere back…

” I’m not going to take your word for it that cities are also unsustainable. You have way to many presuppositions clouding your judgement on that one.” – Hahahahahhah! If somebody can name ONE thing MORE unsustainable than cities I’ll eat my hat! Gilgamesh, the (formerly) Fertile Crescent, et al… Did it ever occur to you that your own biases toward keeping your cushy life just maybe are clouding your judgement?

” 3. We sell more bicycles and rickshaws ” Ohhh man you crack me up! Your such a boushy mofo, I bet you’d love to be whipping some poor bastard on a rickshaw to go pickup your Starbuck’s Mochafrappachinolatteshot! Your always so cheery about the future… and there’s only one reason why…. YOU don’t have to do ANY of the heavy lifting! In Civ, there is no war but the class war (besides the war against the biosphere that is).

” Telstra’s chief scientist says that it is not only possible that human driving should be illegal by 2030, but desirable. Including this year still to run, that’s only 14 years away! ” – Hahahahahhaha! Typical elitist prick spewing libtard TED Talk BS from the confines of the urban technosphere. How does a builder, plumber or sparkey move their gear about on a job site? Regional/Rural folks, there’s plenty of roads not on Google maps? I’d like to see a self driving car navigate say… a Bunnings Trade section ring road with a trailer during the week, or an abattoir loading ramp, etc… Not gonna happen!

“Security of nuclear material might become an issue if a state goes rogue on us.” State’s are the peak hierarchical control mechanisms of civilisation and therefore ALL States are rogue! Do either of these definitions not sound like a “civilised” state to you?

1.
a dishonest or unprincipled man.
“you are a rogue and an embezzler”
2.
an elephant or other large wild animal living apart from the herd and having savage or destructive tendencies.
“a rogue elephant”

” With economic systems (broken), democratic governance (broken also), scientific enquiry (profit driven) and cultural movements (what like MAGA, or Reclaim Australia, maybe Pokemon Go?) reacting to all these things, we can adapt. What we need is a war-time-commitment drive towards some of the solutions, and then we’ll make it (make it where exactly and who’s “we” – boushy city folk I bet). ” Ref inline brackets.

” Pfft. Easy. Buy a few pushbikes, get fit and lose some weight. The elderly can hire one of those new rickshaw drivers who will get work during the crisis, car pool with that guy that already bought a Tesla, etc ” – Hahahah ref above point 3.

“Ecocity” – Hahahaha!!!!! Nothin’ like a green-washed Oxymoron!

And in the end, Chris Harries nails it… ” There aren’t any ‘solutions’ to the human predicament. Just ways to try and forge forward.”

The obvious question arising from this point however is – just exactly where are we going, why are we going there, and what will be the effects of continuing this “journey”? A question that Eclipse has as yet not been (and I dare say never will be) able to answer…

15 01 2017
Eclipse Now

Sorry idiocracy, my bad. I was busy and tired yesterday, and forgot who I was speaking with. It all came back to me after “… and boy did Eclipse take the bait!” Sorry. I don’t mean to be a ‘troll-tease’ but I didn’t read any further once I got to that line and remembered who you were. Apologies for engaging.

15 01 2017
Idiocracy

Well, that was unexpectedly apologetic… 😛

Seriously though, you come to “Damn the Matrix” proselytizing with techno-utopian assertions like; abundant clean reliable energy being the first great step towards sustainability, a Westernised 1st world standard of living being achievable for all 7.5 billion (and counting) of us, not to mention Polar fuckin’ bears on Mars… yet because I object to and challenge such proclamations (on a blog called “Damn the Matrix” might I remind) I’m the troll?

Beyond technologies that could possibly extend man’s great adventure sometime into the future, your arguments are severely lacking. Outside the techno-sphere you’re just whistling in the dark. Hence why any non-technical points are never addressed.

But hey, what’s it all matter anyways… to paraphrase a wise man – Civilisation is but a brief detour from man’s origins and coming future as hunter-gatherers.

15 01 2017
Idiocracy

Mike can you retrieve my comment from the murky bowles of WordPress… #comment-23270

15 01 2017
mikestasse

Done……

15 01 2017
Idiocracy

WP just keeps eating them…23283 this time. Am I on the DTM naughty list or something? 😛

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s