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Think Big, Really Big

Think Big, Really Big

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Think Big, Really Big

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  1. Think Big, Really Big The Engineering view of the world is never very interesting, scalable or sustainable  manipulates nature Physicists view the world as a system, assess its overall capacity and limitations  partners with nature

  2. An Issued Challenge • Goal: Provide resources for a global population that will quadruple in 100 years • Done: 1900 – 2000 • Consequences: Depends on your point of view about progress versus quality of life versus human condition

  3. Some Consequences • Rapid mining/depletion of accessible high energy content medium (like, oil, dude) • Serious worldwide inequities in resource distribution and wealth • Two world wars and some other minor skirmishes, invasions, annexations,etc • Robbing our great grandchildren of a possible future

  4. Who Can We Blame • Aristotle (Father of all white guys …) • Nixon (why not) • The Enemy (we seem to require one) • Your Parents • Anyone you like (absolution) • The Business as Usual Attitude • Our Genes

  5. Business As Usual Scenario • Population stabilizes to 10-12 billion by the year 2100 (possible to do) • Total world energy use from 2000 to 2100 is 4000 Terra Watt Years (Current US use is about 1.5 TW years) • Holy crap, Batman is the sky falling?

  6. Conventional Oil/Gas Unconventional Oil Coal Methane Clathrates Oil Shale Uranium Ore Geothermal Steam - conventional 1000 TWy (1/4 need) 2000 5000 20,000 30,000 2,000 4,000 Ultimately Recoverable Resource

  7. Breeder Reactors Hot Dry Rock Sunlight Wind Energy Global Biomass Fusion 2,000,000 TWy 1,000,000 9,000,000 200,000 10,000 Essentially unlimited Other Possibilities

  8. There is no Real Energy Barrier or Limit And other extragalactic Civilizations have surely solved this problem. On Earth, we have a bunch of other likely problems

  9. We may be running out of … • Cheap Oil • Livable Environment/Fresh Water • Tolerance for inequity (its about time …) • Money for better options • Time for a transition out of the fossil fuel economy into something else • Leadership to do what is required

  10. Hydrogen Production • Your research indicated we need 4 trillion KWHs per year for Hydrogen production • This equals 10 billion KWHs per day or in round numbers 1 billion KWHs per hour. • Figure of Merit is then 1 million MW of power needed for Hydrogen production • Is this a lot?

  11. One Million Megawatts • 1000 Nuclear Reactors • 1000 Gas Fired Plants • Well if your going to build that crap, just connect it to the grid, you idiot • Okay, then what about remote energy generation where grid connection is difficult

  12. 1 TW Production Schemes • Harvest some Megaplumes • Build 100,000 10 MW Wind Turbines off the Aleutian Island Chain (note total wind resource here is about 50 TW) • Place one 100 MW turbine every 200 meters in the Gulf Stream which is equivalent to a 200 km/hr wind

  13. More Production Schemes • Distributed OTEC islands – circular platforms of radius 1 km can produce 1000 MW. (Russia wants to build floating nuclear power plants; Boeing wants floating equatorial launch platforms) • Note: 1 TW of PV power requires PV arrays (200 miles x 200 miles) in North Africa Desert

  14. Bottom lines • Large Scale hydrogen production schemes are possible using way out of the box large scale renewable energy systems where grid connection is unlikely • Solar Power is not a direct player in this scheme; CSP unlikely to work on this scale • Many technical difficulties lie ahead which we will discuss, but similar technical barriers were overcome in the last century! • Reminder, we have walked on the Moon

  15. Impulsive Discussion Now • Are humans intrinsically competitive or cooperative? • Which mode facilitates sustainability?