Wednesday, July 30, 2008


As I head-off on holiday to Switzerland tomorrow, I feel a pang of conscience about the added burden to my carbon-footprint, but I will be thinking about turning algae into biofuels and reading a new book that claims that oil is not of fossil origin, but is formed deep within the earth, according to Thomas Gold's hypothesis, and the great Russian chemist, Mendeleev, who famously invented the Periodic table of the Chemical Elements. The book is entitled, "Black Gold Stranglehold" and subtitled "The myth of scarcity and the politics of oil." It is written by Jerome R. Corsi and Craig R. Smith, who is CEO of Swiss America Trading Corporation - something of a coincidence perhaps, to my travel destination.

The Swiss are an environmentally aware and active nation and generate around 20% of their electricity from hydropower. Other than this they are as dependent on fossil fuels as the rest of us, and as far as I know they have little in the way of natural resources such as gas, oil or coal. I have had a long love-affair with Switzerland, beginning with a holiday there 24 years ago, walking in the Bernese Oberland, and visiting the Reichenbachfalle (Reichenbach Falls) where fictionally Arthur Conan Doyle killed-off Sherlock Holmes' arch-rival, Professor Moriarty, in a death-struggle the two of them had, which resulted in both falling. Holmes was later found to have survived, such was public demand that Conan Doyle wrote more of his fabulous stories on the detective of his imagination, even though the author himself had had enough of him.

The basic idea is that there weren't enough dinosaurs to have been cooked into the vast amount of oil that has been recovered to date, let alone the other half of it that is thought recoverable. There is much debate about how much oil there is to be recovered and Richard Pike (CEO of the Royal Society of Chemistry) was quoted recently as saying that there may be twice as much oil left as was thought - perhaps twice the figure of around 1200 billion barrels. Now that all depends on what precisely is meant by oil, and if you count-in heavy oil, bitumen from tar-sands and oil-shale, maybe there could be 2.4 trillion barrels of it. 3.7 trillion barrels is one estimate I have seen but that counted-in everything including coal-to-liquids conversion.

The real limit is the rate of recovery, however, not how much "oil" there is down there or could be synthesised. Also, while it is nice to see that the price of a barrel of oil is down to around $120 from almost $150, my money is still on a steady increase in the future as none of these oil-sources are likely to be cheap. One wonders too whether the world powers have conspired to pull-down the price of oil in order to preserve the global economy, which could collapse if it rises high enough. Apparently, in the U.S., there has been a fall in the amount of fuel used during the past few months, which is unexpected since people normally drive more during the summer, but not at $4 a gallon, perhaps. Still, it's nearer $8 a gallon over here, the most expensive fuel in Europe.


Anonymous said...

Clarence in Baltimore here.

Enjoy your well-earned rest!

Anonymous said...

Quoting from above:

The material, components and technical know how for the implementation is readily available. The utilities for the operation of biogas technology are wastes, which are free, cheap and in abundance. There is no requirement for the addition of chemicals. Income is increased in many folds through energy, fertilizer, health and waste disposal. Maintenance is very cheap like regular painting to avoid surface corrosion of plant.
Taking into consideration of the life span of biogas plants (10-30yrs). The investment is worthwhile and highly profitable. There are no moving parts, meaning there is no wear and tear due to friction.
Nigeria and Africa has an alternaative energy source that is ready to be deployed.
With the increasing population and energy demand, the dream of attaining food security and poverty eradication and environmental management in line with the millennium development goals. It is time to act.
Lets join hands to move the nation forward. This is a call to entrepreneurs, governments and Non governmental organizations. It is time to make great thing happen in our country. Lets make Nigeria great again.

Biogas plants are suitable for decentralized energy production systems. Energy is produced at point of consumption. Wastes are free and are usually burdens. The amount and kind of wastes determine the size of the plant and amount of BIOGAS produced. Biogas plants are customized and installed based on local and site conditions/requirements. Skilled engineers such as plumbers, welders and bricklayers are utilized in installation.

Site evaluation and waste analyses --> N200,000
Utilities à Free (No Utilities Required)
Raw materials à Free (Wastes Generated)
Biogas plant (Fixed Asset)
à (1) 30m3 Bioreactor
à (2) 5m3 steel gas storage unit
à (3) Utility points (Cookers, gas mantles etc.)
à (4) Plumbing accessories and fittings (GI-pipes, Pressure Gauges, Valves, Plastic pipes etc.)
à (5) Bricklaying work (Excavation, Concrete foundation etc.
à N7,000,000

TOTAL: N7,200,000($50,000)

Ø Utility points do not include generator, engines or other applicable machines
Ø Cost estimate may vary from one part of the country to the other

This biogas plant can handle 3TONNES OF WASTES DAILY.

This has a potential of cooking a meal for 300 PEOPLE DAILY
Calorific value (Heating Energy) of 207,000 KCAL DAILY
10% REDUCTION in diesel consumption in a 10KVA generator running for 48HOURS CONTINUOUSLY
10% REDUCTION in diesel consumption in a 8Hp engine running for 48HRS CONTINUOUSLY

A lifespan of 20YEARS. Maintenance requires only frequent painting to avoid corrosion.
Management and maintenance can be carried out by unskilled labour. Servicing may not be required as long as guidelines for operation are follows.

Highly profitable and feasible without considering fertilizer, feeds and mineralized water benefits."


Anonymous said...

This is second time you have had post about the origin of oil. Does it really matter. What is your point.
So if there is no scaricity then how come they are not able to find more.
Does it not produce the C02 or not.
What a waste of time. So what do these guy propose to make more oil from berried carbon by using more energy and water.

It is already been said that it is plankton buried by silt from river delta. Oil formed long before the dinosaur extinction.

Professor Chris Rhodes said...

Hi Clarence!

We got back last night and it was a great break!



Professor Chris Rhodes said...

Hi George!

I like the idea, but cooking for 300 people x some billions/300 might prove quite a task. However, as part of a collective sustainable effort it might be useful - it also uses waste-matter as its material which must be good.

I see this as being potentially very useful to run a small community, rather than as part of a wider integrated syatem.



Professor Chris Rhodes said...

Hi Anonymous!

In terms of the need to use other resources - fossil and water - in practical terms maybe it doesn't matter where oil comes from.

However, if there is loads of oil of pre-dinosaur origin and someone (e.g. Russia) develops the technology to extract it, even at high cost, they will become a world power, don't you think?