Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Cecil John Rhodes and Coal.

Now I don't exactly boast about this fact, in the interests of PC, but I am descended from Cecil John Rhodes - perhaps not directly as it is rumoured he was a homosexual, which I affirmatively am not, but a happily married man. I have a lady friend in South Africa (not that kind) but who recommended me for a prize in the interests of publishing some of my poetry, which along with my first novel to be published on 25th March 2009 is a nice and long-anticipated result!

Now, Vivienne reckoned there was 30 years worth of coal left in SA, but this is a moot conclusion, so it now appears. There have been numerous troubles involving the supply of electricity in SA this year alone, but their demand for coal is growing. I recall that SA makes most of its oil from coal-liquefaction - an adaptation of the Bergius Process, for which Herr Dr Professor Bergius won the Nobel Prize in 1933? - in reflection of the world having turned its back upon them in the interests of anti-apartheid.

The growth in coal-use in SA suggests a spotlight on the county's coal-reserves. A complex situation is inferred among all other political deferences.
Demand for coal has increased by 2.5% per year


Anonymous said...

Tom Krisher, Associated Press, writes

Utilities say grid can handle rechargeable vehicles
Rechargeable cars, industry officials say, consume about four times the electricity as plasma TVs. But the industry already has dealt with increased electric demand from the millions of plasma TVs sold in recent years. Officials say that experience will help them deal with the vehicle fleet changeover.

So as long as the changeover from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles is somewhat gradual, they should be able to handle it in the same way, Mark Duvall, program manager for electric transportation, power delivery and distribution for the Electric Power Research Institute, said Tuesday.

"We've already added to the grid the equivalent of several years' production of plug-in hybrids," Duvall said at a conference on electric vehicles in San Jose. "The utilities, they stuck with it. They said, 'All right, that's what's happening. This is where the loads are going, and we're going to do this.'"

Automakers, such as General Motors Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp., are planning to bring rechargeable vehicles to the market as early as 2010. But speakers at the Plug-In 2008 conference say it will take much longer for them to arrive in mass numbers, due in part to a current lack of large-battery manufacturing capacity. Auto and battery companies still are working on the lithium-ion battery technology needed for the cars, and on how to link the battery packs to the vehicles..."


The car culture isn't quite dead yet. Certainly, the economics of it have changed forever. (The first car ever produced and sold in the USA ran on lead acid batteries.)


Professor Chris Rhodes said...

Electric cars are probably the only way forward, but I still don't think we can make 700 million of them to replace the world's car-fleet!

Hence, we will resort to a relocalisation of society, by default if not by decision.

Plasma TV's also use hafnium and that is set to run-out within 5 - 10 years, so their future is limited too.



Anonymous said...

A bit off-topic, but was wondering what you thought of this, or if you had even heard of it:

Solar power breakthrough


Professor Chris Rhodes said...

Hi Clarence!

No, I hadn't heard of this. It seems the idea is to generate electricity when the sun is shining and to use some of this to split water into H2 + O2, then to use this to make electricity at night by chemically recombining the two gases to make H2O in a fuel-cell.

I'm a bit suspicious that this will really provide a "carbon-free" energy revolution, but again, the technology would require a stupendous feat of engineering to implement it on the grand scale.

It doesn't say exactly how the water will be split, but my guess is either electrolysis or a photochemical reaction e.g. using titanium dioxide composite particles.

However, it does say that "natural materials" will be used, and that sounds like organic molecules, maybe based around chlorophyll or some other porphyrin.

10 years, well maybe, but we will need to get cracking for the full scale-up.

I did come across an article about Building-Integrated photovoltaics, where the cost of the solar-panels are absorbed into the cost of the building per se, which gets the price down.

Possibly this technology too, could be thus incorporated into the essential design and cost of new buildings.



Anonymous said...

From the horses mouth:

From M.I.T
Lots more details.


Professor Chris Rhodes said...

I also found this article which is very interesting.

They seem to have discovered a new catalyst for producing oxygen from water which is something quite new.

I wonder what the electrode materials is - i.e. might it be platinum?

Ah, yes, seems that it is. So there are supply limitations as there are with all fuel-cell technologies.

It's not really akin to photosynthesis, but it does split water.

It's interesting, but there will be problems of fabricating it on the grand scale to generate "carbon free" electricity at the level we make it now, mostly from fossil-fuels.