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on the inefficiency of internal combustion engines (ices) in road transport

and the development of improved replacements - history and prospects. Recommended reading.

“One of the missing pieces at the time was an efficient and lightweight energy-storage device that could instantaneously produce high levels of power. Another gap in technology was a computer that could manage multiple sources of energy efficiently and automatically. It would have to deliver high power to the wheels when required and also, when the car needed to be slowed, to transform the kinetic energy of motion into electricity for charging the battery so this energy could later be reused. Another element that was lacking was a transmission system that could efficiently handle more than one power plant.”

“For example, a hybrid car we constructed in 1997 named "Coulomb" (a converted Mercury Sable sedan) has an engine with a displacement of only 660 cubic centimeters, something one finds more typically powering a modest-size motorcycle. Yet that diminutive engine can produce 36 kilowatts, which is more than sufficient for sustained hill climbing. Coulomb also contains an electric motor capable of putting out 75 kilowatts peak power, which allows the car to accelerate from a standstill to 60 miles per hour in only 9 seconds when used in conjunction with its gasoline engine. With the car's 18-kilowatt-hour pack of metal-hydride batteries, the motor can carry the car for 60 miles in all-electric mode.

“Advanced lithium-ion batteries now becoming available for automotive use are smaller and lighter than the metal-hydride cells we have so far employed, which will allow for lighter vehicles with the same electric range or ones that can go even farther before they begin to use gasoline. At the moment, the main roadblocks to lithium-ion cells are higher cost, reduced longevity and concerns about safety, but some battery makers claim to have solved these issues with their newest designs. I look forward to testing some of the latest lithium-ion batteries in one of the plug-in hybrids that I am now building with my students. I fully expect that lithium-ion cells of one variety or another will eventually replace metal-hydride batteries in hybrid cars, offering a two- to threefold increase in energy storage for a pack of a given weight, along with a greater ability to absorb energy quickly during regenerative braking and, perhaps, with adequate durability to last for 15 years and 150,000 miles.

“Charging time for the batteries in a plug-in hybrid is not nearly as much of an issue as it is for a purely electric car, because the engine can always provide propulsion. Thus the batteries can be charged relatively slowly, which can be done quite efficiently from nothing more elaborate than an ordinary household outlet. What is more, because the power requirements for slow charging are quite modest, the electricity doesn't necessarily have to come from the electric grid - it can also be derived from rooftop photovoltaic panels or from a small wind turbine.”

“As plug-in hybrids are manufactured in increasing numbers, they will be paving the way to a society that bases its energy needs on renewable sources. The various impediments to designing such vehicles have been overcome one by one over the past three decades. The only element clearly needing further progress is energy storage in electrochemical batteries, and there is ample evidence that these devices can soon be made in a way that satisfies the needs of the automotive market. So I am confident that plug-in hybrids will allow all of us to retain and indeed improve our comfortable lifestyles at a lower cost and in a less disruptive manner than any transportation alternative envisioned today.”

related material
Fuel cells
Transportable fuels

the web address for the article above is




parris puts in a heat pump

“[...] Two 100m trenches, almost as deep as a man is tall, stretch away up the hill [...]”

“In Switzerland every third new building is equipped with a heat pump. In Sweden seven out of ten new builds rely on this technology. In Germany, too, it is catching on. Because the installation makes a huge mess inside and around a house, the technology is most obviously applicable to new construction. My stone buildings are centuries old; but I have decided to brave the cost and inconvenience. If the system works in the large holiday cottage beside our house, we will adopt it throughout.”

“Other heat-pump systems use the air, not the soil, for heat collection. Or you can take it from rivers or wells. And for ground-source you can go vertically down, putting pipes into bore holes if you are short of space. But I have chosen to use my field.”

Ten years of Tony Bliar and Brown the Clown, how much longer before the UK government takes energy seriously?

the web address for the article above is

what is required for the end of the nuisance caused by the middle east dictatorships

“Solar power systems installed in the areas defined by the dark disks could provide a little more than the world's current total primary energy demand (assuming a conversion efficiency of 8 %). That is, all energy currently consumed, including heat, electricity, fossil fuels, etc., would be produced in the form of electricity by solar cells. The colors in the map show the local solar irradiance averaged over three years from 1991 to 1993 (24 hours a day) taking into account the cloud coverage available from weather satellites.”

Location Desert Desert Size
in km2
W m-2 Area required
in km2
Africa Sahara 9,064,960 260 144,231
Australia Great Sandy 388,500 265 141,509
China Takla Makan 271,950 210 178,571
Middle-East Arabian 2,589,910 270 138,889
South America Atacama 139,860 275 136,364
U.S.A Great Basin 492,100 220 170,455

Much photovoltiacs [PV] is now at over twice this conversion efficiency rate.

Nuclear power is reckoned to be capable of providing energy for ever, with vastly lower risk rates even than PV production.

Reasonable housing and equipment standards could save at least 15% of current energy usage with no reduction in standards of living.

Why are George Bush and Tony Bliar tolerating the present nuisance of the Middle East dictators, the filthy fossil fuels industry and the vast corporations running the filth machine?

Why is much of the third world being put at increasing risk of lowered food crop production?
Who gains?

the web address for the article above is

now it’s for real! wind-powered twin towers

Close-up of turbines between the towers of the Bahrain WTC. Image credit:Carbon Solutions Group. Close-up of turbines between the towers of the Bahrain WTC
Above: artist’s impression
Carbon Solutions Group
Close-up of the turbines between the Bahrain WTC. Credit: Shaun Killa, Atkins Architecture Below: the reality
Credit: Atkins Architecture
“The visually striking sail-shaped towers [...] serve to channel the strong on-shore winds directly onto the turbines.”
6-picture composite picture of the
 Bahrain WTC before the turbines were added. Image credit: Tushal. 6-picture composite picture of the Bahrain WTC before the turbines were added.
Turbine detail.
Above: Artist’s impression
Below: the reality
Credit: Atkins Architecture

interesting facts and figures

  • Bahrain World Trade Centre - BWTC
  • designer: Shaun Killa
  • architects: Atkins
  • height: 240 metres/264 yards
  • Each tower: 50 stories, 34 floors of office space
  • footprint: 120,000 m²
  • BWTC includes a shopping mall
    • 150-200 luxury brand retail sites
    • 5-star Sheraton hotel
    • 42nd floor viewing deck
  • Alternative energy supply:
  • three propeller turbines: diameter - 32 yards/29 metres
  • weight of turbine supporting bridge: 65 tonnes
  • energy supplied: about 11-15 % of buildings' needs
    • approx. 1100 to 1300 megawatts per year.
    • this could provide light in 300 homes during a year
  • turbine testing: throughout 2007
  • BWTC opening: second half of 2007

related material
architectural items at www.abelard.org

the web address for the article above is

document encapsulating much of the dream behind the eu reductions of co2
(part 4 of related items discussing eu alternative energy policies)

The document reproduced below encapsulates much of the dream behind the EU reductions of CO2 (this document is politically important! ). However, most methanol/ethanol is currently formed using fossil fuels.

And the energy input to enable most methanol/ethanol production from plant starches and sugars is close to the energy generated (output), thus making this production dubiously viable. this could change radically if cellulosic methanol comes on stream.

Meanwhile, the amount of ethanol produced in Brazil annually is equivalent to less than the quantity of oil used by the world in a single day.

There are also anaerobic bateria that can produce methane from methanol (far the most of natural methane production is by such bacteria, although not necessarily by this route). Methane is a high problem greenhouse gas. I do not know whether this is serious issue as yet. In general, methanol is much less of a spill problem than liquid fossil fuels.

Stricter fuel standards to combat climate change and reduce air pollution

Reference: IP/07/120 Date: 31/01/2007

Brussels, 31 January 2007

The European Commission today proposed new standards for transport fuels that will reduce their contribution to climate change and air pollution, including through greater use of biofuels. The changes underscore the Commission's commitment to ensuring that the EU combats climate change and air pollution effectively. The proposed standards will not only make the fuels themselves 'cleaner' but will also allow the introduction of vehicles and machinery that pollute less. A key measure foreseen is that, to encourage the development of lower-carbon fuels and biofuels, suppliers will have to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions caused by the production, transport and use of their fuels by 10% between 2011 and 2020. This will cut emissions by 500 million tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2020 - equivalent to the total combined emissions of Spain and Sweden today. A new petrol blend will be established allowing higher content of the biofuel ethanol, and sulphur levels in diesel and gasoil will be cut to reduce emissions of dangerous dust particles.

Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: "This is one of the most important measures in the series of new initiatives the Commission needs to take to step up the fight against global climate change. It is a concrete test of our political commitment to leadership on climate policy and our capacity to translate political priorities into concrete measures. It will further underpin Europe's shift towards the low-carbon economy that is essential if we are to prevent climate change from reaching dangerous proportions. These proposals will also help achieve a significant reduction in the noxious pollutants from transport that can harm our citizens' health, as well as opening the way for a major expansion in the use of biofuels, especially second generation biofuels."

What the new standards will achieve

  • A reduction in EU greenhouse gas emissions of 500 million tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2020
  • An improvement in the quality of transport fuels and promotion of "second generation" biofuels that will bring bigger emission savings
  • Better public health through a reduction in noxious pollutants, in particular due to lower sulphur content of diesel.

Importance of fuel quality specifications

The 1998 fuel quality directive[1] sets common EU specifications for petrol, diesel and gasoil used in road vehicles, inland waterway barges and non-road mobile machinery such as locomotives, earth moving machinery and tractors. Its aim is to protect human health and the environment and ensure a single market in these fuels. The Commission's proposal to revise the directive reflects developments in fuel and engine technology, the growing importance of biofuels and the need both to meet the air quality goals set out in the 2005 Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution (see IP/05/1170) and to further reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change.

Proposed changes

The revised directive will introduce an obligation for fuel suppliers to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that their fuels cause over their life-cycle, ie when they are refined, transported and used. From 2011, suppliers will have to reduce emissions per unit of energy by 1% a year from 2010 levels. This will result in a 10% cut by 2020.

This obligation will promote the further development of low-carbon fuels and other measures to reduce emissions from the fuel production chain, and will help ensure that the fuel sector contributes to achieving the EU's greenhouse gas reduction goals.

To enable a higher volume of biofuels to be used in petrol, a separate petrol blend will be established with a higher permitted content of oxygen-containing additives (so-called oxygenates), including up to 10% ethanol. The different petrol blends will be clearly marked to avoid fuelling vehicles with incompatible fuel. To compensate for an increase in emissions of polluting vapours that will result from greater use of ethanol, the Commission will put forward a proposal for the mandatory introduction of vapour recovery equipment at filling stations later this year. These vapours, known as volatile organic compounds, contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone pollution, which can cause premature death in people with breathing difficulties or heart problems.

From 1 January 2009 all diesel fuel marketed will have to have an ultra-low sulphur content (no more than 10 parts per million). This will cut pollutant emissions, primarily of dust particles ('particulate matter'), the air pollutant most dangerous for human health. This sulphur reduction will in particular facilitate the introduction of new pollution-control equipment such as particle filters on diesel vehicles. From the same date, the maximum permitted content of another dangerous substance in diesel, poly aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), will be reduced by one-third. This may reduce emissions not only of PAHs, some of which may cause cancer, but also of particulate matter.

The permitted sulphur content of gasoil for use by non-road machinery and inland waterway barges will also be substantially cut. This too will reduce emissions of particulate matter and allow the introduction of more advanced engines and emission control equipment.

The costs of the different elements have been assessed and, overall, the changes proposed are justified on a cost-benefit analysis.

Further information

Full details of the assessment of the benefits and the technical issues associated with the review of the directive are available.


Main changes to technical specifications proposed
Parameter Old value New value
Maximum permitted oxygen content in petrol
2.7% by mass 3.7% by mass in "high biofuel petrol"
Maximum ethanol content 5% by volume 10% by volume in "high biofuel petrol"
Other oxygenates Varied between 3 and 15% All increased by a comparable amount in "high biofuel petrol" except methanol.
Sulphur content of road transport diesel Currently 50ppm. Provisionally 10ppm from 1/1/2009 10ppm from 31/12/2008.
Sulphur content of non-road machinery gas-oil 1000ppm from 2008 10ppm from 31/12/2009.
Sulphur content of inland waterway gas-oil 1000ppm from 2008 300ppm from 31/12/2009
10ppm from 31/12/2011
Poly Aromatic Hydrocarbon content of diesel 11% by mass 8% by mass
ppm = parts per million

[1] Directive 98/70/EC relating to the quality of petrol and diesel fuels and amending Council Directive 93/12/EC

four related items discussing EU alternative energy policies







the web address for the article above is

bio-fuels are not a panacea

But they are being promoted, subsidised and even demanded by the EUSSR. Subsidies are mostly put in place because of pressures by corporate lobbies.

“- Not all biofuels perform equally well. Some are more likely to worsen the state of the environment, rather then making any meaningful contribution. Many environmental experts believe that only the best performing biofuels, identified through a life-cycle analysis which covers the entire production process from seed to tank, should be eligible for public support. Such a life-cycle analysis should also consider non-climatic environmental impacts such as those on soil, biodiversity and water. The revised Fuel Quality Directive could, if designed well, play an important role in this respect

“- The Biofuels Directive sets 'reference values' of a 2% market share for biofuels in 2005 and 5.75% in 2010. The 2005 target of 2% biofuels was not achieved. With the objectives set by Member States, the share of biofuels would have attained, at most, only 1.4%. The Commission has launched infringement proceedings in seven cases where Member States adopted low targets without due justification

“- The expansion of crops such as palm oil, soy and sugar cane at the expense of natural habitats such as rainforest, is already a primary driver of global biodiversity decline. Palm oil is thought to be responsible for the loss of 1.2m ha of rainforest in Malaysia and 2m ha in Indonesia. Further demand following a growing international bioenergy market can only increase this pressure.

“- Biofuels are often referred to as 'carbon neutral'. They are not. In reality, they release greenhouse gases throughout their production cycle. Indeed, the emissions savings on offer are highly variable and can be very small, or even negative, depending how they are grown and processed. The GHG savings from biofuels risk being lost if their production causes the loss of high carbon land-uses. Between 10 and 30% of global GHG emissions are already due to land-use change. This is principally as a result of tropical deforestation, but grasslands also represent an important 'carbon sink'. ”

four related items discussing EU alternative energy policies







the web address for the article above is

cellulosic bio-fuel advances another step

“A new road fuel made from wood chips and straw will be launched in Europe later this year from a pilot plant developed by Shell and Choren Industries, the German biofuel company.

“The synthetic diesel, made using a novel biomass-to-liquids (BTL) process, will shift the biodiesel industry into a higher gear by using waste plant material instead of valuable food crops.

“The pilot plant, near Freiberg, will produce 15,000 tonnes per year of synthetic diesel, which Choren has dubbed Sunfuel. Construction of a much bigger plant in Schleswig-Holstein, costing 500 million (336 million) and capable of producing 200,000 tonnes of BTL, will begin next year in an effort to quickly bring the product up to commercial scale.”

the web address for the article above is

using carbon trading to ease the third world into efficient and clean energy usage

“Carbon trading under the Kyoto Protocol, termed the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), can provide a bridge, making the rich bear the brunt of targets to cut emissions but letting them cut costs by paying poor countries to make the reductions.

“ "For me the most important advantage of a carbon trading scheme is generating financial flows to developing countries, and we see the beginning of this with the CDM," said Nick Stern, chief British government economist and author of a major report published in October on the economics of climate change.” [Quoted from planetark.org]

Meanwhile, even Norway is starting to look at clean nuclear power.

“Norwegian energy authorities have commissioned a study on the prospects for exploiting Norway's relatively large reserves of thorium, a naturally occurring radioactive metal, in energy production.” [Quoted from planetark.org]

Norway has one of the largest known thorium deposits.

the web address for the article above is

bush administration subsidising ethanol -
bush administration promoting hydrogen -
bush is a watermelon

George Bush is a corporate socialist.

“As far as usable fuel is concerned, what we have managed to do is trade seven moles of methane for twenty moles of hydrogen. Seven moles of carbon dioxide have also been produced, exactly as many as would have been produced had we simply used the methane itself as fuel. The seven moles of methane that we used up, however, would have been worth 1435 kilocalories of energy if used directly, while the twenty moles of hydrogen we have produced in exchange for all our trouble are only worth 1320 kilocalories. So for the same amount of carbon dioxide released, less useful energy has been produced.

“The situation is much worse than this, however, because before the hydrogen can be transported anywhere, it needs to be either compressed or liquefied. To liquefy it, it must be refrigerated down to a temperature of 20 K (20 degrees above absolute zero, or -253 degrees Celsius). At these temperatures, the fundamental laws of thermodynamics make refrigerators extremely inefficient. As a result, about 40 percent of the energy in the hydrogen must be spent to liquefy it. This reduces the actual net energy content of our product fuel to 792 kilocalories. In addition, because it is a cryogenic liquid, still more energy could be expected to be lost as the hydrogen boils away during transport and storage.” [Quoted from thenewatlantis.com]

marker at abelard.org

“As for the environmental impact, well, where do we begin? As an oxygenate, ethanol increases the level of nitrous oxides in the atmosphere and thus causes smog. The scientific literature is also divided about whether the energy inputs required to produce ethanol actually exceed its energy output. It takes fertilizer to grow the corn, and fuel to ship and process it, and so forth. Even the most optimistic estimate says ethanol's net energy output is a marginal improvement of only 1.3 to one. For purposes of comparison, energy outputs from gasoline exceed inputs by an estimated 10 to one.

“And because corn-based ethanol is less efficient than ordinary gasoline, using it to fuel cars means you need more gas to drive the same number of miles. This is not exactly a route to "independence" from Mideast, Venezuelan or any other tainted source of oil. Ethanol also cannot be shipped using existing pipelines (being alcohol, it eats the seals), so it must be trucked or sent by barge or train to its thousand-and-one destinations, at least until separate pipelines are built.

“Even some environmentalists cry foul. Steve Sanderson, president of the Wildlife Conservation Society, tells us that intensive, subsidized sugar farming in Brazil--where the use of ethanol is most widespread--has displaced small tenant farmers, many of whom have taken to cutting down and farming land in the Amazon rain forest.” [Quoted from opinionjournal.com]

The only obvious way out is massive nuclear power building.

For much background start here:
replacing fossil fuels: the scale of the problem

Note -
Green outside, red inside.

the web address for the article above is

there is something deeply fishy about this

The comments on nuclear power are, as usual, misleading to the point of misinformation.

But more to the point, I can see no reason to use the nuclear power indirectly. A nuclear power generator can be set up to provide gas and oil substitutes more directly than this. This looks, on the surface, wasteful and even impractical in view of the pollution and water problems of the location.

So, is this just a pork project in disguise?

“At first blush it seems like a pretty incongruous idea - to plunk a honking big nuclear reactor in the very heart of Alberta's oil patch, to help steam the raw bitumen from the thick tar sands.

“But as of this week, there are two serious oilsands players - Husky Energy Inc. and Total SA of France - who are publicly mulling the nuclear option. As well, four others, according to the biggest proponent of the plan, are quietly thinking about it.

“Couple that with the thoughts of ex-premier Ralph Klein, whose parting gift was to suggest the nuclear notion had at least to be considered, and you have the makings of a veritable tipping point.

“Oil execs are no dummies. They have tough-minded shareholders and inquiring boards of directors to deal with, so they don't just toss out ideas like this willy-nilly. At the same time, the timing of these announcements and their tone (Husky CEO John Lau went out of his way to note the political reticence) have to be taken into account.” [Quoted from cbc.ca]

And plenty more of the same.

the web address for the article above is

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