[CAMWEST-discuss] [LBUG] Re: gas to liquids and coal to liquids

Danny Hannan danny_hannan at yahoo.com
Sat Jun 7 05:51:09 UTC 2008

G'day Robert,
The major energy efficiency gains that have been made in the last 20 (and many more years) are; materials based,
lighter weight high strength composite materials for aircraft and automobiles and bicycles.
a small increase in the fuel efficiency of both internal combustion and gas turbine engines (turbo fan jet) for aircraft, mostly materials based that can run at higher temperatures to gain a higher thermodynamic efficiency.
miniaturisation in computer technology (less material doing more).
Light production from light emitting diodes. light out put per Watt.
I am sure that there is more and people will bring them to our attention.
Most of the processes we use have set chemical energy requirements and it is only the use of the other-wise waste heat that has improved the efficiency.
That is about it.  Most of the other stuff has always been around but energy was so cheap that it was not cost effective.  Or immediate outlay was the concern rather than the long term costs.
An example is the design of schools.  The cheapest price for the construction of the buildings is the concern, instead of the cost of running the school over its life.  The design differences would be substantial and the long term costs would be reduced with an initial increased cost.
Energy efficiency is governed by the laws of thermodynamics, and most of the processes that we use are governed by the laws of chemistry and physics and so increases in energy efficiency require much input in research and development for small gains.  One hope is titanium oxide based photovoltaic cells, though not as efficient in energy conversion they have the potential to have a low energy input to be produced, they are many years away even decades.  The energy cost for the silicon based current technology is such that it takes the life of the cells (25 years) to make a small energy profit on the energy input.  Hence their expense.
You need to understand energy profit ratios (EPR) and research the necessary energy profit ratios for a viable energy industry and some understanding of HSC physics and chemistry and some understanding of the 3 laws of thermodynamics.  Then you will see where I am coming from.
Just as a small example ; energy profit ratio of subsistence farming.  You have one Joule of energy to use (you eat) or to invest to plant to make 2 Joules, That gives you one Joule to use (you eat) and one to invest (plant) to make another two Joules in the future.  An EPR of 1:2 is statis, no change.
The energy profit ratio for an energy production industry needs to exceed 1:7 to be viable.  For every Joule of input there must be a nett output of at least 7 Joules of energy.  Not my numbers but from much more knowledge minds than mine.  The EPR for putting petrol in your tank is about 1:25, for coal fired distributed electricity about 1:9.
Steaming coal prices from New Castle Harbour are easily obtained for cost comparisons.  Steaming coal is the most abundant fossil reserve both globally and in Australia and will be the major contributer to global energy in a decade or two.   Current ratios about 35% oil, 6% nuclear 6% renewable (almost all hydro) 28% coal and about 25% nat gas.   BP stat review is out this month for year 2007 for up to date and historical data. Brown coal contains a little over half the energy per tonne of steaming coal and so nearly twice the tonnage has to be used at twice the processing energy cost for the same energy output.
Agricultural land value is based on the income it will return or on its value for other than agricultural purposes (redevelopment, housing, industrial etc).  The cost of the land amortised over a period has a very small impact on the cost of agricultural production, most of the 4-6% not attributed to energy is attributed to finance and labour.  
Some even more scary thoughts.  Our agricultural production per area has increased by 10 times but the energy input per area has increased by 100 times.  As energy cost increases as a portion of GDP, the production per area will decline due to lower energy input and the area under production will decline as increasing energy costs make more marginal land not viable.  Bye bye food and bio-fuels.  Let alone the effects of climate change on rainfall.
Efficiency gains can and will be made but will be very minor as they have been in the past, our energy supply is in decline, our population is on the increase and we have already degraded a large portion of our planet's bio-production, forrests, fish stocks, arrable land and bio-diversity.
Welcome to "The Great Energy Depression of the Twenty First Century"

 danny_hannan at yahoo.com 

----- Original Message ----
From: Bobrail <bobrail at mac.com>
To: danny_hannan at yahoo.com
Sent: Saturday, 7 June, 2008 10:33:42 AM
Subject: Re: [LBUG] Re: gas to liquids and coal to liquids

Dear Danny,

many thanks your research output, which I got via the LBUG yahoo group email you sent. 

I have no (nothing like your) background in these topics, but I would like to comment on your work to help you (perhaps) strengthen some of the points you make. I am not trying to reduce the value of your work, so please take my comments in that vein.

Letter to Federal Minister
Don't forget that energy efficiency gains and technology gains (new inventions) can, and should, be factored into long term consumption forecasts. Over the time periods you are talking about, these advances will definitely take place and thus these gains can legitimately be factored into increasing the forecast life of reserves. It is unreasonable to say "based on present consumption" when we know efficiencies and technological advances have reduced energy consumption (per unit of whatever) in the last 20 years, and therefore more efficiencies and technological advances are inevietably going to occur in the next 20, prolonging the life of reserves. In particular, do your forecasts take into account the scenario that technological advances (which everybody is focussed on, and has been for years) may be coupled with efficiency gains (which people are only just waking up to as major avenue for consumption reduction) in the coming decades, and may
 dramatically reduce our energy consumption?

Clean Coal Technology
You talk about the economics of power using the price of steaming coal, but power stations can use brown coal. I don't follow your reasoning of making every analysis using steaming coal?

The Folly of Bio-fuels
I think you are saying that 94% of the cost of agricultural production is fuel costs, and therefore that there is almost no difference between increased cost of fuel and increased cost of agricultural production, thus making the cost of cost of food production almost permanently linked to the cost of fuel, and not related to the ratio of food/fuel production. However, I think you are incorrect to say 94% is fuel cost. Surely land is the major cost of agriculture? And land cost is much less related to fuel cost than other costs of production. So, for example, if land costs fell by 100% and fuel costs rose by 100%, would agricultural costs really rise by 94% minus only 6% max?

These are just comments off the top of my head, and I don't want to appear rude making them. I'm just trying to raise the first questions that come to mind so that you can cover them off before you send the documents.

Keep up the good work. We all need people like you, who can be bothered to do this stuff.


Robert Johnson

On Thursday, June 05, 2008, at 08:26PM, "Danny Hannan" <danny_hannan at yahoo.com> wrote:
>G'day people,
>Sent this e-mail and attachments to our ABC.  You might be able to use some of it.
>I will be using it and more in a letter to our resources minister in the near future.
>Note the date and content of the letter to the fed member.
> danny_hannan at yahoo.com
>----- Original Message ----
>From: Danny Hannan <danny_hannan at yahoo.com>
>To: 702 at your.abc.net.au
>Sent: Thursday, 5 June, 2008 11:02:40 AM
>Subject: gas to liquids and coal to liquids
>Some of your presenters may wish to take up this information to question our fearless leaders.  Adam Spencer may also be interested as his maths an science base give him a better understanding of the topics.
>Martin Ferguson has just announced the federal governments pursuit of both gas to liquids and coal to liquids as a means of providing liquid fuels for transport.
>I have attached some short essays to show some of the downsides to these policies and some past letters, the dates of these letters indicate that our governments have been deliberately misleading the people on the emerging global energy crisis.
>The pertinent questions to ask Martin Ferguson and the Prim Minister, Kevin Rudd are:
>1. How many tonnes of coal would be required to produce 1 tonne of diesel or petrol?
>My research indicates about 9 tonnes of steaming coal to one tonne of petroleum fuel (steaming coal in New Castle harbour topped $150/tonne last week) for brown coal the number of tonnes would be in the teens because of its lower energy content.  My bet is he will prevaricate on this answer but you need a tonnes of coal to tonnes of liquid fuel ratio to show the poor energy efficiency of this process.
>2.  If we were to use "clean coal technology" to run this coal to liquids process, how many additional tonnes of coal per tonne of liquid fuel would be needed to run the "clean coal technology"?
>My research indicates about 3 tonnes of steaming coal per tonne of liquid fuel to run the "clean coal technology".  A total of 12 tons of coal to 1 ton of liquid fuel.  At $150/tonne for coal gives a diesel price of $1800/tonne just for the coal,  current Bloomberg commodity price for diesel (gas oil) is US$1149/tonne
>3.  What is the current life expectancy of our natural gas reserves?
>On 2007 numbers for 2006 from BP, 62 years, but with declining reserves and increasing production more realistically about 40 years.
>4.  How many years will our current reserves last once we are producing transportation fuels from the natural gas?
>Our "vast" reserves of natural gas are piddling when compared to global reserves and consumption.  Indeed they peaked in 2003 and production is increasing at an average of 4% per year.  While gas to liquids is a reasonably energy efficient process, using it to feed our transportation fuels would shorten the life of our reserves to a little more than a decade.
>There is also talk of hydrogen, unfortunately hydrogen does not come out of a hole in the ground like oil and gas.  It has to be manufactured which uses at least 20% of the energy in the process.  Providing hydrogen as a fuel is the most expensive solution in energy terms yet put forward and so the least viable.
>There is also talk of environmentally friendly motor vehicles, hi-breeds and electric cars; both an oxymoron.
>For each ton of motor vehicle the is a rough equivalent of 3 tons of oil burnt just to manufacture and deliver the vehicle.  If large battery packs are required as in electric cars this amount doubles because of the high energy demand to manufacture batteries.  The energy use to drive the vehicle must come from somewhere and is similar for vehicles of similar mass no matter the power source.  Either we burn coal to make electricity to charge batteries or we burn oil to drive the petroleum motors.  The differences are small.
>Rail base mass transport is far more fuel efficient than private vehicles and we should all be using the most energy efficient transportation device yet developed by man, it is non polluting and uses only renewable bio-fuels, it's called a bicycle.
>We must quickly realise that our world can no longer afford the energy for the luxury of private motor vehicles of any type.  And if we do not voluntarily and rapidly move in that direction it will be forced on us by harsh and merciless realities.
>Dandanny_hannan at yahoo.com 
>      Get the name you always wanted with the new y7mail email address.
>      Get the name you always wanted with the new y7mail email address.

      Get the name you always wanted with the new y7mail email address.

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