I’ve studied what’s commonly known as “Peak Oil” and the variables associated with it since I first read about it during the so-called “energy crisis” created by OPEC while Carter the Pushover was president in the late 1970s.
Have we beaten “peak oil”? For decades, it has been a doomsday scenario looming large in the popular imagination: The world’s oil production tops out and then starts an inexorable decline—sending costs soaring and forcing nations to lay down strict rationing programs and battle for shrinking reserves. U.S. oil production did peak in the 1970s and sank for decades after, exactly as the theory predicted. But then it did something the theory didn’t predict: It started rising again in 2009, and hasn’t stopped, thanks to a leap forward in oil-field technology.Some rag, but it’s right on this side of the equation. Unfortunately, it utterly fails to examine various measures of reserves, technologies and oil use rates.
The problem is that while oil-field technology has indeed improved, there remain two inescapable problems:
1. We’re using it up 50,000 times faster than it was deposited.
2. It’s a limited resource, one which we’ve already exhausted to great extent.
The problem is that there really are limits to how much oil we can get out of the ground. Even if we had transporter technology so we could bypass all drilling and other requirements, we’d still run out of oil.Back in 1998, when I ran extensive, if not exhaustive meta-studies on this (I was exhausted, anyway), I gathered the following:The Earth required a minimum of about 50 million years to form the Earth’s current oil reserves. Most of Earth’s oil was formed between 60 million and 250 million years ago. A small percentage of the oil was formed between 250 and 500 million years ago.Even if you believe we’ve only removed 10% (an understatement) over the last 120 years, let’s do some math:50,000,000 / 100 years = 500,000500,000 x 10% = 50,000
We’re pulling oil out of the ground at a rate 50,000 times faster than it took to create.
1. All known and reasonably estimate future oil field deposits
2. All current, projected, and even imagined future extraction technologies
3. All historic, current, and projected needs, both in industrialized countries as well as those increasingly becoming more industrialized…
…crunch the numbers…
…we’ll reach peak oil around 2043, followed by a total collapse of oil economies within 15 years.
SO, what do we do in the meantime? Conserve our happy little butts into oblivion?
No, of course not. Instead, WE GET OFF THIS ROAD, and NOW.
We need oil for uses other than fuel. While Fission and Fusion will take far into the future, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with home solar, when it comes to large-scale transportation, nothing beats energy-dense fuels like kerosene, diesel, and jet fuel, which is why this wonderful piece of research is so darned important.
According to Wired, it’s GREAT news on the energy front, and it burns cleaner than any current jet fuel on the market. Specifically, it’s the direct catalytic conversion of CO2 to jet fuel range hydrocarbons.
Carbon dioxide is very easily pulled from the air in the form of dry ice, which is why dry ice is so cheap. Thermally efficient means of large-scale production uses warm, incoming air to heat the dry ice back into CO2 gas, which is then compressed for commercial transport. In the process, the warm, incoming air is cooled to close to the temperature of dry ice. This greatly reduces the amount of energy required to produce CO2.
As for the fuel production, it requires heating CO2 gas with common and cheap ingredients in the presence of a catalyst. To me, this sounds like a job for solar reflection plants, if not direct nuclear heating of the CO2 and H2 gases.
And here’s a Tedx talk about it:
Bottom Line: Anyone who enjoys the benefits of travel by airline, train, or internal combustion engine should be absolutely thrilled about this potential replacement fuel, as it can take us well beyond the reliance on fossil fuels.