Video - The technology, hydrothermal liquefaction, mimics the geological conditions the Earth uses to create crude oil, using high pressure and temperature to achieve in minutes something that takes Mother Nature millions of years.
Otherwise known as thermodepolymerization>Fischer-Tropsch: has been tried (on turkey guts, human waste etc.) and failed to return a net-positive energy. The high-pressure and temperature are generated by burning COAL or PETROLEUM . . . so why not just use COAL and PETROLEUM?
There's that EROEI bugaboo . . . always ruining the techies fun. Bastards
Unless you're using fission, which has an EROEI of 75, or breeder reactors like the IFR or MSR, which recycle fuel and do away with the very high energy cost of mining and refining uranium. In that case you're talking about getting 60 to 90 times the energy out of the fuel, and possibly getting an EROEI in the hundreds, maybe even approaching a thousand according to some papers I've read! We're just lucky that the atomic bonds in uranium deliver 2 MILLION times the energy of the poor old chemical bonds in petroleum.
With NREL saying today's night-time spare capacity could charge about half the American fleet, and with robot-cabs on the way that will reduce taxi-cab costs by eliminating the driver's salary and be so cheap it at least halves today's car fleet over time as individual car ownership dies and corporations rush to supply us not with car-as-a-product but transport-as-a-service, then ground transport is solved by EV's, maybe with some boron powder recycled as an energy carrier thrown in for good measure (and truckin', at least according to Dr James Hansen). The chief technology adviser for Telstra (Australian telco) has advised that he thinks making human driving illegal by 2030 is not only possible, but desirable! Just chew on that for a moment! The implications for individual car ownership and energy models are immense. We may not have to build 2 billion cars, but 'only' 200 million. https://eclipsenow.wordpress.com/recharge/
I think the eventual EV (and possibly boron) take over is now inevitable. My main concern is how to clean up international shipping fuel and airlines? With a high enough front end EROEI, what back-end process is going to be the cheapest? And what other climate-sequestering industries are going to emerge, especially if they have other side benefits?
Biologist, climate champion, and former Australian of the year Dr Tim Flannery has suggested massive kelp farms could sequester all our CO2 emissions each year. "“Seaweed grows at 30 to 60 times the rate of land-based plants, so it can draw out lots of CO2,” Flannery told E360 in a recent interview." ...
“If you cover 9% of the world’s oceans in seaweed farms, you could draw down the equivalent of all our current emissions — more than 40 gigatons a year.” ... Seaweed farms can also reverse ocean acidification. Off the coast of China, there are about 500 square kilometers of seaweed farms producing edible seaweed for the food market. PH levels have been shown to rise as high as 10 around these seaweed farms. At the moment with an acidified ocean it is 8.1. ... You could buffer oceans,” he said. “They are fantastic places for growing fish, shellfish, or prawns, just because of that buffering impact.”
What are the implications?
1. This could grow into a massive industry to reverse ocean acidification & climate change
2. Huge producer of food, through seaweed itself, associated fish, shellfish & prawn production
3. Seaweed can be fed to cows, which has been shown to reduce their methane burps close to zero https://goo.gl/J27gw0
4. Massive amounts of non-farmland carbon-neutral biomass to replace niche liquid fuel markets like airline fuels
5. (As a fan of breeder reactors that eat nuclear waste, I see most land transport coming from nuclear powered electricity. This will be via trains, trams, trolley buses and robot-taxi-cabs charged mainly on existing night-time spare electricity supply. As already mentioned, Robot taxi-cabs could reduce individual car ownership to 10% of today's, and NREL have calculated that 50% of the American fleet could be charged at night.) https://eclipsenow.wordpress.com/recharge/
6. When washed, this could become a massive source of fertilisers for farming
7. Also a massive source of biomass for biochar, to permanently store away carbon and enrich our farmlands at the same time, rather than being a biomass scam that destroys our farmlands.
8. In summary, it could restore the oceans, farmlands, food supplies, and industrial sustainability of certain niche liquid fuels markets all in one massive hit!
Dr James Hansen recommends breeder reactors that burn nuclear 'waste', giving America 1000 years of clean electricity without mining more uranium. Then America can charge about 86% of their cars on the existing grid, only building more reactors for the last 14%.