How economical is our energy?

Reflections on fusion history, current events, and predictions for the 'fusion powered future.
Richard Hull
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Real name: Richard Hull

How economical is our energy?

As an engineer, I have a certain amount of bean counter pumped into me as a reality check for project assembly and testing.

How cheap is it? Will it be profitable?

Energy is obviously profitable from a simple economic standpoint; source to user, or there would be no business of energy. profit for each guy handling any product is the order of the day.

How many hands take money on the oil to gas route into in your tank?

There is the owner of the well selling and pumping the crude..... There is the company hauling the crude from the well head to the storage facility at the sea...... The storage facility for holding it in their tanks and ultimately pumping into the ship....... The shipping company for the ocean voyage....... The storage facility that the ship is emptied into..... The hauler to the refinery.... the refinery itself for fractionating the oil into numerous products, only one of which is gasoline to which they ultimately insert additional chemical additives.....The hauler of the gas to the city of distribution.....The mass storage distrubutor within the city.....The hauler to the service stations and the service station owner/pumper. We must not forget the government federal, state and local collectors of taxes at the pump.

Lots and lots of hands out-stretched for your money at each tiny step. How the hell did we ever get the stuff for 30 cents a gallon?!!! How do we currently get it for under \$2.00 per gallon when pint bottles of water in the cooler case at the gas station are sold at over \$6.00/gallon? Amazing!! You bet.

Now have you ever considered the joule energy output of the delivered energy product versus the joule energy spent in getting it to the user. This is where it gets whacky. I will state that I personally have no idea where this is up front.

Assume your gallon of crude oil is 6000 feet under Saudi soil. Calculate and sum all of the joule energy needed to pump it to the surface....... The joule energy neededed to haul it to the storage place..... the joule energy to pump it into the tank...... the joule energy to load it on the ship........ The joule energy needed to cross half the world...... the joule energy to pump it off the tanker,,,,the joule energy needed to pump it from the storage tank to the trunk and the joule energy for trucking it to the refinery...... The joule energy of the cracking of the oil.

NOW.... we are only left with about 1/5 gallon of actual gas from that gallon of crude taken from Saudi soil, plus the joule energy of transporting storage and dispensing that 1/5 gallon to your tank.

Now take this 1/5 gallon of gas and requarter its actual fuel vlaue of burned joule energy due to Internal combustion energy loses to wheel revolution ratio and tell me what the ratio is of energy spent getting one gallon of crude to the 1/4 gallon you pump versus the energy delivered to your vehicle consuming it.

Basically we are looking at the actual chemical fuel value of 1/20th gallon of gasoline versus all the energy needed to take the full gallon of crude from 6000 feet undergound in Saudi to the US Refinery and the resulting 1/5 gallon of actual gas to your tank.

Forget all costs and all mechanical and thermal joule inefficiencies and loses that are rampant in all the intervening operations involved in this movement and conversion to gas tumbling into your tank.

I would love to work some of the numbers. A lot of gathering of data and numbers would have to preceed all of this.

Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
Retired now...Doing only what I want and not what I should...every day is a saturday.

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Joined: Fri Mar 29, 2002 10:36 pm
Location: Budapest, Hungary

Re: How economical is our energy?

And what about the energy needed to manufacture the oil wells, the oil tankers, and all the rest of the equipment needed to extract, and transport oil, then to turn it into petrol?
It is obivious that without all that transporting , much more of that gallon would "remain". That is a reason why i prefer local fuel production (electrical, or hydrogen), and why i don't like petrol.
Though if fuel is produced locally, a lot of small facilities (wind turbines, solar cells, etc.) are needed, but no transportation is necessary. Centralized production needs less , but much bigger stations, plus distribution. I guess here is where we have to calculate , which is more economical.
Great topic Richard, thanks . I would also be glad to see some actual numbers.

Richard Hull
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Real name: Richard Hull

Re: How economical is our energy?

For starters, and I will add as I get data so check this over time.....

From NAFA website, 1 gallon of common gas has a chemical fuel vlaue of 1.14 X10e5 BTU
1BTU = 105.5 joules
Thus a gallon of gas contains a joule energy of about 1.2 x10e7 joules.

Thus, the delivered 1/20 gallon of energy to your car for 1 gallon of crude pumped is 6X10e5 joules. This half of the ratio is now fully determined.

*******************************************************

The mass of crude oil is on the order of 6.7lbs/gallon
one foot-lb= 1.356 joules

To raise 1 gallon of crude to the surface would require 6000X 6.7 X 1.356 = 54,511 joules! This is just to get the gallon of crude to the surface in Saudi-Arabia! This is ~1/10 of the entire energy value of the product in your car and the crap is still unrefined and half way around the world!!!!! Note: I'm no dummy, I know that in early well heads an underground pressure in the oil pocket raises a certain amount of the oil to the surface for free, but most oil wells have long lost this and above ground pressurization (more joules) is necessary to continue to remove product. In some fields water displacement can be used, but in remote desertified areas this is not possible unless again the water is forcibly pumped from the sea. (more joules) For those not physics savvy, you can't work a classic pump, per se, against a 6,000 foot head.

I would imagine all future pumpings would not involve a total of more than 1000 feet total against gravity and that would be another 9,000 joules for our gallon making a grand pumping total of about 65,000 joules assuming all pumps are 100% efficient (they aren't). There is also the odd hill here and there that might add to another 1000 feet or so for a new total of, let us say, 75,000 joules spent against gravity in the vertical ordinate pulls of the one pound of crude. From here, it is a matter mostly of moving the gallon of crude more or less horizontally for another 53 million feet.

Here the going is tricky as we have roller bearings on trucks easing this and ocean floating vessels that will reduce the 53 million foot, horizontal ordinate, frictional haul over the simple gravity pull out of the well, up hills and in and out of tanks and ships.

We have now accounted for all of the vertical pull energy for an 8000 foot gravity haul to get the product to your car, but are faced with a tough 53 million foot horizontal haul to your car still uncalculated and have already used over 1/8 of the entire "fuel delivered value" in this one, very short, "Y" ordinate movement.

Starting the fuel moving against its own inertia is a real energy loser once in trucks or on ships. Acceleration is the second biggest horizontal loser. Stops will not return any energy to the system, but instead, will warrant more loses due to being forced to restart the fuel on its way. Beyond this it is constant, unyielding drag forces in water and frictional forces and the energy expenditure needed to overcome those forces to keep the fuel moving that is left to figure. (nearly impossible, even back of envelope to obtain even an order of magnitude figure).

Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
Retired now...Doing only what I want and not what I should...every day is a saturday.

3l
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Re: How economical is our energy?

Hi Richard:

One of the incredibly hard parts of that figure search is to find unsubsidized figures anywhere.
If you can get honest numbers that have not be monkeyed with or fudged that would be really neat.
The aproach you are taking might have been done before but it is not public knowlege.
I only looked at the raw material side of oil...feedstocks.

The politics of this quest will get pretty ugly ...pretty fast.
Be careful ...If you love America you will not question but "TRUST US"...the mantra of late.

Happy Fusoring!
Larry Leins
Fusor Tech

Richard Hull
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Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2001 1:44 pm
Real name: Richard Hull

Re: How economical is our energy?

Those numbers I have published thus far are due to physics alone and not politics.

I would be stunned if our joule energy expenditure to deliver, from foreign oil fields, gasoline energy in the desired form, at the desired place in this country at the desired time, is better than a 10 to 1 ratio (10 joules spent to deliver 1 joule to the rear axle of a car.)

Engineering wise, this is a gross abomination, but economically it is quite feasible, obviously.

It is done in millions of cars everyday.

No real politics, just getting along in our own way. Truly, business as usual.

The politics is all in playing with the minds and lives of men.

The physics and engineering aspects are cold and fast. That was what I was after.

Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
Retired now...Doing only what I want and not what I should...every day is a saturday.

Posts: 1333
Joined: Fri Mar 29, 2002 10:36 pm
Location: Budapest, Hungary

Re: How economical is our energy?

Hmm, so 10 % of the useful energy contained in petrol is "lost" during extraction. I assume taht when they are pumping in water this is even worse. I wonder how much fuel do oil tankers , and oil freight trains and trucks consume.
Plus the refining process.....tha needs a lot of energy i'm sure.
I still thing that the energy needed to manufacture all the equipment needed, is a factor we should count with.

*
I looked at the specs of an average oil tanker ship, here follows a quote:
"The cruising range is about 20,300 nautical miles at normal continuous rating(NCR). fuel consumption at NCR is about 58.2 mt/day of heavy fuel with a lower heating value of 9 700 kcal/kg The average service speed is about 15.0 knots at designed draft, leaving speed and consumption, with clean bottom in calm and deep sea."

This is a 270 meter long monster. That is about 58 metric tonnes (if i read correctly) of heavy fuel per day.

Richard Hull
Moderator
Posts: 12431
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2001 1:44 pm
Real name: Richard Hull

Re: How economical is our energy?

The energy to make and install the equipment all along the path of underground crude to gas pump is just so much infrastructure and is amortized economically and energy wise very, very quickly. Once in place, it is free and a relative non-issue to the gallon of crude to 1/5 gallon of gas delivered energy issue that is ongoing every minute of every day at millions of gas stations and in millions of moving vehicles all over the planet.

I'll bet the infrastructure energy costs are amortized to a mere 0.001% of the joule energy ratio issue discussed here.

Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
Retired now...Doing only what I want and not what I should...every day is a saturday.

3l
Posts: 1866
Joined: Sat Jul 07, 2001 7:51 pm
Real name:

Re: How economical is our energy?

Hi Richard:

I'm glad to see someone just doing physics for once.
a constant danger is that which passes for science these days.
I daily correct emails of bad science...four years ago it was just a trickle.
The neoscientists start with a physical premise and develop logic around that premise...you know politcal science.
A great palor game but terribly destructive in the physical sciences.
Totally devoid of the scientific method which is just too hard to do according to the new folks.
IE Lysenko style researchers.
You and I are hopelessly out of date so say those in power lately.
As an engineer ,I'm appalled at the massive cost of business.
You would think after a century it would have been improved by now.
Do you think the wooden square wheel will debute this year?
I guess as long as it spits out the golden spew it's economic.
That begs the question of fusion ... how economic must it be?

Happy Fusoring!
Larry Leins
Fusor Tech

davidtrimmell
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Re: How economical is our energy?

Richard, this is something I have always wanted to see. What is the real cost of Oil? I personally would also like to factor in the environmental, but I know any real science there is hard to filter the politics out of. But your analysis so far is just about what I would have expected. Thanks.

Regards,

David Trimmell

Alex Aitken
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Re: How economical is our energy?

A few things spring to mind.

When pumping in water to displace oil, this math does not seem to make sense. Pumping water in 'against a 6000 foot head' doesnt make sense either. Water is denser than oil, so you get more energy out than you need to raise the oil - or in other words, the weight of the water should pump itself down the well and the oil up.

Its also implied that the gas fraction is the useful fuel and that all energy used comes from this fraction. Equipment in the oil industry is almost certainly designed to use the crude fractions they cant sell easily, eg diesel engines running on the heavy oil fractions.

Moving bulk materials is quite efficiant in my opinion. One figure that stuck with me is that 100 years ago when coal was moved everywhere by canal the energy required worked out to 1 ton of coal being moved 1 mile burning the equivalent of 1 sheet of victorian writing paper. And thats with a steam engine!

I think one of the key points to understanding the economics of this industry is that everyone in the chain works with almost unimaginable amounts right up until the last two steps - the filling station (which only uses vast amounts) and the customers. Working big leads to massive savings. If it was bottled at source into tiny containers and every stage in the chain had to deal with it like this, and then distribution companies fanned out by country and then by region and then by store areas all having to deal with the bottled form it would end up costing a lot more than bottled water.