We must stop fossil fuel combustion soon or global warming and climate changes will become unmanageable. Biomass is the one and only option to replace fossil transportation fuels with plentiful and affordable combustible liquids. We must produce such replacement fuels in the near future to stop greenhouse gas emissions from mobile emissions sources. All other available alternatives are ugly; petroleum prices will skyrocket and costs of transportation fuels will drive up prices of foods, goods, and commodities. Global economies will react with contraction. Greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel combustion are accumulating in our atmosphere and are causing unstoppable ice melting and raising ocean levels.
Advancing food and energy prices are leading to inflationary pressures and to decreases in discretionary incomes worldwide. Rising food and energy prices are reducing discretionary spending and are causing stagflation in many countries. Unchecked global warming, more frequent reports of climate changes, more violent weather events, and more costly weather related damages are being reported regularly. Effective countermeasures have been few.
The trivial results of extensive countermeasures in Europe are negated by the fast growth of energy consumption in China, India, and other Asian countries. An incisive analysis reveals that the "Cap and Trade" scheme can at best provide a short-lived delay of more serious and more costly natural disasters. Similarly, energy conservation can bring only temporary relief.
Additionally, the costs of conservation equipment are high, efficiency savings are self-limiting, and energy savings will have only a temporary impact. Sequestration of carbon dioxide from smoke stacks of power plants and from chimneys of large emitters in industry is expensive and is only applicable to a small percentage of all emission sources. Emissions from small industrial emitters, from buildings, and from mobile combustion engines in particular cannot be sequestered. When evaluating technically feasible solutions, we must realize that modern energy supplies are exclusively based on three energy forms; electric power, heating gases, and liquid fuels. The technology for converting fossil fuel fired power plants to renewable fuels is available. Renewable fuels do not add greenhouse gases to our atmosphere.
Sufficient nuclear fuel can be mined or reclaimed and will last for at least one century. Windmills and submerged turbines can generate electricity from wind power and marine power forever. Sunlight can produce unlimited amounts of electricity by photovoltaic conversion. Therefore, the future outlook for electric power generation from renewable energies is bright. Consumption costs of future electric power can likely be kept from escalating due to the low cost of nuclear fuels and the complete lack of energy costs for sunshine, wind, and moving water.
However, we will need incredibly huge amounts of capital to build a sufficient number of replacement plants before fossil fuel fired facilities can be taken out of service. The outlook for suitable replacements of liquid fuel energy, on the other hand, is quite dismal. We must remember: we cannot dare to convert fossil fuels like coal and oil shale into gasoline. Such fuels will continue to emit carbon dioxide at even higher quantities. At present, there is one, and only one, potential replacement technology for liquid fuels on the horizon; it is the conversion of biomass into petroleum substitutes or into alcohols. Nature has converted biomass into petroleum before.
We have learned how to convert one million years old petroleum into gasoline, diesel, and jet fuels. We must now learn to imitate the first part of this natural conversion process. We know how to apply heat, high pressures, catalysts, and chemicals. We do not know how nature succeeded to convert the carbohydrates in biomass into clean and highly concentrated hydrocarbons, yet. Also, we just have learned a painful lesson.
It is imperative that food crops on the one hand and biomass for fuels on the other hand are based on different kinds of plants and that they must be grown on mutually untouchable lands. Historically, food crops were selected and bred to provide nutritious, tasty, and storable foods. For energy production, biomass for biofuels must have exceptionally high energy contents and must provide extraordinarily high crop yields. Because we need to keep arable lands reserved for food crops and because we do not want to tolerate the deforestation of any more lands, we must reinvent energy farming. For instance, we can install tank farms in arid areas and bring in desalinated water from the seashores to grow huge amounts of combustible plants. After conversion into motor fuels they can only release carbon dioxide that they previously scavenged from the atmosphere.
We must learn to grow high energy biomass and produce a petroleum substitute at a cost of $50 per barrel. This substitute must be manufactured on site and must be suitable for final refining in conventional oil refineries. There are huge benefits to this approach; we will have plentiful, inexhaustible, and affordable fuels for our fleets of cars, trucks, trains, ships, and airplanes. Oil refineries can keep working, and the vast distribution systems for dispensing liquid fuels across the world will keep operating without changes.
Best of all, this world has plenty of arid lands for the eternal production of plentiful and affordable liquid transportation fuels.
Dr. Hemsath recently published the book: CLIMATE CHANGE - GOLD RUSH OR DISASTER? For 50 years he has worked as scientist, process engineer, Corporate Vice President of R&D, Company President, CEO, and Inventor. He holds more than 60 US Patents. He is working on a new book: "THE SOLUTION FOR ENDING GLOBAL WARMING AND CLIMATE CHANGE". Go to http://www.thermalexpert.com