Plausible science-fiction energy ideas

135

Replies

  • celeritycelerity Forumite
    311 Posts
    They're thinking about it already : BBC News - Should electric cars be made to go 'vroom'?

    Personally my favourite is the 50's flying saucer sound - that would ... just... so... cool!

    Ahem, I'll stop geeking now :-)

    Excellent, I hadn't seen that news report. I second the vote for the retro flying saucer sound, too cool for words.
    Although, if you could customise it I would probably go for a TIE Fighter screech ;).

    Anyway, it does reinforce what I said about the problem being at low speeds. I'd love to predict that in 30 years time our motorways would be virtually silent for the many people who live near them, but I just don't think that would be the case :(.

    /\dam
  • MikeyMacbethMikeyMacbeth Forumite
    146 Posts
    celerity wrote: »
    Excellent, I hadn't seen that news report. I second the vote for the retro flying saucer sound, too cool for words.
    Although, if you could customise it I would probably go for a TIE Fighter screech ;).

    Anyway, it does reinforce what I said about the problem being at low speeds. I'd love to predict that in 30 years time our motorways would be virtually silent for the many people who live near them, but I just don't think that would be the case :(.

    /\dam
    Just begs the question of what sound a white van would have to make.... (runs and ducks for cover);)

    Maybe anyone with penalty points on their licence would be forced to drive a vehicle going "whooop! whooop! - I am an idiot! whoop, whooop!...." :D
  • MikeyMacbethMikeyMacbeth Forumite
    146 Posts
    A couple more idea's in terms of energy storage for you:-

    There's Heinlein's shipstone - sort of an ultra capacitor - see also here for a "maybe, just maybe" contempory version...

    Or Peter F. Hamilton's Niling D-sink which is sort of a combination zero-point / quantum black hole widget.

    Air transportation wise - I think we are looking at hydrogen fueled aircraft for the near to medium future, once the oil runs out - also looks like HOTOL is making a comeback , although I don't think it's probably relevant for Jet 2 fleet buyers just yet.. :)
  • podcakepodcake Forumite
    116 Posts
    celerity wrote: »
    I hate to say it, but this is honestly a really weak argument. The guy may have asked for it with his attitude, but I think you need to seriously reconsider the logic of it.

    It sounds like you are a bit fixated on protein (and mushrooms!), which honestly isn't so difficult to get from veggie sources. eg: http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/protein.htm

    The really important point is that farming animals for meat requires you to also farm for crops to feed the animals. So there is no way it can ever be a more efficient use of land to farm animals. Seriously :).

    As an aside, in the modern world we eat way too many calories anyway, and you really don't need meat to be a healthy athlete. For example, sumo wrestlers and some mixed martial arts fighters are veggie, but have physiques that might belie that. Also, there is growing evidence that ancient Roman gladiators were strictly veggie.

    Meat, I am afraid, is a luxury that perhaps one day we won't be able to afford as a species. Soylent Green anybody?!

    Like I say, I could never be a vegetarian, but I would never dare argue that my lifestyle choice is more eco-friendly than theirs, because it isn't!

    /\dam

    Yeah, the point was that it had to be natural, not produced because were the word to go veggie overnight the system would have to produce NOW, not in 6 months when the crops had grown, of the factory built.

    Also animals can be fed on grass (you don't see wild goats -for example- getting a farmer on a quad bike feeding them stuff.) and they graze it gradually

    The reason Protein was chosen is that it is (traditionally) one of the more difficult food types to get from sources not meat based.

    Basically, the animal you eat does the job of putting that veggie stuff into a more compact package, if we could exist simply by munching on grass all day then the argument 'you must first grow the crop to feed the cow' would be true. HOWEVER, we can't unfortunately.

    You see we are very inefficient in what we eat. Take flour, just think about what percentage of the grown product we actually consume.. where cattle will eat all of the grass (and gradually too, so other grass will grow in its place)..

    Also for a paper on the topic Look up 'Thermodynamics of the Corn-Ethanol Biofuel Cycle' by Tad W. Patzek University of California.

    It is an interesting read. Basically, you put more in than you take out to make the fuel.

    heres another idea though.. Why not go back towards big airships as a mode of air flight (helium based for safety) they require no force to keep them in the air so they SURELY must be significantly more efficient than aircraft we currently use??
  • zeupaterzeupater Forumite
    5.1K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Name Dropper Combo Breaker
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    podcake wrote: »
    Just a final note about the vegetarianism.

    Lets take the assumption that were we all to turn veggie overnight, there were no 'wasted cows' etc..

    My argument went something like this:

    'if you are calling me all the names under the sun because i eat cow, then for the purposes of the maths you cannot include any animal based protein. Also, due to the mass requirements of the swap you cannot include anything that requires a lab to setup the system, only natural vegetarian options are allowed to you.' there simply aren't enough supplements in the world to give everybody them, nor the facility to produce 'artificial protein' on the scales required.

    The food type which was worked with was mushroom because it was agreed that this could (most likely) be grown in the largest percentage of global areas, where other vegetarian mainstays would not thrive in colder climates (lets say Russia).

    We then agreed that the RDA was a value that was published following much research with regard to what was required for your health. It is, after all, a recommended amount. We accepted that this was 50 grammes or so.

    Mushrooms contain protein levels such that 1 cup of mushrooms was 2 grammes of protein. So basically, in order to eat your RDA of PROTEIN (probably one of the more important ones) you had to consume TWENTY FIVE CUPS of mushrooms:eek: per day!

    now, okay, mushrooms aren't the best for protein, BUT they have a fast grow time, which means if you lose a crop you aren't completely stuffed (plus it makes the maths easier).

    if you start to work it through, the grow time for mushrooms (forgetting the preamble) is in the order of 1 week- 10 days, so we need 7 crops minimum, with probably a 2nd area designated as being prepared ready for the next crops to grow. so we need 14 areas of growth, there are approaching 7,000,000,000 people on earth and only 12,000,000 miles^2 of workable arable land.

    assuming we COULD work all the land, you would need to (today) remove ALL crops from the land (internationally) and give it over in its entirety to mushroom growth for us to all even meet the worlds RDA of protein reliably.

    by comparison your meat eater (who is entitled to the animal products) need only have steak and chips or a curry (etc) for tea and milk with his cereal and he has basically met his RDA without even thinking about it. The cow which provided the meat also provides roughly 2,500 other portions and lived largely off grass.

    This example is a bit silly really, but at the time it was done to shut the chap up, who was not only being forceful about it all he was being downright rude, and accusing me of murder etc...

    in actual fact the real situation is far worse, because, whilst proteins are important true vegetarians (vegans) have problems taking on enough of lots of minerals and the such which are often scarce in non-meat produce. Bear in mind also, to accomplish this we would lose all growing space for potatoes, wheat, etc... so our available carb list would almost be 0....

    To sum up, if you do the maths, if everybody turned veggie, the world would starve. - or at least be unhealthy- (not to mention meat is more dense, so the transportation of commercial vegetarian goods costs the world more in terms of pollution than meat does assuming the veggies out there keep to the RDas and stay healthy..)

    Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against people who choose not to eat meat for whatever reason, This gent simply rubbed me up the wrong way...


    I was going to start to quote stuff of the internet RE: the prius, but i'll just offer this link instead:
    http://onemansblog.com/2007/03/27/prius-outdoes-hummer-in-environmental-damage/

    note the title 'PRIUS OUTDOES HUMMER IN ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE'
    Hi

    Simple solution .... exchange the mushrooms for a high protein source such as farmed seaweed or algae and the entire argument simply falls apart ...... seems to me that being very selective when constructing an argument is akin to building a house of cards .... just look at the 'climate change' debate and what selective science from both sides has achieved.

    I'll just keep to my 'old fashoned' high protein food source .....

    Z
    "We are what we repeatedly do, excellence then is not an act, but a habit. " ...... Aristotle
    B)
  • podcakepodcake Forumite
    116 Posts
    zeupater wrote: »
    Hi

    Simple solution .... exchange the mushrooms for a high protein source such as farmed seaweed or algae and the entire argument simply falls apart ...... seems to me that being very selective when constructing an argument is akin to building a house of cards .... just look at the 'climate change' debate and what selective science from both sides has achieved.

    I'll just keep to my 'old fashoned' high protein food source .....

    Z


    LOL, point taken although I think we are moving away from the point.. I still stand by the argument that setting aside farming land to growing fuel (which arguably uses more than it makes to process) is ridiculous when we have so many people each relying on the food that we CAN produce..

    (also only a few people can farm seaweed in global terms..) :P
  • What do people think about using vegtable oil to run a car, is this not one of the most bizzare methos about ? hehel
    Sarah
  • podcakepodcake Forumite
    116 Posts
    Sarah2100 wrote: »
    What do people think about using vegtable oil to run a car, is this not one of the most bizzare methos about ? hehel
    Sarah

    My thought is that if it is 2nd hand ( ie: has been used for cooking but is then reprocessed for automotive use) then you have taken what is in essence a waste product and used it for a useful purpose. fresh oil of this type in a car is a waste..
  • celeritycelerity Forumite
    311 Posts
    podcake wrote: »
    heres another idea though.. Why not go back towards big airships as a mode of air flight (helium based for safety) they require no force to keep them in the air so they SURELY must be significantly more efficient than aircraft we currently use??

    It's a standard sci-fi trope to have a future where airships fill our skies. I personally love the idea, it has a certain amount of elegance and romance to it.

    I think they would be too slow for passenger purposes, but they could possibly be used for freight. We'd need a handy engineer on here (hint :)) to tell us whether pushing an airship through light breezes works out to be more efficient than simply putting the equivalent load into a truck though. I suspect it doesn't, as that "wheel" thing we invented a while ago does tend to take some beating ;).

    One idea I haven't ever seen before would be to tether the airships to a fixed rail, so they couldn't be blown off course. That would surely improve the efficiency? Alternatively, dispense with the propulsion in the ship altogether and simply drag balloons along a "runner" so the propulsion is provided at ground level.

    On a (somewhat) related note, people are still experimenting with airborne wind turbines. I can't see these ever being particularly practical myself, but it's a nice idea and does have potential if they could build cheap, reliable computer-controlled tethering systems.

    /\dam
  • podcakepodcake Forumite
    116 Posts
    celerity wrote: »
    It's a standard sci-fi trope to have a future where airships fill our skies. I personally love the idea, it has a certain amount of elegance and romance to it.

    I think they would be too slow for passenger purposes, but they could possibly be used for freight. We'd need a handy engineer on here (hint :)) to tell us whether pushing an airship through light breezes works out to be more efficient than simply putting the equivalent load into a truck though. I suspect it doesn't, as that "wheel" thing we invented a while ago does tend to take some beating ;).

    One idea I haven't ever seen before would be to tether the airships to a fixed rail, so they couldn't be blown off course. That would surely improve the efficiency? Alternatively, dispense with the propulsion in the ship altogether and simply drag balloons along a "runner" so the propulsion is provided at ground level.

    On a (somewhat) related note, people are still experimenting with airborne wind turbines. I can't see these ever being particularly practical myself, but it's a nice idea and does have potential if they could build cheap, reliable computer-controlled tethering systems.

    /\dam



    LOL @ the hint :P Basically its nigh on impossible to start figuring it out... The problems arise with figuring out how aerodynamic the beast is.. we'd need the design before we could work it out. I am an electronic engineer not an aerodynamicist. I figure that 'like for like' (assume the airship is shaped exactly the same as a lorry) the airship would be MORE efficient were it using a wheel to move itself (like you said on a track). My thought comes from, if you have ever driven on ice (ie: no ground friction) you move somewhat more easily, the same principle as a mag-lev. However, if you start trying to power it with propellors you come across the efficiency of the blades etc.. Which, if the same maths holds true as for wind turbines can be at most something in the order of 59% efficient (The Betz Limit). Its a toughie..

    Logically speaking, however, if you start to facor in things like crosswinds (you don't always want to go in the direction of the wind) you are going to be driving in a near perpetual state of 'drift' trying to counter the winds.

    The other big problem with (lets say it) Zeppelins is that they need a big place to go to to be serviced. Hundreds of big sheds might take up an awful lot of space....

    I do love the idea, and I too agree it's almost romantic.. almost steampunk or cyberpunk...

    If we are after an actual REAL prediction that makes sense I think the next step that will be done in mass transport is to make a high speed evacuated link between somewhere like the USA and europe. Extracting the air from the tube would allow the cars inside to travel at quite seriously high speeds without the wind resistance. Imagine London- New York in ONE HOUR....
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