Author Topic: Need some engineering help  (Read 4716 times)

Offline bluefoxicy

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Need some engineering help
« on: January 19, 2011, 02:31:58 PM »
As much as I can do some vague semblance of concrete engineering in my head, it helps to know what I'm talking about.  At the moment I'm missing a lot of numbers and not sure where to look...maybe if anyone knows of an engineering forum somewhere?

Today's topic is energy.  Things I need numbers for are...

  • Amount of energy in charcoal for various moderate- to fast-growing woods, and burn rate and temperature
  • Amount of oil derived from peanuts per acre per harvest; maturation time
  • Energy in peanut oil (diesel engines can run directly on peanut oil... not your Volkswagen, but a true diesel engine can be designed and timed to run straight, filtered peanut oil with no additives)
  • Energy in hemp oil and yield for the appropriate strain of cannibis (the best strain for oil production also happens to be the best for fiber production; the trade-off is it puts more energy into oil and fiber production and less into THC production, giving a low yield of psychotropic resins)

I think that'll give me all the numbers I need to work out an interesting thought experiment.  I just don't know where to look for these fine details.

Offline euge

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Re: Need some engineering help
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2011, 07:35:51 PM »
I see maybe where the thought is headed. My understanding is that there is more useful biomass in an acre of hemp as opposed to an acre of trees, or even cotton. Energy-wise I'd say peanuts or soy would yield more oil...
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline loopy

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Re: Need some engineering help
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2011, 09:33:07 AM »
There is one more question that is related here. What is the amount of energy input required to get energy output.

If it requires a gallon of diesel fuel to plant hemp, a gallon of diesel to run the generator to process it, and at the end of the process you get 1 gallon out of it.  It's a net lose. 

Offline punatic

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Re: Need some engineering help
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2011, 10:40:10 AM »
There is only one success: to be able to spend your life in your own way.


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Offline bluefoxicy

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Re: Need some engineering help
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2011, 01:25:18 PM »
There is one more question that is related here. What is the amount of energy input required to get energy output.

If it requires a gallon of diesel fuel to plant hemp, a gallon of diesel to run the generator to process it, and at the end of the process you get 1 gallon out of it.  It's a net lose. 

It requires very little energy to plant hemp or peanuts.  You walk around scattering hemp seeds; you can till and plant peanuts easy enough.  Small-scale is easy enough, whereas large-scale requires equipment that mostly moves itself because it weighs 2 tons and needs to burn fuel to move 2 tons of metal-- a premium paid to do it "quickly."

Notably, however, liquid fuel has a particular use.  Stop thinking so much about a liquid fuel energy economy; it takes solar power to keep a shed full of batteries charged to run your battery-powered tractor (electric motors more efficiently produce torque) and thresher.  It takes liquid fuel to run a tractor that you can run for more than 10 hours at a time-- or to run a car that has more than a 50 mile range (even when claimed 300 miles), or a plane.

You don't actually need to run your tractor for 3 days; it might take a week to run all over the farm and do all the planting, but you have 4 sets of batteries so you can do 20 hours a day with 1 hour for battery swapping.  Takes a day to charge the batteries.  The power input to manufacture batteries and solar cells isn't equivalent to their power output over their useful lifespan.

Peanut oil is fantastic; hemp oil is tasty, a health food, completely non-toxic if you wash the seeds before extracting the oil (the psychotropic compounds are in the resin on the outside), and also a useful byproduct if you're using hemp for rope or clothing manufacture.

What all the temperature stuff is for is viability of forges.  Is charcoal hotter than peanut oil?  I doubt it; diesel fire... yeah.  Can I manufacture charcoal with a solar aparatus?  Use of charcoal as a home heating fuel, and energy cost to manufacture and transport versus oil based solutions?  etc.

Offline weazletoe

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Re: Need some engineering help
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2011, 05:22:30 PM »
You walk around scattering hemp seeds

But what you are not considering here, is the fact that with all that hemp planting, you'll be smoking a lot more of it too. So, what with all the walking and plating, and smoking, you'll be making A LOT more trips to Taco Bell. When you consider all the extra money spent on chicken soft taco, and gas to drive to taco bell, you're way in the hole. This can only be overcome if you raise and slaughter you own chickens, and grow wheat, to grind your own flour for soft shell. You'll also need to consider keeping a dairy cow on hand, for cheese, and sour cream. I think that if only these things are tackled as well, would growing your own hemp be cost effective.
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Offline dean

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Re: Need some engineering help
« Reply #6 on: January 20, 2011, 05:51:55 PM »
Well, if everybody were smoking hemp then nobody would be complaining about using too much energy... probably complaining that nobody spent enough energy.   ;D 

Think about it... Little Debbies and Dolly Madison's stock prices would go through the roof... hmmm... this could replace the DOT COM era perhaps?   :D    HO-HO's and Ding Dongs!   :P


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Re: Need some engineering help
« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2011, 06:10:37 PM »
There is one more question that is related here. What is the amount of energy input required to get energy output.

If it requires a gallon of diesel fuel to plant hemp, a gallon of diesel to run the generator to process it, and at the end of the process you get 1 gallon out of it.  It's a net lose. 

The best way - let someone else buy the oil (e.g. Burger King).  With minimal work the oil can be cleaned and good bio-diesel can be produced for $0.25/gallon. My father-in-law has run two Volkswagens, a Dodge truck, two skidsteers, a front-end loader and a Jeep liberty for years.  On the hwy with his Golf I've seen 40+ mpg using his biofuel, not too shabby. 

Offline MrNate

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Re: Need some engineering help
« Reply #8 on: January 20, 2011, 10:42:59 PM »
You walk around scattering hemp seeds

But what you are not considering here, is the fact that with all that hemp planting, you'll be smoking a lot more of it too. So, what with all the walking and plating, and smoking, you'll be making A LOT more trips to Taco Bell. When you consider all the extra money spent on chicken soft taco, and gas to drive to taco bell, you're way in the hole. This can only be overcome if you raise and slaughter you own chickens, and grow wheat, to grind your own flour for soft shell. You'll also need to consider keeping a dairy cow on hand, for cheese, and sour cream. I think that if only these things are tackled as well, would growing your own hemp be cost effective.

I like tacos.
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Offline tubercle

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Re: Need some engineering help
« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2011, 11:10:02 PM »
You want heat? Set some magnesium on fire. :o

 One of the best output vs. input ratios is sugar cane to make ethanol.

 Brazil makes ethanol from sugar cane sap and then uses the leftover cane stalks to fire the boilers to run generators to power the fermenting and distillation apparatus and sells the leftover electricity back to the grid. In Brazil ethanol is basically free plus the gain.

 This crazy corn/ethanol thing in the US is STOOPID. Anyone who has used corn mash as a distillation wash ( ::)) will tell you that it is very low yield and takes more energy to produce than it produces...if that makes sense.

The biggest absolute waste of energy is the electric vehicle. Got to plug that thing into the grid. You telling me that my gasoline powered truck burns more fuel than the power plant that has to run full capacity just in case I might want to plug my car in?

Solar and/or nuke. That's the way to go.

 This is just the Tubercle's observation. If you want his opinion on any of the preceding subjects, just ask.
 
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Offline euge

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Re: Need some engineering help
« Reply #10 on: January 20, 2011, 11:39:21 PM »
I concur with the solar/nuke approach. In fact I see methods of providing energy becoming regional- especially in transport. Might be solar in the Southwest. Might be Brazilian-style cane sugar based ethanol in the Gulf Coast. Nuclear and coal in the North East.

I usually don't drive far from my home on a day to day basis. Maybe 20 miles round trip to work. Do some errands add another 20-30 miles. Why do I need a vehicle that'll travel long distances on a single charge? In this case electric makes perfect sense and I'm glad the option is opening up.

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline rabid_dingo

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Re: Need some engineering help
« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2011, 02:14:27 AM »
This crazy corn/ethanol thing in the US is STOOPID.

You're right. And this ethanol-tech bubble has burst. So many farmers thought that they could earn a ton of
money by growing [whatever type of corn popular for fuel ethanol] corn realized that they sacrificed real profits
with some traditional crops. It was a realization mentioned earlier. It is a net loss of energy.

Kind of like buying a brand spanking new hybrid car. It is more environmentally sound to buy a used gasoline car. The used
car already exists, you keep it from a junk yard, if it is from a legit dealer it has been recently tuned up to minimize
pollution (really to improve mileage and performance, the environment is 2ndary). and so on and so on.

Meanwhile a brand new hybrid takes energy, materials, produces pollution....The real way a "new-off-the-lot-hybrid" will
every be green is if the materials used to produce it are recycled, the energy consumed is solar, wind or hydro. AND
not a single form is "signed", no "copies" of documents, proof of insurance, temp tags and what not are used at all.
An E-car loan if you will, E-proof, E-registration....(no papers at all)

And to top it off. No plastic cups for that water cooler that is always at a dealership, no offers of bottled water, no styrofoam
cups for the coffee machine, no plastic peanut bags in the lobby....

Green can so easily be a marketing ploy versus a real philosophy.

I can be green at home. I don't need to buy anything to be green. If I make any purchase to be "GREEN" I have already failed.
Real green comes from reducing consumption not waste. e.i. producing what I need vs. buying it...segue to the what are you planting thread. Anyone plant "TEA" plants and make their own tea? (Answer in that thread, not this one..)

I believe that this mirrors the tubercles opinion.



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Offline phillamb168

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Re: Need some engineering help
« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2011, 03:50:15 AM »
My plan as far as all this green stuff goes, is to buy an EV (chevy volt or Tesla model S) and then get a wind turbine to charge it. We don't do much driving because we have VERY good public transit, even out here in the boonies, so I figure it'd be a pretty good thing.

Re energy, most of France is nuclear, and our energy company is one of those that buys wind power somehow. I dunno how that works exactly...

The problem of course with all this 'green' stuff is that a lot of it (especially EVs, etc) rely on petroleum-based manufacturing. So nothing is every going to be truly green, but at least it's a start.

Sometimes I wonder how much of my current lifestyle I'd be able to maintain should there be some sort of global event that would end our ability to use current manufacturing, economic, and transportation processes. I think an investment in an EV would be good in this sort of situation, but the problem is getting replacement parts.

Sorry to ramble, it's Friday alright.
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Offline nicneufeld

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Re: Need some engineering help
« Reply #13 on: January 21, 2011, 07:31:18 AM »
I'm actually interested in which major world power will be the first to deploy a "green" (and I don't mean just olive drab) main battle tank.

I'm guessing not Russia or China.  But western Europe or US perhaps?  "Colonel, we've got to disengage the company of Hybrid Abrams tanks to withdraw to a charging station immediately!"

Weaz, I must admit, that was about as artful and subtle a tacoification as I have ever read.  I didn't even realize you had gone full taco until Nates post.  Well done sir.

Offline MrNate

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Re: Need some engineering help
« Reply #14 on: January 21, 2011, 07:41:24 AM »
This crazy corn/ethanol thing in the US is STOOPID.
Green can so easily be a marketing ploy versus a real philosophy.

I can be green at home. I don't need to buy anything to be green. If I make any purchase to be "GREEN" I have already failed.
Real green comes from reducing consumption not waste. e.i. producing what I need vs. buying it...segue to the what are you planting thread. Anyone plant "TEA" plants and make their own tea? (Answer in that thread, not this one..)

I believe that this mirrors the tubercles opinion.

I agree with the both of you, especially about the grid. People just don't realize what goes into keeping the lights on. Start plugging a ton of electric cars in, and what happens to the "peak hours" model? Also had a conversation with a friend of mine about how the carbon footprint of your average PA hillbilly is probably half that of your average conspicuously-green urban consumer. Used cars, small houses, home grown veggies and harvested meat, wood heating, and generally being mindful of spending all go an awful long way towards reducing personal impact.

Here's a basic truth I tend to follow: Energy is money. Everything we spend money on is essentially just converted energy. You want to go green? Spend less money. When you find yourself making your own (whatever) or, more often, going without or at least being very mindful of what you're spending, THEN you've "gone green." Buying a ton of new crap just to feel better about yourself is just being a scenester.
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