TED Conversations

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We will NOT find an alternative to energy dense, easily transportable conventional oil in time to sustain indefinate economic growth.

All alternative energies have one or more disadvantages that do not let them compete with cheap conventional oil.

Given our industrial civilization depends on massive amounts of cheap energy, the reliance on conventional oil is enormous.

The only quick solution I see is a drastic downscaling of economic activity.

Topics: energy

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  • Feb 11 2013: This discussion should be promptly ended if you do not provide evidence for your claim that we absolutely WILL NOT find an alternative energy source in time because this is an old issue, and rather dead at this point, a simple google search can provide you with plenty of research done on our current situation. As much has already been mentioned by Barry and Lawren. We're not really having a debate, this is very one-sided, so to do so, provide some evidence to support yourself. I hope you're not fishing here either.
    • Feb 11 2013: I have evidence that every alternative energy out there either still has issues to be resolved or isn't as energy dense as conventional oil. If you believe in a solution please explain, that's why I made this debate. I am always interested in being proven wrong.

      As far as the TED talk by Amory Lovins.. Sounds like we've got a lot of work to get there and we will still need to rely on mostly oil to make it happen. He did not address the need to mass produce much cheaper batteries for transportatio

      World conventional enegy production has been stable even with high incentive to ramp up production. So I would say we do not have very much time before we start really feeling the economic hurt of expensive oil.
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        Feb 23 2013: There are a few things that could be done to address batteries for road travel. (Electricity has long been used for rail)

        First there is the obvious, the battery swap out that has been talked about for ages. Well, it is a reality and coupled with a scheme where you do not own the battery, but rent it, it keeps the cost of the vehicle down. See.... http://www.ted.com/talks/shai_agassi_on_electric_cars.html

        Another on the horizon is the sludge battery. This technology has been worked on over the last decade or so.

        Basically, the anode, cathode and electrolyte are all tiny particles suspended in a liquified sludge, This is passed through a unit, which extracts the energy for use, It is also recharged in a similar process.

        So to recharge the car quickly, you pump out the discharged sludge and pump in the charged sludge just like you do fuel on a car now. The discharged sludge is then recharged for later use.

        MIT looked very promising with "Cambridge Crude" a couple of years ago, but it was then acquired as a subsidiary to another battery company which went under, so I am not sure where it is up to. It was apparently scalable and high density.

        The US DOD are working on a lower density, cheaper model of the same thing, from memory it is not Lithium based as Cambridge Crude was.

        So, it can be used to pump or tanker electric energy just like any other liquid.
    • Feb 15 2013: try reading V. Smil or just look up the energy density values of various RE and fossil techs. this is not a question. everyone in energy or physics including everyone in RE knows this.

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