----- Original Message -----
From: S. Fred. Singer
Sent: Wednesday, December 12, 2001 11:21 PM
Subject: TWTW Dec 8, 2001
NEW ON THE SEPP WEB:
At the end of WW-II, I attended lectures on Modern Physics, given by Teller
at George Washington University. But I only met him in 1950 at Los Alamos
when he offered me a job on what I later learned were H-bomb tests. Many
years after that, General Jim Abrahamson offered me the position of Chief
Scientist of SDI; but I didn't take that one either. I only met Oppenheimer
once - when he had moved to Princeton and was one of the examiners at my
Ph.D. oral exam.
The Week That Was December 8, 2001 brought to you by SEPP
For oral presentation at AGU meeting in San Francisco, Dec. 12, 2001
A Carbon-Free Energy Future
By Henry R. Linden.
Max McGraw Professor of Energy and Power Engineering and Management
Director, Energy + Power Center
Chemical and Environmental Engineering Department
Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, Illinois
S. Fred Singer
Professor Emeritus of Environmental Sciences
University of Virginia
It is generally agreed that hydrogen is an ideal energy source, both for
transportation and for the generation of electric power. Through the use of
fuel cells, hydrogen becomes a high-efficiency carbon-free power source for
electromotive transport; with the help of regenerative braking, cars should
be able to reach triple the current mileage. Many have visualized a
distributed electric supply network with decentralized generation based on
fuel cells. Fuel cells can provide high generation efficiencies by
overcoming the fundamental thermodynamic limitation imposed by the Carnot
cycle. Further, by using the heat energy of the high-temperature fuel cell
in co-generation, one can achieve total thermal efficiencies approaching
100 percent, as compared to present-day average power-plant efficiencies of
around 35 percent.
In addition to reducing CO2 emissions, distributed generation based on fuel
cells also eliminates the tremendous release of waste heat into the
environment, the need for cooling water, and related limitations on siting.
Manufacture of hydrogen remains a key problem, but there are many technical
solutions that come into play whenever the cost equations permit. One can
visualize both central and local hydrogen production. Initially, reforming
of abundant natural gas into mixtures of 80% H2 and 20% CO2 provides a
relatively low-emission source of hydrogen. Conventional fossil-fuel plants
and nuclear plants can become hydrogen factories using both
high-temperature topping cycles and electrolysis of water. Hydroelectric
plants can manufacture hydrogen by electrolysis.
Later, photovoltaic and wind farms could be set up at favorable locations
around the world as hydrogen factories. If perfected, photovoltaic hydrogen
production through catalysis would use solar photons most efficiently. For
both wind and PV, hydrogen production solves some crucial problems:
intermittency of wind and of solar radiation, storage of energy, and use of
locations that are not desirable for other economic uses.
A hydrogen-based energy future is inevitable as low-cost sources of
petroleum and natural gas become depleted with time. However, such
fundamental changes in energy systems will take time to accomplish. Coal
may survive for a longer time but may not be able to compete as the century
draws to a close.
EFFECTS OF AN OIL SUPPLY REDUCTION
[Readers: What's wrong with this summary? The answer is given below]
What would happen in the unlikely event Saudi Arabian oil was cut off? In
the long run, not much, say economists. However, in the short run it would
be economically uncomfortable to the United States and other oil-importing
o Saudis' output of 7.5 million barrels a day represents 10 percent of the
o In the short term, energy economists say that if that supply was cut off,
the world oil price might rise to $55 a barrel.
o The short-term price increases would reduce Gross Domestic Product in oil
consuming countries by 3 percent to 4 percent in the first year.
But due to national reserves and unused production capacity, the supply
could be increased quickly in the short term, and in the longer term higher
prices would encourage increased production.
o In the short term, U.S. oil production could increase 300,000 barrels a
day, and in the longer term by up to one million.
o Other Middle East countries have the spare capacity to increase
production by 2.5 million barrels a day.
o Another million barrels might come from Mexico, Venezuela, and the North
o And the strategic oil stocks of Japan, the U.S. and Germany hold 1.2
billion barrels, which if released at a rate of five million barrels daily
would last six to eight months.
Thus the entire Saudi supply could be replaced from other sources.
In any event, say economists, the economic shock of higher petroleum prices
would be lessened in the U.S. because oil use relative to GDP has dropped
almost 45 percent since 1979 and the real, or inflation-adjusted, price of
oil has fallen by one third. This means money spent on oil is about 40
percent of what it was relative to GDP 20 years ago.
Source: Susan Lee, "We Can Live Without Saudi Oil, Wall Street Journal,"
The Dismal Science, November 13, 2001.
[Answer: Since oil is fungible, the price would rise to ALL consumers -even
in countries that export oil - under free-market conditions. Incidentally,
the price of gasoline would rise by about 70 cents per gallon - no big
deal. In Europe, where gasoline sells for around $4, the increase would
hardly be noticed. In the U.S., electric power comes mostly from coal,
nuclear, hydro, and methane - and would be little affected.]
PROTECTION AGAINST NUCLEAR REACTOR TERRORISM
WASHINGTON, Nov. 28 - Spurred by the attacks in September, the Nuclear
Regulatory Commission is moving toward buying millions of doses of a drug
that protects against thyroid cancer that might result from radiation
The idea of stockpiling the drug, potassium iodide, has been debated since
the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island, near Harrisburg, Pa. Proponents
renewed discussions of the proposal after the 1986 accident of the
Chernobyl reactor in the Ukraine, now blamed for thousands of thyroid
cancers, mostly in people who were in utero or younger than 2 years old at
the time. Those people, regardless of their age, who took potassium iodide
at the time, were protected.
In 1998, the commission decided to offer the drug free to any state that
wanted to stockpile it, but the following year it reversed itself and
rescinded the offer. Now the commission has set aside $800,000, enough to
buy millions of doses to offer to states, and is waiting for a guidance
document from the Food and Drug Administration on how big a radiation dose
warrants use of the drug, and how much of the drug should be given to
babies, children, adults and pregnant women. For those younger than 18 and
for pregnant or lactating women, the F.D.A. will recommend giving the drug
at a level of radiation exposure a fifth as large as advised in the 1980's.
When reactors split uranium atoms, one of the fragments is an intensely
radioactive form of iodine, which can be absorbed by people directly or can
land in pastures, where it is eaten by cows and concentrated in their milk.
One reason children are vulnerable is that they drink more milk than adults
Potassium iodide works by saturating the human thyroid gland with normal
iodine so it cannot absorb radioactive iodine. Potassium iodide can cross
the placenta, but the prime protective mechanism in pregnant women is that
its use reduces the ability of the mother to absorb the radioactive
variety. But the drug must be given before the radiation exposure, or very
soon after, which means it must be stored near the site of potential exposure.
From Wash Times, Dec.3
Julia Butterfly Hill (that's really her name) made headlines in 1997 when
she took up residence in a California redwood tree she named Luna. She
refused to leave unless her demands were met. Two years later, property
owner Pacific Lumber finally agreed not to cut down Luna and trees around it.
Her environmentalist supporters created a special website www.lunatree.org
whose ownership recently lapsed. Now pornographers have taken over the site
and refuse to leave unless their demands (for much money) are met. Hmmm..