Could Metal Particles Provide Clean Fuel For The Future?

The oil age is ending. Electricity and battery power are great, but are we really going to be able to replace the entire oil industry before it’s too late? Researchers at the McGill University have come up with a possible clean fuel replacement — metal particles.

Tiny metal particles, as fine in grain size as icing sugar, have long been used for fireworks and even for rocket propellants, like the space shuttle’s solid-fuel booster rockets. But very little research has been used on applying this technology for use as a recyclable fuel — until now. 

You see, the beauty with burning metal particles is that it is actually possible to reclaim the solid-oxides produced during combustion for recycling — unlike normal CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels. Using a custom-built burner, it is possible to harness this power — and allow for collection of the oxides.

…the McGill researchers demonstrated that a flame can be stabilized in a flow of tiny metal particles suspended in air. Flames from metal powders “appear quite similar” to those produced by burning hydrocarbon fuels, the researchers write. “The energy and power densities of the proposed metal-fueled heat engines are predicted to be close to current fossil-fueled internal combustion engines, making them an attractive technology for a future low-carbon society.

The next step is making a big enough prototype to power a heat engine. We’ve all seen the power of thermite for example… let’s figure out how to harness it!

[Thanks Annie!]

140 thoughts on “Could Metal Particles Provide Clean Fuel For The Future?

    1. Why ceramic?
      I would not be terribly concerned about burning the side walls of an engine, the only reason this stuff burns is because it is very fine, and aerosolized (allowing oxidation to occur at a fast rate.) the meatier block of steel won’t burn as easily. not enough oxygen between the metal particles.

      The real issue that will face an internal combustion engine this way is getting your fuel feed to work. Liquid is so much easier to move than powder. (unless you want to use air pressure to move them, but that brings up scary exploding fuel line thoughts that i would rather not have.)

    1. Why do people seem to cite the mythbusters as some sort of scientific source of information. The show is purely for entertainment and they ignore the scientific process completely 9/10ths of the time and side with their own bias more often than not. I’ve noticed this as the latest flap about drones came out and how they are pretty much harmless to aircraft, statistically. Now everyone wants the mythbusters to come out of retirement and prove that drones are going to cause an apocalypse of downed airliners or something.

      1. Probably the same social mechanics that also makes at least 1 person go ape-shit because of a Mythbusters reference.

        Also, measured by a sample pool of 1, comments that mentions the scientific process being ignored, pull a bogus number out of a hat (like 9/10ths), ten times out of ten.

        If the myth is the hypothesis, then the experimentation should be repeatable and results should be falsifiable.. are they? yes? well, there ya go!

      2. There are different levels of evidence. A rigorous experiment is stronger than what the mythbusters did, but what the mythbusters did is stronger than some guy talking out his ass on the internet. This is because you can *see* what they do, identify mistakes, and asses the confidence to give an individual result (not all their tests are just one-off deals: they’ve actually done double-blind tests with controls before). You wouldn’t want to put any lives on the line based on their results, but it’s sure as shit better than nothing.

        I also note you didn’t bother to comment on the content of the specific link posted.

      3. Citing the MythBusters in spite of their biases and entertainment roots is perfectly acceptable in the comments section of a blog post that states that oil as a viable energy source is so close to ending that there is little time to develop a replacement.

        1. Developing a viable alternative to oil is hard because it is such a darned good energy source, especially if you ignore GHG emissions. Finding an alternative is more challenging than one might think.

          Worse, oil’s end as a viable energy source approaches long before the last drop is pumped and possibly before production peaks. Its viability ends when the average energy return on its production falls below 1. In truth, it’s more like 5, which is the sort of energy return an advanced society requires.

          Understanding that, it’s pretty scary that energy return on oil imports fell from 35 in 1990 to 18 in 2005 to 12 in 2007 (from the Wikipedia page on EROEI).

          1. Electricity is a better energy source, except for the storage and transport problem. Less pollution, easier to work, easier to control, safer.

          2. Like hydrogen, electricity isn’t really an energy source. I’m not sure that I agree with your list of positive electricity attributes. Less pollution at point of use, sure. Arguably, electricity is easier to transport than oil and its derivatives. Safer? Maybe.

            But electricity is where we are headed for consumption. Hopefully, electricity production will move to renewable sources in a big way in the near future.

    1. That is a complete non-argument. There are good technical reasons why gas or liquid fuels and combustion products are much more easy to handle. Solids have more or less abrasive propertys, are more difficult to pump.
      Yes they are used in solid core booster rockets, but spaceflight technology can be – and is – much more expensive. Too expensive for everyday use.
      So I am quite sure, that either fully electric transportation, or synthetic gas/liquid fuels (Biogas, Hydrogen, Power to gas or power to liquid) will be the route to go. Better do the REDOX reactions with the metal battery and put away the thermodynamic cycle.

      1. Instead of applying a “one ring to rule them all” kind of mentality, there should be a focus to apply the most practical source of energy to the problem. For instance, I have no problem with electric or hybrid cars, such as commuting in the city, but quit trying to force me to go electric when my truck is in three feet of mud on the back side of a mountain an hour away from the nearest hospital as the crow flies as I’m refilling my tanks from one of the spare cans (I don’t drive my truck in mud as a hobby or sport).

        It’s more about having a range of fuel options. Unless we develop ZPMs, developing and using as broad a range of fuels and power sources makes the most sense. Then as one type of fuel becomes expensive or impractical, we have options we can turn to.

    1. Thanks for the link. I was thinking of the powdered coal engines as well. A powered metal ICE isn’t the best idea for maintenance but the powdered metal could be used for heating water on steam turbines or heating the hot side of thermoelectric generators or stirling engines.

      1. If you read the article, they are explicitly targeting *external* combustion engines, which should simplify things significantly.

        Of course, the economics of this design still boils down to how efficiently you can recycle those metal oxides back into metal fuel.

        Similar to the issues involved in running an engine on hydrogen generated from aluminum cans + sodium hydroxide: it took a lot of electrical energy to generate that aluminum in the first place, so you have to take the economics of regenerating the aluminum and sodium hydroxide into account.

        Still – always worth considering alternative non-carbon, high-energy-density solutions…

        1. Metals used this way are a “battery”, in other words, an energy storage mechanism. They are not an energy source. The energy source was expended in the refining process.

          It’s not only economic calculations, but environmental calculations that must take this reality into account.

          Rate them against other energy storage mechanisms, not as a new sort of energy source.

          1. That reminds me of a test project with electric mail cars with zinc-air batteries. They were supposed to be “recharged” be changing and refining the used zinc electrodes. Like some hybrid system of battery and fuel cell. I think it was in Germany, but I don’t know how far the project went.

        2. “Of course, the economics of this design still boils down to how efficiently you can recycle those metal oxides back into metal fuel. ”

          Removing the oxides from the metals and recovering the original material requires an input of energy. As a matter of fact, it must require at least as much energy input as the burning of the fuel released*. At that point the metal changes its role from a “fuel” to an “energy storage mechanism”. This is true regardless of where in the chain the oxide removal step happens. Look at how aluminum is refined from ore, for example: a bin of bauxite has giant electrodes inserted, and megawatts of electricity are pumped into it. And that electricity was generated by a different energy source. As aluminum oxide is the only way aluminum is found in nature, burning aluminum can never be a primary source of energy.

          Not every combustible mineral in nature is found in an oxidized state, but the common ones are: iron is found in hematite (Fe2O3), limonite(FeO(OH)), and taconite (Fe3O4); aluminum from bauxite; nickel from limonite; magnesium is only found in combination with other elements in the +2 oxidation state; etc. They all require energy to recover the elemental combustible form.

          But maybe there’s a way these metals can be burned that leads to a more efficient conversion of fuel to energy, making them ideal batteries for energy storage. Who knows?

          * I believe I’m required by the terms of my Internet license to invoke the Second Law of Thermodynamics here.

    2. Powdered coal has been used for decades in steam boilers in industrial power houses and electrical generation. Pulverized coal in a simple water ‘slurry’ is sprayed into the combustion chamber to heat water to make steam. It is a VERY MESSY process if not monitored very closely. Wet coal dust can ruin your whole day! I have been told that this process gets the most BTU energy per pound of coal, as opposed to systems that just dump coal onto an existing fire and remove ashes and ‘clinkers’ after the fact.

    3. I believe that in WWII that Volkswagen had versions of their military vehicles that were powered by coal or wood. I believe the idea was that the coal was burned in a kind of firebox and the gasses from the combustion were fed into a modified gasoline engine and used as the fuel for the engine to burn for propulsion.

      I found a reference:

      Oddly enough, this would be a good topic for a HAD blog post, as it appears that people were able to hack their own cars for this type of fuel. I hope someone sees this!

    1. great point anyone who owns a diesel vehicle that is over 10 years old knows what kind of a pain it can be with the egr and high sulfur. intake manifolds can be completely clogged up because of this and it is a pain to clean, but can be fun, here are a couple fun videos to see what you will be in for. BTW this is how I did mine and while fun it was a pain

  1. Oh good grief. Metal particles are a fuel source? Have you got some vast source of unoxidized metal lying around waiting to be burnt? Enough to replace 90 odd million barrels of oil a day?

    At best this a way of storing electricity – that was generated by burning coal, natural gas or from fission.

        1. I don’t think we’re at the point yet where excess solar energy is a problem looking for a solution.

          Solar installers and their buyers are complete morons about the whole business anyways. Cities are fighting with environmentalists trying to install solar panels in the desert because of some rare lizard or flower will die during the installation and resulting shade, meanwhile there are a huge number of square miles of parking lots begging to have shade. Just lot lizards and sun baked cars will be affected.

          Cal Expo guys have the right idea.

          1. “Solar installers and their buyers are complete morons about the whole business anyways.”

            Amen. I just had a solar installer here this week for an estimate. They wanted $40k for a full roof installation that would generate an average of $100/mo in electricity. He had all kinds of graphs and charts, but never told me the payback point. After he left, I realized that I’m old enough that I probably wouldn’t live long enough to see an ROI on that investment, and definitely not once I factored in the cost of the money. As much as I like the idea of renewable energy, it still has to have a reasonable value proposition.

            It would be a great off-grid solution, or where power is unreliable. But I live in Suburbia where my awesome electric coop has had maybe one brief power failure in the last decade, and I’m not too worried about any impending apocalyptic end-of-the-grid times.

    1. Or you could use giant solar pumped lasers to refine the metal oxides

      But more seriously “At best this a way of storing electricity” is exactly the point of switching to metal powder or metal slurry fuels. (especially metal slurry used to fuel metal-air batteries) The high energy density of refined metals make them a practical way to transport solar energy from sunny deserts to far away cities and industries.

      1. Exactly. Energy density is precisely why we don’t have commercial electric planes yet. And you can be certain that the researchers working on this are well aware that the cost of regenerating the fuel has to be part of the calculation. But at least this system allows you to capture all the combustion products.

        It might take a while for this kind of technology to be able to compete with an industry like fossil fuels, that has had a more than a century head start and get enormous government subsidies. But at least it’s a novel approach to the problem, and it could provide a faster route towards zero-carbon planes than today’s battery technologies…

    2. I had the exact same thought — how does this cycle work. We start oxidized metal and use a huge amount of energy, typically in a wildly inefficient smelting operation, then more energy to convert it to a powder ….. Where is the energy to run the smelters and grinders coming from?

    3. This just goes to show human nature in that we will be on or hands and knees fighting after the last cap-fulls of water before we truly understand how abruptly we have consumed in as little as a hundred or so years, all the energy that this planet has stored over millions of years.

      There can only be one *solution* to the oil era – find another planet to harvest, that or live with only one thousandth of the energy that you became accustomed to consuming day to day. That means living one thousand days on the energy you now consume in one day … do you see why that will cause fights for water?

        1. The problem is that people try to live places where it doesn’t all that often, and desalination is still an ongoing problem (cost vs cost of shipping it from somewhere else being one of them).

          Good joke, though.

      1. One solution? To an imaginary problem perhaps. Resources don’t run out overnight. They slowly get scarce and expensive which drives the use of alternatives. You are worried about it already so there is hundred and fifty year head start at least (start the clock at around 1960).

        Consider also that you may need massive use of fossil fuels to jump-start a new technology. You won’t have electric mining trucks and loaders and shovels until you mine enough rare-earths to make the magnets for the motors in the electric mining trucks and loaders ……..

        I wonder about traction motors from diesel-electric locomotives used in heavy equipment? You need cables to get around 8,000 horse power or 6,000 kW to the biggest heavy machinery. At typical DC motor voltages in use today, that is roughly 800 amps at 750 volts. So, power delivery to the machinery or batteries in the big trucks will be *interesting*. (In places with all electric trains they run 3000 to 3500 volts DC – Russia and Brazil for example.)

        1. Sometimes (central Europe) the train overhead power line is 15kV/16,7Hz. With a big transformer on the locomotive to step it down for the motor. Or some thyristor-converter in modern ones.

    4. You realizing storing energy is the only “problem” that has to be solved, right? The reason we use petroleum or coal now is because it is a really dense way to store energy, especially when talking about transport energy. Making clean energy is easy, storing clean energy is hard. The idea is that this could store energy more easily than batteries or hydrogen or biofuel or whatever.

      I mean, look at Iceland. It’s one of the largest producers of aluminum (aluminum smelting) thanks to the fact it has loads of nearly free, clean electricity thanks to their geothermal plants. If you can store energy with that aluminum almost as well as nature has stored it in hydrocarbons then they’ve just found a way to make cheap, clean fuel. You find places with lots of sun or lots of geothermal activity or lots of giant rivers or lots of Uranium and make the fuel there and ship it around the world the same way that gas or oil gets shipped around the world (except a solid will be way easier to ship than a gas).

  2. burning any kind of fuel will result in the excess of a particular chemical and unless you are containing and recycling that chemical after burning the fuel, it’s not clean. the only clean energy is electromagnetic energy.

          1. Yes. Many poisons (not caustics) disrupt a necessary balance, be it neurotransmitters or electrolytes. And if the overdose of pure water dilutes your electrolytes too much to sustain living, then the water is poisonous at this dose.

          2. Health note, when doing long distance running it is recommended to only drink water as necessary (thirsty). While sweating (salt loss) for prolonged periods it can be easier than you think to drink enough water to become hyponatremic.

    1. The whole point is that in this case, the combustion products are solid oxides (easier to filter out/capture) and hence could be recycled.

      As others have said – this is intended as an energy storage technology, not a new source of fuel.

  3. Regenerative braking is a very good reason why electricity is the best fuel. It can also be created through combustion of course, and stored safely for a decent duration of time. If this is a good method of powering an engine, then an industrial sized version would be miles more efficient than a shrunken down version that goes in a car… and the power the more efficient version creates can be used as fuel.

    1. Regenerative braking is such a hype. The actual energy returns are on the order of 5% of what you spent. It’s only a thing because electric cars technically -can- do it – it’s just not very significant in the real world.

      The problem is that regenerative braking is useless at high speeds where it would be most efficient, because you’re driving miles and miles without braking. When you finally do, it’s such a neglible return that you might as well not. At low speeds the energy you need to spend to excite the magnetic field in the motor to get the generated voltage up because of the low RPM of the motor means you won’t actually get much at all back, and it stops working entirely below some cut-off speed where you’re spending more energy than you get. Or, if you have a permanent magnet motor, you need to run a boost converter from the very low voltages generated up to the 300-400 Volts of your battery pack, which again has shit efficiency and uses up energy to run the switches.

      If you drive an electric car just perfectly, accelerating up to a significant speed like >40 mph and then instantly slow down, and repeat over and over, then you get some significant returns. Thing is, nobody drives like that, and you save more energy if you just go steady.

      1. It’s kinda like if you drive a manual car, and you have the choice of coasting or engine braking, which cuts off the fuel injection to the engine for as long as the RPM stays above idle.

        In theory you save fuel by engine braking up highway exit ramps or at appraching stoplights, but in practice you simply roll further with the gear on neutral, because you’re not dissapating as much kinetic energy in the pumping losses of the engine, and that energy saving is more than the energy loss you have keeping the engine on idle.

        1. Thing is if you have a controlled catalytic converter (pretty much everything now), the ECU will still keep injecting a tiny bit to keep the converter up to temperature.

        1. This is why you’ll typically see hybrid vehicles have a small to moderate improvement in highway mileage (depending on specific design – in Toyota’s case they can alter valve timing to reduce pumping losses and improve efficiency at the cost of torque, since the electric motor now provides the torque) but more importantly – usually hybrid vehicles have city mileage ratings fairly close to their highway ratings, while normal gasoline-engined vehicles have significant city mileage penalties.

  4. End of the age of oil? Replace it before it is too late? What did I miss? With more proven oil and gas reserves than at any time in history, I thought this was the end of the age of “peak oil” astrologers. And try to work out the carbon thing so that the permafrost line moves a couple hundred miles north and triples the area of farmable land on the Earth.

    In I think, “Marching Morons” by C. M. Kornbluth, hoppers of iron filings are attached to the back of jet engines to look like rockets. The majority had voted that they wanted rocket powered planes. This was Waaaay before “Idiocracy”.

    1. A lot of the new reserves have slow extraction rates, though.

      And permafrost moving north only adds useless swamps, not good farmland. These places have very little sun for photosynthesis and poor soil.

      1. They have a good growing season and make up for latitude with lots of daylight per 24 hours. When all the mammoths thaw out and rot, the soil will be great. Besides, any civilization that thinks it can halt a changing climate can enrich the soil. Wouldn’t you think?

        1. Wouldn’t that just end up moving the temperate region further toward the poles? The tropical region would grow resulting in more desertification in places that were previously green and farmed land.

          1. It is all about where the land is. If you look at a globe you will see the Northern Hemisphere has the vast amounts of non-mountainous land in the north. Siberia, Canada, and of course if half of Greenland went green. Anyway, I suspect the Google can tell the amount of potentially arable land compared to regions that would go either dessert or rain forest. I think the trade-off triples the amount of food that can be grown.

    2. What you missed is that fossil fuels are a finite resource that will become depleted. The world is well past reasonable affordable quality petroleum. At best the peak is a moving target, the current low motor fuel prices don’t reflect the crude price needed to sustain increasing petroleum production. That yo-yo is the closest we’ll ever get to perpetual motion, so I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise people actually believe there is no end of the supply.

  5. This has the same problems as hydrogen powered fuel-cells, in that the complete system will be very inefficient compared to just charging up an electric car from solar panels/other renewable sources. It is vastly inefficient to recover metal-oxide, convert it into metal fuel and burn it in an inefficient internal combustion engine.
    I think the way to go would be to wait for lithium battery technology to mature enough to reduce range anxiety. Tesla is doing a great job with that by coming up with an affordable model (the model 3) which has a range >200miles. All other car makers seems to have electric cars in their pipelines too.

    1. YES. And there are still other metals like aluminum or sodium which could also be usable for batterys. Of course Lithium looks the most promising at the moment. I am not sure if battery powered planes will be feasable in the near to medium future, but cars will be.

    2. Until there is significant market penetration, a usable pure electric car will NOT be affordable, the batteries ares still simply too expensive…
      Don’t get me wrong, I’d buy a Tesla despite the shortcomings if I could afford it, but at $35k in the US (at least +30% in EU) it’s not an affordable car – it’s a luxury car, competing with BMW 5 series and Mercedes S class…

      Many car manufacturers tried to make a cheap electric car and failed, because they couldn’t make it cheap enough, you just can’t beat physics… Nobody wanted a car that looked and drove like a cheap one, yet cost like a top mid-range ICE car.
      Tesla on the other hand apparently did some strategy thinking, and decided NOT to try making it cheap, they went for the luxury market, where the customer is expecting to fork over the pile of money.
      Low and behold, Tesla can afford to put in a HUGE and very expensive (almost 50% of the total car cost) battery pack, which gives it nice range and enough power to leave most competitors in the dust.

      1. There won’t be a significant market penetration because we will run out of materials.

        The Tesla Gigafactory can manufacture 35 GWh worth of batteries a year using 16% of the world’s current lithium supply. One electric car needs 100 kWh of batteries and goes through a pack in 10 years due to wear and aging. Therefore one car “consumes” 10 kWh of batteries per year.

        35,000,000 kWh/a : 10 kWh/a = 3.5 million electric cars on the roads for one Tesla battery factory.

        There are ~250 million passenger vehicles in the US, which means you’re talking about on the order of 1% of vehicles in the US for 1/6th of the WORLD supply of lithium. If you used the entire world supply, you would not be able to supply 10% of the cars.

        Recycling is of course an option, but the recycling of lithium from batteries costs more than making a new battery so nobody is doing it. As long as that is the case, electric cars can’t become cheap enough to produce for the masses. The more people buy them, the more expensive they become.

        1. Oh, and pay close attention to the fact that I’m talking about passenger vehicles in the US.

          The world supply of lithium can’t even break 1% of the demand for passenger vehicles in the whole world. It’s a total non-starter and a complete pipe dream to run electric cars on lithium batteries because it basically demands that the world lithium production output would have to increase by approximately 200 fold just to meet the 1% target worldwide, and 20,000x to be able to supply enough batteries for all vehicles.

          It’s such a ridiculously massive scale that it doesn’t even matter whether the batteries last 10 or 20 years, or whether you only need half the batteries per car if you skimp on it, because a quarter of 20,000 is still 5000x the lithium production and that’s just not going to happen.

          Even the recycling argument won’t do you any good. Suppose we do get the recycling down in cost to equal new batteries. So what? It would still take you 20,000 years to mine and process enough lithium to convert all passenger vehicles to electrics.

        2. You contradict yourself: First you postulate we would run out of materials (Lithium) and later you say recycling would not be economic. Recycling of a scarce supply IS economic. And even if recycling costs more than making a new battery you have to compare it with mining new Lithium not with the making of the battery.

    1. The stone age didn’t end because we ran out of stones and the bronze age didn’t end because we ran out of bronze. The ended because something more practical came along.

      1. except we dont know what is and isnt cheap in power generation, pervasive subsisides(to oil and gas as well) makes it close to impossible to actually know what energy costs what, the open market prize does not directly correlate to the true cost of production.

        1. Precisely, but this is as a result of our self delusion that the value of everything in universe can be measured in dollar bills, which in turn results in policy decisions being made directly or indirectly by those with the biggest piles of dollar bills. Hence oil vested interest will ultimately largely determine energy policy, rather than sound scientific and engineering judgment.

          We have run grossly inefficient internal combustion engines for over 100 years, not because they were the best solution, but because they were the only solution allowed to flourish, by those same large industrial vested interests.

    1. Hmm? Metal particles can be created (or more created transformed) via solar power. Using solar power to extract metal have been done for ages (though not as often as using hydro power) and particle creation via boiling the metal in an inert atmosphere should be relatively easy. If not solar power converted to electricity could be used in a traditional process to create particles of the right size.

    1. See, this is the type of thinking to stymie innovation. Please, for the sake of us all, stay in your little box. Either that or get on-board with a comprehensive solution to our inevitable fuel driven demise.

  6. Why replace methane as a fuel? It’s a heck of a lot cleaner than most other fuels, it can be made to work with existing technologies (in many cases it IS the existing technology), and it’s infinitely renewable.
    So what’s wrong with using a clean, reliable, safe, infinite fuel source that we already have? Too old school maybe?

        1. Photosynthesis is horribly ineffective (~1%), photovoltaics or direct solar heating captures far more energy. Even then the used area required to meet the demand would be huge.

          1. Except for the fact that we already have huge numbers of cattle available to provide the raw material, which usually mostly goes to waste. It’s not about efficiency, it’s about making use of a resource that’s underutilized.

        2. The real solution to an inefficient process that makes lots more waste product than food (and uses way too much land and water…) is not to find a way to use the waste product, but rather find ways to make food that don’t make so much waste…

  7. Just chiming in to remind HAD readers that every gram of aluminium you have ever seen was produced via large scale electrolysis from aluminium oxide, powered by hydroelectric power. Aluminum is an energy storage medium and we already have high capacity, clean production running 24/7 as we speak. So tone down your HAD “im smarter than OP” nonsense.

    1. Aluminum as an energy storage medium works particularly well in alkaline-aluminum batteries for BEVs and could be an economically competitive alternative to lithium based batteries, for just the reasons you stated: an existing infrastructure for conversion.

  8. You know, if the “OMG-Carbon Dioxide Bad!” people really were telling the truth, they’d be looking for something that was a fuel – and not a battery/energy transport – that used C02 as the “oxidizer” in an exothermic reaction. Oh, wait. They exist. They’re called “plants,” and are precursors fossil fuels.

  9. The idea that eliminating carbon is the way to avoid the carbon dioxide emissions problem is ridiculous. Somebody doesn’t understand “carbon neutral”. CO2 is great stuff, so long as you use as much of it as you release. You don’t have to collect and ship it back to the fuel factory, it ships itself.

  10. Research to keep society on finite fuels source? Sorry that sounds like the work of those who have places themselves in a position to profit from the exploration of the resource so they can keep profiiting. While t tooit’s ultimately finite resource, the research should be improving the ways we can make use of solar(wicj includes wind) energy IMO some of that research should work on methods of throttling coal and nuclear fuel electrical power plants to the could supplement solar electrical power generation. save some of that finite fuel for future generations. In urban suburban areas mass transit would keep more money in the pockets of commuters. Mass transit doesn’t work that well in rural area except for long distances, but such transit is non-existent, and that unlikely to change. In a way urban and suburban commuters using private vehicle keeps private vehicle use for rural commuters affordable. While the demand for vehicle is higher, the profit expectations of the manufactures is spread across more vehicle that helps keep the prices lower for rural commuters. Solar could help electrified rail roads, but until a battery break through is discovered electric is far from a private vehicle solution. Petoleom has so many uses pissing it away unnecessarily on transportation is ignorant, I feel that applies to consuming metal for fuel. Except where using meyals for fuel is the best choice for the job at hand,. From what I’m reading those exceptions aren’t that numerous, and would have relatively little effect on the metal supply.

    1. yep, we can’t stop the nuclear reactor in the sky, and to waste the free energy radiating off of it is just wasteful. It’s going through the air whether we catch it or not, let’s leave the coal and oil and diamonds to be incinerated by the humans who need it when the control-rod asteroids finally close in and shut it down, and all the people on earth freeze to death because we were too busy seeing who’s car could fart louder.

  11. How much would an acre of mirrors cost? There is a massive nuclear reactor in space, transmitting wireless energy, some of which reaches Earth at about 4MW per acre on a good day, let’s say for a good 4 hours per good day. so an equivalent of 13805525 BTU/hr for 4 hours = 55222100 BTUs and if gasoline has 114000 BTU/gal, then you can catch the equivalent of 484 gallons of gas per day (in 4 hours on one acre) so maybe $600-$800 in electricity per acre in the best 4 hours of a good day on earth.. that’s a good ~ $200,000-$300,000 depending on energy demand. of course if everyone did it then energy would be really cheap, you wouldn’t be able to sell it for much, and technology would advance at an exponential rate, due to energy being free, we could use it to turn the oceans into bricks of salt and dead sea creatures and distilled water. we could also melt the desert sands into bricks of fused desert sand to build nice large glass sandcastles to throw stones at. We could also throw stones at extremely high velocities because energy is free or really cheap. so go buy your 15 acres of earth and cover it with mirrors, you’ll make like $12,000 per day, that’s over $4 million per year. That may not be tony stark status, but Tony Stark probably owns over 15 acres. anyway, once you have all that energy at your disposal, you can refine all the metal oxides you want back into unoxidized metals, and you can atomize them just so you can burn them back into metal oxides, because in 4 hours with 15 acres you will make 60 MW and you can collimate all that sunlight and point it at anything that stands in your way. You can write your name on the moon, with your 60MW laser toy, and who’s gonna stop you?

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