Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Hey, Nancy Pelosi: This IS Rocket Science!

Jesse is a listener of ours who also happens to be an actual rocket scientist. Here's his take on the current sniping over gas prices:


You had a caller say that windmills do not produce a lot of energy. That simply is not true. Wind mills nowadays employ the latest design technologies and material selections to get up to 3.3 megawatts of power. If you build 130 of them, that is not insignificant. Now, you could not find enough open space to build enough to power the whole country, but in places where you can we should be doing it, to hell with fat teddy and his veranda view.

Next is to directly combat Nancy Pelosi's claim that the country "should be producing more alternative fuels" (I think that is about right). That's great Nancy.

1: I believe President Bush has brought this up several times in his state of the union addresses. I believe they all laughed when he talked about switch grass. But maybe Pelosi was too giddy in waiting for Bush's remark on social security so her party could have their ridiculous, immature reaction to it, that she didn't hear the part about alternative fuels.

2: If you produce more alternative fuels what is she going to combust them in? Not my car. The problem with hydrogen will not be solved this decade, and unleaded gasoline and ethanol will take the same route as leaded gasoline and unleaded gasoline did. That is to say, my car, your car and most everyone's car runs on unleaded, if you switch to higher and higher percentages of ethanol,(I believe its 30 percent now, but I am not sure), you will damage your car's engine.
Specifically, what happens is the exhaust valves overheat and destroy themselves. This was precisely the same problem with leaded gasoline burning engines, they needed the lead to coat the valves so they didn't burn up. The long and short of it is that for manufacturers to setup the cars with engines that will burn pure ethanol will take time. It will take time for the cars that burn gasoline to phase out.

The real problem with hydrogen is not having an engine that can combust it with oxygen, or storing it--we can do that. The two problems are infrastructure, which isn't a real technical problem, it would be a matter of time and money. The Pilgrims didn't show up here and find a gasoline distribution infrastructure I am pretty sure. The real technical problem that must be solved is that it requires more energy to produce the di-hydrogen molecule than you get out of the combustion process. A hydrogen-oxygen combustion process releases far more energy than an octane-air combustion process, however the energy required to produce the octane, (get it out of the ground, ship it, refine it, ship it, pump it), is much lower than the energy released by the combustion process, that is why oil is so beautiful. Someone will solve the problem of producing the hydrogen I am sure, but it will take time and money.

Electric cars are also stupid ways to try to be green. Instead of using engines that burn octane very well and pollute a surprisingly small amount, (a BMW M3 produces such a small amount of carbon monoxide you can't asphyxiate yourself by putting your mouth over the tailpipe apparently), you plug your car into the wall and draw your energy from, more than likely a coal burning power plant, brilliant, well done hippies.

Bush has to stand up for himself here, he has been saying we need to work on this for years, he has increased its funding and he is allowing the hippies to ruin his record on it in there traditional hysterical johnny come lately fashion.

Jesse, the rocket scientist.