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Our Coming Energy Famine
by Kenneth W. Behrendt
As we begin the present millenium, the world finds itself in somewhat of a predicament. Mainly, we have inherited a culture that is the offspring of an Industrial Revolution which has made us highly dependent upon the combustion of a dwindling global supply of fossil fuels to meet our current energy needs. It is the energy from this combustion that spins the generators whose electrical output lights our homes and powers our factories. It propels our automobiles, commercial aircraft, and military hardware. Yet, it is a FINITE source of energy and the most pessimistic estimates suggest that all currently known and projected coal, petroleum, and gas deposits will be completely gone in another ten to twenty years!
Of course, these estimates ASSUME that the demand for fossil fuels will remain constant during the next ten to twenty years, but the fact is that the current rate of demand is now beginning to rapidly increase. Mainland China is beginning its own upsurge in industrial production and automobile usage and with these comes a greater thirst for the energy that was slowly stored up and locked into the Earth's crust many millions of years ago. So, it is quite possible that we may really only have LESS than a SINGLE decade before some drastic events will begin to occur.
We are already beginning to see the results of the growing scarcity of fossil fuels in the form of rising prices. In my area of the United States (the state of New Jersey), I have noted that, for the last few years, each winter's heating bill seems higher that the last one. At the time of the writing of this article, gasoline prices are the highest that they have EVER been in my state and we have been told to expect even higher prices by summer when the demand for gasoline usually peaks. Additionally, the prices of all other materials derived from petroleum such as plastics, solvents, building materials, etc. also seem to be constantly headed higher.
The situation in the United States has, to a certain extent, been exacerbated by the American motorist's currently fashionable desire to own and use a conveyance known as a "sport utility vehicle" or "SUV". These are large, bulky, high center of gravity versions of the old station wagon and only average about 15 miles per gallon of gasoline burned. It seems that before long the SUV will account for HALF of all of the vehicles owned in the United States. Because of the profit potential for these expensive vehicles, the automobile industry here is in no hurry to limit their production.
In an effort to buy some time, the United States government keeps the automobile industry under pressure to come up with ways to boost the mileage per gallon of gasoline used in its products. Thus, we are beginning to hear talk about such things as "hybrid" drive and fuel cell powered vehicles. These are, at best, only short term solutions to the rapidly dwindling supplies of fossil fuels. They are expensive technologies that will ADD to the initial cost of a vehicle and its later maintainance and, thereby, reduce any savings in fuel cost that they might produce.
Hybrid automobiles are currently being manufactured by several Japanese automakers and are just beginning to arrive on the US market. They combine a gasoline engine and an electric motor to approximately double the mileage per gallon of gasoline burned in the vehicles which utilize them. The basic concept is that the car incorporating this system is powered by an electric motor during the times when its fuel powered engine tends to waste fuel...usually during the brief intervals when the vehicle is accelerating. Thus, during acceleration the car is electrically driven by its electrical motor and then switches over to being driven by its gasoline engine while it is cruising at a more or less constant speed. When cruising, the gasoline engine also recharges the car's batteries which were drained when its electric motor was used during acceleration.
Currently, hybrid cars cost thousands of US dollars more than conventional gasoline only vehicles and the consumer must hope that he will recover the extra initial expense over the life of the automobile as he saves some money at each trip to the gas station. Whether these hybrid vehicles are truly "cost efficient" in the long run still remains to be seen as they are only beginning to appear on American roads in very small numbers. Their main obvious disadvantage is the extra batteries they carry which must be replaced every few years and the complex, computerized control system required to allow them to switch back and forth smoothly between both systems of drive.
Actually, there have been several inventions from the past century which produced even GREATER increases in gasoline mileage than the newly arrived hybrid systems and which were far simpler in construction and, if used now, would only produce a negligible increase in initial vehicle cost. I recall that during the 1960's I read advertisements for an ingenious device called the "Porg carburetor". An automobile engine using this invention was started as usual. After a few minutes of operation, the engine's exhaust manifold would become hot and this heat would then heat up a special chamber which was mechanically attached to the manifold. After a few minutes of driving, one would then pull a handle on the dashboard that was connected, via cable, to a switching valve on the engine's fuel line. The valve, once activated, would then divert the flow of gasoline from the engine's carburetor and into the heated chamber on the exhaust manifold. Once inside the chamber, the gasoline would rapidly boil to form a pure gasoline vapor which would leave the chamber and travel through a heated fuel line to finally enter the carburetor for use by the engine. At this point, the engine would begin running solely on a mixture of air and heated gasoline vapor.
As the reader interested in automotive engineering will realize, the main problem with gaoline engines that significantly cuts down on the mileage they produce per gallon of fuel they consume, is the physical size of the gasoline mist particles drawn into their cylinders for combustion. A cold, standard carbureted engine produces the worse and lowest mileage because it draws in the largest size gasoline mist particles. These tiny fuel droplets tend to burn on their outer surfaces only and are not completely burned up before the contents of a cylinder are expelled during the "exhaust" phase of the cylinder's four stroke cycle. Thus, one can often smell raw gasoline in the exhaust of such an engine.
The next best improvement in gasoline mileage is achieved with the use of a "fuel injected" engine. This uses a special carburetor containing one or more injector nozzles that literally spray a very fine mist of gasoline droplets into the air stream drawn into the engine's intake manifold by the cylinders which are in the "intake" phase of their four stroke cycle. Smaller mist particles burn more thoroughly to extract more explosive energy from each gallon of gasoline burned.
Even the fuel injected engine can be slightly improved by using a "rail injector". This is simply a high pressure metal pipe that is routed around the engine's cylinder blocks and which provides pressurized gasoline to INDIVIDUAL injector nozzles that spray gasoline mist particles DIRECTLY into each of the engine's cylinders. Because the mist particles spend slightly less time in the air before they are ignited, they are less likely to recombine to form larger, less efficiently burning particles as they would if they had to travel through a long intake manifold before reaching the engine's cylinders.
All of these engine modifications will improve gasoline mileage by reducing the mist particle size of the fuel, but they can not compare to the use by an engine of a pure fuel vapor. In such a vapor there are NO droplets and the mist actually consists of individual fuel molecules. Combustion of such a vapor will be close to 100% efficient. The Porg carburetor, by using only a pure fuel vapor once the engine had reached operating temperature, apparently delivered such performance, yet I have heard little mention of this invention as a viable solution to the problem of the world's dwindling fossil fuel supplies...WHY?
I do not want to entertain various conspiracy theories in this article about how groundbreaking (and profit threatening) inventions are suppressed. However, I will simply state that if the automotive industry is serious about extending our nonrenewable fossil fuel supply, then they should NOW be considering the Porg carburetor (and other variations of it) for use in automobiles. These devices are simple and inexpensive to construct and add to a vehicle and have virtually no maintainance costs. Unlike the presently touted hybrid vehicles, automobiles with these specialized carburetors do not require extra, heavy batteries or complex microprocessors for operation. And, as an added benefit, because they use pure fuel vapors for combustion, that combustion is probably as "clean" as can be practically achieved when using a hydrocarbon fuel. The exhaust gases that cars using these device's produce will consist almost entirely of carbon dioxide and water vapor with little, if any, carbon monoxide and practically no unburned, raw gasoline.
One of the reasons that we now see hybrid vehicles being provided by the Japanese auto industry and only very limited production of such vehicles by the American car makers is because the American auto industry is currently spending considerable amounts of research dollars attempting to perfect all electric cars that will be powered solely by fuel cells. Fuel cells have been around since the early 1960's and ARE practical and VERY efficient devices for producing electrical power. They can be made to provide an EXTERNAL electrical current from virtually any chemical reaction wherein electrons are transfered between two chemical reactants. The two reactants which provide the maximum electrical power output from a fuel cell are the simple gases of hydrogen and oxygen and fuel cells using these gases have been used on spacecraft for decades. After producing its electrical power from the gases pumped into it, the fuel cell's only "exhaust" is harmless water which goes off into our atmosphere without causing any environmental damage or contributing to the "green house effect".
I have been hearing about the possible use of fuel cells in automobiles for decades and was happy to hear about their imminent usage in American automobiles before the year 2010. My joy was shortlived, however, when I began to learn the details of this "new" approach to powering our automobiles.
The problem with hydrogen/oxygen fuel cell powered automobiles is that, while there is plenty of atmospheric oxygen for them to use, they must still be provided with a supply of hydrogen gas. This hydrogen gas must be obtained from some substance by USING electrical power to extract it. Early pioneers in the development of fuel cells envisioned the hydrogen they need being extracted from sea water via the use of solar cell generated electricity. Thus, it was originally believed that fuel cells would mark the beginning of a 100% pollution free, environmentally friendly, LOW cost solution to humanity's future energy needs. The actual plans for this remarkable technology are, sadly, beginning to deviate from the futurist's vision for it.
Already, it is becoming apparent that the hydrogen for our imminent automotive fuel cell revolution will NOT be derived from sea water. The reason is because, when extracting hydrogen from water, one must break a chemical bond between an oxygen and a hydrogen atom and this bond is one of the stronger ones in nature and, thus, requires more electrical power be used than when hydgrogen is pulled away from atoms other than oxygen.
Next to oxygen, hydrogen is most abundantly found bonded to the atom of carbon and is bonded more weakly to this atom than to oxygen. It has now been more or less decided that the hydrogen for the "hydrogen revolution" will not be derived from water, but from its next most abundant and cheapest source...PETROLEUM! That's right, you read that correctly! We are supposed to prolong our dwindling supply of fossil fuels and reduce pollution by introducing fuel cell automobiles and then obtaining the fuel for them by using crude oil! If the logic of this escapes the reader, then he is not alone. So far, I have not found much mention about what will be done with the "slag" left over after the hydrogen is extracted from the petroleum. HOPEFULLY, it can be buried without causing any serious environmental damage.
The proposed use of fuel cells for automobiles will require BOTH a plentiful source of hydrogen AND electricity and it is this second component that may render a global "hydrogen economy" ultimately unfeasable. The cost of electricity has also been rising sharply in the last few years. This, of course, is not surprising since most of the electricity on Earth is generated from the combustion of fossil fuels which are becoming less available. Currently, only a small fraction of humanity's electrical power needs are being provided by such alternative sources as nuclear, hydroelectric, wind, geothermal, and solar power generation. Each of these alternatives to fossil fuel generated electricity has its limitations and drawbacks. Let's very briefly consider the problems with them.
Once considered the ultimate solution to mankind's energy needs, nuclear power is actually MORE expensive and dangerous than the use of fossile fuels! A single troy ounce of plutonium for a typical reactor's core now costs TENS of times more than the same weight of gold and a nuclear power plant reactor can require TENS of TONS of this fissionable material. In the process of extracting the nuclear energy from the plutonium in the core's fuel rods, each fuel rod becomes a MILLION times more radioactive than when it was first placed into the reactor. A fuel rod that was safe to hold in one's hands before it is used eventually becomes so radioactive that it would kill a person standing next to it without protective garments in less than a MINUTE!
Plutonium is also considered one of the most toxic materials ever isolated on Earth and a single microgram of the metal, if inhaled, will produce FATAL lung cancer in about a two week period. With all of these negatives, it is no wonder that people do not want nuclear power plants built anywhere near them. In the event that a reactor's cooling system should fail, there is the possibility that the very heavy and highly radioactive core of fuel rods could overheat and become a molten mass that would melt right through the bottom of the steel reactor vessel which contains it. It would not stop there, however, but would continue melting through the concrete floor of the containment building until it reached the water table below the reactor building. The water there would begin to boil violently and a cloud of radioactive steam would fill and pressurize the dome of the concrete containment building. Should that dome fail and be blown open by the pressure, then a variety of radioactive gases (including plutonium vapors) would be released and carried along by prevailing winds. The net result is that such an unfortunate accident could contaminate an area of land the size of a state!
It is primarily for these reasons that nuclear power plants are no longer being constructed in the United States. Although the technology does work, it has potentially catastrophic dangers associated with it. Even if a nuclear power plant functions flawlessly, there is still the problem of what to do with all of the spent and highly radioactive fuel rods that have to be periodically removed from its core. So far, NO long term solution has been found for the disposal of these rods which are currently kept on the premises of the nuclear power plants in the US. Most people do not realize that, in operation, nuclear power plants actually CREATE highly radioactive materials some of which will remain dangerous for MILLIONS of years! If nuclear power is selected to provide the electrical power required to bring about a global hydrogen economy, then I can see only problems coming from this decision in the future.
I won't waste much time discussing another envisioned energy generation technology known as "fusion power". Its goal requires forcing the inner NUCLEI of hydrogen atoms to "fuse" together to form helium nuclei and, in the process, release abundant energy. This is possible because the resulting helium nucleus then has slightly LESS mass than the two hydrogen nuclei from which it was formed and it is this mass DEFICIT which is converted into pure energy during the fusion and emitted in the form of a gamma radiation photon. The gamma radiation that would be emitted as trillions of helium nuclei form via fusion could then be used to heat water to steam which then would drive a steam turbine that would turn a convenional electrical generator to produce electricity. It all sounds fairly easy to do, but the problem is that two hydrogen nuclei each carry a positive electrical charge that makes them strongly repel each other as one attempts to force them together. From studying the mathematics of this situation, one quickly realizes that one must be able to create, in the laboratory, conditions of EXTREME temperature and pressure in order to cause fusion to take place. Ordinarily, these conditions only exist in such things as stars and exploding hydrogen bombs and ALL attempts, so far, to produce them in the lab have been disappointing and are likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. Thus, we can not rely on fusion power to provide the electricity needed to make a hydrogen economy work.
Hydroelectric, wind, and geothermal power plants ARE now providing clean electrical power that becomes more "cost efficient" as they continue to operate. Unfortunately, they require that special geographical, geological, and meteorological conditions exist in order to make them possible. Currently, they are only providing a FEW percent of the world's energy needs and are insufficient for the needs of a global hydrogen economy.
Finally, we come to the matter of solar power generation. In a sense, this is sort of a variation on fusion power. We leave the Sun to do its job of fusing hydrogen nuclei and then we simply intercept some of the resulting radiant energy that reaches Earth and turn it into electricity with large arrays of photovoltaic cells. Again, this technology DOES work and IS providing SOME electrical power for satellites, space stations, and homeowners trying to lower the cost of their electric bills and generate less air pollution. Unfortunately, even the latest and most advanced "solar panels" only convert a small percentage (less than 10%) of the radiant energy they intercept into electrical energy. These panels are expensive to make and require the use of exotic materials that require considerable energy expenditure to obtain and refine. Once again, I do not foresee any sort of large scale use of solar energy to make the electricity available that we will need for a global hydrogen economy.
So, if we can not rely upon our dwindling supplies of non-renewable fossil fuels or the currently available alternative renewable energy technologies, then what other possible renewable energy source could be used to finally make a global hydrogen economy possible? Actually, if we could generate enough electricity, then we would only need the hydrogen extracted with it for fuel cell use in places where it is not feasible to run electrical power lines such as to automobiles, aircraft, and remotely located dwellings. So, the ultimate problem that planet Earth must deal with is the search for some technology that will allow for the virtually unlimited generation of electricity without the undesirable side effects of conventional fuel consumption, air pollution, and toxic / radioactive wastes.
I am of the opinion that the ultimate solution we seek will eventually come from the field of GRAVITY physics. From my study of the UFO phenomenon, it has long been apparent to me that whoever is constructing and operating the UFO's that have been sighted in our skies for the last several thousands of years has managed to develop a technology that is capable of rendering normally massive objects either partially or completely MASSLESS.
Thus, a large diameter (say 32 foot) metallic disc shaped craft that would normally weigh in the tens of TONS can, via the technology used by the builders of the UFO's, be ARTIFICIALLY rendered massless and, therefore, weightless and inertialess. I believe that this is achieved by a device that I have referred to as an "anti-mass field generator" in my writings on the subject. I can not go into all of the details of these remarkable hypothesized devices in this article (the curious reader is referred to the author's article titled "A UFO Propulsion Primer" for a more thorough treatment of anti-mass field genrators) except to say that they contain a rotating magnetic field that is made to move along its field lines at right angles to an electric field. The result of this action is that a new form of NON-electromagnetic radiation which I call "anti-mass field radiation" is then emitted from the anti-mass field generator. In a UFO, the emission of its anti-mass field radiation serves to neutralize or cancel out the normally emitted "mass field radiation" that issues from every subatomic particle of the structural atoms of which it is composed (and those of its crew if it carries one). Once the intensity of the anti-mass field radiation emitted from a UFO's anti-mass field generator EQUALS the intensity of the mass field radiation the craft (and its crew) emits, then the UFO (and its crew) becomes massless, weigthless, and inertialess. It is this ability alone which accounts for practically ALL of the effects noted in the UFO cases.
Now imagine what the ability to render a heavy weight instantly weightless could mean for the production of energy. Let us consider a machine shaped like a Ferris wheel that is, perhaps, 50 feet in diameter. Instead of cars to carry passengers, we attach heavy metal weights to the frame of the wheel...assume that each weight is a sphere of pure lead that normally weighs one ton which is equivalent to 2000 pounds. Further assume that there are 8 of these weights that are arranged at 45 degree angular intervals around the circumference of the Ferris wheel shaped machine.
Now the wheel portion of the above design will carry a total of 8 tons of lead weights and will have no tendency to rotate about the axle that connects it to its support structure. This is because the gravitational pulls on both sides of the Ferris wheel are always equal since the quantities of lead on both sides of the wheel are always equal. If we were to use a small motor to rotate the Ferris wheel and then turned off the motor, we would find that the wheel would slowly come to a standstill.
Let us again consider the above described Ferris wheel-like machine and its lead weights, only this time we will make a modification to the design. We will equip EACH of the lead weights with its OWN small anti-mass field generator which can instantly (when it is activated) reduce the mass (and weight) of its sphere of lead to ZERO during an interval that we choose. Using a simple optical control system, we arrange for ALL of the lead weights on only ONE side of the Ferris wheel to become massless. In fact, we arrange matters such that, WHENEVER a lead weight moves to that one side of the wheel, that weight will immediately become massless and weightless.
Once this modification in the design is made, we will find that a remarkable phenomenon takes place. The wheel portion of our machine is now in a chronic state of imbalance and it will begin to rotate rather robustly. The side of the wheel on which the lead weights have their normal mass and weight will rapidly rotate toward the ground, while the side of the wheel carrying the MASSLESS AND WEIGHTLESS lead weights will rapidly rotate upward toward the sky. As massive lead weights on the DESCENDING side of the wheel pass through "bottom dead center" in their movement around the wheel and find themselves on the ascending side of the wheel, their anti-mass field generators will be activated and they will instantly become massless. Also, as the massless lead weights on the ASCENDING side pass "top dead center" in their journey around the wheel, they will pass over to the descending side of the wheel at which time their individual anti-mass field generators will be switched off and they will then instantly REGAIN their normal mass and weight.
We will find that, as long as the anti-mass field generators are allowed to emit their anti-mass field radiation on the ASCENDING side of the wheel, the entire wheel will rotate with considerable torque. As the lead spheres drop on the descending side of the wheel, they will LOSE a tiny portion of their "rest mass" which will be converted into the kinetic energy that rotates the wheel. However, as these same lead spheres rise on the ascending side of the wheel, they do so while MASSLESS. Thus, although the lead spheres rise in Earth's gravity field on the ascending side of the wheel, they do NOT REGAIN any of their lost rest mass and NO rotational kinetic energy is removed from the wheel in the process! In effect, as long as the wheel of our machine is allowed to rotate, it will continue to convert the mass of its lead weights into pure mechanical energy with 100% efficiency!
The small motor that we originally attached to the Ferris wheel-like machine to rotate its wheel can now be DRIVEN by the machine's wheel and should function as an electrical GENERATOR. A small percentage of its power output will, however, have to be fed back into the rotating wheel (via some sort of arrangement of slip ring electrical contacts) to power its eight anti-mass field genrators (four of which will be active at any moment), but the remainder of its electrical power can be considered to be "free" energy which is produced without the use of conventional fuel and without the emission of pollution or radiation. By coupling several such machines together and carefully controlling the difference in the weights of the lead spheres on the descending and ascending sides of their wheels, it should be an easy matter to drive standard alternating current generators that then feed their outputs directly into the electrical grid of a country. For small countries which do not possess a sophisticated electrical distribution system, each individual town or village could be directly supplied with all of the electrical power it needs by a small "wheel farm" of such machines located outside of the town.
One wonders what will happen to the lead weights we have used in the above design as the machine envisioned continues to extract the kinetic energy associated with their normal rest masses. There may be several fates that befall these weights. Perhaps after each has lost a certain percentage of its mass, individual lead atoms within each lead sphere will begin to disappear so that the density of the weights slowly diminishes to a point where the they have an internal structure resembling foam plastic and are too fragile to be further used for power generation. If this is the case, then they need merely be replaced to continue power generation. It is also possible that nucleons and electrons will begin to disappear from within INDIVIDUAL atoms of lead. Should this take place, then these atoms will undergo nuclear transformation. This is the least desirable scenario because there is the chance that the lead atoms might be converted into lighter, RADIOACTIVE isotopes of various elements. If this does occur, then this proposed energy generation technology may not offer any long term advantages over today's nuclear power.
However, there is one finally rather intriquing possibility which is that the lead spheres used will NOT experience any slow diminution in mass and can, therefore, be used indefinitely. IF this proves to be the case, then one might legitimately ask how our Ferris wheel-like machine obtains the kinetic energy that it uses to generate electricity. On the surface this possibility would seem to be an obvious violation of the First Law of Thermodynamics...a law that previously has NEVER been known to be violated. Of course, I am a firm believer in the inviolability of the famous energy conservation law, so if the weights of such a machine do not lose mass when it has been in operation for a while, then it can only mean one thing. I would then say that each weight actually WAS losing a small amount of its rest mass during each energy extracting rotation of the wheel which carries it, BUT, somehow, this mass is then RESTORED to the weight by its environment! Perhaps as mass is restored to a weight, there is a slight drop in the weight's temperature to "pay" for this mass restoration. Or, perhaps, the energy needed to restore the mass of a weight will come from our Earth's molten interior via the ambient magnetic field that it produces and which, locally, penetrates the weights of the Ferris wheel-like machine.
Eventually, these matters will all be resolved. The important thing now is that research into the mass altering physics displayed by UFO's begin to take place. If UFO's are real, then this technology MUST be also real. This writer has no doubt that the artifical control of mass (and the weight and inertia assoicated with it) will not only allow us to build our own operational saucer-like craft, but will also allow us to supply humanity with all of its energy needs well into the future...
(Note: this article completed on May 2nd, 2004)
COSMIC VAULT GIFT SHOP