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Drill Drill Drill – From A Democrat?

Drill Drill Drill – From A Democrat?

Broken globe and oil rig

Courtesy of Karl Denninger at The Market Ticker

Well well well…..

Obama will propose allowing exploration off the coast of Virginia and, if a Congressional moratorium is lifted, in the Gulf of Mexico 125 miles (201 kilometers) off the coast of Florida, according to an administration official speaking on the condition of anonymity.

125 miles offshore is too far.  Off most of Florida this is insanely-deep water.  Yes, there is oil and gas there, but it’s very expensive fuel to acquire, simply because of the technology required to reach the deposits.

Anyone care to bet on whether this is a game linked to "cap-and-fraud"?

Yes, we should "drill drill drill."  But we should also look toward realistic vehicles for personal transportation.  Here’s a fact: The best "bang for the buck" out there with today’s technology is hybrid diesel/electric, with a diesel engine just big enough to cruise on the highway and charge the batteries.  Add plug charging capability and you’ve got something worthwhile, and in combined-cycle driving it would reach 100mpg.

Now work on engine technology that is truly "flex fuel" but runs on the diesel cycle.  That is, you can put any mixture of gasoline, diesel or kerosene-like fuel (e.g. Jet-A or JP5) in the tank and it will run just fine.  Why the diesel cycle?  Because it is more efficient due to the lack of throttling losses.  Set up the vehicle so you can "tell" the vehicle that you’re parked outdoors and thus it is permitted to top off the battery pack while you’re in the shopping center (by running the engine), then automatically shut down when charged.

Pure electric vehicles are, with today’s technology, a fantasy for most users.  The issue is energy density – there is no better density option than liquid hydrocarbons, whether people like it or not.  Batteries can provide short-term small-size energy storage but there is no free lunch there – the conversion between electrical energy and chemical isn’t that great in terms of efficiency, and density is just so-so.  Further, charge acceptance rates (how fast you can charge the battery) precludes the "pull into a fueling station and fill up the batteries in 5 or 10 minutes", as we currently do with gasoline or diesel.

So the best model is one where the vehicle carries a battery pack that is used for steady-state operation around town along with peak acceleration.  The rest of the time you run on an internal-combustion engine that is sized to operate in its most-efficient operating envelope, typically 75% or so of rated output, for highway cruising.

This is a remarkably small engine – the average car on the road at 55mph requires only 15 horsepower or thereabouts, with most of it being required to overcome air resistance.

Will we produce cars designed for this sort of performance envelope?  Part of the equation is whether such a vehicle makes sense economically – when one takes a look at the cost of the battery pack, generator end, electronics necessary to control the engine, electric motor(s), batteries, and provide regenerative braking you wind up with a pretty expensive car that doesn’t do the "zoom zoom" thing people want, even if it does manage to get 100mpg in the city (with some assist from plug-in charging at home) and 60mpg or so in sustained (many-hour-long) highway driving.

"Drill drill drill" is nice rhetoric, but I’m suspicious of this coming from Obama – even though I suspect over on sites like DailyKOS and DemocratUnderground they’re having strokes and coronaries this morning by the score.


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