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Offline erich

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A New Manhattan Project for Clean Energy
« on: 22/08/2005 14:26:36 »
A New Manhattan Project for Clean Energy

Over the past year many luminaries have made clarion calls for a concerted effort to solve the energy crisis.  It is a crisis, with 300 million middle class Chinese determined to attain the unsustainable lifestyle we have sold them.  Their thirst for oil is growing at 30% a year, and can do nothing but heat the earth and spark political conflict.

We have been heating the earth since the agricultural revolution with the positive result of providing 10,000 years of warm stability.  But since the Industrial revolution we have been pushing the biosphere over the brink.  Life forces have done this before -- during the snowball earth period ( Cryogenian Period ) in  the  Neoproterozoic toward the end of the Precambrian - but that life force was not sentient!

Thomas Freedman of the New York Times has called for a  Manhattan Project for clean energy The New York Times> Search> Abstract .  Richard Smalley, one of the fathers of nanotechnology, has made a similar plea http://news.uns.purdue.edu/html3month/2004/040902.Smalley.energy.html .
 We are at the cusp in several technologies to fulfilling this clean energy dream.  All that we need is the political leadership to shift our fiscal priorities.

I feel our resources should be focused in three promising technologies:

1.  Nanotechnology: The exploitation of quantum effects is finally being seen in these new materials.  Photovoltaics (PV) are at last going beyond silicon, with many companies promising near-term breakthroughs in efficiencies and lower cost. Even silicon is gaining new efficienies from nano-tech: Researchers develop technique to use dirty silicon, could pave way for cheaper solar energy
New work on diodes also has great implications for PV, LEDs and micro-electronics Nanotubes make perfect diodes (August 2005) - News - PhysicsWeb

  Thermionics:  The direct conversion of heat to electricity has been at best only 5% efficient.  Now with quantum tunneling chips we are talking 80% of carnot efficiency.  A good example is the proposed thermionic car design of Borealis. ( http://www.borealis.gi/press/NEW-GOLDEN-AGE-IBM.Speech.6=04.pdf  ) .  The estimated well-to-wheel efficiency is over 50%.  This compares to 13% for internal combustion and 27% for hydrogen fuel cells.  This means a car that has a range of 1500 miles on one fill up.  Rodney T. Cox, president of Borealis, has told me that he plans to have this car developed within two years. Boeing has already used his Chorus motor drives  http://www.chorusmotors.gi/.
 on the nose gear of it's 767. (Boeing Demonstrates New Technology for Moving Airplanes on the Ground  http://www.boeing.com/news/releases/2005/q3/nr_050801a.html )
  The Borealis thermocouple power chips http://www.powerchips.gi/index.shtml (and cool chips) applied to all the waste heat in our economy would make our unsustainable lifestyle more than sustainable.
You may find an extensive discussion on thermo electric patents at: Nanalyze Forums - Direct conversion of heat to electricity http://www.nanalyze.com/forums/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=1006#2686

2.  Biotechnology: Since his revolutionary work on the human genome project, Craig Venter has been finding thousands of previously unknown life forms in the sea and air.  His goal is to use these creatures to develop the ultimate energy bug to produce hydrogen and or use of their photoreceptor genes for solar energy. http://www.venterscience.org/   Imagine a bioreactor in your home taking all your waste, adding some solar energy, and your electric and transportation needs are fulfilled.

3.  Fusion: Here I am not talking about the big science ITER project taking thirty years, but the several small alternative plasma fusion efforts and maybe bubble fusion - Is bubble fusion back? (July 2005) - News - PhysicsWeb
http://physicsweb.org/articles/news/9/7/8 )
.
There are three companies pursuing hydrogen-boron plasma toroid fusion, Paul Koloc, Prometheus II, Eric Lerner, Focus Fusion and Clint Seward of Electron Power Systems http://www.electronpowersystems.com/ . A resent DOD review of EPS technology reads as fallows:

"MIT considers these plasmas a revolutionary breakthrough, with Delphi's
chief scientist and senior manager for advanced technology both agreeing
that EST/SPT physics are repeatable and theoretically explainable. MIT and
EPS have jointly authored numerous professional papers describing their
work. (Delphi is a $33B company, the spun off Delco Division of General
Motors)."

and

"Cost: no cost data available. The complexity of reliable mini-toroid
formation and acceleration with compact, relatively low-cost equipment
remains to be determined. Yet the fact that the EPS/MIT STTR work this
technology has attracted interest from Delphi is very significant, as the
automotive electronics industry is considered to be extremely demanding of
functionality per dollar and pound (e.g., mil-spec performance at
Wal-Mart-class 'commodity' prices)."

EPS, Electron Power Systems seems the strongest and most advanced, and I love the scalability, They propose applications as varied as home power generation@ .ooo5 cents/KWhr, cars, distributed power, airplanes, space propulsion , power storage and kinetic weapons.

It also provides a theoretic base for ball lighting : Ball Lightning Explained as a Stable Plasma Toroid http://www.electronpowersystems.com/Images/Ball%20Lightning%20Explained.pdf
The theoretics are all there in peer reviewed papers. It does sound to good to be true however with names like MIT, Delphi, STTR grants, NIST grants , etc., popping up all over, I have to keep investigating.

Recent support has also come from one of the top lightning researcher in the world, Joe Dwyer at FIT, when he got his Y-ray and X-ray research published in the May issue of Scientific American,
http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa006&colID=1&articleID=00032CE5-13B7-1264-8F9683414B7FFE9F
 Dwyer's paper:
http://www.lightning.ece.ufl.edu/PDF/Gammarays.pdf

and according to Clint Seward it supports his lightning models and fusion work at Electron Power Systems

Clint sent Joe and I his new paper on a lightning charge transport model of cloud to ground lightning (he did not want me to post it to the web yet). Joe was supportive and suggested some other papers to consider and Clint is now in re-write.

It may also explain Elves, blue jets, sprites and red sprites, plasmas that appear above thunder storms. After a little searching, this seemed to have the best hard numbers on the observations of sprites.

Dr. Mark A. Stanley's Dissertation
http://nis-www.lanl.gov/~stanleym/dissertation/main.html

And may also explain the spiral twist of some fulgurites, hollow fused sand tubes found in sandy ground at lightning strikes.


The learning curve is so steep now, and with the resources of the online community, I'm sure we can rally greater support to solve this paramount problem of our time.  I hold no truck with those who argue that big business or government are suppressing these technologies.  It is only our complacency and comfort that blind us from pushing our leaders toward clean energy.


Erich J. Knight
shengar@aol.com
« Last Edit: 28/03/2006 00:36:45 by ukmicky »


 

Offline erich

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Re: A New Manhattan Project for Clean Energy
« Reply #1 on: 07/09/2005 07:28:11 »
Here's another area of great progress in nano-tech: Direct Solar to Hydrogen.
A newspaper guy ,Rupert Leach, Director, Newspath Ltd , from the UK posted me about his talking to the Chairman of Hydrogen Solar, Julian Keable , (Hydrogen Solar home http://www.hydrogensolar.com/index.html )
saying they seemed keen to widen the shareholder base, and that they will be well over 10% efficiency in the near future. and that they had initial issues with scale-up, but these seem to have been overcome and they were sounding rather optimistic a few weeks ago.
 
Cheers,
Erich


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Offline erich

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Re: A New Manhattan Project for Clean Energy
« Reply #2 on: 27/09/2005 05:37:31 »
Dear Folks:

To really gain some perspective on the energy problem , and understand what a tough nut it is, read this reply by Uncle AL, from another Sci-forum:

"Do you have any idea how much energy the US uses/year? It has held reasonably steady at 60 bbl oil equiv/capita. 1 boe = 1700 kWhr-thermal. There are 290 million US folk or

1.74x10^10 boe/year, or
2.96x10^13 kWhr-thermal/year, or
1.065x10^20 joules/year, or...

...or the equivalent of 1.2 metric tonnes of matter 100% converted into energy each year, E=mc^2. Are ya gonna alternatively burn algae, git, or catch wind

The US consumes the equivalent of 1.2 metric tonnes of matter 100% converted into energy each year, E=mc^2.

You are all clueless. Sparrow farts run through a gas turbine won't get you 10^20 joules/year. Not now, not ever. Pulling 10^20 joules/year out of wind or waves would monstrously perturb the weather. Where do the energy and raw materials necessary to fabricate and install your New Age hind gut fermentations originate? Who pays for the environmental impact reports and litigations therefrom?

What are the unknown hazards? Can you guarantee absolute safety for 10,000 years? Let's have a uniform set of standards, eginineering and New Age bull**** both. Area necessary to generate 1 GW electrical, theoretical minimum

mi^2
Area, Modality
====================
1000 biomass
300 wind
60 solar
0.3 nuclear

3x10^7 GWhr-thermal/year would need 9 billion mi^2 of wind collection area. The total surface area of the Earth is 197 million mi^2. 24 hrs/day. Looks like yer gonna come up a little short if 100% of the Earth were wind generators powering only the US.

Are ya gonna alternatively burn algae to generate 10^20 joules/year? Now you are a factor of 3 even worse - before processing and not counting inputs. THEY LIED TO YOU. They lied to you so poorly it can be dismissed with arithmetic. Where are your minds?

--------------------
Uncle Al
http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/
(Toxic URL! Unsafe for children and most mammals)
http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz.pdf "



Now ya know how big the problem is!!
My reply to UncleAl:

"Dear Uncle Al,
Your logic and math are impeccable, However you seem to ignore the macro energy equation.
All fossil and nuke fuels ultimately add to the heat load of the biosphere while most of the solar / wind / thermal conversion technologies (except geothermal) recycle solar energy instead of releasing sequestered solar energy. This is the goal and definition of sustainability, not over loading the dynamic equilibrium of the biosphere.

At least you seem not to take account of this, and  I feel you dismiss the rising curve of increasing efficiency for PV, direct solar to hydrogen, wind and thermal conversion to electricity, not to mention P-B11 fusion.
From what I understand of the direct solar to hydrogen fabrication technology it is a much greener process, and cheaper that silicon based PVs. ( Hydrogen Solar home http://www.hydrogensolar.com/index.html )

And the nano-dot approach to PVs also promises full spectrum conversion efficiencies along with clean production processes. ( UB News Services-solar nano-dots http://www.buffalo.edu/news/fast-ex...rticle=75000009 )"



Recently I found this technology page on the Suncone, Sustainable Resources, Inc. - The Suncone Solar Power Generator  http://www.sriglobal.org/suncone_intro.htmland
The Claim of a 50 MW array producing at $.046/KWhr is the best I've seen for solar at this level of development, and the PV solar roofing technology they are acquiring looks solid too.

And This new work By Dr.Kuzhevsky on neutrons in lightning: Russian Science News http://www.informnauka.ru/eng/2005/2005-09-13-5_65_e.htm is also supportive of Electron Power Systems fusion efforts   http://www.electronpowersystems.com/  . I sent it to Clint Seward and here's his reply:

 "There is another method to producing neutrons that fits my lightning model that I have described to you.  
 It is well known that electron beams have been used extensively to produce neutrons, above electron energies of 10 MeV, well within the voltages reported in the lightning event.  (An Internet search produced several articles that reported this).   I do not pretend to have researched this extensively, and do not know the actual target molecules or the process, but it appears plausible from what the papers report, and is consistent with my lightning model.  
 The proposed method you sent to me is a lot more complex, and I would have to say I can not agree with the article as written without experimental results."

 Science News Daily  http://www.sciencenewsdaily.org/story-6724.html
Wow..............1 million g's...............I had never seen van der Waals interactions measured in these terms.......and shouldn't it be considered " van der Waals forces" (london & Waals) because the electron density in a molecule is redistributed by proximity to another pole? Are individual atoms a different story?
As you can see I only know enough to be dangerous or look ignorant.
At any rate this gives you an appreciation of the powers in the Nano and Quantum worlds

 
A New Manhattan Project for Clean Energy

Cheers,
Erich J. Knight



Erich J. Knight
 

Offline erich

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Re: A New Manhattan Project for Clean Energy
« Reply #3 on: 05/10/2005 03:44:40 »
Dear folks:
Here's an email that is very good news for Paul Koloc's and Eric Lerner's work on P-B11 fusion.

He's referring to a power point presentation at the 05 AIAA conference on alternative forms of fusion which high lights the need to fully fund three different approaches to P-B11 fusion . 1.) Prometheus II , 2.) Field Revered Configuration, and 3.) Focus Fusion http://www.focusfusion.org/about.html

It's by Vincent Page a technology officer at GE.
Email me and I'll send it to anyone interested.





from : Paul M. Koloc; Prometheus II, Ltd.; 9903 Cottrell Terrace,
| Silver Spring, MD 20903-1927; FAX (301) 434-6737: Tel (301) 445-1075
| Grid Power -Raising $$Support$$ -;* http://www.neoteric-research.org/
| http://www.prometheus2.net/%A0%A0%A0------ mailtomk@plasmak.com


"Erich,

Thanks for your update,

A friend of mine, Bruce Pittman, who is a member of the AIAA, recently sent me a copy of the attached paper by Vincent Page of GE. Please keep in mind that I have never communicated with Vincent, but he found our concept to have the highest probability of success for achieving a commercial fusion power plant of any that he examined.

A program manager at DARPA submitted a POM for sizeable funding of extended research on our concept, both here and at Los Alamos National Laboratory. However, it didn't stay above this year's cut line for the budget funding priorities.

BTW, I agree with Cox that the analysis done by Chen does not fit the criteria of the EST plasmoid that Clint produces. The poloidal component of current in his toroid dominates his topology, which means that the corresponding toroidal field, which is only produced within the torus, also dominates. Consequently, the outward pressure on the EST current shell must be balanced by some external inward force. The toroidal component of current is weak and cannot produce the external poloidal magnetic pressure that would bring the toroid into stable equilibrium. If the plasmoid lasts for .6 seconds without change of shape or brightness level, then it must be continuously formed with his electron beam source. Otherwise, the plasma would decompose within microseconds.

By comparison, our PLASMAK magnetoplasmoids (PMKs) have negligible change in shape, size or luminosity over a period of one or two hundred milliseconds after the initial tens of microseconds impulse that forms them has ceased. That may not sound like much of a lifetime, but compare that to the decomposition of Lawrence Livermore's spheromak plasma within 60 microseconds. The other interesting thing is that we have recently produced PMKs of 40 cm diameter (under work sponsored by DOD), and with the installation of our new, additional fast rise capacitors, we expect to obtain lifetimes of seconds.

Cheers,
Paul "




Cheers
Erich
 

Offline erich

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Re: A New Manhattan Project for Clean Energy
« Reply #4 on: 06/10/2005 05:09:58 »
Correction: Vincent Page's presentation was given at the 05  6th symposium on current trends in international fusion research

Erich
 

Offline erich

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Re: A New Manhattan Project for Clean Energy
« Reply #5 on: 07/01/2006 22:39:08 »
I am glad to see the interest in Vincent Page's presentation in other forums, (Below Is an excerpt) He quotes costs and time to development as ten million, and years verses the many decades projected for ITER and other "Big" science efforts:


"for larger plant sizes
Time to small-scale Cost to achieve net if the small-scale
Concept Description net energy production energy concept works:
Koloc Spherical Plasma: 10 years(time frame), $25 million (cost), 80%(chance of success)
Field Reversed Configuration: 8 years $75 million 60%
Plasma Focus: 6 years $18 million 80%

Desirable Fusion Reactor Qualities
• Research & development is also needed in
the area of computing power.
• Many fusion researchers of necessity still
use MHD theory to validate their designs.
• MHD theory assumes perfect diamagnetism
and perfect conductance.
• These qualities may not always exist in the
real world, particularly during continuous operation.
• More computing power is needed to allow use of a more realistic validation theory
such as the Vlasov equations.
• ORNL is in the process of adding some impressive computing power.
• Researchers now need to develop more realistic validation methods up to the
limits of the available computing power.
• Governments need to fund these efforts."


I feel in light of the recent findings of neutrons, x-rays, and gamma rays in lightening, that these threads need to be brought together in an article.

You may have seen my efforts with my "Manhattan Project" article, which got published on Sci-Scoop but rejected on Slashdot. (I've tried posting it on OSEN but for some reason I can't log in.)

About a year ago, I came across EPS while researching nano-tech and efficient home design. I started a correspondence Clint Seward, Eric Learner, and Paul Kolac, sending them science news links which I felt were either supportive or contradictory to their work. I also asked them to critique each other's approaches. I have posted these emails to numerous physics and science forums. Discussion groups, science journalists, and other academics, trying to foster discussion, attention, and hopefully some concessus on the validity of these proposed technologies.
My efforts have born some fruit. Clint and Joe Dwyer at FIT have been in consultation on Clint's current charge transport theory for cloud to ground lightening.
I have had several replies from editors, producers, and journalists expressing interest. From organizations as varied as PBS, Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, New Energy News, the Guardian (U.K), and the San Francisco Chronicle. However, none of this professional interest has resulted in a story yet.

I have been responding to all of the articles that filter in via my Google alerts on "fusion power". The most recent was the "Happy News" article by Kris Metaverso.
http://www.happynews.com/news/112220...ependently.htm

This post is a plea to the science writers among you to craft a story covering aneutronic fusion, the P-B11 efforts, Eric's high temperatures and x-ray source project, Clint's lightening theories, and DOD review, and Paul's review by GE. The minimal cost and time frame for even the possibility of this leap forward seems criminal not to pursue. If you read my Manhattan article, you may have noticed that I am not a writer. I am a landscape designer and technology gadfly wondering why this technology has never been put in the public eye.
My hope is that someone, more skilled, would step up to give a shout out about these technologies. Please contact me for copies of my correspondence with the principles, interesting replies and criticisms from physics discussion forums and academic physicists who have replied to my queries.

Thanks for any help




Erich J. Knight
 

Offline erich

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Re: A New Manhattan Project for Clean Energy
« Reply #6 on: 12/01/2006 14:07:41 »
Clint Seward just sent this update of their progress:

"Hi All,


           The following is the annual update to the EPS progress toward a clean energy solution to replace fossil fuels.  Below is a brief summary of where we are.  Attached is an updated copy of the manuscript describing our project.


It remains clear that we have made and patented a new discovery in physics: a plasma toroid the remains stable without external magnetic fields.  This is so far beyond the experience and understanding of plasma scientists today that, to say the least, we are having trouble convincing reviewers.   We have completed the design of an improved neutron tube.  This is what we have to build to demonstrate a clean energy source, and I plan to do the first steps in 2006, with a first demo in 2007 if all goes well.  

 Clint Seward, EPS  

 Chapter 27. Colliding EST Spheromak Neutron Tube

 In 2005 we completed a detailed design of the apparatus we need for the first demonstration.  This is possible because of two things.  First, we understand the EST is really just a special case of a spheromak, a plasma ring that is being studied by others, except that the EST is high density spheromak, which will overcome the limitations of spheromaks for the clean energy application.  Secondly, we can adapt the EST Spheromak to the well known neutron tube, by applying all of the pieces we have developed over the years.    

We plan to do this by making a new, high energy neutron tube.  There are several thousand neutron tubes in use in the US today that safely collide hydrogen ions to produce neutrons, which in turn are used for explosives detection, industrial process control, and medical testing.  Figure 1 shows the neutron tube schematically.  An ion source produces hydrogen ions (deuterium), which are accelerated to 110 kV, then directed to hit the target (also deuterium), a process which produces neutrons (see reference below).  



Figure 1: A One Meter Long Neutron Tube Schematic

Neutron tubes today are limited by the low density of the hydrogen ions.  We plan to overcome this limitation by adapting the EST Spheromak to increase the ion density to produce a high output neutron tube.  The EST Spheromak is patented jointly by EPS Inc. and MIT scientists who also have published papers confirming the physics and data.  Since each part of the development has been done by others or by EPS, we anticipate that this will be an engineering project to produce a proof of concept lab demo in two years, with modest funding.

The major application is a high output neutron tube for clean energy applications.  The high output neutron tube can be thought of as a heat generator to replace a furnace and/or generate electricity.  Fuel costs for energy will 20:1 less than fossil fuel costs.  Ultimately we plan to use the hydrogen/boron process to produce clean energy without neutrons.

            The development is a scale up of work completed to date.  We make EST Spheromaks in the lab and accelerate them.  Each step has been shown to work individually, and we plan to adapt them to produce a lab demo in two years.  Milestones:

            1. Defining Patent: (Note:  co-inventors are MIT scientists).                          2000

            2. Spheromak acceleration:                                                                             2001

            3. Spheromak capture in a magnetic trap:                                                        2006

            4. Spheromak collision for a lab proof of concept demonstration:                  2007

            5. First neutron tube commercial prototype:                                                    2008

            6. First commercial product:                                                                           2009

 Our best estimate at this time (December 2005) is that we will need 24 months and approximately $500,000 to demonstrate a colliding EST fusion process.  

 Reference:  Chichester, D. L., Simpson, and J. D. “Compact accelerator neutron generators.”  The Industrial Physicist.  American Institute of Physics.  http://www.aip.org/tip/INPHFA/vol-9/iss-6/p22.html.  December, 2003."

 



Erich J. Knight
 

sharkeyandgeorge

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Re: A New Manhattan Project for Clean Energy
« Reply #7 on: 13/01/2006 14:29:39 »
whats the old manhattan project nuclear or some thing?

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Offline Solvay_1927

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Re: A New Manhattan Project for Clean Energy
« Reply #8 on: 14/01/2006 03:11:07 »
Er, you are just joking aren't you, Chris (S&G)?
 

Offline erich

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Re: A New Manhattan Project for Clean Energy
« Reply #9 on: 20/03/2006 05:50:53 »
Looks like Eric Lerner is moving down the road!!

U.S., Chilean Labs to Collaborate on Testing Scientific Feasibility of Focus Fusion http://pesn.com/2006/03/18/9600250_LPP_Chilean_Nuclear_Commission/
 


Erich J. Knight
 

Offline VAlibrarian

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Re: A New Manhattan Project for Clean Energy
« Reply #10 on: 23/03/2006 02:12:28 »
Okay, I skimmed over this thread and I must argue that many of you are missing the point here.

There are 2 reasons why we need to address our future energy situation. One is that there will not be an adequate supply of our fuel of choice, petroleum. The other reason is that even if there were enough petroleum, burning it all would continue to build atmospheric CO2 levels to the point that serious flooding and other climate changes would become unavoidable. I suggest that you all read "Field Notes from a catastrophe" by Elizabeth Kolbert. She makes the point that surely we should work on future technologies to address this problem- but in the meantime we should actually do something with the technologies we already have because we cannot wait 15 years. Why in the United States do we refuse to consider conservation as part of the solution to our energy crisis? In fact many of us actually view conservation as unpatriotic, even though 60 years ago it was part of our strategy for winning World War II.  

My position on petroleum is that the United States government actually needs to abandon free market principles and undertake policies that will change behaviors. Sorry if that makes me a socialist, but in my view trusting American consumers to make wise choices simply will not do it. With gas at 2.50 per gallon Hummers are still popular. They should be illegal, or taxed so heavily that they are no longer attractive. I would like us to all be free of governmental interference in our personal choices, but I would rather see my grandchildren have a future.

chris wiegard
 

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Re: A New Manhattan Project for Clean Energy
« Reply #11 on: 23/03/2006 02:21:12 »
quote:
With gas at 2.50 per gallon Hummers are still popular
Here in the uk its almost 1 pound a litre which is quite  expensive compared to you when you consider the exchange rate.

Michael
 

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Re: A New Manhattan Project for Clean Energy
« Reply #12 on: 23/03/2006 04:36:51 »
quote:
Originally posted by VAlibrarian

My position on petroleum is that the United States government actually needs to abandon free market principles and undertake policies that will change behaviors. Sorry if that makes me a socialist, but in my view trusting American consumers to make wise choices simply will not do it. With gas at 2.50 per gallon Hummers are still popular. They should be illegal, or taxed so heavily that they are no longer attractive. I would like us to all be free of governmental interference in our personal choices, but I would rather see my grandchildren have a future.




What I find interesting is that while you don't trust the market (i.e. the populace at large), you do trust the politicians.  You would have the politicians take absolute control over the market, and expect that they would make a better job of it than the market itself does.

As for taxing Hummers – why?  If the only problem with Hummers is fuel consumption, then tax the fuel.  By taxing the vehicle, you are basically taxing the right for someone to park a vehicle in their driveway, but once it is in their driveway, you are basically making it only cost marginally more to take the vehicle out on the road.

As Michael has already mentioned, we pay about 4 times the price you do for fuel.  Ironically, that has actually worked to our advantage in recent years, since the enormous hike in crude price has had proportionately less impact upon us because so little of the price we pay for petrol is actually being paid for the raw material, and the vast majority is being paid in tax, so the UK government determines the price of petrol far more than the crude oil suppliers.



George
 

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Re: A New Manhattan Project for Clean Energy
« Reply #13 on: 24/03/2006 09:48:05 »
This was the reason that the UK goverment had for taxing fuel prices so heavily, in the 70's the economy nearly ground to a halt due to high oil prices, so the government decided to adapt teh economy to high oil prices slowly and gently by taxing it. I think this is one of the more far sighted things UK polititians have done for a while.

The market is a big game, and there is nothing intrinsically good about it. What the market does immensely well is to optimise, depending on the rules and the constraints it will optimise in different directions, the role of government is to set the rules so it optimises to a good state not a bad one - on it's own the market can go wrong, look at the great depression for example.
 

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Re: A New Manhattan Project for Clean Energy
« Reply #14 on: 24/03/2006 17:34:11 »
quote:
Originally posted by daveshorts

This was the reason that the UK goverment had for taxing fuel prices so heavily, in the 70's the economy nearly ground to a halt due to high oil prices, so the government decided to adapt teh economy to high oil prices slowly and gently by taxing it. I think this is one of the more far sighted things UK polititians have done for a while.



This would have been more convincing if Gordon Brown had been more willing to reduce petrol taxes in the face of rising crude prices, instead of merely stabilising taxes (i.e. removing the escalator), and that only after fierce public protest.  Ofcourse, it is not fair to tarnish the motives of the politicians of the 1970's with the actions of the politicians of the 21st century, but looking at politicians as a collective over that time, the actions are far from consistent with your attribution of motive.

More pertinent is the fact that the tax on petroleum products only applied to private motorists.  If the intention of the tax was as a hedge against future oil price rises, then should it not have been applied equally to all users of petroleum products, be they domestic users of gas or electricity, or public transport providers.  While it is true that the price of petrol has not risen as sharply here because of the heavy taxation component, the price of domestic fuels and public transport has been rising proportionately much faster because no such taxation element had been applied to them.

quote:

The market is a big game, and there is nothing intrinsically good about it. What the market does immensely well is to optimise, depending on the rules and the constraints it will optimise in different directions, the role of government is to set the rules so it optimises to a good state not a bad one - on it's own the market can go wrong, look at the great depression for example.



While it is true that there is nothing intrinsically good about markets, neither is there anything intrinsically bad about them.

As you say, markets (if there are sufficient players in them) are good at optimising, which is why Governments should desist from trying to micromanage markets.  You are right, that markets must have rules, and those rules must (whether for better or for worse) be set by political bodies of one sort or another (as you say, the market is a game, and a game only works if everyone agrees the rules by which the game works), but once the rules are set, don't interfere in the play, and don't seek to give advantage to one player and disadvantage to another.  If one is to apply taxation to petroleum products, then let it be equally upon all users of petroleum products, and allow the market to then optimise the usage of petroleum products; and don't seek to disadvantage one user of petroleum products, while giving advantage to another user of petroleum products – that will undermine the ability of the market to optimise the usage of petroleum.



George
 

Offline daveshorts

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Re: A New Manhattan Project for Clean Energy
« Reply #15 on: 25/03/2006 00:38:06 »
quote:
This would have been more convincing if Gordon Brown had been more willing to reduce petrol taxes in the face of rising crude prices, instead of merely stabilising taxes (i.e. removing the escalator), and that only after fierce public protest. Ofcourse, it is not fair to tarnish the motives of the politicians of the 1970's with the actions of the politicians of the 21st century, but looking at politicians as a collective over that time, the actions are far from consistent with your attribution of motive.


That entirely depends whether you think that oil prices will rise more or less sharply in the future. If you think the former, then the oil price escalator should have been left on, to adjust the economy to even higher oil prices gently rather than in a horrible speculative thump as will probably happen if you leave it to the market. There is an arguement for cutting taxes, temperarily if you think the price rises are a tempory blip, but only then.  

Oh and yes raising revenue is a motive beind it, but probably a not unreasonable one...

Otherwise I agree with you on governments and markets. I think they should be trying to find the minimum number of rules that will produce a reasonably good result. This produces a lot less work for bureaucrats, lawyers and other jobs which are fundamentally unproductive, so making everything more efficient....

I also think they should apply taxes and benifits as smooth functions rather than in unpleasent jumps, with conditions applied that if you earn money you should be richer by at least half of it - this is a lot easier using smooth functions that the present mess...
 

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Re: A New Manhattan Project for Clean Energy
« Reply #16 on: 25/03/2006 01:08:47 »
quote:
Originally posted by daveshorts

That entirely depends whether you think that oil prices will rise more or less sharply in the future. If you think the former, then the oil price escalator should have been left on, to adjust the economy to even higher oil prices gently rather than in a horrible speculative thump as will probably happen if you leave it to the market. There is an arguement for cutting taxes, temperarily if you think the price rises are a tempory blip, but only then.  



If I read you correctly, it sounds like you are confusing two different issues, whether oil prices will continue to rise, and whether they will rise as sharply.

If oil prices are going to continue to rise as sharply as they do now, then it implies that earlier tax adjustments anticipating the current rise were too small.

In reality, there are a number of short term factors that have accelerated the rise in oil prices:

a) The present war in the middle east undermining confidence in the oil market, as well as consuming a lot of oil (running a war on the other side of the world consumes a lot of oil, as does fighting a war from the air).

b) The fact that in the last decade or two, oil prices were too low, which caused underinvestment in the industry.  The rise in oil prices will now provide incentive for greater investment.  This is a normal cyclical function of any industry that needs high investment (the computer chip industry goes through similar cycles, albeit on a sorter time-scale).

c) Just as the oil industry was at a low ebb, China starts going through a burst of expansion, further raising demand.

No doubt that crude petroleum prices will continue on a long term upward trend, and no doubt there might be a legitimate argument to pre-empt the trend with tax hikes, but it seems unlikely that the present rate of rise in oil prices actually reflects the underlying trend, but rather is a spike that overlays the underlying trend.  Thus, it does make sense to try and smooth out that spike by reducing taxes for the duration of the spike, and reapplying the escalator after the spike diminishes.

The other problem is that if the purpose of the tax is the hedge against fluctuations in the market price of oil, it may also have a downside that if applied too aggressively it could also stifle investment in the industry, thus actually creating the very market instability it seeks to ameliorate.

quote:


Oh and yes raising revenue is a motive beind it, but probably a not unreasonable one...




But if the revenue raising measures distort the market then it can become counter-productive in the long run.

quote:


I also think they should apply taxes and benifits as smooth functions rather than in unpleasent jumps, with conditions applied that if you earn money you should be richer by at least half of it - this is a lot easier using smooth functions that the present mess...



I do agree with this, but the nature of the taxes dates back to the years before computers (or even pocket calculators), so people could not easily apply complex mathematical curves to taxable income/revenue.



George
 

Offline VAlibrarian

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Re: A New Manhattan Project for Clean Energy
« Reply #17 on: 29/03/2006 03:11:56 »
Okay, I would favor heavily taxing petroleum products in the U.S. That would make more sense than publicly admitting that we are "addicted to foreign oil" and then pretending that we can make up for all of that by making alcohol out of corn.
At least in the U.K. you have public policies in effect which discourage waste of resources that you are forced to import. Most of the petroleum used in the U.S. is also imported, but we have this odd belief that the government needs to keep prices as low as possible, so that we can use more of the stuff and ruin our balance of trade.

chris wiegard
 

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Re: A New Manhattan Project for Clean Energy
« Reply #17 on: 29/03/2006 03:11:56 »

 

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