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Does steam and diesel have a future?

Discussion in 'Steam Traction' started by 22A, Nov 8, 2021.

  1. RAB3L

    RAB3L Member

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    LPG, propane, butane etc. - they are all fossil fuels! Possibly better than coal but not by much.
     
  2. Nigel Day

    Nigel Day Member

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    In Genral terms yes.

    The minimum fuel saving is around 10%. That usually goes with better steaming and greater power. That’s because your removing back pressure for a given steaming rate.

    The average is around 30% but it depends on how far your allowed to go with things. Like sorting exhaust pipes and weather the new draughting arrangement fits inside an existing chimney casting.

    in the extreme cases of starting with a really bad engine or being allowed to go right through the whole front end 50 % savings have been achieved.

    The limits of how much you can achieve are ushaly defined by people saying it can’t be improved from how it was built or even in the face of seeing the positive results deny it’s better by any means. Sadly I sometimes measure how successful a modification is by how long it lasts before some undoes it for the above reasons. The fuel situation now state that improvements are now essential to keep viability operation.
     
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  3. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Not at all better. When it comes down to it, one is either adding to CO2 in the atmosphere, or not. Vegetative material grown for fuel can release no more than it's absorbed during growth, whilst anything extracted from beneath the ground is adding something previously removed by ongoing natural processes.

    Bio-gas ( i.e gas produced from vegetation, waste, landfills etc.) can be classed carbon neutral. For that, the key metric is straightforward economics.
     
  4. martin1656

    martin1656 Nat Pres stalwart Friend

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    It only has a future if the industry can come up with viable alternatives to coal and oil, Hopely recent developments with substitute fuels, should produce something that matches what the best steam coal does, but hopefully at a price that isn't going to bankrupt the industry, Oils, for lubricating might be more difficult, unless there are plant-based oils that can be processed to do the same job, Already the motor industry make wide spread use of synthetic oils, its a matter again of them being affordable, Thats got to be the real concern, at some point our industry will have to change over to other sources of fuel, and lubricating oils, and if the costs are unaffordable, then, there will be no future for Steam, or Deisel, but perversely, scope for battery powered traction, might increase. as traditional forms of motive power become only limited use
     
  5. RAB3L

    RAB3L Member

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    You are attaching meaning to my post that is not present. Lpg, propane, butane, coal etc are all fossil fuels or derived from fossil fuels!
     
  6. RAB3L

    RAB3L Member

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    The base material for synthetic oils is mostly crude oil!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synthetic_oil
     
  7. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    You wrote
    So what's better than coal about LPG?
     
  8. RAB3L

    RAB3L Member

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    Probably for a steam engine, nothing or next to. For power station use, with methane/natural gas, there are lower CO2 emissions per unit of electricity generated, compared with coal.
     
  9. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Essentially the CO2 emissions per unit of energy released.

    In the limiting case of assuming coal is pure carbon:
    • Burning 1 mole of Carbon releases 393.5kJ and releases 1 mole of CO2 (44g)
    • Burning 1 mole of methane releases 890kJ and releases 1 mole of CO2 (44g)
    • Burning 1 mole of propane (LPG) releases 2,220kJ and releases 3 mole of CO2 (132g), so you get 2,220/3 = 740kJ per mole of released CO2 burning propane.
    So for the equivalent release of CO2, you get more than twice as much energy out of methane, and almost twice as much out of LPG. (Coal will be somewhere better than pure carbon, but still considerably worse than LPG).

    Burning LPG for power is not free of CO2 emissions, but it is better than coal.

    Tom
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2022
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  10. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    In which case, my apologies to @RAB3L, who is correct on that specific point ..... though I'm still not going to concede burning huge amounts of any hydrocarbon is that great for emissions.
     
  11. RAB3L

    RAB3L Member

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    No one is arguing with you on that. Taking carbon from the ground and putting it in the atmosphere is the problem. If done in a sustainable way, burning wood is not a problem (apart from particulate pollution) because its carbon came from the atmosphere.
     
  12. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Agreed. Remember Dr.David Bellamy? He ran the numbers on the UK's nuclear power stations and concluded that, due to the size of secure perimeters, their output could be matched by using the sites to harvest wood and burn that. I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess Dungeness didn't loom large in his thinking!
     
  13. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Show your workings please ...

    (I've just done a fag packet calculation; the numbers are a bit hard to definitively clear up, otherwise I'd post it here, but I think the answer is orders of magnitude away from being able to do so. As a starter, Drax, which is comparable in output to a large nuclear station, burns about 8,000,000 tons of dried wood per year, which requires something like double that amount of "wet" wood directly harvested. The number I'm struggling with is the sustainable forestry yield per unit area).

    I think biomass as a source of green energy is dangerously close to greenwashing in a lot of cases; as a minimum, even if the figures stack up, burning wood now - with all its sequestered carbon - with the promise that the trees will be regrown still releases CO2 now, but only claws it back in decades to come, which is a dangerous strategy.

    Tom
     
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  14. Phill S

    Phill S New Member

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    It is a constant source of comment in the energy column in Private Eye about how bad biomass is being ran. Whilst Drax can theoretically burn waste wood, it clogs up the innards and doesn't produce full power. To get the best efficiency, it needs mature hardwood. This is sourced in Canada, cutting down mature forest, railed to port, shipped across the atlantic then rail again to Drax. Utterly terrible both in terms of CO2 released and impact on the forest ecosystem.

    Like I keep saying, the only solution is to work out an alternative to third rail and get all those EMUs back in use. French Trams manage it pretty well: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ground-level_power_supply#Use_in_Bordeaux

    Swiss style big kettle element in the steam engines, and we're sorted. Save up the chip fat to run the diesels a few times a year. Wibble.
     
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  15. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Not my working Tom. I merely recalled Bellamy's claim as an aside and expressed no view as to the veracity. He might've been thinking of uses for fast growing Leylandii* for all I know! Even were he correct (and you seem to have more of a penchant for the relevant calculations than I !!), I wouldn't want to be downwind of a permanent bonfire, thanks very much.

    *it's so knotty, it's near useless for practically anything else.
     
  16. RAB3L

    RAB3L Member

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    I agree. If that's what Bellamy said, he is orders of magnitude out. Bellamy was also wrong about global warming; this ended his television career.

    Cutting down primary forest in Canada to bring wood chips to burn in Yorkshire is clearly unsustainable as well as environmentally questionable, to say the least.
     
  17. Cartman

    Cartman Well-Known Member

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    How dare he question the infallible and almighty cult! Non believers are silenced! Very Third Reich-ish
     
  18. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Canada?
    OK ..... I'll bite. Who do you suggest is questioning what?

    These bloody jackboots are killing me!
     
  19. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    The numbers probably vary slightly from year to year, but one set of figures I found suggests that Drax gets its fuel:

    - 65% from the USA (primarily I believe the south eastern US, where they have invested in forestry)
    - 17% Canada
    - 11% Baltic States
    - 7% Other European sources (but not the UK).

    The total UK harvest of wood (for all uses) is about 11 million tons per year; less than is burnt at Drax alone; yet Drax produces only about 7% of the UK's electricity. If one of the core considerations of sustainability would be using only resources you can produce yourself, then electricity from biofuels would be completely unsustainable in the UK on those figures; we'd need to be harvesting something like 20 times more wood than we currently are just to provide electricity. As it stands, Drax only works because we import millions of tons of wood to fuel it.

    Tom
     
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  20. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Ye gods ...... I'm leaving you and @RAB3L to your connections by free association.

    Whoosh .... bang .... gone!
     

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