The Energy Matrix
A Science Ebook e-zine
Summer 200
9 Edition  
List of all editions

Alternative to Diesel

The energy matrix examines the full spectrum of future energy sources and associated problems.  It is meant to be a thought provoking publication for students who will be our future technocrats, engineers, and physicists.  We will include concepts such as solar, DG, CHP and concepts that are not practical today such as ice engines.  Send Comments to



Solar and Wind Farms could pave the way for saver nuclear power plants

The US government and industry have proposed plans two build major solar farms in the southwest and major wind farms in the Midwest.  Though the effort to develop these non green house gas producing energy sources have been slowed by the recent great recession, they are still the wave of the greener future.  Since construction of this new power infrastructure is planned, the economic feasibility of the transmission of the power over a distance of about 1000 kilometers has already been accepted. This will require a new power grid that uses very high voltage AC or DC power lines.  

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Corn Revisited

A considerable amount of energy, usually from coal, is required to produce ethanol.  Getting heat directly from corn may be a better than producing ethanol with respect to global warming. For this reason, I found this email from a reader 

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Energy Saving Light Bulbs

Many US homes or homes the world over for that matter use heating oil which is essentially #2 diesel for heating.  Most people don't consider oil heat just one part of a hybrid heating system.  These homes are actually heated by a combination of oil and electricity. In the cold of Winter, homes with oil heat are heated by a combination of oil and electricity.  Even homes with no electric heaters are heated by electric lights, TV and other appliances.  In cold weather every watt of energy saved by energy saving light bulbs has to be made up for by burning more heating oil to keep the home at a constant temperature.  

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 Cost of Coal for July,08

The cost of coal varies greatly with region according to US EIA (Click toVisit Site)  The highest price coal is $130 ton (13000 Btu/lb) in Northern Appalachia and only $14 ton (8800 Btu/lb) in the Powder River Basin.  The Appalachia coal cost calculates out two 200000 Btu per dollar. The Powder River cost calculates out to 1.25 million Btu per dollar.

Diesel oil is about $5.00 per the 139000Btu in a gallon.  This calculates to 27,800 Btu per dollar. The most expensive coal is still over seven times cheaper than diesel or heating oil.

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US has System in Place to mitigate High Cost of Diesel in the short and long term. 

US energy policy must be responsive to oil price changes.  The new economic reality is that oil is now simply to expensive to burn.  Yet that is exactly what millions of Americans plan to do  this Fall, when they start using their oil burners to heat their homes.

All homes derive some of their heat from electricity; be it from lights, televisions,  or computers.  Oil, natural gas or propane furnaces provide the majority of home heating requirements.  Many US homes are all electric and have electric baseboards, electric furnaces as their primary heat source. However,  all US homes 
use electricity, and therefore they get some of their heat from electricity. It could be from a light bulb, a television or a computer.

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Index for all Editions


Combined Heat & Power (CHP) 

DC Power Grid

District Cooling

Ethanol Viability

Hybrid Cars

Ice made with Coal

Ice Energy Density versus Battery

Heat Storage


Natural Gas

Nuclear Energy

Solar Heat Storage in CO2

Solar Heat Storage in Water

Storing Carbon Dioxide

Stoves - Corn Burning

Stoves - Wood Pellet Burning

Stoves - Coal Burning

Tar Sand Oil


Yucca Mountain

















US has System in place to mitigate High Cost of Diesel in the short and long term. 
(continued from lower left column)

In the past most people would try to conserve electricity, while heating their home with oil.  If instead of shutting off unused  lights  to conserve energy,  people just left as many lights on inside their houses as possible, then they would use less heating oil (diesel).  A better way of shifting from oil to more electricity usage is to increase the usage of space heaters.  They are in the closets of many homes and can be bought at almost any hardware store.  Space heaters should only be used when and where it is safe to do so.  Many types of space heaters exist.  Some are safer than others.  All homes have lights that are safe to use. 

Utilities could ask customers to increase their usage of electricity during certain hours.  If the utilities reward this switching from oil to electricity with low rates, then  Increased electricity usage will follow.  For example, if cost of the electricity was set at only five cents a kilowatt hour, than a dollar would buy 68000 Btu worth of electric heat.  At $5.00 a gallon, oil only provides 27000 Btu per dollar and over 5% of that will go out the chimney.

Of course the utilities would have to increase power output. At least 51% of this extra energy would be derived by pouring on the coal.  That is how they used to get locomotives to go fast.  

I realize that increased coal burning is not a popular idea. I said that burning more coal is the policy that the US can initiate to relieve the upward price pressure on diesel within a couple months.  This policy would work today for countries in the southern hemisphere that use oil for heating.

Switching from coal to electric heating systems would be a good first step in achieving carbon dioxide reduction.  You can't heat a home efficiently with future green electricity ( from wind turbines or solar collectors) when you only have a gas or oil burner in your home.  Even base board electric heaters can provide heat from future green electricity, oil burners cannot.  Of course electric heat pumps could multiply the amount of heat derived from electricity by a factor of two or three. But that is an other story. 














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