Day 3 at the ASPO-USA meeting

Day three of the ASPO-USA Conference in Sacramento was focused on where we go from here with fuels other than oil. It began with a session on coal and natural gas reserves and the potential of biofuels. There was considerable information on each of the slides that each of he presenters provided, and so I encourage you to go and look at the presentations which should be up soon on the ASPO site.

David Hughes had the first slot, and talked of the issues that are raised by coal consumption. David began by contrasting a quote by Emerson that

Coal is a portable climate. It carries the heat of the tropics to Labrador and the polar circle; and it is the means of transporting itself whithersoever it is wanted. Watt and Stephenson whispered in the ear of mankind their secret, that a half-ounce of coal will draw two tons a mile, and coal carries coal, by rail and by boat, to make Canada as warm as Calcutta, and with its comfort brings its industrial power.

with the more recent pronouncements of James Hansen that coal is the enemy of the human race.

So much has changed in the past two decades and the fuel that was the kickoff fuel for the Industrial Revolution has become something that folk just wish would “go away.” This contrast, and the relative view of nations as to where they stand is epitomized by the examples of China and India, who are building coal plants as fast as they can, with the United States, where some 59 of 151 planned coal power plants are on hold, or cancelled, while only 28 are in construction and 66 are still in planning. As this doubt about future conditions has grown, so the price has doubled.

There has been a strong correlation between the amount of fossil fuel that is used and the size of the world population. Coal was the fuel that helped initiate the Industrial Revolution and is, at present the fastest growing fuel source, with natural gas second and oil third. There has been some misperception about the use of fuels in that when the dominant fuel changed from wood to coal, mankind did not stop using wood, rather while the amount of coal used grew, the amount of wood held steady. Similarly when oil began to be used as a source of fuel this built on the amount of coal being used, and that level was almost sustained so that with significant coal and wood being burned, the fuel use grew larger.

A turkey can sit in relative comfort anticipating based on history, a long, happy life, not being able to forecast Thanksgiving. So at present we look backwards, rather than looking at what the future is likely to bring for us, and think that all is well. Coal is about two-thirds of the fossil fuel that is left to us, but as the population increases, and the amount of energy used per capita also rises, we are burning though it at an increasing rate. The amount remaining is in question. A National Academy Report in 2007 noted that it is questionable that the United States has enough coal to last more than a hundred years. There have been two studies, one by the Energy Watch Group and one from Uppsala (pdf), both of which show that the peak will, however, more likely be sooner.

Dave Rutledge’s work at Caltech suggests that this earlier decline, and the drop in coal use, will mean that the amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will fall below the lowest prediction of the IPCC on GHG generation.

Looking at the power that would be required to sequester that gas, it would cost 27% of the energy generated by a coal powered station to gather and sequester these gases and if the technique was based on the IGCC model then the construction costs would be 32% higher. Ultra super critical combustion in current plants can run at 43% efficiency, and when this is combined with district heating ("cogeneration") can raise the overall energy recovery to 70%, in contrast with the 51% figure for the IGCC.

His opinion is that it is best to concentrate more on conservation, since coal would be around for a long time. The Chinese will peak in population in 2030 at 1.3 billion people, but then India will pass them, and both nations want not just to sustain the energy use per capita but to increase it. Demand will thus continue to grow. But this is an exponential growth that is not sustainable. (The only folk that think otherwise are either mad or economists.) It is a problem we cannot win, we can only try not to lose. And the question becomes do we adapt and change, or do we reach a point of societal collapse.

The next talk was on Biofuels, and was given by Robert Rapier. In the talk he mentioned a number of the points that he has written about on TOD as well as on his own site. His message was not that we should abandon hope, but that there were both weak and strong contenders for success.

If there was a common thread to the speakers of the morning it was in their attempt to address the scale of the problem that we face. Robert pointed out that all the corn ethanol produced at present does not equate to more than the production of a single large oil refinery. Ethanol production from corn is subsidized, and without that subsidy, and a mandated market, would not survive. It is purported to be a bridge, but a bridge to nowhere (cellulosic ethanol), and so we should say “Thanks, but No.”

Were cellulosic ethanol to work it would require a forest of material feed stock a year per plant. The only viable way to make the process work economically, since the ethanol content is initially so low in the beer produced, is to go the gasification (syngas) route. Sugar cane to ethanol is, however, another story. The reason that it is effective comes from the use of the plant waste, the bagasse, as a fuel for the processing plant. (The ash is then mixed with a compost of other parts of the waste and then returned to the soil.)

Biodiesel is significantly different from petro-diesel. He feels that there are two possible contenders that may lead to a future solution. The first is the process being developed by the LS9 Company which is after the “Holy Grail” of biofuels, and which may reach it though there are many challenges technically, a major one being in the separation of water from the fuel.

This holds equally true for the other alternative, butanol, for which he has a soft spot, given his earlier work in the field. Not only is it difficult to remove the water from the product, but it is also very difficult to scale up to the volumes required to make a difference.

In a reality check, he noted that the main reason that Brazil is independent in Energy is because of their off-shore oil, and that ethanol plays a small part in that overall success. This cannot be compared with the needs of the United States. He pointed out a couple of cases where initial enthusiasm has led to diminishing hopes as the process was scrutinized. He is cautious about biodiesel from algae, since there have been some “Photoshop technology” presented to the public as well as some other shenanigans, and it has a long way to go. At the moment it is “an interesting R&D project.”

He suggested that, in the short term it does not help anyone for politicians to wage war on the oil companies, and we really need them to encourage behavior to reduce consumption.

Andy Weissman then returned to the podium, to give a talk on Natural Gas (NG) supplies and the risks associated with its use in generating electricity. The most risk is that the increased reliance on the fuel, in a time of shrinking supply, will lead to a cost that is at a premium relative to oil. The marginal supply for NG is liquefied NG (LNG) which is imported. While there is, at present, more than enough to go around, this will change by 2011. At that point demand will continue to rise against an inadequate supply and this will lead to as dangerous a situation as one might imagine. It could very well double or triple electricity costs.

The current price softening is transient, but will not discourage the building demand which can be expected to explode, just as supply tightens in the 2011 to 2012 period. In this regard he pointed out that the EIA had not even been close in their predictions of demand growth. Increased coal use in the short term will not happen, since the utilities are all installing NG plants, and this is not recognized. Thus we are flying blind on what the real demand will be. We paid a huge price the last time that we got this wrong, but have not learned the lesson.

We need to stress Energy Efficiency, since this has the most potential, but our record on this in the past has not been good. Providing the motivation has been difficult and we need targets to be set, and these should be aggressive. Attempts to date have been long ongoing but with little significant success.

In regard to the recent growth in gas, this is not sustainable. It came about through a combination of circumstances, particularly the technical breakthroughs in getting gas from the large shale deposits around the country. He fears that the production from the Barnett shale may peak next year. This is due to the ability of the industry to find the “sweet spots” early, but even there the individual wells decline at a very fast rate. At the same time imports from Canada could well drop rapidly. The supply of gas down the MacKenzie Pipeline requires that it first be built, and that is still not certain, given the resistance of some of the local Indian tribes along the route. It is troubling that there exist such a number of questions, even in the short-term future since an increasing percentage of the world is starting to rely on LNG as a supply source. And sadly there is no Plan B.

When one then considers what the future power source will be for electricity, nuclear is not likely to increase greatly in overall volume, wind though currently popular has no storage capacity, and is intermittent and does not often blow when it is most needed. And this leaves coal. But in his opinion we would be unlikely to increase coal use without a program of sequestration.

After a short break, the second session of the morning dealt with coal, carbon capture and Climate Change issues. Michael Webber led off the session by discussing the pro’s and con’s of coal-to-liquids plants. Coal-to-Liquid (CTL) plants are not new, and have provided fuel for over half a century, and so there is a considerable background of information on their use. Further since the USA has an abundant amount of coal and the US Air Force is concerned about the security of future supply, this is something that they have tested, and found to provide a product that is much to their liking. It is, however, expensive (oil price + $10) and he is not sure that it could be sustained without significant subsidy. Further there are the environmental costs of surface mining, and questions as to how long the supply will really last, since at present major coal production has switched to the lower energy, but lower sulfur, coal from the strip mines of Wyoming. There are 4.3 million acres under permit application for mining use.

Scale was again brought forward as an issue. If 1 Btu is the amount of energy in a single match head, consider that we use around 100 Quads (10 to the power 12) Btu’s of energy each year. Further, because it is difficult to put carbon capture devices on tailpipes, if we are to reduce carbon it must be done at the stationary sources, such as power plants. However not only is the greenhouse gas (GHG) generation of concern, but so also is the water use, and the processes required to scrub other gases from the flue gas emitted by the plants. Power plants are the greatest users of water.

And the ugly part of the situation is that the actual installation of CTL plants is politically and policy driven and so, at this time it is hard to predict whether we will see a 70% increase in production, or a 50% decrease, and so planning is somewhat haphazard. Yet, because of the scale of production one has to ask what might one replace it with? Further, in terms of growth, there is the concern as to how the coal is to be moved, since in many cases rail lines and mine car supply is maxed out. The hope at one time was that 50% of the Air Force need could be met from CTL by 2016. However Representative Henry Waxman has introduced legislation that effectively bans purchase of any CTL fuel except in that the wording is subject to some interpretation. And so the debate continues.

While it does, the problems do not go away, and we are faced with issues that relate to Resource Depletion, the Economics of supply, and the impact on the Environment. We need to either replace coal or fix its problems.

The second talk in the session was by Pamela Tomski of Entech Strategies LLC, who talked about carbon sequestration. In terms of scale she began by noting that to have any effect we need to remove about 1 gigaton of carbon per year from the atmosphere. She went through the history of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) development. It is now a major topic for discussion in terms of climate change, and the impact that CCS might have. One such is the new acronym NUMBY (not UNDER my back yard). She reviewed the various strategies for capture that might be used, and stressed the high costs, both financial and in energy, to be successful. It will take between 20% and 40% of the power output from a plant to be diverted into CCS, and such integration, even when undertaken, will not be easy. And we only have two IGCC plants in the country.

To move carbon dioxide around may need a network of pipelines similar in size to that of existing oil supply lines. From Europe, there has been some suggestion that liquid CO2 could be shipped back to Saudi Arabia for enhanced oil recovery (EOR). Liquid carbon dioxide has been used in enhanced oil recovery for about 20 years, successfully. It has also been stored successfully (there are places where it is found trapped naturally and in these places it has been pumped out for use). EOR could thus see an increase in production, over time, of up to 48 billion bbl of oil. There are three major current projects, Sleipnir in Norway, Salah in Algeria, and at Weyburn in Canada.

On a reality check, there is really no concept of scale as yet in terms of the size of the problem that needs to be addressed. One should trust no cost estimates at this point. It could well lead to a 40% to 80% increase in the price of electricity. It is something that Greenpeace is opposed to. And while there are few regulations in place, this is being addressed at the State level. The problem in part comes in that there is not enough human capital available to work on the program. And when all is said and done the GHG produced by China and India will make the effort almost irrelevant.

The final speaker of the morning was Randy Udall who talked about the conflicts between peak oil and global warming. He began by noting that four million Chinese miners will go underground to work this week, and by the end of the week about a hundred will have died. We are mining and burning coal at an ever increasing rate, so that half of the world’s entire consumption has occurred since 1980. It is possible that fossil fuel energy production will peak in 2017, and this is not recognized by the IPCC. They plan as though there is a never ending supply of oil and coal, and this is reflected in their models. They are not amenable to correction, and there is only a small group within the IPCC that addresses the energy aspects of the situation. They assume that energy scarcity is a myth, that fuels are superabundant, there will always be free global trading of supplies, that coal can be made into almost anything, and that it will remain cheap for all of the next century. This attitude and fixation is dangerous, since the debate between those who press these opinions and those concerned about oil production pass each other by. But in both cases they foresee an increase in cost. But the actual increment is likely to be higher because of peak oil, rather than that incurred through CCS. In some ways he thinks that Peak Oil is a gift.

At the lunch that followed Rep. Terry Backer of Connecticut and Debbie Cook, Mayor of Huntington Beach, and candidate for California's 46th congressional district were both given awards for “Speaking Truth to Power.”

Sadly I had to leave at that point, and I may post on where I went later, and, as usual I will have a post on my conclusions as well. But for those who stayed, or heard different things, or who have other comments please help those who couldn’t be there by adding comments to this.


The one thing that those of you who haven’t been to one of these should realize is that the information density of any one of the talks we are give is immense. Thus any of the summaries that I present are just a shadow of the reality of the information that the talks contain, Please, therefore, after looking at these very brief summaries do visit the web site and download the presentations themselves, or perhaps better wait a short while and buy the DVDs.

I'd love to get all these presentations in mp3 format so I can download them and listen to them on my mp3 player. Anyone have some links?

Check the ASPO USA website. They should be posted there soon. It was also announced that they are planning next year's event to be webcasted live (probably from Denver) to reach a wider audience which would be great for those that don't have the time, money or misgivings about burning excess fossil fuels to go to an event about our society burning excess fossil fuels...

They should issue a set of DVDs o the meeting (they have in the past). I am not sure of the schedule for those, however.

Yes, the DVD$ cost money and last year there were no downloads of the presentations available as an alternative. I think the message is so important that this material should be made available for free download, like Julian Darley does at

True, but ASPO needs to stay afloat and that is one of the ways that they bring in some money.

Hello TOD!

It was great seeing so many of you at the conference.

1) Videos and Audio when available can be found here and will likely also be announced on this website. ( more later )

2) Conference DVDs are in production but I do not have a specific date of release for you at this time. Expected shipment is two months or sooner.
Send questions to

3) Conference proceedings are being gathered together here:

The first video from the conference that will be online will cover Scenarios Planning and will be available next week:

TRACK B: Scenarios Planning for State and Local Government Room: Regency EF
- Bryn Davidson, Dynamic Cities Project, The Nexus of Peak Oil, Climate Change & Infrastructure
- Dan Bednarz, Energy & Healthcare Consultants
- Rep. Terry Backer, Connecticut Legislature
- John Kaufmann, Senior Policy Analyst, Oregon Department of Energy
- Dick Lawrence, ASPO-USA
- Moderator: Debbie Cook, Mayor Huntington Beach, CA

Is there any way that Jeff Rubin's video that was shown at the conference can be made available online?

Hi Gail -

ASPO-USA will be deciding a schedule for when video can be released via ASPO-USA's site and I will check with them on timing for Jeff Rubin's video presentation. Talk to Prof. Goose about our discussions this week as well.

Nice meeting you!!!

Gail, Kyle and TOD Readers:

Here is the first, and most requested, video from this weeks 2008 ASPO-USA Peak Oil Conference:

Rep. Terry Backer - How to Speak to Government

Please comment either here or on the ECTV site. Also - if you could get these videos on your drumbeat at least until what we discussed with Kyle is determined - that would be great!



Hi Mamba -

A portion of the 2007 video has been available online here and can be found using the tag 2007-world-oil-conference:

Great summary HO, thank you very much.

It seems like those "old" conclusions still hold water on them various topics. The most exciting unknown is still bio-algae as I see it, but I doubt it's scalability anyways -
Algae-diesel's EROEI is claimed to be very high though.. which I see as THE paramount success factor for any future energy sources ... to make a differens

Near the end of the afternoon session was the presentation on PodCars, ultra-light rail networks of which Morgantown WV was the first operational version.

The systems from Vectus and ULTra were discussed. It was noted that Masdar, the zero-carbon city being built in Abu Dhabi will be entirely solar powered and will use PodCars as the only internal transportation network.

The JPods demo was setup so people could ride in a PodCar. Here is picture of Matt Simmons and his wife. The touch screen computer between them is how they control the pods distination. Depending on the stations touched, the JPod moves to a specific location on the demo track. In a network, pods exit the traveling rail to load and unload.

I recognize that several people on the TOD site are very hostile to any transportation innovation. But transportation created for a world with a billion people is unsustainable in a world with 6 billion. We need the efficiency of 200-400 miles per gallon tranportation (without the gallon, PodCars can be solar powered in most regions).

One of the presentations noted that U.S. urban density is lower than other parts of the western world. If podcars have a future, and their capital cost may be a real barrier, it will be in the most dense parts of the world. Living in a semi-rural area, I didn't get too much out of this presentation. I would like to see an AMTRAK or something similar that really works, with our local station upgraded so I can check or carry a bicycle on the train. I would like to see a 15 mile range electric assist bicycle around $1,000, and a mass-marketed one person electric car (briefly mentioned by Paul Jungers.) Rather than futurize about cars that drive themselves, I would like to hear more news about simple safety devices such as speed governors, breathalyzer-ignition circuits, and sleep detectors. We could save a lot of oil simply by letting high mileage cars meet European crash test standards, provided that they could not be operated by persons over 80 or under 18. I'm old enough to remember when cars didn't have seat belts, and my baby sister's infant seat was a flimsy device hooked over the front seat that helped a little in a panic stop but was worthless in a collision. Most of us survived.

The niche for PodCars is highly repetitive urban transport. Based on riders per day, the elevator is the most successful form of public transportation. PodCars are just horizontal-elevators.

Your comments about safety are salient. Getting better at surviving crash tests and speed governors is improving know-HOW. Changing know-WHAT, such as Morgantown's system preempts the need to survive crashs by not having them. It began operation in 1975 and has delivered 110 million injury-free passenger miles.

You can sleep in the PodCars without worry of being mugged or crashing so there is no need for sleep detectors.

We will not survive if we do not adapt. Our wasteful use of oil is coming to an end. Must of that waste is caused by moving a ton to move a person. We can have mobility without nearly as much waste.

There is a study by the Center for Housing Policy that shows how increasing public transportation 20% will give working families an additional $2,000 in disposable income. If you have not noticed, the mortgage crisis is extending into a general financial collapse. If everyone had a extra $2,000 it might keep most mortgages current.

More of what is not working will not work. No matter how much you want to go back to the "good old days" we cannot. We with either adapt or die.


I'm really clear about the value of trains and trolleys, since they can move large quantities of people very efficiently at the price of flexibility. On the other end of the spectrum, I understand the value of cars, which allow maximum flexibility at the cost of efficiency.

PodCars, to me, inhabit the middle ground and I don't see the value yet.

I don't need to be convinced of the value of public transportation, of that I'm already convinced.

What I don't see is where the podcar fits -- it seems to me like too much infrastructure and not enough flexibility or volume.


What I don't see is where the podcar fits -- it seems to me like too much infrastructure and not enough flexibility or volume.

This is a wonderful question.

With Peak Oil, we are becoming energy constrained. We have to do more with less. Good stewardship should have been encouraging us to do so all along and we would not be facing Peak Oil and Global Warming, both civilization killers.

Long-haul freight rail provides a good model. CSX’s television commercial notes they “move a ton a freight 423 miles on a gallon of fuel.” Traveling on rails provides efficient rolling. Controlling rights of way long-haul freight rail does not start-stop, as a car must, at every intersection.

Passenger rail has the same rolling efficiency but must stop at every station. As a result of multiple start-stops, power must be applied to re-build kinetic energy. Passenger trains move about 3 tons of train for each passenger. According to DOE energy use by mode is:

Mode BTUs per passenger mi Miles per gallon (gasoline)
Vanpool 1,362 84
Motorcycle 2,274 50
Commuter rail 2,714 42
Rail transit 3,268 35
Auto 3,581 32
Commercial air 3,703 31
Personal truck 4,057 28
Bus transit 4,127 28
Amtrak 4,830 24
Add PodCars
JPods 600 190
PRT 839 136

PodCars operate on overhead and do not compete with current congestion. They are personal transport so they do not need to stop at every station. Ultra-light weight, PodCars require much less power to build kinetic energy. Energy required is so low that solar collectors 6-foot wide mounted over the rails gather 5,000 to 12,000 vehicle-miles of power per mile of rail per day.

We value time and quality. According to the Center for Housing Policy using current public transportation approximately doubles the time required to commute. This is a terrible tax on time. A half hour commute in a car becomes an hour on public transport.

Because of higher value and less time required, automobiles captured 97% market share of trips in the US and 80% of trips in Europe. We want and need on-demand personal mobility. Cars are the right answer they are just the wrong mass and randomness of behavior.

Your volume question is anwsered by cars. Cars or Pods moving 3 seconds apart per lane provide about 4,800 seats per hour (1.5 seconds like in rush hour, doubles this). A bus with 50 seats moving 5 minutes apart provide 600 seats per hour. Trains moving 10 minutes apart provide 1,200 seats per hour. PodCars can have multiple rails in the same right of way.

Based on riders per day, the elevator is the most successful form of public transportation; again it is on-demand mostly personal mobility. PodCars are just a network of Horizontal-Elevators.

Building these networks, like building the Internet, will require time, money and labor. Energy, time, safety and pollution savings will pay for the networks. Energy savings are 5 to 10 times better than current transportation. Morgantown’s PRT has delivered 110 million injury-free passenger miles. I believe most networks will be privately funded so the payback for them must be less than 5 years. Payback will be aided by the ability to move people, cargo, trash, etc…. These networks become a circulatory system for an economic community.

PodCars provide the service of a taxi at the cost to operate an elevator. How much do you pay to operate an elevator? This is a Physical-Internet. At your convenience, you go where you want to go in a network that is primarily solar powered. Within 20 years the cost of transportation should drop as cell phone costs have dropped. My guess is that in current dollars a typical working family transportation budget will drop from $10,332 to about $3,000 a year.

Thanks for the reply.

If I am understanding correctly, the main advantages to the PodCar are:

  • PodCars have a dedicated right of way so estimated travel times are more accurate in the real world.
  • They are faster than traveling via a congested roadway. They may be faster than some train routes since they don't stop at every station.
  • They require relatively little energy to operate.
  • Presumably, they may require lower capital cost to construct

The last point you didn't assert. Do you have figures for capital cost per passenger mile? The "Economics" pages on the website does not have any figures for capital or operating costs.

Also, did I miss any other benefits?

I would summarize the benefits as:

  • On-demand mobility regardless of age, ability or wealth.
  • Improved service respects the customers time, the on-demand convenience of a taxi at the cost to operate an elevator
  • Origin to destination non-stop transport reduces energy and increases reliable delivery
  • Time during travel is available to the traveler (unlike cars)
  • Personal security and safety (no muggings or accidents)
  • Low grade terrorist target (unlike subways)
  • Simple supply-chain, solar powered (most areas) networks are durable from supply disruptions.
  • Multi-purpose network can move people, cargo, trash, etc....
  • Very few emissions improves our stewardship obligations.
  • Quiet
  • High capacity, 6 to 15 times light-rail.
  • Low capital costs ($4-20 million per mile, including vehicles). There are examples at click on "Specific Solutions"
  • High return on investment, payback in 1-5 years, allows networks to be built with private capital and operated withou subsidies
  • Simple technology
  • Easily recycled construction materials. Recycle before failures (such as the I-35W Bridge in Minneapolis)
  • Very small real estate foot print (2 meter circle every 30-40 meters
  • Construction does not interfer with existing traffic
  • Low operating costs, about 4 cents per vehicle mile. Amoritzing all costs (contruction, maintenance, rebuilding 14 year cycle) the total costs per vehicle mile looks about like 18 cents (number of variables)

Thanks. The other asserted benefits are good but I'm going to do a little digging into the cost structure. I have recently been very unhappy when looking at the cost of light rail and that has been one of the sticking points in our county for a proposed new rail line.

I discount the benefits related to congestion for all but the biggest cities. I suspect cities strapped for cash will be forced to accept the congestion.

Thinking through this a bit, currently I'm suspicious of the capacity claims. I understand that when loading and unloading passengers the pod leaves the main track. Presumably high-demand stops would have more space to allow more pods to do this simultaneously. But there does seem to be the potential of a problem at a stop preventing a pod from leaving the main track. At this point it could stop the whole line while waiting to leave the main line (not good) or be forced to continue to the next stop.

Actually, the second option may not be so bad for the few times this occurs.

Also, such a project will compete for limited resources. These resources will need to be diverted to some fundamental areas, like rebuilding our sewers, water pipes, electric grid, petroleum pipelines, bridges and more.

Given the list of projects in the "need to have" category, I would place podcars in the "nice to have" category since it competes with simply having everyone purchase an electric scooter. This is the ultimate in flexibility and requires very few resources.

Can you make the case that podcars should go into the "need to have" category given a scarce resource environment?

The trade-off for scarce resources will be against oil. I also do not think these will be built by cities. They are broke, as are counties, states and the Federal Government. These will have to be built with private capital (also getting scarce). But like the Transcontinental Railroads and the Internet, the value is substantial. Building these networks will also re-build a distributed electrical grid.

In the "must have" class is food and trash distribution. But goods need to be delivered to neighborhoods. Connecting neighborhoods leverages the usefulness of walking, biking and scooting. If there are rails very 5 miles in a city, you would be within 2.5 miles of a station. Some pods will also have the capacity to clamp onto a car or golf cart chassis to be driven the last few miles home.

Based on payback, networks will become more dense.

For here is a spreadsheet for calculating costs.

For capacity, study Just-in-Time and Six Sigma concepts. Here is a paper on applying Lean Thinking to the transportation process. You have 20 trillion small red cells streaming resource to need on-demand in your body. Cars are small packets that stream resource to need on-demand. JPods just reduce the Parasitic Mass and random behaviors of automobiles.

Pods would not likely stop on a traveling rail to wait for a station to empty. The network "knows" the demand far in advance of events. Actions can be taken to slow vehicles, re-route, and other actions to mitigate a jam. In general, stations will be adapted to manage demand loads.

Thanks for pointing out the spreadsheet. I'll take a look and get back with some questions.

Thinking this through more, I think the competition is not going to be light rail, it will be electric scooters, electric cargo bikes and other novel ways of moving low-weight goods and people no more than 10km per trip.

They might compete some but I think that those devices will be clients of PodCars just as PodCars will be client networks of heavy freight rail.

The spread sheet is designed to enter values only on the "Inputs" page. The yellow field are the primary variables.

Most of the list is made up promoter lies, or simply wrong or irrelevant.


Despite what you think, the quality of your logic does not go up with the volume of your argument.

If your ideas are valid, they will withstand challenge. If they are weak, then efforts as small as mine might disrupt them. Vent as you wish, but it degrades your credibility.

As offered in the past, I will make you a bet that I will stop posting here if you are right and you will be civil for the next 18 months. Let me know if you have confidence in your ideas.

* On-demand mobility regardless of age, ability or wealth.

Fails to meet ADA REQUIREMENTS. Self evacuation by wheelchair pax from jPod stalled in midair is required. Prototypes ADA unfriendly, but enough $$$ and the other defects can be fixed.

* Improved service respects the customers time, the on-demand convenience of a taxi at the cost to operate an elevator

It is an open, and unproven to date, if a real world jPods will be faster than, say, a good streetcar system.

* Origin to destination non-stop transport reduces energy and increases reliable delivery

"Jams", faults and breakdowns will NEVER occur on jPods.

Regenerative braking greatly reduces the energy requirements of electrified rail, a point Bill James ignores. OTOH, plastic on steel friction traction (the apparent motive force from what I saw) is MUCH less efficient than steel on steel.

* Time during travel is available to the traveler (unlike cars)

This depends on the stability of the ride. Suspended monorails are noted for "sway" especiall at speed. in winds and around curves.

* Personal security and safety (no muggings or accidents)

No safety provision for end to end collisions between jPods (running 3 seconds apart). Muggings are entirely possible with jPods, and prostitutes will find them cheaper than motel rooms.

* Low grade terrorist target (unlike subways)

If jPods are high visibility, they can be targeted. Hack the code, blow a beam over a river and run all jPods into the river ?

* Simple supply-chain, solar powered (most areas) networks are durable from supply disruptions.

And when the vendor goes bankrupt ?

* Multi-purpose network can move people, cargo, trash, etc....

No real world examples AFAIK. Maximum design weight and density will limit what "non-people" cargoes can be operated. Less than one ton cargo max per jPod ?

* Very few emissions improves our stewardship obligations.

But MASSIVE visual pollution that will deface attractive urban cityscapes (not such a big deal in ugly areas).

* Quiet

What about when wheel or bearing wears close to failure ? A squeal seems likely.

* High capacity, 6 to 15 times light-rail.

UTTER BS !! "Assume" one jPod every 3 seconds for a couple of hours straight, and still not quite true. The realism of such operations is a fantasy.

* Low capital costs ($4-20 million per mile, including vehicles). There are examples at click on "Specific Solutions"

Promoter BS, unrelated to the real world.

* High return on investment, payback in 1-5 years, allows networks to be built with private capital and operated withou subsidies

MUCH more promoter BS.

* Simple technology

Bill James just stated that his software would ANTICIPATE demand long before it occurred and modify operations to optimize for FUTURE demand.

Scheduling and optimizing current demand would take a massively complex software program (I have read an analysis that claims that there is no "perfect" mathematical solution and all means of approximating a solution eventually result in system failure/lock-up. I did not understand the paper well enough to vouch for it's claims).

Certainly this is NOT "simple" software.

* Easily recycled construction materials. Recycle before failures (such as the I-35W Bridge in Minneapolis)

Steel is easily recycled. Concrete, fiberglass and plastics less so.

* Very small real estate foot print (2 meter circle every 30-40 meters

Massive congestion with overhead power lines and sidewalks as jPods soar over road traffic (bottom of jPod minimum of 17' above road surface ?) and then goes down to street level for level boarding by wheel chair passengers. 30 m spans seems unlikely with such dramatic changes in elevation.

The maximum slope of the track will determine just how much sidewalk will become unusable (discouraging walking).

Calculate slope required to pass over traffic and still dip down to street level mid-block for a jPod station and motion sickness is possible if traveled at speed.

* Construction does not interfer with existing traffic

Hardly possible. Portland streetcars can build 3 blocks of track in 3 weeks. Heathrow and other PRT took months to build. Some blue sky dreaming.

* Low operating costs, about 4 cents per vehicle mile. Amoritzing all costs (contruction, maintenance, rebuilding 14 year cycle) the total costs per vehicle mile looks about like 18 cents (number of variables)

BS !!

Given the constrained dimensions of the drive unit (it fits inside a hollow beam) a durable and robust drive unit seems nearly impossible to engineer.

Plastic wheels as drive wheels will create an maintenance nightmare.

Data feedback to central control and failsafe control commands from central control to each and EVERY jPod is another probable maintenance problem.

Doors are a constant and on-going maintenance headache at EVERY transit agency in the world. jPod doors require fail-safe prevention of unscheduled opening by, say, children, in mid-air. Fail safe is never cheap.

Unproven technology, drawn up on the kitchen table, will simply not last. Add snow, birds, wasp nests, etc.

My SWAG is O&M of $0.25 to $4 per VMT (first class software engineers are not cheap).

Best Hopes for Forgetting jPods,


PodCars are just horizontal-elevators

BS !!

Elevators do not "packet switch" between shafts. Neither do jPods, but jPods claim that they do.

Elevators do not have multiple cabs on a single shaft,
but jPods claim that they do.

Elevators are ADA compliant and can legally be built in the USA. jPods are not and cannot be.

Elevators do not come by every 3 seconds. Neither do jPods, but they make that claim.

Elevators do not have to worry about top to bottom collisions with other elevators, jPods *DO* need to worry about end to end collisions.

Elevators are made with the most robust, heaviest duty electrical motors made. jPods are made with cheap flimsy plastic wheels and cheap light duty motors. I seriously doubt that jPod drive units will last a month between major maintenance./scrap.

Just a gadgetbahn to seperate "investors" from their money,


Hi, Alan. I greatly respect the work that you do, I think you know that.

However, there is room for new transportation models to be introduced, I think, and many of the objections you list seem to me to be minor or solvable.

As for capacity, I too am skeptical of the capacity claims, but I rachet down manufacturers' claims routinely when examining new equipment.

The possibility of end-to-end collisions is real but seems to me less than what we tolerate with independently driven vehicles on our current road system (lots of rear-end crashes).

Comparing it to an elevator is just a useful metaphor and all metaphors break down at some point.

Although I'm not quite clear that it beats its competition, I think it is worth a serious look. Light rail is great...this might be, too.

jPod like monorails/dual rails have been around for over 30 years. They are *NOT* new technology.

A handful in service, airports seem to be a "fit" with what they offer. Technically, "straddle beam" monorails are more practical than "suspended monorails" in real world service (jPods are suspended monorails).

Segways are also useful and fill a small niche (despite the grandiose claims made at their release). PRT may one day fit a similarly small niche, but we should not spend ANY time or energy in the USA on unproven gadgetbahn. They are a diversion from the critical need for BASIC mass transit in the USA.

More is to be learned from the "Light Metro" of Copenhagen, and the mass build of trams in France (22 billion euros for 1,500 km), how Madrid built a superb Metro in a dozen years, how Moscow manages to have 90 second headways on their subways than discussing some determined promoters dream.

In particular, jPods do not meet, and cannot economically meet, the ADA requirements in the USA. That alone is enough to dismiss them and forget them.

Let a nation with an excellent Non-Oil transportation system experiment with gadgetbahn. If they develop anything that works, lets buy it from them AFTER we build the basics (2025 best case).

Best Hopes for Building the Basics, and stop wasting time on worthless, unworkable gadgetbahn.


PS: I would be MORE impressed by a Segway maniac, who works out a plan on how to make half of all urban transportation by Segway, than I am by Bill James. Segways actually work.

Great idea! Hey, when you're done with building Pod-Cars, maybe you can build Pod-Homes! You know, pods built into something like a massive computer server where at the end of the day we jump in our pods and some robot slides us into our racks!

Heck, I bet you could LOADS of investment capital for your idea from the boyz at Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns! Don't mind the pessimists here, nobody ever got any TRULY GREAT idea (and POd-Cars definitely rank up there!) without taking flack from silly pessimists like the uninformed dolts here at TOD. Besides, most of these people at this blog want massive economic collapse because as academics they're already geared to feed on the flesh of their colleagues anyhow. Tally ho!

I agree with you that our homes can be made much more efficient by automating many things like thermostats. There is little need to heat water when no one is going to use it, etc.... In the next 10 years you will see a lot of distributed power generation ideas implemented and with them smart-grid devices.

Innovations always task flack. In 1905 Einstein published the Special Theory of Relativity, proof of Quantum Mechanics, the existence of atoms and molecules and still could not get a teaching job despite massive efforts. Institutions are not found changes to HOW they see the world. Some people are similarly rigid.


Way to go there, what with you comparing yourself to Einstein and your Pod-Car idea to the theory of Relativity. That's great stuff right there. I'm a legend in my own my mind too, good to meet another like-minded person!

As far as Pod-Cars: I've got a couple investment bank buddies at Lehman Brothers I'm going to run the Pod-Car idea by to see if they can round up some investment capital for you. I'd give you their phone numbers directly but strangly their phones seem to have been disconnected. Anyhoo, no reason to get discouraged I say as I'm sure there's some reasonable explanation.



The comparison was intented to show there is often reactionary resistence to innovation. There are similar examples with Edison, Ford, Goodyear, etc.... There are few breakthroughs and lots of backseat drivers saying nothing can be done.

Our contribution is mundane, "It cost less to move less." We do not have to move a ton to move a person.

Invest in what makes sense to you. Maybe you will be right and we will be wrong about PodCars. That is the great thing about free market systems is we can tinker.

But still, I'd consider the gadgetbahn a better investment than taking that check for $700 bil and just throwing it in the furnace to heat Wall Street for a half a day.

Thanks. It is better to try and fail than to knowingly cling to repeating a failure. In trying you can learn. You might still fail but you might learn how to win.

The systems from Vectus and ULTra were discussed. It was noted that Masdar, the zero-carbon city being built in Abu Dhabi will be entirely solar powered and will use PodCars as the only internal transportation network.

LMAO! Call me when a large city that isn't the acknowledged money laundering capital of the world can come up with the coin to build out a network of pod cars. My guess is you've been so immersed in you Pods that you haven't noticed that the financial system is CRUMBLING as we type this. The only cities of significant size that can afford large scale new infrastructure are places like Abu Dhabi where the global cocaine and heroin lords are laundering their money. The rest of the world is pretty much stuck with what its already got as lending for anything - including new infrastructure - has come to a dead halt and this bailout boondoggle is only going to make things worse.

Between you citing Abu Dhabi as your prime example of the viability/affordability of these things and comparing yourself to Einstein and Pod Cars to the theory of relativity, I want to say "thanks" as I haven't laughed this hard in a while!

I am glad I could provide humor. I do not think cities can afford anything. I think these will be built with private capital.

world is pretty much stuck with what its already got

Imagination and ingenuity are not limited by debt. They are limited by a mind's willingness to open, fear, anger, etc.... Laughing helps.

My point about Einstein is that we share a similarity in dealing with harsh reactionaries. I make no claim to equal intellect. My contibution is mundanely simple, "It costs less to move less."

Thanks for posting these summaries.

On the subject of Nat Gas supplies

He fears that the production from the Barnett shale may peak next year. This is due to the ability of the industry to find the “sweet spots” early, but even there the individual wells decline at a very fast rate.

I keep reading this but have yet to see any evidence of it. Could someone point me to a study and/or figures documenting this? I know the Nat Gas companies producing the gas don't believe this.

Whether or not the increased flows of Nat Gas from shale can be sustained is a pretty important factor for our energy future.

This is a question we are going to be following closely. I think the credit crunch is having a big impact on highly leveraged natural gas companies like Chesapeake. There will be a lot of assets on the market, and probably not as many buyers as sellers. We also know that peak oil is going to affect these companies, since oil products are necessary for producing natural gas. In some areas, like near New York City, it will be a challenge to get new locations to give drilling permits because of concern about pollution of drinking water.

I know at least one speaker referred to this as a "wait-and-see" issue. Even though production is up so far this year, it is by no means a slam-dunk that production will be up by a similar amount next year.

I think Mother Nature has done a wonderful job over eons of reducing atmospheric CO2 and burying it safely underground in the form of coal. We must be crazy putting it back in the atmosphere millions of times faster.

On CCS Heinberg makes the additional point that counter-intuitively liquid CO2 is bulkier than the coal from which it came, by a factor of 2.5. That alone makes the task of annually sequestering a gigatonne of carbon near impossible. Of the EOR projects mentioned Weyburn is coal derived but relatively small. Maybe by 2030 we will need CTL-with-CCS jet fuel. However only movie stars and politicians will be taking planes by then.

On runaway Asian coal use I suggest the US should not export coal to Asia and Australia should slap on a carbon-tax-in-lieu. We all have to cut back albeit starting from different baselines.

One of many highlights for ASPO-USA for me was getting to meet Jim Puplava. Pretty interesting line up for tomorrow's webcast at

Part 1
- The Beginning of the End
- The Killer Storm

Part 2
- Robert L. Hirsch, Senior Energy Advisor, MISI
- Matthew R. Simmons, Chairman, Simmons & Company International
- Chris Skrebowski, Editor, UK Petroleum Review

I find Jim Puplava's recommendation to "buy a Toyota Prius" dubious, at best. I can think of a lot better uses for the $30K or whatever. Of course, maybe it would be the patriotic thing to do to take out an auto loan and get one. Sorry for the sarcasm....Better ideas for the average person would seem to be:
1.Get a bus pass, good shoes, sturdy bike
2.Move closer to your job and hope you keep it. (Sell house in far out suburbs, if applicable)
3.Rethink your vehicle or "fleet" with the aim of having basic transportation for necessity or reward. Abandon all vehicles if possible or if finances demand it. Vehicles should be one of the first things to discard in the transition to a post peak world.

A Prius is a bet that things will get worse but not too badly too quickly.

For the typical 2 or 3 car family, trading the worst mileage vehicle for a Prius and re-balancing usage can pay for it, and help ride through 10-gal ration limits and so forth. It doesn't preclude doing everything above, but most people won't ditch cars until they absolutely have to.

There seem to be two general perspectives, or even truisms, that are in mutual opposition:
Mediocrity is the enemy of excellence
Every little bit helps

Trading a "worst mileage vehicle" in will result in very little trade in value. Then you will be faced with either paying cash or taking on new debt. Neither of those are a particularly appealling choice at this juncture, unless you are loaded....People around here (Seattle) like to drive the Prius to make a political statement. Most have Obama bumper stickers....I'm kidding (sort of)

Jim has long advocated living where you work. He calls it, Live, Work, Play (in the same area), and he explicitly warned about the mortgage meltdown.

I have also long offered similar advice:

ELP Plan (April, 2007)

I agree with the position in principal, but believe that most will not attain until they have to, and will tend to scale down in phases where possible. For example, I mostly work from home but still drive way too much, some for business and most for personal stuff. It is not easy to co-locate school, wife's work, and kids activities, when they aren't that way to start. Until gas availability so dictates, my family will mutiny before the activities go away, so I am focusing now on the house aspect, and yes, I'll have increasingly higher-mileage cars as long as I can. But I won't have debt to do so.

I imagine that this still puts me on the "energy progressive" top 20% of the overall population.....though on this site I am perhaps in the slothful bottom 10%.

I enjoyed your above article as well all of your other excellent work. Thank you. I am a big fan of Puplava (in general) as well. However, his frequent comment about buying a Prius, just seemed like he didn't "get it". It might serve someone of his means just fine, but it certainly isn't much of a solution for about 90% of the rest of the population. One other thing about the Prius is that it has a less good EROEI when you factor in the energy required to have an electrical motor as well as internal combustion motor.

But what is better, re EROEI? Sure, it takes more energy to build, but that's factored into the price. Even with a 30mpg car in 150K miles you'll put almost $20K of gas through it in today's dollars. A Prius won't quite pay for its premium at $3.50 gas, but if you build cars with lower-cost energy but it saves higher-cost energy later (say, $10 per gallon gas) it will make fiscal sense as long as gas holds out.

Said another way, Edmunds and Consumer Reports in 2005/6 loudly exclaimed that a hybrid just didn't pay.....but when gas hit $4 it suddenly did, and while waiting lists grew to many months those that bought early could drive by just a little more smugly than usual.

Also, there is a marketing aspect to saying "buy a Prius", given that the masses 'get' that message innately when they see gas lines. Again, it's not a panacea, but if you're buying a new car anyway why NOT a Prius, or VW TDI, or even a Corolla or Fit? It hurts less.......

If the "business case" for a Prius paying off requires that you drive it 150,000 miles, then I doubt that it pan out to be a good investment. For a 10 year life at 15,000 miles per year, assumptions that may be false, particularly in the "out" years, include:
1. Will the roads and bridges will be adequately maintained by failing states and municipalities?
2. Will gasoline be available (at any cost)?
3. Will spare parts be available?

Maybe I've been reading too much of Kunstler...

As a longtime financialsense listener, I have heard Jim often recommend getting a "fuel-efficient vehicle". Whether that is Prius, smartcar, scooter, whatever. Jim is interesting, kind of one foot in the doomer camp and one foot in the "slow-crash" camp. I have heard him recommend people store food and other survival supplies, garden, etc. But he clearly believes the "markets" will continue to function for the foreseeable future.
But he also has made it clear that he stores his considerable silver hoard outside the U.S.
My enduring image of ASPO 2008 came on Monday, with gold and oil making biggest one day moves in long time, Jim engaging in conversation with attendees in the lobby pretty much all day, sticking to his guns on the inflation vs. deflation debate and helping people understand what is going on. A real gentleman.
If people ever ask me for financial advice, I just tell them to listen to financialsense every week. Obviously, he could charge money for it if he wanted to. He mentioned to me that he and his wife view it as a kind of ministry, i.e., something to do for the benefit of others.

If people ever ask me for financial advice, I just tell them to listen to financialsense every week. Obviously, he could charge money for it if he wanted to. He mentioned to me that he and his wife view it as a kind of ministry, i.e., something to do for the benefit of others.

Er, right. Jim makes money from advising people. He's a financial adviser. You give him your money, he invests it, he charges a percentage. The free online programs are the "teaser". The best example of his spruiking for your money is when he starts on about "juniors" i.e. the labyrinthine world of investing in junior mining companies, where you can make lots of money or lose lots, really quickly. He makes it painfully clear that he knows a helluva lot about the area and you don't, so the obvious inference we are meant to draw is that we'd best let him do the investing in this area for us.

All investment advisers (like Peter Schiff and Jim Puplava) are sincere about one thing, first and foremost, and that's enriching themselves. Your interests come a distant second. Even they would admit to that.

The other things I don't like about's Jim Puplava are

  • His moronic sidekick, John
  • His constant long monologues on Junior gold miners, the miracle-to-be
  • His global warming skepticism (talk about overlooking a major threat to the financial markets!)
  • His regular bashing of Democrat candidates, but never a bad word for Bush and the Republicans
  • His repetitiveness (says more or less exactly the same things on every show)

But he is an excellent interviewer, I'll give him that, and his general orientation (peak oil coming, run for the hills, buy gold and silver) is spot on.

Come off it, he bashes all polititions and government. He does go on about Junior Gold and Silver miners but his show sure brings a wealth of talented speakers and a lot of predictions been correct when seeming over the top at the time.
Its Sunday morning now in Australia and I have finished my weekly fix of the latest show and its excellent. By listening to FSN, Stratfor,and reading this great site and others, I and a growing number of us Aussies dont need to read mainstream newpapers to get the real gist of what is really going on.

Great summary HO

A couple of clarifications with regard to CCS in my presentation. Ultrasupercritical coal combustion has an efficiency of 44% which with heat capture and use (combined heat and power -cogen) can go to 70% or better overall, so compared to an OLD COAL (subcritical) plant at 34% efficiency CO2 emissions can be reduced by 51% - so we can reduce CO2 emissions from coal just by using the best technology in an intelligent location so we can capture and use the waste heat. An IGCC plant at 38% efficiency is reduced to 31% when fitted with CCS carbon capture and compression (a 23% loss) and costs 39% more to build. It should theoretically be able to capture and compress more than 85% of the CO2 emissions at the plant, however, due to the parasitic power losses, will consume 124% more fuel than the ultrasupercritical plant with heat capture. And this is not counting the the COMPLEXITY overhead of running the CCS equipment, building and operating the CO2 pipelines, drilling the injection wells and monitoring the storage site for a few decades/centuries making sure of the integrity of storage. And also doesn't count the CO2 emissions involved in mining and transporting 124% more coal (if this is the fuel replaced by the heat capture/use process) which as you noted from my presentation is not an infinite resource. I pointed out the scale issue (double the current oil moving infrastructure to capture and dispose of 25% of current CO2 emissions from large point sources) which was reiterated by the later speaker.

The Sleipner and Salah examples are not analogues to coal-burning plants, as this is CO2 in natural gas that has to be removed anyway before sale and the parasitic energy losses for CO2 separation from flue gas are not a factor. The Weyburn example is all about enhanced oil recovery, which is then burned creating more CO2 than is sequestered - and there is not that much capacity in aged oil reservoirs for CO2 anyway. The holy grail for CCS proponents is saline acquifers because of their huge capacity, which are a dead energy loss and a huge complexity overhead.

So as I said, complexity works as long as you have energy and money to pay for it. But seeing as how hydrocarbons are finite, the simplest strategy for reducing CO2 emissions is not to burn them in the first place, as opposed to messing around with complex energy-wasting strategies to bury the problem.

I'm sorry I had to rush off after my presentation for an O&G symposium in Alaska and wouldn't you know it - Palin was preoccupied.

Thanks David, I appreciate the corrections.

No way.

1)IGCC-CCS is 31% efficient by your count and we capture 85% of emissions.

2) Ultrahigh efficiency pulverized coal technology is 44% efficient by your count plus an additional 26% 'efficiency' added by using waste heat for district heating, etc.

Under scheme 1, a 500 MW IGCC-CCS plant running 6000 hours a year would require 1.5 million tons of (bituminous) coal and release 1 million tons of CO2.

Under scheme 2, a similar size plant would require 1.1 million tons of coal and release
4 million tons of CO2 plus AND 5.5 trillion BTUs(for district heating).

Let's add a 75% efficient coal fired boiler(no CCS) to scheme 1 capable 5.5 trillion BTUs to equalize these two schemes.

How much additional coal would this require?-350,000 tons and it would release an additional 1.3 million tons of CO2 to the atmosphere.

So the scheme 1 with the auxillary boiler would use 1.9 million tons of coal and release 2.3 million tons of CO2.

While scheme 2 would use 1.1 million tons of coal and 4 million tons of CO2.

So scheme 2 would use 57% of the coal(=1.1/1.9) of Scheme 1 modified and would release 173% of the carbon dioxide(=4/2.3).

This contradicts the argument that efficiency will make carbon capture and sequestration of coal unnecessary.

That argument also doesn't jive with Jevons Paradox which
says that increasing efficiency also increases
consumption by lowering costs.

The idea that coal is a scarce resource is ridiculous as there is at least a trillion tons of the stuff proven in the ground.

The other side of the picture is actually quite dire--air pollution caused by burning coal both in the sense of GW and the Chinese style mass burning, sending mercury, sulfur etc into the air. CCS would eliminate this.
Forgetting GW, it's obvious that massive coal without controls will leave the world choking.

CCS would also make billions of tons of high sulfur coal available for use.

Another advantage of CCS with gasification is that the same coal fire plant can produce peaking power (while UHE PV coal is strictly baseload) and useful chemicals like methanol, hydrogen or natural gas at the same time it makes power.

Some might think this elitist, but if India and China are 'entitled' to Western levels of per-capita energy use, are they also 'entitled' to populations of one billion plus?

If real income is somewhat proportional to energy use then neither of those countries will be able to make the necessary five-fold increase using fossil fuels. Both countries increasingly need to import FFs so what's going on now is jockeying for a bigger slice of the pie. I don't see happy times ahead as the pie gets smaller while climate woes increase.

ASPO-USA | 2008
The only viable way to make the process work economically, since the ethanol content is initially so low in the beer produced, is to go the gasification (syngas) route.

TOD | 2006
Gasification -or thermo-chemical conversion of syngas->EtOH- is perhaps the best production path we could ever hope to achieve for producing ethanol (and higher order alcohols) from abundant waste and renewable carbonaceous materiel in quantity enough to mitigate the effects of Peak Oil...

Couldn't help myself there RR but nice to see indeed ;)

Let me know when the PIR principle goes mainstream.

i am all for more efficiency. i don't want the fuel savings from efficiency to go to more growth. infinite growth on a finite planet is impossible.

Sacramento Light Rail post-conference

shows current and proposed lines. Already open is a "T" with downtown east to Folsom and the Meadowview-Downtown-I-80 combined line. 37.4 miles (8.5 miles single track) with the highest priority being a 4.2 miles extension south-east of Meadowview.

The 20 year plan

Blue is Light Rail, I would make orange streetcars instead of "enhanced bus".

Light Rail carries about 45% of public transit pax in Sacramento (2006 data), and buses & para-transit the rest. Due to a lack of rolling stock, service is only every 15 minutes during rush hours. 3 and 4 car trains during rush hour, 2 cars during shoulder times and 1 car "trains" late at night/weekends (I never saw less than 2 car trains).

IMHO, Sacramento should add more service, with more cars. 3 car trains every 7.5 minutes during rush hour.

After the conference, I booked a 4 PM flight the next day just so I could spend time in Sacramento, including riding both lines. But a long morning meeting with Tom Matoff, a local transit consultant, meant I had time for only one route.

I chose Meadowview to I-80, This includes a built but never opened freeway that was converted to Light Rail. One side is a Park & Ride lot and the other has rail on gravel ballast (including a bridge over a ravine).

One end is shared with Union Pacific tracks on the original (eye ball) 100' wide ROW. The other end is threaded through built-up urban areas, sometimes close to UP tracks, over would-be freeways and sometimes single tracks on the edge of parking lots (taking spaces). Extra twists and turns to avoid demolishing warehouses, etc. Taking a lane of an existing freeway bridge.

I noted travel in both directions and a number of people taking light rail for just a few miles, no appreciable TOD.


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