Sign up | Login with →

Comments by Robert Rapier Subscribe

On Washington Post: President Obama is Lying About the Keystone Pipeline

"Think of KXL opposition as a grand gesture."

That's part of my point though. It isn't opposition. That would require taking a stand. He is just stalling. Deflecting. Not taking an actual stand on the issue, but instead actively trying to avoid taking a stand. So I would hardly call such passive resistance  a "grand gesture." A real grand gesture would be if he made the statement I suggested: "I oppose this pipeline for the following reasons..." 

March 9, 2015    View Comment    

On The Growing Risk of Transporting Crude Oil by Rail

As soon as people stop buying it, that problem will take care of itself. As long as they demand it, it will get to market. 

February 24, 2015    View Comment    

On The Growing Risk of Transporting Crude Oil by Rail

Seems like it might be a good idea on the surface, but it is true that shipping by rail is inherently riskier than shipping by pipeline. Numerous studies extending back many years have shown this. Some of that risk has nothing to do with how much oil is carried per train.

In fact, more trains with a smaller number of cars might increase the risk to pedestrians and cars of being hit by a train. The State Department actually estimated that shipping the same amount of oil by rail instead of by pipeline would result in 6 additional deaths a year, primarily from people being struck by trains.

February 24, 2015    View Comment    

On The Growing Risk of Transporting Crude Oil by Rail

"Robert, the risk is growing because trains are carrying more oil."

Which is what I have been saying all along, but you seemed to take issue with that. OK, I think we are on the same page.

February 24, 2015    View Comment    

On The Growing Risk of Transporting Crude Oil by Rail

Bob, the conclusions of the report are irrelevant to the point I am making and the title of the article.  I can assure you there were people who failed to follow all the safety standards prior to this latest accident.The risk is growing because the volumes have exploded. You are always going to have people who didn't abide by safety standards or who made errors, and the more often you do an activity the more often those errors will result in an accident. So I honestly don't get your nit pick over the title, which merely states that the risks are growing. That's a fact. Your argument seems to be that the risks are growing because corners are being cut. Corners are always cut by someone. Now increase the number of railcars by an order of magnitude, and it's no surprise that we are seeing a rise in incidents.

February 24, 2015    View Comment    

On The Growing Risk of Transporting Crude Oil by Rail

No, it's growing because the volumes are increasing dramatically. Given that volumes are up more than 10 fold over the past 5 years, there is no way they can improve safety standards enough in that short amount of time to offset the volume gains. Hence, the risk is growing.

It's just like if I put 10 times the number of cars on U.S. roads in the next 5 years, are there going to be more accidents? Yes. So if you put 10 times the number of rail cars on a route, the risk to communities along that route is necessarily higher (given the practical realities of how quickly safety standards could be improved).

February 24, 2015    View Comment    

On The Growing Risk of Transporting Crude Oil by Rail

"Robert, of course it's possible to ship oil safely by rail."

That goes without saying. Almost all of it is shipped safely. But it is inherently riskier than pipeline transport.

February 24, 2015    View Comment    

On Torrefaction via Radio Waves

Yes, but a far less lucrative market than as a coal replacement. 

November 26, 2014    View Comment    

On Torrefaction via Radio Waves

Keith, we have done some calculations on that, but were going to do a bit more testing at a larger scale. It' not all that favorable at the scale we did it at, but we estimated that it's still a net positive. I told the guys that the way to think of the system is this: If we had to use the torrefied wood to make the electricity to run the machine, could we do it? Is there enough excess power produced to make the effort worthwhile? We are pretty sure there is, but a larger test would have confirmed this one way or the other.

November 26, 2014    View Comment    

On Torrefaction via Radio Waves

You lose too much of the energy content that way. 

November 26, 2014    View Comment    

On LanzaTech's Vulnerability

"I also do not agree with the route but the availability of 'free' energy on a steel works is not necessarily a bad one."

Of course. It's just that without subsidies/mandates driving this, would you ever use it to separate ethanol from a solution that's nearly all water? No, if instead you did a gas phase reaction and avoided the water, you could still use the waste heat to distill ethanol, methanol -- whatever you produced. Would be a lot more efficient, which is my point. The mandates/subsidies sometimes drive us in very inefficient directions.

October 21, 2014    View Comment    

On LanzaTech's Vulnerability

"Is not the boiling point of ethanol around 78 degrees?"

It is, but because you are separating a system of ethanol and water, you will have a concentration profile from nearly all water to nearly all ethanol in a distillation column. Thus, you have to reach the boiling point of water.

October 21, 2014    View Comment