Feeds

US Navy aims to make jetfuel from seawater uranium

Vampire-lust tales will rot your brain

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

People would have known all this in the old days, because they read proper science fiction

In theory one might make synthi-fuel using renewable power, but that's not really on. Most analysis suggests that even the most extreme renewables plans would struggle to deliver as much energy as civilisation uses now. If the energy requirements of the transport sector increased by many times over - as it would if future transport ran on synthi-fuels made with CO2 - there'd be no hope of success at all.

A renewables-powered future might be possible, but it wouldn't have hydrocarbon synthifuel in it. Synthetic energy-rich fuel only makes any sense in a society which is largely nuclear powered, by fission or fusion.

It makes quite a lot of sense then, however: conceivably more sense than using hydrogen, the other widely-touted energy storage method in that scenario. Sure, hydrogen takes less energy to make, but it's much harder to handle and store with any safety - and its low density makes it difficult to use in many applications like aircraft. Hydrogen-fuelled planes would be mostly fuel tanks. Even hydrogen cars normally need to burn the stuff in fuel cells rather than combustion engines to get useful performance.

People in the old days knew all this. H Beam Piper - a man with high-school education who'd have been just as happy writing detective stories for better money - assumed in his sci-fi tales that the spacegoing Earthmen of the future would make "thermoconcentrate" (eg, "energy-rich" as Dorner puts it) synthi-fuels for use in vehicles not big enough to have onboard nuclear power, as other planets probably couldn't be relied upon to have handy underground reservoirs full of almost ready-made jet juice.

Sci-fi fans used to read writers like Piper: now they mainly read about vampire lust, seemingly.

And nowadays - I'm suggesting these things are linked - when a potential step forward in synthetic fuels is announced, it gets reported under the headline "jet fuel from water". When what you're actually talking about - in practical terms - is making jet fuel using uranium. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
HUMAN DNA 'will be FOUND ON MOON' – rockin' boffin Brian Cox
Crowdfund plan to stimulate Blighty's space programme
Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The MIGHTY Scotch egg
Off to the boozer? This delicacy might help mitigate the effects
I'M SO SORRY, sobs Rosetta Brit boffin in 'sexist' sexy shirt storm
'He is just being himself' says proud mum of larger-than-life physicist
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence
Download Choosing a Cloud Hosting Provider with Confidence to learn more about cloud computing - the new opportunities and new security challenges.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.