Category Archives: 3) Fast Crash

The case for a fast, rather than a slow one. Most societies crashed in 20 years or less. There has never been or will be again a crash like ours, where the world of 7 billion people became utterly dependent on a non-renewable source of energy — fossil fuels.

Utility scale energy storage limited by minerals and geography

Preface. Natural gas is finite, but aside from (pumped) hydropower, natural gas is the main way wind and solar are balanced now. Therefore, a tremendous amount of energy storage will be needed in the future as natural gas declines. The … Continue reading

Posted in Alternative Energy, Batteries, Battery - Utility Scale, CAES Compressed Air, Elements: Critical, Mining, Pumped Hydro Storage (PHS) | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Lifespan of infrastructure, transportation, and buildings

Preface. What follows is from the International Energy Agency 2020 report “Energy technology perspectives” on how to transition to net zero emissions by 2050. This might require the replacement of just about everything, since power plants, steel blast furnaces, cement … Continue reading

Posted in Airplanes, Automobiles, Concrete, Dams, Electricity, Energy, Limits To Growth, Manufacturing & Industrial Heat, Oil & Gas, Transportation, Trucks | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Not enough rare metals to scale up solar power

Preface. Sunshine may be free, but the materials to make solar contraptions sure aren’t.  Since sunshine arrives in a diluted form, vast expanses of solar photovoltaic panels will be needed to produce the world’s 24,000 Terawatt hours of electrical power … Continue reading

Posted in Alternative Energy, Elements: Critical, Elements: Rare Earth, Mining, Photovoltaic Solar, Recycle | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Why rare and valuable metals are not recycled

Preface. This is a post about why rare and critical metals aren’t recycled at all or at best, just a small percent. Basically it is still cheaper to mine them from scratch than to try to separate them out from … Continue reading

Posted in Elements: Critical, Elements: Platinum Group, Elements: Precious, Elements: Rare Earth, Recycle, Ugo Bardi | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

What are rare earth metals and how are they used?

Preface.  After oil, the main feature of new products will be drastic simplification. The re-use of existing stuff. Lack of precision machine tools as they rust away. Back to basics: wood, iron, and clay. Yet every high-tech object depends on … Continue reading

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Toasters are Toast

Preface. Thomas Thwaites’ book, “The Toaster Project” illustrates why it will be so hard, if not impossible, to bounce back from collapse in the future to anything like what we take for granted today.  Thwaites set about trying to make … Continue reading

Posted in Manufacturing & Industrial Heat, Peak Resources | Tagged , | 7 Comments

The Fragility of Microchips

Preface. This is an introduction to how microchips are made to give you an idea of how difficult and amazing they are.  This is a very high-level overview gathered from two textbooks full of mind-boggling processes and complexity.  Microchips are … Continue reading

Posted in 2) Collapse, Localization, Microchips and computers, Supply Chains | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Autos need finite rare earth, critical, & precious metals

An electric car uses five times as many minerals as a conventional car (IEA 2020): IEA, Minerals used in selected power generation technologies, IEA, Paris https://www.iea.org/data-and-statistics/charts/minerals-used-in-selected-power-generation-technologies There are 17 rare earth elements (REE) that China controls up to 97% of … Continue reading

Posted in Automobiles, Elements: Rare Earth | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How are microchips made?

Preface. Computer chip fabrication plants need to run continuously for weeks to accomplish the thousands of steps needed to make microchips. A half-hour power outage at Samsung’s Pyeongtaek chip plant caused losses of over $43 million dollars (Reuters 2019). Chip … Continue reading

Posted in Chemicals, Microchips and computers | Tagged , | 16 Comments

Motherboards: too complicated to make after oil

Preface. The wood-based world of the future simply won’t have the energy and minerals required not just to make electronic devices, but the precision machine tools to make them.  As diesel fuel grows scarce and the economy fails, supply chains … Continue reading

Posted in Microchips and computers | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments