What is your opinion on us not dissallowing the remaining petroleum to be used up as fuel?

It is quite likely that your grandchildren will be angry that in 2008 we didn’t disallow use of the remaining petroleum as a fuel and lock it away for making petrochemicals, from plastics to pharmaceuticals, for which there is no other feedstock. Do you agree?

2 Responses to “What is your opinion on us not dissallowing the remaining petroleum to be used up as fuel?”

  1. zircalium Says:

    I agree that reserving petroleum its more unique uses is a good idea, but I disagree with the fact that there is no other feedstock for common industrial chemicals.

    Nearly all current processes use petroleum feedstocks because they are currently the cheapest feedstocks. Because it is easy and energetically favorable to oxidize hydrocarbons, it is often easiest to start with a hydrocarbon even when making a more oxidized organic chemical, such as acetone. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t start with a more oxidized feedstock, like cellulose from a plant. It will just take more energy to produce the finished product from inferior feedstocks, but if the price of oil goes up enough, and we have an alternative source of energy, it will become cheaper to use these feedstocks. And of course, new techniques and processes will be developed by chemists, chemical engineers, and industrial engineers to make the use of these materials more efficient, which will bring down the cost somewhat.

    The bottom line is that everything that uses energy to produce will be more expensive after peak oil (unless we can get productive fusion working, but I doubt it’ll happen in time). We will still be able to produce the same chemicals as before, with the aid of some new research in the field, but these chemicals will cost more.

  2. bobbysbeenabadboy Says: