Every candidate that got asked last night if would ban off-shore drilling, oil extraction, and coal said “yes.”

That got me thinking.

Let’s ignore power generation for one minute, and assume that all of our energy needs are met through renewable sources, including electric cars and stuff like that.

If we banned petroleum and coal, what would happen?

According to extrapolated data from NACE (National Association of Corrosion Engineers):

The total annual corrosion costs in the U.S. rose above $1 trillion in the middle of 2013, illustrating the broad and expensive challenge that corrosion presents to equipment and materials and is now estimated at $1.1 trillion for 2016.

According to Friction:

In total, ~23% (119 EJ) of the world’s total energy consumption originates from tribological contacts. Of that 20% (103 EJ) is used to overcome friction and 3% (16 EJ) is used to remanufacture worn parts and spare equipment due to wear and wear-related failures.

According to Machine Design:

By one estimate, 6% of the gross national product is wasted due to friction and wear on 21st Century mechanical and electromechanical systems.

That is $1.12 Trillion in 2019.

So corrosion and wear cost the United States roughly $2.2 Trillion and one-fifth of the energy we generate.

So what happens when we ban petroleum extraction and thereby eliminate the source of most of our paints, greases, oils, lubricants, hydraulic fluids, and corrosion inhibitors?

Exactly how fast will every mechanical system in the United States grind to a halt, rust, and fall apart?

Do any of these politicians have a clue how much petroleum it takes to make an electric train run?

What about all the super-efficient electric cars and wind turbine blades and everything else made from strong, light, carbon fiber.  Do they realize most of that comes from PAN made from petroleum pitch?

All 785,000 tons of aluminum produced in the US comes from ore that is smelted using graphite anodes.

The 81.6 million metric tons of steel produced in the US is refined using coke.

That graphite and coke comes from petroleum and coal.

There are 140,000 people employed in the steel industry and 161,000 people employed in the aluminum industry.

According to the Polymer Database:

The US plastics industry is the third largest manufacturing industry in the United States. It employs nearly one million people in the manufacturing sector (about 16,000 manufacturing sites) and 1.4 million people total when including plastics suppliers.1-5 The U.S. plastics industry created a turnover of about $380 billion per year with more than $13 billion trade surplus and a total production volume of about 55 Mtons in 2012.

And almost all of that plastic comes from Petroleum.

So we ban petroleum and coal and we lose steel making, aluminum smelting, and polymer production and nearly 2 million jobs.

I’m just scratching the surface here, but “we have to get end the use of fossil fuels” will pretty much cause every machine in America to seize up and quit, most of the ironworks in America to rust, and end domestic production of most of our useful structural materials.

I’m not a politician, just an engineer, but I think this is a really bad idea.

 

 

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By J. Kb

14 thoughts on “We will literally grind to a halt”
  1. I thought aluminum manufacture was done by electrolysis. But I don’t remember how bauxite is processed.
    Yet another petroleum product is asphalt. No more paved roads, at least not unless you’re going to regress back to concrete roads. Those might work in California; not so nicely in Minnesota or New Hampshire.
    Organic chemistry, pretty much by definition, starts from oil or natural gas. Not just polymers but any synthetic chemicals, things like pharmaceuticals or paint or pesticides. Fertilizer might not require it, but it does require mining some of the starting materials (like potassium salts and phosphate).

    1. It is electrolysis but it’s referred to as smelting.

      Al203 (refined bauxite) is placed in a bath of molten NaF salt. Carbon anodes are placed in the bath and electricity is run through the molten salt. The oxygen comes off the alumina and goes to the anodes producing molten aluminum and carbon dioxide.

  2. This would be a feature, not a bug. We would be unable to abuse the earth if such a thing came to pass.

    1. Oh yes, I guess their assumption is that they would survive while deplorables would largely disappear. Nice assumption, but they forget that they’re living in cities while the people who create food and energy that keeps the cities from collapsing in a day or three are those “deplorables” in “flyover country”.

  3. They view all this as a feature. They want the masses freezing in the dark, starving or near starving, so they can demonstrate how superior they are.

  4. Actually, they are probably thinking that plant based oils will be more than adequate to support the lubrication needs of industry and transportation.

    Hemp oil is a unicorn fart caliber product, good for everything from pharmaceuticals to keeping the trains running.

  5. Then there is synthetic fibers used in clothing, home decor, military equipment, etc. How are we going to raise wool, cotton, flax, hemp and other “natural” fibers without petroleum fueled and lubricated equipment to harvest and process the fibers? Human labor? Are we going back to the 18th century (or earlier)? Do we reinstate the plantation system? Inquiring minds want to know. At least they will meet their goal of (a lot) fewer people in the world, assuming the rest of the world doesn’t tell us to f**k off.

  6. Once again, we’re putting a hell of a lot more thought into this than they ever have.
    To them, “Oil And Nuclear Bad! Solar And Wind Good!” is the sum total of their knowledge on the topic.

  7. I can explain ALL this in 2 words- fukkin insanity… these people are plain old batshit crazy. They are not living anywhere near realsville..

  8. We can always go back to what we used before the evil Rockerfeller created the modern petroleum industry. — Whale Oil!

    If there aren’t enough Whales, we can add in Seals and Walruses too.

  9. How do you keep your living rooms warm?
    I know that for Germany about 3/4 of all domestic space is heated, directly or indirectly, by fossil fuels.

    What’s the percentage on your side of the pond?

    I seriously heard somebody say that it’s no big deal because one can use electricity for heating…

  10. As much as I love MCU, Endgame had some serious SJW climate nonsense. Whales in the Hudson or whatever the line was. If you look at it, removing half the population of the Earth would put it at the same level as ~1970 but in the movie created an environmental panacea nevermind that two generations would have it back to today.

    Obviously that’s being looked at as a guideline instead of a disaster.

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