helblonde: (ursine frown)
When I was reading up on the Dakota pipeline (a pox be upon it *ptui*), I looked at a bunch of maps of fracking wells, as one does when one is interested in geology.

Then I reflected for a bit about fracking, wastewater injection, Oklahoma and measurable, increased seismic activity. Also this article about the physical consequences of glaciers melting. And I looked again at where we've allowed fracking in the north.

OMG EVERYONE WHY ARE WE FRACKING SO DAMN CLOSE TO THE YELLOWSTONE CALDERA?!!

I'll just put the idea out there that rupturing the earth around a supervolcano is a terrible idea. Okay, strictly speaking, it's the wastewater injection that's the problem, but still. It's a terrible idea.

Even if it doesn't lead to a Supervolcanic Megaeruption - which isn't likely based on current conditions - it's sure to have some effects. As the USGS says in this publication, "The region’s hydrothermal system is highly sensitive to quakes and undergoes significant changes in their wake. Earthquakes may have the potential to cause Yellowstone’s hot-water system to destabilize and produce explosive hydrothermal eruptions." That's...bad. Explosive hydrothermal eruptions are not really big geysers. They blow shit up. Like with craters.
helblonde: (Default)
Unrelated to anything in my life, I've been thinking a lot about the problems with electric cars. From what I've been read and been told by [livejournal.com profile] moriven, who is significantly more interested in these things, electric cars have a battery life problem. They have a limited distance they can go, and then they have to be plugged in for a really long time to charge back up.

It seems to me that automotive engineers may be stuck in an old way of thinking here. Do cars need to have only one battery? What if they designed a car with a series of smaller removable batteries that were drained in sequence? As the battery cells are used, they could be swapped out for freshly charged ones, either from charging racks at service stations, or at a charging rack at home. This would let people go farther in their cars and charge back up to full without putting the car to rest for a day or so.

For example, say, a car had 6 battery cells. The owner would buy a set of 6 extras and a charging station for the garage. Then the driver could use 4, pop into the garage and swap them out from a rack of charged cells and be back out on the road in minutes. Or they could go to a service station, and pay a fee to swap in 4 fresh ones (like a propane tank exchange). 

Charging stations, no matter how they end up configured, are going to start popping up in more and more places. I'm not sure we're ready for that. Our country needs a massive infrstucture upgrade if we are going to embrace electric cars. Our electric power grid is not set up for another heavy drain. I think of the rolling brownouts in summer on the East Coast and just shake my head. How much worse would they be with another massive drain on the system? Sorry, kids, no TV or AC tonight, Mommy needs to get to work in the morning.

Also, I have a hard time embracing the "greenness" of electric cars when so much of our electricity is generated by non-green means. Is there any real improvement between an electric car powered by a coal-burning power plant and a gasoline powered vehicle? I'm not seeing it. At best, it just moves the point of pollution away from ourselves to the someplace where we don't have to see it or know about it. Electricity is just there in the wall, right?

Now, I'm not saying that all of our power generation across the country is from coal and other nonrenewable sources, but the majority of it is. Which goes back to my infrastructure point. We need more power generation and better transmission lines to be able to support large-scale growth in the electric car industry.

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