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Natural oil (petroleum) is a mixture of many components. A well-known component of course is the gas or diesel used in our cars. A less well known component is naphtha. Naphtha is a mixture of hydrocarbon molecules that can be saturated (only single bonds between the carbon atoms) or unsaturated (double or even triple bonds between the carbon atoms. Naphtha is used as a precursor for plastics. For example the plastic poly-ethylene is a plastics that is formed when the naphtha mixture is subjected to a process called cracking (breaking up the larger molecules in smaller ones). This gives in first instance the molecule ethane that can subsequently be polymerized under formation of poly-ethylene, a plastic used in an almost endless variety range of products such as in toys, plastic garbage sacs and electrical isolation of wires. 

 

Because plastic is so widely used it leads at the same time also to a lot of plastic waste (plastic packaging materials, plastic bottles, toys etc). A Swiss company, Innovation Solar/Diesoil, is now doing exactly the opposite as the process described above: they have developed a process that will convert plastic waste materials into diesel fuel. 1000 kilograms of plastic will yield about 850 liter of diesel and all this at a cost price of only 26 Eurocents per liter. Recently a Dutch company (Petrogas) announced a big order to build 15 units that can turn plastic into diesel oil based on this chemical process.  

 

Is this not something? Sounds almost like a perpetual process…….

My question to the reader is: how will the thermodynamic balance (both energy and entropy) be for this reaction: 

Petroleum —> Plastic —>  Diesel oil

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Nice review on www.libproject.net:

It is thought that of all the animals on planet earth, there is only one that can build a fire and has developed a realization of itself so that it can ask and answer the questions: Who am I? What is this fire that burns within me and before me? Why does the flame rise, and why am I warmed before this fire of time? John Schmitz’s book on thermodynamics is designed for the mature general science reader who has developed a general knowledge of the physical science literature that does not require mathematics beyond the arithmetic of writing a bank check. The overall objective of this short book is to introduce the reader to the thermodynamic concept of entropy and its many ramifications ranging from the micro-quantum world to the gross dynamic relativity construction of the universe. To prepare the reader for this entropy concept he lays down a foundation which closely follows the early historic development of thermodynamics. In preparations for reading this book one should first carefully read through the two-page table of contents. Dr. Schmitz makes statements and/or asks questions which he then answers in the text of the book drawing the reader into his web of understanding which demonstrates the beauty and his love of thermodynamics. One very quickly realizes that in writing this book the author has given quality time in considering carefully the answers to his questions. There are footnotes that are well worth reading which amplify selected points including historic events with specific dates. You will find yourself going back to the table of contents and index pages to pick up action items in your reading. Indeed, before you start reading this book you should browse the table of contents to determine the extent and usages of entropy.

Taken from: http://libproject.net/science/the-second-law-of-life.html

book_cover_big.gifThe Second Law of Life: Energy, Technology, and the Future of Earth As We Know It
Author: John E.J. Schmitz
Foreword: Dr. Gerald Kitzmann

It isn’t that they can’t see the solution.
It is that they can’t see the problem.
– G.K. Chesterton

In this compelling, and important book, John Schmitz brings order to the world of chaos that surrounds us. The Second Law of Life refers to the second law of thermodynamics, entropy, which is an omnipresent force that quietly and crucially determines every aspect of our society, culture and daily lives. Unless we come to understand entropy, future generations will face consequences of the unstoppable laws of physics.

Entropy explains the amount of energy no longer capable of doing work; in other words, wasted energy or heat loss. Each moment of every day, we lose irreplaceable energy and “modern” technology is not helping. In fact, it is accelerating the problem at a catastrophic rate. – And we will ultimately face a heat death crisis and utter destruction of the Earth.

Even actions we take to improve the environment may actually do more damage than good. For example, recycling is considered environmentally, socially and politically correct. Under the influence of entropy, however, it is a prolific waster of energy; we must look at entire systems, not just parts.

It is critical that we find ways to reduce energy loss. Seeing the problems with greater clarity will lead to solutions. This fascinating and accessible journey through the second law of thermodynamics is a step in the right direction.

Read More | Buy The Book | Read the First Chapter