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Energy a la Tufte's Napoleon

There's an awesome picture of where our energy comes from and goes, here:
http://trinifar.wordpress.com/2007/07/23/high-carbon-economy/
Also has another picture, with numbers (though not indication of non-fuel uses of oil, as the first one does.) It's shocking how much is lost as waste. It looks like we could more than double our available energy -- especially in transportation -- through conservation!

Of course, physics may get in the way; I assume a lot of that waste is dictated by the thermodynamics of Carnot heat engines. Oil could be used more efficiently in central plants, perhaps, but transporting the electricity isn't lossless... though it looks better than burning in cars.

And what, New Yorkers were said to use one-third of the American average per capita?

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( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
ext_58074
Aug. 3rd, 2007 07:39 am (UTC)
recovering otherwise lost energy
I really like that picture too. ;-) Most of the lost energy is just thermodynamics but a really significant amount could be recovered by things like building houses to be more efficient and using the heat that is typically lost to the atmosphere when generating electricity (co-generation or "co-gen"). Co-generation only works, however, when the buildings or processes that use the recovered heat are near the power plant, so typically it's only used by industry. (Co-gen recovers the otherwise lost heat by turning it into low pressure steam and you can't transport steam very far.)

What I really like about the diagram is how it gives you an immediate sense of the proportions of the types of fuels we use and how we use them. As I say in the post, I didn't come up with the style of the diagram, only drew a version that was easier to understand.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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