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Space mirror for processing tar sands

Global warming? What global warming?
 
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Set up a series of space based mirrors to keep Fort MacMurray always in sunlight, then use solar furnaces to provide the heat necessary for extracting the oil from the tar sands. This will extend our natural gas supply for many years longer and allow the tar sands to be extracted after the gas is gone.

We could drive our giant SUVs for an extra generation or two!

NoOneYouKnow, Jun 08 2006

tar sands http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tar_sands
[BJS, Jun 12 2006]

Concentrating Solar Power http://www.eere.ene...at=The%20Basics#Q78
[MoreCowbell, Jun 15 2006]

[link]






       This is confusing. What's the connection between tar sands and natural gas? Are the space mirrors part of the solar furnace, or just street lighting?
ldischler, Jun 08 2006
  

       Shine lots of sunlight on the ground, easier to drill for the natual gas I suppose.
Galbinus_Caeli, Jun 08 2006
  

       Sorry, for those who aren't aware of the process:   

       There are two methods for extracting tar sands. Either heat water to steam and inject it into the ground making the tar fluid enough to remove using standard drilling techniques, or strip mine the material containing the tar and heating it in the processing facility to remove the tar.   

       Both of these methods currently use tremendous amounts of natural gas (I believe the tar sands projects are currently Alberta's biggest users of natural gas). I've seen mention of something like two barrels of oil equivalent used for every three barrels of finished heavy crude produced. What I am proposing is a set of heliostats, a solar furnace, to be a substitute source of heat. The space mirror acts as a supplemental source of sunlight, particularly during the winter when it gets dark at 4:30 in the afternoon.
NoOneYouKnow, Jun 09 2006
  

       It's strange that they don't burn crude oil for heat, instead of natural gas.
ldischler, Jun 09 2006
  

       There's actually a new plant just starting construction that is supposed to use byproducts of the extraction to supply heat.   

       I still prefer the solar furnace, though. It at least reduces the crazy amount of CO2 produced.
NoOneYouKnow, Jun 09 2006
  

       //making the tar fluid enough to remove using standard drilling techniques// If it is fluid, why do you need to drill it?
AbsintheWithoutLeave, Jun 09 2006
  

       // If it is fluid, why do you need to drill it? //   

       The usual reason? It's in the ground. You have to get it out somehow. Drill into the ground, pump out the oil.
NoOneYouKnow, Jun 10 2006
  

       So your saying that by using gigantic orbiting mirrors to create heat at a certain spot on the earth will reduce global warming by not burning natural gas?
BJS, Jun 10 2006
  

       I've known some great women with some funaces.
normzone, Jun 10 2006
  

       // So your saying that by using gigantic orbiting mirrors to create heat at a certain spot on the earth will reduce global warming by not burning natural gas? //   

       [BJS] I think it's better to have the heat without the CO2 than the heat with the CO2.   

       As a side note, I have corrected the "funaces" to read "furnaces".
NoOneYouKnow, Jun 12 2006
  

       Put your space mirror in geostationary orbit and you won't have to use tracking on the Earth-bound mirrors.   

       The obvious name for this mirror, which faces both the sun and the furnace, leads to the equally obvious comment, "Me tar sands, you Janus".
spidermother, Jun 12 2006
  

       I found Fort MacMurray. It is far from any water. It would be the perfect place for a sand-cooled nuclear power plant. If the tar sands were used to this end you would also get to extract the tar. The nuke could be used to produce heat to extract tar. Everyone wins!
bungston, Jun 12 2006
  

       // Put your space mirror in geostationary orbit and you won't have to use tracking on the Earth-bound mirrors. //   

       Geostationary only implies the satellite (in this case the mirror) is always directly above the same point on the Earth's surface. The sun will still appear to move in the same fashion as it does on the surface. You would still have to adjust the angle of the mirrors to keep them all focused on the same place all the time.   

       // I found Fort MacMurray. It is far from any water. It would be the perfect place for a sand-cooled nuclear power plant. //   

       The idea of a nuclear power plant in Fort MacMurray has been kicked around for decades. Who knows, maybe we're almost at the point where the economics will finally be good enough to overcome the public's aversion to nukes.
NoOneYouKnow, Jun 12 2006
  

       //You would still have to adjust the angle of the mirrors// Yes, but you would have to adjust the angle of the space mirrors anyway, and with geostationary mirrors you wouldn't *also* have to adjust the earth-bound mirrors. I thought that was obvious. The idea was to reduce redundancy (like my anno :-))
spidermother, Jun 12 2006
  

       spidermother's witty "Tarzan/Jane", "Tar sands / Janus" remark was really well thought out. I'd throw that anno a bun, but not the original idea.
thekohser, Jun 13 2006
  

       A nuclear power plant to help extract crude oil?   

       Question: How can we make petroleum even MORE dangereous?   

       Answer: I know! Let's make it radioactive! Yah!   

       (Yes, this is just a snark.)
Galbinus_Caeli, Jun 14 2006
  

       I was going to post an idea titled "Generic Space Mirror" along the lines that there are now so many unlikely ideas which rely on a space mirror that one of them has to work - so just get one up there and play with it to see what it does best.   

       I didn't post it because it was a terrible idea and would get boned to the antipodes.
wagster, Jun 14 2006
  

       // I didn't post it because it was a terrible idea and would get boned to the antipodes. //   

       That's no reason not to post an idea! Besides, even this one didn't get "boned to the antipodes", it just got a couple less buns.   

       [spidermother], of course the mirrors would be in synchronous orbit. I don't think this would work any other way. You may be right about not needing to track with the mirrors on the surface. I'll have to think about it. The tracking required for the orbital portion would actually be really tricky.   

       [Galbinus_Caeli], I don't think we need to worry about radioactive oil. Honestly, nuclear power would be a lot better if the public in general didn't have such a knee jerk reaction to it. We could start working on dealing with its real problems instead of just claiming it'll always be too dangerous to use. I think one of the main reasons we have so much nuclear waste right now is that the public is horrified what might happen with the reprocessed waste (it makes more plutonium available, either for nuclear bombs or for more power, and reduces the overall amount of waste by something like 100x) so no one will actually do anything to fix the problem. Instead we get proposed solutions like digging a really big hole or dumping it in the bottom of the ocean. This comment is not relevant to this particular idea, just my own knee jerk reaction.
NoOneYouKnow, Jun 15 2006
  

       // Set up a series of space based mirrors to keep... //   

       Once we have this sort of technology, crude oil will either be depleted or archaic and left for the third world countries to scrap over. We would better use the mirrors to concentrate the suns energy to make the power (see link).
MoreCowbell, Jun 15 2006
  

       // We would better use the mirrors to concentrate the suns energy to make the power (see link). //   

       That's all well and good, but it's not very portable.
NoOneYouKnow, Jun 16 2006
  

       This seems unnecessarily Goldbergian.   

       If we had the technology to put giant solar mirrors in space and concentrate them on one spot, couldn't we simply fly a solar-collector power plant up into space at the focal point of the mirror (which needn't be on Earth) and collect the energy there?
Hive_Mind, Aug 16 2010
  

       No, because we'd have to hoist up the power plant, then get the power back down to earth, both of which would be complex. And folks would still be mucking about with the tar sands.
baconbrain, Aug 16 2010
  

       //I still prefer the solar furnace, though. It at least reduces the crazy amount of CO2 produced //   

       Extra O=C=O in the atmosphere is bad because it obsorbs IR radiation trying to re-radiate out to space. A sad thing about the future solar satellites is similar: any energy beamed down (maser/rectenna) only adds to the sum total of heat on Earth. (Second Law of Thermodynamics.)   

       For that matter so do humans. If you need to get somewhere, wether you drive a car, take a bike, or jog, it all adds O=C=O. Cars just add a little more than your heavy breathing from running there.   

       Conclusion: we're screwed.
Wily Peyote, Aug 16 2010
  

       //screwed// so we institute the Matrix for a few decades to let the CO2 content fall a bit... hmm.
FlyingToaster, Aug 16 2010
  
      
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