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Posts from December 0

The Iron Age & Coal-based Coke: A Neglected Case of Fossil-fuel Dependence

By Vaclav Smil -- September 17, 2009

As an old-fashioned scientist, I prefer hard engineering realities to all those interminably vacuous and poorly informed policy “debates” that feature energy self-sufficiency (even Saudis import!), sustainability (at what spatial and temporal scales?), stakeholders (are not we all, in a global economy?) and green economy (but are not we still burning some 9 billion tonnes of carbon annually?).

High regard for facts and low regard for wishful thinking has forced me to deal repeatedly with many energy illusions–if not outright delusions–and to point out many complications and difficulties to be encountered during an inevitably lengthy transition from an overwhelmingly fossil-fueled world to economies drawing a substantial share of their primary energies from renewable sources.

Steel & Coal-Derived Coke

Here is another challenge for the energy transformationists, one that is both inexplicably neglected and extraordinarily important: steel’s fundamental dependence on coal-derived coke with no practical substitutes on any rational technical horizon.…