Chaos Manor View, Sunday, March 01, 2015
Pledge week ends tonight. Thanks to all of you who subscribed. Of course you can subscribe anytime, http://www.jerrypournelle.com/paying.html
Subj: It’s going to be an interesting week
I’ve been wondering what Bibi Netanyahu was planning to say during his address to Congress this week. I had assumed that his purpose was to take an appeal for aid to the American people, bypassing a President whom he know will ignore him, and what he believes is the existential crises of ISIS and Iranian nukes staring him in the face.
Reading the article about this leak, another thought gelled: knowing that the Obama Administration had leaked every plan Israel has formulated for the past six years to attempt to stop the Iranian nuclear program, knowing the relationship that the Obama administration has maintained both towards Israel and towards Moslem groups in the Middle East, knowing the intense opposition that the White House is bringing to bear against Bibi’s speech, is it possible that Bibi is aiming higher:
Is it possible, perhaps even probable, that Bibi’s objective is to reveal the international crimes of the Obama Administration, of the White House and Democrat leadership, in a way that even the rank-and-file Democrats of the House and Senate cannot ignore or wish away. Is is possible that Bibi’s objective is to lay the case for Obama’s impeachment that the Republican leadership refuses to touch, because there is no way politically that they can bring the Democrats to consider impeachment if they bring the charges.
All I can say is, we’ll see.
Unlikely that sort of bombshell, but Israel is in a pickle. We are fast approaching a point where the only to stop the Iranians from acquiring Hiroshima bombs – several of them – is air power, and there is some question of whether Israel can accomplish that – at least without nuclear weapons. The White House is sure they cannot; some in the Pentagon are not so sure.
It is definitely going to be an interesting week.
Subject: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Israel
A major conflict in the Middle East remains beyond U.S. interests.
The talks with Iran indicate this. Israel has, for years, wanted pre-emptive strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities — much like it did with Iraq. The main problem with this policy is that Iran’s infrastructure is well dispersed and well-protected. Not only can we not guarantee that a strike will disable the capability, it seems likely that such a strike will not accomplish this objective.
Thus, we need a process to slow down or handicap the capability since we cannot be certain that we will disable it and a failed attempt could create the scenario we wish to avoid in disabling this capability. Hence, the Geneva talks — or so the story goes. Other factors drive the United States to these talks e.g. a resurgent Russia. Whether U.S. interests exist in Ukraine is irrelevant, certain policy makers see U.S. interests in this and they’re positioning accordingly and I maintain this also drives an interest in the Geneva talks. Other factors also influence this impetus.
An Israeli media source ran with the story that Obama threatened to shoot down Israeli airplanes if they were to attempt an attack on Iranian facilities.
I suspect U.S. policy makers assume that Israel would fly over Iraq to make these strikes. What if they flew over Saudi Arabia?
[Saudi intelligence and defense officials] had asked for a private meeting with Pardo [Head of Mossad], at which he was offered the reassurance that the Chinese rockets that Israeli spy satellites had spotted in Saudi Arabia’s desert were only there to protect their country from an enemy they both shared — the Republic of Iran.
Prince Bandar added they both knew that their countries shared concerns which at times put them at odds with the United States. The crown prince felt the Iran threat had reached a stage where it must be handled.
That began the start of several meetings which had taken Pardo to Riyadh and Amman to meet with both the royal princes and senior Saudi military officers. By November, a mutual cooperation had been agreed that Israel could use Saudi air space to launch air attacks on Iran’s nuclear facilities and for Israeli drones, rescue helicopters and tanker planes to be positioned over Saudi Arabia and the Red Sea and have refuel facilities at various Saudi airfields.
The situation in the Middle East just got a lot more complicated and, perhaps, more rides on these talks than we might suspect. What would the Middle East look like if Israel attacked Iran with Saudi help?
After all, the House of Saud are not the natural rulers of Saudi Arabia; their dominance is a historical fluke.
So, what happens if Israel moves forward and fails? What does Iran do? What does Saudi do? What does Turkey do? What do the rest of the world do? Matters in the Middle East look more interesting with each passing day.
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Joshua Jordan, KSC
The Hashemite King of Jordan is the most “legitimate” pretender to Arabia – although he does not pretend to the position. Turkey abolished the Caliphate in the 20’s, and the last Sultan has died, although there are pretenders.
ISIS has a qualified pretender to Caliph (he is from the right tribe) but to rule by that reasoning he must make all Shiites apostates, worthy of death. That’s a lot of apostates. He also
Leonard Nimoy, RIP.
I never knew him although I did know Roddenberry. I’ve nothing to add, except that we know the young man who is to have the part of Spock in the Star Trek opera – but I know nothing about that, either.
I will have more after TWIT. Good afternoon.
Running cars on water
A real quick Chem eng analysis suggests the aluminium route to hydrogen in a car is not going to fly.
Converting aluminum oxide to aluminum metal takes lots and lots of electricity – Wikipedia says the best plants use 46MJ/kg, but the chemical energy of aluminium metal is only 31MJ/kg. (67% efficient)
Then in the on board step
2Al + 3H2O -> Al2O3 + 3H2 the aluminum has chemical energy of 1675 kJ/mol (converted to mol terms from weight terms earlier), but the 3 moles of hydrogen released only has 857kj of chemical energy (50% efficient). To make matters worse the other 50% will be released as heat in the liquid bath. A typical car uses ~20kW of actual running power, so at 50% efficient there will be another 20kW that needs to be removed from the water bath, which makes quite the kettle.
Multiply the two steps together and the process is only 33% efficient at turning electricity into hydrogen.
I’m pretty sure that the liquid metal really is mercury. It’s why they don’t let you take mercury on planes. The issue will be that now you have alumina contaminated with mercury that I doubt any aluminium refinery is going to be happy to have to deal with.
The upside is the energy density is not bad – roughly 8MJ/kg with perfect conversion and no boiling losses – compared to gasoline at 50MJ/kg not great, but most batteries are well under 1MJ/kg.
Running on Water
Hello, Jerry –
The original post on the subject almost certainly referred to the use of gallium with aluminum to generate hydrogen.
Jerry Woodall (then of Perdue, currently UC Davis) made a splash in 2007-2008 with his announcement of the use of a gallium/indium/tin alloy for this purpose. A good example of his recent thinking is http://www.istc.illinois.edu/about/SeminarPresentations/20120405.pdf , although a somewhat less sanguine appreciation can be found as part of a 2010 DOE report http://www1.eere.energy.gov/hydrogenandfuelcells/pdfs/aluminum_water_hydrogen.pdf
I was introduced to the reaction during an evening spent with John Campbell in the fall of ’68, so the idea has been around for a while.
Woodall skips over a few problems:
1) His process will not operate reliably below 10 degrees C (he depends on the alloy, which has melting point of 10 C, to maintain a supercooled state for lower temperatures), and completely ignores the problems associated with keeping water from freezing below 0 C, which would seem an obvious difficulty for any vehicle operating north of the Mason-Dixon line.
2) Per the DOE report, recycling of the spent aluminum would require an expansion of US aluminum refining capacity by roughly an order of magnitude if all vehicles in the US are converted.
3) The mechanics of replacing the spent aluminum oxide with new aluminum is less trivial than one might think, given that the alumina is in the form of sludge and scum, rather than a nice, solid brick or ingot, while the GaInSb alloy will form a puddle in the bottom of the reaction vessel.
But it is an intriguing idea, and has the virtue that the materials involved are not terribly toxic (as opposed, for instance, to mercury).
Which tells us about as much as we can know from this distance,
Good night. TWIT 499 is up. Live long and prosper.
Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.