November 2006 in Bangalore through the eyes of an Englishman

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Methane, Hexadecane, and Carbon Dioxide.

28/11/2006 - Squeaky Clean?

There are several advertisements that you see regularly on the TV here that really piss me off. A typical one is from Shell. There's a woman riding on a bus that is said to be powered by gas-to-liquids fuel, and gas-to-liquids fuels are so much cleaner, so it's good for the world. In case you were wondering what gas-to-liquids fuels are, then here's the scoop. This technology boils down to making diesel fuel, roughly speaking that's Hexadecane (C16H34) and its isomers, from natural gas, which is mostly methane (CH4). So what does that get us that we'd want?

Well, to get the energy produced by burning 1kg of methane, you have to burn about 1.2kg of diesel fuel. Now when you burn 1kg of methane, you put about 2kg of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. But when you burn the diesel fuel that will produce the same energy, you put almost 3kg of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. That's if making gas-to-liquids fuels doesn't produce any carbon dioxide itself, which unfortunately it does. So in fact when you finally burn the gas-to-liquids diesel, you probably put more than one and a half time as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than you would if you burned the original methane.

So what's the virtue of gas-to-liquids diesel. Well it's cleaner in the sense that it has less sulphur, and potentially creates less soot, but you can say exactly the same thing about the methane. It's not the sulphur content or the particulate pollution that is going to bring an end to our ecosystem as we know it - it's global warming!

The real virtue from the oil company point of view is that the liquids are a lot easier to transport, and when you've got them where you want them, there's no extra cost associated with selling them. They just go in the petrol or diesel tank at the existing filling station. Also there are lots of natural gas reserves, but a lot of them are in geographically difficult places where there's not a lot of demand for natural gas, or the reserves aren't big enough to justify building an expensive pipeline: so the answer? Gas-to-liquids, easier to transport away or sell locally - an ideal solution. Using this technology we can painlessly continue to destroy our environment and maximise the profits of the oil companies.



Adia's butcher.

26/11/2006 - Not Entirely Lazy

OK, it's true that I've neglected the page. I have been busy writing on another project which you'll find out about later if it works out. Also I got a cold that did the usual thing and changed into a nasty sinus infection and bronchitis, so for a time I was getting to bed quite early. We've been getting up at about 06:30 so Adia can get to her tutor by 08:00. Since I've been getting home at 16:30 to 17:00, we've tended to go into town to do our shopping then, and by the time we got home and made some supper we were both ready for bed.

Eventually I found a specialist I wasn't aware of at Cambridge Hospital, and he pronounced the problem to be allergic bronchitis, though its not clear what the allergy might be. He gave me a short course of a steroid, an antibiotic, a decongestant and stuff to help me clear my chest. The effect was almost instantaneous, and I'm back to my usual self now.

After a long and somewhat tedious process I finally got a new debit card from my bank in the USA. It was supposed to be renewed at the end of September, but never turned up. I phoned the bank, and they told be that a new card had been sent in October 2004 with a changed expiration date, and that I would therefore get the next new card at the end of October. Well that didn't turn up either. It turned out I'd been talking to the wrong people. A man in the security department told me they'd been having problems with cards sent out to this part of the world in the mail, so they were now sending them by courier, and somebody would have to be there to sign for it. I got it about half way through the month, so I've been able to resume sending Terry's stuff back to the USA, and we were fortunate to find a flight that was still available at a reasonable price to go to Tanzania for Christmas/New Year.

I had told Adia that while I was in England I'd had some liver and onions. So this week she surprised me when I got home from work by serving up that very dish. It was excellent, and I'm sure will now be something we'll eat once a month or so. She got the beef liver from one of the Muslim butchers down at Russell Market in Shivaginagar. Their premises don't look exactly wonderful, but she's the one with the nose, and she says it's OK.

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