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Post apocalyptic humans vs disaster

Gokl
Updated:

I recently read Aftermath by Al Steiner, and while it's a great story, I found myself wanting to read something similar but without all the humans vs humans conflicts. I liked the humans vs enviroment situations much more. If it's a zombie story, I'd rather it be a humans vs zombies scenario than humans vs humans in a world with zombies kind of thing.

That's not to say that there can't be any disagreements with humans in the story, just that I don't want it to take up so much of the plot. To use Aftermath as an example, they are basically at war for a big part of the story. I'd like something where there wasn't a big war with other humans, but kept the conflicts within their community, like Jessica's powerstruggle etc.

I'd just like to read a PA story where the focus is more on surviving the apocalyptic event and the fallout, rather than surviving the feral humans who dealing with the event. I know that a big part of many PA stories is humans doing whatever they can to survive and whatever they want in a world without laws, but I'd like to read something where it's more about cooperating to survive rather than competing to survive.

paliden
Updated:

Try here -

Frank's Post-Apoc World — A Universe from the Mind of Frank Speaks

This began with Hard Times which is freshly reposted (August, 2012). I have found I have more ideas that require different stories to explore them. Lots of sex, some violence, good story lines (hopefully), and some with little sex. In this post-apoc world, there was a lot of damage with Jonathon coming from our present. Ditto for Sal in Different Surfin' Safari. Hard Times takes place approximately eight hundred years in the future. Others are encouraged to contribute stories or story ideas. Two new Hard Time books (4 & %) are in process. 4 directly uses a couple of reader ideas. 5 is in the rough stage only right now. Enjoy! Frank

https://storiesonline.net/universe/543/franks-post-apoc-world

richardshagrin

@Gokl

apocalyptic


I know what an APO is (Army Post Office) and CA is the abbreviation for California used by the Post Office. I am not sure about lyptic. It might be a combination of lip and tic. A tic is a problem in which a part of the body moves repeatedly, quickly, suddenly, and uncontrollably. So lyptic is is one or more of the lips (upper, lower or both?) moving uncontrollably. So is a Post Apocalyptic story after lips in a California Army Post Office move uncontrollably?

Replies:   Gokl
tendertouch

@Gokl

Part of the problem is that many of the post apocalyptic stories are premised on a one off event. Once the people reach some sort of accommodation with the changed reality the primary source of conflict is likely to be other people again.

For example, in S.M. Stirling's 'Dies the Fire' the rules of nature have changed leaving humans in a world with no internal combustion engines, no electric power (outside of biochemical, apparently - though he mentions thunderstorms in one story which should not exist by his rules) and the like. There's a fair bit early on about the struggle to survive in the changed world but eventually they learn how to put in a crop and harvest it and all of the other skills they need to survive what amounts to a pre-industrial revolution and pre-gun powder existence. After that it's going to be humans against humans - though there's also a fair bit of humans against something that's using other humans.

I haven't read it but apparently the novel 'I Am Legend' was the source for the so-so movie 'The Omega Man' so it probably fits - human versus a form of zombie with no other humans to fight against.

Replies:   Gokl  Dominions Son
Gokl
Updated:

@tendertouch

Yeah, I know that humans often have conflicts in PA stories, I guess what I'm looking for is something that focuses more on rebuilding the world and society than it focuses on the humans fighting each other.

I've seen The Omega Man, and like you said it was so-so, but I might check out the novel.

Replies:   tendertouch
Gokl

@richardshagrin

I know what an APO is (Army Post Office) and CA is the abbreviation for California used by the Post Office. I am not sure about lyptic. It might be a combination of lip and tic. A tic is a problem in which a part of the body moves repeatedly, quickly, suddenly, and uncontrollably. So lyptic is is one or more of the lips (upper, lower or both?) moving uncontrollably. So is a Post Apocalyptic story after lips in a California Army Post Office move uncontrollably?


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apocalyptic_and_post-apocalyptic_fiction

here you go, a quick google can help you with terms you don't understand :)

Dominions Son

@tendertouch

Once the people reach some sort of accommodation with the changed reality the primary source of conflict is likely to be other people again.


In aftermath of a truly apocalyptic event, resulting in the total collapse of civilization and total loss of modern infrastructure world wide, it should be decades before people reach that point.

It should be many years before anyone can be in a position where they can be sure that they have a better than 50/50 chance of surviving the next winter.

Replies:   tendertouch
tendertouch

@Gokl

I guess what I'm looking for is something that focuses more on rebuilding the world and society than it focuses on the humans fighting each other.


I hope you find something and share it with us. I'd probably like it as well. At some level Stirling's story (told over 15 books, the last of which is to be published shortly) is about people trying to rebuild the world and society. The intra-human conflicts come largely from differences of opinion about what the new society should look like :)

tendertouch

@Dominions Son

In aftermath of a truly apocalyptic event, resulting in the total collapse of civilization and total loss of modern infrastructure world wide, it should be decades before people reach that point.


I'm not sure I agree. Maybe we're thinking of different concepts of what a truly apocalyptic event would be. A comet/asteroid that physically destroyed all our infrastructure would be different than, say a virus that killed 99% of the humans, which would be different from a change in the laws of nature that nullified our technology ('Dies the Fire' or Stephen Boyette's Change concept) but I'd consider all of them to be apocalyptic events.

If everything's gone - no books to use for reference, no tools to use for farming/hunting, no livestock to use for meat/labor - then I can see your point. I'm not aware of anything of that nature out there and it might be a bit of a tedious read (depending upon what was used to spice it up, I suppose.)

That's not the focus of the story that I mentioned nor of any that I'm aware of. The comet/asteroid thing has been used before 'Aftermath' (Niven and Pournelle's 'Lucifer's Hammer', for example) but not something that could devastate the infrastructure of the entire world as far as I know.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@tendertouch

but not something that could devastate the infrastructure of the entire world as far as I know.


By infrastructure, I'm not just talking about roads and buildings.

I'm talking about water, electricity natural gas delivered by pipe to the home. These things take a sizeable amount of labor on a day by day basis to function. They are nowhere close to 100% automated and we don't have the technology for that.

Kill 99% of the human population, no matter the cause, and all those things go away.

If it happened suddenly, even with no violence, 99% of the population just disappeared, the electric grid would fail, everywhere, within hours. Indoor running water would be gone within days.

Replies:   tendertouch  AmigaClone
tendertouch

@Dominions Son

Understood. The issue is with your original statement. It hasn't been that long in the United States since we didn't have running water in the house and electricity and piped in gas. They're nice to have but not necessary. I've lived in a house without running water or indoor plumbing (thankfully only for a summer, though!)

It also hasn't been that long in the United States since a large portion of the population lived on small farms that were worked largely by hand tool with some draught animal assistance. There are still books out there on how to do it - I think I still have a few and I know my neighbors have shelves of them. It wouldn't be easy and most people wouldn't survive - the farming techniques just can't work on a large enough scale to feed that many people above and beyond those doing the growing. Some, yes - there would be some specialists and over time there would be more as the survivors got better at working the land - but nothing like we have today.

That's why I was talking about something that tore things down to the point that we no longer had books, tools or the ability to make new tools. That's the point at which it might take a long, long time before people had any surety about surviving a winter. As long as we still had all of that steel out there that rudimentary smithing could turn into knives, arrowheads, plowshares and the like and as long as there were some draught animals I don't think that most of the people who survived the first year or two (likely as small fraction of those before the apocalypse) will have issues surviving further.

Then again it will depend upon where they are. Southern California? Surviving will be hard. The Nile delta? Not so much. There's a reason Stirling chose the Willamette valley as the primary setting for his story.

helmut_meukel

@Gokl

I think John Ringo's 'Black Tide Rising' zombie apocalypse series is exactly what you are seeking. (4 novels and an anthology now, the fifth novel due in November and a second anthology in March 2019). Baen's ebooks are DRM-free.

HM.

Replies:   StarFleet Carl
AmigaClone

@Dominions Son


If it happened suddenly, even with no violence, 99% of the population just disappeared, the electric grid would fail, everywhere, within hours. Indoor running water would be gone within days.


My guess that how long the various electric grids in the world would last depends on a number of factors. The biggest of these would be luck. In some cases the survivors might be able to isolate a portion of the grid and continue having electricity even after most of the world's electrical grids are down - some permanently.

As for indoor running water - that probably would depend a lot on the location. Some places might not have running water for an hour after the lights go out. Other locations could have running water for a little longer - in some cases there alternative power sources to run the pumps serving the location, in others the water would come from gravity fed reservoirs.

StarFleet Carl

@helmut_meukel

I think John Ringo's 'Black Tide Rising' zombie apocalypse series is exactly what you are seeking.


I agree. Faith Marie Smith and her adventures rock!

FWIW, I'm on my own Chapter 3 of a story based in this world. We'll see how it goes - I want to get it done before I post it here. (If you've read stuff on the forums, this was why I had a discussion on roof loads and farming on the roof a Sam's Club.)

Remus2

Modern water works require electricity to run. When electricity goes, so does every municipal water source required for delivery. Backup generators only have so much fuel, some of the locations have no backup, and yet others are in disrepair such that they will fail to start. On the whole, the grid goes, so does the water.

The water, while critical, is of secondary importance to sewage/waste management. Without 'electric' pumps, it will back up fast. That covers anything from a small town to all major cities. Backed up sewage like that will become dangerous to the health of every single person living in areas with centralized waste management. No zombies required there.

Even rural homes will have problems if they don't have a source of water to flush into septic tanks.

Then there is heating and or cooling. Modern structures are not designed around alternative sources for that. A makeshift draft could be set up in high enough buildings for cooling, but heating becomes a problem.

Bottom line is, modern living is designed around all things electric. If the electricity dies on a world scale, most of the world's population is going with it.

Dominions Son

@tendertouch

It also hasn't been that long in the United States since a large portion of the population lived on small farms that were worked largely by hand tool with some draught animal assistance.


It's been long enough that few are left with the skills to do it.

There are still books out there on how to do it


Yes, but how many copies and will they be accessible to those who need them.

Replies:   StarFleet Carl
Dominions Son

@AmigaClone

My guess that how long the various electric grids in the world would last depends on a number of factors. The biggest of these would be luck.


Nope. Luck won't be a factor. Load and demand on the grid have to be constantly balanced down to time scales of seconds. Constant adjustments have to be made to maintain that balance.

If the people with the knowledge, skill and physical access to the control systems are dead, the grid will fail very, very quickly.

And generation all has to be phase/frequency synced. If a large number of power plants go off grid, it can take weeks and a hell of a lot of coordination to get them back on line.

julian43

You could try:
https://storiesonline.net/a/Howard_Faxon/13
https://storiesonline.net/s/56154/yellowstone

sunkuwan

Even without running water, sewage, and electricity, you could set up a rudimentary toilet system with relative ease.
The original system only needed gravity, tanks, pipes, and mechanical levers.

And if we are talking 99% death rate, any new sewage would not pose a problem if you dump it far away or in rivers.
Even electricity should not be a problem for 2 to 3 decades. Either settle somewhere where there already exist windpower or solar power or set up a gasoline-powered generator until you scavenged enough solar panels and have the know-how to set them up.

Location, Location, Location, is your biggest long-time goal.
- somewhere without heavy weather phenomenon's
- not in an earthquake region
- no big winters
- no dry summers
- big rivers could be dangerous the first decades because of naturalisation
- go far away from industrial centers, those could become death zones (chemical spills, biohazards, uncontrolled fires, crumbling buildings and infrastructure)
- and then there are the nuclear plants... Even if they are turned off, you would never know if there was a leak and your whole region gets radiated.

It would be best if you migrate to a medium-sized Island with good weather and just pray that there are no nuclear meltdowns or biological containment failures in those labs who experimented with deadly biological weapons.

Replies:   Remus2
StarFleet Carl

@Dominions Son

It's been long enough that few are left with the skills to do it.


I think it depends upon where you are in this country, and something that may surprise you, upon your religion.

Amish may have, to a certain extent, taken to using some things modern, but modern to them is may be a tractor that still has steel wheels.

And when you get into rural America, away from the cities, it's not a big deal to still have the windmill out back to pump water from underground for the animal troughs. It may be more convenient to have electricity, but rural families also know that in the winter, or with spring storms, electricity can be cut off for hours, days, or even weeks if the infrastructure gets destroyed by a tornado. So you have back-ups. And most of them HAVE those books already.

City folks? Yeah, they'll die. But to paraphrase the song, country folk can survive!

Remus2

@sunkuwan

Even without running water, sewage, and electricity, you could set up a rudimentary toilet system with relative ease.


You should try it sometime. Especially in any town over 25k for population. Short of an outhouse, it's not that easy.

Replies:   sunkuwan
sunkuwan

@Remus2

We are still talking about an apocalyptic event that kills 99% of the Population.

In the rural region where I grew up are several "green" families with houses that are nearly self-sufficient.
One of my parent's neighbors has:
- a 4000-liter rainwater tank, that he uses for toilet flushing, watering the garden and sometimes for the washing machine (it has a filter, it is not recommended for a shower (rather, you have to build in a specific filtering system to be lawful), but it is fine for a washing machine). In a normal rain-year he has no problems with using it for all 3 things with a 5-Person household. You just have to decide in the summer if you can use the washing machine the rest of the year or if there was too little rain (like this summer)
- a wood-powered central heating system. Fancy-pancy metropolitan wannabe's use pellet heating systems. but he has a combi-heating-system. he can use industrial pellets and normal wood in the heater. So, if the pellets ever run out, he can always use normal wood. (and with 99% of humanity gone, there should be no problem to just visit a pellet warehouse and get that stuff)
- Solar-panels on the roof, of course. You are not using it for heating, so there should be enough.

Sewage: The whole system in the region is mechanical, gravity-based with several backwater-flaps along the pipes.

Sure, only 2 to 5% of the houses have the whole package, and ca. 20 to 30% have part of the package, but we are talking 99% gone. It should be no problem to pick one house and survive for the first years.
If there is no infrastructure problems or damages in the sewage system, you can also use it for several years, because only a tiny fraction will use it. (You have to be cautious about systems that also heavily use it for rainwater transport)

PotomacBob

@tendertouch

There are still books out there on how to do it - I think I still have a few and I know my neighbors have shelves of them.


if that's in the U.S., what general section of the country, please?

PotomacBob

@AmigaClone

in others the water would come from gravity fed reservoirs.


I have no idea whether it's accurate, but I took a Circle Line tour around Manhattan, and the guide on the boat said Manhattan's water comes from up-state reservoirs and gravity will, in most cases, deliver water up to the 7th floor of buildings (depending on how high the bottom floor is).

StarFleet Carl

@PotomacBob

what general section of the country


I'd say any rural area that's not specifically on the east coast.

Having said that, I know my relatives that live in rural Indiana do, as do my friends here that live in (relatively) rural Oklahoma.

I specify it that way because the whole OKC metro area has a population of 1.35 million over 6,359 square miles - or basically Connecticut and Rhode Island for land size, but not the 4.6 million people that live in those two states.

Another way to look at it is that Oklahoma and Kansas combined are just slightly smaller than California. With 6.8 million TOTAL population in both states, nowhere NEAR the nearly 40 million that live in California. It's easy to find rural communities out here where everyone has the Foxfire books or their equivalent. The Mormons in Utah believe in self-sufficiency, same as the Amish in Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

Replies:   PotomacBob
tendertouch

@PotomacBob

what general section of the country, please?


Rural Pacific Northwest.

Replies:   StarFleet Carl
StarFleet Carl

@tendertouch

Rural


I think that's the key word in both our comments. And keep in mind that rural in many parts of America means REALLY rural. As in, your nearest neighbor may live 10 (or more) miles away. And I'm not talking about Alaska, I'm talking about down here in the lower 48.

docholladay

The major survival tool which will have to be used is their minds. If they panic they are much more likely to have major accidents leading potentially to death. Regardless of resources the mind is number one on the survival tool list. Survivors will have to use it from the very start.

Replies:   Remus2
PotomacBob

@StarFleet Carl


I'd say any rural area that's not specifically on the east coast.

You mean excluding anything east of the Appalachian Mountains? Or are you talking about an even smaller area (say, maybe, excluding only the largest cities)?

Replies:   StarFleet Carl
StarFleet Carl

@PotomacBob

You mean excluding anything east of the Appalachian Mountains? Or are you talking about an even smaller area (say, maybe, excluding only the largest cities)?


Figure Portland, Maine for the north, Richmond, Virginia, for the South, and east of the mountains. There's a lot of territory there, including some good land. There's just too many people in that area, though. Population density for the Boston - Washington corridor is 1,000 per square mile - 20% of the U.S. population on only 2% of the total land.

I think that's where a lot of confusion about just how freaking empty it can be out here in rural or relatively rural America comes from, because if you haven't lived out here, you just don't get it. You can drive on a road for miles - sometimes 5 to 10 miles - and not see a house.

Obviously the Foxfire books are ABOUT the Appalachian folk, so we KNOW they can handle stuff.

Replies:   sunkuwan
sunkuwan

@StarFleet Carl

what are the weather patterns (especially wind destinations) where are the nearest nuclear power plants? A nice rural place is worthless if it is near nuclear power plants or in the path of the wind coming from them.

Replies:   PotomacBob
PotomacBob

@sunkuwan

Does that assume that something bad MUST happen at nuclear power plants in post-apoc worlds?

Replies:   Keet
Keet

@PotomacBob

Does that assume that something bad MUST happen at nuclear power plants in post-apoc worlds?

That's just a matter of time. Eventually, without maintenance, something will 'happen'.

Replies:   helmut_meukel
helmut_meukel

@Keet

Does that assume that something bad MUST happen at nuclear power plants in post-apoc worlds?


That's just a matter of time. Eventually, without maintenance, something will 'happen'.


That depends.
In most cases the automatical shut-down will work. If it does, fine, no problem for thousands of years.
If it doesn't, then...

Much depends on the type of apocalypse and how the people on-site will react to it. Will they foolishly override the automatical shut-down? ...

BTW, why do you single-out nuclear power plants? A chemical plant may be even more problematic. Anyone who remembers Seveso? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seveso_disaster

HM.

Replies:   Keet  sunkuwan
Keet

@helmut_meukel

Much depends on the type of apocalypse and how the people on-site will react to it. Will they foolishly override the automatical shut-down? ...

The type of apocalypse surely would make a difference. A meteor strike and flooding would cause the structural integrity to fail, immediately or after some time. Even after shut-down a nuclear reactor must be maintained or at a minimum the radio active materials must be removed and secured or they will become a hazard after some undetermined time.
It would also make a difference whether or not there are people left with the knowledge to handle those hazards. The worst would be if there's just some people left that don't even know that a nuclear installation can be so dangerous.

Replies:   StarFleet Carl
sunkuwan

@helmut_meukel

I have outlined biological and chemical issues some posts prior in this thread.

Replies:   StarFleet Carl
StarFleet Carl

@Keet

Even after shut-down a nuclear reactor must be maintained or at a minimum the radio active materials must be removed and secured or they will become a hazard after some undetermined time.


There is a reason why they have those big containment domes over them. The undetermined time is probably measured in decades, if not centuries.

Again, assume a Thanos type event. The plants will have a SCRAM event. Their automatic backup and cooling systems will run out of fuel and power, so they'll shut down. And eventually, probably, the decay heat will get high enough to finally melt out of the innermost containment vessel.

Which means it ends up inside containment vessel two. And then containment vessel three. The big cylindrical domes over nuclear power plants, that are typically anywhere from 3 to 12 feet thick concrete, are containment vessel four.

What that does mean is that bad things won't happen downwind for quite some time.

Now, a meteor strike and flooding catastrophic event are actually a wholly different thing. Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle used that in their book, 'Lucifer's Hammer', where a power plant DID survive the apocalyptic event of hitting Earth with part of a comet. Thing to keep in mind in that kind of event is simple - even if there is total destruction of the nuclear power plant such that the inner containment vessel is ruptured and the fuel rods are spread out, it's really not going to make a lot of difference. And the reason why is simple. There IS no such thing as downwind, and probably won't be anything like downwind for months afterwards.

That's what Al Steiner was referencing in his book, and so does everyone else who ends up with an ocean strike. (And why the movie 'Deep Impact' sucked balls as far as accuracy of what would happen after a comet strike.)

Replies:   PotomacBob
StarFleet Carl

@sunkuwan

I have outlined biological and chemical issues some posts prior in this thread.


Yeah, all the chemical plants would make for one heck of a disaster, in and of themselves. Just imagine all the oil refineries without anyone to turn them off, and then those things blow up. In and of themselves, that'll wipe out the Chicago area (the Whiting, Indiana refineries), Houston, San Francisco, Saint Louis, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles.

Replies:   PotomacBob
Remus2

@docholladay

The major survival tool which will have to be used is their minds.

That begs a question. How many will use their mind? Better yet, how many are using it now? Unbiased critical thinking is a very rare quality based upon my personal experience.

Replies:   docholladay
Remus2

I am much more worried about petrochemical than I am nuclear.

Having said that, I'd be in favor of shutting down every BWR (boiling water reactor). Fukushima was a BWR of a design still running in the U.S.

Three Mile Island unit 2 was a PWR (pressurized water reactor). The design was good, but you can't fix stupid. Even withstanding multiple extreme operator errors and screwed up component installations, the design still held when the core melted preventing a catastrophe.

Every graphite moderated reactor out there should be shut down as well. Think Chernobyl, and that's just the one the USSR fessed up to.

Obliterous

@Remus2

for safety, Helium pebble bed or LFTR(or similar) is the way to go; neither one is capable of criticality events.

Dominions Son

@Obliterous

for safety, Helium pebble bed or LFTR(or similar) is the way to go;


Or molten salt thorium reactors.

PotomacBob

@StarFleet Carl

Again, assume a Thanos type event. The plants will have a SCRAM event.


I tried assuming a Thanos type event and it SCRAMBled my brain. Can you tell me what those things mean?

Replies:   StarFleet Carl
PotomacBob
Updated:

@StarFleet Carl


Yeah, all the chemical plants would make for one heck of a disaster, in and of themselves. Just imagine all the oil refineries without anyone to turn them off, and then those things blow up. In and of themselves, that'll wipe out the Chicago area (the Whiting, Indiana refineries), Houston, San Francisco, Saint Louis, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles.


Are you talking about two different things here - chemical plants and oil refineries? Or is there a connection between exploding chemical plants and the inability of someone to turn things off at oil refineries?

PotomacBob

@Obliterous

LFTR


wha dat?

Replies:   Keet
Keet

@PotomacBob

LFTR

wha dat?

For the lazy, first search result: Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor

Remus2

LCR (lead fast cooled reactor) modular 50-150Mw stackable units has the highest safety potential out there. The lead has a secondary benefit of trapping neutron flux, thus no huge neutron shield infrastructure necessary.

These units are stackable. Meaning 4-5 of them could be run in about 1/4 of the footprint for an equivalent output.

The issue with them is the same as its benefit from the commercial standpoint. They cannot have criticality issues, but if it has to be shut down in a hurry for any reason, it effectively entombs itself, never to be run again. From a public/environmental safety aspect, that's an excellent feature, but commercially it's a disaster.

Nuclear power can be safe, but it's not going to be cheap.

Replies:   PotomacBob  Obliterous
docholladay

@Remus2

How many will use their mind?


Yet its both the first tool and weapon we have historically had. Also its the one tool/weapon which can not be taken away from us by any authority group. Of course any usage of this tool/weapon is bound to be biased, since its sole purpose is the individual's survival, not the group's.

PotomacBob

@Remus2

Nuclear power can be safe, but it's not going to be cheap.


Oh ye of little faith! I remember when the nuclear industry promised us that electricity from nuclear plants would be "too cheap to meter." You don't expect me to believe that private enterprise would lie to us, do you?

Replies:   Remus2
StarFleet Carl

@PotomacBob

I tried assuming a Thanos type event and it SCRAMBled my brain. Can you tell me what those things mean?


If you've seen any of the Avengers or other Marvel universe movies or read any Marvel comics, then you know that Thanos is THE bad guy there. In the latest movie, Thanos gets all of the Infinity stones and in order to save the galaxy and all planets from themselves, snaps his fingers and instantly kills half the population. Everywhere.

Thus, a Thanos type event is basically with the snap of your fingers, people are dead. As opposed to a zombie apocalypse or disease vector apocalypse where you still kill nearly everyone off, it just takes a few days, weeks, or months for it to happen. In THOSE kinds of events, you'd have time to prepare.

A SCRAM event is inserting the control rods into a reactor to shut it down. There's basically two types of SCRAM events.. One is the normal, we're shutting the reactor down, let's get everything in order, then put the rods into place. Great, it's shut down, life is good. The other is the, oh shit, hit the kill switch, type of event, and we're screwed if that doesn't work.

Replies:   PotomacBob  redthumb
StarFleet Carl

@Remus2

Three Mile Island unit 2 was a PWR (pressurized water reactor). The design was good, but you can't fix stupid. Even withstanding multiple extreme operator errors and screwed up component installations, the design still held when the core melted preventing a catastrophe.


Exactly. You had a catastrophic LOCA (loss of cooling accident) and the net result for the two million people living in the area was they received excess radiation dosing of about 1/6th that from a normal chest x-ray. And even the people at the plant received the equivalent of one years normal background radiation exposure.

There's been 50 some odd major accidents at nuclear power plants in the US over the last 60 years. There have been a lot of deaths due to those accidents, but all but four of those have been due to electrocution (someone grabbed the wrong wire) or simple industrial accidents (something heavy fell on them). The last person killed in the US due to actual radiation was in 1964, with the other three radiation deaths due to the SL-1 meltdown in 1961.

(Okay, technically they were killed due to the effects of the steam explosion, but the amount of radiation they received, which also made their bodies so radioactive they were buried in lead coffins, would have killed them anyway.
Also note that there have been other deaths due to radiation exposure, but they weren't at power plants, they were due to industrial accidents mixing or working with radioactive materials.)

Remus2

@PotomacBob

You don't expect me to believe that private enterprise would lie to us, do you?


They are just as reliable as the U.S. Native American treaties. You can trust them, just ask any Indian...

Obliterous

@Remus2

but if it has to be shut down in a hurry for any reason, it effectively entombs itself


This is why I vote for the other two, they can be restarted. :-)

Replies:   Remus2
Remus2

@Obliterous

for safety, Helium pebble bed or LFTR(or similar) is the way to go; neither one is capable of criticality events.


This is why I vote for the other two, they can be restarted. :-)


Agreed, they are a better option commercially. My comment was driven by the "for safety" part.

However, by the time the industry gets around to a new standard, I expect fusion to have become viable.

Replies:   samuelmichaels
samuelmichaels

@Remus2

However, by the time the industry gets around to a new standard, I expect fusion to have become viable.

"Commercial fusion is twenty years away. And always will be". But perhaps the same can be said about commercial deployment of new fission designs.

Remus2

@samuelmichaels

Commercial fusion is twenty years away. And always will be". But perhaps the same can be said about commercial deployment of new fission designs.


20-25 years is about right in both cases.

awnlee jawking

@samuelmichaels

"Commercial fusion is twenty years away. And always will be".


Heh, it was twenty years away forty years ago.

AJ

Replies:   sunkuwan  StarFleet Carl
sunkuwan

@awnlee jawking

That's what he said.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Ernest Bywater

@samuelmichaels

"Commercial fusion is twenty years away. And always will be". But perhaps the same can be said about commercial deployment of new fission designs.


I'd say longer because for over 20 years research in those fields have been all but shut down, and what little is done is so tightly regulated there's no advancement at all.

awnlee jawking

@sunkuwan

I was just confirming it. I seem to recall about that time a report in a TV science prog about a breakthrough in containing fusion within a magnetic 'bottle', and that commercial fusion reactors might be reality within a decade.

AJ

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@awnlee jawking

I was just confirming it. I seem to recall about that time a report in a TV science prog about a breakthrough in containing fusion within a magnetic 'bottle', and that commercial fusion reactors might be reality within a decade.


That was quite a long time back, and the break through was about the creation of the magnetic bottle, if I remember the story properly. Within a couple of years all research in that field, and a few others close to it, were shut down as the hyper-active nuclear disaster around the corner people got the major governments to all but eliminate anything remotely connected to nuclear research. Never mind the fact the ability to create a good sized magnetic bottle would be a brilliant way to contain any nuclear disaster it got killed because it was nuclear research and all such research was now on the automatically bad list.

Remus2
Updated:

The issue with mission creep has long since been resolved regarding fusion.

https://www.popularmechanics.com/science/energy/a27961/mit-nuclear-fusion-experiment-increases-efficiency/

https://www.popularmechanics.com/science/energy/a21945982/german-nuclear-fusion-experiment-sets-records-for-stellarator-reactor/

https://www.popularmechanics.com/science/a19159744/graphene-superconductor/

The problem with fusion is two fold.

1. Superconductors

2. Fuel

1. The magnetic bottle to contain and control the fusion, is restricted in usefulness due to the large amount energy required to create it.

*The first law, also known as Law of Conservation of Energy, states that energy cannot be created or destroyed in an isolated system.

*The second law of thermodynamics states that the entropy of any isolated system always increases.

*The third law of thermodynamics states that the entropy of a system approaches a constant value as the temperature approaches absolute zero.

Any discussion of known science regarding contained fusion is therefore tied at the hip to near or actual room temperature superconductor research. In short, viability is dependent upon getting more energy out of it than is used to produce it (contain the reaction). Either throw more energetic fuel at it, or increase the efficiency of containment.

2. Fuel-The best fuel is also the rarest. That being helium-3.


Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen and is typically produced by bombarding lithium-6 with neutrons in a nuclear reactor. Tritium decays into helium-3 with a half-life of 12.3 years, so helium-3 can be produced by simply storing the tritium until it undergoes radioactive decay.


https://m.esa.int/Our_Activities/Preparing_for_the_Future/Space_for_Earth/Energy/Helium-3_mining_on_the_lunar_surface

Due to the rarity of helium-3, deuterium was the focus for fuel in research since the 60s. That carried all the way until around 2005. Then rumors of Chinese efforts focusing on He3 began to surface.

Then in 2007 this surfaces;

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_Lunar_Exploration_Program

Ouyang Ziyuan, a geologist and chemical cosmologist, was among the first to advocate the exploitation not only of known lunar reserves of metals such as titanium, but also of helium-3, an ideal fuel for future nuclear fusion power plants. He currently serves as the chief scientist of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program. Another scientist, Sun Jiadong, was assigned as the general designer, while scientist Sun Zezhou was assigned as the deputy general designer. The leading program manager is Luan Enjie.


The jig was up when that hit the streets. Over the last decade, more and more information regarding China's fusion research efforts have surfaced. They are now at parity with the west and moving past in that regards.

A lot of folks questioned and still question recent big talk out of the west regarding its recent efforts to return to the moon. Now you know why. You also know why the focus has been on location of ice on the moon as H2O, more importantly the H - hydrogen is the base of tritium, which is the base of helium-3 (beta decay of tritium).

The Chinese are focusing on remote operations from low earth orbit for lunar activities. Those lunar activities are focused on remote extraction of materials. Putting a Chinese boot on the moon is only a tertiary goal.

Bottom line is, no more than 25 years from now if the world doesn't blow itself up. You can rest assured the Chinese won't screw around with this as they already smell the end goal. The west can either get their heads out of their collective arse or be left behind.

Replies:   richardshagrin
StarFleet Carl

@awnlee jawking

it was twenty years away forty years ago.


Doesn't that still sort of apply to the electric car?

It's the next great thing - and always will be.

At least until we all have our Doc Brown Mr. Fusion reactors, then who cares?

Replies:   Remus2  awnlee jawking
Remus2

@StarFleet Carl

In 25 years, fusion will be here. The next big thing after that will likely be this;

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero-point_energy

ZPE is currently what fission was in 1920. I won't be alive to see it, but I expect my son's will.

richardshagrin

@Remus2

laws of thermodynamics


I studied Physics a long, long time ago. But I remember the 3 laws as 1) You can't win. 2) You can't break even. And 3) You can't get out of the game.

Replies:   Remus2
Remus2

@richardshagrin

Must have studied that version in Vegas.

awnlee jawking

@StarFleet Carl

Doesn't that still sort of apply to the electric car?


People are buying them already, albeit with large subsidies in the UK.

As a UK govt minister recently admitted, we're legislating towards an all electric future. We just have to develop electric vehicles worth buying in the meantime.

Motoring correspondents are being silenced when they try to criticise the ranges of electric vehicles, but as a rule of thumb, you're pretty safe sticking to half the manufacturers' range claims and that will allow you to run climate control, windscreen wipers, headlights, entertainment systems etc and reach your destination without running out of juice. So when manufacturers claim a car can travel 1000 miles on a single charge, you're probably getting something equivalent to today's petrol-fuelled mile-gobblers, which can squeeze 500 miles out of a single tank.

One aspect also to be addressed is reliability. Car electrics are traditionally the weakest part of a vehicle, and today's petrol cars need more visits to a garage than their historic versions because they contain so much electrical gadgetry.

Recent reliability statistics show Tesla at rock bottom - about half break down in their first year.

AJ

Replies:   StarFleet Carl  joyR
StarFleet Carl

@awnlee jawking

So when manufacturers claim a car can travel 1000 miles on a single charge, you're probably getting something equivalent to today's petrol-fuelled mile-gobblers, which can squeeze 500 miles out of a single tank.


Which between that and recharge / refill times, is the weak point. When I was moving from Indiana to Oklahoma, I could get in, drive to St. Louis, fill up, and then drive the rest of the way here. 800 miles, 13 hours.

Real life range in an electric, drive 100 miles, stop for two hours while it recharges, rinse, repeat, and that 800 mile trip now takes 32 hours.

Electrics can make sense in an urban area. Out here? Nope.

Replies:   jimh67  Keet
jimh67

@StarFleet Carl

The two hour recharge assumes you don't have to wait 4 hours while those ahead of you in line recharge.

Keet

@StarFleet Carl

Real life range in an electric, drive 100 miles, stop for two hours while it recharges, rinse, repeat, and that 800 mile trip now takes 32 hours.

The major problem with electric cars is not the miles you can drive, it's the time required for recharging. A range of 200 miles is more then enough for most trips IF you can recharge as fast a you would at a gas station AND every gas station has the charging equipment.

Remus2

Electric cars are something room temperature Superconductors are tied to for viability. As it stands, stripped of hype, electric cars are not a viable solution for long or medium distance driving.

Until the efficiency of transfer increases massively, electric cars will remain as hyped up golf carts. When those conductors do come out (~10-15 years), every current design will go in the trash and be near worthless.

Hybrids are the best option currently, as that technology has long since been proven. It won't leave you waiting two hours to charge either.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Remus2

Hybrids are the best option currently, as that technology has long since been proven. It won't leave you waiting two hours to charge either.


Most of the hybrids on the market today are dual drive train. In addition to the electric motors, they have a standard mechanical transmission and drive train that are used when running on the gas motor. The extra weight is a significant drag on fuel efficiency.

Electric drive train only hybrids are coming though. The electric drive train is far more efficient in terms of energy transfer to ground and thereby into motion. Not only is the drive train itself more efficient, but internal combustion engines are most efficient at about half their maximum output. The electric only drive train with the engine hooked only to a generator with a battery to act as a buffer will let the engine just hum along in it's efficiency sweet spot no matter how fast or slow you are driving.

Replies:   Remus2
Ernest Bywater

Electric only cars are severely limited due to the battery storage.

However, long range electric drive vehicles are a very old and well-established technology that has not been applied to an electric car I've seen on the market. We call them diesel-electric trains. They have a diesel motor running a generator which powers direct drive motors on the drive wheels, so there is no 'drive train' to worry about. I give examples of how it can be applied to cars in a few of my stories. Yet the car manufacturers aren't going that route at all in any serious way. I've heard of one all electric car that has an extended range option of a tiny generator.

Replies:   StarFleet Carl
Remus2

@Dominions Son

I was aware of that. The electric drive technology has been around a while in the form of diesel–electric locomotives. Why scaled down versions of that are only just now appearing is a matter of greed. For that matter, that's also the reason more efficient car engines as a whole are still rare.

When the government gets around to taxing us in a way that fuel taxes are replaced with a new scheme, then wide spread use of more efficient engines will be seen. Until that time, they will continue their shell games. Folks should look hard at what percentage of the cost per gallon goes to taxes.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Remus2

Why scaled down versions of that are only just now appearing is a matter of greed.


True, but the full story is a little more complicated than that.

GM (who is also one of the biggest manufacturers of diesel electric locomotives) was going to come out with a gas/electric electric only drive train hybrid years ago, they did a full court press drive on it more than a year in advance. However, the manufactures with traditional dual drive train hybrids complained to the US regulators complaining that the electric drive train only wasn't a hybrid as they had defined the term.

The US regulators bought that argument and prohibited GM from calling the new vehicle a hybrid. After consulting with the regulators, GM started referring to it as an "extended range" electric car. But that didn't play well with focus groups from the target market, so GM eventually shelved the idea and when the model name they had been using finally it the market, it was a standard dual drive train hybrid.

Just a couple of years ago, the DOT ran a challenge for higher fuel efficiency semi tractors. Average millage for a standard diesel semi tractor under load is around 12.5 miles/gallon. The DOT was hoping for a 50% improvement. Freightliner entered a electric drive train only diesel/electric tractor. It did have solar panels on the trailer, but that was only enough to take some of the load from the AC and other accessories off the engine. The Freightliner diesel/electric tractor was the only entry to qualify on the preliminary round. The DOT ran a test on it hauling a 60,000 pound load across the state of Texas (around 600 miles).

The Freightliner diesel/electric tractor managed to average 22 MPG in the over road test under load.

StarFleet Carl

@Ernest Bywater

Yet the car manufacturers aren't going that route at all in any serious way. I've heard of one all electric car that has an extended range option of a tiny generator.


This is in response to both you and Remus2.

I have had this discussion multiple times literally over the years with my friends in the car business. Why is there not a simple engine - maybe a small, 200cc four stroke engine - under the hood, powering a generator that then sends power to 4 direct drive electric motors on each wheel. Basically it's come down to two reasons.

One is surprisingly simple. Those people who are pushing for electric cars in the industry want them to be totally electric, completely eliminating the need for an external fuel source other than the wall socket. They would be admitting failure to tell someone, okay, you can get this car with a 200 pound engine, you still need to fill the 20 gallon gas tank, because their whole point is to eliminate the need for gasoline, which obviously this doesn't do.

Which brings up the OTHER problem. Efficiency. The reason a train works for what it does is that it can move a LOT of cargo all at once. CSX (a big American railroad) likes to say that it can move a ton of freight 470 miles on a single gallon of fuel. That's all well and good, because they're comparing that to a regular semi truck, which according to them can move a ton of freight 134 miles on a gallon of fuel.

Except that's not right as far as actual fuel consumption is concerned. Current fuel efficient big rig semis get a little better than 6 miles per gallon. The diesel electric locomotive gets 6 gallons to the mile. Where the train shines is in the amount of cargo it hauls. The semi can haul 20 tons. The diesel electric can haul 3,000 tons. There's been many a time I've watched a Road Railer consist go by (those are semi-trailers that have train wheels built in, so they can go both on road AND on rail) of 100 trailers being pulled by a single engine. And of course, you don't need to be a detective to know that the train went by, it left its tracks.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater  Remus2
Ernest Bywater

@StarFleet Carl

One is surprisingly simple. Those people who are pushing for electric cars in the industry want them to be totally electric, completely eliminating the need for an external fuel source other than the wall socket.


I agree that's probably the main reason.

In some of my stories I mention diesel electric cars because I've seen one. A fellow rebuilt a car with a destroyed engine and drive train. he was a retired railway mechanic who spent a life working on diesel-electric railway engines. He often said that based on tonnage for mile there was no more efficient motive force out there. Like you mention, the big train suck in fuel, but when you work it out based on a per ton per mile it's a totally different answer.

Anyway, he replaced the engine with a 1 litre generator which he used to power a single old railway drive motor he rewired and installed on the rear axle in place of the differential to direct drive a new single rear axle. He didn't get it registered because it would've cost thousands of bucks to go through the bureaucratic process of certification. But he did use it as a nice off-road vehicle for getting around the paddocks of his family's large farm. He was getting over 60 miles to the gallon out of it.

I'm sure a more effective method could be designed and put in place today, but the closest you see is an all electric car my son mentioned that has a very tiny generator option as a range extender to recharge the batteries. But the US gov't restricts the size of the fuel tank you can have on it.

Replies:   StarFleet Carl
Remus2

@StarFleet Carl

Except that's not right as far as actual fuel consumption is concerned. Current fuel efficient big rig semis get a little better than 6 miles per gallon. The diesel electric locomotive gets 6 gallons to the mile. Where the train shines is in the amount of cargo it hauls. The semi can haul 20 tons. The diesel electric can haul 3,000 tons.

You do realize you've just made my point again right?

Reverse the logic. You've quoted 6 miles per gallon for both train and semi. How much fuel per ton to move that ton 6 miles?

awnlee jawking

@Remus2

You've quoted 6 miles per gallon for both train and semi.


You need to reread @StarfleetCarl's post. That's not what he wrote.

AJ

Replies:   Remus2
Remus2

@awnlee jawking

You need to reread @StarfleetCarl's post. That's not what he wrote.

Again;

Which brings up the OTHER problem. Efficiency. The reason a train works for what it does is that it can move a LOT of cargo all at once. CSX (a big American railroad) likes to say that it can move a ton of freight 470 miles on a single gallon of fuel. That's all well and good, because they're comparing that to a regular semi truck, which according to them can move a ton of freight 134 miles on a gallon of fuel.

Except that's not right as far as actual fuel consumption is concerned. Current fuel efficient big rig semis get a little better than 6 miles per gallon. The diesel electric locomotive gets 6 gallons to the mile. Where the train shines is in the amount of cargo it hauls. The semi can haul 20 tons. The diesel electric can haul 3,000 tons. There's been many a time I've watched a Road Railer consist go by (those are semi-trailers that have train wheels built in, so they can go both on road AND on rail) of 100 trailers being pulled by a single engine. And of course, you don't need to be a detective to know that the train went by, it left its tracks.

Replies: Ernest Bywater Remus2


I replied to the efficiency comment as quoted in the earlier post, and again in this post. It's a direct quote, so how could it not be what he wrote?

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Remus2

6 miles per gallon and six gallons per mile are not the same thing.

Sorry to pull you up over something so trivial - it distracts from your salient point about calculating the comparative costs per tonne.

AJ

Replies:   Remus2
Remus2

@awnlee jawking

I see what your saying now and stand corrected. Still the comparative cost are significant.

For six miles at 6 gallons per mile, it would be 36 gallons for 3,000 tonnes.
Arbitrary price per gallon at $3 it would be $108.00

The semi has to pull that 20 tons 150 times to equal the one pull by train. At that same six mile distance, that's 150 gallons or $450.00.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
StarFleet Carl

@Ernest Bywater

I'm sure a more effective method could be designed and put in place today, but the closest you see is an all electric car my son mentioned that has a very tiny generator option as a range extender to recharge the batteries. But the US gov't restricts the size of the fuel tank you can have on it.


Looking at what's out there right now ...

From electromotorsport, their AC-50 ac induction motor is designed for 73 hp and 110 ft-lbs of torque, so it can move 3,500 pounds of vehicle. Cost with controller is about $4,300, and motor needs 96V and 650A.

If I'm doing the math right - and I may not be - that means it needs a 60,000 watt generator. I found a Generac 15,000 watt generator that at half power uses 16 gallons of fuel for 10 hours of operation, for $2,800.

In the for what it's worth department, I can order a remanufactured 4.2L V-6 for my F-150 for under $2,500, with a $400 core charge.

StarFleetCarl

@Remus2

You've quoted 6 miles per gallon for both train and semi.


No, I didn't. 6 mpg is not the same as 6 gpm.

Note that on a per ton freight per mile, the train is the most efficient way to move freight. It also has less rolling friction than a rubber tire on an asphalt road - it's just getting the thing moving in the first place can be a pain.

tendertouch

@StarFleetCarl

it's just getting the thing moving in the first place can be a pain.


Which is the real reason for the diesel electric - the electric side provides full torque from go. Otherwise I'm pretty sure it's inefficient since you have losses at the diesel and losses generating electricity and losses using the electricity. But *for a train* the ability to pull hard from a dead stop is important enough to justify those inefficiencies.

Obliterous
Updated:

@tendertouch


Which is the real reason for the diesel electric - the electric side provides full torque from go.


there's another factor here as well, a GE dash 8-40cw locomotive can pull a lot of freight, but two or more locos can pull more freight together than they can individually.

The UP (union Pacific railways) number for allowable gross weight for car for unrestricted routing indicate a loaded weight of 134 tons per car.

I've watched trains that had in excess of 100 loaded boxcars being pulled by 3 dash-8s, and they do it quite handily. At over 100K Lbf (468 KiloNewtons!) peak tractive effort, these things really pull.

A third factor, and one that is normally overlooked, is that the entire train doesn't start moving at once; there is designed compressive loading in the draw bar(think big spring in between the couplers at each end) for each piece of rolling stock that allows each car to start moving at least a small amount before the next one starts, which reduces peak loads on the locomotive. a good engineer takes up coupler slack so as to avoid shock loads; there's always going to be a few bangs, but a good engineer manages his train so that they are near the locomotives, so that they happen at the lowest possible speed. (this is that distinctive banging you hear when a train gets moving)

dash 8-40cw: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GE_Dash_8-40CW

heavy freight starting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKl3IjwqqyU

Bonus view of a locomotive coupler while moving light loads: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IidlrYtK0bo

joyR

@awnlee jawking

As a UK govt minister recently admitted, we're legislating towards an all electric future. We just have to develop electric vehicles worth buying in the meantime.


Personally I look forward to a time when more than 60% of cars on our (UK) roads are all electric, NOT hybrid. Why?

Because the first winter with snow is, like this year going to see hundreds of cars stuck on motorways in the few inches of snow. (Pause whilst the Canadians et al have a good laugh) Stationary in the cold, the batteries will soon go flat running the heaters. Now, imagine the chaos when the roads finally start to clear. How do you charge hundreds of cars along a relatively short stretch of motorway? Who is planning to build charging stations with capacity for say one hundred simoultaneously?

Of course you could use recovery vehicles to shift them off the motorway, but to where? Just moving them to the nearest exit leaves them stranded and unable to charge.

Some drivers will probably plan ahead and carry small generators in their car in case they get stranded. And some will add a fuel can. The next step is to plug in the generator and run the heater, or even drive.

Accident waiting to happen? Carbon monoxide poisoning?

Not to mention that when those 60% of all cars on the road all plug in to charge at once, the capacity of the current power grid etc can't cope.

Not to mention power station capacity, but not to worry, that same government will be ready to build more power stations quickly, oil fired ones, no doubt. Because hey, we are going to save the world by forcing all electric cars onto the public. (Whilst ignoring all the issues raised if that actually happens).

Replies:   awnlee jawking
joyR

@StarFleetCarl

Note that on a per ton freight per mile, the train is the most efficient way to move freight.


Assuming you are correct, that only covers moving freight, not delivering it, which is the point of transporting it in the first place. Even if all freight being moved long distance was done by train, that still only gets that freight to the nearest railway goods yard. The it goes by truck to where it is needed.

How many railway goods yards have the space to handle that many trucks, vans etc? It's easy when moving bulk goods to one place with dedicated yards, coal to power station etc. It's another when handling a multitude of goods of all shapes and sizes all going to different delivery addresses. I can't recall ever having seen the Fedex express rolling down the tracks.

All freight includes everything now moved long distance by truck, whole different ball game. Not to mention scheduling, having the train stop at each location to ensure only local deliveries are made by truck. All those stops would mean perishable goods arriving at the far end as much as a day later than if as now moved long distance by truck.

Dominions Son

@tendertouch

Otherwise I'm pretty sure it's inefficient since you have losses at the diesel and losses generating electricity and losses using the electricity.


You would have exactly the same problems with a mechanical transmission. The transmission looses energy in the form of heat from internal friction.

Is the generator + electric motor 100% efficient? Of course not. The real question is: is the generator + electric motor(s) more or less efficient than a mechanical transmission.?

Everything I've read on it says the generator + electric motor(s) is more efficient than a mechanical transmission

Dominions Son

@joyR

I can't recall ever having seen the Fedex express rolling down the tracks.


The package delivery services (Fedex, UPS) do not handle wholesale deliveries. They move packages long distances by air, but then their total annual tonnage is probably less than a single large freight train.

Replies:   joyR  Ernest Bywater
joyR

@Dominions Son

They move packages long distances by air, but then their total annual tonnage is probably less than a single large freight train.


A quick google produced;

On an average day, UPS handles 15.8 million packages. FedEx, by contrast, averages north of 9 million packages per day.

So, probably not.

Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Dominions Son


The package delivery services (Fedex, UPS) do not handle wholesale deliveries.


From www.sec.gov report on UPS & subsidiaries:

Gross Weight Hauled (in millions of lbs) - 10,782 (2017) - 10,167 (2016) - 10,808 (2015)

Shipments (in thousands) - 10,203 (2017) - 9,954 (2016) - 10,433 (2015)

Revenue Per Hundredweight -$24.08 (2017) -$23.44 (2016) - $22.94 (2015)

I'll let you garner what you want from those stats.

typo edit

Replies:   Dominions Son
awnlee jawking

@Remus2

I see what your saying now


Thank you. I apologise if I came across as confrontational.

Your calculation shows transport by rail to be a clear winner, and yet it's not quite that simple IMO for a multitude of reasons. For example: a truck delivers produce to its final destination whereas produce has to be offloaded from a train onto a truck to complete its journey.

In the UK, train freight is decreasing and road freight is increasing. However the distances freight is transported are piffling compared to US cross-country journeys.

AJ

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
awnlee jawking

@joyR

Good points.

oil fired ones, no doubt


More likely gas, because gas isn't a fossil fuel ;)

AJ

Replies:   joyR
Ernest Bywater

@awnlee jawking

a truck delivers produce to its final destination whereas produce has to be offloaded from a train onto a truck to complete its journey.


While this is true in some situations, it's often not true. The most common option today is the truck takes a trailer load to the depot and leaves it there for another truck to deliver the next day or later that day. With so much freight now going in containers it doesn't really matter if the containers is moved off a rail car to a truck for the final leg of the journey or picked up by another truck at a truck depot for the final leg of the journey.

One you get past the items being collected and delivered in the local area you have depots in between with the loads being left in the depots for a period. Using rail with a decent network and operations schedule is far more cost efficient for most freight, especially large loads. Sadly, in most countries today the politicians and bureaucrats are too tied in with the trucking services, mostly with the drivers unions and the like.

Replies:   joyR
joyR

@awnlee jawking

More likely gas, because gas isn't a fossil fuel ;)


I was going for irony.

Though given the intelligence of government plus the oil companies...

Add in the surplus fuel not being sold to drivers and...

Ok, oil fired it is then.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
joyR

@Ernest Bywater

Using rail with a decent network and operations schedule is far more cost efficient for most freight, especially large loads.


Not really. It's only efficient for large loads going to the final destination.

You cannot have it both ways, claiming rail is more efficient using bulk load statistics then claim they are relative for non bulk, multi drop carriage.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@joyR

You cannot have it both ways, claiming rail is more efficient using bulk load statistics then claim they are relative for non bulk, multi drop carriage.


If I've a container of small parcels for delivery all over LA to ship from Boston, it's more energy efficient to put that container on a train to take it from Boston to the LA depot than to put it on the back of a truck to drive it all that way. once it gets to the other end it makes sense to split it up in the LA depot for the local delivery trucks to drop off. - - In short, this is what UPS and Fedex and DHL are doing, accumulate in one spot, ship as a bulk shipment, and split at the other end. The major difference is UPS et al are offering a faster service than the train which should als be a faster service than truck of the long haul.

Replies:   joyR
joyR

@Ernest Bywater

You are back to bulk goods going to a major hub again.

I stated non bulk multi drop. Besides which, if what you suggest was really more efficient in the real world. Then Fedex DHL etc would already be doing it.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
awnlee jawking

@joyR

Ok, oil fired it is then.


Nah, we Brits prefer to be reliant upon trustworthy countries, like Qatar and Russia :(

AJ

PotomacBob

@joyR

And some will add a fuel can


To an all-electric car. I was under the impression that an all-electric car uses no fuel and has no fuel tank.

Replies:   joyR
joyR

@PotomacBob

To an all-electric car. I was under the impression that an all-electric car uses no fuel and has no fuel tank.


Correct, the fuel can in question being for the small generator. Not the car.

Some drivers will probably plan ahead and carry small generators in their car in case they get stranded. And some will add a fuel can

Ernest Bywater

@joyR

You are back to bulk goods going to a major hub again.


There's a reason they call it freight, and when it gets past being something being collected and delivered in the same local area it becomes freight and dealt with that way.

BTW Bulk goods is something like a several railway car loads of the same product, not containers of mixed packages.

Replies:   joyR
PotomacBob

@StarFleet Carl

If you've seen any of the Avengers or other Marvel universe movies or read any Marvel comics,


Thanks for the explanation. I have seen none of the movies unless this year's Wonder Woman was one of them. The last time I read a Marvel comics story was before they were banned (for 25 years?) for being copycats of Superman.

joyR

@Ernest Bywater

There's a reason they call it freight, and when it gets past being something being collected and delivered in the same local area it becomes freight and dealt with that way.

BTW Bulk goods is something like a several railway car loads of the same product, not containers of mixed packages.


And your point is?

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@joyR

Trucks are not efficient for long haul, which you seem to be ignoring.

Replies:   PotomacBob  joyR
PotomacBob

@Ernest Bywater

I have no idea how "efficient" they might be, but there sure are a lot of trucks that travel long distances. It is possible that is because the trucks can pick up freight and deliver it to the final destination without having to unload. To use trains, something (probably a truck) has to get the freight to wherever the train is and then, at the other end, has to take it from the train to its final destination. THere's got to be some inefficiency in that.

Keet

@PotomacBob

THere's got to be some inefficiency in that.

And don't forget that they have to go back (or to the next destination), preferably WITH another freight. We have an incredibly dense train network here in the Netherlands and I know a lot of freight trains travel "back" without freight, all mostly during the night.

joyR

@Ernest Bywater

Trucks are not efficient for long haul, which you seem to be ignoring.


No, I'm agreeing with you, so long as it's bulk and to a single destination.

For the rest see what PotomacBob said in his answer to you.

Obliterous

Something everyone here SEEMS to be forgetting, is that trucks move by rail, ALL THE TIME!

One of my friends works for UPS, primarily transferring trailers to and from the rail freight yard, where they are loaded onto rail cars for cross country transfer.

Replies:   joyR
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

I'll let you garner what you want from those stats.


None of those stats would be relevant to the issue of wholesale deliveries which would imply the delivery of a minimum on one full semi trailer to a single customer at a single location. Stock deliveries to retail stores or warehouses.

joyR

@Obliterous

trucks move by rail, ALL THE TIME!


And

primarily transferring trailers to and from the rail freight yard, where they are loaded onto rail cars for cross country transfer.


(My bold)

Big difference between a truck and a trailer, especially when using it in the context we are discussing.

Ernest Bywater

@PotomacBob

It is possible that is because the trucks can pick up freight and deliver it to the final destination without having to unload.


No, because almost all long hauls trucks go depot to depot. The issue in the US is much the same as in Australia where the politicians linked with those making money out of the truck network took opportunities to cut down the train freight network to push loads onto trucks.

However, from what I hear about truck drivers in the US there's about to be a major issue there due to the lack of drivers.

What is on the rise is the use of Intermodal operations where they have train / truck depots moving containers around by switching them between transport types.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

What is on the rise is the use of Intermodal operations where they have train / truck depots moving containers around by switching them between transport types.


We already have that in the US. There are specialized Semi trailer designed to carry cargo containers, locking them down with the same cam lock system that's used to tie containers together on the big container ships.

Containers come off ships at ports and are loaded onto trains (or trucks if they are relatively local). IF they go by rail, at the final rail terminal, they are loaded onto semi trailers and are hauled to their content's final destination with no need to unload the container's contents and load it on a truck anywhere in the middle.

While they don't yet out number conventional semi-trailers, seeing semi-tractors hauling a container is not at all uncommon.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

There are specialized Semi trailer designed to carry cargo containers, locking them down with the same cam lock system that's used to tie containers together on the big container ships.


Such trucks have been around for decades, but you don't see them on long haul runs. They usually work the local area around an Intermodal depot. There's a big Intermodal depot near where I used to live where long trains of containers move in and out delivering or taking away containers. The local trucks run them to the various end delivery points, or from the shipper to the Intermodal.

One of the local delivery companies has contracts for a number of the major package services that don't have their local operations due to insufficient business to the area. They've a facility in Sydney where the national and international couriers they sub-contract for deliver what's to be delivered to this region. Each night a container goes from Sydney to the local Intermodal which then goes to the local company's depot and they have a number of trucks delivering to the local communities whatever came on the night's container. Each night they've another container going back the other way as well.

It's funny in that the same local guy can walk in and deliver packages from half a dozen different networks they sub-contract for. They used to have a bunch of signature sheets, but now they have it all on a special tablet where a scan of the bar code brings up the correct network's page for the e-signature.

Replies:   Dominions Son
helmut_meukel

@StarFleetCarl

Note that on a per ton freight per mile, the train is the most efficient way to move freight.


Not quite true, a cargo ship is more efficient. Not only by the sea, on inland waterways too.

HM.

Replies:   StarFleet Carl
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

Such trucks have been around for decades, but you don't see them on long haul runs.


That depends on what you call a long haul run. You can see them frequently on inter-state runs in the US.

Replies:   joyR
joyR

@Dominions Son

You can see them frequently on inter-state runs in the US.


As well as in the UK and Europe

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@joyR

The 10 largest US states are each individually larger than the entire UK. You have to get down to the 34th largest before you find a state smaller than half the size of the UK. The UK doesn't have long haul. :)

Replies:   joyR
StarFleet Carl

@helmut_meukel

Not only by the sea, on inland waterways too.


What are those? :)

Seriously, other than barges going up / down the Mississippi, we don't really have inland waterways here like you guys do in Europe. But then again, while Europe is larger than the U.S., it's not by much. And that's ALL of Europe. Individually, it's no comparison. France, for example, is slightly smaller than Texas by itself.

StarFleet Carl

@PotomacBob

I have no idea how "efficient" they might be, but there sure are a lot of trucks that travel long distances.


You have to take into account what is being carried in that semi trailer. Also the minor detail that many of those trailers aren't actually going straight coast to coast, they're going from terminal to terminal.

A lot of auto parts get delivered to the factories via truck because the factories operate on a just in time delivery system. So you might see trucks going from the parts plant in Iowa to the car plant in Indiana frequently. Loads that have to be delivered quickly do this as well.

Otherwise, when you need to deliver a big load really quickly, you use the NWP - Norfolk and WayPal...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuNLLn23nUA

joyR

@Dominions Son

You have to get down to the 34th largest before you find a state smaller than half the size of the UK. The UK doesn't have long haul. :)


Yes, it does. Just not within the UK, trucks move goods to and from the UK to all parts of Europe, including distances more than long enough to be classed as long haul.

So as you guys keep telling us, it's not the size that matters, it's what you do with it.

helmut_meukel

@StarFleet Carl

Seriously, other than barges going up / down the Mississippi, we don't really have inland waterways here like you guys do in Europe.


For freight going from the North Sea to the Black Sea and vice versa it's far shorter to go on inland waterways than by sea. (Danube – RMD canal – Rhine vs. Black Sea – Bosporus – Dardanelles – Mediterranean Sea - Strait of Gibraltar – around Portugal/Spain – Gulf of Biscay – English Channel – North Sea).

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main-Donau-Kanal#/media/File:Constanta-Rotterdam_DE.PNG

It probably makes sense to ship containers with destination Black Sea from the USA via Rotterdam – Rhine – Danube, but I doubt many dispatchers outside the shipping companies do know about this alternative. The shipping companies don't propagate this route, they make more money by sending the containers by sea ships to the Black Sea.

HM.

awnlee jawking

@StarFleet Carl

Being such a young nation, you by-passed many of the teething problems of early industrialisation. Heck, you never even had an era when monasteries had a monopoly on learning ;)

AJ

Jim S

@StarFleet Carl

What are those? :)

The US uses it's internal navigable waterways mainly for bulk products, i.e. coal, agricultural product, aggregate, some petroleum product, etc. And if by the Mississippi River you mean the Mississippi River watershed (including tributaries), I'd agree. Even so, the US does have over 36,000 miles of navigable inland waterways in use. The amount of freight moved isn't deminimis.

joyR

@StarFleet Carl

What are those? :)


Presumably the great lakes also count as inland waterways, at least as far as moving cargo by ship is concerned, not exactly canal boat conditions though.

Replies:   Jim S  StarFleet Carl
Jim S

@joyR

Presumably the great lakes also count as inland waterways, at least as far as moving cargo by ship is concerned, not exactly canal boat conditions though.

I should've mentioned that in my immediate previous post living as I do in a Great Lakes state. Mention should also be made of the Great Lakes connection to the Atlantic Ocean by the St. Lawrence Seaway.

As far as shipping on the Great Lakes, both internal and export, it's enormous. Figures that I saw from early 2000s put it over 160 million tons. I don't know what it is nowadays.

Replies:   Remus2
Remus2

@Jim S

That number is really low even for early 2k.

rodsyy

according to USACE Lock #27 at St. Louis, MO the tonnage going through in August 2018 was 7,183,620 tons. A good rule of thumb for river boat fuel consumed is
a gallon of fuel a day per horsepower, so if you are not running full ahead you would burn less fuel, the boat I worked on was rated 6200 horsepower but from St. Louis north we would only burn about 2000 gallons fuel a day or a little more figured about 10,000 a week. Rod

Replies:   PotomacBob
PotomacBob

@rodsyy

A good rule of thumb for river boat fuel consumed is
a gallon of fuel a day per horsepower,


Regardless of the load carried?

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@PotomacBob

Regardless of the load carried?


No, more load would require more horse power to move at all.

On the upper Mississippi (way upper, Wisconsin / Minnesota) you often see grain barges with 6-8 individual fully loaded barges lashed together with 1 pusher boat.

With only 1 horse power (or even 100 hp) they would be completely at the mercy of the current.

The pusher boats range from 600hp to 11,000hp, Pusher's north of St Louis on the Mississippi tend to be under 5000hp. The individual locks start getting too small to take that many barges through at one time.

Replies:   AmigaClone
AmigaClone

@Dominions Son

The individual locks start getting too small to take that many barges through at one time.


The locks on the Mississippi river range from 56 feet wide by 400 feet long (17 × 122 meters) in the Upper Mississippi to 110 feet wide by 1,200 feet long (34 x 370 meters) near St. Louis, Missouri.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@AmigaClone

The individual lock I am most familiar with at Trempealeau, WI is 110' x 600'.

The standard grain barges (which are what you see most often there) are 35' x 195 feet. With 8 barges in two columns of 4, they have to split the load in half and take it through the lock four barges at a time.

I may have seen one go through with 12 once, in 3 columns of 4, but at 105' wide, that's pushing the capacity of the lock.

StarFleet Carl

@joyR

Presumably the great lakes also count as inland waterways, at least as far as moving cargo by ship is concerned, not exactly canal boat conditions though.


You're probably right, although since there are specific Great Lakes freighters, I didn't even think of those. I was thinking of the barges and tugs you normally see on the Mississippi / Ohio rivers, which is what I'm most used to seeing, and thinking of the river / canal boats in Europe as a comparison.

We certainly don't have the interlocking series of navigable waterways to match those.

redthumb

@StarFleet Carl

If you've seen any of the Avengers or other Marvel universe movies or read any Marvel comics, then you know that Thanos is THE bad guy there.


That's fine, but what about those of us that don't see the movies or read those "books'?

Reading the posts, it appears that there is an area that hasn't been covered yet--that of growing crops. All the books in the world will do no good if the seed will not produce viable seed for the next year's crop. I recall reading that a lot of the hybrid seed will not reproduce by design. How much heirloom plants are out there?

Just my 2 cents.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@redthumb

I recall reading that a lot of the hybrid seed will not reproduce by design.


seeds don't reproduce at all, in any plant species. Seeds are the result of plant reproduction.

What has been done with the with a lot of the hybrids is that the seeds require specific conditions that are extremely unusual in nature in order to germinate(start growing). These conditions are kept as trade secrets by the seed companies.

LonelyDad
Updated:

I'll speak to hybrid corn, since I am familiar with that. Today's corm is what is known as a double hybrid. Start with four separate strains of corn, each with a desired trait. Cross breed them two and two, to come up with two strains that have some of the combined traits one wants. Next generation, cross breed those two strains. The result is the double hybrid seed that produces the yields and traits wanted for today's corn crops. you have combined the best parts of all four original strains into a single strain. The problem is that one can not just keep some of that corn and use it for seed for the next crop. It will grow, but will not breed true and produce the traits and yields that are wanted. In a post-apocclypse environment what one wants is a single strain of seed that produces a decent yield, and is able to be used as seed for next year's crop as well.

There are at least two seed repositories that I know of where seeds of the original strains are preserved, as well as seeds of plants that are disappearing through various reasons. I idea is that if something occurs like an apocalyptic even, or just a fungus or pest develops that makes it impossible to grow normal crops, those seeds would be available to start over.

Replies:   AmigaClone
AmigaClone

@LonelyDad


There are at least two seed repositories that I know of where seeds of the original strains are preserved, as well as seeds of plants that are disappearing through various reasons.


The question is how accessible would the seed repositories be in the case of an apocalyptic event?

For instance, it would not help someone living in the state of Kansas much if the nearest intact repository was 1,500 miles away and after the event 95% of all available transportation was human or animal powered.

Replies:   sunkuwan  StarFleet Carl
sunkuwan

@AmigaClone

Don't know if those are the two, but one is in the Swiss Alps and one in Norway.

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a secure seed bank on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen near Longyearbyen in the remote Arctic Svalbard archipelago

Franco

Somewhat related to this discussion is No Blade of Grass (The Death of Grass in the UK, 1956), a post apocalyptic novel. When a fungus kills all grasses, the protagonist's party travels across an England thrown into anarchy by famine to try to reach his brother's potato farm in Westmorland.

StarFleet Carl

@AmigaClone

For instance, it would not help someone living in the state of Kansas much if the nearest intact repository was 1,500 miles away and after the event 95% of all available transportation was human or animal powered.


The PURE strain seed repositories are located in isolated areas. Doesn't mean there still won't be seeds available locally, just that they may not produce the ideal crop.

It will grow, but will not breed true and produce the traits and yields that are wanted.


In other words, you WANT sweet corn. You end up with feed corn. It's still edible by humans, just not what you would like to have. My house in Indiana had a Funks Genetic testing field behind it. During the 14 years I lived there, we had some interesting corn and soybean crops in that field. Even had one year when they came around the subdivision and told us that yeah, they know everyone in the subdivision picks from the first dozen or so rows that backed up to houses (since yields were NEVER what they should be for those rows), but they'd appreciate it if we didn't pick anything from THAT years crop, as it wasn't supposed to be eaten by humans.

Replies:   PotomacBob
LonelyDad
Updated:

Actually, if you pick it before it dries out field corn is almost as good as breed for it sweet corn. It's just that if you miss that window then it gets hard and harder to eat and digest. That is why things like corn soaked in lye until it swells (can't recall what it is called right now), and the corn meal made from that when it is dried first came about. Also corn mush, etc. There are lots of ways to prepare field corn to make it more edible.

[Went and looked it up. Hominy is what I was talking about, and dried hominy can be ground to make grits.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hominy

And yes, the first few years of trying to grow corm from double hybrid seed won't be all that great. But when the corn is shelled, the ears that look the best can be set aside to be used as seed, and the rest eaten or feed to the livestock. After a couple years the corm should be more consistent.

PotomacBob

@StarFleet Carl

In other words, you WANT sweet corn. You end up with feed corn.


Does that mean that ALL sweet corn is hybrid?

Replies:   StarFleet Carl
LonelyDad

I won't say all, because I know there are non-hybrid seeds available, but almost all of the field corn is double cross,and probably most of the sweet corn is at least single cross. And single cross should breed true when planted as seed the next year. It is the requirement to have both different single crosses crossbreed to produce the double cross that makes it impossible to use double cross as seed.

StarFleet Carl

@PotomacBob

Does that mean that ALL sweet corn is hybrid?


There are still some corns available for small yield fields and/or backyard gardens that aren't hybrid, but basically all commercially grown sweet corn is a hybrid.

Keep in mind that sweet corn in and of itself is a natural hybrid / mutation from regular field corn.

Best way to eat young sweet corn? Pull it off the stalk, wash it off, and eat it raw. Delicious!

Replies:   PotomacBob
PotomacBob

@StarFleet Carl

What's the corn they use to make cornmeal and grits (and "fish fry" on the Gulf) - sweet or field?

Replies:   StarFleet Carl
LonelyDad

Grits, and grit flour, is made from field corn that has been treated to make the niacin in the corn usable to humans. I believe cornmeal is also made from that.
Grits can also be made from hominy corn, which is usually called hominy grits. The same for hominy flour.

AmigaClone

In Brazil they make ice cream using field corn that has not been left out on the field to dry.

StarFleet Carl

@PotomacBob

What's the corn they use to make cornmeal and grits (and "fish fry" on the Gulf) - sweet or field?


Dent (or as it's called, field) corn is the most common. That's what's made into cornmeal and is used to make corn syrup. (A.E. Staley had two huge processing plants in Lafayette, Indiana, for making corn syrup. It would go out of there by the tank car load.) About 95% of all corn grown in the U.S. is this type.

Flint corn is what we Americans call Indian corn. It's mostly grown in Central and South America.

Popcorn is a variant of Flint corn, and is pretty much only good for making popcorn (or animal feed, if it's not picked in time). Think Orville Redenbacher - who was from Indiana (!) and went to Purdue.

Flour corn is a softer corn that's easier for grinding. It's actually not used in corn meal, but IS used in corn muffins, just to confuse things.

Pod corn looks weird (to those of us in the U.S.), and is a high altitude version from South America.

And there's what's called heirloom corn - original corn that's grown by small farmers, not for mass production.

Sweet corn, of course, is another type, and we've talked about it before. That's what you find in your canned corn, because it naturally is high in sugar.

I admit I had to look up some of this stuff - what's bad is that for a lot of it, I didn't. (One of the amusement parks in Indiana has advertisements that say, "There's more than corn in Indiana." Yeah, well, while there is, corn is BIG business there.)

LonelyDad

It's even bigger business here in Iowa, home of Pioneer Seed Corn. Born and raised on an Iowa farm, back when 100 bushels an acre was considered a great crop. Dad found some bags of single cross seed corn that had apparently fallen off of someone's truck (very expensive compared to double cross seed), and explained to me the difference. Plus, Wikipedia is your friend.

PS: I lived for several years in Aurora. [Downriver from Cincinnati, OH., and just out of smelling distance from the distillery in Lawrenceburg]

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