95 (at least) Killed for Gasoline in Nigeria

More poor, desperate people died today trying to get gasoline from an overturned tanker than in the history of nuclear power.

At Least 95 Killed in Nigeria Tanker Truck Fire

A truck carrying fuel veered off the road into a ditch, caught fire and exploded in Nigeria’s oil-rich delta on Thursday, killing at least 95 people who had rushed to the scene to scoop fuel that had spilled, an official said, in a tragic reminder of how little of the country’s oil wealth has trickled down to the poor.

Shall we ban the use of gasoline?



25 Replies to "95 (at least) Killed for Gasoline in Nigeria"

  • Clark
    July 12, 2012 (4:46 pm)

    It's good to see you blogging again, Kirk, though sad that it was a tragedy that brought you back to the keyboard. In case my e-mail got caught in your spam filter, you might be interested in this development in the UK:

    I'd rather see development of fast MSRs than this. Molten sodium seems like a nasty additional hazard to have present at any potential nuclear accident site.

    July 13, 2012 (2:34 am)

    Gasoline fumes and explosions kill millions of innocent children!

    Gasoline is a narcotic and needs to be regulated immediately. This gasoline drug trade must be stopped. We cannot let the drug of gasoline harm our children and promote crime and poverty in America.

  • Concerned
    July 13, 2012 (9:16 pm)

    Are you guys going off your rocker?

  • Bernd
    July 16, 2012 (9:22 am)

    Nuclear power killed less than 95? This is quite a surprise for me. How many where killed in Chernobyl?

    And please, do not associate thorium with today nuclear power. That just seems not very fair.

  • Ivan
    July 16, 2012 (8:27 pm)

    No, but nuclear disasters have cause 30% of children in Fukushima to have thyroid disorder, 100,000s to be evacuated, displaced as nuclear refugees and never to return home, and many more slower deaths due to rather hight rates of cancer over the coming 30 years.

    Lastly, everybody always ignores the long term storage options of nuclear waste. Currently, our best options seem to be, "Bury them in Mongolia and lets hope it doesn't contaminate the groundwater", "Launch it into space" or "Just dump it into The oceans".

    Some transuranic waste lasts from between 1,000 to 1 million years. How responsible is it to future generations continue using this technology without a proper unified method of waste disposal high level and transuranic waste?

  • G.R.L. Cowan, hydrog
    July 17, 2012 (10:54 am)

    Nuclear power killed less than 95? This is quite a surprise for me. How many were killed in Chernobyl?

    This is perhaps a more valid point than the author believed. If we apply the heuristic that nuclear opponents are twice as dishonest as the former Soviet Union, we can use the opposition between them. That entity wanted to downplay the consequences of Chernobyl, they want to up-play it. Its lies and theirs must therefore bracket the truth!

    So if, as I seem to recall, the Soviet Union said 30 people died — ten to power 1.477 — and nuclear power opponents say 8000 did, ten to power 3.903, we need only find a number twice as near to 1.477 as it is to 3.903. That number is ~2.286. Ten to power 2.286 is ~193, so we expect about 200 people to have died. About as bad as Piper Alpha, except not all at once.

    Later on, I found some corroboration: http://www.rri.kyoto-u.ac.jp/NSRG/reports/kr79/kr… –

    … Imanaka [41, 42] suggested a possibility that a substantial fraction of evacuees from the most contaminated villages could receive effective dose more than 1 Sv, which is a criteria for acute radiation sickness, using the dose rate map on May 1, 1986 presented at CIS/EC Minsk conference in 1996 [43] and temporal changes of dose rate until the evacuation.

    After these works Imanaka happened to find another map representing the radiation situation around Chernobyl on June 1, 1986 compiled by USSR scientists in 1991 (Fig. 1) [44]. As seen in Fig. 1, the dose rate in Usov village on June 1 was around 200 mR/h. Our previous calculations [41, 42] indicate that the dose rate on May 1 was about 10 times higher than June 1, which means that a dose rate about 2 R/h can be supposed in Usov village on May 1, 1986, from where inhabitants were evacuated on May 3…

    Now, how do we know the USSR was wholehearted in its wish to downplay? Well, the USSR was its government; there was no distinction. This means it was not in the conflict of interest Western governments are. If it chose to spend tens of dollars on fossil fuels rather than a single dollar on equivalent uranium, this was purely wasteful.

    But Western governments are in the position of either taking a significant share of the larger fossil fuel price — in the form of royalties and excise tax — or a somewhat smaller share of the much smaller uranium price. What’s wasteful overall is lucrative for them.

    (It is, of course, also lucrative for oil and gas vendors, and to some extent coal vendors, but their fossil fuel revenues are out in plain sight, and unlike governments, they aren’t empowered to regulate their competition and preach against it. Recall the former head of the NRC recommending people 50 miles from Fukushima-Daiichi to run, and — if I recall correctly — German government spokesthings recommending Tokyo be evacuated.)

  • Concerned
    July 18, 2012 (6:34 am)

    The reason for my comment above was that I don't feel this article belongs in the mainstream topic and marketing of the concept of thorium neuclear power. Yes, LFTR is safer and cleaner than oil. But the link to the banning of gasoline is too tenuous. In this particular case the victims of gasoline were desperate people taking a fatal risk, not really the fault of gasoline. It is similar to the question of banning guns. Some will claim the guns are bad in themselves, and others not, but these are off topic, irrelevant debates. Thats "crazy" talk, sensationalistic, indulgent and or too academic. None of that gets thorium marketed and adopted by the public and is somewhat below this site I respectfully submit. Too desperate.

  • TerjeP
    July 18, 2012 (2:57 pm)

    Most prohibition be it prohibition of guns, drugs or nuclear power starts with a distortion of the risks and impacts, then an emotive demonisation rounded off with a complete indifference to the harm and losses caused by the actual prohibition that is sought.

  • Nathan Wilson
    July 18, 2012 (11:03 pm)

    LFTR is much more important for replacing gasoline than one might think.

    Over the next millenia, the dominant transportation fuel is likely to be ammonia. This simple chemical is made only from hydrogen and nitrogen, and happens to be the cheapest practical fuel that can be made from air, water, and sustainable energy (ie. solar, wind, nuclear); it is the only fuel that can be made from fossil fuel using supply-side carbon capture. Also, it will not burn or explode in a fuel spill (it must be processed with a hot catalyst or flame-cracker to be burned in an engine). It is much easier/cheaper to transport and store than hydrogen.

    Of course this could be changed by a breakthrough in an alternative(super batteries, or boron cars for example), but each of these alternatives has serious issues.

    Anyway, the cheapest way to make ammonia is from fossil fuel (coal or natural gas); this would be cheaper than gasoline, but not cheaper than CNG. Advanced nuclear would be near the price of gasoline. Wind and solar would make the price of ammonia much higher (but still might beat the cost cellulosic ethanol).

    For the nuclear ammonia option, LFTR is about the best of the Gen III and Gen IV reactor, because of the high temperature operation and scalability/sustainability. Ammonia is made from hydrogen, and studies have shown that the cheapest way to make hydrogen from nuclear power is using a thermo-chemical plant, which is powered by heat, without making electricity as an intermediate product.

    So while ammonia would surely replace gasoline if there were no more gasoline, it is unlikely that we would voluntarily stop using gasoline, without a low-cost replacement like nuclear ammonia.

  • Alex P.
    July 19, 2012 (2:05 am)

    I think (bio)methanol is much better than NH3. First, it is liquid at standard conditions and can be used in very efficiency IC engines, particurally for its high octane rating and high flame speed (on the other hand ammonia is a very slow burning fuel and thus a very inefficient IC fuel).

    Second, it can be produced from any lignocellulosic biomass with a modest input of heat, electricity and biomass itself (if loiw medium temp 150-200 °C electrolisys is used). Lastly, it's already compatible with current infrastructure (both fuel stations and engines, including DME as cleaner and very efficient diesel fuel substitute) and it' s still much cleaner even than natural gas, avoiding NOx production

  • Alex P.
    July 19, 2012 (4:19 am)

    And aside from this : methanol is a much safer alternative as liquid fuel than gasoline (lower chance to burn, less volatile, its fires are less powerfull)

    With a modest amount of LFTR electricity and low-medium temp heat (probably even less than 2 kWh elect per liter of MeOH) http://www.heidelberger-innovationsforum.de/fileahttp://ieahia.org/pdfs/Task25/High_Temperature_El
    we could convert one bilion tonn/year of biomass into at least one bilion liters of gasoline equivalent as MeOH or DME (given their outstanding performances, it's quite easy to develop IC engines with 30-50% higher effiency)

  • Nathan Wilson
    July 19, 2012 (7:38 pm)

    Alex, I agree that, all other things being equal, methanol is preferable to ammonia. However, I don’t think things are equal (particularly in scenarios where most energy is required to come from non-fossil sources):

    - Jet aviation places a very high premium on energy density, therefore jets will always (probably until the end of time) need a carbon-based fuel. Therefore all estimates of future biofuel production capacity for land transportation should consider only the spare capacity after aviation has been accommodated.
    - All biofuel places pressure on the food supply. Any land that is productive for fuel could also be productive for food or important for wildlife (all crop land was once wild).
    - After decades of neglect, ammonia engine research is ramping up. Like methanol, ammonia can also fuel engines which are more efficient than those that use gasoline and produce less pollution.
    - Ammonia is more efficient for fuel cells than methanol (nearly as good as H2, but only in specific types).
    - Nuclear ammonia can come from large plants (which produces economy of scale) which are located near population centers. Biofuel plants must be small and near the biomass source to reduce transport costs, but the plants won’t achieve good economies of scale.
    - Agriculture uses a lot of fresh water, much more than power production (I don’t know the gallons of water per gallon of gasoline-equivalent number, but I’m sure it’s 2 orders of magnitude higher than with dry-cooled nuclear ammonia). No nation will pour expensive desalinated water on crops; desalination is only a solution for high-value municipal water.
    - The head-start that methanol has over ammonia (feasibility of flex-fuel vehicles and pumps) can eventually be overcome if ammonia is at least 15% cheaper, and I think it will be.

    Past ammonia conferences, including technical presentation archive: http://nh3fuelassociation.org/events-conferences/
    Conference kickoff talk by Iowa Energy Centers’ Norm Olson: http://www.ucs.iastate.edu/mnet/_repository/2011/
    Shawn Grannell has done really impressive work on ammonia engines with flame crackers: http://nh3fuel.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/shawng

  • Alex P.
    July 20, 2012 (11:59 am)

    I' m not too a big supporter of biofuel scam, but don' make confusion between biofuels like methanol where (any grade) biomass is used as carbon source only and where biomass is fully an energy source, in the former case the need of biomass and surface is very tiny (and you don' t need to plant any particular plants, like corn or sugar cane) : with about 2 bilions tonn/year of biomass you can replace about 40 milion bpb of oil right now, with a modest need of electricity and energy.

    On the other hand, producing ammonia from air and/or water (if I understand correctly, that' s what you meant) is tremendously energy intensive (thus inevitable costly, not cheaper), and is not so efficient (at least in IC engines, can' t say for fuel cells) being a very low burning fuel

  • Alex P.
    July 20, 2012 (12:04 pm)

    Obviously, I agree with you about the need of high energy density in aviation fuels (and not only in aviation field, actually). In this case, I think that DME, that is quite easy to produce from MeOH, is almost as good as kerosene, while I don' t see any benefit of ammonia over methanol/DME

  • G.R.L. Cowan
    July 20, 2012 (3:20 pm)

    In this case, I think that DME, that is quite easy to produce from MeOH, is almost as good as kerosene

    For an aircraft, dimethyl ether, H3C-O-CH3, has a deadweight problem. Can you spot it?

    Methanol can be turned into long-chain alkanes. This makes more sense for aircraft. There are, or have been, methanol-to-gasoline plants; methanol-to-kerosene would be a minor adjustment.

  • Nathan Wilson
    July 20, 2012 (11:55 pm)

    Alex, synthetic fuels are energy carriers, so being "energy intensive" is good, not bad. All syn fuels, by definition, have an energy content of 34 KWH per gallon of gasoline equivalent.

    So the relevant questions are really how does the process efficiency compare, and what is cost of the primary energy source. From what I’ve read, the efficiency of converting from heat to hydrogen (water splitting) is about the same as heat to electricity (i.e. temperature dependent, about 40% at 400C and 60% at 900C). Combining the H2 with N2 to make NH3 is about 93% efficient if the liberated heat is recycled. Combining H2 with CO and CO2 to make methanol is a more complicated reaction and surely less than 93% efficient (it still liberates waste heat since the reaction is exothermic, and it’s a lower-temp reaction, so heat recycling won’t work as well).

    Regarding the cost of the energy source: remember that to use all of the carbon from the biomass requires adding extra nuclear hydrogen, in an amount that supplies about double the energy of the original biomass. So for MeOH or NH3, most of the energy comes from nuclear power (and it’s cheaper in the NH3 case since the plant is larger and more economical, and likely has a higher capacity factor due to seasonal biomass availability).

    Do you have a source that claims the cost of the energy in the biomass is cheaper than nuclear power? It’s definitely not cheaper than coal (hence the popularity of coal).

    Also, note that in ammonia engines (at least in the Grannell paper), the flame speed and ignition problems would be resolved by cracking part of the ammonia into hydrogen and nitrogen prior to sending it into the cylinders (50% of the NH3 is cracked at idle, about 10% at full throttle). The test engine ran fine on such a mixture, and was more efficient than a gasoline engine. I have not seen data comparing the efficiency of ammonia and methanol engines; but I suspect that it is too early to say.

    But again, my big concern with bio-methanol is the huge amount of land required. The hybrid biomass-nuclear approach may reduce the land 3x, but 33% of huge is still huge. Remember that green plants are only about 2% efficient at converting sunlight to energy, hence they use 10x more land than a solar plant. A solar plant that could supply the entire US with electricity would take up the entire state of Arizona, and the transportation fuel requirement would be similar.

  • Nathan Wilson
    July 21, 2012 (12:11 am)

    Here is the link to Kirk and Darryl's talk from last year, "Nuclear Ammonia – A Sustainable Nuclear Renaissance's 'Killer App'" http://www.ucs.iastate.edu/mnet/_repository/2011/

  • Alex P.
    July 21, 2012 (11:36 am)

    Nathan,I think it's better to continue this intersting debate elsewhere in the forum, if you want to follow it http://www.energyfromthorium.com/forum/viewtopic….
    anyway this is my comment.

    I'm usually very open mind to other/new ideas, but as prof. Mackay used to say "we need numbers, not attributes !". Your chemistry and figures contains many mistakes. First of all, yes, any syn-fuel is "energy intensive" (I didn' say the opposite, actually) and need a lot of external hydrogen (idem supra), but this is a point where bio-methanol from biomass gasification is far superior than ammonia : for the reaction CO + 2 H2 = CH3OH it takes only one mole (the other one coming for biomass gaisifcation itself giving a ratio of CO/H2 ~ 1) of hydrogen to produce one mole of MeOH, or 2 kg of H2 for 32 kg of MeOH, while it takes for example 6 kg of H2 to gain 34 kg of ammonia (LHV of NH3 ~ MeOH). You also forgot the energy to separate nitrogen from air that is per se a TREMENDOUSLY energy intensive process and the need to have high temp to allow the reaction (N2 + H2) takes place, while the methanol reaction is simply low temo with no need of external heat/energy (indeed, a lot of that heat can be resued as low temp district heating like in Sweden http://www.varmlandsmetanol.se/dokument/History%2
    I do note I'm not suggesting this kind of process)

    You mentioned the high need of land : I'm not a big fan of
    using biomass as feedstock but using 2* 10 ^9 tonn/year to
    gain a good of 40 milion bpd equivalent of oil (a boost of +33% vs gasoline engines, I think a quite feasible figure) is still quite pratical, together with about 1000 GWe of electric capacity, that is a huge but still pratical (at least for the replacement of 40 milion of barrel per day of oil).

    On the other how much electric capacity do you envisage to need to replace the equivalent of 40 mil bpd of oil as ammonia ? I think this is the crucial question you need to answer

    Finally, unlike ammonia, methanol is a well know transportation fuel in high performance races like Indianapolis or monster tracks for both its high performance and safety features so there is very few new work to implement here, the possobility to have high efficiency IC engines optimized for methanol is already proved
    IC engines is not a matter of discussion (while as far I know I'm still very skeptical about efficency claims of ammonia in *pratical* engines)

  • Alex P.
    July 21, 2012 (12:04 pm)

    G.R.L. Cowan,

    as far I know while methanol is an excellent IC gasoline (Otto) engines fuel, DME is a good gas turbines fuel (and diesel fuel substitute). Anyway, even from the deadweight POV, DME is far superior than ammonia

  • Peter
    July 24, 2012 (6:07 am)

    Ammonia is also very dangerous in the context of this article we are looking for ways LFTR would alleviate that, aren't we?

  • Nathan Wilson
    July 24, 2012 (10:44 pm)

    Peter, you have a point. This presentation: http://nh3fuel.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/olson_… from Iowa Energy Center 2009 Ammonia Fuel conference cites references which conclude the overall safety of ammonia is better than propane, and similar to gasoline (though the author believes the ammonia cases actually exaggerate the risks).

    But clearly in the Nigerian incident, an ammonia spill would be much less hazardous than gasoline. Ammonia is very much less likely than gasoline to burn or explode when spilled. Also, unlike gasoline vapor which accumulate at ground level, ammonia vapor rise vertically away from the site of the spill. And ammonia vapors are very unpleasant smelling, even when the concentration is low enough to be harmless.

  • G.R.L. Cowan
    July 25, 2012 (10:24 am)

    "… ammonia vapors are very unpleasant smelling, even when the concentration is low enough to be harmless.È

    The extreme unpleasantness is due to extreme lethality (due to pulmonary edema) at much higher levels. Ammonia doesn't have to burn, explosively or otherwise, to kill.

    I have long advocated boron as a fuel that nuclear plants could make from B2O3, and motorists will want.

  • Nathan Wilson
    July 25, 2012 (11:47 pm)

    Yes, boron would be a very safe fuel. But there will be challenges creating a cheap, compact, and reliable system around it, given its solid nature (consider that a coal power plant costs triple what a natural gas plant does). If it ends up being more cost effective than ammonia, then it might be utilized first in large ships and trains (both of which have used solid fuel in the past). Here is Graham R.L. Cowan’a boron car vision: http://www.eagle.ca/~gcowan/boron_blast.html

    But back to the people in Nigeria: probably they didn’t run to the gasoline spill to collect fuel for their cars. They probably wanted to use it as an electricity substitute (i.e. for cooking, lighting, or heating) … true energy poverty. What they really need is not ammonia or methanol, but electricity; even coal power would be a big improvement. If we in the developed world could help them get clean energy for the same or lower price, then so much the better.

  • Cyril R.
    August 2, 2012 (8:02 am)

    This sentence shows the uphill media battle that nuclear power has to deal with:

    "a tragic reminder of how little of the country’s oil wealth has trickled down to the poor."

    In stead of saying that fossil fuel once again killed a large number of people, the article talks about wealth and the poor.

    With nuclear power, everything's different. Fukushima didn't kill anyone, might kill one or two people from cancer eventually, but most journalists were trumpeting how dangerous nuclear power was.

    Sadly, lethal gasoline and other fossil fuel accidents occur so often that we don't even pay attention to them as a danger. Whereas nuclear accidents rarely occur, so are exciting and the concomittant media attention makes the technology look dangerous.

    It's such a major PR battle for anything nuclear.

  • Terry Floyd
    August 16, 2012 (4:20 pm)

    I would submit the Camp Lejeune situation as more ominous
    and unfortunately is just the beginning of more of the same
    to come as many US and other countries' military depots
    will have similar problems. LFTR can make a very positive contribution in the clean up and implementation
    of a permanent solution to eliminating the use of many of
    the toxic chems and fuels. It's a National Security issue that obviously has been ignored far too long.

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