Is the "Green" community aware that manufacture emits CO2?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by poopscoop, Dec 27, 2013.

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  1. poopscoop

    Thread Starter Member

    Dec 12, 2012
    I enjoy reading about various energy savings attempts, off grid efforts, and various cool examples of DIY engineering in the name of "Green".

    However, one thing I never see mentioned is the actual environmental cost of making these modifications, and whether there is ever any actual payback in terms of emissions. People seem to neglect that manufacturing efficient devices consumes energy, and replacing a device before it is worn out is far mroe wasteful than whatever additional energy it uses.

    Replace incandescent lights with CFL's. If you throw away a perfectly good incandescent and preemptively replace it with a CFL, whatever amount of CO2 used in the construction of that incandescent is now lost over less than it's full lifespan.

    Appliances. Throwing a decent refrigerator for an energy star will never (I bet) offset the CO2 of the waste.

    The list goes on. What is the manufacturing cost in CO2 of a solar panel? Why do people tout geothermal as "Green", after dirty diesel engines and trenchers spew tons of CO2 into the air while digging holes?

    Surely I'm not the only person who questions the environmental impact of replacing, rebuilding, and reengineering?
  2. Sensacell

    Senior Member

    Jun 19, 2012
    The subject is very complex and almost impossible to analyze, especially for today's science-illiterate voter/consumer.

    It seems that it's become another tool for manipulating purchasing habits of the masses. Most "green" projects I see merely pay lip service to a feel-good idea, it's a bit like washing a cheeseburger down with a diet coke.
  3. GopherT

    AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 23, 2012
    The manufacturing community does know of this - it is called eco-efficiency. Depending on the efficiency, the marketing team of a signle company may try to hide it. In other cases, an industry association may try to hide it.

    The eco-efficiency of Wind turbines are especially concerning. I like to make a first pass of eco-efficiency in terms of economic efficiency. If you look into details, most costs for mature products (little IP premium) are labor and energy. Even as an investment, the payback of a wind turbine's energy vs installation is somewhere in the range of 12 to 15 years (assuming no maintenance costs). Add maintenance on to of that, the payback is something over 30 years including interest. (assuming interest 5 percent). Now, what is the lifetime of a wind turbine. Falling electric prices in some parts of the country and it gets even worse.

    The transportation, heavy lifts, materials (carbon fiber, Fiberglas, epoxy resins, ...), even the fuel to move the trucks/cranes used to maintain these wind turbines is an enormous waste of fuel u less you have a big wind farm - in other words, any small wind farms are even more wasteful because of the maintenance travel costs.

    Now, the biggest waste of materials, travel and manufacturing energy are associated with installing wind turbines where there is not an consistant source of economically viable wind. The map below shows where the wind is viable and not. Interestingly, it is not just science tht determines where wind is poor, fair, good and excellent. Politicians get involved to change the definition of poor, fair and good (look at the New York / Pennsylvania boarder. If you have ever visited that area, you will know that there is no reason for such an abrupt change. In other words, Illinois and New York have "good" and active politicians and Pennsylvania and Missouri do not.

  4. tcmtech

    Distinguished Member

    Nov 4, 2013
    Unfortunately if a person digs into things behind the 'Green Movement' they will find far too much of it far too often is nothing more than the same old 'brown bowel movements' that big government and business have been passing along for years. :mad:

    Most AE and renewable energy systems work and can be cost effective alternative power supply sources if implemented in the right places and conditions but far too often the politics and behind the scenes alternative motives driven by greed/shady politics are the real reasons they don't work or work like they are supposed to.

    For example.

    Present US emission standards target NOX emissions levels at the expense of substantially raising CO2 output per unit of distance traveled by a vehicle due to the engines being tuned to run at less than optimal efficiency to meet the NOX limit standards.

    Heres the problem. Under the vast majority of driving conditions IC engines are operating at part throttle which in itself prevents NOx from forming to any degree. Common engine NOx emissions in that operating range would be less than 10 grams per gallon of fuel burned.

    Here is how it works. Say your car gets 20 MPG on the US emission tuning settings.

    Given NOX has a GWP of 300 that would give you 3000 GWP units produced from one gallon of fuel being burned to travel 20 miles. Now the problem is if the GWP of the volume of CO2 produced is weighed for that gallon of fuel burned it would produce some 8618 grams of CO2 with a value of 8618 GWP units.

    Combined that would be a rough yield of 11618 GWP units per 20 miles driven.

    Now say you change your engines tune to run at optimal fuel efficiency giving you 30 MPG but in doing so you are now making 15 grams of NOX per gallon of fuel burned.

    In the most fuel efficient engine tuning setting you would still be producing 3000 GWP units from NOX but only making 5745 GWP units from CO2 being you only burned 2/3 as much fuel going the 20 miles.

    At that setting the total yield of both the NOx and CO2 would give combined output of 8745 GWP units for the same 20 miles driven plus you also only used 2/3 the fuel to go the 20 miles!

    These are just rough theoretical numbers but they do give a reasonable comparison of how chasing the wrong goals can leave us paying more for less and doing more harm to a cause than had we did nothing at all. :mad:
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2013
  5. Markd77

    Senior Member

    Sep 7, 2009
    Assuming the incandescent already exists, energy / CO2, has been used to make it. The choice is to use until it dies or swap it or a higher efficiency one straight away. You aren't wasting the CO2 that has been used to produce it by not using it, it has already been wasted.
  6. poopscoop

    Thread Starter Member

    Dec 12, 2012
    I'm looking at it more from the perspective of a CFL being built to replace the incandescent. In that case, throwing away the incandescent requires a CFL to be built, releasing CO2.
  7. Brownout

    Well-Known Member

    Jan 10, 2012
    CFL's last many times longer than incandescents. So, for the lifetime of a CFL, many more incendescents would need to be manufactured to replace lamps that burned out. I replaced all my lights with CFLs over 10 years ago and have experienced only a single failure. With consumers onboard with recycling the failed lamps as opposed to throwing them in the trash, even more energy is saved with re-using the materials. Now add to that the energy savings over the life of the lamp, and CFLs would save considerable energy and resulting pollutants. Newer technologies coming online look to be even better at energy efficiency and reliability. Sure, manufacturing takes energy, but you have to look at the life cycle of the product. You make the investment upfront and get the payback over the life of the product.
  8. djsfantasi

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 11, 2010
    Unfortunately, I have not had a similar experience. I haven't measured actual times, but it seems to my wife and I that we are replacing CFLs yearly and incandescents used to last twice or more as long.

    Anyone else also have this contrary experience?
  9. inwo

    Well-Known Member

    Nov 7, 2013
    My experience exactly.
    And led bulbs are little better.
  10. GopherT

    AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 23, 2012
    I just bought a bunch of R30 and R38 LED spot lights and flood lights at costco rated at 100 watts. I thought, right, 100 watt equivalents for 14 watts. It turns out that side-by-side, the LEDs are noticeably brighter and have a nice warm color. Amazing output - I am very pleased for $14 each.

    The other side is, they have a claimed lifetime of 22 years. I'll let you know in 2035 how that turns out.
  11. WBahn


    Mar 31, 2012
    This is one of the biggest myths that has come down the pike in recent decades.

    Perhaps if you have a perfectly clean energy source with ideal environemental conditions you can construct a test that will "prove" that they last so much longer. But in the real world the mounting evidence is far to the contrary.

    In the house I lived in for about ten years one of the first things I did was stock up on supplies, including light bulbs. I bought two dozen-packs of 60W bulbs. When I sold the house one pack hadn't even been touched and the other still had two or three bulbs in it. So in ten years I had to replace about as many bulbs. About three years before I moved I replaced six of the high-use bulbs with CFLs and each of those bulbs had to be replaced one and in some cases more than once in those three years. I've been in this house for about five years now and and we've had about a half dozen of the bulbs that were here when we bought it fail. None of the replacements have. Of the CFLs that we've installed, several have already failed twice.

    For the past year (just short of a year, actually) I have been living part-time near where I work subrenting a room from a friend. We replaced a bunch of bulbs with CFLs when we moved in. Both of us have already had to replace both CFL bulbs in our bedrooms along with several others.

    So much for how much longer CFLs last than regular bulbs.
  12. bountyhunter

    Well-Known Member

    Sep 7, 2009
    It's been covered, but not widely because the media and the general gang of idiots in charge see things like hybrid vehicles and all electric vehicles as the savior of the world.

    I have read intelligent articles breaking down the true environmental impacts of such things due to manufacturing, and it's not so pretty. In parts of the world where electricity is mostly made from coal fired plants, the net effect of EV's is not good.
  13. bountyhunter

    Well-Known Member

    Sep 7, 2009
    The politicians are far more to blame. You have states like California where they simply pass laws saying that car makers must sell 30% of their vehicles with "zero emissions" by year XXXX and therefore, since they made it a law, it must be possible and must be feasible. They're idiots and they're in charge. When that happens, car makers will be producing enormously expensive EV's, selling them for peanuts to bribe people to buy them, and absorbing the hundreds of millions in loss as the cost of selling cars in states run by morons.

    I guess the voters are to blame for electing them, but the idiots who come up with these absurd mandates are the main problem.
  14. bountyhunter

    Well-Known Member

    Sep 7, 2009
    YES. I guess the morale is don't buy CFL's at Home Depot? Anyway, the quality is not good.
  15. Brownout

    Well-Known Member

    Jan 10, 2012
    No myth. I've used CFL's in all my fixtures for a decade at least with only 1 failure. That's about 8 CFL's times >10 years with a single failure. There is no possibility that incandescents could have that reliability record. I live in the mountains in northern Alabama, and our power is far from clean. We use over head electric utilities and have frequent outages. My community purchases CFL's and distributes them to the neighbors who can't (or won't) afford them. We run out on the first day, and have had exceedingly few failures <2% over the decade. I use them in work lights in my shop, and have not have a failure, whereas incandescent bulbs failed consistently. I also use them in my rentals and have no issues. No myth, just fact.
  16. THE_RB

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 11, 2008
    Do we have to go into this again? I use CFLs and get constant failures. Some are lucky to last 6 weeks. I still use incandescents too, and typically get better life from them.

    A lot depends on your mains voltage vs the cooling. CFLs have a very cheap and nasty SMPS internally. SMPS's are known for high failure rates when they are cheaply made and run in a hot environment and/or with higher mains voltages.

    If you personally get good life from CFLs it is not proof that they always have long life. Your mains voltage might be on the low side (mine is on the high side) and your environment temps at night might be on the cold side (my temps are on the hot side) and so on.
  17. loosewire

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 25, 2008
    Its a (movement) that has been growing over many years , the press covers the

    angles that go along with a cause. Common sense won't have any effect on this

    group. It has been decided whats best for the planet ,I read an article on the E.P.A.

    and bee demise , they won't admit that pesticides are causing most of the problem.

    More studies needed ,there is plenty of proof...but that don't count. Yet global

    warming they say yes without too much effort. Turns out that the press are students

    in school with the political types ,they move in sync with the movement and publish

    there believes more than facts. You can tweet anything ,its fact until someone takes

    the time to correct it. Then you have to decide what you are going to believe.
    strantor likes this.
  18. debe

    Senior Member

    Sep 21, 2010
    In nearly every failure ive had in CFL is the mains electrolytic dries out or splits.
  19. #12


    Nov 30, 2010
    In 1980, I did a major rebuild of a bedroom with 4 light fixtures specific to that purpose. As of now, 33 years later, one of the 4 incandescent bulbs has failed. That isn't even enough evidence to calculate a, "mean time between failures".

    To be fair, I have been running 9 CFL bulbs for about 2 years in frequently used positions and none have failed. My power line voltage is usually 125 out of a promised 126 max (240 RMS +/- 5%).
  20. tracecom

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 16, 2010
    My mains voltage is high (126.9V this morning,) and I get frequent failures with both CFLs and incandescents. My most frequent failures are in some enclosed ceiling fixtures; I run 100 watt incandescents there (because I need all the light I can get,) so I am sure that it's the added heat that causes the premature failures.
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