Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Yet more substitutes: Asphalt and Cement

Korean scientists have developed a biotech method for producing cement and an asphalt substitute.

The method works by harnessing a specialized bacteria which secretes an enzyme which rapidly turns sand into sandstone, with properties which can be tweaked to match either pavement on highways or else cement for buildings.

For our purposes this is yet another die off killer (as we all know, dieoff rests on there being no viable substitutes to oil). In this case asphalt competes directly with petroleum derived from tar-sands. i.e. with this process we won't need to use valuable oil to pave our roads. Instead we can used this bio-engineered sandstone.

Additionally, cement is very energy intensive and with this process the energy requirements will come directly from the sun without any artificial energy requirement whatsoever.

By my reckoning we use about a million barrels a day between cement and asphalt in North America alone. So given that we use about a quarter of the worlds oil on a daily basis I reckon thats 4 million barrels a day potentially could be saved.

If we calculate a decline rate of 2% a year then this alone pushes peak oil back 2 years or cuts the decline rate in half for four years (which is *plenty* of time to assist with bringing online substitutes - remember the Hirsch report says we need a crash program lasting ten years to give us breathing room).

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