Amateurs study aircraft design. Professionals study oil production.

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by davebender, Mar 28, 2015.

  1. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Oil shale in Estonia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    1938 Estonia produced 181,000 tons of shale oil. German firms were the largest producers.
    1980 Estonia produced 31 million tons of shale oil.

    Appears to me 1930s Germany missed a great opportunity to solve their oil shortage. Offer Estonia a defensive military alliance vs Soviet Union. In return Germany dumps a bunch of money into expanding Estonian oil production resulting in several million tons per year by early 1940s.

    Gelsenberg Hydrogenation Plant. For comparison purposes.
    Built during 1939 at a cost of RM 208 million.
    One of the largest Germany synthetic fuel plants.
    Produced about 400,000 tons of aviation gasoline and 460,000 tons of motor fuel per year.
    Total German synthetic fuel production maxed out at about 2 million tons per year.

    If Germany could achieve 2 million tons per year from Estonia they would double their historical oil production. Estonia has additional advantage of being outside bombing range from Britain and France.

    Of course this requires 1930s Germany to get serious about Army production. Otherwise it would be suicide for Estonia to consider an alliance with Germany. Would need to fund medium tank program rather then building battleships.
     
  2. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    #2 gjs238, Mar 28, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2015
  3. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Producing from Shale formations requires technologies in play for last 25-30 years, namely directional drilling (including multiple strings from same hole) plus modern fracing techniques.
     
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  4. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    #4 gjs238, Mar 28, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2015
    If I'm understanding the Wikipedia article correctly (oil shale in Estonia), it seems that they are mining the shale then extracting the oil in processing facilities.
    As opposed to directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing as is so discussed here in the US.
     
  5. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Back to the Battleship bashing?

    Germans don't Commission Scharnhorst and Gneisenau until Jan 1939 and May of 1938 respectively. How many tanks does Germany need in 1938-39 to convince Estonia? And the ONLY way Estonia can get ANY products of any sort to Germany without them being stopped by the Russians is by sea so gutting the Navy and giving the Russians free rein in the Baltic isn't likely to help the Germans much.

    Rail route/s would have been through Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.

    And stopping Battleship building would have allowed the French and British to at least cut back on their own battleship programs. French build another 1500 Somua tanks?

    No Scharnhorst and Gneisenau pretty much means no Norwegian campaign.
     
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  6. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    The Russians would thank the Germans for developing the industry and make it a Stalingrad or destroy it completely before Germany could get hands on it.
     
  7. wiking85

    wiking85 Well-Known Member

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    The hard part is the refining process and finding the energy for it; for Germany its probably not going to be any cheaper and probably just as expensive to mine and refine the shale oil, especially given that they won't have access to it until they invade in 1941 and can't really focus on getting it working until 1942; plus then they need to develop a new infrastructure and ship it back to Germany. Getting the synthetic oil process working back home starting years earlier without the shipping costs is probably much easier.
     
  8. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Politically this generates enormous difficulties for the Germans. In the lead up to WWII, Germany and the USSR held secret talks, that ultimately led to the non-aggression pactand trade agreement, both vital to German expansion and conquests, and critical to the German economy. Part of that discussion was of course the dismemberment of Poland, but there were also understandings reached concerning the Baltic states. Lithuania was thought by the Germans to be in their sphere, but the Russians were handed control of Estonia and and Latvia. The Russians were already in occupation of Estonia by the time of the Winter War, using many of the airfields and ports for airstrikes and to refuel submarines and light naval forces. Its difficult to see the Soviet German pact being agreed upon by Stalin without Estonias being given to them

    One of the reasons the germans turned on the Sovets was that the Russians failed to honour the agreements concerning the Baltic states. In 1940, stalin moved to militarily occupy all three, which infuriated Hilter. The Russians also brought great pressure on Rumania, occupying Bessarabia, which for obvious reasons was very sensitive to the Germans. Germany wanted the Russians to expand south at the expense of Turkey and from there, bring pressure to bear on the Allies. Stalin never had any intention of taking his eyes off eastern Europe.
     
  9. wiking85

    wiking85 Well-Known Member

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    Germany changed the deal on the Baltics to give Lithuania to Stalin in exchange for Poland beyond the Vistula, but Stalin took a strip that had been left to Germany; Stalin also angered Hitler by taking more of Bukowina from Romania than agreed on:
    German–Soviet Border and Commercial Agreement - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
  10. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Defenses against Soviet invasion would be several hundred km east of the German border.
     
  11. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    Give the F-35 a break for a short bit.
     
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  12. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    Domestic synthetic fuel production does seem to be their best bet given nearly everything else was vulnerable to being cut off by blockades or destroyed in scorched earth campaigns.

    Not sure if blended methanol/ethanol fuel production would have been strategically useful there too or not.

    Aside from that, in as far as the Baltic and Scandinavian region goes, there might be a stronger argument for strategic support of Finland, and especially for securing more effective trade/supply routes between Germany and Finland. (including larger scale shipping of Finish Nickel ore)

    Earlier antagonism/aggression with the Soviets would have changed a lot of things. That might have included focusing on the Eastern front more early on, possibly prioritizing that over dealing with the UK/Commonwealth. (antagonizing the British less and the Russians more is an interesting topic on its own, but much, much broader than the issue of logistics and resources this thread posed)
     
  13. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Gasoline gallon equivalent - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Ground vehicles are much more adaptable to alternative fuels.

    For aircraft to function properly you need to stick to fuel blends close to gasoline, you may be able to equal speed and/or climb rate but range will usually take a hit with methanol/ethanol blends. Methanol/ethanol also has more trouble vaporizing in cold temperatures.

    Please note that these charts are based on gallons (volume) and not weight. Diesel and jet fuel weigh more than gasoline and that is were part of the advantage in power per gallon comes from.
     
  14. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    I was thinking relatively low blends in the <10% range, possibly 5%. Problems with seals and fuel lines reacting with alcohol in higher fractions is also a problem along with increased sensitivity to moisture and water contamination.

    And I'd think the vaporization issues would mainly be with ethanol, not methanol.

    But in any case, using such blends for ground vehicles might make more sense in general.
     
  15. Koopernic

    Koopernic Active Member

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    Sphere of influence didn't so much mean "handed over" to Hitler. It meant more along the lines of buffer state with military allegiances and trade agreements that favoured the Soviets rather than the Germans. Estonias independence was specifically in the pact. That's why Stalins actions in Finland, the Baltic (which irritated and threatened Hitler) and his games down near Hungary and Romania (Soviet occupation of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina ie much of Romania) cracked the relationship, he went way too far and was now threatening Germanys supplier of oil. Hitler had previously offered Poland a joint Polish-German non aggression pact against the USSR but Chamberlains misinterpreted 'guarantee' cracked that up.
     
  16. Koopernic

    Koopernic Active Member

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    Traditional Shale oil processes involve mining the shale, crushing and grinding in mills to break open the shale and then applying heat/steam to distil the oil. The cost of moving the overburden, moving the ore, moving the tailings, crushing, grinding and heat energy can easily use up 1/3rd of the energy.


    By using a horizontal directional drill a bore can be drilled horizontally through a seam of shale or coal. As a pipe is withdrawn a concrete liner is be made. Latter perforation equipment uses explosives to shoot holes and fractures into the concrete pipe and surrounding shale. Hydraulic fracking using a high pressure and low pressure side then is used to fracture the surrounding shale or coal and inject water, sand and sometimes a few chemicals to open the fractures up.

    Gas and oil can then be extracted. The main thing is to ensure that adaquete exploratory drilling has been done and the reservoir independently checked to ensure that the water table is not fracked and thuis contaminated. You are cracking up very ancient structures and it in the rush for profit short cuts might be taken.

    It would be interesting to see if the Germans tried it or something similar, I suspect they might have tried gasifying coal underground by injecting steam. A process that is a danger the water table.

    The Germans obtained oil from their small number of oil wells, by hydrogenation of coal, by gasifying coal and using fischer tropsch synthesis or to make iso-octane, or by heating or steaming of bitumous coal (the main source after sever damage to the industry by bombing.

    The poor Italians didn't have coal or oil which is why they struggled. I recall while studying gravitomiters as part of research on inertial guidance that the Germans had developed torque balance gravitometers in the 1930s that helped Italian Geologists find natural gas reserves in Italy around 43/44 but it was too late to exploit.

    For the Germans I suspect coal seam gas using horizontal fracking (of coal seams instead of shale seams) would have allowed synthesis of diesel, alcohols, iso-octane(very useful) and a little bit of gasoline from the gas. It's still expensive but natural gas (methane) to liquids is much less troublesome than coal to liquids as one doesn't have the problems of handling an abrasive contaminated solid and its ash. Much Smaller production plants became viable.

    The main coal to liquids techniques the Germans used: hydrogenation and fischer-tropsch improved post war generally on new technologies that developed in WW2 but could not be exploited fully such as fluidised bed catalytic reactors and gasifiers which dramatically cut the amount of plant required as well as more effective catalysts.

    For instance the big complex hydrogenation plants, which were thermodynamically efficient but extremely capital intensive to build were the ones needed to make aviation gasoline but as time went on improvements to catalysts suggested that the smaller easier to build Fischer Trospch plants could make gasoline directly.

    Post was techniques such as Mobil's MTG (Methanol to Gasoline) and Lurgi's Megasysn process qallow conversion to liquids at 55% efficiency for coal to liquids and 60% or more for natural gas to liquids with a lot less plant.

    My own view is that more effort to develop mini coal to iso-octane plants, ideally of less than 1 hectares (2 acres) that could be dispersed and hidden would have buffered the German industry from bombing damage.

    Albert Speer was of the mind that using the resources required to harden and build underground the hydrogenation plants was better spent winning the war.

    As you may know had the Germans succeeded in capturing, holding and exploiting the Caucasian oil fields the war would have been different.
     
  17. Koopernic

    Koopernic Active Member

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    The first 'fischer-tropsch' discoveries in fact produced alcohols from syn gas not petrochemaicals. The process the Germans initially used for sysnthesis of iso-octane involved passing syn gas over a chromium catalyst that produced about 80% methanol and 20% butanol. The butanol was dehydrated to n-butane and made into the iso-butylene which was polymerised to make iso-octane. (very crude description). The methanol was simply recirculated through the catalyst and acted as syn gas.

    Of course the methanol or pure methanol from a more selective catalyst could have been run in an engine directly. Butanol itself behaves almost exactly as petrol and can virtually run unchanged in an engine with only mino0r adjustments. the carburator.

    A Methanol based fighter, perhaps with a little hydrocarbon added to make a visible flame might have worked. Energetically methanol is less dense in terms of energy per unit mass but as it specific gravity is higher it partially compensates. It also has a high octane number which would help keep an engine small and efficient.

    Obviously it rquires research and effort.
     
  18. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #18 stona, Mar 29, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2015
    I used to be an organic chemist. I'm pretty sure that the process as used by the Germans in the 1930s/40s used essentially a Cobalt catalyst. Chromium seems unlikely for reasons too boring and complicated to go into here.

    You shouldn't use an abbreviation like 'syn gas' without first using the non abbreviated term 'Synthesis gas'. Not all readers will be chemists :). This synthesis gas is the product of the first stages of the process when starting with solid sources of carbon, coal in the case of the German plants.

    Trust me, it's not a simple series of processes. For many organic reactions there are several 'versions' of the starting compound (like butanol) and even more 'versions' of the synthesis' products, some of which you won't want. It can be difficult to isolate the compound you want and at every step of every synthesis the yield is less than 100%.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  19. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Alcohol based fuels had been used in car racing for quite a number of years and alcohol based fuel concoctions had been used for record setting in air-craft during the 1930s. Perhaps they didn't know then what we know now but apparently what they did know kept them from using it as an alternative fuel. During the late 30s both Auto Union and Mercedes-Benz used pretty much the same fuel blend in their formula I cars. 86.0% methanol, nitrobenzol 4.4%, acetone 8.8% and sulfuric ether 0.8%.
    Getting the mixture correct for an alcohol based fuel can be critical as while methanol can have an PN number of 114 when running rich it can also have a PN of 75 ( octane rating 90/91) when running lean and lead actually degrades alcohol's PN numbers. Alcohol is great for peak performance but really crappy for cruising. Methanol has 57,000Btus per gallon and straight run gasoline has 115,000Btus per gallon and Methanol already weighs 10% more per gallon. Alcohol needs roughly twice the amount of liquid compared to gasoline per unit of air so it works out rather nicely.
    A Methanol powered 109 would need about 800 liters of fuel to equal the range/endurance of a regular 109 and take-off weight would be around 760lbs more (not including the weight of the larger fuel tank/s).

    Granted nobody is really talking about a pure methanol powered plane but one can see the disadvantages showing up rather quickly. While you can 'adjust' a carburetor rather simply (although changing the jet sizes is easier on some cabs than others and you do need certain minimum sizes of internal passages), Changing the fuel injection units could require new plunger assemblies at a minimum.

    Using an alcohol blend in ground vehicles is a whole lot easier as the weight isn't so critical and range/endurance isn't so critical either. Running out of fuel in a truck by the side of the road is a pain the butt but hardly leads to crashes/lost vehicles.
     
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  20. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Thanks for the overviews about the chemical technology. One comment, though:

    Germany was, by the time the Caucasian oil fields were within reach, already fighting a 3:1 war. Even without Allies bombing out the oil fields, refineries, transporting trains tracks, such odds are overwhelming.
     
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