1. stormcat
    Offline

    stormcat Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2014
    Messages:
    393
    Likes Received:
    26
    Location:
    Somewhere beyond the sea

    Technology without fossil fuels

    Discussion in 'Research' started by stormcat, Jan 4, 2014.

    My story takes place on a planet without fossil fuels, and I need help developing the technology they can use. No plastics, no coal, not natural gas and certainly no gasoline. How are they going to get power to use these devices?
     
  2. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,349
    Likes Received:
    2,891
    Location:
    Boston
    As I mentioned in your other thread, you could start with stuff like wind or solar energy. Hydropower is another possibility. Just Google "alternative energy" or something like that and you'll find several ideas.
     
  3. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,834
    Likes Received:
    10,013
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    Windmills and waterwheels have been in use far longer than fossil fuels, so the idea of imparting energy from something to something else has been with us for centuries. Plastics might not be off the table as regards a no-fossil-fuel culture, though. Rubbers and polymers are naturally occurring, organic substances that we have subsequently replaced with synthetic alternatives, but they started as natural concepts. There's no need for fossil fuels to discover genetic engineering through selective breeding. Gregor Mendel discovered the concept of selective breeding in the mid-1800s through simple observation. Something tells me he was not the first to actually grasp the idea though, given that what we know as corn today started off as something very similar to modern teosinte:

    [​IMG]
    ... and we're talking about 2500 BC for this little piece of handiwork, so, sorry Mendel, but the Olmecs beat you too it by quite a mile. Anywho... What if you have people notice the way wolves domesticate into dogs and scrawny teosinte domesticates into hardy maize and they actively apply this to all the fauna around them? They breed the creatures they need to perform the tasks they need from an early period. An organic technology culture.
     
  4. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,834
    Likes Received:
    10,013
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    BTW, having read your other thread and knowing that this is a post-space travel culture, the initial settlers would have the benefit of the battery of knowledge created from a fossil-fuel-having culture. The idea of genetically engineering the life around them becomes even more plausible as does the existence of plastics. Plus they would still be able to smelt metals and create ceramics with the knowledge they come with, and I don't just mean bowls and cups, but technology grade ceramics would still be within their grasp.
     
  5. stormcat
    Offline

    stormcat Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2014
    Messages:
    393
    Likes Received:
    26
    Location:
    Somewhere beyond the sea
    Actually, the technology that brought the settlers there has been destroyed, so while they can still smelt metal and sculpt clay, they no longer remember how plastics are made. When they do find relics of the original settlers, they treat them as holy relics rather than something to be studied.
     
  6. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,834
    Likes Received:
    10,013
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    Plastics would still be available if there is any local flora that creates polymers, and on Earth, such flora is abundant. The origin of plastic is not as artificial as people think today. The observation of polymers of even a low technology culture would happen in the kitchen. Now, I understand that the technology is destroyed after they arrive, so what plot mechanism are you going to use to eliminate the knowledge? I personally do not know how to create plastics from plant sap, but I know it can be done because it's a piece of the knowledge base of my culture. The fact that I know it's possible, even if I have zero idea how to, gives me a huge leg-up compared to someone who has to accumulate the knowledges that even arrive at the idea of plastic.
     
  7. Lewdog
    Offline

    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2012
    Messages:
    7,530
    Likes Received:
    2,825
    Location:
    Williamsburg, KY
    Steampunk? They can make energy with turbines that work off of turning water into steam. Are there any places that have natural steam releasing spots? Any places that have water spouts?
     
  8. stormcat
    Offline

    stormcat Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2014
    Messages:
    393
    Likes Received:
    26
    Location:
    Somewhere beyond the sea
    This is the overall aesthetic I'm going for. These people don't have plastic because they're happy with glass and wood.
     
  9. Lewdog
    Offline

    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2012
    Messages:
    7,530
    Likes Received:
    2,825
    Location:
    Williamsburg, KY
    Let me go a little farther and say, basically you can go with type of kinetic energy. Windmills, hydroelectric, steampunk, and even you could use human made power by doing the stationary bicycle type of thing.

    There used to be a commercial on tv of these guys with HUGE legs that would go to the center of the earth to ride a bicycle to provide energy for the world, I was going to post it but I couldn't find it.
     
  10. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    The lack of fossil fuels seems to be a core element of your story. As I said in the other thread, that means you should develop and present us with the ramifications.

    Don't make the mistake of designing your story by committee!
     
  11. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    wouldn't it be best to ask a moderator to combine your duped threads, so all comments can be read in one place?
     
  12. Hazel B-S
    Offline

    Hazel B-S Member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2013
    Messages:
    46
    Likes Received:
    14
    wind, solar, biofuel, tidal, hydro, and geothermal (0nly available in volcanic places such as Iceland) are all renewable sources of energy :)
     
  13. Storysmith
    Offline

    Storysmith Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2014
    Messages:
    41
    Likes Received:
    23
    One thing to consider is nuclear power. It's higher tech than fossil fuels, but could power electricity grids, allowing electric cars and trains, plus computers. It might end up being not too different from our world, so you may want to make your civilization pre-nuclear.
     
  14. stormcat
    Offline

    stormcat Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2014
    Messages:
    393
    Likes Received:
    26
    Location:
    Somewhere beyond the sea
    I'm not so sure about nuclear. How does one even acquire nuclear materials to power a device?
     
  15. Storysmith
    Offline

    Storysmith Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2014
    Messages:
    41
    Likes Received:
    23
    Uranium is naturally occurring in the Earth's crust, so it can simply be mined. With it other fissionable materials can be bred, e.g. plutonium or other isotopes of uranium.

    If the tech level is a bit more advanced than ours, then they can use fusion, which is the process that powers the Sun. It produces far more power than the fission reactions we currently use, and produces no dangerous waste. It's also fueled by just water, so anywhere that humanity thrives should be able to make use of it.
     
  16. Lewdog
    Offline

    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2012
    Messages:
    7,530
    Likes Received:
    2,825
    Location:
    Williamsburg, KY

    There were a bunch of Uranium mines in Utah, I just saw a show about it on television.
     
  17. thewordsmith
    Offline

    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2009
    Messages:
    874
    Likes Received:
    124
    Location:
    State of Confusion
    Just to set the record straight, actually, geothermal energy is accessible anywhere. The energy visible in those spectacular displays of glowing, melted rock we see spewing from the caldera of an active volcano only represent that this one particular vent from the earth's core is visible. But, just because it may not be visible in, say, Chesterton, England or Tibet, or even the woodlands of Kentucky, USA does not mean that same heat source is not accessible.

    It's also speculated that all planets have the same type of molten core. This would suggest that, with the proper drilling equipment, this source would be accessible to any society so inclined.
    As noted, wind, solar, hydro, and tidal are all generally available power sources. Another source is any organic material. Wood can be readily converted to a petroleum-like fuel source as can... (shades of Soylent Green)... human 'beans'!
     

Share This Page