This era in history may be remembered as the "Peak Age", a brief time when nearly all materials used to power and create our society reach the maximum extraction and production potential. Past this point, all of these resources become increasingly difficult to extract until they are no longer economically viable resources to be using. There are hundreds of examples of resources, currently embedded in our industrial society, which have reached their peak in the 50 years surrounding 2010, but the one which will most impact our society is petroleum.

The goal of living for 100 days without oil is to understand the extent of our dependance on oil in American society today. Specifically, how it will affect my life, as a 25 year-oil living in Minneapolis, MN. By using myself as a metric I can take a close and conscious look at where oil dependance occurs in all aspects of our daily lives : How we transport ourselves from one place to another, what we eat, how much waste we create, how water is cleaned and transported, where oil is used as; an energy resource, in conventional medicine and for hygiene and how oil affects how we entertain ourselves and communicate with others. By demonstrating how someone would be forced to live without using any oil resources, outlining both what the sacrifices will be as well as the benefits, we can can identify the many systems which will have to be re-designed in a world without cheap oil, and explore a new way of living in which we live in an energy balance.

(At the bottom of this page is a link to my version of a flow diagram of 'Where Petroleum Exists in Our Daily Lives' (using information from the Energy Information Administration-Annual Energy Review 2008 fig 5.0 Petroleum flow) click and zoom to enlarge)

Friday, October 8, 2010


4 October 2010

After doing some more research, talking to friends who do better math than I, and speaking with Jeff Jenks of the City of Minneapolis Waste Division I have some more accurate and updated numbers about how much energy it would take to get my trash picked up each week (and how much energy I'm 'saving' by composting and minimizing waste).

Like I mentioned before, the City of Minneapolis trucks all residential waste to the Hennepin Energy Resource Center downtown to be burned and converted into steam energy.  Trucks start their day in North Minneapolis (2710 Pacific St. N), do one route, drop off at the HERC, and do a second route, drop off and return to the truck yard.  The average route picks up trash from 770 dwelling units.  This is only an average of 650 stops, however, because many stops are at apartments with multiple dwelling units. 

The average truck uses approx 10-15 gallons of diesel fuel per day.  They have a trip mileage of 2.67 to 3.74 MPG (This is with 40-60 percent of the time in pack mode).  Their average speed is only 2.7 MPH.  I used an average number of 3.2 MPG for my calculations.

The packer trucks have a 280 to 300 hp @ 800 to 860 ft pounds of torque.... "We order the most efficient motor for our type of operation."

Some packer trucks have an empty weight of 33,600 and the newer trucks have an empty of 35,260 with a GVW of 52,000 for both.


The revised equation for finding gallons of gas per trip is:

(MPG) (gallons of gas) = trip miles
trip miles/MPG = gallons of gas

I have:
3.2 MPG for the trunks
average of 12.5 gallons of gas used per day
=40 miles is the average trip route

12.5 gallons of gas/650 stops = 0.0192 gallons of gas/stop
0.0192 gallons x 36.6 kWh in each gallon of gas) = 0.704 kWh per house

703.8 watts or
0.0192 gallons of gas
is used to pick up my waste each week.

With an energy budget of 5 kWh/day (35 kWh/week) waste energy is not a HUGE contributor, but certainly makes an impact.  To compare all of the energy users I have identified in this project so far I've converted each user into kWh in the below chart: (click to enlarge)

This chart does not yet take into account energy I am saving eating locally, water heating, nor does it account for the energy it will take for space heating in my house (when it gets cold enough to do that).   Regardless, my current lifestyle (21.3 kWh/week) uses only 16% of the energy I was using before the project (129.204 kWh/week).  There are items which I use more energy for: grow light and more energy for cooking, but the trend is generally less energy use; refrigeration, lights, transportation, garbage collection, clothes washing. 

The black outlined box on the far right 'total' column shows that 35 kWh/week is my energy budget maximum.  I am not yet using the maximum energy I could be (solar energy captured on my roof), but as the weather gets colder, I think I will find that I will use and possibly exceed that amount....