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How we need to prepare

Recent Comments


Fossil Fuels

I don’t know if you have noticed that generally the more processed something is the shorter the life span. It isn’t a perfect rule but it holds for many items. Natural Gas lasts for decades, Oil for decades, coal for decades. Petrol and Diesel are processed and don’t last as long needing chemical additives to keep them working for a few short years. Animals live for decades as well unprocessed. 🙂

Based on this I’ve looked at storing raw materials rather than processed materials where possible. It may be more work at the time to process but not always. Coal for example seems good and stores well, even when wet and cold. I’m not sure about making my own petrol and diesel being quite a distance from an oil field but if you do have an oil field near you it may be worth looking at the equipment necessary.

For home use we could get by on fossil fuels quite well. Back to coal or wood burning fires and cookers. Heating from those as well as cooking and lights from candles.

For industrial use we could power lathes and other turning machines. Foundries already use coal to process metal and, if necessary, we could use them to smelt metals as well.

For transport it is not beyond our skills to build coal or steam powered cars, lorries or tractors. Vehicles that would not require processed fuels. OK, they wouldn’t be as efficient but they will always have fuel. It seems to me to be a more viable way of powering transport in the long term. Couple that with the old style car chassis with solid springs instead of suspension and we have a winner.

A supply of crude oil to make oil, grease, petrol and diesel may be impractical but a supply of lubrication oil, engine and axle grease is not impractical and will last us until we use the last of what we have stored. Animal fats etc. are not as good and have the bad habit of being consumed quicker than it is used.

All in all though I see a use for fossil fuels after an event and with the benefit that when the last wind turbine blade falls off, the last transformer coil breaks, the last of the petrol and diesel is used and the last solar panel stops producing we can always cut down a tree or dig for coal to keep going. Coal fields are dotted all over the UK and there are many mines that are closed as uneconomical for business use and I don’t live too far from one. Although when I want to go I may have to consider that someone may be digging and selling it rather than it just being there but you never know. I could live with either.

It is only because electricity is so convenient that we have jumped on it. A power supply so easy to use, plug and play, and yet so versatile we have adapted it so it can power everything we use. We may have to get dirty, we may have to put up with the pollution but we shall not be without power. We will just need to adapt and where we cannot we will have to do without when the generators fail or the fuel runs out.

12 comments to Fossil Fuels

  • northern raider

    I live in the middle of the Durham coal fields, and now after 30 years of clean air, unpolluted water, greenery instead of soot, silence instead of the sound of machinery, and people living 20 years longer than they used to most folks around here would probably kill anyone trying to reopen a pit.

  • JD1

    In a post fall world coal would be a great resource but going back to relying on coal wont be good for the people having to mine it (probably why slaves were often used in past times).

    My dad and grandad both worked down the pit and said it was one of the worst, not to mention dangerous, occupations going. They both hated it

  • Kenneth Eames

    My choice of fuel would be charcoal. Its quite easy to make and good for heating the home (providing you have good ventilation). It will fuel a forge, a steam engine and other uses among which is cooking. Wind too will power machinery and so will water. Watermills are a valuable asset. Kenneth Eames.

  • northern raider

    I could see coal being used again but guys remember that after a collapse we wont have the skills, tools,manpower etc to extract coal from deep mines. However in some places there are fabulous easy accesible open cast coal sites ( Co Durham and Northumberland especially) and of course we can scavenge reasonable amounts of sea coal off the beaches ( Co durham again).

    I go with Kenneth on this Charcoal would be ideal, its easy to make and easy to grow, providing fuel for a much reduced agrarian society. But not enough for mainstream society.

  • Skean Dhude

    NR, JD,

    They worked in a pit to live. It probably won’t be any different now.

    Plus we won’t need the same amount of coal, remember we had the entire UK on coal. There won’t be that many survivors.


    Charcoal seems very popular for cooking. I’ve got some information on making and using it which I will look out for.

  • Skvez

    Fractional distillation of crude oil is perhaps possible for someone who did chemistry to A level or beyond. However the process produces too many heavy oils and fewer light oils than civilisation tends to need. ‘Cracking’ is the process of breaking down long chain hydrocarbons (heavy oils) into multiple small chain hydrocarbons (lighter oils). It’s not something you want to try at home!

    Steam power requires water, a lot of water. Steam powered cars are technically possible but probably not practical. Steam powered locomotives had to take on more water than they did coal and many of the train stops were to take on water rather than for the convenience of passengers.

    When the last wind turbine blade breaks off you carve another one and bolt it on again. The irreplaceable bits of wind turbines are the magnets (and to a lesser extent the stator coils).

    Most of the coal mines in the UK are not only uneconomical they are now so deep that you can’t get to the coal seam without electrical power (for the lift, the fans to keep the air breathable and the pumps to stop them flooding). “Survivors” Season 2 showed someone just walking a few hundred yards and a gently slope into the ground and ending up at a coal seam. I don’t believe there are any mines like this with a worthwhile seam anymore in the UK, we’ve used up all the easy-to-get-to coal.

  • Skean Dhude


    I do have lab equipment among my preps but I wouldn’t do this with it. If I lived near an oil field I would build one of the old style crackers (or whatever) and use that.

    We have a lot of water in the UK. It doesn’t need to be drinkable to use in a steam engine thus is easier to collect and store. Although I agree about the issues.

    OK, We put another bladeon but that wasn’t what I meant. With the magnets, coils etc. everything breaks eventually.

    I know about that, one of my previous articles is about oil etc. being out of easy reach and it is a limit on progress after an event. But what is an uneconomic seam to British Coal could be a lifetime supply to an individual.

    It is all about options and thinking about things.

  • northern raider

    Up here the only technology you wopuld need to access thousands of tons of high quality anthracite coal is a wheelbarrow and spade, these open cast pits are huge, we opened 11 new ones in the last couple of years.

  • Skean Dhude

    I’ll visit one day in my lorry and loadup. Could save a fortune.

  • northern raider

    Heh Heh you will have to wait until TEOTWAWKI or the coal bopard may kick off, but you could prolly find plenty laying around on the beach.

  • vandam

    hi all,
    as an ex ungerground fitter in the selby coal field the chances of re-opening deep mines are remote, those who live near drift mines will have a chance to collect coal, but i think the better option after an event will be to raid the local power station stock pile, the security will be non exsistent so its just a case of bagging it up.

  • Skean Dhude


    Welcome. Perhaps a bunch of you can set up a new British Coal. We are going to need it.



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