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245 votes
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Are there logical gaps in the periodic table in which you could insert a new mystery element for use as a fuel?

No As we currently understand physical chemistry, all possible elements are known below whatever the state of the art number is now (Oganesson - Element 118). The atomic number of an element (the ...
Jim2B's user avatar
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41 votes

Plausibility of a car running on noble gasses

Noble gasses are called "noble" because they don't interact with other elements (same way as nobility of the past didn't mix up with lower classes). Since the entire concept of combustion ...
L.Dutch's user avatar
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30 votes

What energy sources would a species use if they didn't have access to fossil fuels?

Wood You said they don't have access to fossil fuels, but not to a forest. Using wood as fuel can be a good way to start gathering energy, in form of steam engine if you are looking for mechanical ...
Ender Look's user avatar
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30 votes
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What would a spacefaring race use as fuel for their matter-to-energy reactors?

Mine tailings: In your scenario, you can destroy matter. But even waste materials for your civilization out in space are made of the things you find valuable. In space, people are interested in places ...
DWKraus's user avatar
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29 votes

Alternative source of fuel instead of wood

Fish and whale oils They have been commonly used by many cultures across history for many purposes. If your people live on an island, I would be inclined to think that they would have access to fish ...
Qami's user avatar
  • 7,001
27 votes

Alternative source of fuel instead of wood

Fallen tree limbs, dry leaves, pine cones, twigs -- "woody debris" in general. If they aren't managing their forests, they're going to be full of debris which will just pile up and make the place ...
workerjoe's user avatar
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22 votes

Alternative source of fuel instead of wood

Do they have grasslands? Then animal dung is used in a number of locations around the world. According to wiki, the places it has been used are: Asia, Europe, and the Americas.
ShadoCat's user avatar
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22 votes

Plausibility of a car running on noble gasses

You need a new technology I assume you've chosen noble gasses because they're completely unreactive. The flip side of that is that they would release a lot of energy, if they were somehow in the ...
Mike Serfas's user avatar
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21 votes
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Refueling from stars

Depending on the density of fuel you are looking for, exactly what fuel you need, and how protected you are from heat and radiation, I would say your best bets for refueling a fusion-powered ...
brendan's user avatar
  • 603
20 votes

Are there logical gaps in the periodic table in which you could insert a new mystery element for use as a fuel?

Short answer: No. Elements are identified by their atomic number, i.e. the number of protons in the nucleus. When Mendeleev invented the periodic table, there were a number of holes. For example, ...
Jay's user avatar
  • 14.9k
20 votes

What is the easiest fuel a blockaded, sanctioned nation can procure/synthesize during a war?

Biofuel. With time to establish sufficient distributed infrastructure for the farming and manufacture of biofuels before the outbreak of war, it would be possible to break dependence upon fuels ...
Monty Wild's user avatar
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19 votes

Would aliens use the same fuel as us, if not what would they use?

Chemistry and physics are the same all across the universe, therefore chemically propelled rockets will experience the same limitations as we see on Earth. Even the chemistry behind the propellants ...
L.Dutch's user avatar
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18 votes

Refueling from stars

is the pull the same if you're going for a particular density of matter? Yes, gravity works on mass not volume The only materials you would be able to reach would be those emitted from the star. ...
Kilisi's user avatar
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18 votes

What would a spacefaring race use as fuel for their matter-to-energy reactors?

Solar Wind Converting Mass to Energy creates such a crazy amount of energy that you barely need any mass. One kilogram of matter has ~ 25,000 Gigawatt-hours of energy. Since a normal US house uses 10,...
codeMonkey's user avatar
  • 10.7k
16 votes

Alternative source of fuel instead of wood

If you're on the island of Ireland, the answer is peat. Many parts of Britain used it as fuel too. Of course this requires the landscape to be substantially peat bog rather than all forest, but if it'...
Graham's user avatar
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15 votes

Mobile Post-Apocalypse Shelter

Gasoline Has an Expiration Date Gasoline lasts about 6 months, or at-least it DID. Now that we add ethanol to it gasoline only has an official storage life of about 90 days. Treatments can be added ...
TCAT117's user avatar
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15 votes

Post-apocalyptic automotive fuel for a cold world?

You can easily adapt any diesel engine to run on vegetable oil. https://www.caranddriver.com/features/a15129612/how-to-convert-your-diesel-to-run-on-vegetable-oil/ so if your people have all the ...
Till's user avatar
  • 1,465
14 votes

What energy sources would a species use if they didn't have access to fossil fuels?

Poop! Poop! And more Poop! But seriously, dried animal dung is a very common fuel, even today in some places. You can burn it like wood. Dry dung fuel (or dry manure fuel) is animal feces that ...
Cyn's user avatar
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14 votes
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Would aliens use the same fuel as us, if not what would they use?

The chemical propellants in common use today (kerosene/oxygen, hydrogen/oxygen, methane/oxygen rising fast, plus variations on hydrazine and nitrogen oxides for storable hypergolics) are dictated by ...
Zeiss Ikon's user avatar
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14 votes

What is the easiest fuel a blockaded, sanctioned nation can procure/synthesize during a war?

During WW2 the Germans created vast quantities of synthetic fuel using the Fischer Tropsch process: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fischer%E2%80%93Tropsch_process This helped them to avoid the blockade ...
Slarty's user avatar
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13 votes
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Are the petroleum deposits correlated to the dinosaurs extintion?

The short answer is, it wouldn't make a difference. The biggest reason is the sheer amount of biomass involved. With think of dinosaurs as pretty big, but in terms of total mass, they're peanuts ...
Cadence's user avatar
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13 votes

Alternative source of fuel instead of wood

Coal Have them use coal. The Aztecs used it, the ancient Chinese used it, the Romans used it. They can find surface deposits or dig rudimentary bell pits. Bronze Age tech is more than enough to mine ...
Daniel B's user avatar
  • 19k
12 votes

Spaceship fuel on Europa

Under the ice: Under the ice on Europa, there is... more ice. The upper layer of the planet is actually a solid ice layer, similar to the upper mantle of the Earth. While solid, there is a lot of ...
Adrian Hall's user avatar
  • 3,858
12 votes

What would a spacefaring race use as fuel for their matter-to-energy reactors?

First it might be a good idea to ballpark how much matter you would need. From Newtonian physics it takes about $62$ megajoules of energy to get a kilogram completely off planet earth, so 2 kilos ...
Nyra's user avatar
  • 1,993
11 votes

How to explain lack of fosil fuels on an Earth-like exoplanet?

Mass extinctions have nothing to do with large oil deposits, unlike at least 2 answers have said it does. Oil accumulates largely due to vegetation and aquatic life forms dying and their carbon/...
Durakken's user avatar
  • 6,608
11 votes

The Fate of Coal Factories in a Life After People

Automated loss-of-fuel shutdown - not very exciting For coal powered plants, pulverized coal is fed from hoppers into the furnace. Human operator action is required to switch between hopper feed ...
kingledion's user avatar
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11 votes

Can a secondary fuel economy ever be hardened against attacks?

Most fuel cells don't take raw hydrogen, but hydrogen containing compound like hydrocarbons on hydrides. This means, you will still be using natural gas in your hydrogen economy, simply to a much ...
nzaman's user avatar
  • 12k
11 votes
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How would modern naval warfare be altered by a complete lack of fossil fuels?

'Fossil' fuels are still produced Not all fossil fuels come from fossils. Things like sunflower oil habe great potential. You can already use it to mix with diesel, though highly illegal in most ...
Trioxidane's user avatar
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11 votes
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Fuel for vehicles in an abruptly abandoned world

The book The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World from Scratch by Lewis Dartnell should be a very informative read for you. It covers what one should do in your setting in great detail. At least, in ...
TheDyingOfLight's user avatar
10 votes

Are there logical gaps in the periodic table in which you could insert a new mystery element for use as a fuel?

People have already covered the parts of the question about the periodic table so I'd like to just talk about one of the side-conditions for a moment. The two desired properties of renewable and ...
David Richerby's user avatar

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