Nobody's Fuel - an engineer's guide
                to saving the planet

Nobody's Fuel
- an engineer's guide
to saving the planet
contact [at] thelightfootinstitute [dot] ca

The Lightfoot Institute


* A special thanks to TEDxSurat for the use of their footage in this film

An Inconvenient Truth meets Baraka

On a road trip to the heart of an ailing planet with a message of hope
This documentary about nuclear energy may change the way you see
the greening of the planet.

Watch the full length feature!

Watch the extended trailer!

The Problem
Our world has been built on fossil fuels.

Indeed, energy is needed every day, everywhere, and the need is growing. But, energy from fossil fuels is like a giant bank account; and for Planet Earth, those funds are dangerously close to being overdrawn.
“It is distressing to realize that our primary fuels will begin an inexorable decline this century. The result is that we will have difficulty even maintaining our current energy expenditure rate — let alone continuing our historical 3% annual energy growth rate. A major adjustment is in the offing.“

What can we do?

Solar, Wind & Biomass technologies are scurrying to be claimed the solution for our global energy crisis; but none of them can hope to provide a fraction of our needs. And the longer we wait for a magic solution, the more of our precious fossil fuels, so essential for transport, are being used up. Peak oil is soon upon us.
Planet earth is in a tenuous position.

Yet, there is another source of power, a solution that can, in fact, meet our needs: Nuclear Power.

Nuclear Power, though, has a bad reputation.

Chernobyl. . . Fukushima. . .

In just one word, a dark cloud looms in the collective memory.

Why? We need to examine whether those fears about nuclear energy, are rooted in fact or fiction.

The Film
Retired Engineer Douglas Lightfoot is not ready to retire. A mechanical engineer during his 37 year professional career, Mr. Lightfoot, an environmentalist and humanitarian, has turned his retirement into a mission, of sorts. Elder statesman, Douglas Lightfoot sees the solution to the world’s energy crisis very clearly. Nuclear energy. For him, it’s a practical solution, with a hopeful message, and one that he has come to over many years of research, with many peer reviewed, published papers, to his credit. He is not alone in this conclusion, yet, the truth about nuclear energy is overshadowed by an emotional hue and cry in some corners.

Watch more clips. . .

Since 1984 we've been using oil faster than we can find it

Globalisation: supermarket items travel 2500 km before reaching your kitchen

80 percent of the world's energy comes from fossil fuels

The US burns 2 carloads of coal every second

With unpredictable weather, we will always need more energy

Reserves of fossil fuel are like a giant bank account

Abundant energy has freed us from the fight for survival

Can nature survive outside a dome?

The world needs more energy, not less


“The average rail car of coal weigh 100 tons. The United States burns 1 to 2 cars like this every second.”

LFTR Now: power to change the world

“80% of the world’s energy comes from fossil fuels”

US Energy Information Administration, International Energy Outlook 2017

“An incredible 1 in 6 deaths globally is linked to pollution.”

Landrigan P., Fuller R., The Lancet Commission on pollution and health; The Lancet, Vol. 391, No. 10119

“Consider that the average supermarket items travels 2500km before it reaches your kitchen.”

Metz B, Davidson O, Swart R. Pan J, Climate Change 2001: Mitigation.  Contribution of Working Group III to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge UK, 2001. 3.6.1

“By 2030 our population will be 8.6 billion people.”

The World Population Prospects: The 2017 Revision, published by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

“Making that TV takes the energy equivalent of 7 gallons of diesel fuel.”

A Tool to Estimate Materials and Manufacturing Energy for a Product by N. Duque Ciceri, T. G. Gutowski, M. Garetti. Published in 2010.

From Figure 2, an LCD monitor requires 773 to 985 MJ in its manufacture.

Energy consumption at 985 MJ = 985 x 1000000 = 985,000,000 Joules

One US gallon of diesel fuel contains:  146,520,000 Joules

The oil used to manufacture an LCD flat screen TV is the equivalent to 6.72 USG of diesel fuel.

“That’s enough energy to run the average American home for almost 10 days – or drive the average car almost 400 km.”

The energy content of 7 US gallons of diesel fuel is 145,020,000 Joules, which is equivalent to 282 kWh.

(1) 7 US gallons of diesel fuel has the energy equivalent to light a 100 Watt  light bulb for 16.8 days.

(2) For a car with fuel consumption of 7 litres per 100 km, it can power the car for 378 kilometres, almost 400 km.

(3) It is the equivalent of supplying electricity to the average US home in 2016 for 9.6 days.


“And the internet really is power hungry data servers - which US researchers predict could used 3% - with some estimates as high as 20% - of all the world's electricity by the year 2025.”

‘Tsunami of data’ could consume one fifth of global electricity by 2025

Andrae, Anders S.G., Total Consumer Power Consumption Forecast, Huawei Technologies, October 2017

Up to 3% of all U.S. electricity powers data centers.

“By 2020 information and communications could consume more energy than aviation and shipping combined!”

‘Tsunami of data’ could consume one fifth of global electricity by 2025

create a back up system to store enough electricity to run your house for a week would require a battery array weighting 2300 pounds -

Gates B., It Is Surprisingly Hard to Store Energy, gatesnotes: the blog of Bill Gates, 22 February 2016

“The equivalent energy in one gallon of gasoline would require a battery weighing 430 pounds.”

Qnovo, Making Sense of 100 KWH, August 2016

Whereas the Tesla battery weighs about 1300 lbs (590 kg), 3 gallons of gasoline weigh a mere 18 lbs (8 kg).

“Then you get into your car and drive 3 miles to the big box store to buy that TV, using gasoline, in a car that has 7 gallons of oil in each tire. . .”

Tim Appenzeller, “The End of Cheap Oil”; National Geographic, June 2004

In 2017, the world needed the energy equivalent of that contained in the fuel tanks of 310 billion cars.

Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Review 2005, Report No. DOE/EIA-0384(2005), Table 11.1.

In 80 years, it’s predicted the world will need the energy equivalent to that contained in the fuel tanks of 900 billion cars.

Hoffert, Martin I., et al. 1998. Energy implications of future stabilization of atmospheric CO2 content. Nature, Vol. 395, 29 October 1998, page 883, Figure 2c.

“But a recent study suggests this movement towards energy conservation falls short when we don’t curtail other conveniences of modern life.”

Good Intents, but Low Impacts: Diverging Importance of Motivational and Socioeconomic Determinants Explaining Pro-Environmental Behavior, Energy Use, and Carbon Footprint, Stephanie Moser, Silke Kleinhückelkotten, June 9, 2017, Environment and Behavior


On Black Friday, Face the Music: ‘Environmentally Conscious Consumers’ Use More Energy and Carbon Than Those Who Are Less Aware

By George Monbiot / The Guardian

“According to Oxfam, the richest 1% produces about 175 times as much carbon as the lowest 10% of the world’s population.”

Extreme Carbon Inequality: Why the Paris climate deal must put the poorest , lowest emitting and most vulnerable people first

“The UK wants to ban all petrol and diesel cars by 2040.”

UK plans to ban sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040; Jim Pickard and Peter Campbell; July 26, 2017

“World energy usage has more than doubled in the past 35 years.”

International Energy Outlook 2003, Energy Information Administration

“Incredibly, 1.2 billion people around the world do not have access to electricity.”

Access to electricity (% of population), World Bank


1.3 Billion are Living in the Dark; By Todd Lindeman; Washington Post

“To reach energy parity with the rest of the modern world, China and India will require four times the current usage of today by the year 2100.”

General statistics about India:

With the world’s sixth largest economy, and fourth largest proven coal reserves, the use of fossil fuels to power India’s progress is already acutely felt in major cities such as Mumbai and Delhi.”

India's coal reserves may exhaust by 2040; Press Trust Of India; New Delhi; January 29, 2013

In a country known for having the worst air quality in the world, by 2040, OPEC predicts a 150% increase in demand for oil.

OPEC sees India’s oil demand rising over 150% by 2040; The Hindu BusinessLine; October 10th, 2017;

“In 1973, oil-producing Arab countries implemented an embargo to protest U.S.-Israeli policies. The price of oil quadruples – but despite the problems it caused for the United States, energy policy did not change.”

“In France, a country that used oil for most of its energy, the reaction was markedly different – they embraced other forms of electrical generation to break their reliance on fossil fuels.”

Nuclear power in France

“In 1940, it took the energy of one barrel of oil to find 100 barrels.”

Manning, R., The Oil We Eat, Harper's Magazine, February 2004

“In the Oilsands – because of the recovery process – it’s about 1 to 5.”

Hughes J D, Driil. Baby, Drill, Post Carbon Institute, 2013. Page 118

Oil Sands Mining Uses Up Almost as Much Energy as It Produces; Rachel Nuwer; InsideClimate News

Global energy consumption animation.

Energy Consumption, Global

The history of firewood