INTRODUCTION TO FUEL TECHNOLOGY
This course is meant to provide an “introduction to the scientific and engineering principles of fuel technology.” It is a much more ‘technical’ version of EGEE 101, whose objective is to provide an appreciation for the links between energy consumption, environmental quality and socio-economic realities.
We shall accomplish this objective in the following way:
(1) Show how simple mass and energy balances, as well as thermodynamic and kinetic analyses, go a long way toward understanding the key energy options (and dilemmas!) of modern society.
(2) Use the Internet to (i) minimize the transfer of factual information, (ii) maximize our ability to find the most relevant and up-to-date information, and (iii) maximize our ability to adopt informed and critical views regarding energy and environmental policies.
(3) Place into broad perspective the societal impact of fuel technologies. Thus, for example, you can easily convince yourself that the industry we are about to study represents a very significant fraction of the U.S. economy: if the average retail price is 20 dollars per million BTU (verify!) and the consumption is 1017 BTU (verify!), and keeping in mind that the GDP is some 1013 dollars (verify!), we are talking about X-dollar industry or Y% of the GDP! (Wow!? Surprised?)
We are interested in understanding the key concepts and knowing the important details… Everything else that is relevant, as we shall see, can be found on the Internet, if and when we need it (e.g., using google.com).
Here is a sample final exam. It summarizes the principal learning outcomes for this course. And a recent example of an important detail is the announcement by President Obama regarding “historic carbon pollution standards for power plants”.
Fall 2015 syllabus
(Regarding Academic Integrity, we shall follow the normal and sensible procedures, as described at http://www.ems.psu.edu/current_undergrad_students/academics/integrity_policy.
Grade scale: A, >93; A-, 90-93; B+, 85-89; B, 80-84; B-, 75-79; C+, 70-74; C, 60-69; D, 50-59; F, <50. (Borderline ‘cases’ are resolved based on extra credit assignments.)
In-lieu-of-class activity #1 (due in Angel dropbox by midnight 08/27): Find the most updated information on the Department of Energy web site (www.eia.gov) regarding the consumption of energy in the USA according to the various sources (coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear, hydro, solar, etc.). Download the relevant table (*.xls) containing data as a function of time (at least the last 30-40 years). Make a graph that clearly illustrates the answer to the following two important questions: (a) Has the relative contribution of natural gas increased or decreased over the past decade? (b) Do the unconventional renewable sources (i.e., solar, wind, geothermal, biomass) represent today more than 5% of the total energy consumption?
-If you have difficulties navigating through the EIA web site: A-Z index -> Annual Energy Review, etc.
-Does your graph look like this one? Be prepared to discuss it in class!
In-lieu-of-class activity #2 (due in Angel dropbox by midnight 08/31): Make a graph of CO2 emissions in the USA as a function of time, going back as far as the (easily accessible) statistical information allows. Has the growth been faster or slower than that of GDP? Compare the most recent CO2 emissions of the USA with those of a few representative countries, e.g., China, India, Japan, Germany, France, UK, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Nigeria. Use the following bases for comparison: tons CO2/yr, tons CO2/capita, tons CO2/$ GDP. Which comparison do you consider to be the most meaningful?
-Does one of your graphs look like this?
FUELS: SUPPLY, DEMAND AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT
-fossil fuels (still) represent a very large fraction of national and global energy supply… Quantitative details?
-unconventional renewable sources are a (very slowly?) increasing contributor to energy supply…
-nuclear energy ‘renaissance’ depends mostly on socio-economic issues…
-energy demand is (not?) necessarily tied to economic development? (Relative growths in ‘developed’ vs ‘developing’ nations?)
-all energy sources produce some environmental impact… the most severe one probably being that of fossil fuel use (SOx, NOx, COx, PM, VOCs, …)
LAWS OF ENERGY CONVERSION (see Ch3, book-on-the-web)
-remember Thermo 101? (E=Fd, P=E/t, …)
-BTU(ch) vs BTU(th) vs BTU(el) vs BTU(k) vs BTU(p)…
EFFICIENCY OF ENERGY CONVERSION (see Ch4, book-on-the-web)
-Why is conversion of heat to work so inefficient, whereas the opposite process is very efficient?
-Energy conversion devices (E=0-100%) vs energy (heat) transfer devices
Do you agree that, if electricity costs 10 cents per kWh(e), the cost per million BTU(th) is close to $30? And that, if coal costs some $100/ton, its cost per million BTU(th) is less than $10?
Homework #1 (due in Angel drop box by midnight 9/20). Here is the evaluation summary sheet.
1. (15%) Construct a graph that shows the relative contributions of the various renewable energy technologies to the renewable and total energy consumption in the United States.
-Comments about this graph?
2. (15%) Develop a spreadsheet that explores the virtues (and liabilities?) of a carbon tax (of, say, $20/ton) by comparing the relative price increases of coal, oil and natural gas.
3. (35%) A power plant consumes natural gas ($4.50/103 scf, 960 BTU/scf) and produces 1200 MW of electricity at an efficiency of 38%. (a) Estimate the annual money and CO2 savings that would be achieved if the efficiency were increased to 46%. (b) If natural gas is replaced by coal ($50/ton, 9500 BTU/lb) and the same amount of electricity is produced at 33% efficiency, how much less (or more?) would the annual fuel cost be?
-Agree that the answers to (a) are ca. 70 million dollars and ca. 1 million tons of CO2? And more than 120 million dollars in annual savings for part (b)?
4. (20%) Download the appropriate Excel file(s) from the EIA web site and make a graph of energy intensityvs time (over at least the last 40 years or so) for several ‘representative’ countries, at least two being industrially developed nations (including the USA) and at least two being fast-growing and large-population less developed nations. Comment on the trends observed.
-Is one of your graphs similar to this one?
5. (15%) Complete in-lieu-of-class activity #2.
-Do some of your graphs look like this?
STOICHIOMETRY OF FUEL TECHNOLOGY
-Here is a template for the quantitative analysis of a fossil-fuel combustion process (e.g., in an electric power plant).
THERMODYNAMICS OF FUEL TECHNOLOGY
-Knowledge of deltaG of a reaction is essential for understanding fossil fuel combustion and its environmental constraints. Here is a template for the construction of the venerable van’t Hoff plot (ln K vs. 1/T). Does your graph look like this?
-Once we know the equilibrium constants for reactions of interest in fuel technology, we can determine the composition of any system of interest. Here, following up on the class handout regarding the CO/CO2 ratio, is an example.
KINETICS OF FUEL TECHNOLOGY
Here is a ‘code’ that allows quick analysis of first-order kinetics (see class handout entitled “Kinetics of FF combustion (1)”). And here it is applied to the Zeldovich mechanism of NO formation.
If the activation energy of a reaction (that takes place at ca. 1000 K) is 200 kJ/mol, by how much does the temperature have to increase to cause a doubling of the reaction rate? And an increase in rate by one order of magnitude? And if the activation energy were reduced to 100 kJ/mol (by using a catalyst)? Let’s develop a convenient spreadsheet for this, which will allow us to explore reasonable “what-if” scenarios and thus understand the essential difference between PCC (<1 s residence time) and FBC (>1 min residence time).
A beautiful example of how thermodynamics (chemical equilibrium) and (chemical) kinetics are judiciously combined to solve a major obstacle facing continued use of fossil fuel technologies is the Zeldovich mechanism of NOx formation.
COAL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY (Chs. 5-7, 10 and 11 in the book-on-the-web)
For a very readable recent account of coal’s importance in the development of modern society, see Barbara Freese’s “Coal: A Human History.” Here is her conclusion:
“If we do trigger drastic climate changes, all of coal’s contributions to the empowerment of humanity will be overshadowed by the enormous price of that power. Our excuses for continuing to burn coal while ignoring the threat of climate change for so many years – our lack of scientific certainty, our desire to keep our electric rates low, our fear of a slowed economy, and our reluctance to make sacrifices others are not forced to make – will ring hollow to those coping with the catastrophic consequences of our actions.
If, on the other hand, we can actually make the transition to a safer energy system before we cause more than mild climate changes, our coal use won’t be strongly condemned by future generations. Some of our descendants may simply see coal as a strangely primitive fuel and wonder how we tolerated it for as long as we did. The more thoughtful among them may recognize it as an important energy source that, for all its faults, brought us through a sort of prolonged industrial childhood and ultimately gave us power to build a world that no longer needed coal.”
Another relatively recent analysis of the coal industry was provided by Jeff Goodell: “Big Coal – The Dirty Secret behind America’s Energy Future” (Houghton-Mifflin, 2006, 324 pages). Here are a few excerpts:
“We may not like to admit it, but our shiny white iPod economy is propped up by dirty black rocks. This was not how things were supposed to go in America. Coal was supposed to be the engine of the industrial revolution, not the Internet revolution. It once powered our steamships and trains; it forged the steel that won the wars and shaped our cars and skyscrapers and airplanes. It kept pioneers warm on the prairie and built fortunes for robber barons such as Henry Frick and Andrew Carnegie. Without coal, the world as we know it today would be impossible to imagine… In the coming decades, the great danger is not that the world will burn more coal – that’s a given – but that we will burn it badly, cheaply, exploitatively. Instead of building modern IGCC plants that at least allow for the possibility of sequestering the CO2 underground, we will throw up another generation of coal burners that will pump millions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere and accelerate global warming… Instead of helping developing countries leapfrog beyond coal, we will turn them into fossil fuel addicts like ourselves. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
What can we do?
First, we must recognize that the world faces two enormous challenges in the coming years: the end of cheap oil and the arrival of global warming… Second, it is important to see that the barriers to change are not technological but political… Third, we need to find ways to make the invisible visible. I mean this in the broadest possible sense. Big Coal has thrived largely because the costs of air pollution, miners’ safety, devastated mountains, and global warming are invisible to us as consumers of electricity…
Old coal plants are more than just relics of an earlier era; they are giant bulwarks against change, mechanical beasts that are holding back a flood of ideas and innovation. When we muster up the courage to knock them down, the revolution will begin. It’s not that I have blind faith that technology will save us or that I think we can snap our fingers and replace all the coal plants in the world with wind turbines and solar panels; I simply believe that it’s within our grasp to figure out less destructive ways to create and consume the energy we need.”
-Coal composition, C/H ratio, S content, ash ‘content’, widely varying heating values
-Is Wyoming still a ‘booming’ state?
-PCC (C+O2), nice example of Arrhenius-type behavior (high T necessary)
-FBC (AFBC, PFBC), CaO + SO2 + 0.5O2 = CaSO4 (intermediate T OK, so lower NOx as well)
-IGCC (see, for example, http://www.tampaelectric.com/news/powerstation/polk/igcc/), C+H2O, C+O2 (Why?)
-Coal liquefaction (makes sense at ca. $100/bbl?), C+H2 (OK, but where will the H2 come from?)
See National Geographic of March 2006, pp. 96-123.
-“Coal is king again. Oil supplies are tight and natural gas prices are spiking, but coal could light our houses and power our factories for centuries. The price of this energy abundance could be high, however… ”
-“… the giant Gibson generating station is … gulping 25 tons of coal each minute, sending thousand-degree steam blasting through turbines that churn out more than 3,000 megawatts of electric power… pumping enough power into the grid for three million people.”
-“The U.S. is the Saudi Arabia of coal. About 40 coal-burning power plants are now being designed or built in the U.S. China, also rich in coal, could build several hundred by 2025.”
-“Who has coal? The world has more than a trillion tons of readily available coal: 27% in the U.S., 17% in Russia, 13% in China, 10% in India, 9% in Australia, 5% in South Africa…”
-“Who uses coal now? Global coal consumption is roughly five billion tons a year, with China burning the most, 1,531 million tons, Europe 1,117, U.S. 1,094, India 431, Russia 251…”
-“A hundred miles up the Wabash River from the Gibson plant is a small power station that looks nothing like Gibson’s mammoth boilers and steam turbines. This one resembles an oil refinery, all tanks and silvery tubes. Instead of burning coal, the Wabash River plant chemically transforms it in a process called coal gasification.”
Any more recent popular media reports regarding the curse and/or blessing of (abundant) coal?Have you heard of RGGI?And seen this recent Washington Post article?
Let’s review the highlights of themost recent EIA infoand let’sconstruct theupdatedproduction and consumption graphs (see Ch7, book-on-the-web).
PETROLEUM SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY (Chs. 8, 10 and 11 in the book-on-the-web)
For a Pulitzer prize-winning account of petroleum’s importance in the development of modern society, and especially in the history of the last 150 years, see Daniel Yergin’s “The Prize: The epic quest for oil, money, and power.” And see also, hot off the press, its ‘sequel’: “The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World”; it’s a must reading for all self-respecting students of fuel technologies for the next 150 years! (How soon will we have a PBS series based on it, and will it also obviate the need to read these 804 pages?)
For a relatively recent analysis of the potential effect of petroleum on national (and international) politics, as well as society’s goals, see “The Energy Mandate” column by Thomas L. Friedman of The New York Times. For a related analysis of a key issue – vehicle efficiency standards – by the same author in the same newspaper, see “Et tu, Toyota!?” See also NYT of 9/21/11: “How to weaken the power of foreign oil”… Any ‘counterbalancing’ WSJ articles (that emphasize technological solutions, rather than the political or ideological ones)?Can you find them quickly using ProQuest?
Any VERY recent media reports worth discussing (because they bring up NEW issues)?
-composition, C/H ratio, S content, relatively constant heating value for a wide variety of products
-why need ‘refining’ before use?
-gasoline: SIE (octane number)
-reformulated gasoline (Ethanol from corn or from cellulose? Deja-vu all over again? Henry Ford’s venerable Model T was the first flex-fuel vehicle… it could run on either ethanol or gasoline!?)
-diesel (what’s all the fuss about VW cheating on emissions tests?) and biodiesel (Is McDonald’s frying oil enough?)
-jet fuel: turbines
-fuel oil #2: home furnaces
-fuel oil #6: industrial furnaces
In the wake of BP’s Gulf oil spill, there is much debate about the prospects for offshore drilling. Here is a relevant graph (see also Fig. 8-10). Comments? See also National Geographic, October 2010.
Here is an update on U.S. petroleum imports (see Fig. 8-3 in the book-on-the-web)... Has the trend changed more recently?
A major recent change in the international oil market is the increasing presence and importance of China, which is now a major IMPORTER of oil. This is the consequence of a staggering statistical fact (see Transportation issues below): “In 2000, 17.3 million new cars were sold in the Unitd States, compared with 1.9 in China. By 2010 only 11.5 million were sold in the United States, while China had reached 17 million. By 2020 sales in China could reach 30 million – and keep going… General Motors now does sell more automobiles in China than in the United States.” (“The Quest”, Daniel Yergin, 2011, p217).
Another, potentially significant change is the quest for ‘unconventional’ oil sources:
-deep sea offshore oil (e.g., Brazil)
-Arctic (and Antarctic?) explorations (but see the very recent Shell announcement…)
-oil (tar) sands (e.g., Athabasca, Canada)
-shale oil (horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, similar to shale gas, such as Marcellus)… Has North Dakota replaced Wyoming as “the booming state”?
Here is an example of the solution to Quiz #1. (Average grade=83%.)
NATURAL GAS SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY (Chs. 9 and 11 in the book-on-the-web)
For a recent analysis of the prospects for greater reliance on natural gas in the coming decades, see Julian Darley’s “High Noon for Natural Gas: The New Energy Crisis.”
-composition, C/H ratio (Why the most convenient and environmentally friendly of all fossil fuels?)
-really plentiful (for decades to come)? And affordable? Let’s compare some hard numbers! (For an optimistic view see, for example, C&E News of 10/3/2005. Any more recent estimates? Impact of Marcellus shale?)
-and what about LNG?
-why do electric utilities love it (for the moment)?
-how is ‘fracking’ (hydraulic fracturing) different from, say, ‘tertiary’ oil recovery?
-does Detroit love it too?
-and what about those of us who literally can’t live without it?
-is it possible (or sustainable?) that both coal- and gas-derived electricity cost the same, ca. 5 cents/kWh, to produce? (See NatGeog, 8/2005, p. 18)
For a relatively recent analysis of LNG issues, see The Economist of October 2, 2008 ("A more liquid market"). See also The Economist of July 12, 2012… (Can find using google?) Let’s identify the key issues, especially the quantitative ones! For example, can we understand how the liquefaction-transportation-regasification cost ($200-$1000/tonne/yr) can impact the capital cost advantage that a gas-fired power plant has over a coal-fired power plant (e.g., $0.50/W vs. $1.00/W)?
-Anything more recent and really new on this topic? (Exercise the use of PROQUEST database!)
And the latest statistics of, and prospects for, shale gas? Really a “game changer”?
Here is the bottom line for the world; and here for the USA. Updates? Optimistic? How to best place all this into perspective? Do you agree that the “shale gas [has] transformed the U.S. natural gas market” (“The Quest”, op. cit., p329)? And that “[a]s a result of the shale revolution, North America’s natural gas base, now estimated at 3,000 trillion cubic feet, could provide for current levels of consumption for over a hundred years—plus” (ibid., p330)? Fate of Cove Point LNG project? And the implications of articles such as that of Joe Nocera in the NYT of October 6, 2014 (‘‘‘Moment of Truth’” on Emissions) and the Engelder-Howarth&Ingraffea debate in print (“Should fracking stop?”, Nature, September 15, 2011)?
Because of recent developments, it is very important to distinguish clearly between reserves that are ‘proven’, ‘probable’, ‘possible’, as well as ‘hypothetical’ and ‘speculative’ resources! See bottom line in Ch5 of the book-on-the-web (Figure 5-8). For up-to-date reliable information, see www.usgs.gov.
Homework #2 (due in Angel drop box by midnight 10/18; #1-3 due in Angel drop box by midnight 10/6). Here is the evaluation summary sheet.
#1 (20%): Compare the stiochiometric requirements of the following additives for reformulated gasoline: MeOH, EtOH, ETBE, DME and TAME. (Be sure to compare apples and apples!) Do your oxygen contents agree with those shown in the “energy.ca.gov” data sheet? And volume fractions? And mass fractions? Here is a convenient (and reliable?) template.
-Search “blending characteristics of oxygenates”? (http://www.energy.ca.gov/FR97/documents/97-10-23.pdf?)
#2 (20%): (a) A subbituminous coal has the following elemental composition (in weight %, on dry and ash-free basis): 76% C, 16% O, 6% H, 0.8% S, 1.2% N. It is consumed in a power plant that produces 850 MW(e) at 34% efficiency with a 75% capacity utilization factor. Determine the annual emissions of CO2 and SO2, as well as the flow rate and composition of the combustion products if the process uses 15% excess air. (b) Determine the same performance parameters for an analogous natural-gas-fired plant and comment on the main differences.
-And a similar spreadsheet for petroleum refining products (e.g., diesel fuel), to obtain the input parameters for #3 below?
#3 (20%): (a) Construct convincing graphs that illustrate and summarize the temperature and pressure dependence of the equilibrium NO/NO2 ratio. (b) Can you easily compare these equilibrium-level NOx emissions to those mandated for diesel-engine cars in the U.S. and Europe (0.07 vs. 0.29 g/mile?)? And does this help us to understand the central issue surrounding the very recent VW cheating scandal?
#4 (20%): Construct the van’t Hoff plot that illustrates the claim to fame of fluidized-bed coal combustion: CaCO3=CaO+CO2; CaO+SO2+0.5O2=CaSO4. Show that the feasibility window is consistent with this relatively low-temperature (and longer-residence-time) process.
-Do your enthalpy and entropy vs. T graphs look like this?
#5 (20%): Using basic stoichiometric and thermodynamic considerations, along with the Zeldovich mechanism (and as many convenient but reasonable assumptions as necessary!), determine the air pollution control requirements, in terms of efficiency of NO removal, for a 1000-MW power plant and a 170-hp VW Jetta engine.
-Here is (yet another) modified Zeldovich mechanism template. (Note that when you extend this to a system of six eqns the math gets more difficult, and you may need to use NDSolve instead of DSolve; as an alternative, you can use the simplified solution provided above, which reduces the system of ODEs to just one algebraic eqn, albeit for a given fuel residence time.)
-And here is the template for verifying the relevant equilibrium constant expressions.
-Do you agree that the typical emissions from a power plant are 10 lb NO/t coal? (See AP-42 for “stationary sources” or “external combustion”.) And 10 g NO/kWh from an automobile engine? (See AP-42 for “internal combustion engines”. Is 10 g NO/kWh close to 0.87 g NO2/mile? See the AP-42 link below and then the “Ofiice of Transportation and Air Quality” link there…)
Exam #1. (Average grade=80%.) Hereis an example of the solution (and evaluation summary sheet).
Here is an example of the solution to Quiz #2. (Average grade = 76%.)
ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS OF FOSSIL FUEL TECHNOLOGIES
(A brief summary… for more details, see EGEE 470!)
Air Quality Index: Converting ‘colors’ to NUMBERS!
SOx REMOVAL TECHNOLOGIES (see www.epa.gov)
-before combustion: coal ‘cleaning’, coal conversion (gasification or liquefaction); petroleum refining (HDS); gas separation
-during combustion (FBC): remember the thermodynamic analysis of S capture?
-after combustion (FGD: absorption, adsorption, etc.)
-solubility of H2S (obtained in fuel gasification) vs. SO2 (obtained in fuel combustion) vs. partial pressure!?
Here the key issue is the required efficiency of the removal device. This is obtained as follows:
-Determine the uncontrolled emissions (from the mass balance; double-check by consulting AP-42): X
-Find out the allowed emissions for your particular case (e.g., NSPS; not to be confused with NAAQS): Y
-required efficiency, E = (X-Y)/X
-Screen available technologies (e.g., www.epa.gov/ttn/chief/ap42/ch01/final/c01s01.pdf, Table 1-1-1) and eliminate those whose efficiency is lower than E
NOx REMOVAL TECHNOLOGIES (see www.epa.gov)
-during combustion (T control, A/F ratio control)
-after combustion (adsorption, selective reduction): SCR easy (although not particularly efficient) in power plants, and a major challenge in diesel vehicles!
Here too the key issue is the required efficiency of the removal device. The procedure is the same as for SOx, except that the mass balance does not help much. (Why?) Be sure to get X from the most authoritative source (Federal Register, e.g., Vol. 63, No. 179, 9/16/1998)!
-Zeldovich mechanism: thermo + judiciously simplified kinetics! Here and here is the summary.
UNBURNED HYDROCARBONS (VOC): REMOVAL TECHNOLOGIES
-VOCs contribute to smog formation (see EGEE 470)
-‘incineration’ or “thermal oxidation” or “catalytic oxidation” (fancy terms for combustion)
-The kinetics of the reaction is the key here… Analyze the bottom line of the Arrhenius eqn! (See the CO/CO2 ratio analysis below.)
-adsorption (but what then…? Easier incineration? Recovery?)
CATALYTIC CONVERTER: Three-way catalyst! (See, for example, http://auto.howstuffworks.com/question66.htm.)
-CO oxidized to CO2
-Unburned hydrocarbons oxidized to CO2 and H2O
-NOx reduced to N2 (See the bottom line of the VW ‘scandal’ below…)
PM REMOVAL TECHNOLOGIES (see www.epa.gov)
-Key concepts: fluid and particle dynamics (e.g., terminal velocity)
-Usually can be VERY efficient, and even affordable (e.g., use of devices in series, rather than in parallel), even for small particles (PM2.5)
-Main technical challenges: soot (and NOx) removal from diesel engines -> “catalytic filter”!?
ACID RAIN and SMOG
-SOx and NOx à H2SO4 and HNO3
-What is smoke and what is fog? (soot particles, H2O and other droplets)
-Beneficial vs. detrimental ozone
-Technology exists… But who is going to pay?
-The Kyoto Protocol went into effect... (But was it effective? And is there an enforceable sequel on the horizon?) And Al Gore and IPCC won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize... So, what do we do now?
-Science just plain “makes sense”… Cause(s)?Effect(s)?
-So it’s better to be safe than sorry!?
-CO2, CH4, N2O, CFCs.
-For one (feasible?), conveniently graphical proposal toward a solution, see http://www.princeton.edu/~cmi.
Many books and essays have been written about the imminent end of the “carbon age”. For example, Eric Roston (“The Carbon Age: How Life’s Core Element Has Become Civilization’s Greatest Threat”, 2008) informs and entertains, but one may question his expertise if his basic numbers are not correct: on p168 (hard cover) he says that “the United States emits about 120 pounds of carbon per capita into the air daily”. Show that this number is (or is not?) correct!
And as a very timely transition to our discussion of the (technical) challenges and opportunities for non-fossil-fuel-based technologies, see this recent article from a most authoritative source!
For a summary of the bottom-line issues (sufficient for our purposes), see Chs. 12-15 in the book-on-the-web… In particular, be sure to know how to show that 1 kg of nuclear fission fuel (e.g., U-235) can be converted to a million times more energy than 1 kg of the ‘best’ fossil fuel. Here is a useful link.
Here is an example of readily available information about a specific nuclear reactor (power plant). For additional details, see www.nrc.gov.
Use the Internet to explore the Yucca Mountain issue to see how close we are to solving one of the three big problems associated with the (eagerly?) anticipated “nuclear industry comeback”. (See, for example, National Geographic, April 2006: “The long shadow of Chernobyl” & “Nuclear power risking a comeback: it’s scary; it’s expensive; it could save the earth”.) Which one is this? (And which ones are the other two?)
Is this the most recent update on the Yucca mountain ‘saga’? (Why is 24,000 yrs a convenient number to remember… and an important one to justify?)
Relevance of (the growing?) “nuclear club”.
Summarize briefly what we mean by nuclear ‘proliferation’ and explore the importance (and the list of signatories) of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. (And what does this have to do with the future of nuclear energy in the USA and the world?) What is IAEA?
-Is it easy to verify the statement -- broadcast on CNN (October 23, 2011) during Fareed Zakaria’s interview with Iran’s president -- that Iran apparently now has 70 kg of 20%-enriched uranium, and that 130 kg is the minimum (“critical mass”) for making an atomic bomb? How is that related to the timeline that Israel’s defense minister gave to Charlie Rose (can find on PBS?) on October 20, 2014, that Iran is about “one year away” from having an atomic bomb.
Is Japan ready to restart (most of) its nuclear power plants?
Extra Credit assignment: Construct an updated Figure 15-3 and comment on the (new? different?) trends.
-For a summary of the bottom-line issues, see Chs. 16 and 17 in the book-on-the-web… See also this up-to-date summary from the WorldWatch Institute.
-Explore also some of the recent media reports, e.g., August 2005 and October 2007 issue of National Geographic… In the latter, let’s focus on understanding (and agreeing with?) the key numbers shown for corn ethanol, cane ethanol, biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol. Any more recent and equally or more important reports? (Have you seen Frontline’s “Heat”? And Nova’s “Power Surge”?) What has T. Boone Pickens been doing lately? And Amory Lovins?
-Comment on fuel ethanol statistics in the U.S. and the world? Implications for the automobile of the future?
-The crucial issue in biomass utilization is our ability to produce ethanol from cellulose(rather than from starchy grain, which of course society has ‘mastered’ several millennia ago… Remember Dionysus or Bacchus?). What is the main difference between cellulose and starch (if both polymers consist of glucose monomer units), which makes starch (‘grain’) easily hydrolyzable and cellulose (‘wood’) so difficult to process (by hydrolysis and subsequent fermentation) into ethanol? Here is a recent governmental report, and here a bottom-line media report. Can you find a relevant podcast (e.g., Science magazine’s “Scaling up a biofuel…” of 9/5/14)?
-Anything ‘green’ is popular these days… (Mostly talk, or some action as well?) Even “green carbon” is being tossed around!?
-In 1976 the “soft path” made a lot of sense to a lot of people, vs. the “hard path”… Where are we now in this regard?
-From the more recent media reports, it seems that wind energy has been making important progress… See, for example, “Taming Unruly Wind Power” in the NYT of 11/04/2011. What is the maximum power of a modern, commercially available wind turbine? How large is wind’s contribution to the energy supply of the U.S. and the world? Is the case of Denmark a harbinger? (See NYT of 11/10/2014, “A Tricky Transition from Fossil Fuels: Denmark Aims for 100 Percent Renewable Energy”.)
-Here is a VERY revealing graph… Message(s)? Are the same message(s) more obvious here?
-How are solar energy companies doing these days? (Is Solar Trust of America an exception, or the rule?) What products are they offering? Can we buy these at Home Depot or Lowes? Is NREL helping? Comment regarding this solar electricity production graph?
-Extra credit: provide an update for Figure 16-9 and comment on the recent hydroelectricity trends in the USA. Are you surprised, then, that a typical projection for future contribution of renewables to electricity generation in the U.S. looks like this?
RUDIMENTARY ECONOMIC ANALYSIS OF FUEL TECHNOLOGIES
-This is a necessary consideration when analyzing realistic prospects of alternative fuel technologies… Here is a bottom-line Economics 101refresher!
-How much does one have to drive in order to recover in 5 years the higher investment in a more efficient vehicle (e.g., 5K for 50 vs. 30 mpg)?
-“levelized cost of electricity”: is this an understandable and reliable ‘calculator’? Useful for our ROR analysis? Any other, better or similar, ones? (Is wikipedia’s “cost of electricity by source” to be trusted?)
Here is an example of the solution to Quiz #3. (Average grade=84%.)
Homework #3 (due in Angel drop box midnight Nov8). Here is the evaluation summary sheet.
1. Select at least one link from the above summary of environmental effects of fossil fuel utilization, analyze it and then find one or two more recent media reports and discuss them, with special emphasis on their quantitative aspects.
2. Select at least one link from the above summary of nuclear energy issues, analyze it and then find one or two more recent media reports and discuss them, with special emphasis on their quantitative aspects.
-For an assessment of information reliability, see, for example, the 2015 IAEA report on the status of the Nuclear Power Reactors in the World.
3. Select at least one link from the above summary of renewable energy issues, analyze it and then find one or two more recent media reports and discuss them, with special emphasis on their quantitative aspects.
In-lieu-of-class activity for Oct27 (due in Angel drop box midnight 10/29):As a step toward HW3-1 completion, find reliable updates, and provide a quantitative commentary, on the graphs posted under “Cause(s)” and “Effect(s)” in the section above on greenhouse gases.
In-lieu-of-class activity for Oct29 (due in Angel drop box midnight 11/02, accepted until noon 11/03): As a step toward HW3-2 completion, analyze and comment the article “Nuclear plants dip into funds” (Centre Daily Times, October 26, 2015). In particular, does the statement that “the site … contain[s]… 550 metric tons of spent fuel the plant generated in its 25-year life” make sense based on reliable information available elsewhere?
Exam #2: due in Angel drop box midnight 11/20. Here is an example of the solution.
In-lieu-of-class activity for 11/17: Using as your basis the information provided in the book-on-the-web, provide an updated analysis of biomass energy in the USA by (a) identifying and commenting on a recent media report and (b) constructing relevant graphs which clearly answer the following questions: (i) Have the proportions of its various contributors changed significantly over the last few decades? (ii) Has its contribution to electricity production changed? (iii) Has its contribution to transportation fuels increased significantly?
In-lieu-of-class-activity for 11/19: Using as your basis the information provided in the book-on-the-web, provide an updated analysis of solar energy in the USA by (a) identifying and commenting on a recent media report and (b) constructing relevant graphs which clearly answer the following questions: (i) Have the proportions of its various contributors changed significantly over the last few decades? (ii) Has its contribution to electricity production changed? (iii) Does it satisfy an increasing fraction of residential and commercial energy demand?
Here is an example of the solution to Quiz #4. (Average grade = 74%.)
Homework #4(due in Angel drop box midnight 12/03): Based on the results of the above activities, (i) project the evolution of the various contributors to the energy consumption in the USA and the world over the next 50 years, and (ii) construct the corresponding graph of greenhouse gas emissions. (iii) Compare your graphs to those being discussed these days in anticipation of the Paris Climate Change Summit (COP21).
-Do your results agree with, say, those contained in the NYT article “The Climate Change Pledges Are In. Will They Fix Anything?” (Nov23, 2015)?
Here is an example of the solution to Quiz #5.
Homework #5 (due in Angel drop box by midnight 12/15):
1. Complete the economics 101 spreadsheet by comparing the profitabilities of a 350 MW(el) coal-, natural-gas- and wind-based power plant.
-Here is an example of the CPW vs time graph for coal. And here is a spreadsheet on which it is based.
2. Perform a critical analysis of the article “Climate Interactive Ratchet Success Pathway: Assumptions and Results”, published very recently in anticipation of the COP21 summit. In particular, (a) select one of its important graphs, (b) discuss how reasonable its assumptions are, and (c) comment on the implications of its results for the future of currently important fuel technologies.
Exam #3: Tuesday, 12/15, 4:40-6:30 pm, 151 Willard. Average grade = 74%.
Final grades have been posted. (Class average = 75%.) Please check that your records agree with mine, and let me know if they don’t asap.
LRR3@psu.edu (updated 12/17/2015, 20:35)
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