Category Principles, technologies, and impacts

Global warming and the greenhouse effect

Since the Industrial Revolution there has been a sharp increase in the burning of fossil fuels. This is important for the global climate because CO2 is what is called a greenhouse gas. The

Table 1.4 C02 emissions from various sources (life cycle analysis)


C02 emission (kg per kilowatt-hour)

Wood (without replanting)


0,8-1.05′ ■

Natural gas (combined cycle)


Nuclear power

0.006 ‘


, 0.06-0.15

Hydroelectric, –


Wind’power-,. :

. 0.003-0.022

Global warming and the greenhouse effect

main greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are water vapour (and water droplets) and СОг – These gases absorb infrared radiation and this affects the temperature of the Earth...

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Global energy trends

There is a strong correlation between standard of living, as measured by the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita (he. per head of population), and the energy consumption per capita, as shown in Fig, 1.5. The figure also shows a large spread in energy consumption per capita between different highly developed countries, indicating some scope for reducing consumption by improvements in efficiency and changes in lifestyle.

It is natural that less developed countries will seek to increase their GDP and thereby increase their energy consumption per capita. Table 1.2 compares the actual consumption of developed countries and less developed countries in 1992 with the forecasts for 2025. It shows two trends in opposite directions...

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A brief history of energy technology

Throughout history the harnessing of energy in its various forms has presented great intellectual challenges and stimulated scientific discovery. The technologies of today are the
result of advances in scientific understanding, inspiration, and gradual improvements in engineering design over many centuries. By the time of the Roman Empire, water engineering was already a well-established technology. Thousands of years earlier, irrigation systems had greatly enlarged the area of farming land around the River Nile and increased the prosperity of ancient Egypt. An illustration of the ingenuity of the early engineers is demonstrated by Archimedes’ screw (Fig. 1.1), a device used to extract water from rivers, empty grain from the holds of ships, and clear water from flooded mines (e. g...

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Getting started

Chapter 1 presents a brief history of energy technology, together with a review of the long-term energy trends and the evidence for global warming. Chapters 2 and 3 provide the essentials of thermal physics and fluid mechanics required for some of the later chapters in the book. Many readers will already be aware of the basic concepts contained in Chapters 2 and 3 but may not be familiar with the details of the thermodynamic cycles used in thermal plants, the greenhouse effect, the nature of fossil fuels, geothermal power, and energy-related applications of fluid mechanics. Chapters 4-10 cover a wide’range of areas of energy technology; these chapters are largely self-contained and can be read in virtually any order...

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Using this book

The idea for writing this book originated from undergraduate lecture courses given by the authors in Bristol and Oxford. The main focus of the book is to explain the physical principles underlying each technology and to discuss its environmental, economic, and social impact. It describes all the key areas of energy science, covering fossil fuels, nuclear energy, alternative energy, and the emerging energy technologies. Energy science is a broad subject that crosses the boundaries between the traditional scientific and engineering disciplines. It is not essential to have a background in any particular discipline in order to use this book, apart from a general knowledge of science and mathematics to about high school standard...

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Principles, technologies, and impacts

Harnessing the Earth’s energy resources has been a source of inspiration since ancient times. Energy devices have transformed civilization beyond the wildest imagination of our predecessors. These days, energy is always in the news. Why is this so? How is the global demand for energy going to be satisfied in the future? Can we avoid global warming becoming an insurmountable crisis? What are the options?

These questions have to be answered. What the present civilization does with the remaining energy resources will have a profound effect on the lives of future generations and the state of the planet. One approach is to do nothing and to assume that market forces and governments will sort it all out...

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