Category RSC Clean Technology Monographs

Concluding Remarks

It is perhaps trite to observe that the laws of science that determine technical feasibility are immutable, whereas engineering design and manufacturing costs vary from place to place and from time to time. Thus, many goods that formerly were made in developed countries are now produced in lower cost, developing nations. Technical feasibility is, however, the sine qua non of any proposed new technology. Although outline costings are needed to determine whether a project promises to be economic, detailed manufacturing costs (with extrapolation to high – volume production) can only be ascertained after technical feasibility has been established and a prototype built...

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Energy Storage

The various physical and chemical techniques for energy storage will all continue to be investigated and developed. Of the physical techniques, pumped hydro and compressed air energy storage are the most promising for peak-shaving and load­leveling within the electricity supply network, provided the terrain and other conditions are suitable. For smaller-scale storage, further research will be conducted on flywheels and on electromagnetic and electrostatic devices. Of these, electromagnetic storage is too expensive for general use. Flywheels may prove suitable for some specialized uses, but we doubt that they will find substantial widespread application...

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Renewable Energy

It is anticipated that the harnessing of renewable energy will expand rapidly, in the light of widespread concern over global warming and the remedial actions that governments are taking. Despite such good intentions, however, there is every indication that, overall, renewables will still make only a modest contribution in 2020. It is vital, therefore, that society continues to develop the various technologies and gains experience in their operation as a step towards growth later in the 21st century.

Combustion technology – agricultural and forestry waste, municipal solid waste, energy crops – may make a useful contribution to energy supplies in many countries...

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Electricity Generation

It seems inevitable that by 2020 coal will still be the basis of much electricity generation, worldwide. This is because some countries have large reserves of coal, but are short of other fossil fuels. Also, many large coal-fired power stations already exist and are expected to be still operating in 15 years time. The challenge faced by technologists and the business community is to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides from these existing plants within a competitive cost framework. High-sulfur coal will become of very little value unless a low-cost method is found to remove the sulfur before combustion, or for trapping the sulfur dioxide when released. At present, flue-gas desulfurization units (where fitted) impose a significant cost penalty on coal-fired power stations...

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Natural Gas and Liquefied Petroleum Gas

Natural gas is attractive since, among fossil fuels, it liberates the lowest amount of carbon dioxide per unit of heat produced. Several factors are contributing towards its greater use in industry, in commerce and in the home for space heating:

• discoveries of massive amounts of gas have been made in many parts of the world, both on land and off-shore;

• gas pipelines have been laid to bring supplies to centres of population;

• as a medium for heating, it is clean, convenient, and cheaper than liquid fuels;

• the user does not require a storage tank.

Wherever natural gas is available, it will be preferred to liquid fuels for heating. Over the next 20 years, we expect to see this trend accelerate as natural gas is brought to more people around the world...

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Fossil Fuels


World petroleum prices are generally low in historic terms, thanks to the opening up of new oilfields in Nigeria, around the Caspian Sea, and elsewhere. At present, the supply of oil exceeds the demand, and this situation is expected to persist in the short term. There is, however, always the danger of prices collapsing completely,

particularly if Iraqi oil is produced in abundance. The market for oil is extremely inelastic and, as has been seen in the past, small shortfalls in supply can lead to rapidly escalating prices, while over-production results in an equally sharp decline in the spot price...

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It has been estimated that between 2000 and 2025 the world population will grow from 6 to 8.5 billion (42% increase). Most of this growth will be in developing countries, where there is huge unfulfilled demand for private cars. On this basis, the Fiat Motor Corporation has projected that over the same period the global fleet will increase from 0.7 to 1.75 billion. If this demand is to be met, it will be necessary to conserve liquid fuels for transportation and there will be a requirement for vehicles that are much more fuel-efficient than at present. Also, there will be a need to exploit non-traditional sources of fossil fuel, as discussed in Section 1.4, Chapter 1...

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Traditional incandescent filament lamps are notoriously inefficient, much of the energy is dissipated as heat. This is important when it is recalled that 25% of the world’s electricity is used for lighting. Fortunately, by no means all of this electricity is used inefficiently in filament lamps. Fluorescent tubes play a major role, particularly in industry, commerce and street lighting.

There have been significant improvements in lighting in recent years. The light output of fluorescent tubes has been enhanced by the development of new phosphor coatings. Compact high-energy lamps are becoming commonplace; a 20-W lamp gives the same light output as a 100-W incandescent filament lamp and lasts much longer...

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