Mar. 04, 2019: Turning Algae into Fuel
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them” Albert Einstein
Nearly 200 countries have signed the COP21 climate agreement on December 12, 2015. The historic agreement aimed to reduce, or even prevent, environmental effects of global warming by reducing the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. An increase in the release of greenhouse gases over the last few centuries has been the result of industrial revolution and societies’ thirst for energy. To alleviate release of greenhouse gases, new ideas for more efficient methods of energy conversion have been developed. While the efforts by scientists and innovators to surmount this challenge are certainly admirable, collective efforts by every citizen is necessary to truly achieve a meaningful result. Participation of the public is achievable when people realize the extent of the problem in hand and believe their involvement can make a long-lasting positive effect. In other words, educating the public about energy efficiency, sustainability and environmental protection ought to be one of the main agendas of public policy. A new book (Energy: Sources, Utilization, Legislation, Sustainability, Illinois as Model State) authored by three Illinoisan scientists aims to ease understanding of the general public of energy storage and conversion methods, environmental concerns associated with energy conversion, economics and future trends of energy conversion technologies. Continue reading “Energy: Sources, Utilization, Legislation, Sustainability, Illinois as Model State”
The abundance of coal in the world makes it one of the cheapest sources of fuel for base load electricity generation and possibly other uses. Coal-fired plants generate electricity by burning pulverized coal mixed with very hot air to produce steam. The high pressure steam turns a turbine that drives an electric generator to produce electricity. Despite the fact that coal is one of the cheapest sources of fuel, the U.S. and many other countries around the world face a dilemma about its use, due to environmental concerns for air and water quality.
Continue reading “Coal”
Petroleum and natural gas are natural hydrocarbon resources in fluid (gas and liquid) states which are considered as the non-renewable energy sources. They are mostly made up of hydrocarbons and other compounds, which are considered impurities from energy source perspective.
There exist seven well-known hydrocarbon fluids in nature and hydrocarbons and most other organic compounds present in all these seven naturally occurring fluids are generally polydispersed, having a range of size, shape and molecular weight distributions….. Continue reading “Petroleum (Oil)”
Natural gas is mostly made up of methane (80% or more) and other light hydrocarbons (ethane, propane, butane and pentane) and traces of heavier hydrocarbons. The natural gas which is produced in Illinois is mostly from deep underground formations, coal-bed sources, and in minute quantities from anaerobic digestion of organic solid waste buried in landfills. Illinois is not a major producer of natural gas in the U.S. and ranked 27th in 2012. The 2013 production of natural gas from the Illinois Basin was 81.75 × 106 standard cubic meters (2,887 MMscf). Continue reading “Natural Gas”
One of the major problems associated with the use of fossil fuels is production and release of carbon dioxide (CO2) to the atmosphere. CO2 is a naturally occurring chemical compound, but concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere are increasing at an accelerating rate from decade to decade. In 2011, the State of Illinois ranked 6th in CO2 emission among all the states in the U.S., with annual output estimated at about 225 million metric tons (MMT). CO2 emissions from electric power sector are mainly from coal and natural gas-fired power plants, with coal being the most significant source and emitting twice as much CO2 per megawatt hour (MWh), compared with natural gas used as fuel in combined-cycle power plants. Continue reading “CO2 Storage”
The principle behind nuclear energy generation is based on the fact that matter (mass) can be converted into energy based on the equation, E = mc2, as proposed by Albert Einstein in 1905.
The use of nuclear energy began in Chicago, Illinois, on December 2, 1942 at the University of Chicago, when a team of scientists under the direction of Enrico Fermi initiated the first controlled nuclear chain reaction. Several years later, on July 17, 1955, the town of Arco in Idaho was the first city in the world to be lit by an experimental nuclear reactor (INL, 2014). However, it was in 1958 when the first commercial nuclear power plant in the U.S. was opened in Shippingport, Pennsylvania. Continue reading “Nuclear Energy”
Biofuels are liquid, solid, or gaseous fuels made from renewable biological materials and are one of the more promising forms of energy for the replacement of fossil fuels. Global production of biofuels has been growing steadily over the last decade from 16 billion liters (4.2 billion gallons) in 2000 to around 110 billion liters (29 billion gallons) in 2013. There are three classes of biofuels; first generation (conventional), second generation (cellulosic) and third generation (advanced). Continue reading “Biofuels”
The concept of harnessing wind energy goes back to early recorded history when people used wind energy to propel boats along the Nile River as early as 5000BC. By 200BC, windmills in China were used to pump water, while vertical-axis windmills with woven reed sails were used for grinding grain in Persia. By the 11th century, people in the Middle East used windmills extensively for food production. The European merchants returning from the Middle East brought the idea to Europe and the Dutch adapted it for draining lakes and marshes in the Rhine River Delta. Continue reading “Wind Energy”
Solar energy is considered by many as the most scalable and universal energy resource that can help communities become energy self-sufficient. Solar energy utilization involves both active and passive harnessing processes. It is known that the Greek and Persian civilizations, as early as 4th century BC, and the Chinese, around 20th century AD, utilized solar architectures for various urban reasons (Butti and Perlin, 1980). Continue reading “Solar Energy”
Geothermal energy is the heat from below the earth’s surface that can be used as an alternative to other forms of energy. Geothermal energy is a sustainable form of energy, and the second most abundant energy source on earth after solar energy that can be used for cooling and heating. Geothermal energy has been used in ancient times by the Romans, as well as in modern times by the Icelanders, Japanese,Koreans, Persians,Turks and others for bathing and space heating. The high capital cost of geothermal power plants makes them less attractive for power generation in Illinois. Continue reading “Geothermal Energy”
Electricity must be generated at the same rate as it is being used, so that demand and supply are always kept in balance. This is a critical issue with respect to intermittent sources like wind and solar energy. For such sporadic energy sources, electricity load management is a critical factor and there are methods to match energy sources with electricity demand. One of the methods is energy storage, where energy can be absorbed and stored for a period of time before it is released for future use. Continue reading “Energy Storage”