Availability of Nuclear Fuel

The most abundant fuel for nuclear fission is uranium. Uranium exists in the crust of the Earth as the mineral uraninite. Uraninite is commonly called pitchblende and is a uranium oxide (U3O8). It is found in veins in granites and other igneous rocks. It is possible to find uranium in sedimentary rocks. In this case, scientists believe that uraninite was precipitated in sedimentary rocks after being transported from igneous rocks by the flow of water containing dissolved uraninite. Uranium is...

Point to Ponder Can we put the nuclear genie back in the bottle

Some historians argue that nuclear weapons were not needed to end World War II and that the world would be better off if nuclear energy had never been developed. Today, a nation with a nuclear weapons arsenal must be concerned about the security of every weapon in its arsenal. Even one nuclear weapon can be a weapon of mass destruction. In addition, many nations are seeking to acquire nuclear technology, which increases the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation. Now that the world knows about...

Nuclear Winter

One of the more controversial issues associated with the climatic effects of nuclear fallout is the concept of nuclear winter. Nuclear winter is the prediction of significant climatic temperature declines resulting from an increase of atmospheric particulates following the detonation of many nuclear weapons in the atmosphere. The temperature decline would generate wintry conditions, hence the phrase nuclear winter. In the nuclear winter scenario, the temperature of the atmosphere is expected to...

Wind Turbine

Modern wind turbines are classified as either horizontal axis turbines or vertical axis turbines. A vertical axis turbine has blades that rotate around a vertical axis and its visual appearance has been likened to an eggbeater. A horizontal axis turbine has blades that rotate around a horizontal axis (see Figure 5-1). Horizontal axis turbines are the most common turbines in use today. A typical horizontal axis turbine consists of a rotor with two or more blades attached to a machine cabin set...

History of Nuclear Power

Physicist Leo Szilard conceived of a neutron chain reaction in 1934. Szilard knew that neutrons could interact with radioactive materials to create more neutrons. If the density of the radioactive material and the number of neutrons were large enough, a chain reaction could occur. Szilard thought of two applications of the neutron chain reaction a peaceful harnessing of the reaction for the production of consumable energy and an uncontrolled release of energy (an explosion) for military...

Energy And Geopolitics

Quality of life, energy, and the distribution of energy are important components of global politics. Readily available, reasonably priced energy is a critical contributor to the economic well-being of a nation. We have already seen that deforestation in England motivated the search for a new primary fuel. The need for oil encouraged Japanese expansion throughout Asia in the 1930's and was one of the causes of World War II. The 1973 Arab-Israeli war led to the first oil crisis with a short-term,...

Steam Generated Power

Ore is rock that contains metals such as copper, tin, iron, and uranium. Heat from fire frees the metal atoms and allows them to be collected in a purified state. Copper and tin were the first metals smelted and could be combined to form bronze. Heat and water were combined to generate steam and steam engines were developed to convert thermal energy to mechanical energy. Early steam engines drove a piston that was placed between condensing steam and air, as...

Solar Heat Collectors

Solar heat collectors capture sunlight and transform radiant energy into heat energy. Figure 4-6 is a diagram of a solar heat collector. Sunlight enters the collector through a window made of a material like glass or plastic. The window is designed to take advantage of the observation that sunlight is electromagnetic radiation with a distribution of frequencies. The window in a solar heat collector is transparent to incident solar radiation and opaque to infrared radiation. The heat absorber...

Wind Farms

A wind farm or wind park is a collection of wind turbines. The areal extent of the wind farm depends on the radius R of the rotor blades (Figure 5-3). A wind turbine must have enough space around the post to allow the fan of the rotor blade to face in any direction. The minimum spacing between the posts of two equivalent wind turbines must be 2Reff to avoid collisions between rotor blades. If we consider the aerodynamics of wind flow, which is the factor that controls turbine spacing, the...

Brief History Of Energy Consumption

Emergence Agriculture Circa 5000

We decide how much electricity we will use to heat or cool our homes. We decide how far we will drive every day and the type of vehicle we will drive. Those of us in democracies choose leaders who create budgets that can support new energy initiatives or maintain a military capable of defending energy supply lines. Each of these decisions and many others impact the global consumption of energy and the demand for available natural resources. The purpose of...

Active Solar Energy

Active Solar Energy

Active solar energy refers to the design and construction of systems that collect and convert solar energy into other forms of energy such as heat and electrical energy. Active solar energy technologies are typically mechanical systems through a material. Metals have relatively high thermal conductivities. Heat Flow through Wall Figure 4-5. Thermal Conductivity of an Insulated Wall that are used to collect and concentrate solar energy. We will discuss solar heat collectors and a solar power...

Point to Ponder What has hindered the global adoption of nuclear energy

Nuclear energy is a long-term source of abundant energy that has environmental advantages. The routine operation of a nuclear power plant does not produce gaseous pollutants or greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane. Despite its apparent strengths, the growth of the nuclear industry in many countries has been stalled by the public perception of nuclear energy as a dangerous and environmentally undesirable source of energy. This perception began with the use of nuclear energy as a...

Waves and Tides

The oceans are another solar-powered source of energy. The mechanical energy associated with waves and tides, and thermal energy associated with temperature gradients in the ocean can be used to drive electric generators. We consider each of these energy sources in this section. In our discussion of hydropower, we saw that water can generate power when it moves from a high potential energy state to a low potential energy state, like water flowing over a waterfall. If the moving water is an...

References

Aubrecht, Gordon J., 1995, Energy, 2nd Edition, Prentice-Hall, Inc., Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. Ausubel, J.H., 2000, Where is Energy Going The Industrial Physicist Feb. , pages 16-19. Bain, A., and Van Vorst, W.D., 1999, The Hindenburg tragedy revisited the fatal flaw found, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, Volume 24, pages 399-403. Borbely, A. and Kreider, J.F., 2001, Distributed Generation The Power Paradigm for the New Millenium, CRC Press, New York, New York. Brennan, T.J.,...

Forecasts Schollnberger Energy

Forecasts of the 21st century energy mix show that a range of scenarios is possible. The forecast discussed here is based on W.E. Schollnberger's forecasts, which were designed to predict the contribution of a variety of energy sources to the 21st century energy portfolio. Schollnberger's forecast is worth studying because it uses more than one scenario to project energy consumption for the entire 21st century. Schollnberger considered the following three forecast scenarios A. Another Century...

Solar Power Tower

Solar Elec Power Tower

Figure 4-8 is a sketch of a solar power tower with a heliostat field. The heliostat field is a field of large, Sun-tracking mirrors called heliostats arranged in rings around a central receiver tower. The heliostats concentrate sunlight on a receiver at the top of the tower. The solar energy heats a fluid inside the receiver. Figure 4-9 is a sketch of the geometry of the Sun-tracking mirrors relative to the central receiving station. The heliostats must be able to rotate to optimize the...

Energy Options Fossil Energy

The literature contains several publications that present a description of the energy sources that are available or are expected to be available during the 21st century. Energy options known today include fossil fuels, nuclear energy, solar energy, renewable energy and alternative sources. These energy options are briefly described in the chapters that follow. Fossil fuels are sources of energy that were formed by the death, decay, and transformation, or diagenesis, of life. The term diagenesis...