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Energy for a Sustainable World: From the Oil Age to a Sun-Powered Future

ISBN: 978-3-527-32540-5
390 pages
January 2011
Energy for a Sustainable World: From the Oil Age to a Sun-Powered Future (3527325409) cover image


An easy read, balancing the pros and cons, this book surveys the energy issue from a broad scientific perspective while considering environmental, economic, and social factors. It explains the basic concepts, provides a historical overview of energy resources, assesses our unsustainable energy system based on fossil fuels, and shows that the energy crisis is not only a tough challenge, but also an unprecedented opportunity to become more concerned about the world in which we live and the society we have built up. By outlining the alternatives for today and the future, it gives an extensive overview on nuclear energy, solar thermal and photovoltaics, solar fuels, wind power, ocean energies and other renewables, highlighting the increasing importance of electricity and the long-term perspectives of a hydrogen-based economy. An excellent source of updated and carefully documented information on the entangled aspects of the energy issue, this book is a guide for scientists, students and teachers looking for ways out of the energy and climate crisis, and the problems and disparities generated during the fossil fuel era.
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Table of Contents


PART I: Living on Spaceship Earth

Our Spaceship Earth
An Unsustainable Growth in an Unequal World
Energy and Climate Crisis
Dealing with Change
Unavoidable Questions

The Elusive Definition of Energy
A Taste of Basic Principles
Converting Primary Energy into Useful Energy
It Takes Energy to Make Energy: The EROI
Embodied Energy
Energy Units and Conversions
The Immense Energy and Power Scales
Some Energy Key Parameters
Energy Pervasiveness Versus Energy Illiteracy
Key Numbers: An Abacus for Energy Literacy

Historia Magistra Vitae
Animal Power
Human Slaves and Energy Slaves
Waterwheels and Windwheels
From Wood to Coal
Steam-Powered Machines
Road Vehicles
Conventional Engines
Jet Engines
Early Development
From Wayfarers to ICT

PART II: Fossil Fuels

What is Oil
Oil History, Exploration, Drilling, Production
Oil Transportation
Oil Refining
Oil Storage
Unconventional Oil
Oil as a Fuel
America's Addiction to Oil
Oil Price
Oil Peak and Reserves

What is Natural Gas and Where It Comes From
Gas Properties and Definitions
Brief Historical Notes on Gas Exploitation
Gas Production, Consumption, and Reserves
Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)
Natural Gas Processing
Transport, Storage, and Distribution
Gas Uses: Energy and Feedstock
Unconventional Gas

What is Coal
Coal Extraction
Coal Transportation and Industrial Uses
Coal Gasification
Coal Production, Consumption, and Reserves
Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS)
Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC)

The Energy Dark Sides
Alteration of the Carbon Cycle by Fossil Fuel Combustion
Anthropogenic Climate Change
Air Pollution and Global Warming
Counterbalancing our Climate Influence
Putting a Limit to CO2
Air Pollution and Human Health
Land and Water Degradation
So, What?

PART III: Nuclear Energy

Principles of Nuclear Fission and Fusion
Power from Nuclear Fission
Civilian Use of Nuclear Fusion?

PART IV: Renewable Energies

The Origin of Sunshine
Solar Radiation and Attenuation
Abundant, Fairly Distributed, Vital
Sun's Limits: Dilution and Intermittency
The Conversion of Solar Energy: Heat, Fuels, Electricity

Passive Solar Harnessing in Buildings
Thermal Conversion: Unconcentrated Solar Flux
Thermal Conversion: Concentrated Solar Flux
The Birth and Rise of Photovoltaics
Inorganic Photovoltaics: Key Principles
Silicon Solar Cells
Thin Film Solar Cells
Organic Solar Cells
Concentrated Photovoltaics and Other Innovative Concepts
Photovoltaics: Global Installation and Market Trends
Solar Energy: Sustainable and Affordable

Natural Photosynthesis
Biomass and Biofuels
Future Options for Transportation Fuels
Artificial Photosynthesis
Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells
The Solar Fuel Challenge

Hydroelectric Energy
Wind Energy
Ocean Energies
Geothermal Energy

PART V: Energy Carriers

Basic Concepts
Traditional Power Generation
Traditional Electricity Grid
Power Generation from New Renewables
Energy Storage for Electricity Supply Networks
Plugging-In Transportation
Smart Grid
Towards an Electricity Powered World

Properties and Industrial Uses
Hydrogen as an Energy Carrier: The Scale of the Task
Methods for Producing Hydrogen
Hydrogen Storage
Hydrogen Transportation and Distribution
End Uses of Hydrogen Fuel
Hydrogen Powered Vehicles
Towards a Hydrogen Economy?

PART VI: Scenarios for a Sustainable Future

Reflection on the State of Our Planet: Now We Know
Energy Demand and Supply
Energy and the Quality of Life
Saving the Climate
Phasing Out Fossil Fuels
Avoiding Nuclear Energy
Ecological Sustainability
Why We Need to Develop Renewable Energies

Did You Know That...?
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Author Information

Nicola Armaroli got his PhD in chemical sciences in 1994 from the University of Bologna. After post-doctoral studies in the U.S. and Italy, in 1997 he joined the Italian National Research Council (CNR), where he his currently senior research scientist. He has published three books and over 150 papers, giving tens of lectures worldwide. His current research is concerned with the photochemistry and photophysics of coordination compounds, carbon nanostructures and supramolecular materials, with focus on luminescence and photoinduced energy- and electron-transfer. This work is of interest both in fundamental science and technological applications, such as solar energy conversion and lighting devices.

Vincenzo Balzani gained his chemistry degree in 1960 from the University of Bologna, where he has been Professor of Chemistry since 1973. He has been a visiting Professor in Canada, Israel, France and Belgium, headed various scientific committees and institutes and has held over 300 lectures worldwide. Alongside his membership of several editorial boards, Prof. Balzani has six books and over 500 papers to his name. He is a fellow of numerous societies, and has won many awards around the world. His research interests include photochemistry, photophysics, supramolecular chemistry, electron transfer reactions, molecular-level devices and machines, molecular nanotechnology, and photochemical solar energy conversion.
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“The subjects are presented in a way that makes reading a real pleasure and promotes reflecting on the complex issues, thereby presenting the reader sustainable knowledge in its best sense. A clear recommendation!.”  (Energy Technology, 1 August 2014)

"It describes the complexity and importance of energy, and opportunities for future energy technologies and practices that will enhance sustainable development. Summing Up: Recommend. All readers." (Choice, 1 January 2012)

"The appeal of this as a compact reference volume is therefore broad and I would strongly recommend it for all who are interested in finding out more about the energy issues that we need to think about in modern and future society." (Chemistry World, 1 August 2011)

"An excellent source of updated and carefully documented information on the entangled aspects of the energy issue, this book is a guide for scientists, students and teachers looking for ways out of the energy and climate crisis, and the problems and disparities generated during the fossil fuel era." (ETDE Energy database, 14 February 2011)

See More
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