The Science of Power Generation
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press
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Title Page, Copyright
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Thanks to Vincent Burke and Jennifer Malat at the Johns Hopkins University Press for ensuring the smooth transition of this book from conception to production. Thanks to Carolyn Moser, once again, for her expert copyediting. I am grateful to Dr. Charlotte Geier for permission to reproduce figure 2.4. ...
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This book is about energy and power—the kind that we need to heat our houses and light our streets, to get us from A to B, and to drive our industries. Power generation is a relatively recent problem historically because the human need for power was minimal until the Industrial Revolution. ...
1. Newton’s Legacy
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‘‘Energy is not a material thing,’’ a physicist of the late nineteenth century might have said. Einstein would demur at this statement, and because of him, the physicists of later times think differently. Material or not, energy is a property of objects—a characteristic with a well-defined meaning. ...
2. What All the World Wants
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In the early days of the first Industrial Revolution in England at the end of the eighteenth century—a time when mankind was on the cusp of changing the world—a far-sighted and savvy businessman liked to show visitors around his new Birmingham factory. ...
3. The Vital Spark
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Electricity is the medium, not the message. It is the vehicle through which power is transferred very rapidly, and quite efficiently, from generating plant to user. We saw in chapter 1 that electrical power is not readily stored but that it moves quickly. Electric current is the common currency of power, readily converted as needed. ...
4. Old King Coal
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Coal has a black image. Just as some people hate cigarettes but depend on them, so humans for centuries have had a love-hate relationship with coal. Coal mining and coal burning are dirty, unhealthful, ugly, bad for the environment, and vital for industry. ...
5. The Seven Sisters—Old and New
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In chapter 2 we saw something of the oil industry’s past; here, I examine in more detail its present and future. Oil is our biggest single source of energy, as we saw in figure 2.6. Most of this energy is used for transportation, and almost all transportation is fueled by oil. Natural gas—often but not always associated with oil for geological reasons— ...
6. Water, Water, Everywhere
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We move on from fossil fuels and consider our first renewable source of energy: hydroelectric power. Hydro is by far the best-developed, most mature technology for generating electricity from a renewable resource, and this fact is reflected in the figures: worldwide, hydro is responsible for 99% of the renewable energy we exploit. ...
7. Too Cheap to Meter
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Although nuclear power is technically not a renewable resource, it is often considered such because the fuel reserves are enough to last for much longer than the reserves of other power generation technologies—anywhere from 80 years at the low end of estimates to millions of years at the high end. ...
8. Here Comes the Sun
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The main renewable energy sources are wind power and solar power—the subjects with which we begin this final chapter. We start off with a survey of wind power technology and capabilities. You might reasonably wonder why wind power should fall under this chapter title. In fact, winds are driven by solar power.1 ...
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When two people disagree fundamentally, we know that at least one of them must be wrong. When experts disagree, the rest of us can only make educated guesses as to what is right. In this book I have quoted several experts on the subject of energy and future energy sources and have investigated the subject from the semidetached point of view ...
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Page Count: 272
Illustrations: 23 halftones, 29 line drawings
Publication Year: 2013