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Title: Energy Science: Principles, Technologies and Impacts
Author(s): John Andrews and Nick Jelley
Date of Publication: 2007 Publisher: Oxford University Press.
Pages:xv + 328 ISBN: 987 0 19 928112 1
Price: Format:Paperback
Overview:
Target Readership Educator
Presentation/Style
Content
Literature
Originality
Overall

 

 

 

 

 

 

Content: 1 – Introduction; 2 - Thermal energy; 3 - Essential fluid mechanics for energy conversion; 4 - Hydropower, tidal power and wave power; 5 - Wind power; 6 - Solar energy; 7 - Biomass; 8 - Energy from fission; 9- energy from fusion; 10 - Generation and transmission of electricity, storage and fuel cells; 11 - Energy and society.

Review: The debate surrounding energy and global warming is increasing in both amount and, it seems at time, bile. As educators what we need is a good source of information to examine competing ideas and to show students what sort of questions need to be asked. In this text we have one element covered that has received too little exposure of late - the physics of energy. Before anyone wonders what a 'physics' text might be doing on an ecology site, some explanation is due.

One of the key points that can only increase in importance is the need to have a range of energy sources available for us to use. Fossil fuels are obviously not viable long-term and the nuclear option is still to difficult for many (even though there are reactors which do have a high degree of safety and efficiency). This means that many people grab the 'renewable' option and assume that this will produce some sort of energy paradise. Of course it won't but in the process we need to be aware of which options might be more useful. This is where the physics comes in - asking the key energy questions from which we can then make choices. Chapter one outlines the history of energy and notes the impact of the greenhouse effect on the need to question energy use. Subsequent chapters examine specific energy options. For example, chapter two studies thermal energy. Key heat transfer devices are seen but the analysis focusses on energy efficiency and energy calculations and here lies the value of this text. It assumes that the basic designs, issues etc. can be found elsewhere: this text focusses on the energy equations - which form of engine is better for steam turbines etc. The treatment is quite mathematical as one might expect but there are worked examples and the equations/graphs are within the range of any competent student. Chapter three turns the attention to fluids as part of the examination of turbines and as a prelude to chapter four which looks at water power. Here there is a stunning range of devices which are described in terms of both design and efficiency. A similar quality of explanation is found in the next chapter which turns its attention to wind power. There's much here that is reminiscent of early alternative energy education material although its nice to see it upgraded to cover the intervening years. Solar energy is next with a look not just at current designs but also those in trial or design stages. Biomass is the focus of chapter seven which studies the topic from both primary and waste angles. Fission and fusion might be out of favour (or in the latter's case still in design) but they still can contribute. A thoughtful chapter on the pros and cons of reactor design helps the former whilst the latter's design and maths make it one of the more challenging chapters. Chapter 10 covers issues surrounding the generation and distribution of electricity through conventional wires and fuel cells. A final, too brief, chapter examines a wide range of social issues surrounding energy usage such as carbon trading and life cycle analysis.

This is a very useful text. Apart from the range of topics noted above, each chapter is packed with educational material starting with a topic list and ending with excellent summaries, readings, web links, exercises (and answers). Its value lies in the degree to which the science of energy is inter-linked with issues of safety, environment etc. For those aiming to deal with this area in more detail than normally found, this is a very good place to start.

 

 

 

 

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