Chemical Engineering for Renewables Conversion (Advances in Chemical Engineering)

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More Journals. Lead Guest Editor. Yang Xiao. Guest Editors play a significant role in a special issue. If you would like to be a Guest Editor or recommend a colleague as a Guest Editor of this special issue, please Click here to complete the Guest Editor application. Zhi-Jian Zhao. Guomin Xiao. Qinglin Su. Zhenhua Zeng. Yuan Wang. Chuan-xi Yang. Khurshida Afroz. In the above scenarios the energy to produce the reactants for a battery or fuel cell was supplied in a factory, but another possibility is a storage battery that can be easily and quickly recharged either at a service station or at home.

The batteries are too heavy and take too long to recharge.

Why I Quit Chemical Engineering ($80k Salary after 7 Years)

What is needed is a high-capacity storage battery that is lightweight, inexpensive, long lasting, and rechargeable. The batteries now used in golf carts and in some recent electric automobiles do not meet all these criteria, but there is active research by chemists and chemical engineers to develop such batteries.

When they exist, drivers will be able to stop at a service station and recharge their batteries in 10 to 15 minutes, then drive on for another miles before a recharge is needed. In another scenario, the drivers might simply trade in their depleted batteries for others that have been recharged by a service station. When the problems are solved, we will be able to reduce our dependence on petroleum-fueled automotive engines.

We also use small rechargeable batteries to power cell phones and portable computers. They are reasonably light and have the capacity to go for some hours before requiring recharging, but improvements are still needed. As chemists and chemical engineers develop better battery technology we can expect to be freed. Portable energy is important for vehicles and small electronic objects such as cell phones, but we also need to distribute energy from the generating plant to the place where it is to be used.

Whether it is generated using photocells in the desert, by growing biomass in agricultural areas, or by operating nuclear power plants, it must go from there to the manufacturing plants and homes where it is needed. Currently this is done with power lines made of ordinary conducting materials such as copper or aluminum, but the electrical resistance of those metals results in considerable loss of energy. Thus there is great interest among chemical scientists in developing practical superconducting materials for power distribution.

Superconductors pass electricity with no resistive loss, but so far they operate only at extremely low temperatures, and are impractical for power distribution.

Can the world make the chemicals it needs without oil? | Science | AAAS

However, as the basic science of materials progresses it is hoped that eventually superconductors will become practical for operation closer to normal temperatures while carrying a large current flow. This is a particularly difficult challenge, but if it can be met, the rewards will be enormous.


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There is already progress—superconducting power cables that can operate when cooled by liquid nitrogen are being made for short-distance power distribution in some urban areas. The approach described above involves the idea that there is a central power plant from which electricity is distributed, but there is another choice. It might be possible to distribute the power generation itself, having small generators locally sited where the power is used.

Already many large buildings have their own power generators as do some private homes , although these are primarily for emergency use. This distributed approach offers the advantage that power is generated locally and only when needed, so energy losses from transmission would not cause problems. For this approach, fuel cells may have an important role if they become practical and can operate using locally available fuels.

A variety of opportunities and challenges have been described in the preceding section along with an indication of where current progress is inadequate. We must eventually learn how to operate in a world that is not energized by burning fossil fuels, and the opportunities and challenges are clear. In the meantime, while we are still burning coal and hydrocarbons, we need to learn how to deal with the carbon dioxide that is produced. This must be done to address the problem of global climate change and to eliminate the environmentally harmful side products of combustion.

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We need to devise better ways to use solar energy, for ex-. We need to replace combustion by fuel cell technology, and we need to solve the problem of how to transport and store hydrogen. We need to invent rechargeable batteries that are practical for vehicles that have electric motors instead of gasoline engines. Advances in both basic and applied chemistry and chemical engineering are needed to achieve these goals. The challenges and opportunities in the field of energy are critical for a world in which inexpensive, readily available fossil fuels will eventually be exhausted.

Unless we learn how to generate and store energy, not just burn up the fuels formed in earlier times, we will be unable to continue to advance the human condition or even maintain it at its current level. The problems are of central importance, but they can be solved—and the chemical sciences are a necessary part of the solution.

Chemistry and chemical engineering have changed significantly in the last decade. They have broadened their scope—into biology, nanotechnology, materials science, computation, and advanced methods of process systems engineering and control—so much that the programs in most chemistry and chemical engineering departments now barely resemble the classical notion of chemistry. Beyond the Molecular Frontier brings together research, discovery, and invention across the entire spectrum of the chemical sciences—from fundamental, molecular-level chemistry to large-scale chemical processing technology.

This reflects the way the field has evolved, the synergy at universities between research and education in chemistry and chemical engineering, and the way chemists and chemical engineers work together in industry. The astonishing developments in science and engineering during the 20th century have made it possible to dream of new goals that might previously have been considered unthinkable.


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This book identifies the key opportunities and challenges for the chemical sciences, from basic research to societal needs and from terrorism defense to environmental protection, and it looks at the ways in which chemists and chemical engineers can work together to contribute to an improved future. Based on feedback from you, our users, we've made some improvements that make it easier than ever to read thousands of publications on our website.

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Visit NAP. Looking for other ways to read this? No thanks. Suggested Citation: "10 Energy: Providing for the Future. Some Challenges for Chemists and Chemical Engineers. Page Share Cite. Develop methods to use biomass as a renewable fuel source. Alternatives to Fossil Fuels. Nuclear Energy.

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Water and Wind. Energy Efficiency, Conversion, Storage, and Distribution. Electrochemical Cells.