Energy is essential to heat our homes, make our products and fuel our cars.
Energy is essential
How we create and manage our energy resources will determine our quality of life.
Challenges: Reducing wasted energy, limiting pollutants from energy production and use, reusing, safely disposing energy by-products. Opportunities: Renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar and biofuels.
Reusing wasted heat
Too often, a lot of energy used in industrial production and other businesses goes to waste.
Same goes for energy transmission through electricity, natural gas, pipe oil pathways that supply our homes and communities; as much as 70% of potential energy is lost during production. Jim Cotton is finding ways to gather energy through harvesting heat. With a focus on integrated energy systems, Cotton and his research team are working on several projects, including capturing lost energy from Pizza Pizza’s ovens.
In order to combat climate change, society must move towards using renewable energy sources such as wind energy, solar energy or waste heat recovery.
Solar thermal energy can be used for domestic hot water heating or space heating of buildings. Marilyn Lightstone uses computational modeling to explore a range of thermal energy storage methods. These range from small scale applications where small tanks containing water and phase change materials are used to store energy to large-scale applications of seasonal storage of thermal energy in borehole fields.
One of the key problems of our time is finding ways of meeting our massive energy needs without a massive impact on the environment.
That's why Thomas Adams is working to create new processes to make and use energy products but with significantly reduced environmental impact like greenhouse gas emissions, freshwater consumption, or smog formation. For example, they've been developing a new type of natural gas power plant using a special type of fuel cell that makes it easy to capture up to 100% of the carbon dioxide from the exhaust and significantly reduces water use. This "power plant of the future" may replace our existing natural gas power plants to avoid millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions and billions of liters of freshwater consumption.
The sun is the most abundant source of energy, but we have not yet learned how use it efficiently.
With present solar technology, only about 25% of power from the sun can be inexpensively converted to electrical power. How do we increase this efficiency while keeping costs low? This is the central challenge in solar engineering. Ray LaPierre is using nanotechnology to find new ways of converting solar energy to electricity. By taking advantage of the unique properties of matter on the nanoscale, LaPierre and his team are working on the next generation of solar energy devices.