Plenary Lecture, ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT (EE'09), Cambridge, UK, February 21-23, 2009

Plenary Lecture

Utilization of Non-Fossil Fuel Energy Options to Mitigate Climate Change and Environmental Impact

Professor Marc A. Rosen
Founding Dean
Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science
University of Ontario Institute of Technology
Oshawa, Ontario, Canada
also: President-Elect, Engineering Institute of Canada

Abstract: Non-fossil fuel energy options can help humanity combat climate change and provide the opportunity for sustainable energy solutions. Non-fossil fuel energy options are diverse, ranging from renewables like solar, wind, geothermal, hydropower, biomass, ocean, tidal and wave energy, through to nuclear energy. The latter may not be a renewable resource, but it avoids greenhouse gas emissions and thus contributes to efforts to avoid climate change. Renewable energy resources are normally free of greenhouse gas emissions, although some like biomass can lead to such emissions if not managed carefully.

Non-fossil fuel energy options are not sufficient for avoiding climate change, in that they are not necessarily readily utilizable in their natural forms. Hydrogen energy systems are needed to facilitate the use of non-fossil fuels by allowing them to be converted to two main classes of energy carriers: hydrogen and select hydrogen-derived fuels and electricity. The former allow humanity to meet most of its chemical energy needs, while the latter can satisfy most non-chemical energy demands.

High efficiency is also needed to allow the greatest benefits to be attained from all energy options, including non-fossil fuel ones, in terms of climate change and other factors. Efficiency improvements efforts have many dimensions, including energy conservation, improved energy management, fuel substitution, better matching of energy carriers and energy demands, and more efficiency utilization of both energy quantity and quality. The latter two concepts are best considered via the use of exergy analysis, a thermodynamic tool based primarily on the second law of thermodynamics.

A case study is considered involving the production of hydrogen from non-fossil energy sources via thermochemical water decomposition. This process is mainly driven by thermal energy, and is anticipated to be usable for large-scale hydrogen production. In thermochemical hydrogen production, a series of complex chemical and other processes occur, with the net result being the splitting of water into hydrogen and oxygen. Most preliminary designs of thermochemical hydrogen production processes are based on nuclear energy and solar energy, thus providing different types of non-fossil fuel options for combating climate change.

Brief biography of the speaker:
Dr. Marc A. Rosen is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in Oshawa, Canada, where he served as founding Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science from 2002 to 2008. Dr. Rosen became President of the Engineering Institute of Canada in 2008. He was President of the Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering from 2002 to 2004, and is a registered Professional Engineer in Ontario.

Dr. Rosen has received numerous awards and honours, including an Award of Excellence in Research and Technology Development from the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Energy, the Engineering Institute of Canada’s Smith Medal for achievement in the development of Canada, and the Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering’s Angus Medal for outstanding contributions to the management and practice of mechanical engineering. He is a Fellow of the Engineering Institute of Canada, the Canadian Academy of Engineering, the Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the International Energy Foundation.

With over 60 research grants and contracts and 500 technical publications, Dr. Rosen is an active teacher and researcher in thermodynamics, energy technology (including cogeneration, district energy, thermal storage and renewable energy), and the environmental impact of energy and industrial systems. Much of his research has been carried out for industry. Dr. Rosen has worked for such organizations as Imatra Power Company in Finland, Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago, and the Institute for Hydrogen Systems near Toronto. He was also a professor in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Industrial Engineering at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada for 16 years. While there, Dr. Rosen served as department Chair and Director of the School of Aerospace Engineering.


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