Prof Giorgio Passerini from Universita Politecnica delle Marche, Italy visited the Lodge recently to present a seminar entitled ‘Energy Conversion and Management’.
Prof Passerini briefly discussed the major theoretical aspects of thermodynamics involved in energy conversion. He focused on heat engines and Carnot theorems to show how the conversion of heat into work has an intrinsic theoretical limit. He also showed how entropy and exergy can be used to measure the amount of work achievable from a heat source. He then concluded that the improvement of energy conversion efficiency and the ability to re-use the overall amount of energy obtainable from a source should be of primary concern since it could lead to substantial savings of primary energy.
He then introduced a more pragmatic approach to energy conversion by showing the typical conversion factors for various alternatives. Afterwards he briefly introduced available primary sources of energy, either renewable or conventional. By analysing data corresponding to both types of data, he was able to provide a range for the overall performance of various energy production systems currently in use. It transpired that, for renewable sources, hydroelectric power plants and wind turbines have, in principle the best scores while photovoltaic conversion represents, at the moment, a smaller ration.
For non-renewable energy sources (i.e. hydrocarbons), Prof. Passerini introduced a quantification of benefits which are achievable by applying co-generation principles to produce heat and work simultaneously. He described the efficiency of both co-generation in big power plants and that which can be input to a typical mini or micro co-generation device. He then introduced a kind of “triple generation” that allows the production of an integrated system for electrical energy capable of both heat and refrigeration. This can be achieved by coupling absorption refrigerators with standard co-generation systems.
Regarding vehicles, Prof. Passerini briefly showed alternative approaches to reduce non-renewable energy consumption by improving motor efficiency and by introducing new fuels.
Prof. Passerini concluded that we have the chance to easily match the Kyoto protocol requirements and to double them simply by approaching the energy conversion from a different point of view. As a case-study he illustrated that by putting a state-of-the-art incinerator very close to a community both the local and global pollution could be reduced while the community itself saves money without state subsidies or allowances.