PHYSICAL TECHNOLOGIES FOR RENEWABLE ENERGIES
Learning outcomes of the course unit
The general objective of this course is to provide both theoretical and applicative tools to understand the energetic problem and the evaluation of its possible solutions.
In particular, the physical principles underlying the energy production processes is highlighted with regard to the reduction of energy consumption and the sustainability of the natural resources.
In particular, the student should be able to:
1. To understand the fundamental methodologies inherent to the management and analysis of energy production systems.
To know the main renewable energy sources and their interaction with the environment (Sustainable Development).
To be able of using the specific language typical of renewables. (knowledge and understanding)
2. To know the less invasive solution, from an environmental point of view, for the energy production by using renewable sources.
To be able to set the energy balance taking into account the environmental sustainability of energy production. (applying knowledge and understanding)
3. To be able to expose the study results also to an untrained public. To know how to present to an expert or non-expert public the peculiarities of a given source of renewable energy within the more general problem of energy supply. (communication skills)
4. To know how to evaluate the limits of renewable energy sources considering both the positive and the negative points in terms of costs and environmental sustainability. (making judgments)
5. To connect the different topics one with each other and with the basic and related arguments. Updating yourself by consulting scientific publications specific of the field. (learning skills)
The Physics courses of the first two years:
Physics laboratory 1
Physics laboratory 2
Course contents summary
The energy problem is central for the present and future of human activities. The control of the energy resources exploitation and the reduction of the environmental impact, resulting from their use are not only political and economic immediate issues, but represent above all, a scientific and technological challenge. These strategic objectives can be achieved with complex actions, aimed firstly to increase the energy production efficiency and use secondly, to the exploitation and introduction of renewables energy and new technologies. Therefore, it becomes necessary an increasingly targeted knowledge of the energy sources both classical (fossils) and innovative (renewable). The aim of the course is to provide a methodological basis in the field of the use of energy resources and in techniques to control the environmental impact of the energy systems showing how to make a rational use of energy and, at the same time, to implement systems and sustainable technologies.
ENERGY AND SUSTAINABILITY: Origins and meaning of the sustainability concept, Energy Sustainability, Energy balance, human actions.
ENERGY AND ITS SOURCES: The concept of energy, definition and forms of energy, primary and secondary energy sources conventional and alternative energy sources, renewable and non-renewable sources.
THE FOSSIL SOURCES: Oil - Natural Gas - Coal - Comparison between the costs of fossil fuels.
THE NUCLEAR SOURCES: Nuclear fusion - Nuclear fission: advantages and disadvantages - Fission reactors of the third and fourth generation - Cost of energy produced by nuclear source.
RENEWABLE SOURCES: Definition of renewable energy, energy from classical renewable sources:
Hydroelectric Power - Advantages and Disadvantages of hydropower - Cost of energy produced from hydroelectric sources.
Geothermal Energy - Advantages and Disadvantages of Geothermal - Cost of energy produced from geothermal sources
Wind Energy - Advantages and Disadvantages of wind energy - Cost of energy produced from wind power.
Biomass - Technologies for biomass conversion - thermochemical conversion processes - Direct combustion and cofiring - charring - gasification - pyrolysis - biochemical conversion processes - aerobic and anaerobic digestion - Alcoholic fermentation - Extraction of vegetable oils and biodiesel production-Steam explosion - potential advantages and disadvantages in the use of biomass for energy purposes - Cost of energy produced from biomass.
Solar Energy - Earth-Sun Balance - Greenhouse effect.
Solar photovoltaic - Description of photovoltaic technology - The solar cell – Comparison between different technologies - The conditioning system and the power control - The PV electrical capability - Advantages and Disadvantages of PV - Cost of energy produced by photovoltaic technology .
Thermal Solar Energy: low temperature - Advantages and Disadvantages of solar heat at a low temperature - Cost of energy produced by thermal solar energy at low temperature.
Thermodynamic Solar Energy: Solar energy concentration in Thermodynamics - Concept - technologies of solar energy systems - linear parabolic collectors (Parabolic Trough) - linear Fresnel collector systems (Linear Fresnel Reflector) - Central Tower Systems (Solar Tower) - parabolic circular systems (Dish Stirling) - Cost of solar thermal power technology.
RENEWABLE ENERGY FOR THE FUTURE: Giving a look at the most promising and innovative conversion technologies - Marine Energy - Technological development and potential of the Marine Energy - Osmotic Energy (salinity gradient) - Tidal Energy - Energy from tide changes (intervals) - Costs - Energy from tidal currents - Costs - Energy from marine currents - costs - Energy from the waves – Cost - Energy from thermal gradient.
DJC. MacKay, Sustainable Energy - without the hot air; UIT Cambridge, ISBN: 978-1-906860-01-1 (downloadable and available for free on http://www.withouthotair.com/)
C. Julian Chen, Physics of Solar Energy, ed. Wiley, ISBN: 978-0-470-64780-6
Twidell & Weir, Renewable energy resources, ed. Taylor and Francis, ISBN: 978-0-419-25320-4
The teaching activities will be managed through lectures alternated with practical exercises with the involvement of the students.
The slides used to support the lessons will be loaded at the end of each lesson on the Elly platform. Course online registration is required for the slides downloading.
The slides are considered an integral part of the teaching material. Non-attending students are reminded to check the available teaching materials and the indications provided by the teacher through the Elly platform.
Assessment methods and criteria
The skills evaluation will take place through a single oral examination whose duration is about 60 minutes. The examination will focus on both the theoretical and on the more properly applicative aspects of the course. Regarding the latter, the discussion of the practical part, for the evaluation of the student's skills, will be acquired through the resolution of exercises, concerning one of the following topics: fossil sources, nuclear fission, nuclear fusion, solar photovoltaic, solar thermal , solar thermodynamic, hydroelectric, wind, biomass, future renewable (osmotic pressure, tidal, salt gradient, temperature gradient, wave motion).
The learning evaluation will be focused on the expected results, in agreement with the Dublin descriptors. The vote will be given in thirtieths and will vary from 18/30 to 30/30 with honors. The objective of the exam is to verify the level of achievement of the knowledge and indicated skills. The vote will be expressed, according to the following evaluation scheme:
- Excellent (30-30 cum laude): Excellent knowledge and understanding of the treated topics. Excellent ability to apply the knowledge acquired to solve the proposed exercises and in addressing new problems. Excellent presentation capabilities.
- Very good (27-29): Good knowledge and understanding of the topics covered. Good ability to apply the acquired knowledge to solve the proposed exercises and to face new problems. Excellent presentation capacity.
- Good (24-26): Good knowledge and understanding of the topics covered. Discreet ability to apply the acquired knowledge to solve the proposed exercises and to face new problems. Good presentation capacity.
- Discreet (21-23): Discreet knowledge and understanding of the topics covered. Limited ability to apply the acquired knowledge to solve the proposed exercises and to face new problems.
- Sufficient (18-20): Minimum knowledge of the topics covered and limited ability to apply the acquired knowledge to solve the proposed exercises.
- Insufficient (<18): Lack of an acceptable knowledge of the treated topics and / or the student does not demonstrate sufficient ability to apply the acquired knowledge to solve the exercises.
Possible program expansion to suit the students specific needs.