Learning outcomes of the course unit
The course deals comprehensively with issues related to energy transformation processes and their environmental impacts. In particular, sustainability is considered with reference to several aspects: energy use, renewable energy, energy transformations, use of fossil fuels in combustion processes in heating systems and thermal engines.
Knowledge and understanding:
At the end of the course the student will be able to learn about aspects and issues related to world energy consumption and with reference to most important energy sources (both renewable and not) to conversion processes for energy generation and utilization, to related power plants and to final use of energy. He/she will also acquire the basics of thermodynamic cycles and their efficiency with reference to the most common power plants. He/she will then know problems, limitations, advantages and disadvantages of different solutions used and/or proposed nowadays for energy generation and use.
Applying knowledge and understanding:
The student will be able to develop general assessments of operating characteristics, performance and pollutant emissions of most common power plants used for energy generation from primary sources. He/she will also be able to compare qualitatively and quantitatively (albeit through general evaluations) different solutions for the generation of energy from primary sources.
The student will acquire the tools and knowledge required to make critical evaluations and comparisons of solutions for energy generation and use taking into account the available alternatives.
The student will acquire the tools needed to effectively present evaluations and comparisons of different solutions for specific processes of energy generation through both graphic and numerical representations concerning the characterization of energy and environmental alternatives.
The student will be able, starting from the basic knowledge given in the course, to acquire by himself information and data that can be useful to evaluate main characteristics of systems and solutions used and/or proposed for energy generation and use.
Attendance at the course requires the knowledge provided by the courses of Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics.
Course contents summary
General considerations. The energy balance of the planet. Energy sustainability. Energy consumption in the world: characteristics of primary energy sources; fossil fuels and renewable sources.
Technologies for the use of renewable sources. Solar energy: thermal and photovoltaic systems. Biomass. Hydro power. Wind energy.
Fossil fuels. Thermodynamic cycles. Power generation and cogeneration. Heat pumps. Combustion processes: reactions, mechanisms of formation of pollutants, methods for estimating emissions. Fuels and their characteristics. Power output from steam plants, gas turbines and internal combustion engines (ICE): main emissions from stationary and mobile applications, and techniques for their reduction.
General considerations. The energy balance of the planet: natural and anthropogenic contributions. Energy sustainability: rationalization and use of Renewable Energy Sources. Energy consumption in the world: characteristics of primary energy sources; fossil fuels and renewable sources. Technologies for the use of renewable sources. Solar thermal plants: availability of solar radiation, solar thermal collectors; ACS facilities, problems of heat storage in the short and long term. Issues related to solar concentration for medium and high temperature processes for heat and electricity generation. Photovoltaic solar cells: generalities, technologies and features, types of PV modules and their characteristics, the PV modules as building elements, considerations on stand-alone and grid-connected plants. Biomass: the availability and characteristics of wood biomass from forest management, direct combustion, characteristics and management for anaerobic fermentation of biomass plants and animals, characteristics and use of biogas. Hydro power: resource availability, technological characteristics of the facilities and management issues, environmental compatibility. Wind resource: availability, technological characteristics of the plants, environmental compatibility. Direct and inverse thermodynamic cycles, power generation and cogeneration, heat pumps, trigeneration. Combustion processes: reactions, mechanisms of formation of pollutants, methods for estimating emissions. Fuels and their characteristics. Power output from steam plants, gas turbines and internal combustion engines (ICE): main emissions from stationary and mobile applications, and techniques for their reduction.
Topics discussed during the course are reported following the same approach and the same nomenclature in the following book:
M.Bianchi, A.De Pascale, A.Gambarotta, A.Peretto – “Sistemi energetici - Impatto ambientale” - vol.3, pp.1-544, ISBN 88-371-1754-X, Pitagora Editrice, Bologna, 11/2008.
Suggested readings for extended studies can be found in:
S.Turns, “An introduction to Combustion. Concepts and Applications”, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1996
A.Bisio, S.Boots, "Encyclopedia of energy technology and the environment", Wiley, 1995 R.Vismara, "Ecologia Applicata", Hoepli, 1992
A.H.Lefebvre, "Gas Turbine Combustion", McGraw-Hill, 1983
I.Glassman, "Combustion", Academic Press, 1977
J.B.Edwards, "Combustion: the formation and emission of trace species", Ann Arbor Science, 1974.
Slides, notes and all the supporting material (drawings, plant schemes, Excel spreadsheets, media) will be uploaded to the Elly Platform: to download it from Elly is required to enroll in the online course. For non-attending students, staying up-to-date on the course through the Elly platform is strongly suggested.
Learning activities will be developed in the form of frontal lessons. The course subjects are discussed from both a theoretical point of view, in order to allow the understanding of the presented topics (linking them where appropriate with the knowledge already acquired by the student), and a practical approach (aimed to evaluate quantitatively pollutant emissions and causes of impact resulting from energy conversion processes). Numerical examples will also be presented to enable the student to acquire the necessary familiarity with the units of measurement and the evaluation of operating characteristics of systems used for energy generation and use.
To complement learning methods so far, if possible technical visits to power plants and seminars on specific topics will be organized.
The teacher is available during the reception hours and also by appointment (e-mail) for explanations.
Assessment methods and criteria
The assessment of learning is carried out through the final exam only, which ensures the acquisition of knowledge and skills (i.e. acquisition of learning outcomes) through an oral interview.
The oral interview is based on two questions on the topics of the course and on the application of the theory to original problems: the critical capacity, the ability to explain and to correlate involved issues will be evaluated.
Each question is evaluated on a scale from 0 to 30. To pass the exam a score of at least 18/30 is required for both questions.
The final grade is obtained by calculating the arithmetic mean of the scores of the two questions. The final score is communicated at the end of the exam.
Please note that online registration is MANDATORY to be admitted to the exam.
Attendance to the lectures is highly recommended.