ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF ENERGY SYSTEMS
Learning outcomes of the course unit
The aim of the module is to study the interactions between the environment and energy conversion systems and power plants, with particular reference to pollution (chemical and thermal) and to impacts related to energy systems.
Knowledge and understanding:
At the end of the course the student will be acquainted with major issues and main solutions applied today to reduce the environmental impact resulting from the processes of generation and use of energy. The student will also acquire basic knowledge concerning the assessment of pollutant emissions from power plants through the parameters and their units of measurement used to quantify these aspects. He/she will know problems, limitations, advantages and disadvantages of current solutions to reduce environmental impacts with reference to the total amount of generated energy.
Applying knowledge and understanding:
The student will be able to assess in a qualitative and quantitative way the most relevant environmental impacts resulting from energy generation processes taking account of the amount of generated and used energy.
The student will have the skills and knowledge needed to critically evaluate and compare different solutions for power generation, with particular reference to fossil fuel plants and alternatives currently available.
The student will acquire the necessary tools to effectively present evaluations and comparisons of different systems for the generation and use of energy, with particular reference to the environmental impacts caused by them.
The student will be able, through the acquisition of information and technical data on the systems under investigation, to keep his/her knowledge up-to-date about the solutions proposed and/or applied for the energy generation and use and related environmental impacts.
Attendance to the course requires knowledge provided by the courses o Applied Thermodynamics and Thermal Machines and Power Plants.
Course contents summary
General aspects. Recall on power plants and on energy sources. Energy conversion processes. Energy transformations in power plants.
General information on chemical and thermal pollution. Measurement of pollutant concentrations. Basics on the environment and its parts. Basics on meteorology and fate of pollutants.
Combustion processes. Fuels and their characteristics. Steam-power plants: combustion systems, after-treatment of exhaust gases. Gas turbines: combustion systems, after-treatment of exhaust gases. Internal combustion engines: combustion processes, pollutant emissions from spark ignition and Diesel engines and solutions to reduce them. Other energy sources and their environmental impact: solar and wind energy, biomasses. Tools and methodologies for measuring emissions. National and international legislation.
General aspects. Recall on power plants and on renewable energy. Energy conversion processes. Energy transformations in power plants: efficiency, specific fuel consumption and specific emissions. General information on chemical and thermal pollution. Measurement of pollutant concentrations.
Basics on the environment and its parts (hydrosphere, atmosphere, geosphere). Basics on meteorology and fate of pollutants.
Combustion processes. Fuels and their characteristics. Steam-power plants: fuels, combustion systems, solutions to reduce pollutants formation and emission. After-treatment of exhaust gases. Gas turbines: fuels, combustion systems, solutions to reduce pollutants formation and emission. After-treatment of exhaust gases. Internal combustion engines: combustion processes in spark ignition and Diesel engines, systems and devices for controlling the intake phase and the combustion process. Emissions of pollutants from spark ignition and Diesel engines: solutions to reduce pollutants formation and emission and exhaust after-treatment systems.
Other energy sources and their environmental impact. Solar and Wind energy. Biomasses: pros and cons, solid, liquid and gaseous biomasses. Direct combustion, biochemical and thermochemical conversion processes (gasification and pyrolysis) Tools and methodologies for measuring emissions. National and international legislation.
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, 2008.
Suggested readings for extended studies can be found in:
S.Turns, “An introduction to Combustion. Concepts and Applications”, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1996
R. Vismara, "Ecologia Applicata", Hoepli, 1992
M.L.Davis, D.A.Cornwell, 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 them from Elly enrollment in the online course is required. 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 lectures (or online if the health situation relating to COVID requires it). 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).
To complement learning methods so far, if possible technical visits to power plants and seminars will be organized on specific topics given by specialists in the field.
The teacher is available online through the Teams platform 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 (in presence if the health situation relating to COVID allows it, otherwise online via Teams).
At the student's choice, it can alternatively consist of:
(1) two theoretical questions on the topics covered in the course and on the application of the theory to even original problems: each of the two questions is assessed on a scale from 0 to 30. To pass the exam it is necessary for both questions to be graded is at least equal to 18/30.
(2) a presentation from the Student (using the preferred tools, e.g. Powerpoint) of an in-depth study consisting of an original investigation related to a specific supply chain, solutions, processes used, proposed or applicable for the generation and use of energy. The study must also contain quantitative assessments (even if in principle) developed independently and critically by the Student on the chosen topic. During the presentation, questions will be asked for clarification on the topic addressed: in particular the critical ability, the quality of presentation and the ability to correlate the topics covered will be evaluated.
The final grade is communicated at the end of the exam session.
Please note that online registration for the exam is MANDATORY to take the final exam.
It is strongly recommended to listen to all the lectures of the course.