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Vol. 30 No. 2
March-April 2008

The Project Place | Information about new, current, and complete IUPAC projects and related initiatives
See also www.iupac.org/projects

Future Energy: Improved, Sustainable, and Clean Options for Our Planet

by Trevor Letcher

Current debates about energy policy involve two key issues, fuel shortages (oil, coal and gas) and atmospheric pollution resulting from the burning of that oil, coal and gas—both of these are chemical issues.

We have the technical know-how to use less energy per capita and retain a reasonable standard of living, but we do not appear to have the will to implement such a plan. The public is either not convinced of the need to reduce energy usage, too lazy, or just plain greedy. Governments are aware of energy problems, such as “the peaking of oil reserves,” but still they do not enforce energy saving actions and only pay lip-service to them. One can only assume that the huge tax revenues and profits from oil and gas stocks and shares overwhelms their sense of duty. Oil companies are now so large (5 of the largest 10 companies in the world are oil companies) that they appear to be more powerful than state governments.

The objective of this new IUPAC project is to publish a book that first considers the reasons for developing alternate forms of energy and then details all the possible forms available to us. Each chapter of the book will be written by an engineer or scientist working in the field.

Each of the book’s 22 chapters will detail a form of energy that will be available to us, globally, over the next few decades. The review will focus on all types of energy available to us, taking into account our major problems: reducing our dependence on fossil fuel, reducing the amount of carbon dioxide we produce, and finding a suitable fuel for our transportation system.

The book will be unique among available titles in the same genre because each chapter will be written by a scientist or engineer who is an expert in his or her field. Each chapter highlights the details, scope, and problems associated with a particular type of energy. New and emerging forms of energy will be covered, including wave power, tidal energy, recent developments in battery and fuel cell technology, the hydrogen economy, tar sands, wind energy, solar (concentrated), solar (photovoltaic), and geothermal. However, old forms of energy will not be forgotten and there will be chapters on the latest improvements in coal burning, oil and gas burning, oil from coal and methane technology, bio-fuels, carbon dioxide capture and storage, hydroelectric power, and nuclear fission. Areas of great potential that have not yet come of age, such as pebble bed nuclear reactors, methane gas hydrates, energy storage, and nuclear fusion, are also dealt with. Looking at the whole spectrum of options in the book, it should be possible to discern which forms of energy best suite us now and in the future.

This book is part of the education process needed to boost public appreciation and understanding of science. It will present a non-political and unemotional set of solutions to the problems facing us—and it will offer a way forward. We hope that the book will be of interest to students, teachers, and professors and researchers of new energy, as well as politicians, government decision makers, captains of industry, corporate leaders, journalists, and editors.

For more information, contact the Task Group Chair Trevor Letcher <trevor@letcher.eclipse.co.uk>.

www.iupac.org/projects/2007/2007-015-2-100.html


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