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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Efficiency in production, utilization and transportation of energy

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Efficiency in Production Increasing efficiency in energy production relates to the production of energy with minimum wastage of the resource used for the production of energy. Energy is usually produced by Thermal Power and Hydel Power plants, upto greater extent. These plants consume large amounts of coal for generating heat so as to boil water, produce steam and run turbines to produce electricity. Here the defects may be found with the boilers and blades of turbines. For this, the design of boilers should be such that minimum heat is absorbed by them for the production of maximum steam. The designs of the blades of steam turbines should be modernized so as to produce the maximum out put. In metallurgical plants, the furnaces should be modernized so as to consume less coal by allowing complete combustion, and to produce more heat while consuming less coal. In a nut shell, such improvements are to be made that allow maximum out put of energy by using minimum amounts of resources.

The potential of power generation from co-generation in India is more than 29000 MW. Mainly the bagasse based co-generation is principally promoted in this country. Since India is the largest producer of sugar in the world. Today, such technologies have been developed that help in the production of two useful forms of energy from the same source. It is called as co-generation.

Most of the energy input is lost as waste heat from production and distribution systems. The waste heat from coal fired boilers or other boilers of industries can be used in running turbines and generating electricity. In modern times, agriculture waste like bagasse is utilized in the co-generation of electricity. The application of modern technologies reduces pollution and lowers the cost of production. Such technologies reduce pollution and lower the cost of production. Such technologies are adopted by industrialists so as to increase profit.

Efficiency in Utilization
The efficiency in transmission and distribution of energy is most important for the conservation of energy, especially the electricity. The conditions of transformers and transmission lines remain very poor in some countries of the world. The leakage of electricity, burning of supply wires and transformers due to carelessness and mismanagement are common incidents observed mostly in developing countries. Illegal use of energy and non-payments of bills are great hurdles in the ways of conservation and even proper utilization of energy. These are to be eradicated by the government and the law enforcement agencies. In many of the Indian cities equipments like transformers, supply wires, fittings and even the electric poles remain in very dangerous and vulnerable conditions. Most of these remain out dated or expired. This is the reason why we experience frequent interruption in electric supplies during rainy days and windy weathers.

In India, the Electricity Act came into force on the 10 June 2003. With the enactment of this act, all the other pre-existing Acts such as the Indian Electricity Act, 1910, the Electricity (supply) Act, 1948, and the Electricity Regulatory Commission Act, 1998 stand repealed. The Central Government of India notified Electricity Rules, 2005 on 8 June 2005. These rules contain provisions that relate to captive generating Plants, Consumer redressal Forums and Ombudsman, Tariff of Generating Companies, etc. ‘Nine removal of Difficulties Orders regarding inclusion of measures to control theft in Electricity Supply Code, etc. have been issued by the government under Section 183 of the Electricity Act,2003.(Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India- 2007).

In most of the houses, it is seen that less care is offered towards judicious use of energy. In many of the kitchens stoves are left burning the gas even when nothing is placed on them for cooking. Many people leave their TV sets, fans and lights on even when nobody remains there in the rooms. These wastages cumulatively account for amounts of energy wasted regularly. Hence, under the present conditions of shortages of energy resources, it is most essential to correct habits and ensure judicious distribution, transmission and utilization of energy both at the micro- and mega- levels.

Efficiency in transportation
The Transportation Sector of energy consumption incorporates all the vehicles used for personal or freight transportation. Approximately 70 per cent of the energy used in this sector is consumed by petrol powered vehicles. About 20 per cent of transport including trains, merchant ships, trucks etc. is powered by diesel. The remaining 10 percent of the fuel is consumed by air traffic. The compressed natural gas is also used as transportation fuel. Coal is also used in transport directly in steam vehicles and boats.

Alternative to fossil fuel – run vehicles are electric vehicles and electric boats that use batteries or non-hydrogen fuel cells. The fuel cell operated mini-cars are also running on roads today. 

Most of the old model engines and machines use only a small fraction of energy available in fuel. For example, a car engine uses only 20 per cent of the energy contained in petrol. As per records, even the most efficient power plants use 40 per cent of their fuel into electricity.

Now, scientists and engineers across the world are developing more efficient methods of using energy in transportation. They are designing more efficient transport systems to reduce the loss of energy.

In transportation sector, the efficiency can also be enhanced by mass transportation through automobile. The technologists across the world have been improving the efficiencies of the conventional internal combustion engines and further improvements are also expected by reducing the weight of vehicles using new materials.

The Hybrid vehicles allow the engines run more efficiently by re-gaining energy from braking and by possessing arrangements for turning their engines off when idle in traffic. Ceramic and diesel engines improved technologically can improve mileage. Electric vehicles like Maglev and trolleybuses have been proved to be more efficient during use.
The efficiency of transportation fuel has also been increased through the adoption of newer technologies. Some chemical processes can convert carbon and hydrogen in coal, natural gas, plant and animal biomass, and organic wastes into short hydrocarbons suitable as transportation fuels. Some of these fuels are- Fischer-tropsch diesel, methanol, and dimethyl ether or syngas. Today, South Africa is solving most of its fuel problem by producing diesel from coal.

Carbon dioxide of the atmosphere can be utilized for converting it into hydrocarbons by the application of solar energy through the process of photosynthesis. Different types of biofuel are being produced today such as biodiesel, alcohol fuel etc. Growing Jatropha, Pongamia and Jojoba etc. plants, extracting oil from their seeds and using the oil as biofuel either on the place of diesel or mixing it with diesel, is being encouraged by the Government of India. Other countries too, are encouraging cultivation of biodiesel plants. An important example in this direction is the cultivation of Jatropha, being done in Zambia, for a biodiesel firm based in U.K.     

The utilization of energy has almost doubled every 20 years since 1900. Causes of this growth in the utilization of energy comprise following factors-
(i)          growth of population
(ii)         growth of labour force
(iii)        increase in the wealth
(iv)       Energy using inventions
(v)     Products consuming large amounts of energy in their manufacturing processes,
(vi)       Non-fuel uses of fossil fuels.

The human population has been rising at a very fast rate. However, the rate of consumption of energy remained much faster. The life style and the standard of living improved and now people became capable of keeping conveniences demanding more and more energy for their operation. The aluminium, plastics, other metals and alloys that demand more energy in their processing came into wide spread use. Together with the increasing rate of development and industrialization, the labour force also increased and the increasing production encouraged the wealth to accumulate with majority of people. In the mean time scientists remained inventing energy consuming devices that reached to human homes for greater comfort and development. A number of products started to be made in industries that demand greater amounts of energy. On the other hand the non-fuel uses of fossil fuel also increased considerably. Now, it was very important that the efficiency of utilization of already available energy could be raised through appropriate practices.

Ways of increasing efficiency of energy utilization
Some of the important ways of increasing the efficiency of utilization of energy are being mentioned below.
1. Application of fluorescent lamps, efficient engines and insulators.
2. Construction of Zero-energy buildings (ZEB).
The Zero Energy Building is a term applied to a building with a net energy consumption of zero over a typical year. The level of Zero Energy Consumption is acquired by constructing such buildings and living in these buildings where the energy provided by on site renewable energy sources is equal to the energy utilized in the building. Though the concept and status of zero energy building are not common in developing countries like India, it is gaining popularity in these countries also.
3.  Recovery of energy from waste hot water and warm wind by the use of heat exchangers.
4. Recovery of energy from hydrocarbon waste through hydrocarbon production through Pyrolysis.
5. Making modifications in existing power plants.
6. Applications of co-generation techniques in power plants.
7. The applications of passive solar, light emitting diodes should be made in zero energy buildings to replace the use of common bulbs.
8. Going for public transport instead of moving in private cars.
9. Use of bicycles for short distances.
10. Developing new and renewable energy and avoiding the use of fossil fuels.
11. Adopting the practice of Energy Efficient Landscaping: This incorporates planting trees for shades, planting wind breaks to slow down the speed of wind near buildings (it prevents heat loss), wall sheltering by the use of shrubbery or vines, earth sheltering, and drought resistant plantation in arid areas.
12. The applications of Solar Energy Chimneys and Solar Energy Towers.
Key Words :Efficiency, transportation,utilization, hydrocarbons, Jatropha

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