|Abstract or Summary
- This thesis evaluates new, large power generating plants of
the various types expected to be practicable in the time span of
the next 50 years. By using thermodynamic principles, the plants
are evaluated on the basis of conservation of energy; the basic
assumption is that the best policy is the one that conserves
On this basis and excluding other factors such as environmental
or social acceptance, the leading candidate is the plant
that makes the most efficient use of all resources to produce a
unit of beneficial energy. This thesis emphasizes those resources
that will be in abundant supply during the next 50 years.
Resources used in this comparison are solar energy, coal, nuclear
fission, and possible use of organic wastes.
Three applications of energy are studied: work energy,
thermal energy, and hydrogen production. The first law energy
trajectory technique was found to be the soundest means of
evaluating power producing plants. Simply defined, an energy
trajectory is the energy system from the resource energy in
nature through the use of energy by man. The energy-trajectory
efficiency is determined by the energy beneficially used divided
by the resource energy required to produce the end-use energy.
Each energy trajectory is further broken down into handling
or processing steps, called nodes; nodal efficiencies are
gathered from the literature. A power plant is only one node
of a trajectory.
From a total of 90 energy trajectories studied, the most
efficient plants from an energy conservation standpoint were
found to be:
For work energy applications, coal and nuclear
thermal-cycle electric plants;
For thermal energy applications, coal and
organic waste plants (for example straw) fired
For hydrogen production, coal and organic waste
plants utilizing an open cycle process.
It was further concluded that the energy trajectories which
include hydrogen or other synthetic fuels are not as efficient
as alternate, more direct, energy trajectories. Solar energy was
found to be competitive only for thermal applications and then
only when little or no energy storage is required.
The technique used in this thesis provides an adequate basis
of evaluation if the policy for large power conversion systems is
to conserve energy resources. In addition, the technique could be
modified to compare energy trajectories that are weighted for
preferred resource use.