energy disruptors

Successful entrepreneurs are innovators who push the envelope and do things differently.

By thinking differently about how to solve today’s grand energy challenges, we can change the future.

To read full article, visit www.asme.org or http://bit.ly/nb57Ru

7 Responses to “energy disruptors”

  1. 1 Jack Sol-Church
    October 23, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    It was an interesting but not very informative article. It is titled as successful entrepreneurs yet only mentions 2 technologies, carbon capture and drilling thru a basement for geothermal?
    What is so disheartening about DOE is the lack of evaluation of EROI (energy return on investment) and a basic engineering approach to whether ideas make sense. I give you 1 billion BTUs and an annual budget of 1 million BTUs. What do you give me in return, not in $$ but in BTUs? Few of the current $$ evaluations have any credibility because of the write offs of business expenses instead of a true energy evaluation.
    Three perfect examples:
    Solar Roadways – there are square miles of available roof tops for PV panels. Yet rather than pushing that with subsidies or RECs, we invest in PV panels that have to support a 80,000 # tractor trailer? This does not make engineering sense.
    New refrigerators – if your refrigerator is older than 10 years you are supposed to replace it because the new one will pay for itself in 7-10 years through energy savings. The average life of a refrigerator (factoring in good quality units) is 14 years. So the average life of an average unit (which most of us would buy) is maybe 10 years, which means it just pays for itself and then breaks. We pushed the energy and labor cost (as well as more pollution) over to China and ship them 6000 miles so that we can just break even on $$. What is the first law analysis of a refrigerator – raw materials to landfill (or complete recycling if any of those exist)?
    CFLs – yes, they do save 60% of the usable life energy consumption but how does that really compare to the extra energy of manufacturing them in China and shipping them 6000 miles.

    Yes, we need to step outside the box and evaluate how we use energy if we want any sort of sustainable society in the next 10 years. We are simply reshuffling what is inside the box and moving much of it to another box called China. We need some real cultural changes such as mass transit and car sharing, rezoning suburbs to allow for 20-30% of the houses to be converted to duplexes, etc. to drop our energy consumption by 50%.
    Changing to an electric car simply won’t do it. Installing geothermal and still building 5000 sq ft houses won’t do it.
    We should be talking about first law analysis of energy systems/conversions the same way we talk about financial analysis and planning for 50 – 100 years down the road, not 3 – 5 years.

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The Editor

John G. Falcioni is Editor-in-Chief of Mechanical Engineering magazine, the flagship publication of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

October 2011

Twitter from John Falcioni

Twitter from Engineering for Change

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