A Michigan State University professor says if the world is to make better decisions when it comes to developing new energy sources, it needs to have better methods of measuring progress toward its energy goals. Just how well are we doing at developing alternatives to fossil fuels?
Speaking at this year's meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Bruce Dale said that appropriate metrics are needed in order to gauge our progress toward energy security.
"The problem is, how do we develop metrics that are relatively straight forward, relatively easy to calculate?" said Dale, an MSU professor of chemical engineering and materials science. "If we get bogged down in complexity, we'll spend decades arguing about it while we continue to burn oil, coal and natural gas, and build up greenhouse gases."
One important and useful method of measurement is "energy return on energy invested," or EROI. This measures how much energy is used to actually produce a unit of energy.
"The EROI metric has significant value, but it alone is not enough," Dale said. "We also need to consider differences in energy quality, which EROI doesn't always address. Right now, the critical energy quality that we need is liquid fuel, fuels for the tank."
For example, some biofuels – liquid fuels made from plant products – have a good EROI, somewhere in the 15:1 range. That means for every 15 units of biofuel energy that is produced, one unit is used to produce that 15 units.
"However," said Dale, "if we are to enhance national energy security, we need to go beyond this. We should also consider critical materials that are required to pursue different energy alternatives, such as the availability of lithium for electric vehicles."
Dale's presentation, titled "Thinking Clearly About Energy," was part of a symposium titled "Consequences of Changes in Energy Return on Energy Invested."
For additional information on the AAAS meeting and other MSU presentations, go to http://special.news.msu.edu/aaas2010/
Tom Oswald | EurekAlert!
Ultrathin device harvests electricity from human motion
24.07.2017 | Vanderbilt University
Stanford researchers develop a new type of soft, growing robot
21.07.2017 | Stanford University
Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers
Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...
Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.
At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...
3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects
A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...
Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.
For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...
What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.
To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...
21.07.2017 | Event News
19.07.2017 | Event News
12.07.2017 | Event News
25.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
25.07.2017 | Earth Sciences
25.07.2017 | Life Sciences