production from carbon based fuels – the technology
In the context of the Stern Review, energy production from carbon-based fuels is important for two reasons: it is the dominant method of energy production i.e. electricity generation and it is a major contributor of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases causing global warming. With fossil fuels other products include particles which can alter the earth’s absorption of heat and light and thus in fact alter the biosphere’s capacity to capture carbon dioxide.
Generation of electricity using any of the fossil fuels relies on the same chemical process of combustion, and thus essentially requires a combustion chamber (furnace) in which the fuel with appropriate supply of oxygen is burned to release heat energy which is then used to do work. In most cases this involves heating a fluid which can be used to turn a turbine and thus a generator. The principle of using heat from fossil (or bio) fuel demands what is called a thermal power station.
Energy production consists of a number of stages (each of which USES energy itself):
delivery, storage and processing: - this is not a focus in this
site but clearly involves technology and efficiencies in terms of getting
the fuel to the plant, storing it and in some cases carrying out any pre-combustion
processing. The chief fossil fuels used in power generation are coal,
oil and gas and each presents its own challenges for transportation and
storage. Oil and gas require containment and oil requires pumping from
storage to furnace. Coal is more easily stored but is always crushed to
provide higher surface area and more uniform size. Interim storage may
compact the coal (typically 6 mm) to avoid spontaneous combustion. Before
combustion the coal is further crushed until it is a fine powder. All
fuels including coal especially when crushed require significant safety
measures to prevent spontaneous or accidental ignition/combustion.
Thermal Power generation
Generating Electricity (wikipedia)
Measuring electricity – Power
How Power Grids Work
Virtual Tour of the MSU Power Plant
Alstom Power –equipment and systems (supplies 25% of world capacity)