0

IN THIS ISSUE


Select Articles

Mechanical Engineering. 2012;134(05):26-31. doi:10.1115/1.2012-MAY-1.
FREE TO VIEW

This article focuses on the need to develop alternatives to fossil fuels for present-day and future energy systems. The direction of energy research ought to be toward material science that can extend the life and lower the cost of renewable energy systems, rather than toward highly theoretical analyses that have over-the-horizon payoffs. Additionally, the planning for a smooth transition from fossil based to sustainable energy must include a side-by-side analysis of the economics as well as the energy return on energy investment (EROI) of each potential system. The EROI analysis would ensure the long-term viability of the technology, and the commercial analysis would show how much the system will cost and, thereby, provide an estimate of the money required for the installation in the transition period. The transition from the oil- and coal-based economy to a sustainably based future is not expected to be easy; however, taking advantage of the low-hanging fruit of conservation and energy efficiency will make that transition easier and much less painful.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2012;134(05):32-37. doi:10.1115/1.2012-MAY-2.
FREE TO VIEW

This article explores the new developments in the field of gas turbines and the recent progress that has been made in the industry. The gas turbine industry has had its ups and downs over the past 20 years, but the production of engines for commercial aircraft has become the source for most of its growth of late. Pratt & Whitney’s recent introduction of its new geared turbofan engine is an example of the primacy of engine technology in aviation. Many advances in commercial aviation gas turbine technology are first developed under military contracts, since jet fighters push their engines to the limit. Distributed generation and cogeneration, where the exhaust heat is used directly, are other frontiers for gas turbines. Work in fluid mechanics, heat transfer, and solid mechanics has led to continued advances in compressor and turbine component performance and life. In addition, gas turbine combustion is constantly being improved through chemical and fluid mechanics research.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2012;134(05):38-41. doi:10.1115/1.2012-MAY-3.
FREE TO VIEW

This article describes various experimental demonstrations to show the benefits of using biodiesel fuels to reduce emissions caused by NOx. Biodiesel fuel blends deliver benefits in reduced engine emissions of particulate matter. NOx emissions are precursors in the formation of smog and acid rain. By achieving NOx neutrality, emulsified biodiesel fuel allows the full benefits of a biofuel to be realized. The introduction of water into the combustion process by the utilization of emulsified fuels results in the generation of triple benefits—the reduction in emissions of NOx, particulate matter, and greenhouse gases. These results suggest that emulsified fuel technology is an effective and cost beneficial emission-reduction technology. It is readily available to accommodate future requirements for hydrocarbon emissions and greenhouse gas emissions reductions. Considering the number of trucks, trains, and other diesel-powered vehicles in use, biodiesel fuels have the potential to make a significant contribution to improving both the air quality and perhaps the national economy of the United States.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2012;134(05):42-43. doi:10.1115/1.2012-MAY-4.
FREE TO VIEW

This article presents an overview of few patents on the fringe of environmental engineering involving weather control. In the Patent number 462,795 issued in 1891, liquefied carbonic acid gas is placed in a shell, shot into the atmosphere, and exploded. The gas evaporates and in so doing allegedly cools down the atmosphere producing moisture in a cloud and ultimately rain. The wildest rainmaking patent is number 1,103,490, dated July 14, 1914. The inventor, J.M. Cordray, describes numerous balloons released into the atmosphere and then a lot of explosions. Some balloons include bags of water; others include finely crushed bone and concentrated sulphuric acid; still other balloons include canisters of giant powder, and chloride [sic] of potash; and yet still another set of balloons includes oil burners and a tank of water to produce steam. The claimed method of producing rain involves violently disturbing the air above the earth, then heating the air and supplying moisture and nitrogen into the air.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2012;134(05):44-47. doi:10.1115/1.2012-MAY-5.
FREE TO VIEW

This article discusses the dynamics of the S-curve phenomenon in nature. The S-curve phenomenon and its physics principle unite the spreading flows with the collecting flows, and the animate flows with the inanimate flows. The history of the volume of heated soil versus time follows an S-shaped curve that is entirely deterministic. It is also predicted that when the invading channels are tree shaped as opposed to single pipes, the entire flow from point to volume occurs faster, more easily, along a steeper S-curve. The S-curves of nature are history records of tree-shaped spreading on areas and volumes that are eventually filled during consolidation by transversal diffusion. The prevalence of S-curve phenomena in nature rivals that of tree-shaped flows, which also unite the animate, inanimate, and human realms. This phenomenon is so common that it has generated entire fields of research that seem unrelated: the spreading of biological populations, cancer tumors, chemical reactions, contaminants, languages, news, information, innovations, technologies, infrastructure, and economic activity, and the evolution of technology performance versus cumulative R&D spending.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Sorry! You do not have access to this content. For assistance or to subscribe, please contact us:

  • TELEPHONE: 1-800-843-2763 (Toll-free in the USA)
  • EMAIL: asmedigitalcollection@asme.org
Sign In