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Mechanical Engineering. 2007;129(04):24-28. doi:10.1115/1.2007-APR-1.
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This article discusses need for diversification in America’s energy supply. Analysis shows that there is no currently available pathway to produce hydrogen, store it, transport it as an energy carrier, and use it to generate heat or electricity as efficiently as using the heat or electric power from the primary energy source directly. Unconventional supplies of oil also won’t provide relief any time soon. The vast oil-shale deposits in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming have long been hailed as a future energy source. According to researchers, hybrid electric vehicles like the ones on the road today are twice as fuel efficient as the current average vehicle. However, the near-term reduction in fuel consumption of hybrid vehicles has been overstated. There are companies, such as Hybrid Prius Inc. and CalCars, which claim PHEV30s can achieve 100 mpg. Also important is that plug-in hybrid vehicle technology provides utilities with a new and sustainable market for off-peak electric power. This is to improve the performance of electrical storage in batteries or ultracapacitors, and it is important to develop technologies that can capture and store carbon dioxide.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2007;129(04):30-33. doi:10.1115/1.2007-APR-2.
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This article focuses on various researches that have been undertaken to study and test use of fuel cells instead of boilers for cheap and clean electricity production. One of the most ambitious projects is the Solid State Energy Conversion Alliance (SECA), created by the U.S. Department of Energy to clear the technical hurdles that have kept fuel cells impractical. Compared to other government research programs, SECA has an unusual structure. The program unifies several organizations to work toward a common goal, yet retains a healthy spirit of competition to drive progress and spur innovation. By developing fuel cells to operate efficiently and cost effectively on the fuels that dominate today’s power industry, the hope is that the program can help meet pressing environmental and energy-security needs while building a bridge to a low-carbon economy. SECA’s recent successes demonstrate that it’s only a matter of time before solid oxide fuel cell technology achieves its commercial potential. Indeed, it’s possible that Solid Oxide Fuel Cells could reach high enough standards of efficiency and economy to entirely replace conventional combustion as the primary means of generating electricity in the USA.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2007;129(04):34-37. doi:10.1115/1.2007-APR-3.
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This article illustrates capabilities of gas turbines to be able to work in extremely elevated temperatures. The turbine airfoils in the new F135 jet engine that powers the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Lightning II are capable of operating at these extreme temperatures. The F135 gas turbine is the first production jet engine in this new 3,600°F class, designed to withstand these highest, record-breaking turbine inlet temperatures. The JSF engine is just one product in the $3.7 billion military gas turbine market, which includes jet engine production for the world’s fighter aircraft military cargo, transport, refuelling, and special-purpose aircraft. The article also discusses the features of H Class, which is the largest electric power gas turbine that has been interpreted as an abbreviation for humongous. Non-aviation gas turbines consist of electrical power generation, mechanical drive, and marine. The largest segment of that market by far is electrical power generation, in simple cycle, combined cycle, and cogeneration. Forecast International predicts significant growth in coming years in demand for gas turbine electrical power generation, rising from $8.6 billion in 2006 to a projected $13.5 billion in 2008, a 60 percent increase.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2007;129(04):38-39. doi:10.1115/1.2007-APR-4.
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Over the time, oil companies, utilities, and the Bush administration have come around to the idea that global warming is real and a consortium of USA. Companies including PG&E, Duke Energy, and Alcoa- has reportedly asked for congressional action to control carbon emissions. The chart presented in the article shows in detail the carbon dioxide emitted across the entire US economy, as determined by a draft report of the USA. Environmental Protection Agency released in February. Each square represents 10 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions and there are 726 of them. A quick glance shows that massive amounts of carbon dioxide are produced from the burning of coal in thermal power plants and the burning of gasoline and diesel fuel in the engines of cars and trucks. Switzerland, Sweden, Japan, and France are considered as models of Western society. They owe their position to a few factors, some of which may be emulated, and some of which are geographical accidents.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

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