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Energy Conservation In Thermal Power Courses

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.419.1 - 6.419.8

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William Hutzel

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract


Energy Conservation in Thermal Power Courses

William J. Hutzel Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN


What should technology and engineering students know about energy conservation? Traditional energy technologies, such as coal-fired power plants and petroleum-based internal combustion engines, will continue to dominate modern society for the short term. However, evidence of global warming, ozone depletion, and other environmental concerns are beginning to bring energy conservation issues to the forefront. The purpose of this paper is to encourage discussions about how broad concepts like “renewable energy” is treated in undergraduate thermal power courses.

Renewable energy use in the United States

The data summarized in Figure 1 shows that renewable sources deliver only a small part of the annual energy used in the United States.1 Coal, petroleum, and natural gas were responsible for more than 85% of the nearly 100 quadrillion Btu’s consumed by the United States in 1999. Renewable sources, which include hydroelectric, solar, and wind energy, contribute approximately 8% of the total. Nuclear electric sources, which the Department of Energy does not categorize as “renewable”, make up the remaining 7% of the energy consumed. Based on this data, one might conclude that undergraduate thermal power courses should continue to focus exclusively on “traditional” thermodynamic topics. At first glance, it seems reasonable to emphasize topics that students will typically encounter during their early careers. wind coal 0.5% 23% solar 1%

nuclear electric 7% geothermal 5%

biomass renewable sources 38 % (non-nuclear) 8%

hydroelectric petroleum 55% 39% natural gas 24%

Figure 1. Renewable energy sources are a small part of total U.S. energy consumption.1 Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Hutzel, W. (2001, June), Energy Conservation In Thermal Power Courses Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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