June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
Energy Conversion and Conservation
13.1034.1 - 13.1034.10
Renewable Energy Education of Future Army Leaders at the United States Military Academy
The United States military is the world’s single largest energy consumer, with an energy budget of over $10 billion each year. In this role, there is both a great responsibility and great opportunity for renewable and alternative energy stewardship on the national and global stage. Perhaps not well known to the public, is that the U.S. military is taking action to reduce energy consumption via widespread conservation programs, while at the same time supporting research and development of alternative energy technologies. However, the most effective measure to deviate from the conventional energy path is to educate the future decision makers, the future general officers of the Army, of the growing energy crisis and of the available and developing alternative energy options.
This paper discusses the evolving education of engineering students at the United States Military Academy to include a greater awareness of renewable and alternative energy. Similar to several civilian engineering programs, West Point offers a course on Energy Conversion Systems which covers conventional topics of fossil fuel utilization, combustion, advanced power and refrigeration cycles, direct energy conversion, chemical equilibrium, and so on. However, the course has evolved to reflect current energy issues, by including lessons on national and global energy usage, climate change, nuclear power, hydrogen, and renewable and alternative energy. In addition to this course, there are senior capstone projects and cadet independent studies that are connected to alternative energy research and development. The goals are to provide a broad overview to the cadets, such that the cadets are excited to continue the pursuit of energy alternatives as graduates and future leaders.
Energy Use in the United States
The United States consumes 100 Quad (1 Quad = 1015 Btu) of energy annually, accounting for roughly one quarter of the world’s total consumption. Figure 1 shows that 85% is derived from fossil fuels. There is ongoing debate over how long fossil fuel reserves will last, a few decades to a few centuries, depending on the fuel. But this debate is trivial, because they are all finite resources that will eventually be exhausted. The only debate is how quickly society must react to the inevitable end of unsustainable consumption.
The public is reluctant to plan for decades or centuries ahead, because personal financial and security concerns are more immediate. For successful development of energy alternatives, there needs to be a good motivator, as the energy crisis of the 1970s proved to be until oil prices again dropped. However this time around, the $100 per barrel oil price is not likely to fall because the rules of supply and demand now dominate over the rules of OPEC and other oil producing nations. The demand will not subside and is exceeding oil production, especially as China and India race to achieve the same quality of life that is enjoyed in the U.S. Quality of life is directly related to per capita energy consumption as shown in Figure 2. If the world’s population is expected to plateau at 10 billion inhabitants by the year 2050, an annual energy consumption of
Tamm, G., & Arnas, O., & Boettner, D., & Norberg, S. (2008, June), Renewable Energy Education Of Future Army Leaders At The United States Military Academy Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. https://peer.asee.org/4224
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