This book examines the fundamentals of some nontraditional energy processes. Little effort is made to describe the "state of the art" of the technologies involved because, owing to the rapidity with which these technologies change, such description would soon become obsolete. Nevertheless, the underlying principles are immutable and are essential for the comprehension of future developments. An attempt is made to present clear physical explanations of the pertinent principles.
The text will not prepare the student for detailed design of any specific device or system. However, it is hoped that it will provide the basic information to permit the understanding of more specialized writings.
The topics were not selected by their practicability or by their future promise. Some topics are discussed solely because they represent good exercises in the application of physical principles, notwithstanding the obvious difficulties in their implementation.
Whenever necessary, rigor is sacrificed in favor of clarity. Although it is assumed that the reader has an adequate background in physics, chemistry, and mathematics (typical of a senior science or an engineering student), derivations tend to start from first principles to permit the identification of basic mechanisms.
Energy problems are only partially technical problems—to a large extent economics and politics dominate the picture. In a limited fashion, these considerations are included in the discussions presented here.
The organization of the book is arbitrary and certainly not all-encompassing. Processes that can be considered "traditional" are generally ignored. On the other hand, the list of "nontraditional" processes considered is necessarily limited.
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The solar Stirling engine is progressively becoming a viable alternative to solar panels for its higher efficiency. Stirling engines might be the best way to harvest the power provided by the sun. This is an easy-to-understand explanation of how Stirling engines work, the different types, and why they are more efficient than steam engines.