Sergey Alekseenko: effective technology is the key to saving humanity
Efficient, environmentally friendly and economically justified energy generation technologies are the answer to the question of limited fossil resources. Sergey Alekseenko, the 2018 Global Energy Prize laureate, head of the Laboratory of Heat and Mass Transfer Problems, Institute of Thermophysics SB RAS, made this conclusion today in his speech at the Summit 'Big Challenges for Society, State and Science, which was held at the Sirius Scientific and Technological University (Sochi). During his lecture ‘Energy of the Future’, the expert assessed the energy resources required to satisfy the need of modern humanity, and the technological potential that the renewable energy sector provides. The scientist’s performance took place within the framework of the ‘Energy of Knowledge’ program, organized by the Global Energy Association on development of international research and projects in the field of energy.
The issue of limited mineral resources with each coming decade is becoming more dangerous threat to electricity consumers. According to Sergey Alekseenko, one of the solutions to the problem is the creation and implementation of new types of fuel processing, primarily its gasification. The process of converting the organic part of liquid or solid fuel to combustible gases has been known for a long time, but it is not widely used due to the high cost of production. The barrier to the widespread use of this technology is the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which is released during the burning of fossil energy carriers. In his lecture, the expert noted that solutions for the processing of fossil fuels without CO2 emissions are existing already. The scientist proposes to introduce in production new development of Rodney John Allam, the 2012 Global Energy Prize laureate, the IPCC member awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The essence of the innovation is that natural gas is burned in an atmosphere of pure oxygen, and not in the air. The output of the proсess is water and carbon dioxide. By condensation, water can be separated, leaving only CO2. After this process, CO2 can be buried or used for other purposes, for example, in the chemical industry, avoiding its release into the atmosphere.
Despite the possibility of using environmentally friendly methods of processing fossil fuels, Sergei Alekseenko is still convinced that the future of energy depends on the development of renewable energy sources. He distinguishes geothermal energy, as the most promising one, precisely, its component in the form of petrothermal energy, that is, the heat of dry rocks of the Earth at depths of 3 to 10 km (technically extracted heat) with a temperature of up to 350 ° C. “It is the most environmentally friendly source of energy of all other species. According to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the heat of the deep resources of the United States can be used during 50 thousand years. Given that the average life of civilizations is only a few thousand years, it can be stated that the amount of petrothermal energy is enough to permanently provide humanity with energy,” the expert said.
Another global environmental problem, according to the scientist, is the rapid growth of produced waste, primarily municipal waste. Since they have a combustible organic component, Sergey Alekseenko pointed out their potential for use in the renewable energy generation sector. In particular, he noted that the technology of energy production from waste (Waste-to-Energy) is gaining increasing interest in the world.
Summing up the lecture, Sergey Alekseenko emphasized: “No revolutions are expected to happen in energy technologies for the next few decades. Basically, the solution is in using the effective, environmentally friendly and economically viable application of already known technologies with some refinement. But we are trully witnessing a real revolution - the informational one. The consequences of this revolution are unpredictable, because it not only changes technological processes fundamentally, it changes a human himself both as an individual and as part of nature. And these issues require separate consideration, including the development of special legal relations”.