Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Sign in

The Second Law and Energy Panel

10/05/2007 1:50 PM Broad Institute
; Seth Lloyd, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Systems, Engineering Systems Division, MIT; Debjyoti Banerjee, Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Texas A&M University; Ernest S. Geskin, Professor of Mechanical Engineering
; Director of the Waterjet Technology Laboratory, New Jersey Institute of Technology ; Ahmed Ghoniem, Ronald C. Crane (1972) Professor,; Mechanical Engineering, MIT; ; James Keck, Professor Emeritus, Department of Mechanical Engineering, MIT ; Noam Lior, Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, University of Pennsylvania ; Richard Peterson, Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering;
; Director of the Advanced Tactical Energy Systems Program, Oregon State University; Thomas Widmer, Former Vice President, Thermo Electron, Inc.; Erik Ydstie, Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University; Ron Zevenhoven, Professor of Engineering Thermodynamics and Modelling, Heat Engineering Laboratory, bo Akademi University; Zhuomin Zhang, PhD '92, Professor, G.W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, ; Georgia Institute of Technology

Description: In this valedictory panel to the two"day symposium, 10 speakers offer brief takes on how the Second Law of Thermodynamics might prove useful in seeking answers to our current energy challenge.

Even before the oil embargo of 1973, Thomas Widmer recalls, Joe Keenan and his MIT colleagues wrote of an "entropy crisis." They analyzed the flow of work in industries and saw great inefficiencies that became crippling when fuel prices spiked. Despite 30 years of improvement, says Widmer, "the effectiveness of energy use is still less than 12%." In selling ideas to policy makers, he advises, talk about "energy productivity" rather than conservation.

Ernest S. Geskin doesn't believe alternative energies will be viable quickly enough to make a serious difference in climate change, so his objective is to improve combustion. He outlines several methods he's developing that increase the availability of generated heat, reduce heat losses, and integrate combustion with materials production and processing, such as in steelmaking.

James Keck says that "improving the efficiency and reducing emissions of auto engines and power plant burners requires an ability to model hydrocarbon combustion." He recommends using a method "firmly based on the Second Law of Thermodynamics: the rate controlled constrained equilibrium method," which, among other advantages, generates fewer equations, and is applicable to any separable system.

Seeking ways to make reactions more efficient and "less exergy destructive," Noam Lior recommends a detailed, top"down methodology. His lab has been examining oil droplet and coal combustion in an attempt to understand why exergy losses take place, and to determine "which process will give us the highest exergy efficiency."

Debjyoti Banerjee's research focuses on enhanced cooling and explosives sensing. His lab explores phase changes for boiling and condensation, and develops new models in molecular dynamics, harnessing the energy of nanosphere transport processes. A "nanobubble" serves as a heat engine, and Banerjee is examining how "nanofins help in transferring heat."

Richard Peterson is taking a look "at how small you might be able to make the classic thermodynamic heat engine, so you could integrate it into portable equipment or other devices requiring power, and burn fuel with much higher energy density than found in a battery." He notes that "your efficiency takes a nosedive as you shrink the engine."

Erik Ydstie is concerned with dynamic systems like power plants, and how they can be improved, by manipulating their inputs and outputs. By designing better controls to regulate these complex systems, there's a "lot of scope to improve the efficiencies of these plants. You could get quite a bit of mileage by running them better."

Ron Zevenhoven "presents the embryo of an idea: Can the infrared radiation that causes the enhanced greenhouse effect be put to better use?" He wants to see whether science can modify the infrared radiation that leaves the earth, in order to cut back on radiative forcing higher up.

Zhuomin Zhang discusses radiation entropy and how near"field thermophotovoltaic devices "may be another way of effectively using energy." He wonders how to apply the entropy concept to near"field radiation when interference is a problem.

Ahmed Ghoniem says that while we won't run out of cheap fossil fuels for some time, "we need to think about an insurance policy" in response to the predictions of a four to six degree rise in Earth's temperature by the end of the century. "The dirty little secret is once you burn the fuel you automatically generate entropy -- you lose about 20% right off the bat." Ghoniem asks whether "combustion and heat engines can be reinvented to reduce entropy generation, practically and at scale."

About the Speaker(s): Seth Lloyd received a Ph.D. in Physics from Rockefeller University, under the supervision of Heinz Pagels.

He was a postdoctoral fellow in the High Energy Physics Department at the California Institute of Technology, where he worked with Murray Gell"Mann on applications of information to quantum"mechanical systems. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he worked at the Center for Nonlinear Systems on quantum computation. Since 1988, Lloyd has also been an adjunct faculty member at the Santa Fe Institute.
br> Lloyd is a principal investigator at the Research Laboratory of Electronics. He has performed seminal work in the fields of quantum computation and quantum communications, including proposing the first technologically feasible design for a quantum computer, demonstrating the viability of quantum analog computation, proving quantum analogs of Shannon's noisy channel theorem, and designing novel methods for quantum error correction and noise reduction.

Lloyd is a member of the American Physical Society and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Host(s): School of Engineering, Department of Mechanical Engineering

Comments (0)

It looks like no one has posted a comment yet. You can be the first!

You need to log in, in order to post comments.

MIT World — special events and lectures

MIT World — special events and lectures

Category: Events | Updated over 2 years ago

December 14, 2011 14:18
All Rights Reserved (What is this?)
Additional Files

8235 times

More from MIT World — special events and lectures

Opening Remarks and Keynote: Grand Challenges and Engineering Systems: Inspiring and Educating the Next Generation

Opening Remarks and Keynote: Grand ...

Added 6 years ago | 01:16:00 | 14748 views

The Impact of Combustion Emissions on the Atmosphere: New Tools and Techniques

The Impact of Combustion Emissions ...

Added 6 years ago | 01:12:00 | 4116 views

An Electrical Engineering View of a Mechanical Watch

An Electrical Engineering View of a...

Added 6 years ago | 00:53:01 | 5566 views

Leadership in an Age of Uncertainty

Leadership in an Age of Uncertainty

Added 6 years ago | 01:08:00 | 6681 views

Transportation in Contemporary Society: A Complex Systems Approach

Transportation in Contemporary Soci...

Added 6 years ago | 01:05:00 | 11753 views

Science and Technology for a Clean Energy Future

Science and Technology for a Clean ...

Added 6 years ago | 01:29:00 | 10221 views