Energy Science

How Much Oil Have We Used?

Science Daily May 8, 2009 Summary: Estimates of how much crude oil we have extracted from the planet vary wildly. Now, researchers have published a new estimate in the International Journal of Oil, Gas and Coal Technology that suggests we may have used more than we think. New calculations suggest that experts have grossly underestimated how much oil the world ... Read More »


By Andy May “Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future” (old Danish proverb, sometimes attributed to Niels Bohr) In November, 2016 the USGS (United States Geological Survey) reported their assessment of the recent discovery of 20 billion barrels of oil equivalent (technically recoverable) in the Midland Basin of West Texas. About the same time IHS researcher Peter Blomquist published ... Read More »

The Energy Trap

By Tom Murphy, Ph.D. USCD Department of Physics, Oct. 18, 2011 Many Do the Math posts have touched on the inevitable cessation of growth and on the challenge we will face in developing a replacement energy infrastructure once our fossil fuel inheritance is spent. The focus has been on long-term physical constraints, and not on the messy details of our ... Read More »

Fast Fission

wikipedia Fast fission is fission that occurs when a heavy atom absorbs a high-energy neutron, called a fast neutron, and splits. Most fissionable materials need thermal neutrons, which move slower. Fast reactors vs. thermal reactors Fast neutron reactors use fast fission to produce energy, unlike most nuclear reactors. In a conventional reactor, a moderator is needed to slow down the ... Read More »

Nuclear Fission Reactors

By Barrie Lawson, UK Nuclear Energy – The Practice Nuclear energy is the usable energy extracted from atomic nuclei via controlled nuclear reactions and nuclear power plants have been used for commercial electricity generation for over half a century. In 2005, 16% of the world’s electricity was generated by nuclear power (Source – Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI)) and as of ... Read More »

Nuclear Fission Theory

By Barrie Lawson, UK Nuclear Reactions In the chemical reactions associated with combustion, the atoms in the molecules of the active materials rearrange themselves into new, more stable, molecules in which they are more tightly bound and in the process, releasing surplus energy in the form of heat. In nuclear reactions it is the sub-atomic particles in the atomic nucleus, ... Read More »

On the Feasibility of Coal-Driven Power Stations

Adapted from Electropaedia by Otto Robert Frisch (1904-1979) Jacksonian Professor of Natural Philosophy – Cambridge University (In Commemoration of the 70th birthday of Niels Bohr, October 7th 1955) The following article is reprinted from the Yearbook of the Royal Institute for the Utilisation of Energy Resources for the Year MMMMCMLV, p1001 In view of the acute crisis caused by the ... Read More »

Energy Basics

By: Tom Tamarkin Founder Fusion4Freedom & President USCL Corp Where does energy on our planet come from? There are three primary sources of material amounts of energy on Earth. The word material means an amount of energy greater than 2 % of total worldwide energy demand combining all sectors of transportation, industrial, commercial residential, agricultural, potable water production and its ... Read More »

Solar FAQs

Reproduced from Edited/Compiled by: Jeff Tsao (U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Basic Energy Science) Nate Lewis (California Institute of Technology) George Crabtree (Argonne National Laboratory) Abstract We ask and answer a series of questions regarding the potential of the sun to supply energy to the world. The questions are drawn in large part from the U.S. Department of ... Read More »

Solar Power (Technology and Economics)

By Barrie Lawson, UK The earth receives more energy from the Sun in just one hour than the world’s population uses in a whole year. The total solar energy flux intercepted by the earth on any particular day is 4.2 X 1018 Watt-hours or 1.5 X 1022 Joules (or 6.26 X 1020 Joules per hour). This is equivalent to burning ... Read More »

Grid Scale Energy Storage Systems

By Barrie Lawson, UK The electricity grid was built in days when electricity could not be economically stored in large quantities and it had to be produced the instant it was needed and consumed just as quickly as it was produced. Energy Storage Versatility Energy storage is a vital tool for accomplishing the seemingly impossible task of matching the grid ... Read More »

Wind Power (Technology and Economics)

By Barrie Lawson, UK Adapted with the permission of the author from The wind is a source of free energy which has been used since ancient times in windmills for pumping water or grinding flour. The technology of high power, geared transmissions was developed centuries ago by windmill designers and the fantail wheel for keeping the main sales pointing ... Read More »

Thermodynamics of the Corn-Ethanol Biofuel Cycle

Tad W. Patzek Department Chair & Professor Cockrell Family Chair in Engineering #11, The Lois K. and Richard D. Folger Leadership Chair in Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering Email: Phone: (512) 232-8368 This Web Version is being periodically updated New: Appendix D on fuel cells, consistent use of fuel HHVs, corrected theoretical yield of ethanol from starch, equivalent CO2 emissions ... Read More »

Conversion Tables & Mathematical Constants

The following information is based in large part on the published work of Barrie Lawson at and have in some cases been modified to reflect the differences between imperial units and U.S./SI units. Conversion Table Energy 1 KiloWatthour (kWh)=3.6 MegaJoules (MJ) 1 KiloWatthour (kWh)=3412 British Thermal Units (BTU) 1 KiloWatthour (kWh)=859.2 kilocalories (kcal) 1 Joule (J)=1 Watt Second 1 ... Read More »

Lawson’s Energy Links

About Barrie Lawson: Barrie graduated from Birmingham University with a degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering in 1964. Since then he as has worked at Director level in many branches of the electronics industry including military electronics, telecommunications, computers, automotive and consumer electronics. During the last 10 years he has been involved in the battery business, originally as Chairman of ... Read More »

2050 Projected Alternative Energy Supply and Demand Study

April 9, 2010 Summary The purpose of this study is to provide a first-pass approximation of world energy needs in 2050, and the ability of alternative energy to meet those needs. We make this approximation according to a specified methodology: We calculate the primary energy consumption per capita of the United States for 2008, and then use that per-capita consumption ... Read More »

A Comparison of Energy Densities of Prevalent Energy Sources in Units of Joules Per Cubic Meter

Bradley E. Layton, Ph.D Assistant Professor, Energy Technology Program Director, Drexel University Abstract Typically, the energy densities of solids or liquids such as coal and oil are measured in dimensions of energy per unit volume or energy per unit mass, whereas solar, wind, and hydroelectric sources are rated in dimensions of power per unit area. This article provides a unifying ... Read More »

Is Sustainable Energy Even Possible at the Global level?

David J. Pristash January 2012 Revised February 2013 Republished with permission ABSTRACT The purpose of this paper is to place into useful perspective the development of sustainable energy at the global scale. Global scale energy requires the ability to generate power of 3,500 Quads or 3.7 X 1021 Joules, economically; as this is the amount of energy the world will ... Read More »

Sustainable Energy — without the hot air

Download the full free E-book here. A ten-page synopsis We have an addiction to fossil fuels, and it’s not sustainable. The developed world gets 80% of its energy from fossil fuels; Britain, 90%. And this is unsustainable for three reasons. First, easily-accessible fossil fuels will at some point run out, so we’ll eventually have to get our energy from someplace ... Read More »

2007 Estimated International Energy Flows

Clara Smith, Rich Belles and A.J. Simon Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Abstract An energy flow chart or “atlas” for 136 countries has been constructed from data maintained by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and estimates of energy use patterns for the year 2007. Approximately 490 exajoules (460 quadrillion BTU) of primary energy are used in aggregate by these countries each ... Read More »

Electricity Generating Costs per kWh for Different Fuels

Costs are 2003 values and include amortization of capital costs, operations and maintenance, and fuel costs. (CAD $1.00 = USD $0.92) Decommissioning is not included. In the case of intermittent sources such as solar and wind the costs of maintaining and using standby capacity must be added. Read More »