Nancy E Carpenter

CRC Press

2014 | 416pp | £49.99

ISBN 9781466575325

In 2012, I started an energy storage module for master’s degree engineering students, and found several books claiming to cover the same topic. Unfortunately, I did not use very much of these books in my lectures for one simple reason: they contained very little on chemistry and materials, which is unsatisfactory for appropriate explanations of energy conversion and storage. 

I am therefore happy to find that this book by Nancy Carpenter places the emphasis firmly on the chemistry and materials involved in energy technologies. For example, wind turbines are quickly appearing in the UK, but did you know their very long blades (which can each be 100m or more) are made from plastic materials? Carpenter describes not only the structural and electrical features of wind turbines, but also the mechanical properties, molecular structures and chemical syntheses of polymer matrix composites as a key construction material. 

I am also pleased to see both fossil fuels and nuclear energy are well explained in terms of thermodynamics (which also gets its own chapter), nuclear reactions and environmental impacts. Other topics covered in the book include hydrogen production and catalysis, fuel cells and batteries, solar cells and materials, and biomass and carbon neutrality. At the end of each chapter, short lists of selected books and online resources are given for more detailed information, together with a longer list of research articles for specialist references. The book is also well indexed and provides six appendices of common units and conversions, equations, constants and abbreviations and acronyms. 

Overall, the book is concise and easy to follow for readers with an understanding of A-level chemistry or above. It will be a valuable and handy reference to various stakeholders of energy technologies, including policy makers, company managers, postgraduate students, school teachers and even some energy specialists. 

In future editions, I hope the book will include other energy topics, such as heat storage, heat to electricity conversion and supercapacitors.

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