Progress in material technology: Opportunities to improve efficiency in energy production

Pertti Auerkari, Ulla Ehrnstén, Rauno Rintamaa, Satu Tuurna

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference articleScientific


    Conservative views are common on major change in the capital-intensive facilities of energy production. Yet a drastic change is needed to limit the greenhouse emissions and climate change, hopefully without overly stretching the economy. The required transformation in technology is straining resources that are better conserved if the future demand can be satisfied with improved efficiency. The mix of production is also shifting, but for any given process, the limits of efficiency tend to be set by the materials performance. Improvements in materials are largely evolutionary in character, and new material variants are often taken to service only slowly, partly because of required validation and acceptance. In contrast, bad news on will travel fast, if for example premature failures occur in a new plant. Slow improvements and sudden setbacks may hence both support conservative attitudes to development. An issue of contradictions is also seen in the development or rejection of nuclear power, with the deteriorated post-Fukushima public perception. This is not helpful in combating greenhouse emissions, since the alternatives like efficiency improvement, CCS for fossil plant, added hydro and wind capacity, and other renewable sources suffer from limited impact, high cost, challenges in balancing supply and demand, and geographically varying availability. For individual production processes the challenges will only accentuate the needs for further development. The options are discussed here from the point of view of a small northern country (Finland) with seasonally and geographically characteristic features in the sources, transmission and demand of power. All large scale energy issues are not solely materials related, but the applied mix of power sources will have significant material implications. Advances in materials are particularly expected to alleviate the efficiency bottlenecks in the future production processes
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages5.1 - 5.17
    Publication statusPublished - 2011
    MoE publication typeNot Eligible
    Event37th MPA-Seminar - Stuttgart, Germany
    Duration: 6 Oct 20117 Oct 2011


    Conference37th MPA-Seminar


    • Energy
    • emission
    • material technology


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