ISA published Future Energy: Opportunities and Challenges by Thomas W. Kerlin, Ph.D. For 33 years, Kerlin served on the Nuclear Engineering faculty at the University of Tennessee, where he taught reactor dynamics and control courses. In this Q&A feature, Kerlin discusses his professional background as well as the focus, importance, and differentiating qualities of the book.
Note: ISA has included a brief biography at the bottom of this page.
Q: Tell us about your professional life.
A: I worked in the industry as well as at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory before joining the Nuclear Engineering faculty at the University of Tennessee. I taught reactor dynamics and control courses and spent 8 years as department head. While in academia, my research focused on three topics: reactor simulation, dynamic testing for model verification, and instrumentation. I authored or co-authored six books, including four published by ISA. I co-founded Analysis and Measurement Services to commercialize my invention of a method for performance verification of reactor safety system sensors. My graduate students and I performed numerous tests in operating nuclear power plants for model verification and sensor performance assessment.
Q: Why did you write Future Energy: Opportunities and Challenges?
A: After retiring, I decided to investigate available books on future energy. I concluded that there was a need for a book that addressed all future energy options in a single, easy-to-understand volume.
Q: Why did you choose ISA to publish your book?
A: In a discussion about an earlier book with my ISA editor, I mentioned that I was preparing a book on future energy, and she offered to publish the book. Given the positive publishing experiences with ISA for previous books, I accepted the opportunity.
Q: Who was the book written for?
A: The book was written for educators, students, energy engineers, environmental scientists and engineers, government policy personnel, and interested private citizens
Q: What is unique about your book?
A: The book covers everything related to future energy production and use in one easy-to-understand volume.
Q: Is your book pertinent as we see changing conditions in the energy enterprise?
A: When written, the book presented information about current energy conditions. These conditions are defining parameters that serve as the starting point on the path to sustainable future energy. While these conditions change continuously, the technical options remain the same and are covered thoroughly in the book.
Q: What are your hopes for the book?
A: I hope that the book will make a significant contribution to the development of a safe, sustainable, environment-friendly future energy solution.
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Meet the AuthorThomas W. Kerlin
Dr. Kerlin retired as head of the Nuclear Engineering Department at the University of Tennessee in 1998 after serving on the faculty for 33 years. His teaching and research interests included nuclear reactor modelling and simulation, dynamic testing for model validation, and instrumentation. He has published extensively on these topics, including six books and major chapters in several compilations of independently prepared chapters.
Dr. Kerlin was honored with numerous awards for teaching and research accomplishments. The most notable were the American Society for Engineering Education’s Glen Murphy Award, presented annually to a Nuclear Engineering professor for excellence in teaching and research, and induction into the University of Tennessee Nuclear Engineering Department Hall of Fame.
Dr. Kerlin’s research included numerous experiments and tests that were performed with graduate students in operating nuclear power plants. These experiences were rarely-granted opportunities for a university professor and for students.
In addition to his university service, Dr. Kerlin conceived and co-founded Analysis and Measurement Services Corp. to provide the nuclear industry with in-situ testing capability for safety-system sensor operational functionality to satisfy U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission requirements. Dr, Kerlin’s method has been used hundreds of times in nuclear power plants in the United States and around the world.
Upon retiring. Dr. Kerlin refocused his interest to investigate our total energy future. He studied the available literature and concluded that a new book that is rigorous and comprehensive, yet understandable was needed. Dr. Kerlin called upon his experience as a teacher and author to prepare such a book. His book begins with explanations of the science needed to understand the various energy production and use technologies. He then provides nine chapters that explain all potential future-energy production technologies, energy storage, and energy transport. He then presents seven chapters on energy demand, including discussions of the impact of population growth, energy use, and possible improvements in residential, commercial, industrial and transportation sectors; energy and climate change; and energy conservation and efficiency. The final two chapters address government policy and a summary of the main lessons in the book.
The book is organized to facilitate understanding by all reader categories (advanced students, beginning students, energy professionals and the interested citizen who has limited science or engineering background). Detailed presentations that are pertinent for advanced readers but likely confusing for less technical readers are placed in appendices. Each chapter begins with a list of the main points in the chapter. This enables the reader to know the main takeaways that he/she should learn. A glossary provides definitions of terms used in the text to serve as a reminder for readers who encounter terms that were forgotten or misunderstood.
Check out Dr. Kerlin’s other ISA book