The production of fuels is one of the main pillars of today’s worldwide energy supply and will show significant growth in the future since mobility and logistics are the cornerstones of our era. Against a background of the unavoidable need for greenhouse gas reduction measures, the improvement of the production and use of fuels is one of the key challenges faced by our society in the future. Both fuel production as well as its use are comprehensively illustrated and analyzed in the Handbook of Fuels edited by Barbara Elvers. After a short introduction on gasoline and diesel engines, the books presents a detailed overview of the technologies of (i) oil refining, (ii) automotive fuels, (iii) hydrogen production and handling, (iv) fuel cells, (v) octane enhancers, (vi) automotive exhaust control and the production of off-highway fuels for (vii) aviation turbines and (viii) marine applications. Thereby these single topics, which in particular are of high importance for fuel production and the combustion system used, are analyzed by experts from respective branches of the industry. The various fuel aspects are comprehensively considered from different technical but also environmental and economic viewpoints. The scientific discussion aims to get to the bottom of today’s and future fuel production challenges and solutions. Besides the traditional technologies, such as oil refining for example, the Handbook of Fuels also focuses on questions of alternative fuels and for the most important of them, e.g. for natural gas or bioethanol, provides a valuable overview.
However, it should be mentioned that besides the content, the structure of the book has potential for improvement, especially with regard to non-fuel expert readers. Indeed, the main Chapters 3 (Automotive Fuels), 8 (Aviation Turbine Fuels) and 9 (Marine Fuels) are based on the well elaborated Chapter 2 (Oil Refining), but redundancies resulting from the chosen structure and the interjectional chapters make it difficult to find the “golden thread” of fuels, in particular for elementary readers. On the other hand, the presentation of knowledge within the single chapters is in most cases well structured and comprehensible; it is only within the chapter on alternative fuels that a balancing of headlines would be desirable to support the comparison of different fuels by the readers themselves. To top off such a comparison of fuels, respective conclusions and an outlook would be helpful as was well done for the most of the other chapters.
In summary, the Handbook of Fuels provides a well drawn compendium on the elementary basics of fuel technology as well as its environmental and economic aspects. It should be a part of libraries at universities, research institutes and industry as well act as a working tool and data reservoir for the reader.
E.ON Ruhrgas AG,
published in Clean 2008, 36 (7), 548.