Research Papers: Energy Conversion/Systems

Anthropogenic Heat Release Into the Environment

[+] Author and Article Information
Brian Paul

Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering,
University of Miami,
Coral Gables, FL 33124

Contributed by the Advanced Energy Systems Division of ASME for publication in the Journal of Energy Resources Technology. Manuscript received May 14, 2012; final manuscript received August 10, 2012; published online October 1, 2012. Editor: Hameed Metghalchi.

J. Energy Resour. Technol 134(4), 041602 (Oct 01, 2012) (5 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4007360 History: Received May 14, 2012; Revised August 10, 2012

This work is intended to systematically study an inventory of the anthropogenic heat produced. This research strives to present a better estimate of the energy generated by humans and human activities, and compare this estimate to the significant energy quantity with respect to climate change. Because the top of atmosphere (TOA) net energy flux was found to be 0.85 ± 0.15 W/m2 the planet is out of energy balance, as studied by the group from NASA in 2005. The Earth is estimated to gain 431 terawatts (TW) from this energy imbalance. This number is the significant heat quantity to consider when studying global climate change, and not the 78,300 TW, the absorbed part of the primary solar radiation reaching the Earth's surface, as commonly cited and used at present in the literature. Based on energy supplied to the boilers (in the Rankine cycle) of at least 13 TW, body energy dissipated by 7 × 109 people and their domestic animals, the value of the total world anthropogenic heat production rate is 15.26 TW or 3.5% of the energy gain by the Earth. Based on world energy consumption and the energy dissipated by 7 × 109 people and their domestic animals, the value of the total world anthropogenic heat production rate is 19.7 TW or about 5% of the energy gain by the Earth. These numbers are significantly different from 13 TW. More importantly, the figures are 3.5–5% of the net energy gained by the Earth, and hence significant. The quantity is not 0.017% of the absorbed part of the main solar radiation reaching the Earth's surface and negligible.

Copyright © 2012 by ASME
Your Session has timed out. Please sign back in to continue.


Szargut, J., 2003, “Anthropogenic and Natural Exergy Losses,” Energy, 28(11), pp. 1047–1054. [CrossRef]
Wall, G., and Gong, M., 2001, “On Exergy and Sustainable Development—Part 1: Conditions and Concepts,” Int. J. Exergy, 1(3), pp. 128–145. [CrossRef]
Smil, V., 1999, Energies, 2nd ed., MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.
Lewis, N. S., 2007, “Powering the Planet,” Eng. Sci., 70(2), pp. 12–23, retrieved July 12, 2012, http://www.ccser.caltech.edu/outreach/powering.pdf
Hansen, J., Nazarenko, L., Ruedy, R., Sato, M., Willis, J., Del Genio, A., Koch, D., Lacis, A., Lo, K., Menon, S., Novakov, T., Perlwitz, J., Russell, G., Schmidt, G. A., and Tausnev, N., 2005, “Earth's Energy Imbalance: Confirmation and Implications,” Science, 308, pp. 1431–1435. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Wong, K. V., 2010, “The Second Law of Thermodynamics and Heat Release to the Global Environment by Human Activities,” Proceedings of IMECE, Vancouver, BC, Canada, Nov. 12–18, pp. 469–472, ASME Paper No. IMECE2010-38201. [CrossRef]
Valero, A., Serra, L., and Uche, J., 2006, “Fundamentals of Exergy Cost Accounting and Thermoeconomics—Part I: Theory,” ASME J. Energy Resour. Technol., 128(1), 1, pp. 1–8. [CrossRef]
Valero, A., Serra, L., and Uche, J., 2006, “Fundamentals of Exergy Cost Accounting and Thermoeconomics—Part II: Applications,” ASME J. Energy Resour. Technol., 128(1), pp. 9–15. [CrossRef]
Rosen, M. A., Dincer, I., and Kanoglu, M., 2008, “Role of Exergy in Increasing Efficiency and Sustainability and Reducing Environmental Impact,” Energy Policy, 36, pp. 128–137. [CrossRef]
United States Energy Information Administration, 2010, “Total Oil Supply (Thousand Barrels Per Day),” retrieved March 3, 2012, http://www.eia.gov/cfapps/ipdbproject/IEDIndex3.cfm?tid=5&pid=53&aid=1
United States Energy Information Administration, 2011, “Dry Natural Gas Production (Billion Cubic Feet),” retrieved March 3, 2012, http://www.eia.gov/cfapps/ipdbproject/IEDIndex3.cfm?tid=3&pid=26&aid=1
United States Energy Information Administration, 2010, “Total Coal Consumption (Thousand Short Tons),” retrieved March 3, 2012, http://www.eia.gov/cfapps/ipdbproject/IEDIndex3.cfm?tid=1&pid=1&aid=2
United States Energy Information Administration, 2010, “Total Biofuels Production (Thousand Barrels Per Day),” retrieved March 3, 2012, http://www.eia.gov/cfapps/ipdbproject/IEDIndex3.cfm?tid=79&pid=79&aid=1
MAP Royalty, Inc., 2008, “Energy Conversion,” retrieved March 3, 2012, http://www.maproyalty.com/conversions.html
United States Energy Information Administration, 2011, “World Total Energy Consumption by Region and Fuel, Reference Case (Quadrillion Btu),” retrieved March 3, 2012, http://www.eia.gov/oiaf/aeo/tablebrowser/#release=IEO2011&subject=0-
United States Energy Information Administration, 2010, “Total Electricity Net Generation (Billion Kilowatthours),” retrieved March 3, 2012, http://www.eia.gov/cfapps/ipdbproject/IEDIndex3.cfm?tid=2&pid=2&aid=12
United States Energy Information Administration, 2011, “International Energy Outlook,” retrieved July 11, 2012, http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/ieo/electricity.cfm
Bellman, D. K, Blankenship, B. D., Imhoff, C. H., DiPietro, J. P., Rederstorff, B., and Zheng, X., 2007, “Electric Generation Efficiency,” The National Petroleum Council, Washington, D.C., retrieved July 11, 2012, http://www.npc.org/study_topic_papers/4-dtg-electricefficiency.pdf
European Nuclear Society, “Nuclear Power Plants, World-Wide,” retrieved July 12, 2012, http://www.euronuclear.org/info/encyclopedia/n/nuclear-power-plant-world-wide.htm
International Atomic Energy Agency, “Power Reactor Information System,” retrieved July 12, 2012, http://www.iaea.org/PRIS/CountryStatistics/CountryStatisticsLandingPage.aspx
World Nuclear Association, “Nuclear Power Reactors,” retrieved July 12, 2012, http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf32.html
SETatWork Consortium Members, 2009, “Waste Heat From Industry,” retrieved March 13, 2012, http://www.setatwork.eu/downloads/SGP20_Preem_waste_heat_SE.pdf
BP, 2011, “Refinery Capacities,” retrieved July 19, 2012, http://www.bp.com/sectiongenericarticle800.do?categoryId=9037174&contentId=7068617
United States Energy Information Administration, “Crude Oil Distillation: The First Step,” retrieved March 29, 2012, http://www.eia.gov/pub/oil_gas/petroleum/analysis_publications/oil_market_ basics/refining_text.htm
Gerlach, T., 2011, “Volcanic Versus Anthropogenic Carbon Dioxide,” EOS, 92(24), pp. 201–208. [CrossRef]
Student Resources for General Chemistry, “Standard Enthalpies of Formation,” retrieved May 4, 2012, http://chemed.chem.wisc.edu/chempaths/GenChem-Textbook/Standard-Enthalpies-of-Formation-551.html
Smith, S. J., Pitcher, H., and Wigley, T. M. L., 2000, “Global and Regional Anthropogenic Sulfur Dioxide Emissions,” Global Planet. Change, 29, pp. 99–199, retrieved March 10, 2012, http://media.cigionline.org/geoeng/2000% 20-%20Smith,%20Pitcher,%20Wigley%20-%20Global%20and%20regional%20 anthropogenic%20sulfur%20dioxide%20emissions.pdf
Center for Disease Control, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, “Intake of Calories and Selected Nutrients for the United States Population, 1999-2000,” http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhanes/databriefs/calories.pdf
United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, Population Estimates and Projections Section, “World Population Prospects, the 2010 Revision,” http://esa.un.org/wpp/Sorting-Tables/tab-sorting_population.htm
United States Census Bureau, Population Division, “United States and World Population Clocks,” http://www.census.gov/main/www/popclock.html
Dooge, J., and Brennan, M., 1992, An Agenda of Science for Environment and Development Into the 21st Century: Based on a Conference Held in Vienna, Austria in November 1991, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
Hulme, M., 2009, Why We Disagree About Climate Change: Understanding Controversy, Inaction, and Opportunity, Cambridge University Press, New York.


Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

The global energy consumption [4]

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 2

Energy conversion [14]

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 3

Oil refining process [24]

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 4

Caloric intake necessary to maintain the human body




Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging and repositioning the boxes below.

Related Journal Articles
Related eBook Content
Topic Collections

Sorry! You do not have access to this content. For assistance or to subscribe, please contact us:

  • TELEPHONE: 1-800-843-2763 (Toll-free in the USA)
  • EMAIL: asmedigitalcollection@asme.org
Sign In