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Energy Sources

Have you ever thought about how we get the energy to run the things we take for
granite every single day. There are many sources of energy that that are used
for transportation, heat, light, and the manufacturing of goods of all kinds.

The development of science and civilization is closely linked to the
availability of energy in useful forms. The seven main energy sources are fossil
fuels, hydroelectric, solar power, win power, geothermal, nuclear power, and
biomass energy. By harnessing the sun, wind, falling water, plant matter, and
heat from the earth, energy planners expect to decrease the environmental impact
on energy use. Most of the nonhydro renewable power comes through some form of
combustion, such as the burning of biomass, landfill gas, or municipal solid
waste. Little electricity comes from solar, wind, and geothermal sources.

Factors that are increasing interest in renewable energy include cost advantages
in niche markets, regulatory pressures, customer service requirements, fuel
flexibility, and security. One of the biggest source of energy is fossil fuels.

Fossil fuels have served as a reliable source of heat for cooking and warmth
since the beginning of history. The common fossil fuels are coal, peat, lignite,
petroleum, and natural gas. Coal gas, coke, water gas, and producer gas can be
made by using coal as the principal ingredient. These such artificial gases can
be used for fuel, illuminant, and a source material for the manufacturing of
synthetic ammonia. Gasoline, kerosene, and fuel oil are made from petroleum.

They are mainly used for transportation if the fuel is used in a liquid form.

Natural gas is a natural mixture of gaseous hydrocarbons found from the ground
or obtained from specially driven wells. The composition of natural gas varies
in different localities. It is used extensively as an illuminant and a fuel.

Some geologists theorize that natural gas is a by-product of decaying vegetable
matter in underground strata. Others think it may be primordial gases that rise
up from the mantle. Natural gas was known to the ancients but was considered by
them to be a supernatural phenomenon because it appeared as a mysterious fire
bursting from the ground. Gas is also a fossil fuel. It is a gaseous substance
that burns in the air and releases enough heat to be useful as a fuel. It is
advantageous if a fuel gas is readily transportable through pipes and is easily
liquefied. Oil gas is a type of gas made by applying heat to various petroleum
distillates. Its principal use is as a supplement to natural gas during periods
of heavy demand. Coal gas may be any of a variety of gases produced by heating
coal in the absence of air and driving off the volatile constituents. It is not
as high in fuel value as other gases and often contains tars, light oils,
ammonia, and hydrogen sulfide. These common fuels are used in industry,
transportation, and the home are burned in the air. Scientists research and
develop alternatives to gasoline every single day. One possible alternative is
methanol, which can be produced from wood, coal, or natural gas. Another
possibility is ethanol. Ethanol is an alcohol produced from grain and currently
used in some types of US gasoline. A example of this is gasohol. It is a
compressed natural gas, which is much less polluting than gasoline and is
currently used by a half-million vehicles around the world. Petroleum is a
fossil fuel thought to have been formed over millions of years from incompletely
decayed plant and animal remains buried under thick layers of rock. The
widespread burning of petroleum products as fuels has resulted in serious
problems of air pollution. Oil spilled from tankers and offshore wells has
damaged ocean and coastline environments. The environmentally disruptive effects
of oil wells have sometimes led to strong opposition to new drilling, as in
wilderness areas of Northern Alaska. Most of the energy consumed is ultimately
generated by the combustion of fossil fuels, such as coal, petroleum, and
natural gas. The world has only a finite supply of these fuels, which are in
danger of being used up. Also the combustion of these fuels releases various
pollutants, such as monoxide and sulfur dioxide, which pose health risks and may
contribute to acid rain and global warming. Environmentalists have become
increasingly alarmed in the latter half of the 20th century at the widespread
destruction imposed on sensitive wild lands during the exploration. Some
examples of these wild lands are the tropical rainforests, the arctic tundra,
and coastal marshes. Hydroelectric power is an important source of energy.

Hydroelectric power or water power is a mechanical energy derived from falling
or flowing water, such as rivers, streams, and the overflow of dams. Water
flowing from a higher level to a lower level (a dam or waterfall) is used to
activate a turbine that drives an electric generator. The amount of power
furnished is proportional to the rate of flow of water and the vertical distance
through which it falls. During high demands the facility produces electricity by
using the water that flows down the reservoir. A dam is a barrier to hold back
water. They are commonly across a watercourse and often forming a reservoir or
lake. Dams are made of timber, rock, earth, masonry, or concrete or of
combinations of these materials. Timber is used in dams because timbers are
impermanent and their height is limited. Rock dams consist of an embankment of
loose rock with either a core impervious to water or a watertight face on the
upstream side. Earth dams may be either simple embankments of earth or
embankments reinforced with a center of cement. Masonry and concrete dams are
either gravity dams or arch dams. Gravity dams are dependent upon their own
weight for resistance to the pressure of the water. Arched dams are curved
upstream and are usually constructed in narrow canyons or gorges where the rocky
side walls are strong enough to withstand the tremendous lateral thrust of the
dam that is caused by the pressure of the water. Most dams are constructed for
multiple purposes. To provide for irrigation, to aid flood control and help
improve the navigability of waterways, and especially to furnish power for
hydroelectric plants. Some dams built to provide hydroelectric power include the
Aswan dam and the Itaipu Dam. The Aswan High Dam is one of the world’s largest
dams. It is located on the Nile River in Egypt. The dam is 4 miles long, 375
feet high and 11,811 feet long. The dam has a hydroelectricity capacity of 10
billion kWh. The downfalls of hydroelectric is that is it is a very expensive
project to build these such dams. Most of the energy consumed from the dams can
only be used within 100 mile radius. The last downfall is that you have to have
a large body of water to have a dam, therefore many areas of the world don’t
have these bodies of water. Another source of energy is solar power. The earth
receives huge amounts of energy every day from the sun, but the problem has been
harnessing this energy so that it is available at the appropriate time and in
the appropriate form. Solar power or solar energy is only received during the
daylight hours, but more heat and electricity for lighting are needed at night.

Solar energy is expected to become a more viable and competitive source of
energy by the end of the 20th century. Several solar thermal power plants are
now in operation in California, but they are not yet able to compete with
conventional power plants on an economic basis. Some forms of solar energy are
light, radio waves, and X rays. Solar energy is needed by green plants for the
process of photosynthesis. It is the ultimate source of most foods. Natural
collection of solar energy occurs in the earth’s atmosphere, oceans, and plant
life. The photovoltaic cell is a semiconductor diode that converts light to
electric current. When light strikes the exposed active surface, it knocks
electrons loose from their sites in the crystal. Practical photovoltaic cells
are currently about 10 to 15% efficient. Solar cells have long been used to
provide electric power for spacecraft. One important solar energy application
concentrators is a solar furnace. They are ideal for research requiring high
temperature and contaminant-free environments. Solar cooling can be achieved
through the use of solar energy as a heat source in an absorption cooling cycle.

Solar power research is being pursued in connection with efforts to design
residential and commercial buildings that will use energy more efficiently. Some
other promising devices are solar collectors and solar mirrors. Solar energy is
a very expensive process that take years to develop the technology for it. This
energy can only be used in the daylight ( when the sun is out ), so during the
night you wouldn’t have energy then. Another important source of energy is wind
power. The most popular device is a mechanical device that harnesses wind power
in order to pump water, grind grain, power a sawmill, or drive an electrical
generator. This device is called a windmill. Windmills were probably not known
in Europe before the 12th century, but then they became the chief source of
power until the steam engine. The windmill is very useful on farms where farmers
need water to irrigate their crops on the farm. The windmill pulls water from
underground water wells so it can be used for irrigation. The windmill is also
made for decoration and sold for large amounts of money. It is very expensive to
make and you have to have a large land space to put a windmill on. Also, the
windmill makes so much noise that it can’t be put near any houses. A wind
turbine is used to generate electricity. They are even designed to on in light
winds. The wind turbine is a huge invention to make work easier, throughout the
whole course of time. The next important energy source is a type of energy
called geothermal energy. Geothermal energy is based on the fact that the earth
is hotter, when drilled deeper below the earth’s surface. Some scientists have
suggested using the earth’s internal heat as a source of energy. Such energy
derives from steam trapped deep in the earth. Brought to surface, it will drive
a turbine to produce electricity. Geothermal energy is released naturally in
geysers and volcanoes. In California, 7% of the state’s electricity is generated
by the geothermal plant complex known as the Geysers, which have been in
production since 1960. The energy we get from the ground is then transferred
into energy through a long and expensive process. We can drill into the earth’s
surface and get the energy from many places throughout the world. It is much
easier to get this energy than getting it from a windmill. Geothermal energy is
used in electric power generation and direct heat applications such as space
heating and industrial drying processes. It was developed for electrical power
in 1904 in Tuscany, Italy, where power production continues today buildings in
the vicinity. A hot spring is a form of geothermal energy that is a natural
discharge of groundwater that has a elevated temperature. Most hot springs
result from the emergence of groundwater that has passed through or near
recently formed hot igneous rocks. Iceland, Yellowstone Park, and North Island
of New Zealand are known for their hot springs. A geyser is a hot spring which
water and steam are ejected periodically to heights ranging from a few to
several hundred feet. Geothermal generating plants use geysers to produce
electricity. Nuclear power is another important energy source. Nuclear power or
nuclear energy is the energy stored in the nucleus of an atom and released
through fission, fusion, or radioactivity. The release of nuclear energy is
associated with changes from less stable to more stable nuclei and produces far
more energy for a given mass of fuel than any other source of energy. The
development of nuclear energy made available another source of energy. The heat
of a nuclear reactor can be used to produce steam. Then it can be directed
through a turbine to drive an electric generator. The reactor is so constructed
that the fission of atomic nuclei produces a self-sustaining nuclear chain
reaction, in which the produced neutrons are able to split other nuclei. Nuclear
energy is measured in millions of electron volts. Any electric power generating
plant is one part of a total energy cycle. The uranium fuel cycle that is
employed for LWR systems currently dominates worldwide nuclear power production.

This cycle has many steps and takes a lot of time and money. If any nuclear
items spill or contaminate anything a special team is brought in with special
suits to clean it up. Nuclear energy is said to be here on earth for a very long
time. The last energy source is biomass energy. Biomass energy is the fuel
energy that can be derived directly or indirectly from biological sources.

Biomass energy from wood, crop residues, and dung remains the primary source of
energy in developing regions. In a few instances it is also a major source of
power, as in Brazil, where sugarcane is converted to ethanol fuel. In China’s
Sichuan province fuel gas is obtained from dung. Various research projects aim
at further development of biomass energy, but economic competition with
petroleum has mainly kept such efforts at an early development stage. Corncobs
are an important source of furfural, a liquid used in manufacturing nylon fibers
and phenol-formaldehyde, refining wood resin, making lubricating oils from
petroleum, and purifying butadiene in the production of synthetic rubber. Ground
corncobs are used as a soft-grit abrasive. Large, whole cobs from a special type
of corn,”cob pipe”corn are used for pipes for smoking tobacco. Corn
oil is extracted from the germ of the corn kernel and is used as a cooking and
salad oil and in solid form as margarine. It is also used in the manufacture of
paints, soaps, and linoleum. The search for alternate sources of energy has made
corn an important fuel source. It is also processed to produce alcohol for use
with gasoline as gasohol and the dry stalk is a fuel biomass. The cons for
biomass energy is that the items used in this cycle is so scarce that it is very
hard to find. One time in the future all of the items will be unavailable and
cannot be used. The demand for energy has increased steadily, not only because
of the growing population but also because of the greater number of
technological goods available and the increased affluence that has brought these
goods within the reach of a larger proportion of the population. Despite the
introduction of more fuel-efficent automobiles, the consumption of gasoline by
vehicles in America increased by 18% between 1973 and 1989. The rise in gasoline
consumption is attributed to an increase in the number of miles the average
person travels and to a 42% increase from 1973 to 1989 in the number of cars on
the road. By harnessing the sun, wind, falling water, plant matter, and heat
from the earth, energy planners expect to decrease the environmental impact of
energy use. In this vision for the future, renewable energy sources would
complement fossil fuels and, eventually, emerge as a significant energy source.

Despite various legislative incentives over two decades toward this goal in the
US, however only a small fraction of electricity needs are supplied by renewable
energy technologies other than hydropower. Most of the nonhydro renewable power
comes through some form of combustion, such as the burning of biomass, landfill
gas, or municipal solid waste. Relatively little electricity comes from solar,
wind, and geothermal sources. The limitations on renewable energy’s progress to
date result from its relatively high cost and the economics of the utility
industry. It is faced with an increasingly competitive environment and is
generally awash in surplus power. Although renewable energy technologies have
overcome a number of formidable technical hurdles to bring costs down and
increase reliability, further progress has been prevented by the lower cost of
natural gas and the efficiency of gas-fired generating plants. As costs continue
to decline, the renewable energy market can be expected to grow, particularly if
possible global warming trends continue to be linked with greenhouse gases such
as those emitted by fossil fuels. Other factors are that increase interest in
renewable energy include cost advantages in niche markets, regulatory pressures,
customer service requirements, fuel flexibility, and security.


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