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Thanks so much for the lesson.
Non renewable energy is the one driving world economies today but that has to change. We cant keep on relying on coal and oil. Coal pollute our climates and oil prices fluctuates.
What is fossil fuel energy?
Why we aren’t taking more advantage of the renewable resources our planet offers?
Sufficient, reliable sources of energy are a necessity for industrialized nations. Energy is used for heating, cooking, transportation and manufacturing. Energy can be generally classified as non-renewable and renewable. Over 85% of the energy used in the world is from non-renewable supplies.
Most developed nations are dependent on non-renewable energy sources such as fossil fuels (coal and oil) and nuclear power. These sources are called non-renewable because they cannot be renewed or regenerated quickly enough to keep pace with their use.
Industrialized societies depend on non-renewable energy sources. Fossil fuels are the most commonly used types of non-renewable energy. They were formed when incompletely decomposed plant and animal matter was buried in the earth\'s crust and converted into carbon-rich material that is useable as fuel. This process occurred over millions of years.
The three main types of fossil fuels are coal, oil, and natural gas.
Two other less-used sources of fossil fuels are oil shales and tar sands.
Coal is the most abundant fossil fuel in the world with an estimated reserve of one trillion metric tons. Most of the world\'s coal reserves exist in Eastern Europe and Asia, but the United States also has considerable reserves. Currently, the world is consuming coal at a rate of about 5 billion metric tons per year.
Coal formed slowly over millions of years from the buried remains of ancient swamp plants. During the formation of coal, carbonaceous matter was first compressed into a spongy material called \"peat\", which is about 90% water. As the peat became more deeply buried, the increased pressure and temperature turned it into coal.
Coal is used to produce over 50% of the electricity in the United States. In addition to electricity production, coal is sometimes used for heating and cooking in less developed countries and in rural areas of developed countries. If consumption continues at the same rate, the current reserves will last for more than 200 years.
The burning of coal results in significant atmospheric pollution. The sulfur contained in coal forms sulfur dioxide when burned. Harmful nitrogen oxides, heavy metals, and carbon dioxide are also released into the air during coal burning.
The harmful emissions can be reduced by installing scrubbers and electrostatic precipitators in the smokestacks of power plants.
The toxic ash remaining after coal burning is also an environmental concern and is usually disposed into landfills.
Crude oil or liquid petroleum, is a fossil fuel that is refined into many different energy products (e.g. gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel, heating oil). Besides its use as a source of energy, oil also provides base material for plastics, provides asphalt for roads and is a source of industrial chemicals.
Over 50% of the world\'s oil is found in the Middle East. Sizeable additional reserves occur in North America, Africa and South America. Most known oil reserves are already being exploited, and oil is being used at a rate that exceeds the rate of discovery of new sources. If the consumption rate continues to increase and no significant new sources are found, oil supplies may be exhausted in another 30 years or so.
Despite its limited supply, oil is a relatively inexpensive fuel source. It is a preferred fuel source over coal. An equivalent amount of oil produces more kilowatts of energy than coal. It also burns cleaner, producing about 50% less sulfur dioxide.
Oil, however, does cause environmental problems. The burning of oil releases atmospheric pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. These gases are smog-precursors that pollute the air and greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.
Another environmental issue associated with the use of oil is the impact of oil drilling. Substantial oil reserves lie under the ocean. Oil spill accidents involving drilling platforms kill marine organisms and birds.
Some reserves such as those in northern Alaska occur in wilderness areas. The building of roads, structures and pipelines to support oil recovery operations can severely impact the wildlife in those natural areas.
Natural gas production is often a by-product of oil recovery, as the two commonly share underground reservoirs.
Natural gas is a mixture of gases, the most common being methane (CH4). It also contains some ethane (C2H5), propane (C3H8), and butane (C4H10).
Natural gas is usually not contaminated with sulfur and is therefore the cleanest burning fossil fuel.
The use of natural gas is growing rapidly. Besides being a clean burning fuel source, natural gas is easy and inexpensive to transport once pipelines are in place. In developed countries, natural gas is used primarily for heating, cooking, and powering vehicles. It is also used in a process for making ammonia fertilizer.
The current estimate of natural gas reserves is about 100 million metric tons. At current usage levels, this supply will last an estimated 100 years. Most of the world\'s natural gas reserves are found in Russia and the Middle East.
After recovery, propane and butane are removed from the natural gas and made into liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). LPG is shipped in special pressurized tanks as a fuel source for areas not directly served by natural gas pipelines (e.g., rural communities).
The remaining natural gas is further refined to remove impurities and water vapor, and then transported in pressurized pipelines. The United States has over 300,000 miles of natural gas pipelines.
Natural gas is highly flammable and is odourless. The characteristic smell associated with natural gas is actually that of minute quantities of a smelly sulfur compound (ethyl mercaptan) which is added during refining to warn consumers of gas leaks.