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Nonrenewable Energy. Chapter 16. Core Case Study: How Long Will the Oil Party Last? . Saudi Arabia could supply the world with oil for about 10 years. The Alaska’s North Slope could meet the world oil demand for 6 months (U.S.: 3 years).

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Core case study how long will the oil party last
Core Case Study: How Long Will the Oil Party Last?

  • Saudi Arabia could supply the world with oil for about 10 years.

  • The Alaska’s North Slope could meet the world oil demand for 6 months (U.S.: 3 years).

  • Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would meet the world demand for 1-5 months (U.S.: 7-25 months).

Core case study how long will the oil party last1
Core Case Study: How Long Will the Oil Party Last?

  • We have three options:

    • Look for more oil.

    • Use or waste less oil.

    • Use something else.

Figure 16-1

Types of energy resources

  • About 99% of the energy we use for heat comes from the sun and the other 1% comes mostly from burning fossil fuels.

    • Solar energy indirectly supports wind power, hydropower, and biomass.

  • About 76% of the commercial energy we use comes from nonrenewable fossil fuels (oil, natural gas, and coal) with the remainder coming from renewable sources.

Types of energy resources1

  • Nonrenewable energy resources and geothermal energy in the earth’s crust.

Figure 16-2

Types of energy resources2

  • Commercial energy use by source for the world (left) and the U.S. (right).

Figure 16-3

Types of energy resources3

  • Net energy is the amount of high-quality usable energy available from a resource after subtracting the energy needed to make it available.

  • Remember the second law of thermodynamics!

  • Net energy ratio – useful energy produced/energy used to produce it

Net energy ratios
Net Energy Ratios

  • The higher the net energy ratio, the greater the net energy available. Ratios < 1 indicate a net energy loss.

Figure 16-4

Chapter 16

  • Crude oil (petroleum) is a thick liquid containing hydrocarbons that we extract from underground deposits and separate into products such as gasoline, heating oil and asphalt.

    • Only 35-50% can be economically recovered from a deposit.

    • As prices rise, about 10-25% more can be recovered from expensive secondary extraction techniques.

      • This lowers the net energy yield.

Chapter 16

  • Refining crude oil:

    • Based on boiling points, components are removed at various layers in a giant distillation column.

    • The most volatile components with the lowest boiling points are removed at the top.

Figure 16-5

Chapter 16

  • World’s largest business

  • Eleven OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) have 78% of the world’s proven oil reserves and most of the world’s unproven reserves.

  • An oil reserve is an identified deposit from which crude oil can be extracted profitably at current prices and current technology.

2007 world proved reserves
2007 World Proved Reserves

After global production peaks and begins a slow decline, oil prices will rise and could threaten the economies of countries that have not shifted to new energy alternatives.

Top three oil consuming nations

U.S. (60%)

China (33%)

Japan (100%)

Source: U.S Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration

Oil refining capabilities
Oil Refining Capabilities

Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries control most oil refining.

Supply and demand economics are therefore interrupted by a multi-stage process dictating the supply.

Historic oil prices
Historic Oil Prices

  • Source: Lindstrom, Kirk. Inflation adjusted oil prices fall on strong USD. Seeking Alpha. 19 Oct, 2008. Retrieved 26 Mar, 2009 from

As oil prices rise
As Oil Prices Rise…

Prices of food and products produced from petrochemicals will rise.

People will necessary move down the food chain.

Food production may become more localized.

More land will be used to produce renewable biomass crops.

Air travel and air freight may decline.


Case study u s oil supplies
Case Study: U.S. Oil Supplies

  • The U.S. – the world’s largest oil user – has only 2.9% of the world’s proven oil reserves.

  • U.S oil production peaked in 1974 (halfway production point).

  • About 60% of U.S oil imports go through refineries in hurricane-prone regions of the Gulf Coast.

Alaskan oil pipeline
Alaskan Oil Pipeline

Carries 2 million barrels a day of crude oil from the Prudhoe Bay oil field 789 miles south to Southern Alaska to be loaded onto tankers destined for refineries. Represents 25% of the U.S. crude oil reserves.

Chapter 16

  • Burning oil for transportation accounts for 43% of global CO2 emissions.

Figure 16-7

Co 2 emissions
CO2 Emissions

  • CO2 emissions per unit of energy produced for various energy resources.

Figure 16-8

Heavy oils
Heavy Oils

  • Heavy and tarlike oils from oil sand and oil shale could supplement conventional oil, but there are environmental problems.

    • High sulfur content.

    • Extracting and processing produces:

      • Toxic sludge

      • Uses and contaminates larges volumes of water

      • Requires large inputs of natural gas which reduces net energy yield.

      • Deforestation

Oil sands
Oil Sands

Bitumen can be extracted

Athabascan Oil Sands deposits equal in area to U.S. states of MD and VA.

Supply 1/5 of Canadian energy needs.

Production costs high ($13/barrel vs. $1-2 for conventional production.

1.8 mt of oil sand = 1 barrel of oil.

China invested heavily.

Oil shales
Oil Shales

  • Oil shales contain a solid combustible mixture of hydrocarbons called kerogen.

Figure 16-9

60 minutes video re shalieonaires
60 minutes video re: Shalieonaires


Natural gas

  • Natural gas consists mostly of methane and other gaseous hydrocarbons.

    • Conventional natural gas

      • found above reservoirs of crude oil.

      • When a natural gas-field is tapped, gasses are liquefied and removed as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

    • Unconventional natural gas

      • Coal bed methane gas

      • Methane hydrate

        • bubbles of methane trapped in ice crystals deep under the arctic permafrost and beneath deep-ocean sediments

Natural gas1

  • Some analysts see natural gas as the best fuel to help us make the transition to improved energy efficiency and greater use of renewable energy.

Figure 16-11

Chapter 16

  • Coal is a solid fossil fuel that is formed in several stages as the buried remains of land plants that lived 300-400 million years ago.

Figure 16-12

Chapter 16

  • Most abundant fossil fuel

  • Generates 62% of world’s electricity and is used to make 75% of its steel

  • Anthracite (98% carbon) is most desirable but least common.

  • Lower grades of coal have increasing traces of sulfur, toxic mercury, and radioactive materials that are released upon burning.

  • Extraction by subsurface mining, area strip mining, contour strip mining, and mountaintop removal are environmentally damaging.

Chapter 16

Waste heat

Cooling tower transfers waste heat to atmosphere

Coal bunker



Cooling loop


Pulverizing mill




Toxic ash disposal

Fig. 16-13, p. 369

Chapter 16

  • Coal reserves in the United States (27%), Russia (17%), and China (13%) could last hundreds to over a thousand years.

    • In 2005, China and the U.S. accounted for 53% of the global coal consumption.

Chapter 16

  • Coal is the most abundant fossil fuel, but compared to oil and natural gas it is not as versatile, has a high environmental impact, and releases much more CO2 into the troposphere.

Figure 16-14

Coal synfuels
COAL Synfuels

  • Coal can be converted into synthetic natural gas (SNG or syngas) and liquid fuels (such as methanol or synthetic gasoline) that burn cleaner than coal.

    • Requires mining 50% more coal

    • Costs are high.

    • Burning them adds more CO2 to the troposphere than burning coal.

Chapter 16

  • Since CO2 is not regulated as an air pollutant and costs are high, U.S. coal-burning plants are unlikely to invest in coal gasification.

Figure 16-15

Clean coal technology
Clean Coal Technology

Multiple technologies aimed at cleaning coal and containing its emissions

  • Coal washing

  • Wet scrubbers (flue gas desulfurization systems)

  • Low-NOx burners

  • Electrostatic precipitators

  • Oxy-fuel combustion

  • Pre-combustion capture

Clean coal technology1
Clean Coal Technology

  • Regardless of method, the CO2 must be sequestered – either in a commercially viable product or stored deep underground or in the oceans.

1. CO2 pumped into disused coal fields displaces methane which can be used as fuel2. CO2 can be pumped into and stored safely in saline aquifers3. CO2 pumped into oil fields helps maintain pressure, making extraction easier

Nuclear energy

  • When isotopes of uranium and plutonium undergo controlled nuclear fission, the resulting heat produces steam that spins turbines to generate electricity.

    • The uranium (V, VI) oxide (U3O8) consists of about 97% nonfissionable uranium-238 and 3% fissionable uranium-235.

    • The concentration of uranium-235 is increased through an enrichment process.

Chapter 16

Small amounts of radioactive gases

Uranium fuel input (reactor core)

Control rods

Containment shell

Heat exchanger




Electric power

Waste heat

Hot coolant

Useful energy 25%–30%

Hot water output






Waste heat

Cool water input


Coolant passage

Pressure vessel




Periodic removal and storage of radioactive wastes and spent fuel assemblies

Periodic removal and storage of radioactive liquid wastes

Water source (river, lake, ocean)

Fig. 16-16, p. 372

Nuclear energy1
Nuclear energy

There are currently 435 nuclear reactors in the world.

Why is nuclear power considered nonrenewable?

What are its advantages over coal, oil, and natural gas as an energy source?

What are its disadvantages?

Chapter 16

Decommissioning of reactor

Fuel assemblies


Enrichment of UF6

Fuel fabrication

(conversion of enriched UF6 to UO2 and fabrication of fuel assemblies)

Temporary storage of spent fuel assemblies underwater or in dry casks

Conversion of U3O8 to UF6

Uranium-235 as UF6Plutonium-239 as PuO2

Spent fuel reprocessing

Low-level radiation with long half-life

Geologic disposal of moderate & high-level radioactive wastes

Open fuel cycle today

“Closed” end fuel cycle

Fig. 16-18, p. 373

Nuclear fuel cycle
Nuclear Fuel Cycle

After three or four years in a reactor, spent fuel rods are removed and stored in a deep pool of water contained in a steel-lined concrete container.

After spent fuel rods are cooled considerably, they are sometimes moved to dry-storage containers made of steel or concrete.

Figure 16-17

Radioactive waste
Radioactive Waste

  • Wastes must be safely stored for 10,000 to 240,000 years.

  • Options:

    • Bury it deep underground.

    • Shoot it into space.

    • Bury it in the Antarctic ice sheet.

    • Bury it in the deep-ocean floor that is geologically stable.

    • Change it into harmless or less harmful isotopes.

Chapter 16
In 2009, Obama pulled funding for Yucca Mountain, the only existing U.S. facility designed for long term highly-radioactive waste storage.

Decommissioning existing U.S. facility designed for long term highly-radioactive waste storage.

  • When a nuclear reactor reaches the end of its useful life, its highly radioactive materials must be kept from reaching the environment for thousands of years.

  • At least 228 large commercial reactors worldwide (20 in the U.S.) are scheduled for retirement by 2012.

    • Many reactors are applying to extend their 40-year license to 60 years.

    • Aging reactors are subject to embrittlement and corrosion.

Nuclear energy2
NUCLEAR ENERGY existing U.S. facility designed for long term highly-radioactive waste storage.

  • In 1995, the World Bank said nuclear power is too costly and risky.

  • In 2006, it was found that several U.S. reactors were leaking radioactive tritium into groundwater.

Figure 16-19

Nuclear energy3
NUCLEAR ENERGY existing U.S. facility designed for long term highly-radioactive waste storage.

  • A 1,000 megawatt nuclear plant is refueled once a year, whereas a coal plant requires 80 rail cars a day.

Figure 16-20

What happened to nuclear power
What Happened to Nuclear Power? existing U.S. facility designed for long term highly-radioactive waste storage.

  • After more than 50 years of development and enormous government subsidies, nuclear power has not lived up to its promise because:

    • Multi billion-dollar construction costs.

    • Higher operation costs and more malfunctions than expected.

    • Poor management.

    • Public concerns about safety and stricter government safety regulations.

Case study the chernobyl nuclear power plant accident
Case Study: The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Accident existing U.S. facility designed for long term highly-radioactive waste storage.

  • The world’s worst nuclear power plant accident occurred in 1986 in Ukraine.

  • The disaster was caused by poor reactor design and human error.

    • Resulted in an 18-mile (30 km) Exclusion Zone

  • By 2005, 56 people had died from radiation related illnesses.

    • 4,000 more are expected from thyroid cancer and leukemia.

    • Over 600,000 clean up workers exposed to some elevated levels of radiation.

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

The chernobyl disaster
The Chernobyl Disaster existing U.S. facility designed for long term highly-radioactive waste storage.

Risks from terrorism
Risks from Terrorism existing U.S. facility designed for long term highly-radioactive waste storage.

  • Attack nuclear power plants

    • Especially poorly protected pools that store spent nuclear fuel rods.

  • Dirty bombs

    • Explosives wrapped around small amounts of radioactive materials

    • Radioactive material is easy to get

    • Cause minimal loss of life, but could contaminate areas for decades resulting in environmental damage and economic losses.

Are reactors the answer to oil independence
Are Reactors the Answer to Oil Independence? existing U.S. facility designed for long term highly-radioactive waste storage.

  • Yes.

    • Nuclear power can be developed domestically to generate electricity rather than using foreign oil.

    • Nuclear power is clean and does not contribute to global warming.

  • No.

    • Oil only generates 2-3% of U.S. electricity.

    • When the entire nuclear fuel cycle is considered, the cycle does contribute to CO2 emissions.

    • Wind turbines, solar cells, geothermal energy, and hydrogen contributes much less to CO2 emissions.

New and safer reactors
New and Safer Reactors existing U.S. facility designed for long term highly-radioactive waste storage.

  • Pebble bed modular reactor (PBMR) are smaller reactors that minimize the chances of runaway chain reactions.

    • no need for a core cooling system or airtight containment dome

    • fuel can be rearranged while operating

    • security concerns

    • generates more waste

    • more expensive

Figure 16-21

Chapter 16

Each pebble contains about 10,000 uranium dioxide particles the size of a pencil point.

Pebble detail

Silicon carbide

Pyrolytic carbon

Porous buffer

Uranium dioxide

Graphite shell





Hot water output


Cool water input


Reactor vessel

Water cooler

Fig. 16-21, p. 380

Nuclear fusion

  • Nuclear fusion is a nuclear change in which two isotopes are forced together.

    • No risk of meltdown or radioactive releases.

    • May also be used to breakdown toxic material.

    • Still in laboratory stages.


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