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Non-Renewable Energy Resources: How do dead things power our lives?. Life requires energy – it is stored, transferred, and converted Ultimate source of energy for life – the Sun For humans, our source of energy is food Fuel – any substance that can be used for energy

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non renewable energy resources how do dead things power our lives
Non-Renewable Energy Resources: How do dead things power our lives?
  • Life requires energy – it is stored, transferred, and converted
    • Ultimate source of energy for life – the Sun
    • For humans, our source of energy is food
  • Fuel – any substance that can be used for energy
    • Fuel is never 100% efficient – only 5-20% of what is received is actually used
    • During conversions, some energy is lost - some is converted into heat, light, or sound energy
  • Human need for energy has changed through time
    • Hunter-Gatherers – wood
    • Industrial Revolution – oil, coal
    • Contemporary – use many types of energy sources
evaluating energy resources
Evaluating Energy Resources
  • The types we use determine our quality of life and the amount of harmful environmental effects
  • Questions to ask ourselves:
    • How much of the energy source will be available in the future?
    • What is this source’s net energy yield?
    • How much will it cost to develop, phase in, and use this resource?
    • How much will extracting, transporting, and using the energy resource affect the environment?
    • What will using this energy source do to help sustain Earth?
net energy is
Net Energy is ..

the total useful energy available from the resource over its lifetime

minus

the amount of energy used, lost, and wasted in finding, processing, concentrating, and transporting it to uses.

It takes energy to get energy

non renewable vs renewable
Non-Renewable vs. Renewable
  • Non-renewable – resources that cannot regenerate quickly (takes thousands or millions of years)
  • Renewable – resources that regenerate quickly (within decades)
nuclear energy what is it
Nuclear Energy – What is It?
  • Nuclear reactors produce energy by splitting atoms apart; a star releases energy by joining atoms. Atoms of uranium split, the energy released  heats water to produce steam  drives turbines to produce electricity.
nuclear energy pros
Nuclear Energy – Pros
  • Nuclear power plants don’t emit air pollutants (when operated properly)
  • Water pollution (thermal pollution) and disruption of land are low to moderate
  • Safety measures reduce the likelihood of a catastrophic accident
nuclear energy cons
Nuclear Energy - Cons
  • Harmful radiation leaks into the environment
    • Chernobyl (4-26-86): reactor explosions in the Ukraine killed 3,576 people (officially, but other estimates say 32,000) and over 500,000 were exposed radioactivity causing cancer, tumors, eye cataract, and genetic mutations
    • Three-Mile Island (3-29-79): plant in Pennsylvania lost is coolant water (mechanical and human errors); no known injuries/deaths were reported, but some studies show increased cancer rates in the area from radioactive materials leaking into the atmosphere
  • Radioactive Waste
    • High-level waste must be stored for 10,000-240,000 years
    • Low-level waste must be stored for 100s of years (dumped in the ocean during the 1970s)
    • After 15-40 years, the nuclear reactor becomes too radioactive and must be dismantled or shielded with a barrier
    • Used to be inexpensive, but maintaining the building and storing wastes is now expensive
fossil fuels what are they
Fossil Fuels – What are they?
  • Fuel formed hundreds of millions of years ago from the remains of dead plants and animals
  • Made of hydrocarbons
    • When combined with oxygen  light and heat energy are released (combustion)

Types: Coal, Natural Gas, Petroleum/Oil

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Coal
  • Plant remains converted by heat and pressure into a solid rock over millions of years
  • Has stages of development that concentrates the coal and the energy it produces
    • Peat – low amount of carbon / least amount of energy (not true “coal”)
    • Lignite – 40% carbon, must be mined from below ground
    • Bituminous Coal – 85% carbon, deep in Earth’s crust, most abundant type in the United States
    • Anthracite Coal – 95% carbon; deepest in the ground; has the least amount of water and impurities and has the greatest amount of energy
coal pros and cons
Coal – Pros and Cons
  • Pros
    • Most abundant fossil fuel (should last at least 220 years at the current rate of use)
    • High net energy yield (25-28%)
  • Cons
    • Coal mining is dangerous (accidents, black lung disease) and harmful to the environment (land and water pollution)
    • Dirtiest to burn and release many air pollutants (carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and radioactive elements)
    • Threat to human health (respiratory diseases from air pollutants) and results in property damages
natural gas
Natural Gas
  • Mixture of mostly gaseous hydrocarbons (methane is the primary component)
  • Forms from the remains of plankton, plants, and animals living in shallow water millions of years ago
natural gas pros and cons
Natural Gas – Pros and Cons
  • Pros
    • Cheaper than oil
    • Reserves are expected to last 125-200 years
    • Can be transported easily
    • Has a high energy yield (4.9%)
    • Produces less air pollution than any other fossil fuel
    • Extraction damages the environment less
    • Can be used to power vehicles and highly efficient fuel cells
  • Cons
    • Toxic sulfur can be released into the air
    • In order to ship it over the ocean, it has to be converted to liquid, which is expensive and dangerous (explosions)
    • Leaks from pipelines, tanks, and distribution facilities increases the amount of methane (greenhouse gas) in the atmosphere
petroleum oil
Petroleum/Oil
  • Forms the same as oil
  • Can “gush” out of the ground or needs to be pumped to the surface with drilled wells
  • Raw or crude oil is refined into many different products, many of which play a crucial role in our lives:
    • Gasoline, jet fuels, diesel fuel, fuel oil, grease (Vaseline), asphalt, nylon, polyester, plastics, styrofoam
petroleum oil pros and cons
Petroleum/Oil – Pros and Cons
  • Pros
    • Relatively cheap
    • Easily transported within and between countries
    • High net energy yield (4.7%) when easily accessible
  • Cons
    • Reserves may be depleted with 85 years
    • Oil-drilling process cases damage to the environment which increases erosion
    • Oil spills contaminate soil and/or water
    • Burning fuel oil releases carbon dioxide which leads to global warming and other air pollutants that harm people, crops, trees, fish, and other plants/animals
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Used to make fuels, plastics

Fossil fuels provide numerous products

They are easy to use and relatively cheap

Rich in hydrocarbon energy

Should we reduce our dependence on fossil fuels?

Remains of organisms

Requires combustion for energy

Takes millions of years

Source depleting

Spills contaminate the ecosystem

Fossil fuels are non-renewable

They pollute the environment