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Chapter 12 Topics
Energy Sources and Uses Fossil Fuels Nuclear Power Energy Conservation Solar Energy Fuel Cells Biomass Energy From the Earths Forces Whats Our Energy Future?


Work is the application of force through a distance. Energy is the capacity to do work. Power is the rate of flow of energy, or the rate at which work is done.
A small calorie is the metric measure of energy necessary to heat 1 gram of water 1oC, whereas a British Thermal Unit (BTU) is the energy needed to heat 1 pound of water 1oF A joule is the amount of work done by a force needed to accelerate 1 kilogram 1 meter per second per second. Another definition for joule is the force of an electrical current of 1 amp/second through a resistance of 1 ohm.

Worldwide Commercial Energy Production

How We Use Energy

What are the commercial uses of energy? Industry uses 38%; Residential and commercial buildings use 36%; and, Transportation uses 26%. Half of all energy in primary fuels is lost during conversion to more useful formsm while being shipped or during use. Nearly two-thirds of energy in coal being burned to generate electricity is lost during thermal conversion in the power plant. Another 10% is lost during transmission and stepping down to household voltages. Natural gas is the most efficient fuel. Only 10% of its energy content is lost during shipping and processing. Ordinary gas-burning furnaces are about 75% efficient. High-economy furnaces can be 95% efficient.

Per Capita Energy Use & GDP

Energy Use Trends
A general trend is for higher energy use to correlate with a higher standard of living In an average year, each person in the U.S. and Canada consumes more than 300 times the amount of energy consumed by a person in one of the poorest countries of the world; however, Several European countries have higher living standards than the U.S., yet they use about half as much energy.


Fossil fuels are organic chemicals created by living organisms that were buried in sediments millions of years ago and transformed to energy-rich compounds. Because fossil fuels take so long to form, they are essentially nonrenewable resources.

Coal Oil Natural Gas



Natural Gas

Coal Extraction and Use

Mining is dangerous to humans and the environment Coal burning releases large amounts of air pollution, and is the largest single source of acid rain in many areas. Economic damages are billions of dollars 900 million tons of coal are burned in the U.S. for electric power generation. As a result, multiple pollutants are released such as:
Sodium Dioxide (18 million metric tons) Nitrogen Oxides ( 5 million metric tons) Particulates (4 million metric tons) Hydrocarbons (600,000 metric tons) Carbon Dioxide (1 trillion metric tons)

Oil Extraction and Use

The countries of the Middle East control two-thirds of all proven-in-place oil reserves. Saudi Arabia has the most. The U.S. has already used up about 40% of its original recoverable petroleum resource. Oil combustion creates substantial air pollution. Drilling causes soil and water pollution. Often oil contains a high sulfur level. Sulfur is corrosive, thus the sulfur is stripped out before oil is shipped to market. Oil is primarily used for transportation providing > 90% of transportation energy. Resources and proven reserves for the year 2000 are 650 billion barrels (bbl). 800 bbl remain to be discovered or are currently not recoverable.

Natural Gas Consumption

Worlds third largest commercial fuel (23% of global energy used). Produces half as much CO2 as equivalent amount of coal. Most rapidly growing used energy source.

Proven world reserves and resources of natural gas equal 3,200 trillion cubic feet. This equals a 60 year supply at present usage rates. Natural gas produces only half as much CO2 as an equivalent amount of coal. Problems: difficult to ship across oceans, to store in large quantities, and much waste from flaring off.


President Dwight Eisenhower, 1953, Atoms for Peace speech.
Eisenhower predicted that nuclear-powered electrical generators would provide power too cheap to meter. Between 1970-1974, American utilities ordered 140 new reactors, but 100 were subsequently canceled.

Nuclear power now produces only 7% of the U.S. energy supply. Construction costs and safety concerns have made nuclear power much less attractive than was originally expected.
Electricity from nuclear power plants was about half the price of coal in 1970, but twice as much in 1990.

How Do Nuclear Reactors Work

The common fuel for nuclear reactors is U235 that occurs naturally (0.7%) as a radioactive isotope of uranium. U235 is enriched to 3% concentration as it is processed into cylindrical pellets (1.5 cm long). The pellets are stacked in hollow metal rods (4 m long). 100 rods are bundled together into a fuel assembly. Thousands of these fuel assemblies are bundled in the reactor core. When struck by neutrons, radioactive uranium atoms undergo nuclear fission, releasing energy and more neutrons.This result triggers a nuclear chain reaction. This reaction is moderated in a power plant by neutronabsorbing solution (Moderator). Control Rods composed of neutron-absorbing material are inserted into spaces between fuel assemblies to control reaction rate. Water or other coolant is circulated between the fuel rods to remove excess heat.

Nuclear fission occurs in the core of a nuclear reactor

Kinds of Reactors

70% of nuclear power plants are pressurized water reactors (PWRs). Water is circulated through the core to absorb heat from fuel rods. The heated water is then pumped to a steam generator where it heats a secondary loop. Steam from the secondary loop drives a high-speed turbine making electricity. Both reactor vessel and steam generator are housed in a special containment building. This prevents radiation from escaping and provides extra security in case of accidents. Under normal operations, a PWR releases little radioactivity.

Reactor Design

Radioactive Waste Management

Production of 1,000 tons of uranium fuel typically generates 100,000 tons of tailings and 3.5 million liters of liquid waste. Now approximately 200 million tons of radioactive waste exists in piles around mines and processing plants in the U.S. About 100,000 tons of low-level waste (clothing) and about 15,000 tons of high-level (spent-fuel) waste in the US. For past 20 years, spent fuel assemblies have been stored in deep water-filled pools at the power plants. (designed to be temporary). Many internal pools are now filled, and a number plants are storing nuclear waste in metal dry casks outside. A big problem associated with nuclear power is the disposal of wastes produced during mining, fuel production, and reactor operation. U.S. Department of Energy announced plans to build a high-level waste repository near Yucca Mountain Nevada in 1987. Cost is $10-35 billion, and earliest opening date is 2010. This allows the government to monitor & retrieve stored uranium.


Hybrid gas-electric automobile

Most potential energy in fuel is lost as waste heat. In response to 1970s oil prices, average US automobile gasmileage increased from 13 mpg in 1975 to 28.8 mpg in 1988. Falling fuel prices of the 1980s, however, discouraged further conservation.

Energy Conversion Efficiencies

Energy Efficiency is a measure of energy produced compared to energy consumed.
Household energy losses can be reduced by one-half to threefourths by using better insulation, glass, protective covers, and general sealing procedures. Energy gains can be made by orienting homes to gain passive solar energy in the winter.


Photosynthesis Passive solar heat is using absorptive structures with no moving parts to gather and hold heat. Greenhouse design Active solar heat is when a system pumps a heatabsorbing medium through a collector, rather than passively collecting heat in a stationary object. Water heating consumes 15% of US domestic energy budget.

Mean solar energy striking the upper atmosphere is 1,330 watts per square meter. The amount reaching the earths surface is 10,000 times > all commercial energy used annually. Until recently, this energy source has been too diffuse and low intensity to capitalize for electricity production.

High-Temperature Solar Energy

Parabolic mirrors (left) are curved reflective surfaces that collect light and focus it onto a concentrated point. It involves two techniques: Long curved mirrors focus on a central tube containing a heat-absorbing fluid. Small mirrors arranged in concentric rings around a tall central tower track the sun and focus light on a heat absorber on top of the tower where molten salt is heated to drive a steam-turbine electric generator.

Photovoltaic Solar Energy

During the past 25 years, efficiency of energy capture by photovoltaic cells has increased from less than 1% of incident light to more than 10% in field conditions, and 75% in laboratory conditions. Invention of amorphous silicon collectors has allowed production of lightweight, cheaper cells. Photovoltaic cells capture solar energy and convert it directly to electrical current by separating electrons from parent atoms and accelerating them across a one-way electrostatic barrier. Bell Laboratories - 1954
1958 - $2,000 / watt 1970 - $100 / watt 2002 - $5 / watt

Average Daily Solar Radiation

Solar radiation units of the legend are langleys
[a langley = 1 calorie/cm2 (3.69Btu/ft2)]

Photovoltaic energy solar energy converted directly to electrical current

Transporting & Storing Electrical Energy

Electrical energy storage is difficult and expensive. Lead-acid batteries are heavy and have low energy density.
Typical lead-acid battery sufficient to store electricity for an average home would cost $5,000 and weigh 3-4 tons.

Pumped-Hydro Storage Flywheels

Promoting Renewable Energy

Distributional Surcharges Small charge levied on all utility customers to help finance research and development. Renewable Portfolio Mandate minimum percentage of energy from renewable sources. Green Pricing Allow utilities to profit from conservation programs and charge premium prices for energy from renewable sources.


Fuel cells use ongoing electrochemical reactions to produce electrical current Fuel cells provide direct-current electricity as long as supplied with hydrogen and oxygen. Hydrogen is supplied as pure gas, or a reformer can be used to strip hydrogen from other fuels. Fuel cells run on pure oxygen and hydrogen produce only drinkable water and radiant heat. Reformer releases some pollutants, but far below conventional fuel levels. Fuel cell efficiency is 40-45%. Positive electrode (cathode) and negative electrode (anode) separated by electrolyte which allows charged atoms to pass, but is impermeable to electrons. Electrons pass through external circuit, and generate electrical current.


Fuelwood Crisis
Currently, about half of worldwide annual wood harvest is used as fuel. Eighty-five percent of fuelwood is harvested in developing countries.
By 2025, worldwide demand for fuelwood is expected to be twice current harvest rates while supplies will have remained relatively static.

About 40% of world population depends on firewood and charcoal as their primary energy source. Of these, three-quarters do not have an adequate supply.
Problem intensifies as less developed countries continue to grow.
For urban dwellers, the opportunity to scavenge wood is generally nonexistent.

Fuelwood Crisis in Less-Developed Countries

About 40% of the worlds population depends on firewood and charcoal as their primary energy source. Supplies diminishing Half of all wood harvested worldwide is used as fuel.

Using Dung as Fuel

Where other fuel is in short supply, people often dry and burn animal dung. When burned in open fires, 90% of potential heat and most of the nutrients are lost. Using dung as fuel deprives fields of nutrients and reduces crop production. When cow dung is burned in open fires, 90% of the potential heat and most of the nutrients are lost.

Using Methane As a Fuel

Alcohol from Biomass

Ethanol (grain alcohol) production could be a solution to grain surpluses but thermodynamic considerations question it being practical on a sustainable basis. Gasohol (a mixture of gasoline and alcohol) reduces CO emissions when burned in cars. Ethanol raises octane ratings, and helps reduce carbon monoxide emissions in automobile exhaust. Methanol (wood alcohol) Both methanol and ethanol make good fuel for fuel cells.


Wind Geothermal Tidal Wave Hydropower

Water power produces 25% of the worlds electricity and it is clean, renewable energy. Dams cause social and ecological damage.

Hydropower By 1925, falling water generated 40% of worlds electric power.

Hydroelectric production capacity has grown 15-fold, but fossil fuel use has risen so rapidly that now hydroelectric only supplies one-quarter of electrical generation.

Total world hydropower potential estimated about 3 million MW. Currently use about 10% of potential supply.
Energy derived from hydropower in 1994 was equivalent to 500 million tons of oil. Much of recent hydropower development is in very large dams.

Drawbacks to dams include: Human Displacement Ecosystem Destruction Wildlife Losses Large-Scale Flooding Due to Dam Failures Sedimentation Herbicide Contamination Evaporative Losses Nutrient Flow Retardation

Wind Energy

Wind power - advantages and disadvantages Wind farms - potential exists in Great Plains, along seacoasts and Eastern Washington

Geothermal Energy

This energy source involves the use of high-pressure, hightemperature steam fields that exist below the earths surface.

Tidal & Wave Energy

Ocean tides and waves contain enormous amounts of energy that can be harnessed. Tidal Station - Tide flows through turbines, creating electricity. It requires a high tide/lowtide differential of several meters. Main worries are saltwater flooding behind the dam and heavy siltation. Stormy coasts with strongest waves are often far from major population centers.

Part 9:An Alternative Energy Future?