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Chapter 3

Geologic Resources
Since human-like creatures emerged 5-7 M years ago,
our use of geologic resources has become increasingly
Early hominids used sticks and rocks as simple weapons
and tools
Later prehistoric people used flint and obsidian to make
more effective weapons and tools, and they used
natural pigments to create elegant art on cave walls

Earlier Stone Age artifacts found in Northern Cape of

South Africa
About 8000 BC, people learned to shape and fire clay to
make pottery
Archaeologists have found copper ornaments in Turkey dating
6500 BC
Today, geologic resources provide the silicon chip that
operated our computer, the titanium valves in a space probe,
and the gasoline that powers cars

n farmers
sued copper
Mother Goddess backside of seated statue 6500 BC Catal
Huyuk in Turkey
We use two types of geologic resources: mineral
resources and energy resources
Mineral resources include all useful rocks and minerals
The prime energy resources of the 21st century are coal,
petroleum, and natural gas all formed from the decayed
remains of prehistoric plants and animals that have been
altered by Earth systems processes
Mineral resources geologic resources including both
metal ore and non-metallic minerals
Energy resources geologic resources, including
petroleum, coal, natural gas, and nuclear fuels, used for
heat, light, work, and communication
Non-metallic mineral resources economically useful
rocks or minerals that are not metals such as salt,
building stone, sand, and gravel
Mineral Resources
Mineral resources include both metal ore and non-metallic
The ore is rock sufficiently enriched in one or more minerals to
be mined profitably
Geologists usually use the term to refer to metallic mineral
deposits, and it is commonly accompanied by the name of the
metal for example, iron ore or silver ore
Non-metallic resources refer to the useful rocks or minerals that
are not metals such as salt, building stone, sand, and gravel
When we think about striking it rich from mining, we usually
think of gold
However, more money has been made mining and gravel than
by mining gold
For example, in the US in year 2004, sand and gravel
produced $6.2 billion in revenue, but gold only $3.2 billion
Sand and gravel are mined from stream and glacial
deposits, sand dunes, and beaches
In turn, these non-metallic resources are mixed with
portland cement material produced by heating a mixture
of crushed limestone and clay to make concrete
Reinforced with steel, concrete is used to build roads,
bridges, and buildings
Thus, reinforced concrete is one of the basic building
materials of the modern world
In addition, many buildings are faced with stone usually
granite or limestone, although marble, slate, sandstone,
and other rocks used for building are also mined from
quarries cut into bedrock
A quarryman splits a large granite 900mm to 3500mm Diamond Circular
block with a sledgehammer. After he Saw Blades for Granite Block Cutting
splits the rock, the circular saws in the
background will cut it into thin slabs
for walls and floors
There are many important metals and other elements
that are fundamental parts of our lives and the
industries that produce many things in daily use
Some are familiar to us, such as iron, lead, copper,
aluminum, silver, and gold
Others are less well known, such as molybdenum (rifle
barrels), tungsten (lightbulb filaments), and borax
(soaps, antiseptics)
All mineral resources are non-renewable: we use them
up at a much faster rate than
Tungsten filament for light bulb (Left); Molybdenum rifle barrels (Middle); Molybdenum-
coated bullets (Right). It is much easier to clean up a barrel after shooting moly coated
Ore and Ore Deposits
If you pick up any rock and send it to a laboratory for analysis,
the report will probably show that the rock contains measurable
amounts of iron, gold, silver, aluminum, and other valuable
However, the concentrations of these metals are so low in most
rocks that the extraction cost would be much greater than the
income gained by selling the metals
In certain locations, however, natural geologic processes have
enriched metals many times above their normal concentrations
The next table shows that the concentration of a metal in ore
may exceed its average abundance in ordinary rock by a factor
called the enrichment factor of more than 100,000
Table 3.1 Comparison of Concentrations of Specific Elements in
Earths Crust with Concentrations Needed to Operate a
Commercial Mine
Element Natural Concentration Enrichment
Concentration in Required to Factor
Crust (% by Operate a
Weight) Commercial Mine
(% by Weight)
Aluminum 8.0 24 to 32 3 to 4
Iron 5.8 40 6 to 7
Copper 0.0058 0.46 to 0.58 80 to 100
Nickel 0.0072 1.08 150
Zinc 0.0082 2.46 300
Uranium 0.00016 0.19 1,200
Lead 0.00010 0.20 2,000
Gold 0.0000002 0.0008 4,000
Mercury 0.000002 0.20 100,000
Successful exploration for new ore deposits requires an
understanding of the processes that concentrate metals to
form ore
For example, platinum concentrates in certain types of
igneous rocks
Therefore, if you were exploring for platinum, you would focus
on those rocks rather than on sandstone or limestone
With the exception of magmatic processes, which occur deep
within the crust, the natural processes that concentrate ore
minerals all involve interactions between rocks and minerals
of the geosphere with water from the hydrosphere
Magmatic Processes
Magmatic processes form mineral deposits as liquid
magma solidifies to form an igneous rock
These processes create metal ores as well as some gems
and nonmetallic mineral deposits including sulfur deposits
and building stone
Some large bodies of igneous rock, particularly those of
mafic (basaltic; high in magnesium and iron) composition,
solidify in layers
Each layer contains different minerals and is of a different
chemical composition than is found in adjacent layers
Some of the layers may contain rich ore deposits
The layering can develop by at least two processes:
1.Cooling magma does not solidify all at once. Instead,
higher-temperature minerals crystallize first, and lower-
temperature minerals form later as the magma cools
and temperature drops. Most minerals are denser than
magma. Consequently, early-formed crystals may sink
to the bottom of a magma chamber in a process called
crystal settling. In some instances, ore minerals
crystallize with other early-formed minerals and
accumulate in layers near the bottom of a pluton.
2.Some large bodies of mafic magma crystallize from the
bottom upward. Thus, early-formed ore minerals
become concentrated near the base of the pluton
The first crystals to form in cooling magma settle and
concentrate near the bottom of the magma chamber. The
crystals are magnified here for clarity. In actuality, the crystals
may be only a few millimeters in diameter, whereas the magma
chamber may be many kilometers in width.
The largest ore deposits found in mafic-layered plutons
are the rich chromium and platinum reserves of South
Africas Bushveld intrusion
The pluton is about 375 by 300 km in area roughly the
size of the state of Maine and about 7 km thick
The Bushveld deposits contain more than 20 billion tons
of chromium and more than 10 billion grams of
platinum, the greatest reserves in any known deposit on
Bushveld deposit
The Bushveld Complex in South Africa is an
economically important layered mafic intrusion
containing Chromite and Platinum Group Metals
Magmatic processes geologic processes that form
ore deposits as liquid magma solidifies into igneous rock
Crystal settling a process in which the crystals that
solidify first from a cooling magma settle to the bottom
of the magma chamber because the minerals are more
dense than magma; the ultimate result is a layered
body of rock, each layer containing different minerals
Hydrothermal processes geologic processes in
which hot water or steam dissolves metals and minerals
from rocks or magma; the solutions then seep through
cracks before cooling, to create ore deposits
1. Describe the two major categories of geologic
2. Describe the difference between nonrenewable and
renewable resources. List one example of each.
3. What is an ore?
Answers No. 1
The two categories of geologic resources are mineral
resources and energy resources
Mineral resources geologic resources including both
metal ore and non-metallic minerals
Energy resources geologic resources, including
petroleum, coal, natural gas, and nuclear fuels, used for
heat, light, work, and communication
No. 2
Some energy resources are renewable energy such as
solar, wind, geothermal, hydroelectric, and biomass
fuels, because natural processes replenish them as we
use them
Except for biomass fuels, renewable energy sources
emit no carbon dioxide and therefore do not contribute
to global warming
Fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas are
nonrenewable and unrecyclable. Also all mineral
resources are nonrenewable.
No. 3
An ore is rock sufficiently enriched in one or more
minerals to be mined profitably; geologists usually use
the term to refer to metallic mineral deposits.
Hydrothermal Processes
Hydrothermal processes involving interactions between
hot water or steam and rocks or minerals are probably
responsible for the formation of more ore deposits, and a
larger total quantity of ore, than all other processes
To form a hydrothermal ore deposit, hot water (hence the
root hydro for water and thermal for hot) dissolves
metals from rock or magma
The metal-bearing solutions then seep through cracks or
through permeable rock, where they precipitate to form an
ore deposit
Hydrothermal water comes from three sources granitic
magma, groundwater, and the oceans:
1.Granitic magma contains more dissolved water than solid
granite rock. Thus, the magma gives off hydrothermal
water as it solidifies. For this reason, hydrothermal ore
deposits are commonly associated with granite and similar
igneous rocks.
2.Ground water can seep into Earths crust, where it is
heated and forms a hydrothermal solution. This is
particularly true in volcanic areas where hot rock or magma
heat ground water at shallow depths. For this reason,
hydrothermal ore deposits are also common in volcanic
3.In the oceans, hot, young basalt near the Mid-Oceanic
Ridge heats seawater as it seeps into cracks in the seafloor
Although water by itself is capable of dissolving minerals,
most hydrothermal waters also contain dissolved salts, which
greatly increase its ability to dissolve minerals
Therefore, hot, salty, hydrothermal water is a very powerful
solvent, capable of dissolving and transporting metals
In Table 3-1, it shows that tiny amounts of all metals are
found in average rocks of the earths crust
For example, gold makes up 0.0000002 percent of the crust
while copper makes up 0.0058 percent and lead 0.0001
Although the metals are present in very low concentrations
in country rock, hydrothermal solutions percolate through
vast volumes of rock, dissolving and accumulating the
The solutions then deposit the metals, where they encounter
changes in temperature, pressure, or chemical environment
In this way, hydrothermal solutions scavenge metals from large
volumes of normal crustal rocks then deposit them locally to form
Hot water scavenges metals from country rock and deposits
metallic minerals in ore-rich veins that fill fractures in bedrock. It
also deposits low-grade disseminated metal ore in large volumes of
rock surrounding the veins.
A hydrothermal vein deposit forms when dissolved
metals precipitate in a fracture in rock
Ore veins range from less than a millimeter to several
meters in width
A single vein can yield several millions of dollars worth
of gold or silver
The same hydrothermal solutions may also soak into
pores in country rock near the vein to create a large but
much less concentrated disseminated ore deposit
Because they commonly form from the same solutions,
rich ore veins and disseminated deposits are often
found together
In volcanically active regions of the seafloor, near the
Mid-Oceanic Ridge and submarine volcanoes, seawater
circulated through the hot, fractured oceanic crust
The hot seawater dissolves metals from the rocks and
then, as it rises through the upper layers of oceanic crust,
cools and precipitates the metals to form submarine
hydrothermal ore deposits
The metal-bearing solutions can be seen today as jets of
black water, called black smokers, sprouting from
fractures in the Mid-Oceanic Ridge
The black color is caused by precipitation of fine-grained
metal sulfide minerals as the solutions cool upon contact
with seawater
The precipitating metals accumulate as chimney-like
structures near the hot-water vent
Rich-ore deposits form in such environments, but the
cost to operate machinery beneath the sea is prohibitive
The Turtle Pits site on the mid-Atlantic Ridge, consisting of
two sulfide mounds and a black smoker chimney
Alvin, manned deep ocean research submersible Alvins manipulator reaches toward a black smoker
of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution chimney, seen through the subs viewport, at 17S on
the East Pacific Rise. Hot hydrothermal fluids surge
through the chimney at velocities of 1 to 5 meters per
second. The black smoke consists of an abundance
of dark, fine-grained, suspended particles that
precipitate when the hot fluid mixes with cold seawater.
Chemosynthesis at hydrothermal vents
and cool seeps
Hydrothermal vents ocean water that percolates down
through fractures in recently formed ocean floor is
heated by underlying magma and surfaces again
through these vents (usually located near the axis of
spreading along mid-ocean ridges)
Cold seeps areas in the deep sea where reduced
carbon or sulfur compounds exit from the rocks at
ambient temperatures
Mats of enteroptneusts (spaghetti
Giant vestimentiferan tube worms, Riftia
worms, Saxipendium coronaturn)
pachyptila, near a galapagos thermal
draped over rocks around hydrothermal
vents. In the peripheral area of the
Galapagos Rift hydrothermal vent site.

A vent clam field dominated by the

giant white clam Calyptogena
magnifica, found in the eastern
Pacific Rise from 21N to 22S and
along the Galapagos Rift
All vent systems and cold seeps depend on the
primary productivity of chemolithoautotrophic
bacteria to survive
Chemolithoautotrophic bacteria those bacteria
able to obtain energy and therefore synthesize
organic material through oxidation of reduced sulfur
Potential energy in the form of reduced sulfur
compounds, such as hydrogen sulfide, is spewed
from hot vents
Cold seeps ooze either sulfides or, in some cases,
methane or other hydrocarbon
These reduced compounds are oxidized by the
chemosynthetic bacteria to release energy, which
they use to form organic matter from carbon dioxide
Chemosynthesis in hydrothermal vent communities
(Nybakken, 2001)
Hydrothermal processes geologic processes in which hot water or
steam dissolves metals and minerals from rocks or magma; the
solutions then seep through cracks before cooling, to create ore
Hydrothermal vein deposit a rich, sheet-like mineral deposit that
forms when dissolved minerals, precipitated from hot water solutions,
fill a fault or other fracture
Disseminated ore deposit a large, low-grade hydrothermal deposit
in which generally metal-bearing minerals are widely scattered
throughout a rock body; not as concentrated as a hydrothermal vein
Submarine hydrothermal ore deposit an ore deposit that forms
when hot seawater dissolves metals from sea floor rocks and then, as it
rises through the upper layers of oceanic crust, cools and precipitates
the metals
Black smoker a jet of black water spouting from a fracture in the
seafloor, commonly near the Mid-Oceanic Ridge; the black color is
caused by precipitation of fine-grained metal sulfide minerals as the
hydrothermal solutions cool on contact with seawater
Sedimentary Processes
Placer Deposits
Gold is denser than any other mineral
Therefore, if you swirl a mixture of water, gold dust, and sand
in a gold pan, the gold falls to the bottom first
Differential settling also occurs in nature
Many streams carry silt, sand, and gravel with an occasional
small grain of gold
The gold settles first when the current slows down
Over years, currents agitate the sediment and the dense
gold works its way into cracks and crevices in the streambed
Thus grains of gold concentrate in gravel and bedrock cracks
in the streambed, forming a placer deposit
Most of the prospectors who rushed to California in the Gold
Rush of 1849 searched for placer deposits
Placer deposits form where water currents slow down and deposit high-density
Placer Deposits
Anywhere that a streambed suddenly widens enough to
slow the force of the stream during high water periods is a
likely place to find a deposit of gold.
Gold Rush 1849
Gold Rush 1849
The California Gold Rush was 1st discovered in January of 1848 by James Wilson Marshall
while he was busy constructing his saw mill along the present day American River near
the northeast of Sacramento. This discovering was immediately printed on a variety of
local newspapers intended for civilians to notice how amazing and beneficial this
discovery truly was. At first this wasnt necessarily catching the attention everyone
thought it would get, due to unbelief of James Wilson actually finding gold along the river.
It wasnt until 1849 that a storekeeper in Sutters Creek showed off his bottle filled to the
brim with gold, real life proof that soon spread like wildfire along all the territories and
states ofAmerica. As soon aseveryonenoticed it was actually true this started
thebeginningofthe flood of settlers coming from all over the colonies to the
American Riverwhich later helped bring enough people to qualify for California
statehood in 1850.
An impact that rose due to this Gold Rush was the major Abolitionistmovement due to the
fact that now theresproven ways toget richandgetwealthy without the need of slavery.
California became an actual state, sonow there was a decision to be made
ofwhetherCalifornia was going to be a free or a slave state.During thattime the
Compromise of1850 changed the Missouri Compromise and letthe Mexican cession
territories decide whether or not itwould be free or slave state but it did add
Californiaasafree state. This created an imbalance between free and slavestates
which helped lead to the civil war a decade later.
Ground water dissolves minerals as it seeps through soil and
In most environments, ground water eventually flows into
streams and then to the sea
Some of the dissolved ions, such as sodium and chloride, make
seawater salty
In deserts, however, playa lakes develop with no outlet to the
Water flows into the lakes but can escape only by evaporation
As the water evaporates, the dissolved salts concentrate until
they precipitate to form evaporate deposits
Evaporite deposits in desert lakes include table salt,
borax, sodium sulfate, and sodium carbonate
These salts are used in the production of paper, soap,
and medicines and for the tanning of leather

Evaporite deposits and

evaporite depositional
environment, modern-day
internally draining, desert lake.
The Salar de Atacama Chile.
Tanning is the process of treating skins and hides
of animals to produce leather. A tannery is the
place where the skins are processed.
Tanning hide into leather involves a process which
permanently alters the protein structure of skin,
making it more durable and less susceptible to
decomposition, and also possibly coloring it.
Before tanning, the skins are unhaired, degreased,
desalted and soaked in water over a period of 6
hours to 2 days. Historically this process was
considered a noxious or "odoriferous trade" and
relegated to the outskirts of town, amongst the
Traditionally, tanning used tannin, an acidic
chemical compound from which the tanning
process draws its name (tannin is in turn named
after an old German word for oak or fir trees, from
which the compound was derived). The use of a
Leather Tanning Process chromium (III) solution was adopted by tanners in
the Industrial Revolution.

A dry lake is an ephemeral lakebed, or a remnant

The Texas High Plains and
of an endorheic lake. Such flats consist of fine-
Eastern New Mexico has the
grained sediments infused with alkalisalts.
largest concentration of playas in
Alternative names for the dry lake include alkali
the world approximately
flat, alkali sink and playa.
Several times during the past 500 million years, shallow seas
covered large regions of North America and all other continents
At times, those seas were so poorly connected to the open
oceans that water did not circulate freely between them and the
Consequently, evaporation concentrated the dissolved salts
until they precipitated as marine evaporates
Periodically, storms flushed new seawater from the open ocean
into the shallow seas, providing a new supply of salt
Thick marine evaporate beds, formed in this way, underlie
nearly 30 percent of North America
Table salt, gypsum (used to manufacture plaster and sheetrock),
and potassium salts (used in fertilizer) are mined extensively
from these deposits
Gypsum is a soft sulfate mineral composed of calcium sulfate
dihydrate, with the chemical formula CaSO42H2O. It is widely
mined and is used as a fertilizer, and as the main constituent in
many forms of plaster, blackboard chalk and wallboard. A
massive fine-grained white or lightly tinted variety of gypsum,
called alabaster, has been used for sculpture by many cultures
including Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Ancient Rome,
Byzantine empire and the Nottingham alabasters of
Medieval England. Mohs scale of mineral hardness, based on
scratch Hardness comparison, defines hardness value 2 as
gypsum. It forms as an evaporite mineral and as a hydration
product of anhydrite.
Most of the worlds supply of iron is mined from
sedimentary rocks called banded iron formations,
which are deposits composed of alternating iron-rich
and silica-rich layers
These iron-rich rocks precipitated from the seas
between 2.6 and 1.9 billion years ago, as a result of
rising atmospheric oxygen concentrations
Banded iron formations(also known asbanded
ironstone formationsorBIFs) are distinctive units of
sedimentary rockthat are almost always ofPrecambrian
Banded iron formation,
Karijini National Park,
Western Australia
Banded iron beds are an
important commercial source of
iron ore, such as thePilbara
region ofWestern Australiaand
theAnimikie GroupinMinnesota
Banded Iron Formation
Manganese Nodules
About 25-50% of the Pacific Ocean floor is covered with golf
ball to bowling ball sized manganese nodules
A typical nodule contains 20-30% manganese, 6% iron, about
1% each of copper and nickel, and lesser amounts of other
The metals are probably added to seawater by volcanic activity
at the Mid-Oceanic Ridge, perhaps by the black smokers
Chemical reactions between seawater and sea floor sediment
precipitate the dissolved metals to form the nodules
However, the harvest of manganese nodules is not profitable
at the present time
Many thousands of square kilometers of the deep-sea floor are covered by
metal-bearing nodules. They contain primarily manganese, but also nickel,
cobalt and copper, which makes them economically promising. Although many
countries and companies are already intensively investigating their distribution, it
is not certain whether the manganese nodules will ever be mined. After all, at
least for the intermediate future, there are enough metals available on land.
Polymetallic nodules, also called manganese
nodules, are rock concretions on the sea bottom
formed of concentric layers of iron and manganese
hydroxides around a core. The core may be
microscopically small and is sometimes completely
transformed into manganese minerals by
crystallization. When visible to the naked eye, it can
be a small test (shell) of a microfossil (radiolarian or
foraminifer), a phosphatized shark tooth, basalt debris
or even fragments of earlier nodules. As nodules can
be found in vast quantities, and contain valuable
metals, deposits were identified as having economic
interest in the 1960s.
Placer deposit a surface mineral deposit formed along
streambeds, beneath water falls, or on beaches when
water currents slow down and deposit high-density
Banded iron formation iron-rich sedimentary rocks
composed of alternating iron-rich and silica-rich layers;
source of most of the worlds supply of iron
Residual ore deposit a mineral deposit formed from
relatively insoluble ions left in the soil near earths surface
after most of the soluble ions were dissolved and removed
by abundant water
Weathering Processes
In environments with high rainfall, the abundant water dissolves
and removes most of the soluble ions from soil and rock near
earths surface
This process leaves the relatively insoluble ions in the soil to form
residual ore deposits
Both aluminum and iron have very low solubilities in water
Bauxite, the principal source of aluminum, forms as a residual
deposit, and in some instances iron also concentrates enough to
become ore
Most bauxite deposits form in warm, rainy, tropical, or subtropical
environments where chemical weathering occurs rapidly
Thus bauxite ores are common in Jamaica, Cuba, Guinea, Australia,
and parts of the southeastern United States
Bauxite from Little Rock, Arkansas, exhibiting a pisolitic
structure and characteristic red iron staining. Specimen is
approximately 4 inches (10 centimeters) across.
This spheroidal texture is typical of bauxite, which is
aluminum ore as a residual deposit by intense tropical
weathering of aluminum-rich rocks
Bauxite ore, the raw material of aluminum metal.
1. What is chemosynthesis and discuss the role of
chemolithoautitrophic bacteria in hydrothermal vent
2. Discuss the formation of hydrothermal ore deposits.
1. Chemosynthesis
2. A hydroehtermal ore deposit is an ore deposit that
frms when hot seawater dissolves metals from
seafloor rocks andthen, as it rises thorugh the upper
layers of oceanic crust, cools and rpecipaitates the
Mines and Mining
Miners extract both ore and coal from underground mines
and surface mines
A large underground mine may consist of tens of
kilometers of interconnected passages that commonly
follow ore veins or coal seams
The lowest levels may be several kilometers deep
In contrast, a surface mine is a hole excavated into
earths surface
The largest human-created excavation on earth is the
open-pit copper mine at Bingham Canyon, Utah
It is 4 kilometers in diameter and 0.8 km deep
The Bingham Canyon Utah, open-pit copper mine. Also known as
Kennecott Copper, this site is the largest copper mine in the world, and the
largest man-made excavation on earth. It is 4 km in diameter and 0.8 km
deep. The mine produced 263,700 tons of copper in 2004 and smaller
amounts of gold, silver, and molybdenum.
Most modern coal mining is done by large power shovels
that extract coal from huge surface mines. A huge power
shovel dwarfs a person standing inside the Navajo Strip
A power shovel (also stripping shovel or front shovel or electric
mining shovel) is a bucket-equipped machine, usually electrically
powered, used for digging and loading earth or fragmented rock and
for mineral extraction.[1]
In the US, the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of
1977 requires mining companies to restore mined land, so it
can be used for the same purposes for which it was used
before mining began
In addition, a tax is levied to reclaim land that was mined
before the law was enacted
Enforcement and compliance of environmental laws waxes
and wanes with the political climate in Washington
Yet environmental awareness has increased dramatically
over the past generation, and, overall, mining operations are
less polluting today than they were 40 years ago
One of the big challenges for the future is to clean up
old mines that were operated under lax or nonexistent
environmental regulations of the past
In the US, more than 600,000 unrestored coal and metal
surface mines cover an area of about 90,000 square km,
almost as large as the state of Virginia (this figure does
not include abandoned sand and gravel mines and rock
quarries, which probably account for an even larger
Although underground mines
do not directly disturb the
land surface, some
abandoned mines collapse,
and occasionally buildings
have fallen into the holes
Over 8,000 ha (2 million
acres) of land in central
Appalachia have settled into
underground coal mine shafts
This house tilted and broke in half as it
sank into an abandoned underground
coal mine.
People gather near the site of a coal mine collapse near
Meghalaya, India. Men unload a cart from a rat
Lalmatia in Godda district in eastern Jharkhand, India on
hole mine.
December 30, 2016.
Mining of both metal ores and coal also creates huge piles of
waste rock rock that must be removed to get at the ore or coal
If the waste piles are not treated properly, rain erodes the loose
rock and leaches toxic elements such as arsenic, sulfur, and
heavy metals from the piles, choking the streams with sediment
and contaminating both stream water and ground water

Two Greenpeace investigators by a toxic

settling pond used by the coal industry in
Asam-asam Coal Mine in South Kalimantan,
Indonesia. Greenpeace is calling on the
provincial and national government to stop the
coal industry poisoning the water sources and
local environment on which communities rely.
Gob piles, the piles of discarded coal waste and
fractured rock, are another problem associated
with abandoned coal mines. These gob piles
contain iron pyrite, sometimes called fool's gold
because of its yellow metallicluster.Pyrite is iron
sulfide; when exposed to water and oxygen, pyrite
undergoes a chemical reaction that produces
sulfuric acid, iron oxides, and hydroxides. The iron
oxides and hydroxides, similar to common rust, tint
these gob piles red. Sulfuric acid, however,
pollutes both the water and soil around the mines.

Gob piles from coal mining in Crawford

County, Kansas.
Bauxite a gray, yellow, or reddish-brown rock,
composed of a mixture of aluminum oxides and
hydroxides, that formed as a residual deposit; the
principal source of aluminum
Mineral reserves a term to describe the known
supply of ore in the ground; can be sued on a local,
national, or global scale
Underground mine a mine consisting of
subterranean passages that commonly follow ore veins
or coal seams
Surface mine a hole excavated into Earths surface
for the purpose of recovering mineral or fuel resources
Energy Resources: Coal, Petroleum
and Natural Gas
Coal, petroleum, and natural gas are called fossil fuels
because they formed from the remains of plants and
Fossil fuels are not only nonrenewable but also
When a lump of coal or a liter of oil (petroleum) is
burned, the energy dissipates and is, for all practical
purposes, lost
Thus our fossil fuel supply inexorably diminishes
Coal is a combustible rock composed mainly of carbon
Humans began using coal before they used petroleum and natural
gas because coal is easily mined and can be burned without refining

Anthracite is a hard, compact variety of coal with

the highest carbon count and lowest level of
impurities. It is used today in hand-fired stoves and
automatic stoker furnaces.
Coal-fired electric generating plants burn about
92% of the coal consumed in the US
The remainder is used to make steel or to
produce steam in factories
Although it is easily mined and abundant in
many parts of the world, coal emits air pollutants
that can be removed only with expensive control
It is still an abundant resource, with widespread
availability projected until at least the year 2200
Large quantities of coal formed worldwide during the
Carboniferous Period, between 360 and 286 million
years ago, and later in cretaceous and Paleocene times,
when warm, humid swamps covered broad areas of low-
lying land
When plants die in forests and grasslands, organisms
consume some of the plant litter, and chemical
reactions with oxygen and water decompose the
As a result, little organic matter accumulates except in
the topsoil
In some warm swamps, however, plants grow and die so
rapidly that new fallen vegetation quickly buries older
plant remains
The new layers prevent atmospheric oxygen from
penetrating into the deeper layers, and decomposition
stops before it is complete, leaving brown, partially
decayed plant matter called peat
Commonly, peat is then buried by mud deposited in the

Peat: A mass of recently accumulated to partially

carbonized plant debris. This material is on its way to
becoming coal, but its plant debris source is still easily
Plant matter is composed mainly of carbon, hydrogen, and
oxygen and contains large amounts of water
During burial, rising pressure expels the water and chemical
reactions release most of the hydrogen and oxygen
As a result, the proportion of carbon increases until coal forms
The grade of coal and the heat that can be recovered by
burning coal can vary considerably depending on the carbon
Peat and coal form as sediment buries organic
litter in a swamp
The formation of coal begins when plant matter is
prevented from decaying by accumulating in low-
oxygen, acidic water. A layer of peat forms. Heating and
compression of peat form lignite, bituminous coal, and
then anthracite, as pressures and temperatures
Classification of Coal by Grade, Heat Value and Carbon
Type Color Water Other Carbo Heat
(%) Volatiles and n (%) Value
Noncombusti (BTU/lb)
Peat Brown 75 10 15 3,000-
Lignite Dark 45 20 35 7,000
Bitumino Black 5-15 20-30 55-75 12,000
us (Soft
Formation of

Formation of coal: (a) accumulation of organic matter within a swampy area forms a layer of peat; (b) the
organic matter is covered and compressed by deposition of a new layer of clastic sediments; (c) with
greater burial, lignite coal forms; and (d) at even greater depths, bituminous and eventually anthracite
coal form.
The word petroleum comes from the Latin for rock oil
or oil from the earth
The first commercial oil well was drilled in the US in 1859,
ushering in a new energy age
Crude oil, as it is pumped from the ground, is a gooey,
viscous, dark liquid made up of thousands of chemical
It is then refined to produce propane, gasoline, heating
oil, and other fuels
Petroleum also is used to manufacture plastics, nylon,
and other useful materials
Refineries turn crude oil into products such as
gasoline and plastics.Iran oil refinery at right (Top).
Formation of Petroleum
Streams carry organic matter from decaying land plants and
animals to the sea and to some large lakes, and deposit it with
mud in shallow coastal waters
Marine plants and animals die and settle to the seafloor, adding
more organic matter to the mud
Over millions of years, younger sediment buries this organic-rich
mud to depths of a few kilometers, where rising temperature
and pressure convert the mud to shale
At the same time, the elevated temperature and pressure
convert the organic matter to liquid petroleum that is dispersed
throughout the rock
The activity of bacteria may enhance the process
Typically, petroleum forms in the temperature range of 50-100C
(A)Organic matter from land and sea settles to the sea floor and mixes with
mud. (B) Younger sediment buries this organic-rich mud. Rising temperature
and pressure convert the mud to shale, and the organic matter to
petroleum. (C) The petroleum is trapped in the reservoir by an impermeable
cap rock.
The shale or other sedimentary rock in which oil
originally forms is called the source rock
Oil dispersed in shale cannot be pumped from an oil
well because shale is relatively impermeable; that is
liquids do not flow through it rapidly
But under favorable conditions, petroleum migrates
slowly to a nearby layer or permeable rock usually
sandstone or limestone where it can flow readily
Because petroleum is less dense than water or rock, it
then rises through the permeable rock until it is trapped
within the rock or escapes unto earths surface

Shale a clastic sedimentary rock that consists of lithified tiny clay minerals and
smaller amounts of quartz and organic particles. The organic material in shale is
the source of most oil and natural gas.
Many oil traps form where a layer of impermeable rock
such as shale prevents the petroleum from rising further
The oil or gas then accumulates in a petroleum reservoir
An oil reservoir is not an underground pool or lake of oil
It consists of oil-saturated permeable rock that is like an
oil-soaked sponge

Several geologic elements are necessary for oil and ga

to accumulate in sufficient quantities to create a pool
large enough to be worth producing. These elements
include an organic-richsource rockto generate the oil
or gas, a porousreservoir rockto store the petroleum
in, and some sort oftrapto prevent the oil and gas
from leaking away.
Petroleum Extraction, Transport and
To extract petroleum, an oil company drills a well into a
After the hole has been bored, the expensive drill rig is
removed and replaced by a pumper that slowly extracts
the petroleum
Fifty years ago, many reservoirs lay near the surface
and oil was easily pumped from shallow wells
But these reserves have been depleted, and modern oil
wells are often a few km or more deep
Offshore drilling rigs
Picture of a Drill Rig
Primary recovery techniques utilize the pressure in the
reservoir that pushes oil into the well but as oil is
removed, the pressure decreases and the oil is said to be
On average, more than half of the oil in a reservoir is too
viscous to be pumped to the surface by conventional
techniques and is left behind when the oil field has gone
Recently, oil companies have developed methods of drilling
horizontally through reservoirs, allowing access to vast
amounts of oil left by earlier wells
Additional oil can be extracted by secondary and
tertiary recovery techniques that augment the
energy in the reservoir by injecting water, detergent,
pressurized gas, or some other fluid
Secondary methods are employed first, and when those
are exhausted tertiary methods are used
In one simple secondary process, water is pumped into
one well, called the injection well
The pressurized water floods the reservoir, driving oil to
nearby wells, where both the water and oil are
At the surface, the water is separated from the oil and
reused, while the oil is sent to the refinery
Cross-section illustrating how carbon dioxide and
water can be used to flush residual oil from a
subsurface rock formation between wells.
Occasionally, detergents are also used to decrease oil
viscosity. Tertiary recovery allows another 5% to 15% of
the reservoir's oil to be recovered.
One tertiary process pumps detergent into the reservoir
The detergent dissolves the remaining oil and carries it to an
adjacent well, where the petroleum is then recovered and the
detergent recycled
Because an oil well occupies only a few hundred square meters
of land, most cause relatively little environmental damage
However, oil companies are now extracting petroleum from
fragile environments such as the ocean floor and the Arctic
To obtain oil from the seafloor, engineers build platforms
on pilings driven into the ocean floor and mount drill rigs
on these steel islands
Despite great care, accidents occur during the drilling
and extraction of oil
When accidents occur at sea, millions of barrels of oil
can spread throughout the waters, poisoning marine life
and disrupting marine ecosystems
Significant oil spills have occurred in virtually all offshore
drilling areas
The blowout of an offshore drilling platform in Santa
Barbara, Calif. In 1969 ultimately caused 200,000
gallons of crude oil to spread over 800 square miles
(2,072 square kilometers) of ocean and shore.
Natural Gas
Natural gas is an energy resource that forms in source rock or
an oil reservoir when crude oil is heated above 100C during
Natural gas is mostly methane, CH4, an organic molecule
consisting of a single carbon atom bonded to four hydrogen
Consequently, many oil fields contain a mixture of oil, with
natural gas floating above the heavier liquid petroleum
In other instances, the lighter, more mobile gas escaped into
the atmosphere or was trapped in a separate underground
Natural gas is used without refining for home heating,
cooking, and to fuel large electrical generating plants
Because natural gas contains few impurities, it releases no
sulfur or other pollutants when it burns, although, as with all
fossil fuels, combustion of natural gas releases carbon
dioxide, a greenhouse gas
This fuel has a higher net energy yield, produces fewer
pollutants, and is less expensive to produce than petroleum
At current consumption rates, global natural gas supplies
will last for 80-200 years
Although most commercial natural gas is produced from
petroleum fields, 7 % of current U.S. gas production
comes from coal seams, where both natural Earth heat
and microbial activity slowly convert buried coal to coal
bed methane, methane that is chemically bonded to
The coal bed methane reserves in the U.S. are
estimated to be more than 700 trillion cubic feet (TCF),
although less than 100 TCF may be economically
Most coal beds have a high capacity to store water in small
voids in the coal itself
As natural processes convert coal to methane, the gas
dissolves in the coal bed ground water, where pressure of
overlying rock keeps the methane in solution
Natural gas companies drill thousands of wells into coal
beds and pump the ground water to the surface, decreasing
the pressure on the remaining water in the coal bed
The decreased pressure allows the methane to separate
from the water
It is then piped to the surface, where it is compressed and sent
to market
Because they store so much water, coal beds are important
ground water reservoirs for farmers and ranchers, especially in
the arid and semiarid western United States, where extensive
coal bed methane development is now occurring
Here, coal bed methane development has two serious impacts
on regional agriculture and ecosystems
The extraction of so much water from the coal beds has
depleted essential aquifers and lowered the water table over
large areas
Secondly, coal bed water is commonly salty
After it is pumped to the surface, the saltwater can poison
streams and soils, rendering them useless for agriculture and
Fossil fuels energy resources including petroleum, coal, and
natural gas, which formed from the partially decayed remains
of plants and animals; they are nonrenewable and unrecyclable
Petroleum a complex liquid mixture of hydrocarbons, formed
from decayed plant and animal matter, that can be extracted
from sedimentary strata and refined to produce propane,
gasoline, and other fuels. Also called crude oil or simply oil
Source rock the shale or other sedimentary rock in which oil
or natural gas originates
Reservoir oil-saturated permeable rock in which liquid
petroleum or gas accumulates
Secondary and tertiary recovery techniques methods of
extracting oil or natural gas by artificially augmenting the
reservoir energy, as by injection of water, detergent,
pressurized gas, or other liquid
Natural gas a mixture of naturally occurring light
hydrocarbons composed mainly of methane, CH4, that is
used for home heating, cooking, and to fuel large
electrical generating plants
Coal bed methane methane that is chemically
bonded to coal. The methane can be recovered by
removing the ground water in a coal bed, which
decreases the pressure and allows the methane to
separate from the coal as a gas
Energy Resources: Tar Sands and Oil
In 2008, nearly 85% of energy used in the US came
from petroleum, coal, and natural gas, which
traditionally have been the cheapest fuels
However, the price of crude petroleum jumped from less
than US$ 40 to nearly $60 per barrel between 2004 and
Prices continue to rise, remaining at an average of $70
per barrel through most of 2009
In the past, energy sources such as heavy oil and other
renewable resources have been more expensive than
the three traditional fossil fuels
However, the cost of producing these alternative
energies had been decreasing while the cost of
traditional fuels have been increasing
As a result, the world is on the threshold of a major
restructuring of the global economy of energy
Many fuel sources that were uneconomical even a year
ago are now cheaper than the conventional sources
Tar Sands
In some regions, large sand deposits called tar sands are
permeated with heavy oil and bitumen, a sticky, oil-like
Crude oil can be obtained from both substances, but they are
too thick to be pumped and require other methods of
The richest tar sands exist in Alberta (Canada), Utah, and
In Alberta alone, tar sands contain an estimated 1 trillion
barrels of petroleum
About 10% of this fuel is shallow enough to be surface-mined
Syncrude Canada Ltd. is one of the world's largest
producers of synthetic crude oil from oil sands and the
largest single source producer in Canada. It is located just
outside Fort McMurray in the Athabasca Oil Sands, and
has a nameplate capacity of 350,000 barrels per day
(56,000 m3/d) of oil, equivalent to about 13% of Canada's
consumption.[1] It has approximately 5.1 billion barrels
(810,000,000 m3) of proven and probable reserves (11.9
billion when including contingent and prospective
resources) situated on 8 leases over 3 contiguous sites.[2]
Including fully realized prospective reserves, current
production capacity could be sustained for well over 90

Minesite at Syncrude's Mildred Lake plant

Tar Sands Tar Sands Open Pit Mining,
Alberta, Canada
The tar sands are huge
deposits of bitumen, a tar-like
substance thats turned into oil
through complex and energy-
intensive processes that cause
widespread environmental
damage. These processes
pollute the Athabasca River,
lace the air with toxins and
convert farmland into
wasteland. Large areas of the
Boreal forest are clear-cut to
make way for development in
the tar sands, the fastest
Aerial view of Syncrude Aurora tar growing source of greenhouse
sands mine in the Boreal Forest north gas emissions in Canada.
of Fort McMurray. Greenpeace / Jiri
The boreal is fantastically
diverse and complex. An
ecosystem of lakes and wetlands
moderates the climate, produces
oxygen and purifies the water
supply for its inhabitants. Much of
the worlds freshwater is in the
boreals lakes, rivers and
streams. More than 208 billion
tons of carbon are stored in the
boreals trees, soils, water and
peat, meaning that the forest has
a significant impact on the
planets ability to regulate the
The boreal forest is one of the great wonders of levels of carbon in the
the natural world. It spans much of the Northern atmosphere.
Hemisphere, from North America and Asia to parts of
Europe, and is considered public land. The forest is home
to unique plants, animals and human cultures that have
coexisted for thousands of years. Those of us who live and
work in Canadas boreal region consider it a critical part of
our culture, economy and collective future.
Tar sands are dug up and heated with steam to make the
heavy oil and bitumen fluid enough to separate from the sand
The oil and bitumen are treated chemically and heated to
convert them to crude oil
At present, several companies mine tar sands profitably,
producing more than 13% of Canadas petroleum
In 2008, Syncrude Canada, the worlds largest producer of
crude oil from oil sands, produced 105 million barrels of oil at
$35 per barrel, significantly below world market prices for
petroleum from conventional sources
In the first half of 2009, Syncrude Canada saw a
significant increase in its operating costs, from $35 a
barrel to over $50, largely due to lower process of
conventional oil
Deeper deposits, comprising the remaining 90% of the
reserve, can be extracted using subsurface techniques
similar to those discussed for secondary and tertiary
Tar sand as it comes from the ground Asphalt, or bitumen, is a sticky, black and highly viscous
liquid or semi-solid, composed almost entirely of
petroleum.[1] It is present in most crude petroleums and in
some natural deposits.
Oil Shale
Some shales and other sedimentary rocks contain a waxy,
solid organic substance called kerogen
Kerogen is organic material that has not yet converted to
Kerogen-bearing rock is called oil shale (see figure)
If oil shale is mined, mixed with water and then heated,
the kerogen converts to petroleum
In the US, oil shales contain the energy equivalent of 2 to 5
trillion barrels of petroleum, enough to fuel the nation for
300-700 years at the 2006 consumption rate
However, many oil shales are of such low grade that more
energy is required to mine and convert the kerogen to
petroleum than is generated by burning the oil
Consequently, these low-grade shales may never be used for
Water consumption is a serious problem in oil shale
Approximately 2 barrels of water are needed to produce each
barrel of oil from shale
Oil shale occurs most abundantly in the semiarid western US
In this region, scarce water is also needed for agriculture,
domestic use, and industry
A piece of oil shale. Oil shale is an organic rich,
fine-grained sedimentary rock containing
significant amounts of kerogen. COURTESY
A recent study by the Rand Corporation estimates that there
are 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil shale resources from
the Green River Valley in Colorado , Utah, and Wyoming
enough to satisfy US oil needs for 100 years at current
consumption rates
However, recovering cruse oil from shale is expensive, and the
study predicts that oil prices will have to reach $70 to $95 per
barrel before the process will be economical
As with the case of tar sand in Alberta, increasing world prices
ands tehcnological advances in oil shale recovery techniques
combine to make oil shale a likely source of energy in the future
Tar sands sand deposits permeated with heavy oil
and an oil-like substance called bitumen
Bitumen a thick, oil-like substance that permeates tar
sands and can be converted to crude oil
Kerogen the waxy, solid organic material in oil shales
that yields oil when the shales are heated and distilled;
the precursor of liquid petroleum
Oil shale a kerogen-bearing sedimentary rock that
yields liquid or gaseous hydrocarbons when heated
Energy Resources: Renewable
Solar, wind, geothermal, hydroelectric, wood, and other biomass
fuels are renewable natural processes replenish them as we use
Although the amount of energy produced today by renewable
sources is small compared to that provided by fossil and nuclear
fuels, renewable resources have the potential to supply all of our
energy needs
As the prices of conventional fossil fuels have risen, some
renewables have become less expensive than conventional energy
Except for biomass fuels, renewable energy sources emit no
carbon dioxide and therefore do not contribute to global warming
Solar Energy
Current technologies allow us to use solar energy in 3 ways: passive
solar heating, active solar heating, and electricity production by solar
A passive solar house is built to absorb and store the suns heat directly
In active solar heating systems, solar thermal collectors absorb the suns
energy and use it to heat water
Pumps then circulate the hot water through radiators to heat a building,
or the inhabitants use the hot water directly for washing and bathing
Solar thermal collectors are becoming increasingly popular worldwide,
with an estimated total capacity of more than 450 million square meters
In passive solar building design, windows, walls,
and floors are made to collect, store, and distribute
solar energy in the form of heat in the winter and reject
solar heat in the summer. This is called passive solar
design because, unlike active solar heating systems, it
does not involve the use of mechanical and electrical
The key to design a passive solar building is to best
take advantage of the local climate performing an
accurate site analysis. Elements to be considered
include window placement and size, and glazing type,
thermal insulation, thermal mass, and shading.[2]
Passive solar design techniques can be applied most
easily to new buildings, but existing buildings can be
adapted or "retrofitted".

Elements of passive solar design, shown in a

direct gain application
This North Carolina home gets most of its space heating
from the passive solar design, but the solar thermal
system (top of roof) supplies both domestic hot water and
a secondary radiant floor heating system.
An active solar energy system is a solar water or space-
heating system that uses pumps or fans to circulate the
fluid from the solar collectors to a storage tank subsystem.
There are two basic types of active solar heating systems
based on the type of fluid either liquid or air that is
heated in the solar energy collectors. Liquid-based
systems heat water or an antifreeze solution in a
"hydronic" collector, whereas air-based systems heat air in
an air collector.

Both of these systems collect and absorb solar radiation,

then transfer the solar heat directly to the interior space or
to a storage system, from which the heat is distributed. If
the system cannot provide adequate space heating, an
auxiliary or back-up system provides the additional heat.
Liquid systems are more often used when storage is
included, and are well suited for radiant heating systems,
boilers with hot water radiators, and even
absorption heat pumps and coolers. Both air and liquid
systems can supplement forced air systems.
A solar cell or photovoltaic cell (PV) cell produces
electricity directly from sunlight
A modern solar cell is a semi-conductor, a device that
can conduct electrical current under some conditions
but not others
Sunlight energizes electrons in the semiconductor,
producing an electric current
The sun bathes the earth with 86,000 trillion watts of
energy at any given time, more than 6,600 times the
amount currently used by humans each year
Solar PV modules mounted on a flat roof. The figure above shows
an installation of solar panels. Solar panels provide clean energy.
A solar cell, or photovoltaic cell (previously termed "
solar battery"[1]), is an electrical device that converts
the energy of light directly into electricity by the
photovoltaic effect, which is a physical and chemical
phenomenon.[2] It is a form of photoelectric cell,
defined as a device whose electrical characteristics,
such as current, voltage, or resistance, vary when
exposed to light. Solar cells are the building blocks of
photovoltaic modules, otherwise known as
solar panels.
Solar cells are described as being photovoltaic,
irrespective of whether the source is sunlight or an
A conventional crystalline silicon solar cell (as of
artificial light. They are used as a photodetector (for
2005). Electrical contacts made from busbars
example infrared detectors), detecting light or other
(the larger silver-colored strips) and fingers (the
electromagnetic radiation near the visible range, or
smaller ones) are printed on the silicon wafer.
measuring light intensity.
From a solar cell to a PV system. Diagram of the possible
components of a photovoltaic system
Although solar power still accounts for less than 1 percent of
world energy demand, solar energy is our most abundant
resource, and PV cell production is the fastest-growing segment of
the energy industry
Photovoltaic arrays are now competitive with electric costs during
peak demand times in California, especially those installed for
single-family units
PVs are also cost-effective for electricity needs far from existing
power lines
The 2008 production capacity of US solar panels was 499
megawatts, amounting to much less than 1 percent of total usage
In Japan, the world leader in solar energy, the government plans
to generate 10 percent of that nations electricity with PVs by
Wind Energy
In the US, wind energy grew an average of 32% annually
between 2004 and 2008
The total US wind-generating capacity is now over 25,000
megawatts, more than 1% of total US electricity demand
Three of the worlds largest wind farms in California at
Altamont Pass, San Gorgonio Pass, and Tehachapi Pass are
actually collections of dozens of individual wind farms with
several owners and different turbine types that have been built
and modified over several decades
Today, the smallest utility-scale wind turbines generate about
700 kilowatts, with some models approaching 5,000 kilowatts (5
One megawatt of wind capacity is enough to supply 240 to 300
average American homes
A wind farm in West Texas provides
Altamont Pass Wind Farm
electricity to the local grid
Other gigantic wind farms now generate electricity in Texas,
eastern Oregon, and several other states
Wind energy production is growing rapidly because
construction of wind generators is cheaper than building new
fossil fuel-fired power plants
Wind energy is also clean and virtually limitless
Worldwide, wind is the second-fastest growing source of
energy and many countries are rapidly investing in new wind
The US surpassed Germany as the world leader in wind energy
production in 2008, but Germany remains a close second, with
the capacity to generate under 24,000 megawatts in 2008
This is, however, 7 percent of Germanys total energy usage,
whereas the US larger capacity accounts for only 1% of total
US energy
Geothermal Energy
Energy extracted from earths internal heat is called
geothermal energy
Natural hot ground water can be pumped to the surface to
generate electricity, or it can be used directly to heat homes
and other buildings
Alternatively, cool surface water can be pumped deep into
the ground, to be heated by subterranean rock, and then
circulated to the surface for use
The US is the largest producer of geothermal electricity in the
world, with a production capacity of just over 3,000
Steamboat Geyser at Norris Geyser Basin Yellowstone bubbles over with geothermal energ

An example of geothermal energy. Shown here are vents emitting hot

steam and other gases at Norris Geothermal Basin in Yellowstone
National Park, Wyoming
Hydroelectric Energy
If a river is dammed, the energy of water dropping downward
through the dam can be harnessed to turn turbines that
produce electricity
Hydroelectric generators supply between 15 and 20% of the
worlds electricity
They provide about 3% of all energy consumed in the US, but
about 8% of our electricity
The US is unlikely to increase its production of hydroelectric
Large dams are expensive to build, and few suitable sites
Drawing of a turbine, which the water turns (left); structure if a hydro generator (right) .
Hydroelectric Generators
Grand Coulee is a gravity dam on the Columbia
River in the US, which serves the purposes of
irrigation, flood control andpower generation. It
forms part of the US Bureau of Reclamation's
Columbia Basin Project which irrigates the central
Washington state area.
Montana's Kerr Dam
Environmentalists commonly oppose dam construction
because the resulting reservoirs flood large areas
destroy wildlife habitats, agricultural land, towns, and
migratory fish populations
For example, the dams on the Columbia river and its
tributaries are largely responsible for the demise of
salmon populations in the Pacific northwest
Undammed wild rivers and their canyons are prized for
their aesthetic and recreational value
Biomass Energy
Biomass (plant) fuels currently produce about 11,000
megawatts of energy
Wood is the most productive of all biomass, followed by
controlled garbage incineration and alcohol fuels
The use of biofuels fuels derived from crops and
agricultural wastes is growing rapidly around the world
In general, these fuels are cleaner burning than fossil
fuels and can be produced domestically in most
countries, thereby creating local jobs and reducing
foreign oil imports
However, production of biofuels is not always a net
energy gain; in some cases, more energy is used in the
production and processing of these fuels than can be
extracted from them
The two main types of biofuel are ethanol and biodiesel
1. Energy from the sun is transferred and stored in plants. When the plants are cut or die,
wood chips, straw and other plant matter is delivered to the bunker

2. This is burned to heat water in a boiler to release heat energy (steam).

3. The energy/power from the steam is directed to turbines with pipes

4. The steam turns a number of blades in the turbine and generators, which are made of
coils and magnets.

5. The charged magnetic fields produce electricity, which is sent to homes by cables.
Future of Renewable Energy
Aside from biofuels, none of the renewable resources
discussed can be used directly to power mobile
transportation systems such as cars and trucks
Several methods are available, however, to convert these
energy sources for use in transportation
Perhaps the easiest way to use electricity to transport
people and goods is the old-fashioned electric train
Electric streetcars, commuter trains, and subways have
been used for decades
If we build more electric mass transit systems, and if people
use then, we could shift away from our dependence on the
internal-combustion engine and on petroleum
Eventually, the required electricity consumption could
be supplied by renewable energy sources
Another solution is the electric car
Battery-only and gasoline-electric hybrid cars have seen
a recent increase in popularity and availability
If that trend continues, perhaps we can further reduce
cost and dependence on petroleum

2012 Honda CR-Z Hybrid

A hybrid car uses a small.
Fuel-efficient gasoline engine
combined with an electric
motor that assists the engine
when accelerating
Hybrids consume less gas and
produce less pollution per mile
than conventional gasoline
Current models of hybrid cars
achieve fuel efficiencies
ranging from 51/48
(traffic/highway) to 31/27
miles per gallon, depending on
make and model
The Honda Civic Hybrid gets
10-15 miles more per gallon
than same car with a regular
gas engine
However, hybrids currently on
the market cost from $3,500-
Energy planners also envision a hydrogen economy, using a
process in which water is dissociated into hydrogen and
oxygen and the hydrogen is used as fuel
A necessary part of this process is an electrochemical device
called a fuel cell, which used the chemical energy of
hydrogen to produce electricity cleanly and efficiently, with
water and heat as by-products
One type of fuel cell separates hydrogens negatively charged
electron form the hydrogen nucleus, which then consists of a
single positively charged proton
The electrons, in turn, combine with oxygen, which then reacts
with the hydrogen proton to form water and heat energy
In some types of fuel cells, the electrons travel through an
electrical circuit to reach the other side of the cell
This movement of electrons is an electrical current
Thus, fuel cells can produce both heat and an electric
current, which can then be used as power sources for
transportation, electrical appliances, and most other
energy-consuming equipment
Fuel cells can provide energy for systems as large as a
power station and as small as a laptop computer
They can also power cars, trucks, trains, and other vehicles
There are many types of fuel cells, but they all consist of an anode, a cathode, and
an electrolyte that allows positively charged hydrogen ions (protons) to move between the two
sides of the fuel cell. The anode and cathode contain catalysts that cause the fuel to undergo
oxidation reactions that generate positively charged hydrogen ions and electrons. The
hydrogen ions are drawn through the electrolyte after the reaction. At the same time, electrons
are drawn from the anode to the cathode through an external circuit, producing direct
current electricity. At the cathode, hydrogen ions, electrons, and oxygen react to form water. As
the main difference among fuel cell types is the electrolyte, fuel cells are classified by the type
of electrolyte they use and by the difference in startup time ranging from 1 second for proton
exchange membrane fuel cells (PEM fuel cells, or PEMFC) to 10 minutes for solid oxide fuel
cells (SOFC). Individual fuel cells produce relatively small electrical potentials, about 0.7 volts,
so cells are "stacked", or placed in series, to create sufficient voltage to meet an application's
requirements.[2] In addition to electricity, fuel cells produce water, heat and, depending on the
fuel source, very small amounts of nitrogen dioxide and other emissions. The energy efficiency
of a fuel cell is generally between 4060%, or up to 85% efficient in cogeneration if waste heat
is captured for use.
A fuel cell is a device that converts
the chemical energy from a fuel into
electricity through a chemical reaction of
positively charged hydrogen ions with
oxygen or another oxidizing agent.[1] Fuel
cells are different from batteries in
requiring a continuous source of fuel and
oxygen or air to sustain the chemical
reaction, whereas in a battery the
chemicals present in the battery react
with each other to generate
an electromotive force (emf). Fuel cells
can produce electricity continuously for as
long as these inputs are supplied.
Scheme of a proton-conducting fuel cell
Demonstration model of a direct-methanol fuel cell. The
actual fuel cell stack is the layered cube shape in the
center of the image
Fuel cells have several benefits over fossil fuel and
nuclear technologies now used in power plants and
For one, fuel cells emit no pollutants that create smog and
cause health problems
They emit only water vapor
Although water vapor is a greenhouse gas, it is seen as a
lesser environmental threat than carbon dioxide
Hydrogen is an abundant component of water and other
common materials; the supply is nearly limitless
Energy Resources: Nuclear Fuels
and Reactors
Nuclear fuels are radioactive isotopes that produce heat
through nuclear reactions; the heat is used in turn to
generate electricity is nuclear reactors
Uranium is the most commonly used nuclear fuel
These energy resources, like mineral resources, are
nonrenewable, although uranium is abundant
Every step in the mining, processing, and use of nuclear
fuel produces radioactive wastes
The mine waste discarded during mining is radioactive
Enrichment of the ore produces additional radioactive wastes
When a uranium nucleus undergoes fission in a reactor, it
splits into two useless radioactive nuclei that must be
After several months in a reactor, the concentration of useful
uranium in the fuel rods drops until the fuel pellets are no
longer useful
In some countries, these pellets are reprocessed to recover
useful uranium fuel, but in the US this process is not
economical and the pellets are discarded as radioactive
In the early 1970s, the nuclear industry was growing
rapidly and many energy experts predicted that nuclear
energy would dominate the generation of electric
Some experts even suggested that electricity would
become too cheap to meter
These predictions have not been realized
Four factors led to the decline of the nuclear power industry:
(1)construction of new reactors in the US became so costly that
electricity generated by nuclear power became more
expensive than that generated by coal-fired power plants;
(2)after major accidents at Three Mile Island in the US and
Chernobyl in Ukraine, people became concerned about safety;
(3)Serious concerns remain about the safe disposal of nuclear
(4)The demand for electricity has risen less than expected
during the past three decades
As a result, growth of the nuclear power industry has nearly
After 1974, many planned nuclear power plants were
canceled, and after 1981 almost 30 years ago no new
orders were placed for nuclear power plants in the US
The dramatic turnaround led to serious financial
altercations; in 1985 Forbes business magazine called the
US nuclear power program the largest managerial disaster
in US business history, involving $1 trillion in wasted
investment and $10 billion in direct losses to stockholders
The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant or Chernobyl
Nuclear Power Station is a nuclear power
station under decommissioning near the city
of Pripyat, Ukraine, 14.5 km (9.0 mi) northwest of the
city of Chornobyl, 16 km (9.9 mi) from the Belarus
Ukraine border, and about 110 km (68 mi) north
of Kiev. Reactor No. 4 was the site of the Chernobyl
disaster in 1986 and the power plant is now within a
large restricted area known as the Chernobyl
Exclusion Zone. Both the zone and the former power
plant are administered by the State Agency in
Administration of Exclusion Zone (Ministry of Ecology
and Natural Resources).
An aerial view of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, shortly after the
disaster in April 1986, which released about 400 times more radiation
than the U.S. atomic bomb dropped over Hiroshima
The inside of the tomb which encases Chernobyl's unit 4
reactor which exploded, leaking vast amounts of radiation
Twenty five years since the world's worst
nuclear accident at the Chernobyl power
station, the surrounding settlements are still
ghost towns, with thousands of houses
abandoned and left to fall into ruin.

The blast on April 26, 1986, spewed a cloud

of radioactive fallout over much of Europe
and forced hundreds of thousands from their
homes in the most heavily hit areas in
Ukraine, Belarus and western Russia, and
contaminated pristine forests and farmland
with deadly radiation

City of the apocalypse: An abandoned building in the

deserted city of Pripyat, the closest to the Chernobyl
power plant which exploded 25 years ago
Scientists are deeply divided on how
many have died as a result of the
explosion, which released about 400
times more radiation than the U.S.
atomic bomb dropped over Hiroshima.

An international donors conference in

Kiev last week raised 485 million of
the 653 million needed to build a new
shelter and a storage facility for spent

A view from the top of a hotel in Pripyat, the town which

was built primarily to house workers from the Chernobyl
nuclear power station
Soviet officials did not report
the disaster for several days.
Even in the plant workers' town
of Pripyat, few knew what had
happened when the plant's No.
4 reactor blew up around
1.30am in the morning. The
official acknowledgement came
three days later.

Bumper cars riddled with rust sit in a fairground in Pripyat.

A 19-mile area around the plant has been largely
uninhabited since the nuclear leak.
The U.N.'s World Health Organization said at
a Kiev conference that among the 600,000
people most heavily exposed to radiation,
4,000 more cancer deaths than average are
expected to be eventually found.

An abandoned furniture shop on Lenin Avenue continues

to decay. The Chernobyl blast spewed a cloud of
radioactive fallout over much of Europe and forced
hundreds of thousands from their homes
Japan is struggling to bring the radiation-spewing
Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant under control
after 2011 earthquake and tsunami triggered
another nuclear disaster.

The Japanese Nuclear and Industrial Safety

Agency upgraded its rating of the Fukushima crisis
to the highest level on the International Nuclear and
Radiological Event Scale, placing it on par with
Chernobyl, the only other event to reach the
maximum rating of 7 on the INES scale.

However, Evgeny Akimov, a nuclear engineer and

the former head of the Chernobyl containment
facility, said he is convinced that the scale of the
disaster at the Fukushima plant is far smaller since
'no fuel has been discharged outside the reactor
A memorial to the victims of the Chernobyl disaster in front
of wrecked power station
The Philippine nuclear program
started in 1958 with the creation of
the Philippine Atomic Energy
Commission (PAEC) under Republic
Act 2067.[1] Under a regime of
martial law, Philippine
President Ferdinand Marcos in July
1973 announced the decision to
build a nuclear power plant.[1] A
presidential committee was set up to
secure funding for two 600
megawatt nuclear reactors for the
energy needs of Luzon.[2] This was
in response to the 1973 oil crisis, as
the Middle East oil embargo had put
a heavy strain on the Philippine
economy, and Marcos believed
Bataan Nuclear Power Plant is a nuclear power plant, completed but nuclear power to be the solution to
never fueled, on Bataan Peninsula, 100 kilometres (62 mi) west meeting the country's energy
of Manila in the Philippines. It is located on a 3.57 square kilometre demands and decreasing
government reservation at Napot Point in Morong, Bataan. It was the dependence on imported oil
Philippines' only attempt at building a nuclear power plant.
Elsewhere in the world, nuclear power production has
seen a 2% increase in generating capacity between 2003
and 2004, the highest rate of growth ever reached
Plants are currently under construction in several
countries, including India, Japan, and China
Wile some countries are decommissioning older plants
and replacing them with other forms of power, many have
plans for new nuclear reactors to be built in coming years
Today, with rising fuel prices, many US policy makers are
suggesting that the nuclear option be reconsidered
However, at the same time, alternative energy resources
such as wind and solar are being explored aggressively