Environmental Science – Non Renewable Energy Sources

Hey everyone! This post is about the four main types of non renewable energy sources!

Let’s begin with oil. Oil is created when microorganisms die and settle in the bottom of the oceans. They form a hydrocarbon mixture, and this is made up of the microorganisms, sediment, and runoff. Most of the world’s oil reserves are in the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia.

Oil’s molecular structure consists of a line of carbon, with certain hydroxide molecules attached. It is the second highest CO2, hydrogen sulfide, and hydrocarbon emitter. It produces the least electricity.

Coal is created when plants from biomes such as swamps and marshes die and slowly decompose. This mixes with sediment and gets compacted as it gets buried throughout the years.

Coal does not produce much electricity but has the most net energy, or energy return on how much energy was used. Its molecular structure looks like a block of carbon, but it is dirty (has other chemicals attached like Nitrogen, Sulfur, etc).

Coal exists in four stages, but the first stage is not considered coal:

Synfuels are a mix of coal and other energy sources which works well and has less of an environmental effect but they require high input. Examples are tar sands, coal gas, etc.

There are three ways to clean coal:

  • Coal Gasification: capturing the CO2 and pumping it into air spaces underground, not foolproof though
  • Liquidized Bed Combustion: mixing crushed coal with limestone to neutralize the substance at lower temperatures to produce less Nitrogen oxides and no Sulfur oxides
  • Scrubbers: using water spray and scrubs to remove attacked precipitate called sludge, a byproduct

Natural Gas is created and found above oil, and is a higher temperature. It has no sulfur and therefore does not contribute to acid rain.

This produces a bit more electricity than coal and has the molecular structure of methane.

Lastly, nuclear energy, is the energy with the highest input produced by a fission chain reaction with Uranium. Fission reactions is when a Uranium-235 atom takes in a neutron and then splits into two new atoms called fission fragments, while releasing three new neutrons and energy.

Nuclear energy produces the most electricity out of the four. Nuclear energy is largely protested due to tragic events such as 3 mile island, where a plant experienced a meltdown.

Thank you and stay tuned for more interesting talks! Keep helping the environment! 😀

-Written By: Neil D. 3/31/2019


Living in the Environment –


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