Crude Oil and Alternative Sources
The main source of energy, in the United States is crude oil, and throughout the world. Once crude is refined, provides gasoline, kerosene, and diesel fuel. These refined derivatives are required for most our transpiration needs. As well, used in the petrochemical industry, Medicine, paints, and other useful manufacturing of materials. Crude is a fossil fuel, that when consumed causes greenhouses gases including carbon dioxide, and other pollutants into the atmosphere. Crude is not a nonrenewable source of energy in the same category as natural gas, shale oil, coal, and nuclear fission. Limited amount available in the ground, and ever increasing demand, which has seen the price of crude oil increase to around sixty dollars a barrel. The United States imported 11.8 million barrels of crude oil throughout most of 2004, which represented 58 percent of U.S. oil demand. During the same time, United States consumed approximately 20.4 million barrels of crude oil. Certainly, there are alternatives sources of energy, which is renewable. These sources produce little or no pollution, and will be less reliant upon importing crude oil. When more alternatives sources of crude oil are consumed, then demand for crude oil will decrease, and price.
Alternative Sources of Crude Oil
Biomass is the process that converts organic resources, to produce energy. Includes wood, crops, and waste, which are all renewable that can be grown. Most common use has been wood. Almost from the beginning of time, used to provide sources of energy, and heat. Unfortunately, there is only a limited number of trees in the world, which environmentally harmful to reduce or totally eliminate. Modern wood stoves have provided more efficient use of wood. Biomass has evolved to convert resources into liquid fuels that are used for transportation. Landfills can be converted by their natural resources into Methane gas, which is the main ingredient of natural gas. Two most common biofuels are ethanol, and biodiesel. Ethanol derived from fermenting high carbohydrates, such as corn into alcohol. Advantages for Ethanol include power fuel cells, easy to store, and provide hydrogen. Use to produce electricity. Also, Ethanol reduces the amount of carbon monoxide. However, Ethanol adds aldehydes and alcohol to the atmosphere, which is carcinogenic (May cause cancer). Biodiesel is the process of converting animals fats, vegetables oils, algae or recycled cooking grease into a diesel additive to reduce auto emissions or one hundred percent fuel for vehicles.
Hydroelectric power produces electricity by water falling, through turbine blades. Power is generated first by storing water in a reservoir next to a dam on a river. The water is released from the reservoir, which flows through a generator, that activities turbines which produce electricity. Many hydroelectric plants are located in Kansas and Florida. Consider a renewable source of energy, because normal rainfall renews the water in the reservoir. Unfortunately this power source needs a lot of water, and land where to build. Small versions of a hydroelectric power system can produce enough electricity for a community, home, ranch or farm.
Solar Power Energy comes from either Thermal Solar or Photovoltaic. When materials are heated by the sun to produce heat that can be used or stored referred to as Thermal Solar Power. Examples are solar hot water tanks, at home or business. Phtotovoltaic power occurs when sunlight generates electricity from a solar power cell. A cell is semiconducting material that absorbs sunlight. Solar cells used often to power calculators, and watches. During the process, sunlight is absorbed on a solar cell, and electrons are pushed loose, from their atoms. This causes the electrons, to flow through the material, to produce electricity (Voltage). Large Commercial buildings can use Solar Collectors to heat buildings, besides providing hot water. During the summer time, these collectors can be used to provide energy to fuel cooling systems of a building. A Direct Gain system, slowly distributes heat in building throughout the day, and night. Disadvantages using Solar Power works only in sunny climates, and does not work at night, unless stored energy is released during night time hours.
Wind Energy power occurs when air flows, through windmill blades that are connected to Electrical Generator.
The electricity can be send to a power grid. A modern Wind Mill can generate 750,000 to one million watts of energy per hour, based upon wind conditions. An average home uses one kilowatt per hour. Large turbine can power 500 homes. The average per cost kilowatt an hour is five cents. California and Hawaii have over 15,000 turbine windmills. Disadvantages of wind energy noisy when operating, visually not always acceptable in some communities, birds been known to be killed by wind mills, and not significant amount of energy produced, and only works in certain regions where windy conditions are prevalent.
Wave Energy produces electricity as pistons are moved up and down by waves that turn turbines. These devices are located in one of three locations shoreline, nearshore, or offshore. Along the northern coast of California, has the highest wave potential in the United States. Coastal communities are the greatest beneficiaries. Disadvantages are wave energy is not dependable to produce a reliable source of power, not a significant amount of power, a wave energy converter placed in the ocean maybe harmful to marine life, and interfere with navigation of commercial and sport fishing.
Tidal power produces electricity by a dam or barrage, which is built across a coastal bay or estuary. As the tide goes in and out, water flows through a tunnel in the dam, which in turns the water turbines or move blades along a shaft, that generate electricity. Tides are caused by the gravitational pull of the moon, and sun. The largest tidal power station in the world located Rance estuary northern France. This was built in 1966. Drawback for tidal power energy only generates power when the tide is flowing in or out. That happens only ten hours a day.
Fusion energy is the power source of the sun and stars. This happens when lightest atom hydrogen is heated to very high temperature, in the millions of degrees. During the process, forms gas of plasma. In the plasma hydrogen atoms combine or fuse to form a heavier atom of helium. During the fuse process, some of the hydrogen is converted into large amounts of energy. Harnessing this energy is extremely fuel efficient, and does not pollute the air. For example, a car could travel 7,000 miles per gallon. Unfortunately fusion power has not yet been produced because of the high amount of energy, and heat involved that causes instability.
Fuel cells convert the chemicals of hydrogen, and oxygen into water, and in the process produces electricity. This type of energy can be harnessed for power plants, gasoline for vehicles, battery for laptops, and cell phones. Fuel cells are classified by type of electrolytes they use (Proton Exchange Membrane, Platinum, or Alkaline. Anyone of these, operates at temperatures that require conversion of fuel, to hydrogen outside the fuel cell), and the different types of fuel cells available. Fuel cells work in stationary power plants, work small portable applications or powering cars. Fuel Cells never run out of energy or never require to be recharged. Also, the byproduct of hydrogen fuel cells is water, contrary to coal, oil, and natural gas where by the byproduct is carbon dioxide, which pollutes the atmosphere. Drawback for fuel cell technology, if hydrogen escapes from a fuel cell, would enter into the atmosphere. Large amounts of hydrogen in the atmosphere can cause ozone depletion.
Nuclear Energy is the second largest source of electricity. Producing nuclear energy, works when Uranium atom is bombarded with neutrons. During this process, the splitting the atom of Uranium, and releasing energy in the form of heat. This process repeats itself by further splitting small Uranium atoms producing more energy. The energy that is released would be collected, and used to produce steam from water, which is used to turn a turbine, to produce electricity. In the United States there are 109 nuclear plants. In 2015, the United Stated Department of Energy expects forty percent of the U.S. nuclear reactors will be retired, once they have reached their life expectancy. Nuclear Energy reduces substantially the demand on importing crude oil. Most environmentalists are very happy to have nuclear energy for many reasons. This type of energy does not omit toxic gases into the atmosphere include nitrogen oxide or carbon dioxide, compared to other fossil fuels. Water discharged from a plant is safe, for marine life. Many facilities provide nature parks or wildlife sanctuaries. Nuclear plants require least amount of land compared to a wind Energy facility. Unfortunately the drawbacks for Nuclear Energy include the possibility of radiation leak into the atmosphere, and nuclear waste that has to be properly disposed, since that will be radioactive for thousands of years.
President Bush has presented to Congress, a New Energy Bill. The plan Energy Bill Includes: Reducing dependence on Foreign Sources of Energy, by providing incentives for more Hybrid Vehicles, and Tax Credits for Clean Diesel Vehicles. Furthermore, Drill for crude oil in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, reduce regulations for refineries to expand, increase investments for further expansion of Hydrogen, Ethanol, and Biodiesel fuels.