nonrenewable energy resources

consequences of natural gas use

Processing natural gas has harmful effects on the environment, just like oil. Natural gas burns cleaner than other fossil fuels. As a result, it causes less air pollution. It also produces less carbon dioxide than the other fossil fuels. Still, natural gas does emit pollutants.

problems with fossil fuels

Fossil fuels present many problems. These fuels are non-renewable resources, so our supplies of them will eventually run out. Safety can be a problem, too. Since these fuels burn so easily, a natural gas leak in a building or an underground pipe can lead to a deadly explosion. Using fossil fuels affects the environment in a variety of ways. There are impacts to the environment when we extract these resources. Burning these fuels causes air pollution. These fuels release carbon dioxide, which is a major factor in global warming (Figure 5.5). Many of the problems with fossil fuels are worse for coal than for oil or natural gas. Burning coal releases more carbon dioxide than either oil or natural gas. Yet coal is the most common fossil fuel, so we continue to burn large amounts of it. That makes coal the biggest contributor to global warming. Another problem with coal is that most coal contains sulfur. As it burns, the sulfur goes into the air as sulfur dioxide. Sulfur dioxide is the main cause of acid rain. Acid rain can be deadly to plants, animals, and whole ecosystems. Burning coal also puts a large number of small solid particulates into the air. These particles are dangerous to people, especially those who have asthma. People with asthma may end up in the hospital on days when particulate pollution is high.

textbook_image

nuclear energy

Nuclear energy is produced by splitting the nucleus of an atom. This releases a huge amount of energy.

how nuclear power plants work

Nuclear power plants use uranium that has been concentrated in fuel rods (Figure 5.6). The uranium atoms are split apart when they are hit by other extremely tiny particles. These particles must be controlled or they would cause a dangerous explosion. Nuclear power plants use the energy they produce to heat water. The water turns into steam, which causes a turbine to spin. This in turn produces electricity.

using oil

Using gasoline to power automobiles affects the environment. The exhaust fumes from burning gasoline cause air pollution. These pollutants include smog and ground-level ozone. Air pollution is a big problem for cities where large numbers of people drive every day. Burning gasoline also produces carbon dioxide. This is a greenhouse gas and is a cause of global warming. Similar pollutants come from other forms of oil.

natural gas

Natural gas is mostly methane.

how natural gas forms

Natural gas is often found along with coal or oil in underground deposits. This is because natural gas forms with these other fossil fuels. One difference between natural gas and oil is that natural gas forms at higher temperatures.

natural gas use

The largest natural gas reserves in the United States are located in the Rocky Mountain states, Texas, and the Gulf of Mexico region. California also has natural gas, mostly in the northern Sacramento Valley and the Sacramento Delta. Natural gas must be processed before it can be used as a fuel. Poisonous chemicals and water must be removed. Natural gas is delivered to homes, where it is used for cooking and heating. Natural gas is also a major energy source for powering turbines to make electricity. Natural gas releases most of its energy as heat when it burns. The power plant is able to use this heat, either in the form of hot gases or steam, to spin turbines. The spinning turbines turn generators, and the generators create electricity.

nuclear power and a resource

Many countries around the world use nuclear energy as a source of electricity. For example, France gets about 80% of its electricity from nuclear energy. In the United States, a little less than 20% of electricity comes from nuclear energy. Nuclear energy does not pollute. If there are no accidents, a nuclear power plant releases nothing but steam into the air. But nuclear energy does create other environmental problems. Splitting atoms creates dangerous radioactive waste. These wastes can remain dangerous for hundreds of thousands of years. Scientists and engineers are still looking for ways to keep this waste safely away from people.

textbook_image

kqed nuclear energy use

Nuclear power is a controversial subject in California and most other places. Nuclear power has no pollutants including carbon emissions, but power plants are not always safe and the long-term disposal of wastes is a problem that has not yet been solved. The future of nuclear power is murky. Find out more at: http://science.kqed.org/ques MEDIA Click image to the left or use the URL below. URL:

gasoline

Gasoline is a concentrated resource. It contains a large amount of energy for its weight. This is important because the more something weighs, the more energy is needed to move it. If gasoline could only provide a little energy, a car would have to carry a lot of it to be able to travel very far. Or the car would need to be filled up frequently. So a highly concentrated energy resource is a practical fuel to power cars and other forms of transportation. Lets consider how gasoline powers a car. As gasoline burns, it releases most of its energy as heat. It also releases carbon dioxide gas and water vapor. The heat makes the gases expand. This forces the pistons inside the engine to move. The engine makes enough power to move the car.

types of oil

Oil comes out of the ground as crude oil. Crude oil is a mixture of many different hydrocarbons. Oil is separated into different compounds at an oil refinery (Figure 5.4). This is done by heating the oil. Each hydrocarbon compound in crude oil boils at a different temperature. We get gasoline, diesel, and heating oil, plus waxes, plastics, and fertilizers from crude oil. These fuels are rich sources of energy. Since they are mostly liquids they can be easily transported. These fuels provide about 90% of the energy used for transportation around the world.

formation of fossil fuels

Fossil fuels are made from plants and animals that lived hundreds of millions of years ago. The plants and animals died. Their remains settled onto the ground and at the bottom of the sea. Layer upon layer of organic material was laid down. Eventually, the layers were buried very deeply. They experienced intense heat and pressure. Over millions of years, the organic material turned into fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are compounds of carbon and hydrogen, called hydrocarbons. Hydrocarbons can be solid, liquid, or gas. The solid form is coal. The liquid form is petroleum, or crude oil. The gaseous form is natural gas.

how coal forms

Coal forms from dead plants that settled at the bottom of swamps millions of years ago. Water and mud in the swamp kept oxygen away from the plant material. Sand and clay settled on top of the decaying plants. The weight of this material squeezed out the water and some other substances. Over time, the organic material became a carbon-rich rock. This rock is coal.

coal

Coal is a solid hydrocarbon. Coal is useful as a fuel, especially for generating electricity.

mining coal

Around the world, coal is the largest source of energy for electricity. The United States is rich in coal. Pennsylvania and the region to the west of the Appalachian Mountains are some of the most coal-rich areas of the United States. Coal has to be mined to get it out of the ground. Coal mining affects the environment and human health. Coal mining can take place underground or at the surface. Each method has some advantages and disadvantages. Surface mining exposes minerals that were underground to air and water at the surface. These minerals contain the chemical element sulfur. Sulfur mixes with air and water to make sulfuric acid. This acid is a highly corrosive chemical. Sulfuric acid gets into nearby streams and can kill fish, plants, and animals. Surface mining is safer for the miners. Coal mining underground is dangerous for the coal miners. Miners are sometimes killed if there is an explosion or a mine collapse. Miners breathe in coal dust and can get terrible lung diseases after a number of years in the mines.

what coal is

Coal is a black or brownish-black rock that burns easily (Figure 5.3). Most coal is sedimentary rock. The hardest type of coal, anthracite, is a metamorphic rock. That is because it is exposed to higher temperature and pressure as it forms. Coal is mostly carbon, but some other elements can be found in coal, including sulfur.

textbook_image

oil

Oil is a thick, dark brown or black liquid. It is found in rock layers of the Earths crust. Oil is currently the most commonly used source of energy in the world.

using coal

To prepare coal for use, the coal is first crushed into powder and burned in a furnace. Like other fuels, coal releases most of its energy as heat when it burns. The heat from the burning coal is used to boil water. This makes steam. The steam spins turbines, which creates electricity.

mining oil

The United States produces only about one-quarter as much oil as it uses. The main oil producing regions in the U.S. are the Gulf of Mexico, Texas, Alaska, and California. Geologists look for oil in folded layers of rock called anticlines. Oil moves through permeable rock and is trapped by the impermeable cap rock.

textbook_image

how oil forms

The way oil forms is similar in many ways to coal. Tiny organisms like plankton and algae die and settle to the bottom of the sea. Sediments settle over the organic material. Oxygen is kept away by the sediments. When the material is buried deep enough, it is exposed to high heat and pressure. Over millions of years, the organic material transforms into liquid oil.

instructional diagrams

No diagram descriptions associated with this lesson

questions

To be useful, oil must be located in a(n) _ rock layer and trapped by a(n) _ rock layer.

a. impermeable, permeable

-->  b. permeable, impermeable

c. impermeable, impermeable

d. permeable, permeable

Which of the following fuels produces the least amount of carbon dioxide per unit of energy?

a. coal

b. oil

-->  c. natural gas

d. all of these produce the same amount of carbon dioxide.

Fuel made primarily of methane is called

a. coal

b. petroleum

-->  c. natural gas

d. liquid gas

The main gases that are a by-product of burning gasoline are

-->  a. water vapor and carbon dioxide

b. carbon dioxide and sulfur compounds

c. sulfur compounds and nitrogen compounds

d. nitrogen compounds and carbon dioxide

Nuclear power that is currently in use comes from.

a. combustion of uranium atoms

-->  b. splitting uranium atoms

c. fusing uranium atoms

d. breaking electrons away from a uranium atom

fossil fuel that produces the least pollution when burned

a. methane

b. hydrocarbon

c. uranium

-->  d. natural gas

e. petroleum

f. anthracite

g. coal

hardest form of coal

a. methane

b. hydrocarbon

c. uranium

d. natural gas

e. petroleum

-->  f. anthracite

g. coal

solid fossil fuel

a. methane

b. hydrocarbon

c. uranium

d. natural gas

e. petroleum

f. anthracite

-->  g. coal

Fossil fuels come from the remains of ancient organisms.

-->  a. true

b. false

element used to produce nuclear power

a. methane

b. hydrocarbon

-->  c. uranium

d. natural gas

e. petroleum

f. anthracite

g. coal

Hydrocarbons are all liquids, like gasoline.

a. true

-->  b. false

liquid fossil fuel

a. methane

b. hydrocarbon

c. uranium

d. natural gas

-->  e. petroleum

f. anthracite

g. coal

main component of natural gas

-->  a. methane

b. hydrocarbon

c. uranium

d. natural gas

e. petroleum

f. anthracite

g. coal

Oil and gas will fill our needs for a time period on the order of thousands of years.

a. true

-->  b. false

any compound consisting of carbon and hydrogen

a. methane

-->  b. hydrocarbon

c. uranium

d. natural gas

e. petroleum

f. anthracite

g. coal

Nuclear power plants produce so much energy because the process is not controlled.

a. true

-->  b. false

Natural gas is useful as a fuel more-or-less as it comes out of the ground.

-->  a. true

b. false

Which fossil fuel formed from dead plants that settled to the bottom of swamps millions of years ago?

-->  a. coal

b. crude oil

c. petroleum

d. natural gas

What happens to crude oil at a refinery?

a. It is separated into different compounds.

b. It is removed from rock layers.

c. It is heated.

-->  d. two of the above

Which products are made from crude oil?

a. gasoline

b. plastic

c. fertilizer

-->  d. all of the above

The fossil fuel that is the biggest contributor to global warming is

a. oil.

-->  b. coal.

c. diesel fuel.

d. natural gas.

Dead organisms turn to fossil fuels when they are exposed to

a. oxygen.

b. sulfuric acid.

-->  c. heat and pressure.

d. underground water.

Which statement about natural gas is false?

-->  a. It releases no air pollutants when burned.

b. It forms at higher temperatures than crude oil.

c. It must be processed before it is used as a fuel.

d. It produces less carbon dioxide than other fossil fuels.

What does a properly operating nuclear power plant release into the air?

a. carbon dioxide

b. sulfur dioxide

c. particulates

-->  d. steam

Fossil fuels are compounds known as hydrocarbons.

-->  a. true

b. false

Unlike other types of coal, anthracite is igneous rock.

a. true

-->  b. false

Most of the coal in the United States is found in the Rocky Mountains.

a. true

-->  b. false

Petroleum formed at the bottom of ancient seas.

-->  a. true

b. false

The United States produces more oil than it uses.

a. true

-->  b. false

Burning gasoline leads to smog and ground-level ozone.

-->  a. true

b. false

Natural gas is obtained from Earths atmosphere.

a. true

-->  b. false

Most coal contains the element sulfur.

-->  a. true

b. false

Nuclear energy is a renewable energy resource.

a. true

-->  b. false

Fuel rods in nuclear power plants are made of carbon.

a. true

-->  b. false

diagram questions

No diagram questions associated with this lesson