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Classification and Divison Essay on different "sources of energy."

Aug 3, 2009   #1
Hey, this is my classification and division essay on different "sources of energy." He gave us the ability to choose what we wanted to do our classification and division essay on, but I'm not quite sure if I have the correct approach on the essay of the "classification and division;" I'm just not sure if I did the essay right, but who knows maybe I did. >_> But yeah I was just looking for any feedback that anyone would want to give. (: I am also not sure how well my intro and conclusion are, or if I even really did my conclusion right for this type of essay... I kinda felt like I was just explaining the things the whole time; any feedback on if I'm doing the essay right, how you think it is, or any revisions would be fantastic. Also, I have some references throughout the paper for me and I still plan on citing it and making my works cited page before I turn it in, as I obviously did not know all of the information. Thanks in advance. (:

How do you power your house? Last year, eighty-eight percent of the world's total energy use came from fossil fuels and nuclear power; however, according to David Yarnold, the Executive Director of Environmental Defense Fund, seventy percent of Iceland's total energy (and nearly one-hundred percent of its electricity and heat) comes from two of the income, or renewable resources: geothermal and hydroelectric. Why do some places in the world use different energy sources than others; does it matter which one we use? The world uses three unique types of resources to power itself: fossil fuels, nuclear power, and renewable resources.

Fossil fuels account for almost eighty-three percent of the world's energy. Fossil fuels, also called mineral fuels, form from the decomposition of plants and animals that died millions, sometimes even hundreds of millions, of years ago. Fossil fuels are also non-renewable - this means that when we use all of the fossil fuels, we will not have a chance to get the back or use them ever again; they are gone. By burning these fossil fuels, we produce heat and energy to fuel anything from houses and cars to boats and planes. Another distinct factor that makes fossil fuels unique is the carbon-dioxide gas that these fossil fuels emit when we burn them for energy. Many people altercate that burning fossil fuels dramatically harms the environment; others say that it has almost no effect on the environment. Even though people complain about the excessive usage of fossil fuels, they are still the most used resource and people still have trouble finding new ways to use other resources. Fossil fuels exist in three forms: coal, petroleum (crude oil), and natural gas.

Coal is a fossil fuel in the solid form. We generally obtain coal by mining it. Machines remove the layers of rock and soil before the coal and the coal is mined. Once the mining is completed, the coal must be processed and cleaned, to remove unwanted materials that can decrease efficiency of the coal. Without proper care, mining can destroy the environment. Once the miners have mined finished mining the coal, they replace the soil they moved and replant the plants they removed. When we burn coal as fuel, the coal gives off a myriad of gases, most of which are harmful to us and our environment. If we release too much in an area, it can affect the way trees work, and the pollution can combine with the moisture in the air and cause smog and acid rain. Some people use charcoal, coal that has been refined and can be used to cook, to cook their food; some do it just because it is a grill, others like the added flavor the smoke from charcoal gives.

Petroleum is a fossil fuel in liquid form. To obtain petroleum, scientists choose an area that has a high concentration of the petroleum, drill a hole, and build a derrick (the tower-like framework over an oil well) to hold pipes that go into the well. When finished, the drilled well will bring a steady flow of oil back up to the surface. Because we import most of our petroleum from overseas countries, we have the possibility of oil spills. If something goes wrong during the transfer of oil from an overseas country, oil can be spilled and harm the wildlife. Petroleum also harms the environment by seeping out of boats or jet skis and any that has seeped out of cars or gas stations and washed into gutters that flow into rivers or the ocean. We use petroleum to fuel cars, heat houses, and propane tanks that have many uses. Small amounts of petroleum can also be found in gum, deodorant, tires, and crayons.

Natural gas, as established in its name, is the gaseous form of fossil fuels. To retrieve natural gas, a geologist must locate the types of rock that are known to contain gas and oil deposits. Much like with petroleum, the engineers start to drill if they believe they have found a good site; some of the places they drill are on land, but others are offshore in the ocean. Once the gas is found, it flows up through the well and into large pipelines. Mercaptin, a chemical that has a sulfur-like odor, is added before distribution of the gas as a safety device in case there are leaks. Natural gas is the cleanest of the fossil fuels, which means it does not damage the environment as much when we burn it. Paints, plastics, medicines, and explosives contain natural gas. According to eia.doe.gov, more than sixty-two percent of homes use natural gas to fuel stoves, furnaces, water heaters, clothes dryers, and other household appliances.

Nuclear energy is the colossal amount of energy in the nucleus of an atom; the energy that bonds atoms together. We can attempt to harness that energy two different ways: nuclear fission and nuclear fusion. Nuclear fission is splitting apart the atom which produces energy that we can use for electricity. The atom that most nuclear fission plants use is uranium, a non-renewable resource. The uranium is mined, but raw uranium cannot be used. Scientists extract the isotope, an element that has the same number of protons as the normal one, but a different number of neutrons, Uranium-235 because it is easy to split apart. Nuclear fission plants use the heat generated from splitting the atom to generate electricity. Nuclear energy is basically pure and does not harm the air at all; however, there can be nuclear waste products. Most of the time, the emissions are low radiation, which means that it can be cleaned up easily with just ordinary tools and protective clothing, but sometimes the process can emit high radiation emissions which must be stored in a cooled pool that acts as a shield. As for fusion, we do not have any active fusion reactors because we are not yet able to harness the heat given off efficiently and completely safe.

In contrast to the non-renewable resources, the use of renewable resources is a much cleaner way to provide energy, but they are much harder to use on a large scale. Renewable resources are generally much more expensive than non-renewable ones and are not always feasible to use. Researchers are constantly attempting to find new and easier ways to use these renewable resources because they are the cleanest and could be the cheapest if we learned to use then right. These resources are used for transportation, electricity, and power for industrial purposes. We use five different renewable energy sources: solar power, wind power, geothermal power, hydroelectric power, and biomass fuel.

Solar power is using solar panels to harness the sun's energy to produce electricity, fuel cars, heat pools, or heat houses. The power is completely clean, but many problems may arise with the use of it. When the day turns to night, no light is available to harness, so anything using the solar power to run itself with shut off, unless it can store some of the energy it gained during the day. Also, depending on the clouds, the amount of light may not be sufficient to provide the energy needed to power what needs to be powered.

Wind power is getting energy or power from moving air by using windmills. The windmills spin and create energy which is mainly used for electricity. The energy created from this is completely clean; however, there are many problems. The wind does not blow all of the time, so one would definitely need a back-up power source for when the wind wasn't blowing. Electricity, tornadoes, or big storms could also present the problem of breaking the machines; they are made sturdy, but sometimes nature just does what it wants.

Hydroelectric power is harnessing the power of moving water and using it to spin turbines that produce electricity. This type of power produces no waste products and does not pollute the water or air; however, by placing these turbines and dams in the water, we can hurt the habitats of the wildlife living in and near these rivers. Scientists are also attempting to find efficient ways to use a "hydrogen fuel-cell" to power cars. The fuel-cell turns hydrogen into electricity, and the car then emits the water back, but right now it is very hard to use this method on a large scale, meaning we cannot use it to fuel cars and other things just yet.

Biomass is organic material made from plants and animals. Biomass is a renewable resource of energy because we can always grow more crops if we need to. Wood is also a biomass, and people have been burning wood for centuries. Corn and other crops can be turned into ethanol, a fuel made from the sugars found in certain crops. Ethanol is used to fuel cars and other things; scientists are trying to make a cheaper and more efficient way to make ethanol because it is better for the environment and they want a back-up in case they cannot use fossil fuels anymore. Burning wood and ethanol does create waste, but it is not as bad as fossil fuels. Also, other wood waste products must be buried in landfills, which means that we must make space and throw the waste in that space, which is not the best thing for the environment.

Geothermal energy is energy obtained from the heat within the earth. If volcanoes/underwater volcanoes are nearby, we can use the steam and heat to heat buildings or generate electricity. The melted rock, or magma, sometimes comes from the mantle of the earth through the crust which creates these volcanoes. Geothermal energy can only be obtained from places with volcanoes, hot springs, or geysers, which makes it a useless form of energy to inland places of the world. Because geothermal energy does not burn fuel to generate electricity, it is clean and emits very low amounts of pollution.

Although each resource is unique, they are all used all around the world for a variety of things. People are still using fossil fuels because they are abundant (for now) and easy for everyone to obtain and use them; however, because they are running out, scientists are looking for new ways to mass produce electricity and energy efficiently with lower rates of emitting waste. Each way of providing energy is important, and it is especially important to the specific places that can use that energy unlike other parts of the world. For this reason, it is important that we make use of what we have now, and try to better prepare for the future by finding new ways to harness energy from the things the planet has given to us.

Aug 4, 2009   #2
Well, you've classified and divided, and that at great length. You might want to look, though at how the classifications can be blurred. Fossil fuels, for instance, are technically renewable -- it just takes millions of years for nature to get around to doing the renewing. Human technology might be able to speed that up a little, though: technologyreview.com/Biztech/19128/

Also, when you mention hydro power, you might want to mention that, while it is the most effective of the renewable power sources we've got, the major drawback is that it can only be used where there is running water. So, like wind and solar power, it is limited in scope. However, again, technology might make it possible to harness hydro in much greater quantities: newenergyfocus.com/do/ecco.py/view_item?listid=1&listcatid=1 23&listitemid=2609
Aug 4, 2009   #3
Ah yeah alright; thanks so much, especially for the info on the fossil fuels. And my professor said not to use "be" verbs as much anymore, and in my past three essays I used none, but then I found out he doesn't really care... Do you think I may have used too many and should change some? This is the first essay I didn't try to step away.
Aug 4, 2009   #4
Your professor is quite right -- I've written an article for this site encouraging students to use strong verbs, precisely because over-reliance on weak ones such as "to be" is such a common problem. The stronger your verbs the stronger your writing, so it would be good to cultivate a habit of employing them whenever possible.
Aug 7, 2009   #5
Don't let Sean's quibble with the characterization of fossil fuels as non-renewable throw you off. In both common and technical parlance, fossil fuels are considered non-renewable sources of energy. You are safe classifying them as such.
Aug 8, 2009   #6
Natural fossil fuels, yes. Biofuels are universally considered renewable, as you point out. So, if petroleum becomes a biofuel (which has already happened on small scales) the boundary becomes less clear. You don't have to mention this in your essay, but it's really interesting.

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