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Investigation into Fossil Fuels

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Introduction

Energy Homework COAL 1. Advantages:- * The price of coal has remained relatively stable in recent years in comparison to the costs of competing fuels. * Present day technology permits the burning of coal in a much cleaner fashion than in the past. * There is no present shortage of coal and it has ready availability. 2. Disadvantages:- * Coal is one of the dirtiest of fuels. Burning it produces enormous amounts of ash, and flue gasses containing pollutants such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, sulphuric acids and arsenic. It also produces almost twice as much carbon dioxide as gas (for the same heat). * These pollutants can be cleaned out of the system before they are released although this obviously adds an extra expense to the cost. There is also the danger that poorer or less conscientious countries will skimp on these controls. * There is also the environmental, human and energy cost of extracting the coal: subsidence, spoil heaps, miners' death and illnesses. It should be noted that something like 50% of the energy used to mine coal comes from oil. 3. How does it work?- Coal is another fossil fuel like oil and gas but created from vegetation that was compressed under pressure at the bottom of swamps, initially creating peat. ...read more.

Middle

WAVES 1. Advantages:- * The energy is free - no fuel needed, no waste produced. * Not expensive to operate and maintain. * Can produce a great deal of energy. 2. Disadvantages:- * Depends on the waves - sometimes you'll get loads of energy, sometimes nothing. * Needs a suitable site, where waves are consistently strong. * Some designs are noisy. 3. How it works:- At a wave power station, the waves arriving cause the water in the chamber to rise and fall, which means that air is forced in and out of the hole in the top of the chamber. We place a turbine in this hole, which is turned by the air rushing in and out. The turbine turns a generator. TIDAL 1. Advantages:- * Not expensive to maintain. * Tides are totally predictable. * Offshore turbines and vertical-axis turbines are not ruinously expensive to build and do not have a large environmental impact. 2. Disadvantages:- * A barrage across an estuary is very expensive to build, and affects a very wide area. * Only provides power for around 10 hours each day, when the tide is actually moving in or out. ...read more.

Conclusion

You need hot rocks of a suitable type, at a depth where we can drill down to them. The type of rock above is also important, it must be of a type that we can easily drill through. * Sometimes a geothermal site may "run out of steam", perhaps for decades. * Hazardous gases and minerals may come up from underground, and can be difficult to safely dispose of. 3. How does it work? Hot rocks underground heat water to produce steam. We drill holes down to the hot region, steam comes up, is purified and used to drive turbines, which drive electric generators. There may be natural "groundwater" in the hot rocks anyway, or we may need to drill more holes and pump water down to them. BIOMASS 1. Advantages:- * It makes sense to use waste materials where we can. * The fuel tends to be cheap. * Less demand on the Earth's resources. 2. Disadvantages:- * Collecting the waste in sufficient quantities can be difficult. * We burn the fuel, so it makes greenhouse gases. * Some waste materials are not available all year round 3. How does it work? The fuel is burned, which heats water into steam, which turns turbines, which in turn drive generators, just like in a fossil-fuel power station. ...read more.

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