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Alternative Energy Physics

Alternative Energy Physics - Chelsea Martin AP Env Sci...

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Chelsea Martin Alternative Energy AP Env Sci ~Farkas March 2008 Our world has become technologically advanced and the human population is ever growing. This combination is bad and in recent years our energy needs have skyrocketed because of this. In our busy lives we take energy for granted, we hardly think about plugging in our computers or turning on a light switch in the bathroom. In our country, burning coal is the most popular way to get energy but this method can be very detrimental to the environment. In order to protect our planet, we should investigate ways to create the same amount of energy without harming our environment. In general, there are four main types of coal used by humans. Anthracite, also called hard coal, is 86% carbon, making it have a higher percentage than in other forms. It was once thee most favored type of coal in the early 1900’s but its usage has decreased in recent years in favor of oil and natural gas. Bituminous is a soft coal that is found in great abundance in the Appalachian Mountains and on the Central Plains but is of lower quality. Sub-bituminous coal is also widely available and of a higher quality. Used mainly in Europe and Russia, Lignite, or brown coal, is low quality yet it is the most widely available form of coal. There are also many ways in which you can mine for coal. Mining for coal can be just as bad for the earth as it’s actual burning. Methods include: Underground mining, Strip mining, Conventional mining, Longwall mining, and Surface mining just to name a few. When you are mining there are many different laws you must follow to protect the land but none are completely prefect. Many types of mining create huge amounts of overburden and it is extremely hard to restore the land to its original
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state afterwards. Sometimes entire ecosystems can be destroyed due to mining for coal. Today, the burning of coal generates more than half of America’s energy. When coal is burned a number of by products are released into the atmosphere. Coal-fired power plants are spewing 59% of total U.S. sulfur dioxide pollution and 18% of total nitrogen oxides every year. When sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides are mixed together
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