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Unformatted text preview: This page last updated on 14-Mar-2011 EENS 1110 Physical Geology Tulane University Prof. Stephen A. Nelson Energy Resources Energy Energy is the capacity to do work and is required for life processes. An energy resource is something that can produce heat, power life, move objects, or produce electricity. Matter that stores energy is called a fuel. Human energy consumption has grown steadily .throughout human history. Early humans had modest energy requirements, mostly food and fuel for fires to cook and keep warm. In today's society, humans consume as much as 110 times as much energy per person as early humans. Most of the energy we use today come from fossil fuels (stored solar energy). But fossils fuels have a disadvantage in that they are non-renewable on a human time scale, and cause other potentially harmful effects on the environment. In any event, the exploitation of all energy sources (with the possible exception of direct solar energy used for heating), ultimately rely on materials on planet Earth. Some of the questions we want to answer in this discussion are: 1. What sources of Energy are available? 2. How do the energy sources rely on resources available on Earth? 3. Which energy sources are renewable on a human time scale? 4. Since fossil fuels (oil, natural gas, coal) are our main source of energy, how are they formed, how do we find them and exploit them? 5. What is the future for our energy needs? Energy Sources There are 5 fundamental sources of energy: 1. Nuclear fusion in the Sun (solar energy) 2. Gravity generated by the Earth & Moon. 3. Nuclear fission reactions. 4. Energy in the interior of the Earth. 5. Energy stored in chemical bonds. Solar Energy Solar Energy arrives from the Sun by electromagnetic radiation. It can be used directly for heat and converted to electricity for other uses. It is a nearly unlimited source, it is renewable, and largely, non-polluting. Gravity Generated by the Earth & Moon . Gravitational pull of the Moon on the Earth causes tides. Tidal flow can be harnessed to drive Energy Resources 3/14/2011 Page 1 of 11 turbines. This is also a nearly unlimited source of energy and is largely non-polluting. Combining both both solar energy and gravity provides other useful sources of energy. Solar radiation heats air and evaporates water. Gravity causes cooler air to sink and condense water vapor. Gravity then pulls condensed water back to Earth, where it flows downhill. The circulation of the atmosphere by the process is what we call the wind. Energy can be extracted from the wind using windmills. Water flowing downhill has a result of gravity can also be harnessed for energy to drive turbines and generate electricity. This is called hydroelectric energy. This sources of energy are mostly renewable, but only locally, and are generally non- polluting....
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This note was uploaded on 02/01/2012 for the course EENS 1110 taught by Professor Staff during the Fall '10 term at Tulane.
- Fall '10