Coal is a fossil fuel that can be burned to produce steam to generate electricity. Water pollution from coal energy production are heavy metals such as arsenic and lead in which are very hazardous to human and envronmental health. Coal energy pollution also releases quite an array of air pollutants. Methane is released during coal purification.
It is estimated that 9 out of every 10 atoms in the universe are hydrogen atoms. This abundant chemical is also highly reactive, and can be harnessed for electricity. Combined with oxygen, hydrogen can be used to produce high quantities of energy in the form of electricity. Unfortunately, most of earth’s hydrogen exists in the form of water and it takes a substantial amount of energy to remove hydrogen atoms from water molecules, just to convert it back into water in order to produce electricity. It is a very environmentally friendly and renewable energy source.
Nuclear energy comes from splitting uranium atoms to release heat to generate steam to produce electricity. This process produces radioactive wastes and well as water pollutants such as heavy metals, salts, heat, and radioactive material. These materials are very hazardous to human and environmental health. Uranium is nonrenewable but has a very high usable energy yield. However, the infrastructure required to mine, refine, safely ship and handle it before, during, and after electricity production is immense.
Natural gas is a form of fossil fuel that produces fewer emissions than oil or coal and produce negligible solid pollutants. Natural gas can be burned in a turbine to produce electricity, it can be used to boil water, producing steam which can be used to generate electricity, or a combination of both.
The earth and everything on it is constantly bathing in solar energy. Solar collectors can harness this energy and turn it into electricity. Photovoltaic solar cells can collect enough solar energy from the roof of a person’s house to completely offset that person’s total energy consumption (Wilcock, 2005). Unfortunately photovoltaic solar cells are prohibitively expensive on today’s market.
Batteries are an artifiicially produced energy source. They store chemical energy into which electricity can be charged and from which electricity can be discharged. Current battery technology is light years ahead of the old AAs you find in your computer mouse. Precharged Lithium Polymer batteries offer very high output, long product life, and quick charge times. The heavy metals contained within batteries are poisonous and should be properly recycled.
Biofuel is ethanol by the fermentation of vegetable matter such as corn or algae. This ethanol can be used in combustion engines much like gasoline only without the myriad of harmful pollutants.
Wind is quite powerful, able to uproot trees, make bridges collapse, and hurl tractor trailer trucks through the air. Wind energy is harnessed with a wind-screw, or propeller, running a power generator. Wind is often unpredictable in force, direction, and location. The way to maximize the effectiveness of wind generators is to place them in locations where the force of wind is constantly high and the direction is predictable. One popular location is on the sides of mountains. Other solutions have been windmill designs that work no matter which direction the wind is blowing.
There is a lot of energy in a gallon of water. Traditional hydroelectric plants harness the potential energy of water at a high elevation falling to a lower elevation with dams. Wave Energy Converters can also harness the energy of coastal waves. Dams may drastically alter the ecosystem of whatever area they are placed in front of, whereas Wave Energy Converters could actually preserve coastlines by reducing erosion caused by waves. Water can also be found in the atmosphere and collected in water tanks for heating and cooling applications as well as irrigation and other horticultural applications.
Petroleum is a viscous liquid energy source that is found underground in various deposits. The history of petroleum use is very long and complicated. Suffice it to say, petroleum has been used in countless ways to power various processes, most notably car engines as gasoline as well as building materials, an ingredient in cosmetics, and more. It is hydrophobic and is considered a non-renewable energy source and a pollutant.