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 A Source of Energy with Many Uses
Stop and think back to many times you have cooked or stayed warm using wood or other http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organic_matter organic matter. If you can think of at least just one time, then chances are you were using a source of energy that has many uses that extends beyond a warm body and a full stomach. This source of energy is called Biomass.
A source of energy that can be turned into many different things is great. Let’s take a closer look at how one source of energy can provide us with many things. Biomass can be used in our vehicles. This is referred to as biofuel. There are two common types of this fuel. They are ethanol and biodiesel. Ethanol is made mostly from the starch in corn grain while biodiesel is made mostly from soybean oil. Ethanol is usually added to http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/petroleum petroleum based fuels to not only reduce toxic air emission, but also increase http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/octane octane. E-85 contains 83 percent ethanol in the summer and 70 percent in the winter. Currently, there are over 200 fueling stations that have E-85. Biodiesel is blended with 20 percent petroleum diesel which labels it as B-20. There are almost 180 fueling stations that have B-20.
Biopower uses conventional boilers that have a direct http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/combustion combustion of biomass, generating http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/electricity electricity. During to coal-burning process at many coal-powered plants, biomass is added to reduce toxic emissions. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/natural+gas Natural gas power plants will use biomass after http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/gasification gasification in their combine-cycle gas http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/turbines turbines to become more efficient. Biopower is ranked second to http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/hydropower hydropower. Biomass is a source of energy that can also be used to make bioproducts. Toothpaste gel, plastics, glue and antifreeze are made using biofuels. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/biosynthesis Biosynthesis gas can be used to make textiles and photographic films.
It is amazing how one source of energy can be used to create many things. This just goes to show the potential of renewable resources. If we could utilize them and get the most out of them, we would be shocked at what could be produced. In today’s time, our conventional resources are running out every day. Just imagine going to the grocery store to buy a tube of toothpaste and find out it isn’t being made anymore? This could very well happen if we don’t start tapping into the resources that are available to us. If we maintain them, and take care of them, they will be there when we need it.
 Our Consumption of Energy in the United States
In terms of energy usage, the United States is the largest consumer. In 2005, the U.S. used 100 quadrillion BTU’s. That is three times the amount used in 1950. The sources of energy the U.S uses is http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/fossil+fuels fossil fuels, http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/petroleum petroleum, coal, http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/natural+gas natural gas, http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/nuclear+power nuclear power and renewable resources. Fossil fuels were the most commonly used. 40 percent came from petroleum, 23 percent was from coal, 23 percent was from natural gas, 8.4 percent was from nuclear power and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renewable_energy renewable energy only supplied 7.3 percent.
In the 1700’s, firewood was the main source of energy. The growth of railroads, the economy and urbanization, the usage of coal was increased. Coal is used more now for generating http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/electricity electricity. Now natural gas is used more for heating homes and businesses.
When it comes to energy consumption, there are four main areas to look at. Those are industrial, transportation, residential and commercial. The breakdown for industrial use for things such as producing and processing goods is 22% for chemical production, 16% for petroleum refining and 14% for metal http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/smelting smelting or refining. The transportation usage for things such as air, water or ground vehicles consumed 61% for gasoline fuel, 21% for http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/diesel+fuel diesel fuel and 12% for aviation. Residential consumption was 32% for space heating, 13% for water heating, 12% for lighting, 11% for air conditioning, 8% for refrigeration, 5% for electronics and 5% wet-clean which was for clothes dryers mostly. The commercial consumption for things such as government offices and building was 25% for lighting, 13% for heating, 11% for cooling, 6% for refrigeration, 6% for water heating, 6% for ventilation and6% for electronics.
As you can see from the breakdown above, we very rarely rely on renewable resources for our energy needs. We need to try and get away from so much dependency of fossil fuels. The United States consumes a lot of energy. If there was more effort put into using things such as http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/solar+power solar, wind or http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/biomass biomass power, we would be putting ourselves at a greater advantage. Right now we are working and living basically to pay for our energy consumption. Wouldn’t it be so nice to actually earn a paycheck and not have to spend over half of it for our energy needs? Yes, we will always need heating, dry clothes and lighting, but we can meet those same needs with the renewable resources that are available to use every day.
 Sources of Energy
In this article, we will look at some of our sources of energy. There are many sources of energy available, some we use and some we don’t. All sources of energy have an upside and a downside and below you will be able to see some of those, both the advantages and disadvantages.
Coal is inexpensive and easy to recover. The downside is that it pollutes the air with things such as http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/mercury mercury and http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/sulfur+dioxide sulfur dioxide. It also contributes to things such as acid rain and http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/global+warming global warming. Nuclear energy is another source that is inexpensive. The waste is smaller and it does not cause http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/greenhouse+gases greenhouse gases or http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/acid+rain acid rain. It is also easy to transport. The negative impacts are the capital cost is larger because of emergency, containment, http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/radioactive radioactive waste and storage systems. There is also the potential of nuclear http://dictionary.reference.com/define/proliferation proliferation.
Hydroelectric is inexpensive once the dam is built. In the Western US, the government has invested heavily in the building of dams. Water elevation is a factor of hydroelectric energy. Not only can dams collapse, there may also be environmental damage for flooded and downstream areas. There could also be negative effects on the fish. Gas and oils are easy to obtain. They are also better as a space heating energy source. The disadvantage is there are shortages during the winter. They are also contributors to global warming. The prices of gas and oils will increase with supply and demand.
Wind, solar and hydrogen are other sources of energy. Wind is free and is well suited to rural areas. Even though wind energy can be expensive, the cost of generation and maintenance has dropped. The disadvantages are it can be dangerous to birds. Also wind is limited to windy areas and the equipment can be damaged during http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/windstorms windstorms. Solar energy is free when sunlight is available and the cost of it is dropping. The bad thing is that the demand can be higher when the source is not available. Solar power also tends to be more http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/efficient efficient in sunny areas. Hydrogen combines easily with http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/oxygen oxygen to produce wind and energy. The downside is that it takes more energy to produce hydrogen than the energy that could be created.
Now that you have read about some of the sources of energy that we use or can use, you will see which ones are a better choice for you.
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