Describe the major differences between renewable energy sources, fossil fuels, and nuclear power with regards to general comparable energy densities/power output, carbon footprint, and adequacy as energy sources for today’s economy.
A renewable energy source is that energy source that comes from natural resources. This source of energy does not have a limited supply. Various examples of renewable sources of energy are the sun, wind, water, and geothermal. The use of renewable energy sources renders little carbon emission into the environment. It is the safest energy source in terms of carbon emissions to the environment. The power output from this source is dependent upon the source and its density. The availability and sufficiency of the resource are also dependent on the density. Renewable source of energy proves to be an economical source of energy. However, the density of the renewable energy source has been insufficient. The widely used renewable energy is hydroelectric power.
Fossil fuel is the energy that comes from hydrocarbon deposits such as coal, natural gas, and petroleum. The remains that accumulate from ancient plants and animals, results in hydrocarbon fuel. In the past century, fossil fuel has been the dominant global energy provider. The energy density from fossil fuels is sufficient as compared to renewable sources of energy. Fossil fuels burn to produce energy. In the process of burning, there is the production of Carbon Dioxide. This is one of the main causes of global warming. There has been a concern about the availability of fossil fuels. Fossil fuel is undergoing a process of depletion and can be of serious consequence in the future. On that note, this source of energy cannot be termed as consistent and be considered as a means of reliable energy in the future.
Nuclear energy is obtained from nuclear reactions. Nuclear reactions are the changes that occur in the structure of the atoms’ nuclei. Currently, nuclear energy supplies approximately 25% of the world’s electricity. The density of nuclear energy is quite sufficient. For instance, one ton of uranium can give out more energy than what millions of barrels of oil can produce. Through proper investment, nuclear energy can produce sufficient energy for all. Nuclear energy does not pollute the environment if it is in proper operation. Nuclear energy is clean because it does not emit any carbon gases. The main source of nuclear energy is uranium. Its location is in a few countries. Constant use of uranium is subject to depletion. Hence, the adequacy of nuclear energy is not enough as compared to renewable sources of energy.
The general trend throughout human history has been toward using
- greater amounts of energy from
- sources with greater energy densities through design implementations to cover
- greater ranges/distances and maximize power output at
- higher levels of efficiency, enabling
- the local to become global.
Explain this trend.
For a long time, man has tried to design the energy system to produce extra work using the least effort to produce energy. During the ‘pre-1700’ period, fossil fuel energy was not yet in use. In that period, the population was not rapidly growing as the ‘post-1700’ period. The man used muscle power and animals to work or travel. There was a high dependency on muscle power and biomass. Biomass in this case consisted of wood or peat which had low efficiency. However, most of the energy that came from wood or peat went into waste through the chimneys.
Animal and wind were in use during that period. They were in the form of a horse mill and windmill respectively. The water wheel was also in use in this period. These were the principal energy sources. However, energy production was inefficient during this period, and man had the urge to produce more.
As of the period after 1700, man has been living in a period of fossil fuel. Various reasons made man put fossil fuel to full use. During 1800, there was rapid population growth. There was rapid demographic growth in some areas. With high populations, man needed to generate greater amounts of energy and for the energy to reach greater distances. The adoption of fossil fuel was an efficient move made by man.
In 1800, there were various discoveries made. For instance, in 1823, Samuel Brown invented the first internal combustion engine. In 1908, drilling of the first Iranian oil well was in place.
With the existence of rapid population growth, various ecological changes happened. For instance, there was an increase in the shelter, food, and clothing. There was vast use of land, which led to the exhaustion of large areas of grasslands.
By 1950, there were concerns about the use of fossil fuels about environmental consequences. There were intense pollution and high health risks from fossil fuel emissions. The existence of global warming due to fossil fuels has brought about the adoption of other safer sources of energy.
Why are energy sources powering production and operation inseparable from product design?
While designing a product, certain aspects should be considered. Analysts estimate that 80% of all possible environmental effects of a product are determined before designing the product. Product design cannot do without the powering production method in use and vice versa. With the current generation, the aim of power production is solely to be environmentally friendly. Hence, products are designed to be environmentally friendly.
Manufacturing companies may tend to design a product that will suit the environment. One of the most crucial considerations that companies make is the material in use. Since these companies tend to embrace the adoption of sustainable energy, they will use materials that are not costly. Materials in use are mostly recyclable and cheap. Most companies tend to use recyclable materials, which are economical in terms of cost.
Companies use packaging materials that are light and recyclable. They also design the packaging materials not to occupy a lot of space. The life of a product is essential in product designing. Companies will consider undergoing low cost in manufacturing products. This will consume less energy and save for the future.
Davidson, James West, Brian DeLay, Christine Heyrman Leigh, Mark Lytle and Michael Stoff. U.S. A Narrative History, Volume 1: to 1865. NY, USA: Department of Education, McGraw-Hill Companies, 2012. Print.