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Transportation and electric power energy source

Electricity generation is the process of electricity production from various energy forms.  Michael Faraday in the 1830s became the founder in establishing the principles of electricity generation. His fundamental methods are being in modern day electricity generation process. Electricity is a powerful source of energy in the United States today. It is used in manufacturing industries, and at home for lighting and refrigeration purposes.  The abundant electricity consumes can be categorized to be non renewable or renewable. The renewable energy is those which are renewed and generated naturally. The renewable energy sources include biomass which is produced by living organisms, wood, geothermal power which is the earths natural heat, hydropower from falling and moving water, the wind, ocean and the sun.


The non renewable energy sources are those which are depleted and not renewable by nature. The major sources of non-renewable power in the United States are the nuclear fuels and fossil fuels such as natural gas, oil, coal. The energy source from such sources cannot be renewed and replaced by nature in a short period of time.The major three sources of power in the United States are geothermal power, hydroelectric turbine and fossil fuel resources.


Geothermal power is a steam power plant generated from the earth. The rain water which seeps into the ground to a region where it becomes very hot. Such a geothermal plant is in Hawaii which is approximately 600 feet.  Steam comes out from the drilled wheal.  The steam goes through a steam exchanger which later spins the turbine. Hydroelectric turbine is another main source of electric energy in the United States. Hydropower is the generation of power from flowing water or gravitational force. Such sites which produce hydropower are found in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Hawaii, Michigan and many other states. Fossil fuels since the 1880s have been used in the transportation and power factories systems.


Problems

Fossil fuels fall under three main categories which vary depending on conditions in the underground. The fossil fuels are formed from living things which are carbon based.  The composites of such fuels have carbon molecules and hydrogen. The combustion of the fossils fuels leads to the emission of hydrocarbons.  The hydrocarbons are the main source of energy in the transport system.


The burning of the fossil fuels leads to the emission of carbons which combine with the oxygen in the atmosphere the by-product from the carbon dioxide gas. Fossils fuels also have impurities like nitrogen, mercury,   volatile organic compounds and sulfur among many other heavy metals.  The use of fossil fuels in United States in 2005 was estimated to be 40% of the entire nation’s energy. Petroleum is the leading source of energy for transport system.  Others are coal and natural gas. Fossil fuels have a lot of environmental effects. The United States greenhouses gas emission has been estimated to be 90% mainly from fossil fuel combustion. Sulphur dioxide emission and nitrogen oxides produced from electricity generation contribute acid rain and smog as well as fine particulate matter (Environment Canada, 2008).


Carbon monoxide from the burned fossil fuels highly contributes to climate change.  The sector also contributes to great impact to water bodies, habitat and species. Transmission lines and hydro dams have a significant impact to biodiversity and on water (Environment Canada, 2008).  Radio active materials are also produced from Fossil fuels such as thorium and Uranium which are released to the atmosphere. About 5,000 tones of uranium and 12,000 thorium tones are produced from burning coal (Gabbard, 2001). Coal burning results to the generation of fly ash and bottom ash in large amounts which are used in various applications.


Nuclear power is also highly used in the US with a percentage of 8.4% and the source of renewable energy which accounts for 7.3 %( solar, geothermal, hydroelectric, and wind power) (US Department of Energy, 2008). Nuclear power is generated from controlled nuclear reactions which are non explosives. The nuclear fission reactions are used in utility and commercial plants for steam production through heating water. The steam is meant for electricity generation. Approximately 13-14% of world’s electricity in 2009 was from nuclear power (World Nuclear Association, 2010). The naval vessels also depend on nuclear propulsion.


Nuclear power also greatly contributes to environmental degradation through operation, nuclear fuel cycle and from Chernobyl disaster lingering effects. The main waste stream of nuclear power which degrade and  contaminate  land are; the  development of  spent nuclear fuel and plutonium waste, produce mills and uranium mines tailings, releases radioactive isotopes in small amounts during operation and even may cause accidents when released in large quantities. Nuclear reactors per month have been approximated to be 20-30 tons which fall under the high level waste category.  The spent nuclear waste is currently reprocessed for other useful components. This    leaves a small amount of half life waste to be stored.  Processing in the U.S is currently prohibited this means that the spent nuclear fuels to be stored in storages facilities leading to the extension of half life waste (Gabbard, 2001).


Radio activity possessing has caused death in various regions of the world.  For example in Wind sale, England, the nuclear reactor caught fire which killed a lot of   people. Other explosions occurred in Kyshytm in the Soviet Union.  These explosions led to high contamination of the region and   killed more then ten thousand people. Exposure   to radioactivity substances has been known to be the major cause of cancer. High amount of carbon dioxide is released in the atmosphere during the nuclear fewer activities of   running and building the plants. Uranium is used as fuels nuclear power plants.  Mining uranium is associated with high release of carbon dioxide to the environment. The building of the plant also releases high amount of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.  The   same case also applies in the transportation of waste from the nuclear power plant.


Low levels of radiation are released by nuclear power plants. The waste from the nuclear plants has remained active in areas which they have been deposited after thousand of years. This has led to high rate of cancer victims among employees working in the plants. The ozone layer, plants and animals are also affected by the low radiation but more research is still underway to determine the actual facts (Environment Canada, 2008).


The use of fuel alcohol according to studies has showed that it increases the emission of   aldehydes such as formaldehyde. Methanol vehicles decrease the ozone layer. Such cars    therefore counter the problem of air pollution mainly in urban areas (Gabbard, 2001).


Reference

World Nuclear Association (2005) Another drop in nuclear generation. Retrieved from http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/newsarticle.aspx?id=27665&ter

On February 11, 2011

 

US Dept. of Energy, (2008), Annual Energy Report Energy Flow diagram

http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/aer/pdf/pages/sec1_3.pdf

On February 11, 2011

Environment Canada, (2007) Electricity generation. Retrieved from

http://www.ec.gc.ca/cleanair-airpur/Electricity-WSDC4D330A-1_En.htm

On February 11, 2011

Gabbard, A (2001) Coal Combustion: Nuclear Resource or Danger. Retrieved from

http://www.ornl.gov/info/ornlreview/rev26-34/text/colmain.html

On February 11, 2011

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