Renewable Energy

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1. What is the problem at hand?
The current sources of energy are mainly fossil fuels and are for the most part non-renewable with the exception of peat. The oil reserves in the United States are being depleted faster than nature can replace them. Other non-renewable resources such as coal, petroleum and natural gas can be found easier and in more of an abundance than oil but their efficiency is much smaller compared to oils. A non-renewable resource is a natural resource that cannot be produced, re-grown, regenerated or reused on a scale which can sustain its consumption rate unlike green energy. Once the cost of harvesting fossil fuels becomes greater than their value America has to look to other alternatives to replace and do the same or if not better job at supplying a country with energy:)

2. What is the driving force of the problem?
America's population has grown rapidly and that puts a greater demand on all energy sources but the attempts to slow this process are too small and not effective very quickly. These fossil fuels took millions of years to make from the first organic material on earth to this very day but our dependency has to change to another resource such as wind or hydro-electric generated power. These two resources are very cheap even compared to geothermal or solar power. The driving force of the problem is that eventually oil, coal, natural gas and all the other fossil fuels will one day be unattainable and America will be without any way of sustaining its energy usage:)

3. What are people currently doing or not doing to solve this problem?
Many Americans now have caught on to what is going on and are "Going Green" and finding every way they can to slow down the depleting of our resources and atmosphere. There are hybrid cars that are very fuel-efficient because along with the gas engine there is a small electric motor that assists the engine when accelerating. The electric motor is run by batteries that are recharged while you drive just like an ordinary car battery. These hybrid cars still give off emissions and run on gasoline but when they get more mileage they use less gas than ordinary vehicles. Wind generated power is costly to build but the return is substantial and if located in the right areas wind farms are capable of supplying power to entire cities and towns. Other countries such as France have adopted the nuclear power energy source as their main supply and besides the risk of a meltdown and the complications of disposal of nuclear waste, it is very efficient and very cheap. Other renewable resources are water, solar, geothermal, natural gas and biomas:)

5. Explain how it works. THIS IS A BIG ONE!
Each renewable energy source has a different way of obtaining the energy used but the way those different forms of renewable energy are turned into usable energy is for the most part very similar. For example wind turbines use the wind to turn the blades, which are connected to a shaft, which is connected to a generator that creates the electricity. Hydropower plants have the same process where they convert the kinetic energy of moving water into mechanical power that can be used for a number of things or that mechanical power can be converted into electricity to be used in many different ways. Solar energy is a little more complicated but has the same product as any other energy source. The sun produces radiant energy and transmits it to earth as photons while on earth there are solar voltaic cells absorbing the photons acting as batteries that relay this electricity to a building where the electricity is turned into usable household electricity:)


7. Determine the amount of water it can generate or purify
Nuclear fission does not produce or purify water. What it does do is create steam. Nuclear fission generates heat in a nuclear powerplant and then the heat that was generated boils the water which then inturn creates steam. The steam that has just been produced is what powers the turbines to turn the generators which in turn produces the electricity:)

8. Highlight the best aspects of it
Nuclear reactions, such as nuclear fission, generate huge amounts of electricity. The energy canbe released all at once for example in a nuclear bomb, or in our case the energy can be released slowly over a very long period of time and can be used for electricity. The best way we found to explain to you how much energy is released from this process was by looking on page 612 of your book. The question asks how much energy is released during fission? Well first you have to imagine a nuclear powered car. The fuel for this car is a uranium cylinder the size of a pencil. The energy content in that pencil is equivilent to 1,000 twenty gallon tanks of gasoline. So if the average american filled their tank once a week you could go almost 20 years before having to refuel. That is how much energy is released from this process:)

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Another way you can see how much energy is created is to look at nuclear fission in a power plant. Here lots of electricity is produced using only a small amount of fuel. A nuclear powerplant could generate enough electricty for a city of a million people using only 50kg of fuel per day. While a coal burning powerplant generating the same amout of power uses about 2,000,000 kg of fuel:)

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9 Describe how the critics discuss it
Nuclear fission is great theoretically, it produces large amounts of energy and requires only a small amount of uranium. The thruth is most people have a big problem with the process. For one thing uranium is not a natural resource and eventually we will deplete all that is left of it. Most people find even just the thought of it frightning. People think that a nuclear accident would be disasterous. The idea is not that uncommon amoung people. Despite all of the saftey precautions that take place at powerplants they can still overheat. The plants themselves cannot become a nuclear bomb, but the outcome can still be very bad. The most common example that comes up is Chernobyl. Chernobyl was a a powerplant in the Ukraine that exploded in 1986. Now there are many factors involved in the explosion of this plant. The scientists were conducting a very risky experiment and had to remove saftey and cooling equipment to carry out the experiment. Also the plant was not properly designed. What ended up happening was the pressure on the reactors roof ended up blowing off. Everything inside blew out into the atmosphere, which included, molten urainum, burning graphite and radioactive ashes. This was no nuclear explosion although the amount of radioactivity released was ten times the amount released during the first atomic bomb in hiroshima. This effected thousands of people in countries all around the explosion:)

The Chernobyl Power Plant
The Chernobyl Power Plant

9/10 Does it make up a lot of the worlds fuel/ energy supply? Why or why not
Currently nuclear fission makes up about 20% of the electricity generated in the united states and about 70% in some other countries. Besides the fact that the process itself can be very dangerous the main determinant behind using more nuclear fusion is the fact that there is no place to really dispose of its waiste. The products of the reaction are radioactive and have very long half lives. It would take thousands of years for these waistes to dissapear. We currently do not have a place to dispose the reactants, so this raises a large problem if we were to start using nuclear fission on a day to day basis for all of the electricity in the world. It is used more in foreign countries such as china because they have a larger problem supplying everyone with electricity:)
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13 Today scientists and organizations are...
Scientists along with many organizations are sharing ideas, research, and opinions on the use of nuclear energy.
Scientists today are researching ways to improve the efficiency and quality of nuclear energy. Although it is one of our most promising sources of renewable energy it can still be improved. The safety of producing energy can be improved as well as emissions that are produced as a result from the reactions. These are all problems that are being worked on currently by scientists around the world.
The NEI, or Nuclear Energy Institute, is currently opening the eyes of the public by providing information about nuclear energy, how it works, and its importance. “A nuclear power plant is infinitely safer than eating, because 300 people choke to death on food every year” says one NEI scientist. Other organizations and scientists are also making their opinions known to the general public in hopes to create a common belief and understanding of the importance of nuclear energy along with its future;)


14 How can it help solve current energy problems?
In this day and age, having reliable renewable energy sources is something as important to us as oxygen or water is. With a better understanding and application of nuclear energy we could positively contribute to the future of our planet and population. It is important to have renewable energy sources as a result of a depletion of sources which we already use. Coal mines are running low and even harnessing water for hydroelectricity is not providing enough power. Natural gases are growing in price also as a result of depletion. This rise in price is causing an up rise of concerned people throughout our nation. Nuclear energy is a promising way to help these issues that are growing with every day. We need to look now to see what we can do for our future to provide future generations with a stable power source that is reliable and inexpensive. If nothing is done now to plan for the future then these problems will arise and cause mass crisis:)

15 What would it take to do this on a larger scale?
To better understand and apply the use of nuclear energy as a reliable energy source we are forced to experiment more with processes of nuclear fission and fusion, and work together across the globe discussing better ways to apply nuclear processes. If we can do this accordingly we will soon find an even cleaner, more productive way to harness nuclear energy. Working on ways to improve emissions and efficiency are the two main ways to move forward positively in the nuclear energy age on a global scale:)


17 Who uses this today?
Today nuclear power plants are common around the world. They provide a large amount of the power used globally. Nuclear energy is becoming a common practice among nations as a result of its cost efficient and environment-friendly emissions. It provides such a large amount of electricity for a reasonable price which is what draws many countries to use it. It is also rather cheap and extremely safe if operated properly and maintained. With proper safety precautions and a trained staff running the plant nuclear power plants can provide safe, cheap, and environmentally friendly energy:)

18 What would we do to change how it is used?
We believe that changing how nuclear energy is used is not something that should be done. More money should be funded for nuclear programs and research and more people should be informed on its importance to us and future generations. Nuclear energy is clearly the future of energy for our planet and we believe that if nothing is done now to further research and improve our use of nuclear energy we could find ourselves in a hole years down the road. If our non-renewable resources deplete and we are stuck with nothing more then wind, water, and our present nuclear, we might not be able to keep up with the demand for energy. This is something that needs to be addressed now and fixed. Research, funding, and training will result in a reliable energy resource that will be well understood globally and provide us with a clean, dependable energy supply:)