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4: Non-Renewable Energy

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    • 4.1: What is Energy?
      Energy is the ability of a system to do work. A system has done work if it has exerted a force on another system over some distance. When this happens, energy is transferred from one system to another
    • 4.2: Fossil Fuels
      Fossil fuels is the term given to energy sources with a high hydrocarbon content (see Chapter 1 for a review of hydrocarbon molecules) found in the Earth’s crust that formed in the geologic past and can be burned to release their energy.
    • 4.3: Coal
      Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock with a high amount of carbon and hydrocarbons. For us to use the potential energy stored in coal, it first must be mined from the ground.
    • 4.4: Oil
      Petroleum Oil is currently the most widely used fossil fuel and accounts for about one third of global energy consumption. Unlike coal, which is primarily used as a fuel for electricity generation, oil is primarily used as a fuel for transportation. Oil is also used to manufacture plastics and other synthetic compounds ubiquitous to our everyday life.
    • 4.5: Natural Gas
      Technology has been developed to capture the natural gas and either reinject it into the well or compress it into liquid natural gas (LNG). Natural gas is predominately composed of methane (CH4).
    • 4.6: Fossil Fuels and Greenhouse Gases
      Fossil fuels are made up mainly of hydrogen and carbon. When burned, the carbon combines with oxygen to create carbon dioxide (CO2).
    • 4.7: Nuclear Energy
      Nuclear energy can be released from atoms by splitting apart the nucleus of an atom to form smaller atoms, a process known as nuclear fission. During nuclear fission, a small atomic particle called a neutron hits the uranium atom and splits it, releasing a great amount of energy in the form of heat and radiation. Nuclear power plants use the energy from nuclear fission to produce electricity.
    • 4.8: Appendix

    Thumbnail: Pump-jack mining crude oil with the sunset (Unsplash License; Zbynek Burival via Unsplash)

    This page titled 4: Non-Renewable Energy is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Caralyn Zehnder, Kalina Manoylov, Samuel Mutiti, Christine Mutiti, Allison VandeVoort, & Donna Bennett (GALILEO Open Learning Materials) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.