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Stanley Njoku

SCI 351B
Fall 2010


Fossil Energy is causing pollution

Fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas, are non-renewable sources of energy. The fossil fuels
were formed from plants and animals that lived up to 300 million years ago and are found in
deposits beneath the earth. The fuels are burned to release the chemical energy that is stored
within this resource. Energy is essential to modern society as we know it. Over 85% of our
energy demands are met by the combustion of fossil fuels.
Coals and other fossil fuels are used to generate energy to the public as well as for industrial
power generation, cogeneration, and district heating plants. The uses of fossil fuel energy cause
the largest sources of pollution. Dramatic measures have to be taken to reduce and control the
pollution from fossil energy. The burning of these fossil fuel substances leads to the contribution
to tons of SO2 and NO2 emitted into the atmosphere. Significant efforts have to be made using
circulating fluidized-bed boilers, flue gas limestone washing, high-efficiency electrostatic
precipitators, coal cleaning technology, denitrification equipment, low-NO2 emission burners,
exhaust gas recirculation equipment, improved control systems, and in-plant and regional
monitoring systems should be used to control or reduce the pollution from these sources of

Fossil fuels, when burned, release carbon dioxide which is a greenhouse gas thought to be
involved in dangerous global warming. Most fossil fuels also release smoke (leading to smog),
and they may also release sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides which contribute to acid rain.
Air particles are deadly. The byproducts that form from the burning of fossil fuels are very
dangerous. These small particles can exist in the air for indefinite periods of time, up to several
weeks and can travel for miles.
We are currently in an energy crisis. Simply replacing fossil fuels with an alternate fuels and
technologies such as Nuclear Fusion, Hydrogen, Solar Satellites, Energy Plants, Energy Plants,
and Combinations is not viable in the short term. Although these alternative forms of energy are
currently in use and under development, most of them are only in their initial stages and are not
completely viable to completely replace fossil fuels. Development of these technologies and
others in order to gradually reduce the massive use of fossil fuels would reduce the level of
pollution and would also in turn reduce global warming.

Nuclear Fusion: Fusion involves the extraction of "heavy" hydrogen (duterium) from water and
the combination of two hydrogen atoms to form helium. Although it has long been hailed as the
path to unlimited energy, scientific feasibility has yet to be established. Demonstrations of
technological feasibility must then follow, with mastery of materials development and system
engineering looming as major hurdles.
Hydrogen: Hydrogen may become the "energy carrier of the future." Most schemes for
generating hydrogen are based on the splitting of water using solar energy directly, or indirectly
via electricity. Hydrogen would then be used as a substitute for natural gas. Although the
technical feasibility of water splitting on a large scale has yet to be established, a "hydrogen
economy" remains at least a distant possibility.
Solar Satellites: Collecting solar energy in space and transmitting it to earth via microwave is
another long-range possibility. Due to the large size of the required collector, current launch and
deployment costs render this scheme economically infeasible. However, future advances in space
equipment may change this assessment.
Energy Plants: Rapid improvements in bioengineering may provide the basis for improving the
efficiency or redirecting the end products of photosynthetic processes to produce commercial
fuels such as hydrogen. At this time, scientific feasibility of developing "super species" remains
to be established.
Combinations: Concepts for combining end uses and supply generation facilities to better utilize
waste heat already are being employed. These include cogeneraton of steam and electricity and

district heating. Future combinations may include the use of nuclear energy to generate heat for
coal gasification and liquification. The requisite hydrogen for synthetic fuel production may be
provided by splitting water with solar energy. Other hybrid systems may emerge as the
component parts become practical.
With these options we can help phase out our dependency on fossil fuels and find clean, efficient,
sources of power. Keep in mind that these are not the only options known today and that there
are others that have not even been conceived. Using these other sources, we can guarantee a
healthy and prosperous future.