Usually, when the question of whether energy can be created is posed, the automatic answer is no! According to the Law of Conservation of Energy, the total energy of a system is constant, meaning that it cannot be created or destroyed. The law of conservation of energy is universally correct, and it cannot be challenged. However, that is not within the context of the need to create energy today. Right now, there is a need to look for new sources of energy to replace the world’s increasing use of fossil fuels. That means that energy is not necessarily being created, but scientists are looking for potential ways to create new sources of fuel, whether that be by creating biofuels with crops or relying on solar panels. The former examples rely on the original source of solar energy. By creating new sources of energy, scientists can pave a way for the world to use fewer fossil fuels.
WHAT ARE FOSSIL FUELS?
In today’s industrial climate, there is a heavy reliance on fossil fuels. They are inexpensive, accessible, and plentiful. Fossil fuels are hydrocarbons that are produced from the remains of dead plants and animals. As dead organisms such as plants are compressed by layers of sediment over millions of years, the organic matter deep underground becomes crushed, heated, and seized of oxygen(1). In that process, fossil fuels are created. That is why the three fossil fuels petroleum, coal, and natural gas are found and extracted from the ground. Fossil fuels provide energy for heating homes, powering automobiles, electricity, and more. Their energy is generated as they are burned.
Fossil Fuels are amazing resources, but they are not renewable. Instead, they are nonrenewable sources that will be gone for millions of years once we consume them completely. A simple search on the internet will show various estimates of the year that fossil fuels will run out. In precaution, the government has been trying to work with scientists to cut down the use of fossil fuels. Currently, there are industries that are installing solar panels in homes for free and others that are breeding plants that can be used as biofuels.
The scientists that consider using plants as biofuels take into account the properties of particular energy-producing organisms that makes them ideal for creating useable-energy. Let’s delve into what these characteristics are and understand the processes within these organisms that make them perfect tools in creating energy. In her book “Biofuels Developer,” Bonnie Szumski explains that “biofuels are energy that [are] made from living matter” as an alternative to fossil fuels(2). Developers involved in the research and creation of biofuels try to find plants that can be breed inexpensively and burned easily for energy. The ideal biofuel would grow fast and in abundance. It would not consume a lot of water, and it would most likely be used solely for energy purposes. Currently, there are biofuels that are used successfully such as corn. Corn is used for creating the biofuel ethanol. Unfortunately, industries cannot readily replace non-renewable sources of gasoline with ethanol. In order to supply sufficient amounts of ethanol, American farmers would need to grow massive fields of corn. The issue with corn and other biofuels today is that they are too expensive to grow in abundance. Fossil fuels are more plentiful and accessible. However, the environmental issues with fossil fuels coupled with the fact that they are nonrenewable make it vital for scientists to keep looking for possible biofuels to grow and use for energy. These inquiries may require the government’s investment, but a solution is vital.
Biofuels are an interesting replacement for fossil fuels. Can you think of any other ways of conserving energy? Comment Below!
References and Footnotes
- “Fossil Fuels.” Alternative Energy, edited by Neil Schlager and Jayne Weisblatt, vol. 1: Fossil Fuels, Bioenergy, Geothermal Energy, UXL, 2006, pp. 1-55. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX3451200009/GVRL?u=caro78187&sid=GVRL&xid=89298b32. Accessed 14 Oct. 2018.
- Szumski, Bonnie. “Biofuels Developer.” Careers in Biotechnology, ReferencePoint Press, 2015, pp. 41-48. Exploring Careers. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX6350100010/GVRL?u=caro78187&sid=GVRL&xid=de2a076b. Accessed 14 Oct. 2018.