Would you use a technology that on average kills 125 people daily in the United States, and 960 people worldwide? A technology that pollutes 9,000,000 metric tons of hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides each, and 56,000,000 metric tons of carbon monoxide annually? A technology that dumps 2,700,000,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, 143,000,000,000 gallons of gasoline, and 2,500,000 gallons of oil directly into the environment? A technology that consumes one of every six American dollars, and an invention that one of every six American jobs rely on? Something that causes unnecessary mass warfare (with billion of dollars spent on it) and 10,800,000 barrels of oil daily, only in the U.S.? The answer would almost certainly be yes. Almost everyone uses cars, or motorcycles, (or any other fossil fuel burning transportation device), which are daily causing extreme air pollution.
This is a service-learning
project about the problems of fossil fuel burning. I have applied the
ICE-9 curriculum into my research, to look at this problem from a new
perspective. Some of the main things I have found are that the main
sources of fossil fuel burning are gasoline cars, and fossil burning
power plants (such as coal power plants). These two sources cause three
main problems, Global Warming, Ozone Thinning, and Health Concerns.
Through the nine essential questions of ICE-9 (What is it, Why do we use it, Where does it come from, How does it work, How does it change, How does it change us, How do we change it, What are its Costs and Benefits, and How do we
evaluate it), I have discussed these
problems, their roots, and some of their alternatives (including the
Hybrid car). I hope you find this project useful, informative, and
Acid Rain is highly hazardous to our environment, and can cause much disease. Acid Rain occurs when harmful amounts of nitric and sulfuric acids (from the burning of fossil fuels) gather. These acids evaporate into the clouds and then mix in with moisture (in the clouds). Then when it precipitates, the rain is actually Acid Rain, which damages the environment, but also our own skin.
Global Warming is an extremely serious problem that can potentially end human civilization. Global Warming is happening right now, and this is because the temperature of the North Pole is getting too hot. If this continues, then water levels worldwide will drastically rise. In addition, this disaster will ruin water flow patterns all around the world, killing wildlife. This whole incident can destroy weather patterns, and may create something like in the movie, The Day After Tomorrow, in which a second Ice Age freezes the northern hemisphere of Earth. All this is contributed to by car pollution, because of the carbon added into the atmosphere, which raises the temperature. In the last century, the amount of Carbon Dioxide in the air has risen by 30%.
Ozone Thinning has ties with Global Warming but is a different problem. The ozone layer that surrounds our atmosphere, protects the Earth from harmful Ultra-Violet Rays (UV rays) that cause skin cancer and green house gases. Cars and Power Plants produce CFC's which destroy ozone, therefore thinning the ozone layer. Recently scientists have located massive ozone thinning above Antarctica, which may contribute into melting the ice caps and creating Global Warming.
All of these problems may seem insignificant and unbelievable, but this problem directly affects you. The toxic fumes created by Fossil Fuel Burning (Carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, nitrogen dioxide, nitrogen oxides, benzene, formaldehyde, polycyclic hydrocarbons, voltaic organic compounds, mercury contamination, and numerous others fatal chemicals), have been known to cause asthma, heart/lung disease, bronchitis, pneumonia, cancer, damage to vital organs, and other health problems.
All of these problems show the
difficulties with fossil fuel burning, however fossil fuel burning is
our main source
of energy. Until recently we just had to live with the consequences of
fossil fuel burning, but now we have an alternative. An excellent
alternative to the normal gasoline car is the hybrid vehicle. The
hybrid is currently only marketed by Toyota and Honda, but many other
car companies are following up
with this great technology. The hybrid vehicle seriously cuts down on
fossil fuel burning, because they vehicle uses a combination of
gasoline and electric battery as energy sources. Because of partial
battery power, this technology is amazing.
|This image shows an ozone (03) thinning above Antarctica, which could eventually melt Antarctica, making water levels raise worldwide.||This picture shows exhaust emitted from a car, which is extremely harmful to the environment, and which everyone uses.|
Other uses of cars include housing or camping, such as in the RV. These humongous vehicles are equipped with bathrooms, kitchens, beds, and all he over living luxuries. In addition, the Formula 1 racing (and other racing categories) have used the normal car, and upgraded it to go up to 300 miles per hour! This, according to some is a great hobby to watch, and creates jobs for many people (drivers, mechanics, etc.).
As for the power plants, electricity has a similar case. When electricity was discovered, it was so intriguing, that it was blindly accepted. There is nothing wrong with electricity, but the most efficient way to produce it, is fossil fuel burning. Unfortunately, nothing good comes without costs. It took a while to find out that the pollution coming from power plants was serious. Even when it was found, it was for the most part ignored, because people have become so reliant on electricity. Imagine twenty-four hours where worldwide fossil fuel burning power plants had power outages. The only people who this will not affect are the poor people, native tribes who live in the wild, etc. Although more than 2 billion people do not have electricity, it would still be talked about everywhere, and even if you normally read the newspaper, you would be affected. There would be complete havoc.
Nowadays, most people completely
support cars and fossil fuel burning power plants; however, this is
change. More and more people are starting to use bikes and hybrids
of cars or using solar panels to generate their own electricity. This
because the society as a whole is starting to realize the problems of
fuel burning. People are starting to awaken.
|CFC-11||Trichlorofluoromethane - Refrigerators, aerosols, foams|
|CFC-12||Dichlorofluoromethane - Refrigerators, aerosols, foams, air conditioners|
|CFC-13||Trichloro-Trifluoroethane - Electronics, dry cleaners, fire extinguishers|
|CFC-14||Dichloro-Tetrafluoroethane - Aerosols|
|CFC-114||Freon - Pollutants from Nuclear Power Plants|
Some alternatives to these ozone
thinners are hydrochlorofluorocarnons (HCFC's). Below is another table
with alternatives to CFC's.
|HCFC-22||Chlorodifluoromethane - Air conditioners, refrigerators, foams|
|HCFC-152a||Difluoroethane - Aerosols, refrigerators|
As you can see, most of the CFC's have
alternative HCFC's, so whenever you buy a refrigerator or air
conditioner, ask about
CFC's and HCFC's, and see if you can help save the ozone.
Where did the Hybrid car come from? The Hybrid vehicle came from many inventors and engineers, from a number of countries. It originated through the first car, the battery and electric cars all combined. It was improved time and time again, but originally, it was a simple horse buggy with a makeshift combustion and a battery.
Here is an image of the first ever Hybrid car.
Gasoline Internal Combustion
Below are the steps explaining the
cycles of the combustion:
As this process repeats itself, the piston goes around and around, making the wheels rotate. Notice that the motion that comes out of the internal combustion engine is rotational. In an engine, the linear motion of the pistons is converted into rotational motion by the crankshaft. The rotational motion is perfect, because you need rotational motion to make the wheels rotate.
So what are the alternatives to this
polluting technology? Of course, there is the option of biking, taking
a bus, carpooling, taking a train, etc., but what if you want a real
alternative like a car
that does not pollute. Some of the options are fuel celled cars, Hybrid
cars, and solar powered cars.
In each alternative, after the power is provided, it is simply a matter of putting the energy to use. The real problem is to find a better energy source of electricity. Here is a great example; the fuel cell. Here are the steps of how a fuel cell works:
Hydrogen - Anode (negatively charged)
This vehicle uses a combination of gasoline and electric battery to run, therefore it pollutes, but only 10% of what a gasoline car needs. How does it work and what makes it so popular? Read on to find out.
A gasoline car burns gasoline, which
creates internal combustion that makes motion which powers the engine,
which powers the transmission, which finally powers the wheels. An
electric car's battery provides energy to the motor that directly moves
the wheels. The Hybrid uses a mixture of these, in one of three
Series - The gasoline engine never directly
powers the car. Instead, the gasoline engine drives the generator and
the generator either charges the battery or powers the electric motor
which drives the wheels.
Series - The gasoline engine never directly powers the car. Instead, the gasoline engine drives the generator and the generator either charges the battery or powers the electric motor which drives the wheels.
Parallel - The gasoline engine connects to the transmission,
as do the batteries, electric motor, and generator. Both the gasoline
engine and the electric motor power the wheels. Given that everything
is attached to the transmission, the gasoline engine can recharge the
Split - The gasoline engine drives one axle and the
motor drives the other. The car can switch between them as the
vary. There is no connection between the electric components and the
components, except through the road.
Split - The gasoline engine drives one axle and the electric motor drives the other. The car can switch between them as the conditions vary. There is no connection between the electric components and the gasoline components, except through the road.Hybrid cars contain the following parts:
As you may have guessed, the car below is powered by solar panels on the roof of the car. I have already covered what happens after the electricity is created, but here's how the solar panels work.
Photovoltaic cells (photo = light, voltaic = electricity), convert sunlight directly into electricity. Photovoltaic (PV) cells are made of special materials called semiconductors such as silicon. When light hits the cell, a portion of it is absorbed within the semiconductor. The intense energy knocks electrons loose, allowing them to flow freely. PV cells also all have one or more electric fields that act to force electrons freed by light absorption to flow in a certain direction. This flow of electrons is a current, and by placing metal contacts on the top and bottom of the PV cell, you can draw off the current for external use (for example, the current can power a car). This current, together with the cell's voltage (which depends on the number of built-in electric fields), defines the power (or wattage) that the solar cell can produce.
Why does our solar cell absorb only about 15 percents of the sunlight's energy? Visible light is only part of the electromagnetic spectrum, and the complete EM spectrum is made up of a range of different energy levels. Since the light that hits the solar cell has photons of a wide range of energies, it turns out that some of them will not have enough energy and others will have so much energy. If they have less energy than needed, the they will simply pass through the solar cell as if it were not there and if photon has more energy than the required amount, then the extra energy is lost. These two effects alone account for the loss of around 70 percent of the energy loss.
Besides cars, fossil fuels are
also used to make power. Power plants also account for enormous amounts
of air pollution. Fossil Fuel Burning Power Plants (such as coal, oil
very simple. The coal is burnt, which creates a lot of heat, while
is boiled by this heat. The water then turns to steam and is forced
a turbine at 3,500 psi.
The steam pushes against a series of turbine
that turn the turbine shaft. The turbine shaft is connected to the
of the generator, where magnets spin within wire coils to produce
Then the steam mixes with cool water to reform into water. Then the
is re-heated and the whole process restarts.
Out of the entire power industry, coal
power plants contribute 96% of sulfur dioxide emissions, 93% of
emissions, 88% of carbon dioxide emissions, and 99% of mercury
In addition, this unhealthy source of power contributes to smog, soot,
rain, toxins and global warming. Nitrogen oxide emissions from huge dirty coal
with tall smokestacks in the Midwest are often blamed for increased
levels in many eastern regions because smog and its precursor
are easily transported hundreds of miles downwind from pollution
More than 137 million Americans continue to breath unhealthy, smog
air. Even our national parks have not escaped the smog caused by coal
plants. Regional haze from airborne pollutants has reduced annual
visibility in the U.S., to about one third in the west and to one
in the east, of natural conditions. Smog concentrations increased at 22
31 National Park Service monitoring sites from 1990-1999.
Some of these coal companies have argued that their new so called
power plants don't pollute as much and that by 2018, their pollution
be cut down by 70%. That is very good, but 2018 is a long ways and
needs to be acted upon now. In addition, even if these reduces occur,
fuel burning will still be the leading polluter.
When inhaled, smog causes a burning of the cell wall of the lungs and air passages. This eventually weakens the elasticity of the lungs, making them more susceptible to infections and injury and causing asthma attacks and other respiratory illnesses. This danger is present for anyone who inhales smog, although children, elderly, and those with respiratory problems are at a higher risk of developing health problems associated with smog pollution. A UCLA School of Medicine study found that over time, repeated exposure to smog and other air pollutants can cause as much damage to the lungs as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. In addition, a recent study found that high smog levels in the eastern US cause 159,000 trips to the emergency room, 53,000 hospital admissions, and 6 million asthma attacks each summer.
The burning of coal emits sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide gases, which can form soot, when they react with the atmosphere. In addition, coal fired power plants also emit soot directly from their smokestacks. Scientists increasingly believe soot to be the most dangerous air pollutant, blaming it for 64,000 deaths per year in the US.
Soot causes bacterial and viral
respiratory infections like pneumonia, as well as chronic lung
diseases, like asthma, that destroy lives over the course of years.
Soot from power plants triggers an estimated 603,000 asthma attacks
nationwide every year. In addition,
studies have found that soot may cause heart attacks and arrhythmia
heartbeat) and that the incidence of strokes and heart failure is
in areas with high levels of soot.
Fossil Fuel burning power plants are one of the largest sources of toxic metal compound pollution. Together they released more than one billion pounds of toxic pollution in 1998, including 9 million pounds of toxic metals and metal compounds and 750 million pounds of dangerous acid gases. One of the most dangerous toxins emitted is mercury. Coal contains trace amounts of mercury that are released into the air when the fuel is burned to produce electricity. The health hazard results when mercury falls to the earth with rain, snow, and in dry particles. Mercury is a serious toxin, and accidental high-level exposure can result in severe nervous system damage, even death.
Burning fossil fuels such as coal releases carbon dioxide pollution, which is extremely bad for the environment. The US has four percent of the world's population yet emits 25% of the global warming pollution. Power plants emit 40% of US carbon dioxide pollution, the primary global warming pollutant. In 1999, coal fired power plants alone released 490,500,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere (32% of the total emissions for 1999). These outrageously high levels of carbon dioxide are well on their way to doubling.
Here is a diagram explaining how a coal power plant works.
Nuclear Power accounts for more than 15% of American electricity and America contains 25% of the world's nuclear power plants. Why is this process of creating electricity beginning to become so popular? Find out below.
One of the
metals needed in Nuclear Power is Uranium (or less commonly used
plutonium). Uranium is originally formed in stars (when stars exploded,
the dust from these shattered stars came together to form our planet).
When a uranium
nucleus approaches and is captured by a neutron, it splits into two
lighter atoms and throws off two or three new neutrons. The two new
atoms then emit gamma radiation as they settle into their new
states. This process of Nuclear Fission, occurs in a matter
of picoseconds (1/1,000,000,000,000 seconds), and an incredible amount of
energy is released in the form of heat and gamma radiation. In each of these fissions,
about one-thousandth (0.001) of a BTU (British Thermal Units) is
0.001 BTUs may not seem like much, however there are an innumerable number of uranium atoms in a pound of uranium. In fact, there are so many uranium atoms, that a pound of highly enriched uranium as used to power a nuclear submarine or nuclear aircraft carrier is equal to about the same amount of power as one million gallons of gasoline. When you consider that a pound of uranium is smaller than a baseball, and a million gallons of gasoline would fill a cube 50 feet per side (as tall as a five-story building), you can get an idea of the amount of energy available in just a little bit of uranium.
After all this heat is created, there is very little difference between a nuclear power plant and a fossil fuel burning power plant. Water is turned to steam to drive turbines, which generates electricity. Why aren't all power plants nuclear powered? Because nuclear power plants have their own problems:
In wind power, wind blows by fan
blades, and the wind rotates the blades. This in turn rotates a gear
system to increase the power generated. Then the mechanical energy is
transferred into a magnetic field, which converts the energy into
electricity. Finally, the electricity is sent to the generator, which
changes the electricity from 700 volts to 33,000 volts. This whole
process is completely environmentally safe.
To create hydroelectricity, you
need to first find a river and then build a dam there. Then the water
through the river is forced through a channel full of colossal
therefore turning them. After the water turns the turbines, it is
to start flowing freely again at the bottom. As for the turbines, the
energy is sent to the generators and then to the transformers, to
convert the water-force into electricity. This process does not pollute
air, however it can damage the ecosystem of some marine species such as
salmon (and other fish).
In the modern era, we are capable of acquiring highly pressurized steam, without burning a dangerous fossil fuel or creating contaminating nuclear reactions. The Earth's core produces intense heat, which we can drill wells into. These geothermal reservoirs bring pressurized steam to the surface of the Earth, which can be used to turn turbines in a similar fashion to coal burning power plants, except without any air pollution. After the process, the steam is reinserted into the Earth's crust in order to re-pressurize and re-heat. It can then be re-mined later on.
Now that you have taken a glimpse at the problems with fossil fuel burning technologies and how they work, as well as their alternatives, we can now move on to understand how these technologies change.
Another aspect of change on humans is daily life. Gasoline powered cars give us the ability to travel vast distances in little time. In 1900, to drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles in one day, would not have been nearly possible. Some people do not realize the power of a car. Just imagine what one day would be like, if no cars would work, there would be mass havoc. Because of these cars, also suburbs have been created (because people can live outside of town, and then drive into town to get to work or school), rather than everyone living in the urban areas (city) or rural (farms). This important change has caused many small towns to arise.
The other major contributor to air pollution is fossil fuel burning power plants. These change us by providing us with power, which is also extremely relied upon. One day without electricity would be devastating to the whole planet. Overall, the major contributors of fossil fuel burning are all heavily relied upon, therefore causing many harmful and a few helpful impacts on humans.
Hybrid vehicles are also changing us
all the time. By polluting less than the regular gasoline car, the
causing less disease. This in turn makes the average human life span
In addition, the Hybrid forces us to stop at gas stations half or even
the normal amount of times. This amazing technology is also creating
for many people, who are trying to further develop its abilities.
Fossil fuel burning has been a problem to the human race ever since cavemen had too much smoke from fires in their caves, but real mass air pollution from fossil fuel burning did not occur until the mid 1800's. In 1866, a group of Botanists noticed plants starting to disappear around big cities and factories. The first solution that was created was a bag filter, in which smoke or smog is forced to pass through a filter. All of the harmful chemicals are trapped in the filter, and then sent to construction companies to use in concrete.
Humans have also changed air pollution by finding alternatives to fossil fuel burning. Some of these have previously been discussed in How does it work as Nuclear Power, Wind power, Solar Power, Hydroelectric Power, and Geothermal Power. In addition, people influence the path of fossil fuel burning by creating environmentally friendly organizations such as Greentreks and Envirolink as well as by using it.
As far as the Hybrid is concerned, it all started with Leonard da Vinci and his ideas. Later in 1903, the Paris Electric Car Company built the first Hybrid. Then in 1905, Howard Piper, an American engineer, successfully patented a Hybrid accelerating from 0 - 25 in 10 seconds (that was amazing back then because this took one-fourth the regular time). Next, the Austrian, Jacob Lohner and Company started building Hybrids under Ferdinand Porsche (the father of the founder of the Porsche company). Ferdinand eliminated the trouble with transmission in the Hybrid.
As time passed away, other car companies such as Siemens Schucket Company (Berlin), Wood's Motor Vehicle Company (Chicago), and Galt Motor Company (Ontario) helped develop the Hybrid. Each company added on to the Hybrid and solved a problem with the car. For example, in 1914 the Galt Motor Company expanded the top speed to 30 miles per hour and 70 miles per gallon.
Over the years, more and more
advanced developers have added onto the Hybrid, until finally in 1997,
Toyota came out with the Prius, a phenomenal breakthrough. This
technology will continue to develop and more and more Hybrids will
Fossil fuel burning is currently the
most efficient method of power. In addition, fossil fuel burning, is a
easy method of creating power. Unfortunately, fossil fuel burning is
the leading source of air pollution from all power sources, and causes
numerous diseases. In addition, fossil fuel burning causes vast
Nuclear PowerNuclear power is also very powerful and a novel alternative to fossil fuel burning. Unfortunately, nuclear power has its own set of problems. First, nuclear reactions are highly unstable. In addition, the process of nuclear power causes air pollution, and destroys the ozone layer.
Ethanol, Methanol, and Propane are all fossil fuels, however they are much more environmentally friendly than gasoline or coal. Ethanol and Methanol are both alcohol based gases and can be produced by distilling starch-based agriculture such as corn, barley, wheat, etc. In addition, either ethanol or methanol can be put in a mixture with gasoline (85% (M)ethanol and 15% Gasoline) to make M85; a more efficient and slightly less pollutive alternative to pure gasoline. Propane (a.k.a. Liquefied Petroleum Gasoline) also has serious cutbacks on pollution compared to gasoline. There is a solid 60% less Carbon Monoxide pollution and 20% less Nitrogen Oxide, although Propane only creates about 70% of the energy that gasoline creates.
Fuel cells are probably the most interesting way of creating electricity. They give off zero emissions, and are extremely safe. In addition, the main gas used in Fuel Cells is Hydrogen, which has the best octane rating of all gases.
Solar Power is another non-polluting energy source. In addition, solar power is a renewable energy source. Unfortunately, solar power has many costs, and not too many benefits. Overall, until solar power efficiency is improved, it is only acceptable as a back up to gasoline.
Wind power is yet another renewable energy source that causes no pollution. In addition, many myths about wind power are not true, and wind power is actually a quite positive energy source with a hopeful future. The main costs of wind power are the initial cost of making a turbine, and the fact that only certain locations will have enough wind to create a steady energy source.
Hydroelectricity is different from every other method of creating electricity because of its costs. The method of the turbine is very similar, to other turbine powered energy sources, except that in this case, the turbine is powered by water. One element needed to create hydroelectricity is a dam on a river. These dams are cheap and cause zero air emissions, however this method of energy has many "side effects".
Hybrids are the highlight of this section, and are meant in
terms of a hybrid car as opposed to a fossil fuel burning car. Hybrid
a hot new topic and they are very helpful and interesting. From being
and smaller, to being environmentally friendly, and economically
the hybrid has many costs and benefits, however the benefits seem to