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Learning About Non-Renewable Energy

There are different ways that we can get our energy and they are divided into two different categories; renewable and nonrenewable. Energy that can be made again is considered renewable. Renewable energy sources include solar and wind energy. Nonrenewable energy is that which cannot be made again, or replenished when it runs out. Types of nonrenewable energy include coal, natural gas, oil, and petroleum (diesel fuel, propane, gasoline). These types of nonrenewable energy are considered fossil fuels, meaning that they were formed from the remains of animals and plants that lived millions of years ago. While research is constantly being done to discover new energy sources, we are still very reliant on traditional, nonrenewable sources.

Oil and Petroleum

Oil is formed deep in the ground from the remains of plants and animals that lived on the earth millions of years ago. Throughout the years, the remains of these objects were covered in layers of silt and sand. Over time, heat and pressure created by the layers helped to turn the remains into what is known as crude oil. Crude oil reservoirs (underground areas where oil is found) are normally discovered by engineers and scientists who will determine if drilling should begin. Once it is decided that drilling will begin, an oil drilling rig is constructed to get the oil to the surface of the earth where it can be processed and used for our energy needs. Many different types of fuel can be made from crude oil including gasoline for motors, diesel fuel, and propane. In addition to using petroleum for heating homes, it is used in the production of many different products including crayons, deodorant, tires, DVDs, and much more. There are many countries around the world that drill for and process oil.
Natural Gas

Just as with crude oil, natural gas is produced underground and is formed from the remains of animals and plants that lived millions of years ago. The main ingredient that makes up natural gas is methane. Methane is a gas that is made of four hydrogen atoms and one carbon atom. In order to locate natural gas, geologists will use seismic surveys that allow them to gather information about rocks underground. Once it is determined that the area is promising, drilling for natural gas can begin. Natural gas can be found underground on land as well as deep under the ground in the ocean. Once drilling for natural gas begins, it is carried through pipelines and then stored in underground storage pipelines. Natural gas, along with oil, is often used for heating homes. It is also used in the production of items such as glass, steel, and paper.


Just like natural gas, and oil, coal takes millions of years to form and is made of dead plants that over years were covered with layers of dirt and water. Coal is actually a type of sedimentary rock that is normally dark brown to black in color. Of all fossil fuels, coal is the one most produced in the United States. There are four different types of coal. They are called anthracite, bituminous, subbituminous, and lignite. The types of coal are determined by the amount of carbon that they contain. Coal is mined from the ground using big machines. Many of the coal deposits in the United States are found pretty close to the surface of the earth and don’t require deep drilling like oil and natural gas. Coal found deeper underground is mined using a technique called underground mining. Coal is used to produce a lot of the electric power in the United States. It is also used to create products such as plastic, fertilizers, and even some types of medicine.

Due to the fact that nonrenewable energy sources will eventually run out, scientists, engineers, and others are studying different ways of getting energy. Renewable energy is not only better for the environment but can also be reproduced and will not run out unlike nonrenewable energy sources. Right now, nonrenewable energy sources are still very important and are the main source of energy in the United States and many places around the world. With time, we will likely become less reliant on nonrenewable energy and more reliant on different types of renewable energy.

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