In this lab, you will see the time progression of impacts associated with either coal-fired or nuclear power plants for electricity generation to help you write up a scientific paper that centers on the following:
Given that the current 2 primary sources of electricity generation are coal and nuclear power plants, which of these sources is better for human sustainability?
Analyze Energy Sources LabEverything people do in their daily lives involves the consumption of resources—particularly energy. With respect to energy, electricity is one of the most important resources consumed and also one of the highest in demand. Traditionally, fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas, and oil have dominated the U.S. energy mix; however, as it is well-known, carbon-emitting energy sources are very detrimental to the environment and are contributing to global warming. Fortunately, alternative energy resources such as solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal power are becoming more efficient and prevalent in today’s energy economy.Lab 4: Analysis of Energy SourcesIntroductionThere are many perceived concerns with using nuclear energy as a primary energy source to generate electricity. Possibly, when you think of nuclear energy, one of the main thoughts that might pop into your heads is unstoppable destruction. If you link that thought along with the high costs of building nuclear power plants and the difficulties in radiation waste management, the hesitation about using nuclear energy as a resource for electricity production is understandable. However, with no definitive reliable and renewable energy sources being used in the world, what are your choices when you consider the needs for human sustainability? Fossil fuels, despite their description as being nonrenewable and an important source of pollution, still provide the world with about two thirds of its electricity, with the fossil fuel coal making up the greatest contribution.Below you will see two graphic that represent the addition of coal or uranium that is mined as a fuel source for either a coal-fired or nuclear power plant, respectively. A data table will be displayed below each graphic to quantify pollutants associated with coal-fired and nuclear power plants. Use this information to complete your lab worksheet and help you accept or reject your hypothesis.Coal PlantCoal Plant PollutantsNote on Radioactivity: A coal plant releases 100 times more radioactivity than a nuclear power plant because of the natural presence of radioactive compounds (uranium, thorium) in the coal. Millisievert (mSv) is a high-level radiation unit, and 1 mSv = 1/1,000 of a sievert. This is used to express the level of radiation exposure, which indicated an individual’s increased risk of developing cancer.Nuclear PlantNuclear Plant PollutantsNote on Radioactivity: A coal plant releases 100 times more radioactivity than a nuclear power plant because of the natural presence of radioactive compounds (uranium, thorium) in the coal. Millisievert (mSv) is a high-level radiation unit, and 1 mSv = 1/1,000 of a sievert. This is used to express the level of radiation exposure, which indicated an individual’s increased risk of developing cancer.ReferenceNebel, B.J., & Wright, R. T. (2008). Environmental science: Toward a sustainable future. (9th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.® Registered Trademark CEC 2013. All Rights Reserved.
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