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`color{red} ♦` INTRODUCTION


As we know that the total energy during a physical or chemical process is conserved.

Why, then, do we hear so much about the energy crisis? If energy can neither be created nor destroyed, we should have no worries! We should be able to perform endless activities without thinking about energy resources.

This riddle can be solved if we recall what else we learnt about energy. Energy comes in different forms and one form can be converted to another.

For example, if we drop a plate from a height, the potential energy of the plate is converted mostly to sound energy when it hits the ground. If we light a candle, the process is highly exothermic so that the chemical energy in the wax is converted to heat energy and light energy on burning.

The total energy during a physical or chemical process remains the same but suppose we consider the burning candle again can we somehow put together the heat and light generated along with the products of the reaction to get back the chemical energy in the form of wax?

Let us consider another example. Suppose we take `100 m L` of water which has a temperature of 348 K (75°C) and leave it in a room where the temperature is `298 K (25°C)`.

What will happen? Is there any way of collecting all the heat lost to the environment and making the water hot once it has cooled down?

In any example that we consider, we will see that energy, in the usable form, is dissipated to the surroundings in less usable forms. Hence, any source of energy we use, to do work, is consumed and cannot be used again.


What can then be considered a good source of energy? We, in our daily lives, use energy from various sources for doing work. We use diesel to run our trains. We use electricity to light our street-lamps. Or we use energy in our muscles to cycle to school.

`ul"Activity 14.1"`

♦ List four forms of energy that you use from morning, when you wake up, till you reach the school.
♦ From where do we get these different forms of energy?
♦ Can we call these ‘sources’ of energy? Why or why not?

The muscular energy for carrying out physical work, electrical energy for running various appliances, chemical energy for cooking food or running a vehicle all come from some source.

We need to know how do we select the source needed for obtaining the energy in its usable form.

`ul"Activity 14.2"`

♦ Consider the various options we have when we choose a fuel for cooking our food.
♦ What are the criteria you would consider when trying to categorise something as a good fuel?
♦ Would your choice be different if you lived
(a) in a forest?
(b) in a remote mountain village or small island?
(c) in New Delhi?
(d) lived five centuries ago?
♦ How are the factors different in each case?

After going through the two activities above, we can see that the particular source of energy, or fuel, we select for performing some work depends on many different factors.

For example, while selecting a fuel, we would ask ourselves the following questions.
(i) How much heat does it release on burning?
(ii) Does it produce a lot of smoke?
(iii) Is it easily available?

Given the range of fuels we have today, what are the factors which would limit our choices when it comes to a particular task like cooking our food?

Would the fuel selected also depend on the work to be done? For example, would we choose one fuel for cooking and another for heating the room in winter?

We could then say that a good source of energy would be one
♦ which would do a large amount of work per unit volume or mass,
♦ be easily accessible,
♦ be easy to store and transport, and
♦ perhaps most importantly, be economical.


`bbul"Fossil Fuels"`

In ancient times, wood was the most common source of heat energy. The energy of flowing water and wind was also used for limited activities. Can you think of some of these uses?

The exploitation of coal as a source of energy made the industrial revolution possible. Increasing industrialisation has led to a better quality of life all over the world. It has also caused the global demand for energy to grow at a tremendous rate.

The growing demand for energy was largely met by the fossil fuels coal and petroleum. Our technologies were also developed for using these energy sources. But these fuels were formed over millions of years ago and there are only limited reserves.

The fossil fuels are non-renewable sources of energy, so we need to conserve them. If we were to continue consuming these sources at such alarming rates, we would soon run out of energy! In order to avoid this, alternate sources of energy were explored.

But we continue to be largely dependent on fossil fuels for most of our energy requirements (Fig. 14.1).

Burning fossil fuels has other disadvantages too. We learnt in Class IX about the air pollution caused by burning of coal or petroleum products.

The oxides of carbon, nitrogen and sulphur that are released on burning fossil fuels are acidic oxides. These lead to acid rain which affects our water and soil resources. In addition to the problem of air pollution, recall the green-house effect of gases like carbon dioxide.

The pollution caused by burning fossil fuels can be somewhat reduced by increasing the efficiency of the combustion process and using various techniques to reduce the escape of harmful gases and ashes into the surroundings.

Besides being used directly for various purposes in gas stoves and vehicles, do you know fossil fuels are the major fuels used for generating electricity?

Let us produce some electricity at our own small plant in the class and see what goes into producing our favourite form of energy.

`ul"Activity 14.3"`

♦ Take a table-tennis ball and make three slits into it.
♦ Put semicircular fins cut out of a metal sheet into these slits.
♦ Pivot the tennis ball on an axle through its centre with a straight metal wire fixed to a rigid support. Ensure that the tennis ball rotates freely about the axle.
♦ Now connect a cycle dynamo to this.
♦ Connect a bulb in series.
♦ Direct a jet of water or steam produced in a pressure cooker at the fins (Fig. 14.2).

This is our turbine for generating electricity. The simplest turbines have one moving part, a rotor-blade assembly. The moving fluid acts on the blades to spin them and impart energy to the rotor.

Thus, we see that basically we need to move the fan, the rotor blade, with speed which would turn the shaft of the dynamo and convert the mechanical energy into electrical energy the form of energy which has become a necessity in today’s scenario.

The various ways in which this can be done depends upon availability of the resources. We will see how various sources of energy can be harnessed to run the turbine and generate electricity in the following sections.

`ul" Thermal Power Plant"`

Large amount of fossil fuels are burnt every day in power stations to heat up water to produce steam which further runs the turbine to generate electricity.

The transmission of electricity is more efficient than transporting coal or petroleum over the same distance. Therefore, many thermal power plants are set up near coal or oil fields.

The term thermal power plant is used since fuel is burnt to produce heat energy which is converted into electrical energy.

`ul" Hydro Power Plants"`

Another traditional source of energy was the kinetic energy of flowing water or the potential energy of water at a height. Hydro power plants convert the potential energy of falling water into electricity.

Since there are very few water-falls which could be used as a source of potential energy, hydro power plants are associated with dams. In the last century, a large number of dams were built all over the world.

As we can see from Fig. 14.1, a quarter of our energy requirement in India is met by hydro power plants.

In order to produce hydel electricity, high-rise dams are constructed on the river to obstruct the flow of water and thereby collect water in larger reservoirs.

The water level rises and in this process the kinetic energy of flowing water gets transformed into potential energy. The water from the high level in the dam is carried through pipes, to the turbine, at the bottom of the dam (Fig. 14.3).

Since the water in the reservoir would be refilled each time it rains (hydro power is a renewable source of energy) we would not have to worry about hydro electricity sources getting used up the way fossil fuels would get finished one day.

But, constructions of big dams have certain problems associated with it. The dams can be constructed only in a limited number of places, preferably in hilly terrains.

Large areas of agricultural land and human habitation are to be sacrificed as they get submerged. Large eco-systems are destroyed when submerged under the water in dams.

The vegetation which is submerged rots under anaerobic conditions and gives rise to large amounts of methane which is also a green-house gas. It creates the problem of satisfactory rehabilitation of displaced people.

Opposition to the construction of Tehri Dam on the river Ganga and Sardar Sarovar project on the river Narmada are due to such problems.

Improvements in the Technology for using Conventional Sources of Energy Bio-Mass

We mentioned earlier that wood has been used as a fuel for a long time. If we can ensure that enough trees are planted, a continuous supply of fire-wood can be assured.

You must also be familiar with the use of cow-dung cakes as a fuel. Given the large live-stock population in India, this can also assure us a steady source of fuel. Since these fuels are plant and animal products, the source of these fuels is said to be bio-mass.

These fuels, however, do not produce much heat on burning and a lot of smoke is given out when they are burnt. Therefore, technological inputs to improve the efficiency of these fuels are necessary.

When wood is burnt in a limited supply of oxygen, water and volatile materials present in it get removed and charcoal is left behind as the residue. Charcoal burns without flames, is comparatively smokeless and has a higher heat generation efficiency.

Similarly, cow-dung, various plant materials like the residue after harvesting the crops, vegetable waste and sewage are decomposed in the absence of oxygen to give bio-gas.

Since the starting material is mainly cow-dung, it is popularly known as ‘gobar-gas’. Bio-gas is produced in a plant as shown in Fig. 14.4.

The plant has a dome-like structure built with bricks. A slurry of cow-dung and water is made in the mixing tank from where it is fed into the digester.

The digester is a sealed chamber in which there is no oxygen. Anaerobic micro-organisms that do not require oxygen decompose or break down complex compounds of the cow-dung slurry. It takes a few days for the decomposition process to be complete and generate gases like methane, carbon dioxide, hydrogen and hydrogen sulphide. The bio-gas is stored in the gas tank above the digester from which they are drawn through pipes for use.

Bio-gas is an excellent fuel as it contains up to 75% methane. It burns without smoke, leaves no residue like ash in wood, charcoal and coal burning. Its heating capacity is high. Bio-gas is also used for lighting.

The slurry left behind is removed periodically and used as excellent manure, rich in nitrogen and phosphorous. The large-scale utilisation of bio-waste and sewage material provides a safe and efficient method of waste-disposal besides supplying energy and manure.

Do you think that bio-mass is a renewable source of energy?

`ulbb"Wind Energy"`

We saw in Class IX how unequal heating of the landmass and water bodies by solar radiation generates air movement and causes winds to blow. This kinetic energy of the wind can be used to do work.

This energy was harnessed by windmills in the past to do mechanical work. For example, in a water-lifting pump, the rotatory motion of windmill is utilised to lift water from a well. Today, wind energy is also used to generate electricity.

A windmill essentially consists of a structure similar to a large electric fan that is erected at some height on a rigid support (Fig. 14.5).

To generate electricity, the rotatory motion of the windmill is used to turn the turbine of the electric generator. The output of a single windmill is quite small and cannot be used for commercial purposes.

Therefore, a number of windmills are erected over a large area, which is known as wind energy farm. The energy output of each windmill in a farm is coupled together to get electricity on a commercial scale.

Wind energy is an environment-friendly and efficient source of renewable energy. It requires no recurring expenses for the production of electricity. But there are many limitations in harnessing wind energy.

Firstly, wind energy farms can be established only at those places where wind blows for the greater part of a year. The wind speed should also be higher than 15 km/h to maintain the required speed of the turbine.

Furthermore, there should be some back-up facilities (like storage cells) to take care of the energy needs during a period when there is no wind. Establishment of wind energy farms requires large area of land.

For a `1 MW` generator, the farm needs about 2 hectares of land. The initial cost of establishment of the farm is quite high. Moreover, since the tower and blades are exposed to the vagaries of nature like rain, Sun, storm and cyclone, they need a high level of maintenance.