Geothermal as a Fuel Supply
People have so much to gain from the earths natural resources. In meeting humans energy needs alone, there are various resources that can be
harnessed from Mother Nature both renewable and non-renewable. Whats currently being more developed, though, are the renewable energy
sources because of their less impact on the environment.
Geothermal energy is among the renewable
energy available to humans today at no cost. This form of energy comes from the earths core and therefore,
does not cause any pollution. Some 4,000 miles underneath the earth, temperatures are high reaching more than 9,000 degrees Fahrenheit and
remain constant all year round.
People have already used geothermal resources in the past. The hot springs or geothermal water flowing from the earths surface provided
comfort to people. The Romans used it to treat eye and skin diseases and to heat buildings at Pompeii.
For their part, native Americans some 10,000 years back used hot springs water for cooking and medicine. The Maoris of New Zealand also
cooked their food the geothermal way. People in France, on the one hand, have been using geothermal water for heating homes since the
While geothermal energy has so many uses, its major applications now are in generating electricity and heating homes and buildings. In
producing power, geothermal reservoirs are normally built to extract hot water to the surface. Explorations and testing are conducted by
geologists, geochemists, drillers and engineers to locate areas where geothermal water is in abundant supply. Drilling then starts to construct
production wells where hot water or steam will pass as it goes to the surface.
In geothermal power plants, heat or hot water from the reservoirs is the force that spins the turbine generators and eventually produces electricity.
When the geothermal water is used, it goes down an injection well into the reservoir to be heated again, gain pressure and sustain the reservoir.
Power plants that utilize geothermal energy are of three types.
- A dry steam reservoir provides steam but less water to spin the turbine generator. The worlds biggest steam field is The Geysers, north of San
Francisco, which began generating electricity in 1960. It is touted as the most successful alternative energy project in history.
- A hot water reservoir is used in a so-called flash power plant. Hot water with temperatures from 300 to 700 degrees Fahrenheit is brought to
the surface via the production well and then some of the water, as it is released from pressure, flashes into steam to power the turbines.
- A binary power plant also uses geothermal hot water with temperatures between 250 and 360 degrees Fahrenheit. The water passes through
a heat exchanger where its heat is transferred into a binary liquid that boils at a lower temperature.
Geothermal energy is also a good alternative fuel for heating systems used in the home and buildings.
Fossil fuels have become expensive these days and have diminishing supply the reason why alternative fuels such as those that can be found underground are growing in popularity.
Home heating systems can use geothermal energy to provide warm air to families during winter. Geothermal heat pumps are normally used and
involve a series of pipes called a loop buried underground, ductwork and a heat exchanger. This heating system makes use of hot water
underneath the earth which is very beneficial to people because it does not emit any harmful chemical and noise when at work.
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