In this paper, we will be discussing how two different ways we use energy on Earth. We will discuss how we use tar sands for petroleum, how nuclear energy can be used as an alternative, and how we can conserve and recycle the resources. Also, we will discuss factors such as political importance, pros and cons, how the energy is created, and finally how we use the energy in our daily lives.
Tar sand (also known as oil or bituminous sands) are a mixture of sands, clays, and an oil rich substance called bitumen, a thick viscous form of oil. These sands are then filtered, refined, and processed into usable petroleum products. The name for tars sands is a misnomer, or a false name. It was given this name because of the odor, appearance, and texture of the materials in tar sands (Oil Shale and Tar Sands Programmatic, 2012).
The tar sands are found by either mining (specifically open pit and strip mining) or drilling. Of course the mining process can only occur at shallow tar sand deposits, but the drilling process is a bit more complex. First, the tar sands deposits must be heated, as the bitumen is to viscous naturally to be able to be drilled and pumped. It is usually heated by steam, and is then drilled like normal crude oil. (Fuel Chemistry Division, 2008).
The cost to get tar sands is very high. To make one normal fifty gallon drum of oil, the needed amount of tar sands is two tons. Companies use large trucks that can carry 400 tons of tar sand and these truck 100 million dollars. And with oil prices at 50-70 dollars a barrel, they at most make 14,000 dollars per load in net profits. The environmental costs from mining tar sands oil is astounding. Canadian country side is being destroyed to make room for oil companies to make money.
The energy to oil ratio, the is the amount of different energy resources to make one unit of oil, for normal liquid crude oil is 25:1, meaning that is takes one unit of oil based energy to get 25 units of oil. The energy to oil ratio for tar sands ranges from 5:1 to 2.9:1. That means it takes 5 times more energy to get the same result (Inside Climate News, 2013).
Why are we using this inefficient form of petroleum for our oil? Well for one it is an alternative to Middle Eastern oil, which gives us some room to maneuver in this world economy. It also can be pumped directly into the United States for refinery, which helps our economy, brings jobs, and makes the oil cheaper (Fuel Chemistry Division, 2008).
There is no definitive answer to how tar sands are made. There are two separate theories that are most well accepted in the scientific community. One, is that oil shale (shale containing small amounts of petroleum) was compressed by geologic change, that squeezed the oil out of the oil shale and that oil found its way into a silt and clay deposit and thus producing tar sands. The other states that bacteria and chemical changes caused a large oil deposit to become viscous and combined with sands, silt and clay...