SCIENCE 02-04

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 Lab

Everything 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.

Instructions: You will write a 1-page lab report using the scientific method.

When your lab report is complete – submit it in the classroom.

Part I: Using the lab animation, fill in the data table below to gather your data, and use it to help you generate your hypothesis, outcomes, and analysis.

Part II: Write a 1-page lab report using the following scientific method sections:

  • Purpose
    • State the purpose of the lab.
  • Introduction
    • This is an investigation of what is currently known about the question being asked. Use background information from credible references to write a short summary about concepts in the lab. List and cite references in APA style.
  • Hypothesis/Predicted Outcome
    • A hypothesis is an educated guess. Based on what you have learned and written about in the Introduction, state what you expect to be the results of the lab procedures.
  • Methods
    • Summarize the procedures that you used in the lab. The Methods section should also state clearly how data (numbers) were collected during the lab; this will be reported in the Results/Outcome section.
  • Results/Outcome
    • Provide here any results or data that were generated while doing the lab procedure.
  • Discussion/Analysis
    • In this section, state clearly whether you obtained the expected results.  Also discuss the results and what you learned from this lab.
    • Note: You can use the lab data to help you discuss the results and what you learned.

Provide references in APA format. This includes a reference list and in-text citations for references used in the Introduction section.

Give your paper a title, and identify each section as specified above. Although the hypothesis will be a 1-sentence answer, the other sections will need to be paragraphs to adequately explain your experiment.

MUSE

Introduction

There 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 Plant

Coal Plant Pollutants

Note 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 Plant

Nuclear Plant Pollutants

Note 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.

Reference

Nebel, B.J., & Wright, R. T. (2008). Environmental science: Toward a sustainable future. (9th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

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