Natural gas and synthetic fuels most water-efficient energy sources

April 19th, 2008 - 2:40 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, April 19 (ANI): A new study has determined that the most water-efficient energy sources are natural gas and synthetic fuels produced by coal gasification.

The study, carried out by professor Tamim Younos and student Rachelle Hill from Virginia Tech in the US, took into account the water-efficiency of some of the most common energy sources and power generating methods.

The researchers analyzed 11 types of energy sources, including coal, fuel ethanol, natural gas, and oil; and five power generating methods, including hydroelectric, fossil fuel thermoelectric, and nuclear methods.

According to Younos, they based their calculations on available governmental reports by using a standard measurement unit, which makes this study unique.

Our unit is gallons of water per British Thermal Unit (BTU), he explained. We selected BTU as a standard unit because it indicates pure energy as heat and is applicable to all energy production and power generation methods, Younos added.

While the study determined that the most water-efficient energy sources are natural gas and synthetic fuels produced by coal gasification, the least water-efficient energy sources are fuel ethanol and biodiesel.

In terms of power generation, Younos and Hill have found that geothermal and hydroelectric energy types use the least amount of water, while nuclear plants use the most.

Hill took the study one step further and calculated how many gallons of water are required to burn one 60-watt incandescent light bulb for 12 hours a day, over the course of one year.

She found that the bulb would consume between 3,000 and 6,000 gallons of water, depending on how water-efficient the power plant that supplies the electricity is.

Hill added that the results are estimates of the water consumption based on energy produced by fossil fuel thermoelectric plants, which produce most of the Unites States power.

According to Younos, the results of this analysis should be interpreted with a grain of salt.

There are several variables such as geography and climate, technology type and efficiency, and accuracy of measurements that come into play. However, by standardizing the measurement unit, we have been able to obtain a unique snapshot of the water used to produce different kinds of energy, he said. (ANI)

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