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Translations of Encyclopedia about Physics


Conventional Electrical Power Plants

Conventional means that something is normal or commonly used. According to this definition, crude oil, natural gas and coal, which are used most often, are considered conventional sources of energy. Power plants which use these raw materials to generate electricity are referred to as conventional power stations and produce around 85% of all our energy needs.

Crude oil, natural gas and coal are organic compounds used broadly in the previous development stages of countries. Coal is understood as a solid fuel rich in carbon or, in a broader sense of the word, the combustible remains of plants and other organic substances which have been transformed into brown to black sedimentary rock over a long geological period as part of a process of carbonisation.

Carbonisation is the conversion of plant matter as it is converted first into peat, then into black and brown coal and eventually into anthracite. This requires a large amount of plant matter in a damp location followed by its deposit into thick mineral sediment layers. Carbonisation then takes place with the absence of air and under high temperature and pressure, where the content of hydrogen and oxygen in surrounding material decreases and the share of carbon increases. It can only be called coal once the share of combustible matter exceeds 50%.

Crude oil is a light to dark green, thin to thick oily mixture made primarily of hydrocarbons. It is formed over several millions of years from the decay of sea plankton and the influence of pressure during the earth’s previous stages of development. Natural gas is a mixture of gases which occur naturally in the earth’s shell.

Conventional power stations presently use these raw materials for the production of heat or electrical current. But this process of transforming one form of energy into another burdens mankind and nature in that the burning of coal and crude oil frees the carbon dioxide (CO2) bound to these substances and later released into the atmosphere. This gas, which can be found in very small amounts in the air, which we breath, contributes to the warming of the earth and the greehouse effect.

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