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Sources from which energy can be obtained to provide heat, light, and power. Sources of energy have evolved from human and animal power to fossil fuels, uranium, water power, wind, and the Sun.
The principal fossil fuels are coal, lignite, peat, petroleum, and natural gas; other potential sources of fossil fuels include oil shale and tar sands. As fossil fuels become depleted, nonfuel sources and fission and fusion sources will become of greater importance since they are renewable. Nuclear power is based on the fission of uranium, thorium, and plutonium, and the fusion power is based on the forcing together of the nuclei of two light atoms such as deuterium, tritium, or helium‐3. See Nuclear power
Fuels which do not exist in nature are known as synthetic fuels. They are synthesized or manufactured from varieties of fossil fuels which cannot be used conveniently in their original forms. Substitute natural gas is manufactured from coal, peat, or oil shale. Synthetic liquid fuels can be produced from coal, oil shale, or tar sands. Both gaseous and liquid fuels can be synthesized from renewable resources, collectively called biomass. These carbon sources are trees, grasses, algae, plants, and organic waste. Production of synthetic fuels, particularly from renewable resources, increases the scope of available energy sources.
Energy management includes not only the procurement of fuels on the most economical basis, but the conservation of energy by every conceivable means. Whether this is done by squeezing out every Btu through heat exchangers, or by room-temperature processes instead of high-temperature processes, or by greater insulation to retain heat which has been generated, each has a role to play in requiring less energy to produce the same amount of goods and materials.