Where Does My Electricity Come From? Almost all electricity in western countries is generated in one of three ways: A heat source is used boil water, which generates steam. The steam is forced under pressure through pipes to a turbine. The pressurized steam turns the turbine, which makes electricity. Coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear energy, and wood waste are used to generate electricity in this way. Moving water is funnelled into a turbine, making it turn. The turbine then generates electricity. Most electricity generated in this way comes from hydro-electric dams. These dams hold water back in a reservoir behind a large wall, usually made of concrete. Hydro-electric dams are located on rivers where water falls from a higher elevation to a lower elevation.
The falling water is funneled through the dam to the turbine, and is then released at the bottom of the dam into the river. In some countries, a small amount of electricity is generated by the tides. As water flows in and out of a bay, it is funnelled through a turbine, generating electricity. A diesel-powered generator is used to turn a turbine. Some western countries generate considerable hydroelectricity because of an abundance of fast-moving rivers.
Where do my Gasoline and Other Petroleum Fuels Come From? Gasoline and other petroleum fuels, such as diesel, fuel oil, jet fuel, butane, naphtha and kerosene, are distilled from mineral oil. Oil is formed over millions of years by the breakdown of organic material trapped underground. In its raw form, oil is a thick, heavy, black liquid that cannot be burned very effectively. Oil is found in underground reservoirs within specific kinds of geologic formations. A hole is drilled into these reservoirs and the oil is then pumped out and transported by pipeline to a refinery. At the refinery the oil is separated (distilled or refined) into progressively lighter grades of petroleum products, such as butane, kerosene, jet fuel and motor gasoline. Heavier grades include marine "Bunker C" oil.
Asphalt and tar are made from the leftover residue after all the lighter grades of petroleum have been separated from the raw oil. Plastics are also made from oil. Unusable products from the refining process are "flared" off at the refinery, which means they are sent up a chimney and burned. The refined petroleum products are then stored in huge steel drums at the refinery. From there, they are shipped by tanker truck or rail tanker to distribution depots, and then delivered to gas stations or your home by tanker truck. Gasoline and diesel fuel are stored in large underground tanks at the gas station. When you go to fill up, the gasoline or diesel fuel is pumped from the underground tanks into your tank.
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