What form of energy is best for our environment? A recent study at Virginia Tech examines this question with a new lens: water use. This timely research takes a look at energy production and the amount of water it takes to produce different forms.
Dr. Tamim Younos, a member of the Soil and Water Conservation Society, and undergraduate student Rachelle Hill investigated 11 forms of energy, such as ethanol and coal, and five methods of generating power, such as solar power.
To allow comparison of water use across energy types, Younos and Hill decided to standardize their research with gallons of water per British Thermal Unit. This standardization sets their study apart from other studies that have examined energy production and water use.
Younos and Hill’s work revealed that, of the 11 fuel sources examined, natural gas is the most water-efficient energy source while biodiesel is the least efficient. Of the five power generation methods, hydroelectric power uses the least water, and nuclear uses the most.
Specific results can be found at http://www.vwrrc.vt.edu/watercooler.html.