This heat energy can be further converted into mechanical energy such as with an internal combustion engine. Another prominent example is that of hydroelectric dams where the potential energy of the stored water is converted into mechanical energy through turbines which is further transformed into electrical energy using dynamos. Various methods can be applied to transform one form of energy into other forms of energy.
The largest source of energy used by man is that delivered by fossil fuels. Fossil fuels represent the deposits of buried organisms that have decomposed over millions of years. The application of heat and pressure within the Earth’s crust has led to the fossilization of the remains of buried organisms. (Mann, Gahagan, & Gordon, 2009) One typical trait of all fossil fuels is that they are rich in carbon. An estimate by the Energy Information Administration put the consumption of fossil fuels as primary energy sources with petroleum at 36%, coal at 27.4% and natural gas at 23%. (U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2011)
The biggest advantage offered by fossil fuels is that they readily burn with oxygen to release large amounts of energy. The energy per unit weight released by fossil fuels is significantly higher than other means of energy generation. (Ball, Ball, & Turner, 1965) This has encouraged the use of fossil fuels on a large scale. Other than this, fossil fuels are readily available and are simple to exploit, extract and use. The presence of coal in the Industrial Revolution helped transform industry. Similarly, the discovery of oil and its subsequent use helped revolutionise the transport industry. Fossil fuels offer incomparable ease of transportation, both through pipelines and through cargo vessels and tankers. The simplicity with which fossil fuels can be used is also another factor that helps promote fossil fuels.
However, the environmental impact of fossil fuels is forcing the world to look for alternatives. (U.S.