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What Is a Heat Source?

Solar panels use solar heat to generate electricity.
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  • Written By: Eugene P.
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 25 July 2014
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A heat source is any area,‭ ‬object or mechanism that creates heat.‭ ‬Heat is generated by the movement of energy from one area to another,‭ ‬whether it is in the same structure or separate ones.‭ ‬There are a number of heat sources that exist in nature, from the sun to the Earth's core, and some that are completely manmade. The most common use for a heat source is the commercial production of electricity.

Earth has a variety of natural heat sources available for use.‭ ‬One advantage to using a natural heat source is that no energy needs to be expended to create or maintain the heat.‭ ‬Another benefit is that natural heat sources tend to be‭ ‬either very long-lived or functionally infinite in their production of heat.‭ The drawbacks can include inconsistent supply levels and complex or expensive requirements for capture.‭ ‬Different types of heat sources on Earth,‭ ‬however,‭ ‬are convenient, because‭ ‬they are accessible in nearly every area.

A geothermal heat source is under the surface of the Earth, where they may be found at incredibly high temperatures.‭ ‬These sources are a result of residual heat‭ ‬from the creation of the planet and new heat generated by the movement of the tectonic plates.‭ ‬Steam geysers‭ ‬are an example of geothermal heat that can be captured and used.‭ The Earth itself is very warm under its surface,‭ ‬so digging down far enough will reach an area of intense heat that also can‭ ‬be harnessed.

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The sun is another natural heat source.‭ ‬Both powerful and renewable,‭ ‬it is the primary provider of warmth to the planet.‭ ‬Through the use of solar panels,‭ ‬solar heat energy can be used to‭ ‬directly‭ ‬generate electricity.‭ ‬Large, focused mirrors can be used to concentrate the heat on certain areas to drastically increase the temperature of large amounts of water or gas.‭ ‬Disadvantages‭ ‬of solar heat include‭ ‬being unable to produce energy when there is heavy cloud cover and‭ ‬at night.

There also are alternative heat sources‭ ‬that exist‭ ‬but are not in widespread use.‭ ‬Heat-producing bacteria that are a natural part of the environment can be used.‭ ‬These bacteria decompose organic matter and through a biochemical process create heat as they grow and reproduce.

Manmade heat sources‭ also ‬are available.‭ ‬One of the most well known is a nuclear heat source.‭ ‬By refining‭ ‬specific‭ ‬compounds into a very pure form‭ ‬or‭ ‬creating‭ ‬substances‭ ‬that do not occur naturally,‭ ‬radioactive elements can be formed.‭ ‬The transfer of energy as the atoms decay causes a great amount of heat to be released.‭ ‬This heat is used to generate steam that operates turbines and creates electricity.

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Viranty
Post 3

It's a great thing we have heat sources, or else the Earth would freeze over, ha ha. Also, would another example of a heat source be a furnace for a house, since it's the source that provides the heat for the house or building?

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