The different sources of raw materials include natural gas, coal, wood, and crude oil. Manufacturing industries around the world need raw materials to create the products used in millions of households and in industry. As the population continues to increase, the demand for raw materials continues to rise, and researchers are looking for alternative sources of raw materials.
Natural gas plays an important role in the world's energy consumption. The demand for natural gas remains high because it is an efficient energy source and environmentally safe. Energy experts state that natural gas is one of the most clean-burning of conventional fuels. Unlike heavy carbon fuels, such as oil or coal, natural gas produces much lower levels of greenhouse gas emissions. Consumers use this source of raw material to power electric generators, provide heat to homes, and create plastics.
Almost half of the world's coal reserves can be found in China, India, and the United States, and coal has a competitive edge against other sources of raw material because of its lower cost. It can be transformed into a gas and also produces propylene and ethylene, which can be used in thousands of products. Power plants generate electricity by producing heat from coal that turns the blades of a turbine.
Trees provide wood, which is a widely used raw material in several manufacturing industries. Paper products and the materials used to construct homes would not be available without this source of raw material. Studies reveal that 300 million tons of paper are consumed every year. Environmentalists typically do not support the use of wood in manufacturing as the harvest of timber disturbs animal habitats and damages forests. In addition, paper mills emit millions of pounds of toxic chemicals into the atmosphere and water every year.
One of the most important sources of raw materials in the chemical industry is crude oil. This raw material can be refined to create gasoline for automobiles, and a small percentage of refined crude oil produces plastic materials. Other products made with crude oil include asphalt oil, jet fuel, and petroleum coke. Chemists use specific boiling points to isolate these various materials from the crude oil.
As a result of pollution and the fear of shortages, alternative sources of raw materials are highly sought after. Using sunlight to power solar cells does not emit harmful chemicals into the air. Wind is also another source of natural alternative energy and can be used to power wind turbines that produce electricity.