What are non-renewable resources?

We explain what non-renewable resources are and various examples. In addition, differences with inexhaustible and renewable resources.

What are non-renewable resources?

Non-renewable resources are those natural resources that can be used by humans , which cannot be produced or regenerated at a rate that makes their consumption rate sustainable . In other words, they run the risk of scarcity , either by disappearance or degradation. They exist in fixed quantities or are created naturally at a tremendously slow pace.

Unfortunately, non-renewable natural resources are some of the most coveted and the most useful for industrial society, especially those that result in obtaining energy .

Thus, humanity is constantly looking for new reserves or alternative ways of obtaining, when not replacements that, in addition, do not carry the ecological risk that this type of resources usually involve.

Examples of non-renewable resources

non-renewable resources mining examples
Minerals are not renewed at the rate of consumption.

Some examples of non-renewable resources are as follows:

  • Hydrocarbons . Formed from prehistoric organic matter , subjected for thousands of millions of years to intense conditions of pressure , temperature and absence of oxygen, hydrocarbons formed inside the earth’s crust and can now be extracted by mankind. They generally have a very high energy value and serve as input to obtain a great diversity of different chemical materials. We talk about oil , coal and natural gas, mainly.
  • Terrestrial minerals . The Earth is formed by a fixed amount of chemical elements , forming part of various types of minerals. Some are very abundant, others are less, and some are quite scarce. However, these minerals were formed during eons of geological activity. Its extraction and transformation takes only a tiny fraction of that time , so it can well be considered as non-renewable resources: gold, silver, diamonds, uranium, etc.
  • Groundwater . Whenever it concerns confined and non-recharged aquifers, groundwater deposits are limited. Encapsulated due to specific geological conditions, and therefore isolated from various sources of contamination , they represent very pure water deposits, which have occurred in fixed numbers and could end.

Some more examples by table

  • Fossil fuels
Coal Uranium (nuclear use)
Petroleum Aquifers
Natural gas
  • Metals and minerals
Iron Bauxite
Silver Pyrite
Copper Diamond
Nickel Chrome
Titanium Tin
Gold Zirconium
Aluminum Palladium
Tin Cobalt
Ruby Coal
Emerald Pitch
Zinc Cast
Sapphire Vanadium
Platinum Mercury

Renewable resources

renewable renewable resources
Consumption should be slower than the regeneration of renewable resources.

Renewable resources are understood as those that, although they run the risk of degrading or ending, survive because they are immersed in natural dynamics of replacement and renewal much faster or more massive than the dynamics of consumption by humanity.

That is, those resources that renew themselves naturally , and that if consumed at a rational rate, could result in inexhaustible practice .

An example of this resource is hydroelectric power , dependent on the fall of large water courses, such as rivers or waterfalls, that mobilize turbines mechanically. These power plants are reliable and constant, as long as the volume of water in the river or waterfall is constant and abundant.

  1. Inexhaustible resources

inexhaustible renewable resources
Tidal energy consumption does not deplete the resource of the seas.

The inexhaustible resources are those that are present in nature in margins of abundance such that it is practically impossible to deplete them . That is why they are also called superabundant resources. Examples of this type of resources are hydrogen, earth, seas or solar energy.

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