Earth’s Radioactive Energy Output

The Sun is essential for all life on Earth on and it was my realisation one day that all our energy comes from the sun. Fossil fuels are animals which ate plants which photosynthesised. Energy origin: sun. Solar panels are obvious, but also the wind that moves turbines is caused by uneven distribution of heat, from the Sun. There is only one exception that I can think of, that of geothermal power. This is caused by radioactive decay inside the Earth, the result of elements created in a supernova, so not our Sun. How much thermal energy the Earth can generate is dependent on the exact composition, and we don’t know the exact composition. There are currently three different types of model used to predict the structure of the Earth:

  • Low Q models, where the Earth generates 10-15 terawatt of energy.
  • Medium Q models where the expected output is about 16-22 terawatt.
  • And high Q models where over 22 terawatt would be the result.

Q is the symbol for energy given out per nuclear decay. The higher energy the model the more  potassium (K-40), thorium (Th-232) and uranium (U-238) is predicted to be present.Now when the thorium and uranium decays it gives off β− radiation that is always accompanied by an anti-neutrino. Now with new neutrino detection experiments being performed around the world the data should reveal the ratio of radioisotopes in the Earth’s structure. Data is being pooled from the Kamioka Underground Laboratory in Japan and the Gran Sasso kton detector in Italy. And with the completion of the detector at SNOLAB in Canada and the JUNO project in China the machines will be ready to collect the data required to find out precisely how warm the Earth’s core truly is.


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