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Is sound a renewable energy or non-renewable energy?

  1. Jan 22, 2016 #1
    I've been searching the web for this answer and can't seem to find it anywhere. Can anyone help me? Is sound a renewable energy or non-renewable energy?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 22, 2016 #2
    Renewable in general. However, most loud noises are man made and are generated by non-renewable sources.

    Exceptions might include shoals of shrimp (218dB) or tectonic activities (volcanos).
  4. Jan 22, 2016 #3


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    I would guess that this question is being asked in response to a 'School Science' homework type question. Actually, no Energy is Renewable. Once it's been used, it's gone and needs to be replenished. Resources, on the other hand, can be replenished from the Sun / heat from the Earth because they will keep delivering energy for use. I have always argued against the term 'Renewable Energy' and the establishment seems to have caught on because it now is mostly referred to as 'sustainable energy resources'.
    There is no useful source of naturally occuring sound energy that could be used in a realistic way (nothing that runs continuously is noisy enough). The sound that people want to make use of is what you get in 'noisy environments', such as factories, busy traffic areas etc.. I guess it is sustainable - until they clear up the noise problems with traffic and machinery. I always reckon that the so-called Harvesting of energy in these situations is seldom very productive but that improving efficiency of machines would reduce sound levels and save money / energy directly.
    But, if you are stuck with being asked about categorising 'energy types' and your teachers say that you are wrong then you could challenge them (I dare you :))) or just go along with what they say until you are out of the system and can get away with thinking independently.
  5. Jan 22, 2016 #4


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    So I would generalize and say that sound is not an energy source at all, but an energy carrier. So whether it is renewable depends on the original source. Background noise in the environment mostly comes from wind, which is solar powered and thus "renewable" under the standard definition. Sound from a car engine comes from oil, which is not renewable.

    Either way, I agree that there is very little energy to be harvested from sound.
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