Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fossil fuels facts

Fossil fuels are formed by the anaerobic decomposition of remains of organisms including phytoplankton and zooplankton that settled to the sea (or lake) bottom in large quantities under anoxic conditions, millions of years ago.

Fossil fuels are oil, coal and natural gas. In 2006 primary sources of energy consisted of petroleum 36.8%, coal 26.6%, and natural gas 22.9%, amounting to an 86% share for fossil fuels in primary energy production in the world.

Crude oil is a smelly, yellow-to-black liquid and is usually found in underground areas called reservoirs. Scientists and engineers explore a chosen area by studying rock samples from the earth. Measurements are taken, and, if the site seems promising, drilling begins.

Coal is a readily combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock normally occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds.

Natural gas is a gas consisting primarily of methane. It is found associated with fossil fuels, in coal beds, as methane clathrates, and is created by methanogenic organisms in marshes, bogs, and landfills.

Fossil fuels - current US energy picture.

Fossil fuels are non-renewable resources because they take millions of years to form, and reserves are being depleted much faster than new ones are being formed.

All fossil fuels are made of hydrocarbons. Hydrocarbons store energy in the form of the atomic bonds. Energy stored in hydrocarbons can be released very easy - we just have to burn them.

When fossil fuels are burned carbon and hydrogen react with oxygen in air to carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H2O). During this reaction heat is released which further amplifies the reaction.

One of the biggest benefits of fossil fuels is their cost. Coal, oil and natural gas are abundant right now and relatively inexpensive to drill or mine for.

At current usage, the coal supply will last 1500 years. However at a 5% growth rate the coal supply will last only 86 years. We can expect even greater usage as other fossil fuels become scarce.

Coal energy yield depends on how much carbon is contained in it. Two types dominate US reserves. Anthracite is 95% carbon and is approximately 300 million years old. Lignite is 25% carbon is nearly 150 million years old.

An oil refinery is an industrial process plant where crude oil is processed and refined into more useful petroleum products, such as gasoline, diesel fuel, asphalt base, heating oil, kerosene and liquefied petroleum gas.

To run a 100-watt light bulb 24 hours a day for a year we need to use about 714 pounds (325 kg) of coal in coal powered power plant (thermal efficiency of such power plant is typically abut 40%).

Fossil fuels are also overwhelmingly responsible for fueling our transportation system. Petroleum-based fuels are the standard.

One liter of regular gasoline is the time-rendered result of about 23.5 tonnes of ancient organic material deposited on the ocean floor.

The total fossil fuel used in the year 1997 is the result of 422 years of all plant matter that grew on the entire surface and in all the oceans of the ancient earth.

Burning fossil fuels is responsible for environmental issues that are high on the political agenda these days. Examples are greenhouse gas accumulation, acidification, air pollution, water pollution, damage to land surface and ground-level ozone.

Consequence of oil spills. Fossil fuels cause direct and indirect pollution.


Unknown said...

fossil fuels mey pollute our enviorment but they are clearly not the reason for global warming global warming is a completly natrual cause.

Jackson Com said...

That is very much true. Global warming is due to the pollution made by cars, breaking down the horizon and the sun seeping through it. Making the Earth more hotter than usual. This has to be changed, if only someone actually do something about it.

Choleyisms at Work said...

There are ways to reduce this and not eliminate our use of fossil fuels altogether. I think it is important to keep our fossil fuels saved for things like airplanes and the war machine. For our everyday energy use we need to be looking at biomass and such. If each city or town took care of providing for themselves, their tourists and passerby; we could reserve our quickly depleting natural fossil fuels for the more important machinery that will not run on biomass. This would also reduce the greenhouse gases released into the air. Just a thought.

MikeMcD said...

Long ago and not very far away, microbes living in hot liquid water near volcanic vents breathed carbon dioxide and exhaled oxygen. This caused a major climate change to occur on the earth where the earth became polluted with oxygen and the levels of carbon dioxide dropped causing the earth to cool and gave rise to oxygen breathing animals such as you and I. Since carbon dioxide levels dropped, the earth cooled and volcanic activity subsided, many of these microbes died off but kept their stash CO2 stored in there bodies since they did not decompose in water or were covered by dirt and ash. These dead microbes went on to become the fossil fuels we burn for energy today. So go on and drive your suburban assault vehicles,” You’re just undoing the damage they did millions of yeas ago!

miguelmeris said...

So you are saying it was the cars' and factories' fault and not man's? That fossil fuels (that are supposed to stay in the ground) being dug up and burned into the air is a natural thing? Yea, undo the damage volcanic vents did million years ago.

Ryan said...

I hate trying to pin the tail on any one cause but it seems irrational to point fingers at humans. The earth went through an ice age with no influence by man, we don't hold as much sway over the environment as scientists would have us believe. Remember, scientists getting paid money to conduct these studies would not be paid to continue studying global warming if they decided that humans were not influencing it. It has and always will be money first. Believe none of what you hear and only half of what you see. The reason we need a shift from fossil fuels is a lessening supply, not because of global warming.

Ryan said...

Also, biomass depletes our farm land and any other form of it isn't substantial enough to power a country. Solar and wind are cost ineffective and will never be pursued by any competitive and large business to the point where they can compete with fossil fuels. Nuclear, if handled properly is the best way to head for power plants coupled with hydrogen for cars. Both have little emissions, hydrogen is developing to where it is cost effective while nuclear already is. Those two are the way to go.

Anonymous said...

You are right on with your comments. Politics drives an agenda of control. Global warming has happened: But to say man was the cause is a stretch.

You can sum up our energy use by saying we are just burning dead things. Eventually, you run out. That, fundamentally, is the problem.

I would suggest that all energy needs to come from the sun. However, the technology does not exist. The sun will not run out of power for a billion years. Go figure on this one.

Professor of Architecture and Environmental Technologies

Anonymous said...

I agree with jsg95 global warming is a myth. Why would scienctists who make a lving off of need to forge data if it proved their point. plus the earth doesnt have the same temperature year after year. however my view onglobal warming i do think we should switch to algae based biofuels.

Anonymous said...

Guys the world has and will forever experience violent changes in temperature and climate our burning of fossil fuels has but a slight affect in our atmosphere. People are just so quick to follow the finger pointed by so many people just saying things to collect a check. The world is constantly changing and moving we do not control it nor own it we just are the unlucky souls who inhabit it. Fossil fuels have been the fuel of the past and will long be the fuel of the future. Yes supplies are lessining but not as much as we are told the reason prices rise and fall are not from avaliblity but from our unquinchable thirst for it and the governments ability to regulate all flow of foriegn goods this country has and all ways will be for making money by any means evem if by lying to the nation and decieving us but fossil fuels are but some of the things we come to be addictted to and cant help but stop and fill up our vehicles on every day so dont beleive what you hear abouy fossil fuels and our atomosphere because the world will end when it wants to no outside influence will do otherwise.

CathyG said...

Hello, i am a high school student and I go to a Environmental Research Institute. It is important to realize that because of human activities, Green house emissions have increased by 30% of a short period of 19 years(1990-2008). The Earth did not cause this to happen, we did. The Fact is that we (human race) are a species of animal that had evolved and we have become inferior to all other species. Rise of green house gases is leading to climate change, rise of global and oceanic surface temperatures. Together with our selfish desire for more fossil fuels and nonrenewable resources and practices has led to habitat destruction and degradation and has led certain rare species of animals that live in specific areas of the world to extinction. We should not disrupt and damage the ecosystems and delicate balance of the environments of these just for the interest of ideals set around materialistic and power hungry views. It is very important that this realization hits us before its too late. In the distant future you should here of me again,.. Thank you for your time!

Hap Cluff said...

Stay in high school, study grammar first before you reach out to blog. "Green House" gas has not increased. Your 30% figure, I presume, referred to C02 which is 3% of all "green house" gasses. So 30% of 3% would be 1% more C02 as a percent of green house gas. Which is sucked up by trees and plants. Further it was caused by increased sea temperatures, a result of increased undersea volcanic activity and solar flares caused by the natural and normal magnetic effect on solar particals (Zeeman Effect).

Oil is not fossil fuel as once taught (oil is abiogenic). Toss that one at your HS teachers. Oil is renewable in that it is a by-product of natural process beginning at the earth’s core where magna heats rocks and produces oil; as liquid is lighter than rock it rises toward the surface. (Look it up you’re a student). In fact this “natural” seepage of oil into environmentally sensitive areas could be alleviated with drilling thereby relieving the pressure. We will never run out of oil.

Humans are the single most highly evolved of all species. There is zero “evidence” of anything to the contrary. Proof of this is in the very fact you state as the reason they are not. The one provable component of “evolution” is the survival of the fittest. A species that is dying off has not sufficiently evolved to remain alive. We’re still here. Further there is zero evidence (only theories) of speciasion (kind jumping, or one species turning into another species).

In the US the environment is at an all time record level of cleanliness. Land, air, food, and water. Speaking of water its contamination is the single largest pollution issue on earth. Ground water pollution is singularly caused by the disposal of animal feces and by-products. Are you a vegetarian? I am.

I hope we do hear from you again in the future; after you have studied evidence on all sides of this issue. Not just that of your HS teachers who are, based on your statements, biased by the minority views of United Nation paid “scientists” cult.

Anonymous said...

fossil fuel releases carbon dioxide and other harmful gases which causes global warming! si I disagree with the comments which tells fossil fuel is not the reason for global warming!

Hoosein Kader said...

Lots of speculation lacking observation. Yes releasing trapped carbon by igniting fossil fuels will have an effect on the atmosphere, bush fires caused by lightning was and is a natural occurrence and causes a lot of air pollution, but does not threaten the atmosphere due to the fact that all plant life photosynthesize and carbon is part of that process. It is the refining of the fuel that seem to be the problem. I am in agreement with the theory that excessive carbon can cause global temp. to rise.

Anonymous said...

I am a student who has just started year 7. I am confused but think that it is not the fuels of the manufaters fault, just our for buying these so the company will carry on making more and more. If every-one stopped using cars and elecrisity, than we would have no need for the manufaters to make anymore.
Although they would then be losing their jobs, i feel that is more important. Fossiel fuels are not created in 10 years, or even 100, they take lots of time to form. This is why we should learn to preservee them for as long as we can.

Anonymous said...

Carbon Dioxide traps heat and the carbon dioxide gets traped in the our atmosphere which heats up all the earth