Coal, natural gas and oil or petroleum are parts of fossil fuels, created during the Carboniferous Period which is around 300 million years ago and can be found at the earth’s crust. Fossil fuels are actually renewable but they take millions of years to form.Thus, they are considered as one of the world’s non-renewable sources and we are running out of them. According to our research, almost half of our daily routine involves fossil fuels. Whether they are putting on makeup, fueling the car, or taking an aspirin, fossil fuels are our life companion. So what do you do with them? Do we take advantage of them until they run out? Or do we take care of them since they take care of our needs?
Formation & History
Fossil fuels were formed during the Carboniferous Period during the Paleozoic era . During this period, the land was full of swamps filled with trees and other plants while the oceans were full of algae and plankton. "Carboniferous" got its name from Carbon, the basic element of fossil fuels. Later, as the plants and trees died, they sank to the bottom of the waters and swamps. Fossil fuels were formed by these decomposing plants and animals. During a very long cycle of time, layers of rock, mud, and sand roofed the dead plants thousands of feet under the Earth. The process of fossil fuels formation involved the exposure of these biological remains to extreme pressure and heat. The pressure from the rock squeezes the water out of the peat and form the three most commonly used fossil fuels of today: coal, natural gas, and oil.
Coal is a black, solid rock-like substance, that is known as one of Earth’s most rich fuels. It is made out of sulphur, carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. It is divided into four groups : lignite, sub-bituminous, bituminous, and anthracite.
It is formed in almost the same way as liquid fossil fuels only slightly different. Coal is found in swamps covered by seawater. Since the sea has a lot of sulphur it stays behind in coal when water recedes. Unless it is removed when it is being burned, the sulphur goes into our air when the coal is burned, In some parts of the world there are freshwater swamps, therefore coal from here has less sulphur and is much cleaner than other swamps.
Coal is obtained from the Earth by surface mining or deep mining. It is used to generate electricity,waterproofing for roofs, the surfaces of roads, paints for walls and woodwork.
Other than that,it is also used to make medicines, that is, from aspirin to help a headache, to reducing pain caused by cancer.
Here are a couple of fun facts :
Did you know that washing liquid also comes from coal? and
Pencil ‘lead’ is not really lead but a
very untainted form of coal called graphite.
The heat from burning coal, gas and oil are used to make cement,
glass and pottery.
|How coal is used.
Types Of Coal
- 1.LigniteLignite has a lot of moisture and is easily breakable.It is also known as brown coal.It has the lowest carbon content and heating value. Lignite is usually used for generating electricity.
- 2.Sub-bituminousIt has less moisture then Lignite. Sub-bituminous is mainly used to produce steam for electricity generation. It is mostly found in western states and Alaska.
- 3.BituminousIt contains a small amount of moisture and a large heat value. Bituminous is used to generate electricity and to make coke. Furthermore, It is also used to produce coke, a coal residue used in the steel industry. It is mostly found in the USA.
- 4.AnthraciteIt is the hardest coal as it contains the lowest moisture and ash content and the highest carbon content. It burns slowly and makes a good heating fuel for homes.
Do you know where the gas from your stove comes from? What substance is used to heat your pool or spa? What makes your house warm and comfortable during the cold season? The answer is natural gas. Read more to learn about what people do with this natural gas to improve and modernize our lifestyles and make our lives easier.
Natural gas is a part of fossil fuels so it is formed in the same way as petroleum and coal. We have realised that not only oil and coal will eventually run out, but natural gas is also facing the same problem.
Do you know that natural gas was found over thousands of years ago? It was found during the ancient Chinese era along the Tibetan border and it was piped with bamboo rods.
It was first used by the King of Persia. He used it for his cooking in his kitchen. Natural gas was discovered when it seeped out of the ground and was suddenly ignited by lightning causing a continuous flame.
In present time, the pipeline to flow natural gas worldwide has been improved and is stretched for millions of miles across countries. The improvement of technology after World War II has made the natural gas industries vital for many different uses in life.
As natural gas is one of the fossil fuels, it is not a renewable resource. Therefore we cannot make it or replace it in a short time. Fossil fuels take millions of years to form and require dead plants and animals to be left decayed underground. Although there is still a lot of natural gas, soon the gas will run out faster than has been predicted due to improved technologies, lifestyles and its properties. Natural gas has become the main source in certain countries like China, India and the United States. What makes natural gas so special?
The Uses of Natural Gas
Nowadays people do not use charcoal and firewood to cook anymore. It is really hard to make a fire out of these materials and it is not easy to control the fire. However natural gas is very suitable for home cooking. The fire is easily controlled and will burn continuously. Natural gas is also suitable for use with the water heater. You can enjoy the warmth of your bath made from the natural gas. Of course you can generate heat from the sun but natural gas’ is continuous. It can be used in barbecues because it regulates fire fasters compared to charcoal. It is not necessary to wait for charcoal to get hot because natural gas consists of a substance that reacts actively in combustion.
Gas turbines and steam turbines can generate electricity out of natural gas. Natural gas is the cleanest fuel among other fossil fuels which are petroleum and coal which makes it the most popular fuel for the production of electric energy. It releases the least carbon dioxide and does not release poisonous gas like oil and coal do. There are certain countries which have used up natural gas as their main sources for electricity because it is less polluting. For example, in the steam generation unit. Steam will turn the turbine to generate electricity. Natural gas is also used to generate electricity in gas turbines and engines. The gas turbines and engine-generators are turned by the hot gasses from the burned fossil fuels and will eventually generate electricity. Have you ever heard of fuel cells? They are rechargeable using the natural gas by the hydrogen produced instead of using electric chargers.
Natural gas is not just for energy production, but it is also used in the production of goods. Natural gas is necessary for plastic, fabric and anti-freeze industries. There are also other industries that use natural gas for food processing, metals preheating, petroleum decontamination, wastes incineration, melting of glass and fueling industrial boilers. The other gases from natural gas like propane, ethane and butane can be used for making fertilizers and chemical products. The methanol from the gas has many applications such as materials for cleaner burning of gasoline, acetic acid and formation of formaldehyde. Methanol is formed from a gas called synthesis gas that consists of hydrogen and carbon dioxide through the process of steam reforming.
In the early age, natural gas has benefitted transportation. Vehicles use compressed natural gas (CNG) of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to ensure the engine runs efficiently depends on what type of vehicles it is used. Natural gas is suitable for transportation as it does not release harmful substance compared to oil and coal. It has been used frequently in taxicabs, school buses, transits, public works vehicles, construction vehicles, and airport shuttles these days such as China to stagger the amount of pollution resulting from the fossil fuels burned. They are always operating and contribute most of the air properties so instead of using diesel and gasoline, natural gas is the most suitable choice. It does not give out harmful substance like gasoline and diesels that contain toxic gas. For example, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, nickel, arsenic and benzene.
Choosing natural gas for commercial use is an excellent decision. The gas is not just cost-saving but it does not pollute the air like oil and coal do. That is why in every commercial business it is better to use natural gas as their main energy source. Gas is usually used in restaurants, hair salons, laundries, schools, offices, and many kinds of businesses altogether. The properties of the natural gas prove that natural gas has been used up for many purposes and will eventually run out if the amount of natural gas distributed is not controlled
Petroleum was first used in German by a German mineralogist, George Bauer. Petroleum is a crude oil, flammable liquid found in the formations of the Earth consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecule weights plus other organic compounds.
One of the major uses of petroleum is as a form of fuel. Gasoline,jet fuel,and heating oil are some other examples. Besides,it also has been used to produce liquid in natural gas. Petroleum is also used in the plastic industry.Asphalt(petroleum product) is used to make fertilizers,pesticides,herbicides,detergents,records,photographic film,furniture,packaging materials,surfboards and paints.
The top three countries which produce petroleum are Saudi Arabia,Russia and The United States of America. Petroleum is now at risk. It is becoming extinct. Therefore, alternative sources of energy have been found such as hydrogen,ethanol,hybrid and biomass. However, these types of energy cannot be accepted by people.
Petroleum also affects the environment. Among the effects is extinction. This phenomenon happens involving dredging which stirs up the seabirds, killing all the marine life. Besides, oil spills have also occurred. This happens when crude oil and refined fuel spill from tanker ships. This has damaged the natural ecosystem.This happened in Alaska, France and Indonesia. Oil spills can bring harm to seabirds, mammals, shellfish and other organisms. Oil spills are more readily containable if a makeshift Earth dam can be rapidly bulldozed around the site before most of the oil escapes. Land animals areable to avoid the oil more easily.