What are fossil fuels? Fossil fuels range from volatile materials with low carbon: hydrogen ratios like methane, to liquid petroleum to nonvolatile materials composed of almost pure carbon, like anthracite coal. Methane can be found in hydrocarbon fields, alone, associated with oil, or in the form of methane clathrates. It is generally accepted that they formed from the fossilized remains of dead plants and animals. Fuels formed by natural resources such as anaerobic decomposition of buried dead organisms. The age of the organisms and their resulting fossil fuels is typically millions of years, but exceeds 2 billion years.
What are the different type of fossil fuels? • 1: Coal -combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock composed mostly of carbon and hydrocarbons. The energy in coal comes from the energy stored by plants that lived hundreds of millions of years ago. For millions of years, a layer of dead plants at the bottom of the swamps was covered by layers of water and dirt, trapping the energy of the dead plants. The heat and pressure from the top layers helped the plant remains turn into what we today call coal.
2: Petroleum -Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights, and other organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the earth's surface.
3: Natural gas -natural gas -consisting primarily of methane. It is found associated with other fossil fuels, in coal beds, as methane clathrates, and is created by methanogenic organisms in marshes, bogs, and landfills. It is an important fuel source, a major feedstock fertilizers, and a potent greenhouse gas.
How is coal formed? Coal is formed when peat is altered physically and chemically. This process is called "coalification." During coalification, peat undergoes several changes as a result of bacterial decay, compaction, heat, and time. Peat deposits are quite varied and contain everything from pristine plant parts (roots, bark, spores, etc.) to decayed plants, decay products, and even charcoal if the peat caught fire during accumulation. Peat deposits typically form in a waterlogged environment where plant debris accumulated. In such an environment, the accumulation of plant debris exceeds the rate of bacterial decay of the debris. The bacterial decay rate is reduced because the available oxygen in organic-rich water is completely used up by the decaying process. Anaerobic (without oxygen) decay is much slower than aerobic decay. For the peat to become coal, it must be buried by sediment. The stages of this trend proceed from plant debris through peat, lignite, sub-bituminous coal, bituminous coal, anthracite coal, to graphite (a pure carbon mineral).
Different stages of coal formation • 1st stage: Peat -Peat is vegetable matter which has been partially carbonized due to the way in which it decomposes. Peat forms when plant material, usually in marshy areas, is inhibited from decaying fully by acidic and anaerobic conditions. It is composed mainly of marshland vegetation: trees, grasses, fungi, as well as other types of organic remains, such as insects, and animal remains. Under certain conditions, the decomposition of the latter is inhibited.
2nd stage: Lignite -often referred to as brown coal, or Rosebud coal by Northern Pacific Railroad, is a soft brown fuel with characteristics that put it somewhere between coal and peat. It is considered the lowest rank of coal; it is mined in Germany, Russia, the United States, Australia and many European countries, and it is used almost exclusively as a fuel for steam-electric power generation. Up to 50% of Greece's electricity and 11% of Germany's comes from lignite power plants.
3rd stage: Bituminous -Bituminous coal can be described as a dense, black (or sometimes dark brown), often with well-defined bands of bright and dull materials. Bituminous coal can be described also as the middle rank coal (between sub bituminous and anthracite) as it has been formed by additional pressure and heat on lignite.
4th stage: Anthracite -anthracite is highly carbonated and clean-burning. Anthracite can be used as the primary heat source for a home or business.
How is coal used as a fossil fuel? • Often associated with the Industrial Revolution, coal remains an enormously important fuel and is the largest single source of electricity world-wide. In the United States, for example, the coal power plants generate 50% of the electricity produced. • When these fuels are burnt, the energy released can be harnessed to produce electricity, power vehicles, heat homes, cook food and much more. They are also used in the production of important materials such as plastics.
How is oil formed? • Almost all oil and gas comes from tiny decayed plants, algae, and bacteria. Oil was formed from the remains of animals and plants (diatoms) that lived millions of years ago in a marine (water) environment before the dinosaurs. Over millions of years, the remains of these animals and plants were covered by layers of sand and silt. Heat and pressure from these layers helped the remains turn into what we today call crude oil. The word "petroleum" means "rock oil" or "oil from the earth."
How Is oil used as a fossil fuel? • Oil is a thick, black, gooey liquid also called petroleum. It's found way down in the ground, usually between layers of rock. To get oil out, a well is dug. Digging a well is like putting a straw into a can of pop. The oil is then pumped out of the ground, just like when you suck pop up the straw. Oil is carried in pipelines and large tankerships. A refinery changes the oil into products like gasoline, jet fuel and diesel fuel. It's also burned in factories and power plants to make electricity. The oil is burned, which produces gases that turn a turbine to create electricity.
How is natural gas formed? • Natural gas is lighter than air. Natural gas is made out of methane, which is a simple chemical compound made up of carbon and hydrogen atoms. This gas is highly flammable. Natural gas is found near oil in the ground. It's pumped, just like oil, from wells that tap into the source and send it to large pipelines.
How is natural gas used as a fossil fuel? • Natural gas is burned to produce heat, which boils water, creating steam, which passes through a turbine to generate electricity. Natural gas has fewer emissions when burned than other fossil fuels. Because it is a cleaner fuel its popularity has grown in the last few years causing the US to import natural gas from Canada and Mexico.
What are refineries and why are they important? • An industrial plant for purifying a crude substance, such as petroleum or sugar. • A refinery is a production facility composed of a group of chemical engineering unit processes and unit operations refining certain materials or converting raw material into products of value. • The refinery has seen substantial changes in the scale and scope of its operations over the years, but remains one of Victoria’s most reliable and important industrial facilities. When a refinery in Altona was first announced in the 1940s, there was a great amount of anticipation and the project was seen as significant for the economy. The refinery remains an important part of the economy, directly providing hundreds of jobs for Victorians and indirectly supporting thousands of additional jobs in the community, while contributing millions of dollars each year in taxes and rates to government, and grants to local community groups. http://www.exxonmobil.com/Australia-English/PA/about_what_rs_anniversary_60.aspx http://www.ask.com/wiki/Refinery http://www.ask.com/pictures?qsrc=3060&o=0&l=dir&q=Refinery
Discuss the Exxon Valdez spill incident, the clean up and the effects it had on the environment • On March 24, 1989, the tanker Exxon Valdez, en route from Valdez, Alaska to Los Angeles, California, ran aground on Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound Alaska. The vessel was traveling outside normal shipping lanes in an attempt to avoid ice. Within six hours of the grounding, the Exxon Valdez spilled approximately 10.9 million gallons of its 53 million gallon cargo of Prudhoe Bay crude oil. Eight of the eleven tanks on board were damaged. The oil would eventually impact over 1,100 miles of non-continuous coastline in Alaska, making the Exxon Valdez the largest oil spill to date in U.S. waters. • Shoreline cleanup began in April of 1989 and continued until September of 1989 for the first year of the response. The response effort continued in 1990 and 1991 with cleanup in the summer months, and limited shoreline monitoring in the winter months. Fate and effects monitoring by state and Federal agencies are ongoing. • Recreational Sport Fishing Losses, Tourism Losses, Existence value and Replacement costs of birds and mammals were some of the main effects because of the Exxon Valdez spill.
Discuss the deep water horizon oil catastrophe incident, the clean up and the effect it had on the environment • a massive ongoing oil spill stemming from a sea floor oil gusher in the gulf of Mexico. The spill started with an oil well blowout on April 20, 2010 which caused a catastrophic explosion on the deepwater horizon off shore oil drilling platform that was situated about 40 miles (64 km) southeast of the Louisiana coast. Eleven platform workers are missing and presumed dead; the explosion also injured 17 others. The gusher originates from a deepwater oil well 5,000 feet (1,500 m) below the ocean surface. Numerous estimates have been made for the amount of oil being discharged, ranging from BP's revised estimate of 5,000 barrels to as much as 100,000 barrels of crude oil per day. The exact spill flow rate is uncertain. The resulting oil slick covers a surface area of at least 2,500 square miles (6,500 km2) according to estimates reported on May 3, 2010, with the exact size and location of the slick fluctuating from day to day depending on weather conditions. In addition, on May 15, researchers announced the discovery of immense underwater plumes of oil not visible from the surface. • The Environmental Protection Agency has directed oil giant BP to use a less toxic form of chemical dispersants to break up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. • Replacement costs of birds and mammals to repopulate that area will be demanded. http://www.salon.com/news/louisiana_oil_spill/index.html?story=/env/2010/05/03/us_gulf_oil_spill_2