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Carbon-based fuel is any fuel whose energy derives principally from the oxidation or burning of carbon.

Carbon-based fuels are of two main kinds, [1] biofuels and fossil fuels. Whereas biofuels are derived from recent-growth organic matter and are typically harvested, as with logging of forests [2] and cutting of corn, fossil fuels are of prehistoric origin and are extracted from the ground, the principal fossil fuels being oil, coal, and natural gas. From an economic policy perspective, an important distinction between biofuels and fossil fuels is that only the former is sustainable or renewable. Whereas we can continue to obtain energy from biofuels indefinitely in principle, the Earth's reserves of fossil fuels was determined millions of [3] years ago and is therefore fixed as far as our foreseeable future is concerned. The great variability in the ease of extraction of fossil fuels however [4] makes its endgame scenario one of increasing prices over one or more centuries rather than of abrupt exhaustion. From the perspective of climate and ecology, biofuels and fossil fuels have in common that they contribute to the production of atmospheric carbon dioxide, which has emerged in recent decades as the fastest-changing greenhouse gas, whose principal impacts are global warming and ocean acidification. However biofuels actively participate in the carbon cycle today by photosynthesizing carbon dioxide, unlike fossil fuels whose participation was long ago, and can therefore in principle bring atmospheric CO2 into an equilibrium not possible with the continued use of fossil fuel. But in practice photosynthesis is a slow process, and the additional fuel produced by artificial methods of accelerating it such as application of [5] [6] fertilizer tends to be offset by the energy consumed by the accelerating processes, to a degree currently under active debate. In contrast the speed of photosynthesis is immaterial for fossil fuels because they had millions of years in which to accumulate. Biofuel is a type of fuel whose energy is derived from biological carbon fixation. Biofuels include fuels derived from biomass conversion, as well as [1] solid biomass, liquid fuels and various biogases. Although fossil fuels have their origin in ancient carbon fixation, they are not considered biofuels by the generally accepted definition because they contain carbon that has been "out" of the carbon cycle for a very long time. Biofuels are gaining increased public and scientific attention, driven by factors such as oil price spikes, the need for increased energy security, concern over greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels, and support from government subsidies. Bioethanol is an alcohol made by fermentation, mostly from carbohydrates produced in sugar or starch crops such as corn or sugarcane. Cellulosic biomass, derived from non-food sources such as trees and grasses, is also being developed as a feedstock for ethanol production. Ethanol can be used as a fuel for vehicles in its pure form, but it is usually used as a gasoline additive to increase octane and improve vehicle emissions. Bioethanol is widely used in the USA and in Brazil. Current plant design does not provide for converting the lignin portion of plant raw materials to fuel components by fermentation. Biodiesel is made from vegetable oils and animal fats. Biodiesel can be used as a fuel for vehicles in its pure form, but it is usually used as a diesel additive to reduce levels of particulates, carbon monoxide, and hydrocarbons from diesel-powered vehicles. Biodiesel is produced from oils or fats using transesterification and is the most common biofuel in Europe. In 2010 worldwide biofuel production reached 105 billion liters (28 billion gallons US), up 17% from 2009, and biofuels provided 2.7% of the world's [2] fuels for road transport, a contribution largely made up of ethanol and biodiesel. Global ethanol fuel production reached 86 billion liters (23 billion gallons US) in 2010, with the United States and Brazil as the world's top producers, accounting together for 90% of global production. The [2] world's largest biodiesel producer is the European Union, accounting for 53% of all biodiesel production in 2010. As of 2011, mandates for [3] blending biofuels exist in 31 countries at the national level and in 29 states/provinces. According to the International Energy Agency, biofuels [4] have the potential to meet more than a quarter of world demand for transportation fuels by 2050. Liquid fuels for transportation Most transportation fuels are liquids, because vehicles usually require high energy density, as occurs in liquids and solids. High power density can be provided most inexpensively by an internal combustion engine; these engines require clean burning fuels, to keep the engine clean and minimize air pollution. The fuels that are easiest to burn cleanly are typically liquids and gases. Thus liquids (and gases that can be stored in liquid form) meet the requirements of being both portable and clean burning. Also, liquids and gases can be pumped, which means handling is easily mechanized, and thus less laborious. [edit] First generation biofuels 'First-generation' or conventional biofuels are biofuels made from sugar, starch, and vegetable oil. [edit] Bioalcohols Main article: Alcohol fuel

Neat ethanol on the left (A), gasoline on the right (G) at a filling station in Brazil Biologically produced alcohols, most commonly ethanol, and less commonly propanol and butanol, are produced by the action of microorganisms and enzymes through the fermentation of sugars or starches (easiest), or cellulose (which is more difficult). Biobutanol (also called biogasoline) is often claimed to provide a direct replacement for gasoline, because it can be used directly in a gasoline engine (in a similar way to biodiesel in diesel engines). Ethanol fuel is the most common biofuel worldwide, particularly in Brazil. Alcohol fuels are produced by fermentation of sugars derived from wheat, corn, sugar beets, sugar cane, molasses and any sugar or starch that alcoholic beverages can be made from (like potato and fruit waste, etc.). The ethanol production methods used are enzyme digestion (to release sugars from stored starches), fermentation of the sugars, distillation and drying. The distillation process requires significant energy input for heat (often unsustainable natural gas fossil fuel, but cellulosic biomass such as bagasse, the waste left after sugar cane is pressed to extract its juice, can also be used more sustainably).

Ethanol can be used in petrol engines as a replacement for gasoline; it can be mixed with gasoline to any percentage. Most existing car petrol engines can run on blends of up to 15% bioethanol with petroleum/gasoline. Ethanol has a smaller energy density than does gasoline; this fact means that it takes more fuel (volume and mass) to produce the same amount of work. An advantage of ethanol (CH 3CH2OH) is that it has a higher octane rating than ethanol-free gasoline available at roadside gas stations which allows an increase of an engine's compression ratio for increased thermal efficiency. In high altitude (thin air) locations, some states mandate a mix of gasoline and ethanol as a winter oxidizer to reduce atmospheric pollution emissions. Ethanol is also used to fuel bioethanol fireplaces. As they do not require a chimney and are "flueless", bio ethanol fires are extremely useful for new build homes and apartments without a flue. The downside to these fireplaces, is that the heat output is slightly less than electric and gas fires. In the current corn-to-ethanol production model in the United States, considering the total energy consumed by farm equipment, cultivation, planting, fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides made from petroleum, irrigation systems, harvesting, transport of feedstock to processing plants, fermentation, distillation, drying, transport to fuel terminals and retail pumps, and lower ethanol fuel energy content, the net energy content value added and delivered to consumers is very small. And, the net benefit (all things considered) does little to reduce imported oil and [6] fossil fuels required to produce the ethanol. Although corn-to-ethanol and other food stocks have implications both in terms of world food prices and limited, yet positive, energy yield (in terms of energy delivered to customer/fossil fuels used), the technology has led to the development of cellulosic ethanol. According to a joint [7] research agenda conducted through the U.S. Department of Energy, the fossil energy ratios (FER) for cellulosic ethanol, corn ethanol, and [8][9][10] gasoline are 10.3, 1.36, and 0.81, respectively. Even dry ethanol has roughly one-third lower energy content per unit of volume compared to gasoline, so larger / heavier fuel tanks are required to travel the same distance, or more fuel stops are required. With large current unsustainable, non-scalable subsidies, ethanol fuel still costs much [11] more per distance traveled than current high gasoline prices in the United States. Methanol is currently produced from natural gas, a non-renewable fossil fuel. It can also be produced from biomass as biomethanol. The methanol economy is an alternative to the hydrogen economy, compared to today's hydrogen production from natural gas. Butanol (C4H9OH) is formed by ABE fermentation (acetone, butanol, ethanol) and experimental modifications of the process show potentially high net energy gains with butanol as the only liquid product. Butanol will produce more energy and allegedly can be burned "straight" in existing [12] gasoline engines (without modification to the engine or car), and is less corrosive and less water soluble than ethanol, and could be distributed via existing infrastructures. DuPont and BP are working together to help develop Butanol. E. coli have also been successfully engineered to produce [13] butanol by hijacking their amino acid metabolism. [edit] Biodiesel Main articles: Biodiesel and Biodiesel around the world
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In some countries biodiesel is less expensive than conventional diesel. Biodiesel is the most common biofuel in Europe. It is produced from oils or fats using transesterification and is a liquid similar in composition to fossil/mineral diesel. Chemically, it consists mostly of fatty acid methyl (or ethyl) esters (FAMEs). Feedstocks for biodiesel include animal fats, vegetable oils, soy, rapeseed, jatropha, mahua, mustard, flax, sunflower, palm oil, hemp, field pennycress, pongamia pinnata and algae. Pure biodiesel (B100) is the lowest emission diesel fuel. Although liquefied petroleum gas and hydrogen have cleaner combustion, they are used to fuel much less efficient petrol engines and are not as widely available. Biodiesel can be used in any diesel engine when mixed with mineral diesel. In some countries manufacturers cover their diesel engines under warranty for B100 use, although Volkswagen of Germany, for example, asks drivers to check by telephone with the VW environmental services department before switching to B100. B100 may become more viscous at lower temperatures, depending on the feedstock used. In most cases, biodiesel is compatible with diesel engines from 1994 onwards, which use 'Viton' (by DuPont) synthetic rubber in their mechanical fuel injection systems. Electronically controlled 'common rail' and 'unit injector' type systems from the late 1990s onwards may only use biodiesel blended with conventional diesel fuel. These engines have finely metered and atomized multi-stage injection systems that are very sensitive to the viscosity of the fuel. Many current generation diesel engines are made so that they can run on B100 without altering the engine itself, although this depends on the fuel rail design. Since biodiesel is an effective solvent and cleans residues deposited by mineral diesel, engine filters may need to be replaced more often, as the biofuel dissolves old deposits in the fuel tank and pipes. It also effectively cleans the engine combustion chamber of carbon deposits, helping to maintain efficiency. In many European countries, a 5% biodiesel blend is widely used and is available at thousands of gas [14][15] stations. Biodiesel is also an oxygenated fuel, meaning that it contains a reduced amount of carbon and higher hydrogen and oxygen content than fossil diesel. This improves the combustion of biodiesel and reduces the particulate emissions from un-burnt carbon. Biodiesel is also safe to handle and transport because it is as biodegradable as sugar, 10 times less toxic than table salt, and has a high flash point of [16] about 300 F (148 C) compared to petroleum diesel fuel, which has a flash point of 125 F (52 C). In the USA, more than 80% of commercial trucks and city buses run on diesel. The emerging US biodiesel market is estimated to have grown 200% from 2004 to 2005. "By the end of 2006 biodiesel production was estimated to increase fourfold [from 2004] to more than" 1 billion US gallons 3 [17] (3,800,000 m ). [edit] Green diesel Main article: Green diesel

Green diesel, also known as renewable diesel, is a form of diesel fuel which is derived from renewable feedstock rather than the fossil feedstock used in most diesel fuels. Green diesel feedstock can be sourced from a variety of oils including canola, algae, jatropha and salicornia in addition to tallow. Green diesel uses traditional fractional distillation to process the oils, not to be confused with biodiesel which is chemically quite different and processed using transesterification. Green Diesel as commonly known in Ireland should not be confused with dyed green diesel sold at a lower tax rate for agriculture purposes, using the dye allows custom officers to determine if a person is using the cheaper diesel in higher taxed applications such as commercial haulage or [18] cars. [edit] Vegetable oil

Filtered waste vegetable oil Main article: Vegetable oil used as fuel Straight unmodified edible vegetable oil is generally not used as fuel, but lower quality oil can and has been used for this purpose. Used vegetable oil is increasingly being processed into biodiesel, or (more rarely) cleaned of water and particulates and used as a fuel. Also here, as with 100% biodiesel (B100), to ensure that the fuel injectors atomize the vegetable oil in the correct pattern for efficient combustion, vegetable oil fuel must be heated to reduce its viscosity to that of diesel, either by electric coils or heat exchangers. This is easier in warm or temperate climates. Big corporations like MAN B&W Diesel, Wrtsil, and Deutz AG as well as a number of smaller companies such as Elsbett offer engines that are compatible with straight vegetable oil, without the need for after-market modifications. Vegetable oil can also be used in many older diesel engines that do not use common rail or unit injection electronic diesel injection systems. Due to the design of the combustion chambers in indirect injection engines, these are the best engines for use with vegetable oil. This system allows the relatively larger oil molecules more time to burn. Some older engines, especially Mercedes are driven experimentally by enthusiasts without any conversion, a handful of drivers have experienced limited success with earlier pre-"Pumpe Duse" VW TDI engines and other similar engines with direct injection. Several companies like Elsbett or Wolf have developed professional conversion kits and successfully installed hundreds of them over the last decades. Oils and fats can be hydrogenated to give a diesel substitute. The resulting product is a straight chain hydrocarbon with a high cetane number, low in aromatics and sulfur and does not contain oxygen. Hydrogenated oils can be blended with diesel in all proportions Hydrogenated oils have several advantages over biodiesel, including good performance at low temperatures, no storage stability problems and no susceptibility to [19] microbial attack. [edit] Bioethers Bio ethers (also referred to as fuel ethers or oxygenated fuels) are cost-effective compounds that act as octane rating enhancers. They also enhance engine performance, whilst significantly reducing engine wear and toxic exhaust emissions. Greatly reducing the amount of ground-level [20][21] ozone, they contribute to the quality of the air we breathe. [edit] Biogas

Pipes carrying biogas Main article: Biogas Biogas is methane produced by the process of anaerobic digestion of organic material by anaerobes. It can be produced either from biodegradable waste materials or by the use of energy crops fed into anaerobic digesters to supplement gas yields. The solid byproduct, digestate, can be used as a biofuel or a fertilizer.
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Biogas can be recovered from mechanical biological treatment waste processing systems. Note:Landfill gas is a less clean form of biogas which is produced in landfills through naturally occurring anaerobic digestion. If it escapes into the atmosphere it is a potential greenhouse gas.

Farmers can produce biogas from manure from their cows by using an anaerobic digester (AD).

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[edit] Syngas Main article: Gasification Syngas, a mixture of carbon monoxide, hydrogen and other hydrocarbons is produced by partial combustion of biomass, that is, combustion with [19] an amount of oxygen that is not sufficient to convert the biomass completely to carbon dioxide and water. Before partial combustion the biomass is dried, and sometimes pyrolysed. The resulting gas mixture, syngas, is more efficient than direct combustion of the original biofuel; more of the energy contained in the fuel is extracted.

Syngas may be burned directly in internal combustion engines, turbines or high-temperature fuel cells. wood-fueled gasification reactor mounted on an internal combustion engine.

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The wood gas generator is a

Syngas can be used to produce methanol, DME and hydrogen, or converted via the Fischer-Tropsch process to produce a diesel substitute, or a mixture of alcohols that can be blended into gasoline. Gasification normally relies on temperatures >700C. Lower temperature gasification is desirable when co-producing biochar but results in a Syngas polluted with tar.

[edit] Solid biofuels Examples include wood, sawdust, grass trimmings, domestic refuse, charcoal, agricultural waste, non-food energy crops (see picture), and dried manure. When raw biomass is already in a suitable form (such as firewood), it can burn directly in a stove or furnace to provide heat or raise steam. When raw biomass is in an inconvenient form (such as sawdust, wood chips, grass, urban waste wood, agricultural residues), the typical process is to densify the biomass. This process includes grinding the raw biomass to an appropriate particulate size (known as hogfuel), which depending on the densification type can be from 1 to 3 cm (1 in), which is then concentrated into a fuel product. The current types of processes are wood pellet, cube, or puck. The pellet process is most common in Europe and is typically a pure wood product. The other types of densification are larger in size compared to a pellet and are compatible with a broad range of input feedstocks. The resulting densified fuel is easier to transport and feed into thermal generation systems such as boilers. One of the advantages of solid biomass fuel is that it is often a by-product, residue or waste-product of other processes, such as farming, animal [25] [25] husbandry and forestry. In theory this means there is no competition between fuel and food production, although this is not always the case. A problem with the combustion of raw biomass is that it emits considerable amounts of pollutants such as particulates and PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons). Even modern pellet boilers generate much more pollutants than oil or natural gas boilers. Pellets made from agricultural [26] residues are usually worse than wood pellets, producing much larger emissions of dioxins and chlorophenols. Notwithstanding the above noted study, numerous studies have shown that biomass fuels have significantly less impact on the environment than fossil based fuels. Of note is the U.S. Department of Energy Laboratory, Operated by Midwest Research Institute Biomass Power and Conventional Fossil Systems with and without CO2 Sequestration Comparing the Energy Balance, Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Economics Study. Power generation emits significant amounts of greenhouse gases (GHGs), mainly carbon dioxide (CO2). Sequestering CO2 from the power plant flue gas can significantly reduce the GHGs from the power plant itself, but this is not the total picture. CO2 capture and sequestration consumes additional energy, thus lowering the plant's fuel-to-electricity efficiency. To compensate for this, more fossil fuel must be procured and consumed to make up for lost capacity. Taking this into consideration, the global warming potential (GWP), which is a combination of CO2, methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions, and energy balance of the system need to be examined using a life cycle assessment. This takes into account the upstream processes which remain constant after CO2 sequestration as well as the steps required for additional power generation. firing biomass instead of coal led to a 148% reduction in GWP. A derivative of solid biofuel is biochar, which is produced by biomass pyrolysis. Bio-char made from agricultural waste can substitute for wood charcoal. As wood stock becomes scarce this alternative is gaining ground. In eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, biomass briquettes are being marketed as an alternative to charcoal in order to protect Virunga National Park from deforestation associated with charcoal [27] production. [edit] Second generation biofuels (advanced biofuels) Main article: Second generation biofuels Second generation biofuels are biofuels produced from sustainable feedstock. Sustainability of a feedstock is defined among others by availability [28] of the feedstock, impact on GHG emissions and impact on biodiversity and land use. Many second generation biofuels are under development such as Cellulosic ethanol, Algae fuel, biohydrogen, biomethanol, DMF, BioDME, Fischer-Tropsch diesel, biohydrogen diesel, mixed alcohols and wood diesel. Cellulosic ethanol production uses non-food crops or inedible waste products and does not divert food away from the animal or human food chain. Lignocellulose is the "woody" structural material of plants. This feedstock is abundant and diverse, and in some cases (like citrus peels or sawdust) it is in itself a significant disposal problem. Producing ethanol from cellulose is a difficult technical problem to solve. In nature, ruminant livestock (like cattle) eat grass and then use slow enzymatic digestive processes to break it into glucose (sugar). In cellulosic ethanol laboratories, various experimental processes are being developed to do the same thing, and then the sugars released can be fermented to make ethanol fuel. In 2009 scientists reported developing, using "synthetic biology", "15 new highly stable fungal enzyme catalysts that efficiently break down cellulose into sugars at high temperatures", adding to [29] the 10 previously known. The use of high temperatures, has been identified as an important factor in improving the overall economic feasibility of the biofuel industry and the identification of enzymes that are stable and can operate efficiently at extreme temperatures is an area of active [30] research. In addition, research conducted at TU Delft by Jack Pronk has shown that elephant yeast, when slightly modified can also create [31][32] ethanol from non-edible ground sources (e.g. straw). The recent discovery of the fungus Gliocladium roseum points toward the production of so-called myco-diesel from cellulose. This organism (recently discovered in rainforests of northern Patagonia) has the unique capability of converting cellulose into medium length hydrocarbons [33] typically found in diesel fuel. Scientists also work on experimental recombinant DNA genetic engineering organisms that could increase biofuel potential. Scientists working with the New Zealand company Lanzatech have developed a technology to use industrial waste gases such as carbon monoxide [34][35] from steel mills as a feedstock for a microbial fermentation process to produce ethanol. In October 2011, Virgin Atlantic announced it was joining with Lanzatech to commission a demonstration plant in Shanghai that would produce an aviation fuel from waste gases from steel [36] production.

Scientists working in Minnesota have developed co-cultures of Shewanella and Synechococcus that produce long chain hydrocarbons directly from [37] water, carbon dioxide, and sunlight. The technology has received ARPA-E funding. [edit] Biofuels by region Main article: Biofuels by region See also: Biodiesel around the world There are international organizations such as IEA Bioenergy, established in 1978 by the OECD International Energy Agency (IEA), with the aim of improving cooperation and information exchange between countries that have national programs in bioenergy research, development and deployment. The U.N. International Biofuels Forum is formed by Brazil, China, India, South Africa, the United States and the European [39] Commission. The world leaders in biofuel development and use are Brazil, United States, France, Sweden and Germany. Russia also has 22% of [40] worlds forest and is a big biomass (solid biofuels) supplier. In 2010, Russian pulp and paper maker, Vyborgskaya Cellulose, said they would be [41] producing pellets that can be used in heat and electricity generation from its plant in Vyborg by the end of the year. The plant will eventually produce about 900,000 tons of pellets per year, making it the largest in the world once operational. Biofuels currently make up 3.1% of the total road transport fuel in the UK or 1,440 million litres. By 2020, 10 per cent of the energy used in UK road and rail transport must come from renewable sources this is the equivalent of replacing 4.3 million tonnes of fossil oil each year. Conventional biofuels are likely to produce between 3.7 and 6.6 per cent of the energy needed in road and rail transport, while advanced biofuels [43] could meet up to 4.3 per cent of the UKs renewable transport fuel target by 2020. [edit] Issues with biofuel production and use Main article: Issues relating to biofuels There are various social, economic, environmental and technical issues with biofuel production and use, which have been discussed in the popular media and scientific journals. These include: the effect of moderating oil prices, the "food vs fuel" debate, poverty reduction potential, carbon emissions levels, sustainable biofuel production, deforestation and soil erosion, loss of biodiversity, impact on water resources, as well as energy balance and efficiency. The International Resource Panel, which provides independent scientific assessments and expert advice on a variety of resource-related themes, assessed the issues relating to biofuel use in its first report Towards sustainable production and use of resources: [44] Assessing Biofuels. In it, it outlined the wider and interrelated factors that need to be considered when deciding on the relative merits of pursuing one biofuel over another. It concluded that not all biofuels perform equally in terms of their impact on climate, energy security and ecosystems, and suggested that environmental and social impacts need to be assessed throughout the entire life-cycle. Although there are many current issues with biofuel production and use, the development of new biofuel crops and second generation biofuels attempts to circumvent these issues. Many scientists and researchers are working to develop biofuel crops that require less land and use fewer resources, such as water, than current biofuel crops do. According to the journal "Renewable fuels from algae: An answer to debatable land based [45] fuels" , algae is a source for biofuels that could utilize currently unprofitable land and waste water from different industries. Algae are able to grow in wastewater, which does not affect the land or freshwater needed to produce current food and fuel crops. Furthermore, algae are not part of the human food chain, and therefore, do not take away food resources from humans. The effects of the biofuel industry on food are still being debated. According to a recent study entitled "Impact of biofuel production and other supply and demand factors on food price increases in [46] 2008" , biofuel production was accountable for 3-30% of the increase in food prices in 2008. This has prompted researchers to develop biofuel crops and technologies that will reduce the impact of the growing biofuel industry on food production and cost. One step to overcoming these issues is developing biofuel crops best suited to each region of the world. If each region utilized a specific biofuel crop, the need to use fossil fuels to transport the fuel to other places for processing and consumption will be diminished. Furthermore, certain areas of the globe are unsuitable for producing crops that require large amounts of water and nutrient rich soil. Therefore, current biofuel crops, such as corn, are unpractical in different environments and regions of the globe. [edit] Greenhouse gas emissions According to Britain's National Non-Food Crops Centre, total net savings from using first-generation biodiesel as a transport fuel range from 25-82% [47] (depending on the feedstock used), compared to diesel derived from crude oil . Nobel Laureate Paul Crutzen however finds that the emissions of Nitrous Oxide due to nitrate fertilisers is seriously underestimated, and tips the balance such that most Biofuels produce more greenhouse gases than the Fossil fuels they replace. Producing lignocellulosic biofuels offers potentially greater greenhouse gas emissions savings than those obtained by first generation biofuels. Lignocellulosic biofuels are predicted by oil industry body CONCAWE[[1]] to reduce greenhouse gas emissions [48] by around 90% when compared with fossil petroleum, in contrast first generation biofuels were found to offer savings of 20-70% Some scientists have expressed concerns about land-use change in response to greater demand for crops to use for biofuel and the subsequent [49] carbon emissions. The payback period, that is, the time it will take biofuels to payback the carbon debt that they acquire due to land-use change, has been estimated to be between 100-1000 years depending on the specific instance and location of land-use change. However, no-till practices [50] combined with cover crop practices can reduce the payback period to 3 years for grassland conversion and 14 years for forest conversion. [51] Biofuels made from waste biomass or from biomass grown on abandoned agricultural lands incur little to no carbon debt. Fossil fuels are fuels formed by natural processes such as anaerobic decomposition of buried dead organisms. The age of the organisms and their [1] resulting fossil fuels is typically millions of years, and sometimes exceeds 650 million years. The fossil fuels, which contain high percentages of carbon, include coal, petroleum, and natural gas. 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, [2] associated with oil, or in the form of methane clathrates. It is generally accepted that they formed from the fossilized remains of dead plants by [3] exposure to heat and pressure in the Earth's crust over millions of years. This biogenic theory was first introduced by Georg Agricola in 1556 and later by Mikhail Lomonosov in the 18th century. It was estimated by the Energy Information Administration that in 2007 primary sources of energy consisted of petroleum 36.0%, coal 27.4%, [4] natural gas 23.0%, amounting to an 86.4% share for fossil fuels in primary energy consumption in the world. Non-fossil sources in 2006 included [5] hydroelectric 6.3%, nuclear 8.5%, and others (geothermal, solar, tide, wind, wood, waste) amounting to 0.9 percent. World energy consumption was growing about 2.3% per year.
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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 made. The production and use of fossil fuels raise environmental concerns. A global movement toward the generation of renewable energy is therefore under way to help meet increased energy needs. The burning of fossil fuels produces around 21.3 billion tonnes (21.3 gigatonnes) of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, but it is estimated that natural processes can only absorb about half of that amount, so there is a net increase of 10.65 billion tonnes of atmospheric carbon dioxide per year (one [6] tonne of atmospheric carbon is equivalent to 44/12 or 3.7 tonnes of carbon dioxide). Carbon dioxide is one of the greenhouse gases that enhances radiative forcing and contributes to global warming, causing the average surface temperature of the Earth to rise in response, which the vast majority of climate scientists agree will cause major adverse effects. Contents [hide]

1 Origin 2 Importance o 2.1 Reserves 3 Limits and alternatives 4 Environmental effects 5 See also 6 References 7 External links

[edit] Origin Petroleum and natural gas 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. Over geological time, this organic matter, mixed with mud, got buried under heavy layers of sediment. The resulting high levels of heat and pressure caused the organic matter to chemically alter, first into a waxy material known as kerogen which is found in oil shales, and then with more heat into liquid and gaseous hydrocarbons in a process known as catagenesis. There is a wide range of organic, or hydrocarbon, compounds in any given fuel mixture. The specific mixture of hydrocarbons gives a fuel its characteristic properties, such as boiling point, melting point, density, viscosity, etc. Some fuels like natural gas, for instance, contain only very low boiling, gaseous components. Others such as gasoline or diesel contain much higher boiling components. Terrestrial plants, on the other hand, tend to form coal and methane. Many of the coal fields date to the Carboniferous period of Earth's history. Terrestrial plants also form type III kerogen, a source of natural gas. [edit] Importance

A petrochemical refinery in Grangemouth, Scotland, UK See also: Fossil fuel power plant Fossil fuels are of great importance because they can be burned (oxidized to carbon dioxide and water), producing significant amounts of energy per unit weight. The use of coal as a fuel predates recorded history. Coal was used to run furnaces for the melting of metal ore. Semi-solid [7] [8] hydrocarbons from seeps were also burned in ancient times, but these materials were mostly used for waterproofing and embalming. Commercial exploitation of petroleum, largely as a replacement for oils from animal sources (notably whale oil), for use in oil lamps began in the [9] 19th century. Natural gas, once flared-off as an unneeded byproduct of petroleum production, is now considered a very valuable resource.
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Heavy crude oil, which is much more viscous than conventional crude oil, and tar sands, where bitumen is found mixed with sand and clay, are [11] becoming more important as sources of fossil fuel. Oil shale and similar materials are sedimentary rocks containing kerogen, a complex mixture of high-molecular weight organic compounds, which yield synthetic crude oil when heated (pyrolyzed). These materials have yet to be exploited [12] commercially. These fuels can be employed in internal combustion engines, fossil fuel power stations and other uses. Prior to the latter half of the 18th century, windmills and watermills provided the energy needed for industry such as milling flour, sawing wood or pumping water, and burning wood or peat provided domestic heat. The widescale use of fossil fuels, coal at first and petroleum later, to fire steam engines enabled the Industrial Revolution. At the same time, gas lights using natural gas or coal gas were coming into wide use. The invention of the internal combustion engine and its use in automobiles and trucks greatly increased the demand for gasoline and diesel oil, both made from fossil fuels. Other forms of transportation, railways and aircraft, also required fossil fuels. The other major use for fossil fuels is in generating electricity and as feedstock for the petrochemical industry. Tar, a leftover of petroleum extraction, is used in construction of roads. [edit] Reserves

An oil well in the Gulf of Mexico

See also: Peak oil Levels of primary energy sources are the reserves in the ground. Flows are production. The most important part of primary energy sources are the carbon based fossil energy sources. Coal, oil, and natural gas provided 79.6% of primary energy production during 2002 (in million tonnes of oil equivalent (mtoe)) (34.9+23.5+21.2). Levels (proved reserves) during 2005-2007

Coal: 997,748 million short tonnes (905 billion metric tonnes), 4,416 billion barrels (702.1 km ) of oil equivalent 3 3 [14] Oil: 1,119 billion barrels (177.9 km ) to 1,317 billion barrels (209.4 km ) [14] 9 3 Natural gas: 6,183-6,381 trillion cubic feet (175-181 trillion cubic metres), 1,161 billion barrels (184.610 m ) of oil equivalent

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Flows (daily production) during 2006

Coal: 18,476,127 short tonnes (16,761,260 metric tonnes), 52,000,000 barrels (8,300,000 m ) of oil equivalent per day 3 [16] Oil: 84,000,000 barrels per day (13,400,000 m /d) [17] 3 Natural gas: 104,435 billion cubic feet (2,960 billion cubic metres), 19,000,000 barrels (3,000,000 m ) of oil equivalent per day

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Years of production left in the ground with the current proved reserves and flows above

Coal: 148 years Oil: 43 years Natural gas: 61 years


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Years of production left in the ground with the most optimistic proved reserve estimates (Oil & Gas Journal, World Oil)

Coal: 417 years Oil: 43 years Natural gas: 167 years

The calculation above assumes that the product could be produced at a constant level for that number of years and that all of the proved reserves could be recovered. In reality, consumption of all three resources has been increasing. While this suggests that the resource will be used up more quickly, in reality, the production curve is much more akin to a bell curve. At some point in time, the production of each resource within an area, country, or globally will reach a maximum value, after which, the production will decline until it reaches a point where is no longer economically feasible or physically possible to produce. See Hubbert peak theory for detail on this decline curve with regard to petroleum. Note also that proved [citation needed] reserve estimates do not include strategic reserves, which (globally) amount to 4.1 billion more barrels . The above discussion emphasizes worldwide energy balance. It is also valuable to understand the ratio of reserves to annual consumption (R/C) by region or country. For example, energy policy of the United Kingdom recognizes that Europe's R/C value is 3.0, very low by world standards, and exposes that region to energy vulnerability. Alternatives to fossil fuels are a subject of intense debate worldwide. [edit] Limits and alternatives Main articles: Peak oil and Hubbert peak theory The principle of supply and demand suggests that as hydrocarbon supplies diminish, prices will rise. Therefore higher prices will lead to increased alternative, renewable energy supplies as previously uneconomic sources become sufficiently economical to exploit. Artificial gasolines and other renewable energy sources currently require more expensive production and processing technologies than conventional petroleum reserves, but may become economically viable in the near future. See Energy development. Different alternative sources of energy include nuclear, hydroelectric, solar, wind, and geothermal. [edit] Environmental effects

Global fossil carbon emission by fuel type, 1800-2007. Note: Carbon only represents 27% of the mass of CO2 Main article: Environmental issues with energy In the United States, more than 90% of greenhouse gas emissions come from the combustion of fossil fuels. Combustion of fossil fuels also produces other air pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, volatile organic compounds and heavy metals. According to Environment Canada: "The electricity sector is unique among industrial sectors in its very large contribution to emissions associated with nearly all air issues. Electricity generation produces a large share of Canadian nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxide emissions, which contribute to smog and acid rain and the formation of fine particulate matter. It is the largest uncontrolled industrial source of mercury emissions in Canada. Fossil fuel-fired electric power plants also emit carbon dioxide, which may contribute to climate change. In addition, the sector has significant impacts on water and habitat and [19] species. In particular, hydro dams and transmission lines have significant effects on water and biodiversity."
[18]

Carbon dioxide variations over the last 400,000 years, showing a rise since the industrial revolution. According to U.S. Scientist Jerry Mahlman and USA Today: Mahlman, who crafted the IPCC language used to define levels of scientific certainty, says the new report will lay the blame at the feet of fossil fuels with "virtual certainty," meaning 99% sure. That's a significant jump from "likely," or 66% sure, in the group's last report in 2001, Mahlman says. His role in this year's effort involved spending two months reviewing the more than [20] 1,600 pages of research that went into the new assessment. Combustion of fossil fuels generates sulfuric, carbonic, and nitric acids, which fall to Earth as acid rain, impacting both natural areas and the built environment. Monuments and sculptures made from marble and limestone are particularly vulnerable, as the acids dissolve calcium carbonate. Fossil fuels also contain radioactive materials, mainly uranium and thorium, which are released into the atmosphere. In 2000, about 12,000 tonnes [21] of thorium and 5,000 tonnes of uranium were released worldwide from burning coal. It is estimated that during 1982, US coal burning released [22] 155 times as much radioactivity into the atmosphere as the Three Mile Island incident. However, this radioactivity from coal burning is [citation needed] minuscule at each source and has not shown to have any adverse effect on human physiology. Burning coal also generates large amounts of bottom ash and fly ash. These materials are used in a wide variety of applications, utilizing, for [23] example, about 40% of the US production. Harvesting, processing, and distributing fossil fuels can also create environmental concerns. Coal mining methods, particularly mountaintop removal and strip mining, have negative environmental impacts, and offshore oil drilling poses a hazard to aquatic organisms. Oil refineries also have negative environmental impacts, including air and water pollution. Transportation of coal requires the use of diesel-powered locomotives, while crude oil is typically transported by tanker ships, each of which requires the combustion of additional fossil fuels. Environmental regulation uses a variety of approaches to limit these emissions, such as command-and-control (which mandates the amount of pollution or the technology used), economic incentives, or voluntary programs. An example of such regulation in the USA is the "EPA is implementing policies to reduce airborne mercury emissions. Under regulations issued in [24] 2005, coal-fired power plants will need to reduce their emissions by 70 percent by 2018.". In economic terms, pollution from fossil fuels is regarded as a negative externality. Taxation is considered one way to make societal costs explicit, in order to 'internalize' the cost of pollution. This aims to make fossil fuels more expensive, thereby reducing their use and the amount of pollution associated with them, along with raising the funds necessary to counteract these factors. Former CIA Director James Woolsey recently outlined the national security arguments in favor of moving away from fossil fuels.
[25]

Petroleum (from Latin petra rock and oleum oil) or crude oil (also known as black gold) is a black, dark brown or greenish liquid found in formations in the earth. The American Petroleum Institute, in its Manual of Petroleum Measurement Standards (MPMS), defines it as "a substance, generally liquid, occurring naturally in the earth and composed mainly of mixtures of chemical compounds of carbon and hydrogen with or without other nonmetallic elements such as sulfur, oxygen, and nitrogen." Petroleum is found in porous rock formations in the upper strata of some areas of the Earth's crust. It consists of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons, mostly alkanes, but may vary greatly in appearance and composition. Petroleum is used mostly, by volume, for producing fuel oil

and petrol (gasoline), both important "primary energy" sources (IEA Key World Energy Statistics). Petroleum is also the raw material for many chemical products, including solvents, fertilizers, pesticides, and plastics. 84% (37 of 42 gallons in a typical barrel) of all petroleum extracted is processed as fuels, including gasoline, diesel, jet, heating, and other fuel oils, and liquefied petroleum gas [1]; the other 16% is converted into other materials such as plastic. Known reserves of petroleum are typically estimated at around 1.210^12 barrels[2] with at least one estimate as high as 3.7410^12 barrels (3,740,000,000,000)[3]. Consumption is currently around 84106 barrels per day, or 3110^9 barrels per year. Because of pumping difficulties, usable oil reserves are only about 1/3 of total reserves. At current consumption levels, world oil supply would be gone in about 33 years. However, this ignores any additions to known reserves, changes in demand, etc. As the supply of petroleum becomes more scarce, consumers may look to alternative fuel sources such as ethanol, photovoltaic, or clean-burning hydrogen. Petroleum forms naturally within the earth too slowly to be sustainable for human use. Formation Chemistry

Octane, a hydrocarbon found in petroleum, lines are single bonds, black spheres are carbon, white spheres are hydrogen The chemical structure of petroleum is composed of hydrocarbon chains of different lengths. These different hydrocarbon chemicals are separated by distillation at an oil refinery to produce gasoline, jet fuel, kerosene, and other hydrocarbons. The general formula for these hydrocarbons is CnH2n+2. For example 2,2,4-Trimethylpentane, widely used in gasoline, has a chemical formula of C8H18 which reacts with oxygen exothermically. C8H18(aq) + 12.5O2(g) 8CO2(g) + 9H2O(g) + heat Incomplete combustion of petroleum or gasoline results in emission of poisionous gases such as carbon monoxide and/or nitric oxide. For example: C8H18(aq) + 12.5O2(g) + N2(g) 6CO2(g) + 2CO(g) + 2NO(g) + 9H2O(g) + heat Formation of petroleum occurs in a variety of mostly endothermic reactions in high temperature and/or pressure. For example, a kerogen may [5] break down into hydrocarbons of different lengths: CH1.45(s) + heat .663CH1.6(aq) + .076CH2(aq) + .04CH2.6(g) + .006CH4(g) + .012CH2.6(s) + .018CH4.0(s) + .185CH.25(s) Biogenic theory Most geologists view crude oil and natural gas, as the product of compression and heating of ancient organic materials over geological time. According to this theory, oil is formed from the preserved remains of prehistoric zooplankton and algae which have been settled to the sea bottom in large quantities under anoxic conditions. (Terrestrial plants tend to form coal) Over geological time this organic matter, mixed with mud, is buried under heavy layers of sediment. The resulting high levels of heat and pressure cause the remains to metamorphose, first into a waxy material known as kerogen which is found in various oil shales around the world, and then with more heat into liquid and gaseous hydrocarbons in a process known as catagenesis. Because most hydrocarbons are lighter than rock or water, these sometimes migrate upward through adjacent rock layers until they become trapped beneath impermeable rocks, within porous rocks called reservoirs. Concentration of hydrocarbons in a trap forms an oil field, from which the liquid can be extracted by drilling and pumping. Geologists often refer to an "oil window" which is the temperature range that oil forms inbelow the minimum temperature oil remains trapped in the form of kerogen, and above the maximum temperature the oil is converted to natural gas through the process of thermal cracking. Though this happens at different depths in different locations around the world, a 'typical' depth for the oil window might be 4 6 km. Note that even if oil is formed at extreme depths, it may be trapped at much shallower depths, even if it is not formed there. (In the case of the Athabasca Oil Sands, it is found right at the surface.) Three conditions must be present for oil reservoirs to form: first, a source rock rich in organic material buried deep enough for subterranean heat to cook it into oil; second, a porous and permeable reservoir rock for it to accumulate in; and last a cap rock (seal) that prevents it from escaping to the surface. The vast majority of oil that has been produced by the earth has long ago escaped to the surface and been biodegraded by oil-eating bacteria. What oil companies are looking for is the small fraction that has been trapped by this rare combination of circumstances. Oil sands are reservoirs of partially biodegraded oil still in the process of escaping, but contain so much migrating oil that, although most of it has escaped, vast amounts are still present - more than can be found in conventional oil reservoirs. On the other hand, oil shales are source rocks that have never been buried deep enough to convert their trapped kerogen into oil. The reactions that produce oil and natural gas are often modeled as first order breakdown reactions, where kerogen is broken down to oil and natural gas by a set of parallel reactions, and oil eventually breaks down to natural gas by another set of reactions. The first set was originally patented in 1694 under British Crown Patent No. 330 covering "a way to extract and make great quantityes of pitch, tarr, and oyle out of a sort of stone." The latter set is regularly used in petrochemical plants and oil refineries. Means of production Extraction The most common method of obtaining petroleum is extracting it from oil wells found in oil fields. After the well has been located, various methods are used to recover the petroleum. Primary recovery methods are used to extract oil that is brought to the surface by underground pressure, and can generally recover about 20% of the oil present. After the oil pressure has depleated to the point that the oil is no longer brought to the surface,

secondary recovery methods draw another 5 to 10% of the oil in the well to the surface. Finally, when secondary oil recovery methods are no longer viable, tertiary recovery methods reduce the viscosity of the oil in order to bring more to the surface. Alternative methods As oil prices continue to escalate, other alternatives to producing oil have been gaining importance. The best known such methods involve extracting oil from sources such as oil shale or tar sands. These resources are known to exist in large quantities; however, extracting the oil at low cost without negatively impacting the environment remains a challenge. It is also possible to transform natural gas or coal into oil (or, more precisely, the various hydrocarbons found in oil). The best-known such method is the Fischer-Tropsch process. It was a concept pioneered in Nazi Germany when imports of petroleum were restricted due to war and Germany found a method to extract oil from coal. It was known as Ersatz ("substitute" in German), and accounted for nearly half the total oil used in WWII by Germany. However, the process was used only as a last resort as naturally occurring oil was much cheaper. As crude oil prices increase, the cost of coal to oil conversion becomes comparatively cheaper. The method involves converting high ash coal into synthetic oil in a multistage process. Ideally, a ton of coal produces nearly 200 liters (1.25 bbl, 52 US gallons) of crude, with by-products ranging from tar to rare chemicals. What are Carbon Fuels? Carbon fuels form one of the great debates in society these days. They are the building blocks of nearly every economy in the world. This also makes them a great point of tension given the fact that some countries have more than others. Throw in issues of pollution, greenhouse gases and global warming and you have a lively, important debate on energy. So, just what are carbon fuels, and how do we use them in every day life? The question of what are carbon fuels can start with a definition. Carbon fuels are any hydrocarbons that are formed from decaying plants and animals. They include such fuels as coal, natural gas and oil. Carbon fuels are also known as mineral fuels because of the way they are created. The creation of carbon fuels from the decay of animals and plants was first hypothesized in 1757 by Mikhail Lomonosov and was quickly proven to be fact. The buried, compressed deposits of organic decayed matter are subjected to heat and pressure for millions of years. This process turns the material from raw organic matter into the forms of crude oil, natural gas and coal that we use today. Despite being demonized today, one must remember that carbon fuels arguably are the reason you are sitting in that warm room surfing the Internet and have a car in the garage. These fuels formed the building blocks of the industrial revolution. Without them, we would still arguably be riding horses and living at a much lower standard of quality. In fact, if carbon fuels were eliminated completely today, civilization would cease to exist as we know it. Your lights would go out. There would be no phone service. Your car would be useless. Medical care would be devastated as hospitals would have no electricity. The world would become isolated since transport from country to country would be greatly reduced. In short, it would be like stepping back in time 100 years. What are carbon fuels? They are the building blocks of our modern way of life. The question facing us is not whether we should demonize carbon fuels. Instead, it is how we should moderate our use of them given the obvious downsides that come with massive energy production in the form of greenhouse gases, pollutants and so on.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/278956

Molecular Size Alternative fuels tend to be made up of small, fairly simple molecules; for example, here are schematic chemical diagrams (C denotes a carbon atom, H is hydrogen, and O is oxygen) of

methane (CH4), the primary constituent of liquefied or compressed natural gas, and

propane (C3H8), the primary constituent of liquified petroleum gas.

Petroleum fuels are blends of lots of different chemical species; in general, the molecules of a liquid petroleum fuel are pretty big and complex. Here is

isooctane (C8H18), typical of the molecules found in gasoline (I had to spread out the structure a bit to get all the hydrogen atoms to fit in the picture--all of these molecules are, of course, three-dimensional, but some squish into a plane better than others!), and

this monster is cetane, or n-hexadecane (C16H34), typical of diesel fuel. Incomplete Combustion When a hydrocarbon fuel (that is, one that is made up of hydrogen and carbon) burns completely, the oxygen in the air combines with the hydrogen to form water (H2O) and with the carbon to form carbon dioxide (CO2). If the burning is not complete, then some of the carbon atoms only combine with one oxygen atom rather than two, to form carbon monoxide (CO), a highly poisonous gas. Some of the carbon atoms may remain stuck together with each other and with some of the hydrogen atoms as well, so that unburned hydrocarbon molecules (mostly smaller than the ones in the original fuel) can also come out the tailpipe. These unburned hydrocarbons (plus any fuel hydrocarbons that evaporate from the fuel system before getting into the engine to be burned at all) react with nitrogen oxides (another pollutant from combustion) in the presence of sunlight to form ozone, which is a lung irritant (the "ozone layer" in the stratosphere is a shield against the sun's ultraviolet light, but at ground level ozone is the main component of "photochemical smog"). Carbon atoms can also remain stuck to one another with few or no hydrogen atoms attached, especially during incomplete combustion of diesel fuel, producing soot. This is one of the reasons alternative fuels are less polluting than gasoline and diesel: their simpler molecules are easier to burn more completely in an engine, so that less carbon monoxide, soot, and unburned hydrocarbons come out the tailpipe. In addition, any unburned hydrocarbons that are produced are less reactive than those that come from incomplete burning of gasoline or diesel fuel, and so they produce less ground-level ozone; methane in particular is almost incapable of forming smog. Oxygen Content Some alternative fuels are not hydrocarbons; alcohols and biodiesel contain oxygen atoms as well as carbon and hydrogen. Here are the chemical structures of the common alcohol fuels,

methanol (CH3OH) and

ethanol (C2H5OH). (Biodiesel molecules are "monoalkyl esters", but I haven't been able to trace down anything more specific. The "ester" part of that name, however, indicates that the molecules include oxygen atoms.) In many parts of the USA, gasoline is "oxygenated" during at least part of the year; this means that oxygen-bearing compounds are added to the fuel mixture. The reason for doing this is that having some oxygen as part of the fuel molecules to start with promotes more complete combustion, so that less carbon monoxide, soot, and unburned hydrocarbons come out the tailpipe, as described above. Alcohol fuels and biodiesel carry this one step further, in that the oxygen-bearing compound is not an additive at the 5 to 10 percent level, but a major constituent of the fuel, which increases the benefits of oxygenation. Carbon Content Even if, with the aid of electronic engine controls and efficient catalytic converters, a hydrocarbon fuel is burned completely to water and carbon dioxide, there is now growing concern about carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. Measures to cut back on production of carbon dioxide by automobiles without sacrificing performance can focus on efficiency, i.e., getting as much useful propulsive power out of a given amount of fuel as possible, which typically involves replacing the traditional drivetrain of a piston engine driving the wheels through a gearbox with a more efficient design. However, some fuels inherently produce less carbon dioxide when burned completely than gasoline or diesel fuel. For example, counting the numbers of oxygen atoms it takes to burn up an isooctane molecule and a methane molecule (typical of gasoline and natural gas respectively), one can calculate that 100 oxygen atoms will combine with four isooctane molecules to produce 32 carbon dioxide molecules and 36 water molecules, while the same number of oxygen atoms will combine with 25 methane molecules to produce 25 carbon dioxide molecules and 50 water molecules. That is, a given amount of air (oxygen) will produce about 25% less carbon dioxide if used to burn natural gas than if used to burn gasoline. (Of course, this advantage will be reduced if you have to open the throttle wider and burn an additional amount of air with natural gas to get the same amount of power, but in the real world the 25% figure turns out to be about right.) Avoiding Carbon Dioxide Emissions Entirely The other thing to consider is the source of the carbon in the fuel; if it came from the carbon dioxide in today's air to begin with, like an alcohol fuel produced by fermenting biomass (as opposed to a fossil fuel, whose carbon came out of the air when the dinosaurs were around!), then returning it to the air now adds nothing to the net flow of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Alcohol fuels or biodiesel produced from plants, when burned, just return to the air the carbon dioxide that those plants took out of the air while growing. Finally, there's one fuel that, in itself, produces no carbon dioxide at all when burned, namely hydrogen; there's no carbon there to produce carbon dioxide! Of course, since free hydrogen molecules don't occur in nature, it is typically produced by "reforming" a hydrocarbon or alcohol fuel or by using electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. Then the size of the contribution of hydrogen fuel to carbon dioxide emissions depends on the source of the hydrocarbon fuel that was reformed or the source of the electricity used to split the water.

If a fossil fuel was the ultimate source of the energy that is, in effect, stored in the hydrogen, then you can still gain a large improvement in carbondioxide production if the hydrogen is used in an efficient drivetrain, as noted above; the same is true for the electrical energy stored in a batterypowered electric vehicle. In order to obtain the full benefits of reduction of carbon dioxide (or of ordinary air pollutants like carbon monoxide), of course, the energy used to split the hydrogen or charge the battery can be obtained from a renewable source like wind power or photovoltaics. The nice thing about hydrogen- or battery-powered vehicles is that they can run on whatever is available--efficient natural-gas-burning powerplants today, with an increasing contribution from renewable energy as time goes on and the price of photovoltaic cells (solar cells) and other renewable energy sources continues to decline. As renewable energy becomes an ever larger part of the power generation mix over the next few decades, hydrogen- and battery-powered vehicles can switch over to the new power sources without a hiccup--it's all electricity to them!

Carbon in Fossil Fuels Whenever greenhouse gases are discussed, surely the use of fossil fuels will ensue. But why not? Every drop of fossil fuel burned in our midst emits a tantamount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and contributes to the accumulation of greenhouse gases. The imminent effects of massive concentration of carbon dioxide over the earth's atmosphere is global warming. The erratic climatic behavior this planet is experiencing now is symptomatic of chilling scenarios pronounced by experts year ago who are now finding new audiences to speak to about the telltale signs of a global warming in progress. These scientists are the modern seers who have come to inform the rest of the world about an impending catastrophe. It is now the duty of world leaders to rally their constituents towards working together for solutions to the climate crisis. The problem lies primarily with the massive burn of fossil fuels by industries to manufacture lucrative consumer products. Currently the world is emitting about 6 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually and 60-percent of this are attributed to human activities. Highly industrialized nations lead the emission race with the United States on top, registering a carbon emission rating of 19.1-percent. This is followed by Russia with 13.6-percent, China at 9.9-percent, Japan with 5.1-percent, Brazil at 4.3-percent, Germany at 3.8-percent, India with 3.7-percent, United Kingdom at 2.4-percent, Indonesia with 1.9-percent and tailing close is Italy at 1.7-percent. It is evident that these countries contribute largely to the degradation of our atmosphere and it needs to be them to spearhead the efforts to rectify this predicament with strategic measures to cut down on the global dependence on fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are energy-rich substances obtained from decayed plants and microorganisms buried under sediments for millions of years. This include petroleum, coal, and natural gas that provide humans with the energy to propel transportation and manufacturing industries and other basic human activities. Gasoline is a by-product of petroleum that fuels our cars. Coal is the fuel of choice for electrical plants. Natural gas provides heat to our homes during winter. These are the prime reasons why man cannot seem to live without depending on fossil fuels, at the expense of the environment. The fossil fuels are produced chiefly from ancient microscopic plants and bacteria that thrive in the ocean and saltwater seas. An organic-rich mud is formed over time, whenever dead and decaying microorganisms are mixed with sand and silt as sediments settle over the organic ooze to chemically transform it into petroleum and natural gas. This process takes several million years to materialize. Coal is a solid fossil fuel formed from the decay of ancient plants such as trees, ferns and mosses that thrive in swamps, bogs and shorelines. These actually compose of generation after generation of dead plants piled on top of the other and buried under several layers of sediment. As these things decay, the organic material undergoes transformation when subjected to substantial heat and pressure. After millions of years, this decay buildup develops into coal deposits. Natural gas on the other hand is a by-product of decayed planktons, which are tiny water dwelling organisms such as algae and protozoa that have settled on the ocean floor. The concentration of these compressed dead microorganisms under layers of sediments over millions of years provides pressure and heat converting it to natural gas. Natural gas is composed primarily of methane and light hydrocarbons. Geologists use a series of instruments to locate underground fossil fuel deposits. Once a substantial amount is found, wells are drilled down to extract the deposit. Coal, on the other hand, is removed by excavation. Indeed, the carbon in fossil fuels is a worthwhile resource if used moderately to feed our industries, especially if the carbon can be sequestered as in promising new clean coal technology. Otherwise, carbon becomes a precursor to a whole host of airborne breathing ailments for ourselves and generations to come.

The oil refining process starts with a fractional distillation column. The problem with crude oil is that it contains hundreds of different types of hydrocarbons all mixed together. You have to separate the different types of hydrocarbons to have anything useful. Fortunately there is an easy way to separate things, and this is what oil refining is all about. Different hydrocarbon chain lengths all have progressively higher boiling points, so they can all be separated by distillation. This is what happens in an oil refinery - in one part of the process, crude oil is heated and the different chains are pulled out by their vaporization temperatures. Each different chain length has a different property that makes it useful in a different way. To understand the diversity contained in crude oil, and to understand why refining crude oil is so important in our society, look through the following list of products that come from crude oil:

Petroleum gas - used for heating, cooking, making plastics

small alkanes (1 to 4 carbon atoms) commonly known by the names methane, ethane, propane, butane boiling range = less than 104 degrees Fahrenheit / 40 degrees Celsius often liquified under pressure to create LPG (liquified petroleum gas)

Naphtha or Ligroin - intermediate that will be further processed to make gasoline

mix of 5 to 9 carbon atom alkanes boiling range = 140 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit / 60 to 100 degrees Celsius

Gasoline - motor fuel

liquid mix of alkanes and cycloalkanes (5 to 12 carbon atoms) boiling range = 104 to 401 degrees Fahrenheit / 40 to 205 degrees Celsius

Kerosene - fuel for jet engines and tractors; starting material for making other products

liquid mix of alkanes (10 to 18 carbons) and aromatics boiling range = 350 to 617 degrees Fahrenheit / 175 to 325 degrees Celsius

Gas oil or Diesel distillate - used for diesel fuel and heating oil; starting material for making other products

liquid alkanes containing 12 or more carbon atoms boiling range = 482 to 662 degrees Fahrenheit / 250 to 350 degrees Celsius

Lubricating oil - used for motor oil, grease, other lubricants

liquid long chain (20 to 50 carbon atoms) alkanes, cycloalkanes, aromatics boiling range = 572 to 700 degrees Fahrenheit / 300 to 370 degrees Celsius

Heavy gas or Fuel oil - used for industrial fuel; starting material for making other products

liquid long chain (20 to 70 carbon atoms) alkanes, cycloalkanes, aromatics boiling range = 700 to 1112 degrees Fahrenheit / 370 to 600 degrees Celsius

Residuals - coke, asphalt, tar, waxes; starting material for making other products

solid multiple-ringed compounds with 70 or more carbon atoms boiling range = greater than 1112 degrees Fahrenheit / 600 degrees Celsius

You may have noticed that all of these products have different sizes and boiling ranges. Chemists take advantage of these properties when refining oil. Look at the next section to find out the details of this fascinating process. 2a. The SEPARATION of the crude oil mixture into fractions and the USES of these fractions A fraction is a mixture of a restricted boiling point range of molecules, they have a similar number of carbon atoms and physical properties. The uses of the fractions depend on their physical and chemical properties.


Hydrocarbon molecules are only made of a chemical combination of carbon and hydrogen atoms. They are compounds because they consist of atoms of at least two different elements.

Crude oil is a complex mixture of mainly hydrocarbon compound molecules . A mixture consists of two or more elements or compounds which are not chemically combined. The chemical properties of each substance in the mixture is unchanged. This means crude oil can be separated by physical methods, in this case by fractional distillation, because they have different boiling and condensation points. The crude oil is heated to vapourise it (evaporated or boiled). The most volatile fraction, i.e. the molecules with the lowest boiling points, boil or evaporate off first and go to the top of the column. The rest separate out according to their boiling/condensation point so that the highest boiling fraction, i.e. the less volatile molecules with higher boiling points, tend to condense more easily lower down the column. The bigger the molecule, the greater the intermolecular attractive forces between the molecules, so the higher the boiling or condensation point (see physical property trends).

Note: Covalent chemical bonds like C-C or C-H are not broken in the process, only the intermolecular force of attraction is weakened to allow the initial evaporation or boiling. C atoms boiling in the range in o molecule C

THE FRACTIONAL DISTILLATION OF CRUDE OIL

names of fractions

USES of the fraction - mainly depends on its physical properties - see below this table

Fuel Gas, LPG, Refinery Gas

1 to 4

-160 to o 20 C

methane gas fuel, C3-4 easily liquefied, portable energy source bottled gas for cooking (butane), higher pressure cylinders (propane) combustion-burning reaction details easily vaporised, highly flammable, easily ignited, car fuel no good as a fuel, but valuable source of organic molecules to make other things, cracked to make more petrol and alkenes less flammable than petrol, domestic heater fuel, jet fuel

Gasoline, Petrol

5 to 11

20 to o 60 C

Naphtha

7 to 13

60 to o 180 C

Paraffin, Kerosene

10 to 16

120 to o 240 C 220 to o 250 C

Diesel oil, Gas oil

15 to 25

car and larger vehicle fuel

Fuel oil, lubricating oils and Waxes

20 to 70

250 to o 350 C

not so easily evaporated, not as flammable, safe to store for central heating oil, quite viscous (sticky) and can also be used for lubricating oils, clear waxes and polishes forms a thick, black, tough and resistant adhesive on cooling, used as waterproofing material and to sticks rock chips on roofs or road surfaces

Bitumen

over 70

over o 350 C

2b. More on relating the physical properties of the fractions to their uses and dangers Down the list above the molecule gets ... 1. 2. ... bigger as the carbon atom number in the molecule increases. ... more viscous as the intermolecular attractive forces between molecules increases, these forces always increase the bigger the molecule in a series of molecules of similar structure. o Note that intermolecular forces are non-polar weak electrical attractive forces, often described as Van der Waals forces, and correctly described as instantaneous dipole - induced dipole forces (by advanced level students only!). ... higher melting point as more vibrational kinetic energy is needed to overcome the intermolecular attractive forces holding the molecules together to form the crystals. ... higher boiling point as more particle kinetic energy is needed to overcome the increasing intermolecular forces* between the liquid molecules. o Trends 3. and 4. are readily appreciated e.g. methane gas (CH4), liquid petrol (about C5H12 to C7H16) and solid candle wax (over C21H44).

3. 4.

5.

... less flammable as they become less volatile, again due to increasing intermolecular forces.

This raises health and safety issues about handling, distributing and storing flammable hydrocarbons. The smallest molecules (natural gas to petrol) are the most volatile and therefore the most easily ignited. Any naked flame or spark could set off a fire and explosion and even

The refinery gas fractions, can be stored under pressure, and because the gas readily flows, it can be conveniently pumped to burner systems, but it is easily ignited and explosive. Vehicle fuels like petrol must be liquid for compact and convenient storage but they must be easily vapourised to mix with air in the engine prior to ignition. The ease of vaporisation does however make them flammable! Paraffin and kerosine are less flammable and safer, but not as easily ignited. Fuel oil is not too viscous to pump to a central heating burner for domestic use. It is not very volatile and so not as flammable and dangerous to use as petrol or diesel etc. Lubricating oil must be quite viscous to stick onto surfaces. Smaller molecules might be more runny but they would evaporate away! It is also water repellent and helps reduce corrosion on moving machine parts. Candle wax is very convenient as a solid for humble lamp (especially in power cuts!), but via a wick, the heat from the flame is sufficient to vaporise the hydrocarbons to burn them. Bitumen is a water repellent solid at room temperature but is readily melted (sometimes too easily in hot weather). Used as base for a road chipping top surface or sometimes directly. It is also used to waterproof roofing felt.

Fossil fuel, such as coal, crude oil and natural gas, are produced by the decomposition of ancient (fossilized) plants and animals. Fossil fuels are 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, and sometimes exceeds 650 million years.These fuels contain a high percentage of carbon and hydrocarbons. Introduction Fossil fuels are hydrocarbons such as coal, oil and natural gas, sourced from the organic remains of prehistoric organisms. 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 plastic. Fossil fuels, coal, oil and natural gas, are a non-renewable source of energy. Formed from plants and animals that lived up to 300 million years ago, fossil fuels are found in deposits beneath the earth. The fuels are burned to release the chemical energy that is stored within this resource. Energy is essential to moden society as we know it. Over 85% of our energy demands are met by the combustion of fossil fuels. These two pie charts show exactly how vital fossil fuels are to our society by showing how much of each energy resource is consumed. [edit] Formation Oil and gas are formed from the organic remains of marine organisms which become entrained within sea-floor sediments. Coal, by contrast, is typically formed in non-marine settings from the remains of land vegetation. Oil and gas formation begins with the accumulation of organics on the sea-floor; these are the dead remains of organisms living in the water column, such as microscopic plankton, which rain down on the sea floor below. This will only occur in rather unusual settings, where the sea floor is stagnant such that there is no oxygen present to break the organic remains down and no sea-floor dwelling organisms present that might feed on the organics. A high sediment accumulation rate of may also help to bury the organics before the action of decay can break them down. As the sediment pile becomes deeper the organics within it are subjected to heat and pressure which leads to formation of oil and then gas. For oil and gas extraction, it is important that the source rock is not 'over-cooked' or the hydrocarbons will be destroyed. There must be suitable reservoirrock, such as a porous sandstone, into which the hydrocarbons can migrate and accumulate. This must be overlain by an impervious cap-rock, such as a clay, which prevents the hydrocarbons from escaping to the surface. Finally, the geometry of the reservoir and cap-rock bodies must be such that the hydrocarbons become trapped; usually folding will suffice. Coal typically forms on land from vegetation in lowland, swampy, mire environments. Stagnant waterlogged soil prevents the accumulated plant debris from breaking down. The recognisable remains of plants are often visible within coals and associated shales, confirming their plant-origin. The picture above shows a piece of Coal containing a network of fossilised fern leaves - clear evidence that it was formed from vegetable remains. The accumulated plant debris initially forms a material known as peat. The geological processes of burial beneath later sediment and alteration by heat and pressure convert the peat to coal; a process known as coalification. For the peat to become coal, it must be buried by sediment. Burial compacts the peat and, consequently, much water is squeezed out during the first stages of burial. Continued burial and the addition of heat and time cause the complex hydrocarbon compounds in the peat to break down and alter in a variety of ways. The gaseous alteration products (methane is one) are typically expelled from the deposit, and the deposit becomes more and more carbon-rich as the other elements disperse. 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). [edit] Combustion, drilling, and refining Combustion is the process of breaking atomic bonds to release energy in the form of light and heat. Fossil fuels have many hydrocarbons, each with numerous bonds. When they undergo combustion, they release a great deal of heat. This is the main reason why natural gas and heating oils are used extensively in the world today. However, energy in the form of heat is by nature very chaotic and disorganized. Simply burning fossil fuels is wonderful for keeping the winter chill at bay, but setting oil on fire in your washing machine won't get your clothes clean. Likewise, we can't put petroleum directly out of the ground into our cars and expect them to operate. To make use of the resource of fossil fuels, humans have developed drilling, refining, and methods to harness fossil fuel energy.

Early oil explorers relied heavily on intuition and guesswork to find the precious 'black gold.' These daring entrepreneurs were known as 'wildcatters.' A fabled technique used by the wildcatters is the 'old hat.' They would basically toss their hat up in the air and wherever it landed, they drilled. When the wildcatters got lucky, and struck oil, it would typically gush up the drill pipe, hence, a gusher. Because gushers are a safety hazard and environmental concern, oil companies today contain them. After discovering an oil field, it is the task of the oil company's engineers and technicians to get it out. Not all oil fields turn out to be gushers and even the ones that are eventually loose pressure, leaving a lot of untapped fossil fuel resource in the reservoir. Even with modern extraction techniques, 100% of the oil in any given field is still not yet recoverable. One thing an oil company does to facilitate the extraction process is setting up what is known as a 'Christmas tree,' a system of valves and pipes that regulate oil flow and pressure. Another system used in much smaller reservoirs not worth the expense of manning with technicians is the setup of a beam pump These are also known as 'nodding donkeys;' they extract oil from small oil pools that do not contain much resource. In large oil fields, techniques such as water and gas injection are employed to maximize return of the investment. By pumping water and gas into the wells, the pressure increases allowing oil to flow upwards once more Large oil fields can be found under the sea floor as well. To exploit these fields, vast oil drilling stations, which are marvels of modern engineering, tap into these underwater deposits and bring them to the surface. Although fossil fuels have been around long before humans even discovered fire, our prehistoric ancestors had no use for them. In the late 1800's, coal and gas were used as heat and light sources, steam locomotives as well. There were early automobiles too, but these vehicles were more of a novelty than a way of life. It wasn't until the 1940's did things change. Why the 1940's? The answer is that engineers and inventors had government support and extra incentive to develop fossil fuel technologies, war. World War II was the catalyst and not World War I because 'The War to End All Wars' was fought by men in trenches and mechanized warfare had only been developed late in the conflict. World War II had the German Blitzkrieg, or 'Lightning War.' This tactic utilized Shtuka dive bombers and Panzer tanks; German engineers enabled this, and was eventually countered by Allied technological advancements. From then on, usage and development of fossil fuels steadily rose. The primary refining technique used to separate hydrocarbons and provide the ingredients for modern fuels is called fractional distillation. Hydrocarbons of different size and configuration usually have differences in boiling points that are large enough to use as a method of separation. By vaporizing them, they tend to float upwards until the hydrocarbons condense, which is where they are collected. Hydrocarbons as simple as butane and alcohols with few carbons are sorted along with more complex ones such as aromatics with 9 carbons. The fuels we commonly use today are a mixture of these hydrocarbons distilled from the petroleum extracted from the earth. [edit] Fuel types and engines Gasoline is a highly specialized fuel that contains hydrocarbons ranging from butane to C10. It is designed for the Otto-cycle engine, also known as spark ignition or 4-stroke engine. This engine as well as others will be described in more detail later on. Some characteristics of gasoline enable the following:

Quick start at low temperatures Fast acceleration Low occurrence of stalling Relatively quiet and low tendency to knock Good combustion efficiency

The next classification of fuels is the distillate fuels. They are kerosene, turbo-jet fuel, diesel, and heating oil. Kerosene was the first petroleum fuel oil to be widely used; this was before electric lights and after the days of animal and vegetable oil. Kerosene has become less popular and is no longer produced in the quantities it once was. Countries with limited access to electricity and outdoors enthusiasts still have a use for this fuel. Turbo-jet fuel was first developed in WWII for use in airplane engines. Because of constraints on petroleum products, namely gasoline for tanks and other ground vehicles, this fuel was designed to make use of compounds not vital to gasoline production whenever possible. The result was a highly volatile fuel that led to many accidents in handling. Modern aviation fuel is still more volatile than gasoline, though it has become much safer than it previously was. Diesel fuel and domestic heating oil are similar in composition. Domestic heating oils are not widely used in the US, though they still have limited application in underdeveloped countries. Diesel fuels are used frequently in the world today; transport vehicles such as trains, boats, trucks, and buses use diesel fuel. Fuel oils are mainly residuals from the fractional distillation process. They are more or less the leftovers from production of other fuels. They have been and are still used in power generation plants. Because of the low quality and high pollution content fuel oils are being used less often. Of the fuels previously listed, gasoline, turbo-jet fuel, and diesel fuel were designed for usage in engines. A fairly good, simple definition of an engine is a device that converts chemical or heat energy into mechanical energy. Engines convert fossil fuel energy into a form that we can more readily use. The majority of engines in the world today are internal combustion engines. This type of engine is found in most machines and vehicles that run on fossil fuels. The first internal combustion engine was invented by Nicolaus August Otto. There are 4 general types of internal combustion engines that will be discussed here briefly. The first is the type designed by Mr. Otto himself, the Otto-cycle engine. These are the engines you typically find in cars. These are 4-stroke engines, named thus because it goes through 4 phases during operation: intake, compression, expansion, and exhaust. The parts of the engine directly involved in this cycle are the cylinder, the piston, the valves, and the spark plug.

Intake- Intake valve opesns allowing fuel/air mixture into the cylinder Compression- The piston rises, reducing volume and increasing pressure Expansion (power stroke- Spark plug ignites, fuel expands pushing piston Exhaust- Exhaust valve opens expelling spent fuel from cylinder

The second type of engine is known as a 2-stroke engine. These are usually placed in lawn mowers, outboard motors, and high performance

recreational vehicles. There are two main differences between 4 and 2-stroke engines A 4-stroke engine causes two revolutions in one cycle whereas the 2-stroke only takes one revolution to complete its cycle. The other major difference between them is that 2-strokes require a gasoline/oil mixture as fuel. This is because the cylinder must be kept completely bathed in lubricants to prevent damage. Due to these attributes, these engines are much more compact and can generate higher revolutions per minutes and more acceleration. The problem with this design is that it is not at all fuel efficient and burning motor oil causes a lot of pollution. Diesel engines, as you might know, require no spark plugs in the combustion process. Otherwise, the design of the diesel engine is not much different than an Otto-cycle engine. Instead of spark plugs, the diesel engine relies on compression and the heating of air in the fuel mixture to cause ignition. To achieve this, diesel fuel has a lower boiling point and does not require much heat. Diesel fuel is cheaper to make than gasoline, though its high level of pollutants require it to undergo further filtration; this drives the fuel price up. The last type of conventional engine discussed here is the wankel rotary combustion engine, named after its inventor, Felix Wankel. Out of the engines discussed, this one is the most 'revolutionary' (excuse the pun). The wankel engine does not use pistons, instead it uses a rotor. The rotor spins and drives the shaft by expanding fuel in the housing on the sides of the rotor. The results of this engine type are as follows:

Light weight and compact Smooth: no reciprocating motion Extended power stroke rotation: 270 degrees vs. 180 degrees of a piston Fewer moving parts Cooler combustion means fewer oxides of nitrogen

The wankel engine was used in the Mazda motorcars RX series of cars. For all the advantages of this engine, it had one major drawback, it was extremely inefficient in fuel consumption. The oil crisis in 1973 caused this engine to loose support and funding for further development to improve consumption. Currently the RX series of Mazda cars is no longer in production, however Mazda has made a RX-01 concept car. Wankel rotary engines can also be found in porches and other powerful sports cars. Aviation fuel, the turbo-jet fuel, is used by both jet and propeller aircraft today. Prop engines are designed similar to the 4-stroke engines of cars, though the demands on these two varieties of engines are quite different.To accommodate this, prop engines are much larger and have higher power output. The distillate fuel they use is ideal for this purpose. With the inception of jet propulsion the fuels used did not change all that much. Even though it may seem that the jet engine is very different, it is still considered to be an internal combustion engine. The main components of a jet engine are the compressor, combustion chamber, and the turbine. Air flows into the compressor where it is pressurized and forced into the combustion chamber There, inside the chamber, fuel is constantly flowing in, and ignited causing an expansion of the fuel The turbine's purpose is to provide enough energy from the expelled gasses to the compressor in order to operate at peak performance. Jet engine technology has advanced greatly and there are many different types of them. Just to list a few, there are turbojet, turbofan, turboprop, turboshaft, and ramjet designs. Each have specialized uses, mostly in aviation technology. [edit] Coal and electricity Fossil fuels are excellent sources of energy for out transportation needs; however they are also the primary source of electrical energy in the world today. Coal power plants account for at least 60% of our national energy and 52% of the world's demand. We, as a world, burn approximately 1.9 billion tons of coal a year to generate electricity. How we get electrical energy from coal is by means of coal power plants. These power plants first combust the coal in large furnaces creating tremendous amounts of heat. This heat is used to evaporate water in boilers so they convert to steam. The steam expands, causing pressure to increase in the boiler. A steam turbine is placed at the exit of the boiler where it converts energy from the moving steam into mechanical energy. The rotation of this turbine is used to spin a magnet inside a power generator. This generator is a large electromagnet that encases the spinning magnet. Instead of putting electricity into the electromagnet to cause the coil to magnetize, electrons are captured from the spinning magnet and collected. The electrons are then sent to the national power grid where they are distributed as needed. [edit] Health impacts Air particles are deadly. The byproducts that form from the burning of fossil fuels are very dangerous. These small particles can exist in the air for indefinate periods of time, up to several weeks and can travel for miles. The particles, sometimes smaller than 10 microns in diameter, can reach deep within the lungs. Particles that are smaller than this can enter the blood stream, irritating the lungs and carry with them toxic substances such as heavy metals and pollutants. Over a lifetime of continued exposure, a person's ability to transfer oxygen and rid pollutants is impeded. Those affected could become afflicted with fatal asthma attacks and other serious lung conditions. the World Resources Institute reports that between the years of 2000 and 2020, 8 million deaths worldwide could possibly occur without changing present conditions. In 1990 alone, respiratory diseases were a leading cause of disabilities and illnesses worldwide. This is a global problem and requires a global solution. Because the contamination is growing at an exponential rate, minor reductions now will greatly reduce the number of lives lost in the future. [edit] Additional energy statistics Natural gas accounts for 24% of the energy in the United States. Domestic production of natural gas peaked in 1973; this is because we do not import due to safety problems. Consumption of natural gas is actually flat as oppsed to increasing usage of coal and oil. Petroleum / Natural Gas will run out in the next 50 years. 97% of fossil fuel reserves are coal. 20% of the world's coal supply is located in the United States. Energy yield depends on how much carbon is contained in the coal. 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. Deposits are around 300 feet below the surface and typically 2-8 feet thick. Coal production has increased since 1970.At current usage, the supply will last 1500 years. However at a 5% growth rate the supply will last only 86 years. We can expect even greater usage as other fossil fuels become scarce.

[edit] Shale Oil Shale oil deposits in the US are found in southwestern Wyoming, eastern Utah, and western Colorado. Oil shale contains kerogen which, when burned, can be converted into fuel products. The amount of shale oil deposits are significantly greater than the amount of US petroleum deposits by a factor of ten. However, economic mining requires a yield of 25 gallons of oil per ton of shale. Only 30% of the known deposits meet this criteria. Of that 30%, only 15% is recoverable under present conditions. The refinement of shale is very difficult and requires large amounts of water. The bottom line is that shale oil is not economically viable at this point. [edit] Importance of fossil fuel Fossil fuels are of great importance because they can be burned (oxidized to carbon dioxide and water), producing significant amounts of energy. The use of coal as a fuel predates recorded history. Coal was used to run furnaces for the melting of metal ore. Semi-solid hydrocarbons from seeps were also burned in ancient times,but these materials were mostly used for waterproofing and embalming. Commercial exploitation of petroleum, largely as a replacement for oils from animal sources (notably whale oil) for use in oil lamps began in the nineteenth century. Natural gas, once flared-off as an un-needed byproduct of petroleum production, is now considered a very valuable resource. Heavy crude oil, which is much more viscous than conventional crude oil, and tar sands, where bitumen is found mixed with sand and clay, are becoming more important as sources of fossil fuel.Oil shale and similar materials are sedimentary rocks containing kerogen, a complex mixture of high-molecular weight organic compounds, which yield synthetic crude oil when heated (pyrolyzed). These materials have yet to be exploited commercially.These fuels are employed in internal combustion engines, fossil fuel power stations and other uses. Prior to the latter half of the eighteenth century, windmills or watermills provided the energy needed for industry such as milling flour, sawing wood or pumping water, and burning wood or peat provided domestic heat. The wide-scale use of fossil fuels, coal at first and petroleum later, to fire steam engines, enabled the Industrial Revolution. At the same time, gas lights using natural gas or coal gas were coming into wide use. The invention of the internal combustion engine and its use in automobiles and trucks greatly increased the demand for gasoline and diesel oil, both made from fossil fuels. Other forms of transportation, railways and aircraft also required fossil fuels. The other major use for fossil fuels is in generating electricity and the petrochemical industry. Tar, a leftover of petroleum extraction, is used in construction of roads. [edit] Environmental effects In the United States, more than 90% of greenhouse gas emissions come from the combustion of fossil fuels.Combustion of fossil fuels also produces other air pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide, volatile organic compounds and heavy metals. According to Environment Canada: "The electricity sector is unique among industrial sectors in its very large contribution to emissions associated with nearly all air issues. Electricity generation produces a large share of Canadian nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxide emissions, which contribute to smog and acid rain and the formation of fine particulate matter. It is the largest uncontrolled industrial source of mercury emissions in Canada. Fossil fuel-fired electric power plants also emit carbon dioxide, which may contribute to climate change. In addition, the sector has significant impacts on water and habitat and species. In particular, hydro dams and transmission lines have significant effects on water and biodiversity."

According to U.S. Scientist Jerry Mahlman and USA Today: Mahlman, who crafted the IPCC language used to define levels of scientific certainty, says the new report will lay the blame at the feet of fossil fuels with "virtual certainty," meaning 99% sure. That's a significant jump from "likely," or 66% sure, in the group's last report in 2001, Mahlman says. His role in this year's effort involved spending two months reviewing the more than 1,600 pages of research that went into the new assessment. Combustion of fossil fuels generates sulfuric, carbonic, and nitric acids, which fall to Earth as acid rain, impacting both natural areas and the built environment. Monuments and sculptures made from marble and limestone are particularly vulnerable, as the acids dissolve calcium carbonate. Fossil fuels also contain radioactive materials, mainly uranium and thorium, which are released into the atmosphere. In 2000, about 12,000 tonnes of thorium and 5,000 tonnes of uranium were released worldwide from burning coal.It is estimated that during 1982, US coal burning released 155 times as much radioactivity into the atmosphere as the Three Mile Island incident.However, this radioactivity from coal burning is minuscule at each source and has not shown to have any adverse effect on human physiology. Burning coal also generates large amounts of bottom ash and fly ash. These materials are used in a wide variety of applications, utilizing, for example, about 40% of the US production. Harvesting, processing, and distributing fossil fuels can also create environmental concerns. Coal mining methods, particularly mountaintop removal and strip mining, have negative environmental impacts, and offshore oil drilling poses a hazard to aquatic organisms. Oil refineries also have negative environmental impacts, including air and water pollution. Transportation of coal requires the use of diesel-powered locomotives, while crude oil is typically transported by tanker ships, each of which requires the combustion of additional fossil fuels. Environmental regulation uses a variety of approaches to limit these emissions, such as command-and-control (which mandates the amount of pollution or the technology used), economic incentives, or voluntary programs. An example of such regulation in the USA is the "EPA is implementing policies to reduce airborne mercury emissions. Under regulations issued in 2005, coal-fired power plants will need to reduce their emissions by 70 percent by 2018".

In economic terms, pollution from fossil fuels is regarded as a negative externality. Taxation is considered one way to make societal costs explicit, in order to 'internalize' the cost of pollution. This aims to make fossil fuels more expensive, thereby reducing their use and the amount of pollution associated with them, along with raising the funds necessary to counteract these factors. Former CIA Director James Woolsey recently outlined the national security arguments in favor of moving away from fossil fuels. [edit] Advantages and disadvantages The discovery of fossils for energy purpose has turned the wheel of revolution in the history of mankind. Fossil fuels have the capacity to satisfy the energy demands of the entire world for several hundred years. Fossil fuels have provided a great impetus to the industrial revolution that took place in the twentieth century. the modern world greatly owes its technological and mechanical progress to fossil fuels. However, the irrational consumption of fossil fuels have lead to several problems all over the world. Fossil fuels have several advantages over other sources of energy. This is the main reason why they are still the major energy supplier of the world. The advantages of fossil fuels are as follows:

Fossil fuels have a very high calorific value. Thus, burning 1 gm of fossil fuel releases tremendous amount of energy. The reservoirs of fossil fuels are pretty easy to locate. Coal is a fossil fuel that is found in abundance. It is used in most power plants because it reduces the production cost to a great extent. Transportation of fossil fuels that are in liquid or gaseous forms is very easy. They are simply transported through pipes. Construction of power plants that work on fossil fuels is also easy. Petroleum is the most predominantly used form of fossil fuels for all types of vehicles. Fossil fuels are easier to extract and process, hence are cheaper than the non-conventional forms of energy.

Fossil Fuels were a preferred source of energy until recently, their over consumption and some undersirable properties have lead to several issues of grave importance. The disadvantages of fossil fuels are as follows:

Although, oil, natural gas and coal are found in abundance in nature, the alarming rate at which they are being consumed has resulted in substantial depletion of their reservoirs. The hydrocarbons present in the fossil fuels, release greenhouse gases, such as Methane, Carbon dioxide etc. Which are capable of damaging the ozone layer. Besides, other harmful gases such as carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide are responsible for Acid Rain, which has spelled disaster for ecology. Extraction of fossil fuels has endangered the environmental balance in some areas. Moreover, Coal mining has jeopardized the lives of several mine workers. The depletion of reservoirs has made the extraction of fossil fuels an expensive affair. This is likely to affect the fuel prices in near future. Leakage of some fossil fuels, such as natural gas, crude oil can lead to severe hazards. Hence, transportation of these fuels is very risky. Fossil fuels have contributed in more than one way for global warming, the issue that is been discussed all over the world. Fractional distillation of crude oil is the first step in the production of many of the materials we have come to rely on in modern life.

All our fossil fuels, virtually all our plastics, detergents and commercial alcohols are made from products of this process. Appreciating the process of fractional distillation will further improve our understanding of the sources of fuels and plastics and the limited nature of their availability. From the Oil Field to the Refinery The first step is the transport of the crude oil from its natural location to the refinery. Oil drilling occurs both at sea and on land, depending on the size and profitability of the oil deposits located. Fossil fuel formation is the result of environmental conditions in the distant past and the geological processes that have occured since the laying down of the original organic matter from which the oil is formed. Once obtained from the ground, the oil is transported by ship, truck or pipeline to the refinery.


At the Refinery Once the oil reaches the refinery the work to separate it into useful products begins. Oil refineries are enormously complex and each part of the distilled oil goes through several stages of processing. However, the very first step is to break up the crude oil. The crude oil is a mixture of many different chemicals. The majority of these are hydrocarbons, which are molecules made only from the element Carbon and the element Hydrogen. The mixture of hydrocarbons contains both alkane and alkene molecules and the length of the chains vary wildly, from five Carbon atoms long to 60 Carbons or more. Since fuels need to be very specific in terms of the length of the Carbon chain, the different lengths need to be separated. These different length chains are called FRACTIONS. The boiling point of a Hydrocarbon fraction, which is the temperature at which it evaporates, is dependent on the length of the Carbon chain. Those fractions with shorter chains evaporate more easily than those with longer chains. This explains why petrol, which is mainly made of the 8-Carbon molecule octane, evaporates more easily than engine oil which has carbon chains in the range of 20 or more. Fractional Distillation Of Crude Oil In order to separate the different length chains in the crude mix, it is heated to a very high temperature. The temperature is set so that all those fractions with a Carbon chain length of 20 and below are evaporated from the crude mix. The temperature cannot be set higher than this as there is a risk that the lighter fractions will ignite. The remaining liquid, which is composed of only the heavier fractions, passes to a second location where it is heated to a similar temperature, but at lower pressure. This has the effect of making the heavy Hydrocarbon fractions more likely to evaporate.

How the Distillation Tower Works

The way the Distillation Tower works is by becoming progressively cooler from the base to the top. All the Hydrocarbon fractions start off in gas form, as they have been heated to that point. The gases then rise up the tower. The gas mixture then encounters a barrier through which there are are only openings into the bubble caps. The gas mixture is then forced to go through a liquid before continuing upwards. The liquid in the first tray is at a cool enough temperature to get the heaviest gas fractions to condense into liquid form, while the lighter fractions stay gaseous. In this way the heaviest hydrocarbon fractions are separated out from the mixed gas. The remaining gas continues its journey up the tower until it reaches another barrier. Here the bubble cap process is repeated but at a lower temperature than before, which then filters out the next lightest set of fractions. This process continues until only the very lightest fractions, those of 1 to 4 Carbon atoms, are left. These stay in gas form and are collected at the top of the tower. The separation of the heavier elements in the second tower follows exactly the same process but at lower pressure. After the Fractional Distillation Of Crude Oil The separated fractions still contain a mixture of different hydrocarbons. After their initial separation the fractions require further processing and purification. Treatment of the initial products of the fractional distillation of crude oil also occurs in the refinery. The results of these processes are the products we use in every day life.