fossilfuels - Fossil Fuels What are they Fossil fuels are...

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1 Fossil Fuels What are they? • Fossil fuels are the major energy source for the western world. However this is a non-renewable energy source, which means there are finite reserves available. • Fossil fuels are remains of the ancient animals or plants that have not decomposed. They are trapped in anaerobic environments and eventually buried deeply. The high pressures and temperatures they experience underground change them into the coal or oil or natural gas. • All fossil fuels are organic compounds. This means they have as there main constituents carbon and hydrogen bonded together in their molecules. They may also contain other elements like oxygen.
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2 • Fossil fuels release their energy through combustion. • Organic compound + oxygen gas = carbon dioxide + water. • Fossil fuels are a mix of organic compounds, from the simplest methane which has 1 C and 4 H to much more complex compounds which can contain up to 100 C. • Every different reservoir of fossil fuel will have its own distinct mixture of the different organic compounds and other contaminants like sulphur (S). • As well as being used for energy, some parts of these fossil fuels are also very important as chemicals for various industries (plastics) • There are 3 main types of fossil fuels • Oil (petroleum) •Coa l
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3 Petroleum (crude Oil) • Oil or petroleum is the most complex of the fossil fuels. There are many different types of petroleum mixtures that come out of the ground, and these tend to be used differently. • Oil is a thick viscous liquid, though the viscosity changes with the chemical composition. So to get it out of the ground it can be pumped out. • Oil tends to collect in reserves – some under extremely high pressures within rock like sandstone or limestone, that is fairly porous. • This layer of porous rock where the oil is found will be capped by a layer of impermeable hard rock that the oil cannot penetrate. This is called the caprock. • Natural gas is also found in these type of structures, and is often found with oil. • Oil is a complex mix of compounds that must be refined into the various components that we can then use. • The refining process involves distillation to fractionate the oil. • The different compounds in the oil will have different boiling points. By heating to very precise temperatures we can evaporate off the different components one by one. These individual compounds will then be further processed and sent to the consumers. • But refining produces a number of different chemical wastes
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4 Source: American Petroleum Institute (www.api.org). Figures are based on 1995 average yields for U.S. refineries. Tar sands and shale oil are also fossil fuels and forms of oil. They are oil that have been compressed into the rock
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This note was uploaded on 10/20/2010 for the course NATS Nats1840(A taught by Professor M.h.armour during the Fall '10 term at York University.

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fossilfuels - Fossil Fuels What are they Fossil fuels are...

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