L03 - Chapter 3: Fossil Fuels Reserves 3.1,2 The conversion...

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Chapter 3: Fossil Fuels – Reserves • The conversion of energy into useful forms that we learned about in the previous chapter is mainly based on burning fossil fuels which have dominated our energy resources ever since the beginning of the industrial revolution • Moreover, it is likely that this domination will last for another century even though the dwindling resources are consumed at higher and higher rates • So, we must ask ourselves what are the most efficient and environmentally friendly ways to spend the reserves he real amount of reserves that we posses can only be estimated since, besides 3.1,2 • The real amount of reserves that we posses can only be estimated since, besides proven reserves , there are unproven reserves which can become available due to a) new discoveries of natural deposits (estimated using geological studies and exploration experience) b) new conditions that make a previously uneconomical resource profitable (for instance, by using new extraction technologies, or due to the increase in price of a formerly cheaper alternative) Let’s take a look at the main fossil fuels – coal and petroleum – and see how they form, as well as the associated extraction and consumption challenges
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Coal: Origin • Coal – a sedimentary rock –formed from the matter of the plants that died millions of years ago, so when we burn coal we use the energy of biological organisms • Plants grow by converting carbon dioxide, water and solar energy into organic compounds such as solid carbohydrates via the photosynthesis process: 3.3 Task : Exemplify one form of energy converted and stored in a piece of coal. carbon dioxide + water + solar energy (photons) → carbohydrates + oxygen • When coal is burned, the process is reversed, that is the carbohydrates are combined with oxygen (that is, oxidized ) and energy is released • Coal forms in oxygen-deficient conditions like marshy areas where the plant material first decays into peat (turf) – a less energetic precursor which still exists in deposits used in some parts of the world to produce energy Quiz : Oxygen is abundant so, after the plant dies, it is readily decomposed. How would you explain that there are deposits of un-oxidized carbohydrates?
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Coal: Formation • Coal formed from the plants that lived about 400 million years ago in swampy areas: after death, the vegetation sank under water and got covered by sediments exerting a high pressure that compacted the material 3.3 There are four stages in the formation of coal: peat , lignite , bituminous and anthracite (in the order of energetic quality) peat lignite pressure heat Each stage depends on the burial conditions: the greater the pressure and heat, the higher the rank of coal, such that the best coal contains less moisture and gasses such as sulfur that produces sulfur oxides when burned bituminous anthracite peat buried peat coal
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Coal: Characterization and Exploitation • The heat content of the different stages of coal is vastly different
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This note was uploaded on 03/19/2012 for the course PHYSICS phy 121 taught by Professor Mario during the Fall '11 term at Miami University.

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L03 - Chapter 3: Fossil Fuels Reserves 3.1,2 The conversion...

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