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