What are fossil fuels? Fossil fuels are the carbon rich remains of ancient vegetation and other organisms that have endured intense heat and pressure inside the earth over periods of millions of years.
What are the different types of fossil fuels? The different types of fossil fuels are coal, oil and natural gas.
How is coal formed? Coal forms from the remains of plants which died in prehistoric swamps and wetlands. Organic plant matter at various stages of decay form peat, which, under certain pressure, time and heat conditions experiences slow rates of bacterial decay and eventually goes on to form coal. The process through which coal forms from such ancient plants is known as coalification.
Describe the different stages of coal formation?
Lignite: The softest, brownish coal and is low in carbon but high in hydrogen and oxygen
Bituminous: Has a higher carbon content with a higher heating value than lignite. Contains less water and is therefore harder than lignite
Anthracite: The hardest and has more carbon, which gives it a higher energy content
How is coal used as a fossil fuel? Coal is primarily used as a solid fuel to produce electricity and heat through combustion (burned). It is also used to fuel power plants and other factories.
How is oil formed? 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.
How is oil used as a fossil fuel? 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 create electricity.
How is natural gas formed? Millions of years ago, the remains of plants and animals (diatoms) decayed and built up in thick layers. Over time, the sand and silt changed to rock, covered the organic material, and trapped it beneath the rock. Pressure and heat changed some of this organic material into coal, some into oil (petroleum), and some into natural gas — tiny bubbles of odorless gas.
How is natural gas used as a fossil fuel? Natural gas is the cleanest burning of the fossil fuels. Natural gas can be used as a substitute for gasoline or diesel fuel in internal combustion engines.
What are refineries and why are they important to the production of fossil fuel? 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. It is important to the production of fossil fuel because it converts raw material into a lot of fuel that we need.
The Exxon Valdez oil spill incident On March 24, 1989, the tanker Exxon Valdez grounded on Bligh Reef in Alaska's Prince William Sound, spilling nearly 11 million gallons of Prudhoe Bay crude oil into a remote, scenic, and biologically productive body of water. It was the largest single oil spill in U.S. coastal waters. Many parts of the Alaskan marine environment have begun to show signs of significant physical and biological change: waters have warmed, ice has receded, and populations of fish and mammals have declined. In order to clean this mess up, they tried to displace it with high-pressure hot water. However it displaced and destroyed the microbial populations on the shoreline, so they stopped. There are oil remain in the sandy soil of the contaminated shoreline, declining at a rate of less than 4% per year.
The Deep Water Horizon oil catastrophe incident The spill started with an oil well blowout on April 20, 2010 which caused a catastrophic explosion on the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil drilling platform. On May 1 two aircraft were employed to spray oil dispersant. The effects are being felt in towns and cities across the area -- this is in addition the local wildlife in both the land and sea that are dying by the thousands.