Definition of Fossil Fuels | Advantage and Disadvantage of Fossil Fuels

Definition of Fossil Fuels | Advantage and Disadvantage of Fossil Fuels

Definition of Fossil Fuels | Advantage and Disadvantage of Fossil Fuels

A fuel is a store of chemical energy which is released usually through burning the fuel. A combustion reaction kick starts when heat is supplied to the fuel and it burns in the presence of oxygen. The reaction gives out energy and power.

Fossil Fuels are formed out of fossil remains of prehistoric plants and animals which get compressed over millions of years. It is because they take so long to replenish, that they are called non-renewable. Coal, Petroleum and Natural Gas are the three main fossil fuels. Different fossil fuels are formed due to the difference in the type of organic matter buried, the different lengths of time that they are buried for any difference in temperature and pressure.

Definition, Advantage, and Disadvantage of Fossil Fuels

1.) Fossil Fuel Coal

It is a solid fossil fuel formed out of compression of decaying land vegetation. It is the most abundant fossil fuel and is quite uniformly distributed all over the land. About 40% of world’s electricity generation comes from coal-based thermal power plants. They release massive amounts of carbon dioxide and hence it is also a “Greenhouse Nightmare.”

About 40% of world’s electricity generation comes from coal-based thermal power plants.

  • Fossil Fuel Coke– It is a combustible, solid, low-smoke fuel usually made from coal. This high in carbon and low in impurities fuel is formed from low ash, low sulfur bituminous coal is made to undergo destructive distillation. It is used in the steel industry to convert iron ore to iron.
  • Fossil Fuel Coal Gas– This mixture of gases, Hydrogen, Methane, and Carbon Monoxide is formed as a byproduct of coke production. This highly flammable gas is used for heat production for domestic and industrial purposes.
  • Fossil Fuel Water Gas– A mixture consisting of only Carbon monoxide and Hydrogen is Water gas. It is formed out of passing steam overheated hydrocarbons. A water gas shift reaction removes the CO from water gas to produce pure hydrogen for industrial purposes.
  • Fossil Fuel Producer Gas– It is a mixture of combustible (Carbon monoxide and Hydrogen) and non-combustible gases (Nitrogen and Carbon dioxide). It is formed due to partial combustion of hydrocarbons when air and steam are made to pass over coke or coal.

2.) Fossil Fuel Petroleum

This liquid fossil fuel is formed out of the remains of marine microorganisms. After millions of years, the deposits collect in the rocks and sediments and this crude oil is drilled out. The organic compounds formed out of refining the crude oil is most widely used. It is called “black gold” and is found only in certain world regions. It is of huge geopolitical significance in international relations with wars have been fought for it.

3.) Fossil Fuel Natural Gas 

Fossil Fuel Natural Gas 
Fossil Fuel Natural Gas

It is a relatively new and cleaner fossil fuel formed out of remains of marine microorganisms. It is found close to petroleum fields and produced also as a byproduct of it. It is more widely distributed around the world than oil and is drilled out. It comprises mainly of Methane (CH4). Russia is believed to have the largest natural gas reserves and is also the world’s biggest extractor.

Russia  have the largest natural gas reserves .

  • Biogas:

It is a mixture of gases, primarily Methane and Carbon dioxide formed out of decomposition of organic matter in the absence of oxygen. The organic matter breaks down through the process called anaerobic digestion carried out by anaerobic organisms into this renewable source of energy. Switching to biogas can greatly reduce greenhouse effect through the reduction in methane emanating from landfills and the reduction in the use of fossil fuels. Animal manure, food scraps, wastewater, and sewage can be used for producing this biofuel.

  • Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG):

It is a byproduct of the processing of natural gas or petroleum refining. It consists of hydrocarbons propane or butane in various mixtures. These hydrocarbons can commonly be compressed into a liquid at low temperatures. It is heavier than air and settles close to ground when leaked. This creates a threat of explosion. It is primarily used as cooking gas.

Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) consists of hydrocarbons of Propane or Butane.

  • Compressed Natural Gas [CNG]:

Natural gas is compressed to less than 1% of its volume and stored in pressure tanks. It is a relatively new and clean vehicular fuel. It is lighter than air and hence dissipates making it safer to use. It comprises mainly of Methane. A Sulphur based odorant is added to it to detect leaks.

  • Liquefied Natural Gas:

When natural gas is supercooled between -120 degree Celsius to -170 degree Celsius into a cryogenic liquid, it is called LNG. The advantage of using it is that it gives energy density close to petrol and diesel. Its drawback is that cryogenic storage installation in vehicles is still very expensive.

“Compressed Natural Gas(CNG)” comprises mainly of Methane.

Definition of Biodiesel

  • It is an alternate fuel manufactured out of vegetable oil, animal oil or waste cooking oil.
  • These oils can be converted to biodiesel through the process called Transesterification.
  • Oil crops like rapeseed, palm and soybean can be great sources of biodiesel but the biodiesel produced costs much more than conventional diesel.

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  • Biodiesel made out of the waste oil can compete with conventional diesel.
  • It can be used alone or in blended form.

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