The human body always needs the energy to carry out different activities- be they physical or mind-oriented. Be it for commercial or residential purposes, energy always plays a crucial role in making things work correctly. That being said, it’s important to search for better and more reliable energy generation sources that are cost-effective at the same time. The sources are of two types (McKinney & Schoch, 2003):
- Renewable energy: Can be replaced at any time and does not run out soon.
- Non-renewable energy: Prone to run out sooner than expected due to increased usage.
No doubt, fossil fuels are one of the best and most efficient energy sources for the majority of purposes. The sun assists in photosynthesis, thereby producing chemical building blocks from ancient animals and plants. These old living things use hydrogen and carbon atoms in their bodies, while the fossilized hydrocarbon molecules give out fuel when burnt.
What are Fossil Fuels?
Fossil fuels are the result of the chemical decomposition of plants and animals. Their composition changes; it creates a series of pressurized chemicals that gives away fossil fuels or gases. These fossil fuels then convert into rock having multiple layers with unique colors and textures. Every layer takes decades to take up its original form.
As time passes and layers build up, a strong pressure between the rock layers increases as you go deeper into them. The bottom layers have extreme pressure out of all fossil layer formation, increasing the rocks’ temperature. When the temperature and pressure rise to a certain degree, chemical reactions create fossil fuels in oil, coal, and natural gas.
Importance of Fossil Fuels
Contrary to people’s beliefs, fossil fuels have a significance that no other energy source could attain. The reason behind this is their strong bonding with environmental and climate changes. However, they are non-renewable resources, meaning they cannot be replaced or renewed quickly.
Many environmental activists think fossil fuels are affecting water supply and everyday life worldwide. Getting to the end results of fossils is quite difficult and time-consuming at the same time; they are leaving a bad impact on the Earth’s system.
Sometimes, it’s necessary to go another way around to a better world- for instance, cutting down a tree to build a house for living. In that situation, the trees are transported and combusted to convert them into fossil fuels.
The entire process takes a lot of time as well as expense, which according to climate activists, has significantly decreased the supply of fossil fuels. It is evident from multiple types of research that energy resources will be scarce as soon as fossil fuels run out.
Crude oil is made of thousands of chemical substances, particularly carbon and hydrogen, that give a different composition to each type. These hydrocarbons vary in numbers and content with respect to the oil deposits.
Every type of crude oil has a certain fluid density and thickness based on its chemical composition. It is evident from the color and residual sulfur level because every piece gives a unique color to crude oil that varies from a deep black to a clear golden yellow and sour or sweet, respectively.
Types of Fossil Fuels and Their Formation
Made from fossilized swamps, coal is one of the widely used energy sources across the world. When plants are buried and compressed in high-carbon conditions for a certain time, the result comes out in coal.
There are multiple kinds of coal depending upon the quality of swamp-like vegetation (the material that decomposes and converts into peat) and the amount of pressure and heat used during the process. The greater the pressure and heat, the better will be the fuel value.
Peats, transformed from swamp-like vegetation, go through a specific procedure named lithification that produces lignite (a lump of low-quality brown coal). Afterward, it experiences high pressure and heat and converts lignite into bituminous, and sub-bituminous coal collectively called sedimentary rocks. Upon giving more pressure and heat, bituminous coal changes into anthracite, a high-quality coal that gives the best energy output (Administration, 2022).
Natural Gas and Oil
The two energy sources are the resultant of historic plankton (marine microorganisms). They were also buried in sediments when they died and underwent the same decomposition process as coal.
With sediments accumulated in one place, the lifeless organisms went deeper into the Earth and got into contact with extreme pressure and temperature. Eventually, after millions of years, the Earth started giving off natural gas and oil (Administration, 2021).
Referred to as a fine sedimentary rock having kerogen, oil shale is an amazing power source for industrial purposes. To make fossil fuels, kerogen, a soil material for petroleum products, must be buried and heated like the above fossil fuels. However, its process is used to leave negative effects on the environment.
Also known as oil sands, these sandstones have many petroleum elements that cannot be mined and extracted from the Earth. Due to their highly viscous nature (like tar), the only way is to pump the fossil fuel as fluid at a low recovery rate and mix or heat with solvents at the same time (Johnson, Affolter, Inkenbrandt, & Mosher, 2022).
Coalbed methane is the form of natural gas related to coal deposits, comprising methane gas produced at the time of coal formation.
Fossil fuels have always been one of the vital substances to generate power around the world. They are equally beneficial for households and industries, meaning their energy generation capacity is endless. However, they always need assistance from power alternatives to meet their expectations.
- Administration, U. E. (2021, December 02). Natural gas explained. Retrieved from EIA: https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/natural-gas/
- Administration, U. E. (2022, October 19). Coal explained. Retrieved from EIA: https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/coal/
- Johnson, C., Affolter, M. D., Inkenbrandt, P., & Mosher, C. (2022). An Introduction to Geology.Salt Lake Community College. Retrieved from https://bio.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/Ecology/Environmental_Science_(Ha_and_Schleiger)/05%3A_Energy/5.01%3A_Fossil_Fuels/5.1.01%3A_Types_of_Fossil_Fuels_and_Formation
- McKinney, M., & Schoch, R. (2003). Environmental Science, Systems and Solutions(3rd ed.). Knoxville, USA: Jones & Bartlett Learning. Retrieved from Lenntech Water Treatment & Purification: https://www.lenntech.com/greenhouse-effect/fossil-fuels.htm