fossil fuels

Topics: Energy development, Nuclear power, Fossil fuel, World energy resources and consumption, Coal, Wind power / Pages: 8 (1852 words) / Published: Dec 1st, 2013
Energy in the form of fossil fuels, can it meet all of society’s needs or is it time for us to look at other alternatives before it is too late? The increasing pollution and price of energy has once again ignited the debate about options for future energy.

Fossil fuels are hydrocarbon deposits also known as coal, crude oil and gas derived from the remains of organic prehistoric plants and animals. They have taken many millions of years to form.

Coal is ground to a fine dust when crushed and this is burnt in a combustion chamber of large boilers these heat water and create steam pressure that drives turbines and then generators to create electrical energy. Coal provides about 28% of our energy but burning coal generates sulphur dioxide (a gas that contributes to acid rain). Acid rain is responsible for the death of trees notably in Scandinavia and corrosion of stonework. This pollution issue can be mainly avoided by using a flue gas desulphuration. This eliminates sulphur dioxide gas before being released into the atmosphere using a “scrubber” system which sprays alkaline calcium hydroxide solution through power station emissions and converts the gas into gypsum (calcium sulphate). This is a useful product for the building trade being the main constituent of plaster. However this process does not prevent carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere which is the main gaseous product from combusting coal or any hydrocarbon fuel.

Crude oil is a complex mixture of hydrocarbons consisting mainly of alkanes. The simplest alkane is methane ( CH4) used as fuel in homes for cooking and heating. Hydrocarbons are compounds consisting only of hydrogen and carbon atoms. In crude oil’s raw form it is a thick tarry substance so it needs to be processed to separate it into useful constituents such as the fuels petrol, diesel and

kerosene and bitumen for road surfacing. It also provides the raw material ethane gas for the chemical industry manufacturing plastic



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