You are on page 1of 2

FOSSIL FUEL FACT SHEET

What is it?

Types?

Supply

COAL

OIL

NATURAL GAS

solid fossil fuel: Fossilized plant


material (carboniferous 286-360 mya)
- mostly carbon with small amts of sulfur,
mercury and radioactive material
- Peat (not really coal) decayed plant
matter in swamps/bogs
- Lignite (brown coal): low heat content,
low sulfur content
- Bituminous Coal (soft coal): widely
used, has high heat content, large
supplies! High sulfur content
- Anthracite (hard coal): highly
desirable high heat and low sulfur, but
limited supplies
**Most abundant fossil fuel 10 X the
energy of oil and natural gas reserves
combined.
- Supply could last 215-1,125 years
- U.S. has proven coal reserves

- petroleum or crude oil is a thick, dark liquid consisting of


hundreds of combustible hydrocarbons (with some sulfur,
oxygen, and nitrogen impurities) made in a similar fashion
to coalfossilized microorganisms
Crude oil is converted into a number of petroleum products
through a refining process (distillation process-cracking
tower)-energy intensive process *(8% of all US energy use)

- underground gas 50-90% methane by volume.


Also some ethane, propane, and butane (trace
amounts of toxic hydrogen sulfide)
- formed in similar way to coal and oil. (microorg)
- Conventional natural gas: above oil reserves
(much is viewed as unwanted byproduct and is
burned offwhat a waste!!)
- Unconventional natural gas: methane hydrate
(bubbles of natural gas trapped in ice crystals)
globally, the amount of methane hydrate energy is
2X coal, oil and natural gas combined. Currently
too expensive to extract

Acquisition

-Underground mining (very dangerous but


less environmental impact)
-Area strip mining: remove surface soil to
expose shallow coal reserves (very damaging
to environment)

Use

- used mostly to produce electricity and steel.


(62% worlds electric)

Problems

Benefits

air pollution: high CO2, SO2, mercury,


radioactive material, particulates, lead
very high env. Impact (land disturbance)

- large supply, high net energy, technological


remedies for pollution problem.

- asphaltgrease/waxdiesel oil/home heating


oilkerosene/plane fuelgasolinenatural gases
(methane)

proven versus unproven reserves


11 OPEC nations control 78% of proven reserve
Saudi Arabia 25% of reserve, Canada 15%
US, 2.9% world reserve
ANWR: 20% chance to meet US oil demand for 7-24
months
- oil is trapped in pores and cracks deep in the earth )often
in sandstone/limestone). Wells are dug into the rock to
pump it out.
- Typically, only 35-50% of usable oil is extracted from an
oil deposit. Too expensive to extract the remainder (inject
water/steam) *Net energy ratio declining
- most widely used energy resource in world
provides about 1/3 of energy we use for heating homes and
running vehicles
- also used to create fertilizers, pesticides, plastics
- U.S. uses 26% of extracted crude oil
- Oil still abundant and cheap, but the end is in sight.
40-100 yrs. Consequences? **Hubbert Curve
- oil drilling has limited env. impact (angle drilling) but
oil spills can be devastating.
- Gone in 50 years, CO2 release, air pollution,subsidized
price means resource is wasted (not true env. cost)
- similar to coal, but easily transported and distributed.

Most in Russia and Middle East.


Current supplies could last world 60-120 years
at current use and up to 200 yrs with
unconventional supplies.

- if a gas pipeline exists, it is pumped directly


from petroleum reserves.
- propane and butane are liquefied and removed.
Remaining methane dried, cleansed of hydrogen
sulfide, and pumped into pressurized pipelines for
distribution.
- burned to heat space and water, generate
electricity and propel vehicles.

- release of methane itself (greenhouse gas) in


transport and CO2 when burned, difficult to
transport internationally, requires construction of
pipelines.
High energy efficiency (50-60%), low CO2
emissions compared to oil/coal. , easily transported
by pipeline.