Fossil Fuel Introduction
Human life has been made easier only with the help of energy. From industrial sectors to household use, various energies provide us with numerous benefits in our daily lives. Fossil fuels are one of the energy sources from which humans benefit. Fossil fuel alone account for more than 80% of the world’s energy. Hence, this article is about fossil fuels, their history, benefits, drawbacks, and how they will eventually disappear.
What is Fossil fuel?
Fossil fuel is a hydrocarbon-rich substance formed naturally in the earth’s crust. Plants and animals decompose and are converted to fossil fuels due to excessive heat and pressure within the earth’s crust. All fossil fuels are burned in the air or with oxygen obtained from the air to generate heat. This heat is used in homes and in steam-based plants for the production of electricity.
These fuels are extracted and refined further, resulting in a variety of states that can be used to generate energy to perform useful work. Coal, natural gas, and crude oil are fossil fuels.
Examples of Fossil Fuels
- Coal is a readily combustible rock.
- It is a type of fossil fuel that is extracted through surface or underground mining procedures.
- Coal With the industrial revolution, coal usage began to rise, primarily in steam-based engines such as steam trains and steamships.
- Presently, coal is used mainly for heating purposes. Coal is used substantially in developing countries, primarily in coal-fired power plants that generate electricity.
- Anthracite, bituminous, subbituminous, and lignite are the four main types of coal. Additionally, anthracite has the highest heating value, while sub-bituminous has the lowest. The greater the carbon content of a fossil fuel (coal), the higher its heating value.
- Natural gas is a gaseous resource. It consists of methane and also contains small traces of ethane, butane, and propane.
- Natural gas is a fossil fuel and is hence also known as fossil gas. It is a non-renewable resource. Gas is economically extracted from the earth’s surface.
- An important use of gas is in producing electricity and for heating purposes, such as heating spaces and water.
- Gas is used as a fuel in the form of CNG and LNG in automobiles.
- Crude oil is a combination of organic materials and hydrocarbons. It’s a fossil fuel and a non-renewable resource.
- Drilling techniques are used to extract the crude oil.
- Obtained oil is not in a usable form, hence it is refined. Crude oil is refined into a variety of useful products, including diesel, petrol, oil, kerosene, and LPG.
- The majority of petroleum products are used to generate energy for automobiles and for heating purposes.
History of Fossil Fuel
The anaerobic decomposition of buried dead organisms, which contain organic molecules, under huge heat and pressure for thousands of years converted them into fossil remains. These remains are called fossil fuels.
- Around 4000 years ago, archaeologists believe that this was the first time a human used coal as a fossil.
- However, it was not until the beginning of the Industrial Revolution that humans began to recognize the potential of fossil-based fuels.
- The first refinery for petroleum-based fuels was built in the mid-eighteenth century. Oil demand was fueled by the world war. Due to the increasing demand for oil, OPEC was established in 1960 to export oil to demanding countries. The demand for oil has not slowed down until now.
- In China, maybe around 500 B.C. or 1000 B.C., gas was used to boil salt water. But in the year 1821, the first natural gas well was drilled in the United States.
- Given current natural gas usage rates, the explored reservoirs could last 100 to 200 years.
Fossil Fuel Pros & Cons
Advantages of Fossil Fuel
The world is seeing the true potential and capability of fossil fuels as a result of the increasing demand for energy in current situations. There are numerous benefits to using fossil fuels over other sources of energy:
- Fossil fuels are very cheap to use.
- Fossil fuels are reliable and consistent. Unlike solar and wind energy, fossil fuels are not dependent on climate change. Therefore, they are more reliable than solar and wind energy.
- Fossils are cost-effective. Fossil fuels are among the world’s most affordable energy sources.
- Fossil fuels have the highest calorific value of any type of fuel currently available.
- There’s no shortage of fossil fuels. If a specific fuel is not available locally, it can be imported from any country in the world.
- When compared to solar or wind energy, fossil fuel-based systems are very efficient and will continue to be so in the future.
- When compared to solar and wind technologies, traditional energy systems, such as gas turbines, have twice the life.
- Fossil fuel power plants can generate a large amount of consistent electricity from a single location.
- With current innovations in technology, fossils are now much safer and more stable.
- The operating costs of producing fossil fuels far outweigh those of producing solar energy.
- Fossils can be easily transported using pipes and large trucks, as well as from underground. As a result, modes of transportation are not prohibitively expensive.
- Fossil fuels provide economic benefits. A country with vast fossil reserves can import and profit handsomely.
- Fossil fuels have a long shelf life and can be stored or transported over long distances. Other forms of energy, such as hydrogen, on the other hand, are unstable and thus difficult to transport over long distances.
- The cost of storing fossil fuels is very low. The cost of storing solar energy or wind energy in batteries is far more costly than storing gas or oil.
- Coal-fired power plants or other fossil-fuel-fired power plants can be built anywhere.
Disadvantages of Fossil Fuel
- Starting with the extraction processes of crude oil, gas involves many mining processes. This mining causes soil erosion, water pollution, and air pollution.
- The use of fossil fuels has increased carbon footprints around the world. Therefore, researchers believe the increased use of fossil fuels is the main cause of global warming.
- The use of fossil fuels has increased air pollution. More toxic substances in the air have resulted from the increased use of fossil fuels, which has a significant impact on the health of humans. Asthma, lung problems, chronic bronchitis, and heart diseases are some of the health complications that can occur due to air pollution caused by fossil fuels.
- A huge supply is consistently needed to make power stations run reliably and consistently. Consistent supply necessitates transporting a massive amount of fuel from remote locations, which requires more energy and, as a result, causes significant damage to the planet. Furthermore, in this scenario, using fossil fuels becomes very expensive.
- Fossil fuel’s biggest disadvantage is its non-renewable resource. Its reservoirs are going to end up after some years, and once finished, they will not be replenished.
- Many accidents happen during the recovery of fossils from underground or from reservoirs. These mishaps have the potential to pollute the environment by contaminating water, air, and land. Oil spills and large fires are two common examples.
- Another disadvantage is rising fuel costs.
- Reservoirs are being depleted day by day, and demand for fossil fuels is increasing, resulting in a price increase. This surge has affected mostly those countries which are importers of fossil fuels.
How are Fossil Fuels Going to Vanish One Day?
Fossil reserves formed thousands of years and are showing no sign of replenishing till now. It’s now a proven fact that it won’t replenish for thousands of years once it gets exhausted.
Fossil fuels are nonrenewable and are going to get exhausted in the future due to many factors, such as:
- Due to an increase in the population, energy demand is increasing.
- According to 2015 estimates, gas reservoirs would be depleted in 250 years. In 2020, estimates show fossils will not last more than 100 years. Increased energy demands are the only reason for this abrupt change in estimation.
- Fossil reserves are limited in the world and reserves are getting depleted at an alarming rate.
- There are no viable alternatives to fossil fuels. Hence, the load of using fossil fuels is not decreasing or stopping. This factor is also responsible for the depletion of fossil fuel reserves.
Currently, known reservoirs, such as coal, and crude oil are expected to run dry by 2088, according to various studies
Perhaps current reservoirs will run dry in 100 years or more, but perhaps new reserves will be discovered in the meantime, which also will not be of much help. The only way to save fossil fuels for the future is to find alternate energy solutions. The more renewable resources are available, the more fossils will have a chance to coexist with humans for longer