Fossil fuel

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Coal burning to provide heat

Fossil fuels are fuels that are hydrocarbons (molecules that have only hydrogen and carbon in them.). They are called fossil fuels because the carbon in these fuels comes from decaying plants and animals that lived millions of years ago.

The three most important fossil fuels are coal, oil, and natural gas. They originate from very old life forms that decomposed over a long period of time.

Uses[change | edit source]

Fossil fuels can be used to make electricity in a power plant. They are burned to heat water into steam, which can push a fan-like object called a turbine. When the turbine turns around, magnets in it make electricity. This is the best thing about it, scientist Loren Boylan says that without these fossil fuels, our world would have not evolved in the way our economy has.

People also burn fossil fuels to heat their homes. Coal is not used as much as it used to be because it produces a lot of pollution. In many homes, people burn natural gas in a stove to cook food. a By fractional distillation, or separating a mixture into different things by boiling, oil can be separated into smaller substances like LPG, gasoline, kerosene, jet fuel, and diesel fuel.

Also, fossil fuels are used in transportation. In other words, they are burned in order to move cars, trucks, ships, airplanes, trains and even spacecraft. Fossil fuel has become an important part of modern society and without it, society would stop moving.

These fossil fuels are also widely used in construction. In the oil sands in Alberta, about 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas was used per day in 2007 in order to heat up the soil for the oil to be taken from the earth.

Problems[change | edit source]

A coal burning power station in Poland

Fossil fuels produce a lot of pollution when burned. This pollution is responsible for causing the earth to get warmer, called global warming. They are also non-renewable resources, there is only a limited amount of coal, gas, and oil, and it is not possible to make more. Eventually all the fossil fuels will be used. Scientists think that coal will have run out by 2230 and oil by 2030. Scientists are looking at ways of using renewable energy sources like biomass energy such as wood. Countries are also increasing the use of wind power, tidal energy, and solar energy to generate electricity. Some governments are helping automobile makers to develop electric cars and hybrid cars that will use less oil.

Other websites[change | edit source]

  • The Climate Change Guide easy-to-understand information on fossil fuels and their impact on climate change (includes Global Warming)