Fossil Fuels

in this unit we’re going to be talking about energy resources which is one of the defining issues of our time so this is very relevant it’s an issue that is prevalent on most political platforms is something that we all need to be talking about so we’re going to begin with looking at fossil fuel fossil fuels are defined as non-renewable resources they are called fossil fuels because they are composed of the partially decayed remnants of organisms they are the world’s dominant source of energy fossil fuels originate with the Sun because organisms energy originates with the Sun through the process of photosynthesis so fossil fuels are distributed worldwide but the deposits are localized and unevenly distributed so for example oil is primarily present in the Middle Eastern countries they have two-thirds of the world’s oil reserves as shown on the graphic on the slide natural gas is present in many places but some of the major producers of natural gas resources are Russia and the Middle East coal on the other hand is found widely in the United States and in China and in Russia consumption on the other hand is much much higher in developed countries than any of the developing countries around the world the United States for example has about four-and-a-half percent of the world’s population but consumes 20% of the world’s energy which is a gross inequity apportioning energy is different in developed countries versus developing countries and industrialized or developed countries it’s about one third transportation one-third industry and one-third all of the other uses whereas in developing countries energy use is more apportioned to agriculture food prep and heating those things that are just necessary for survival we’ll start by looking at the coal as a fossil fuel coal is not all created equally : different grades these different grades of coal form due to varying amounts of heat and pressure to which it was exposed during its formation so the softest grade of coal is Pete it’s the one that will when burn to give us the least amount of energy and is going to be the dirtiest in terms of the emissions that are produced the next grade of coal is lignite lignite is slightly higher than peat in terms of the energy production that you can get from it when burned and less pollutants to be emitted the next grade is bituminous bituminous coal is what we are using in most parts of the world today the best grade of coal the grade of coal that is the hardest that will give us the most energy the grade of coal that will produce the least amount of pollution is anthracite coal this grade of coal has largely been exhausted the supplies of this grade of coal have for the most part especially for the ones that are easier to get to have already been extracted so we are moving on now to the less desirable forms of coal coal is the most abundant fossil fuel in the world when we talk about fossil fuels and the potential for them being depleted in the near future coal is not really a part of that we have known coal reserves that could last for about 200 more years at our present rate of consumption coal supplies about 29 percent of the world’s energy and this is mostly electricity not for transportation we don’t burn coal in our cars and trucks the largest deposits of coal are found in United States and in Russia and in China as is shown in this graphic here that’s pretty significant that we have such a big supply of coal in the United States we get coal by mining for it

coal can be mined through surface mining if it is within a hundred feet of the surface and there are different techniques in surface mining strip mining is one that as you might have figured out involves the digging of big strips to access the coal seam as shown in this picture mountaintop removal is a technique that is very destructive it’s literally what it sounds like it’s basically chopping off the top of a mountain removing all of that overburden material so that the coal can be accessed more easily subsurface mining is mining underground so this involves taking some sort of a transportation mechanism down to the tunnels that have been created so this might mean moving miners down to these underground tunnels through elevators and then they get around in these underground tunnels and mined for the coal with large machinery as shown in the picture here this is the kind that is the most dangerous they are exposed to a lot of cold dust which can lead to lots of health problems like black lung disease and also there is the potential for deadly gases to be released or the collapse we’ve heard of that kind of thing happening in the news fairly recently the next type of fossil fuel is natural gas natural gas is formed in two different ways there are biogenic gases bio means life so these are the gases that are formed in shallow depths by the process of anaerobic decomposition a form of respiration so these biogenic gases include things like methane gas produced by bacteria thermogenic gas thermo means heat results from compression compression and heat deep underground natural gas has known reserves this means that we know where it is and we know we can get to it that could last for about 60 more years natural gas supplies about 25 percent of worldwide energy consumption primarily used for electricity heating and cooking for the most part our vehicles are not powered by natural gas the production and consumption of natural gas is led by the United States and Russia natural gas is extracted in a couple of different ways we have Horsehead pumps which draw gases out from wells that’s shown in the top picture fracking is a new technique fracking is a abbreviated term used for hydraulic fracturing fracking involves breaking into rock formations and then putting chemicals into those rock formations that move the natural gas up to the surface there’s a lot of controversy going on when it comes to the dangers that surround fracking as a technique for extracting natural gas another technique is offshore drilling which is shown in the second picture offshore drilling simply means that it’s out in the open ocean it is not near to shore or on shore the next type of fossil fuel is oil oil is produced by refining petroleum or crude oil petroleum is the name for crude oil petroleum is a liquid that’s composed of hundreds of hydrocarbon compounds hydrocarbons compounds consisting of mostly hydrogen and carbon so during this refining process as shown in the column in the image the compounds are separated into different products so they can be separated into gases into gasoline into heating oil into diesel oil and into asphalt take a minute to look at that picture so that you can see the fractionation column that’s what that thing is called and how the process of taking the crude oil in shown on the left side heating it at different degrees allows all of these different products to be extracted we get so many things from oil things that you never think of as coming from oil oil can be

used to produce petrochemicals petrochemicals are used in the production of fertilizers plastics paint pesticides medicines synthetic fibers synthetic fibers include things like nylon and rayon things like the football in basketball and cheerleading uniforms that we wear at school and the picture shows some things that are produced by oil we are such an oil based society without oil we don’t have any of these products plastics are produced from oil the problem is that experts believe that humans have already extracted about half of the world’s oil reserves and that their remaining amount might last for about 40 years if we’re lucky Peak Oil is a point and time at which oil production Peaks and then begins to decline this is likely to occur very soon so that means that production of oil will not be able to keep pace with our consumption and with population growth there’s a lot of different scenarios remember that in environmental science there’s a lot of things like computer modeling you may have heard of some of these peak oil scenarios sometimes they’re very negative very pessimistic points of view but looking at this scenario you can see that we have reached the point where the production of our oil from known petroleum reserves is peaking and beginning to decline and how much oil is being extracted depends on where in the world you are so this is definitely something that we all need to be thinking about this is something that is very relevant to our lifetime production of oil is led by Russia Saudi Arabia and the United States but the consumption of oil as you might have guessed is led by the United States recovery of oil involves first of all geologic exploration where structural traps are located these structural traps are places that may contain deposits of oil that are technically recoverable the proven recoverable reserve is the amount that is technologically and economically feasible in other words we may be able to get to some of these deposits but it might cost more than we can get out of it if those deposits are not easily accessible once deposits have been located wells are drilled and oil is pumped out this is called the primary extraction we want to get as much out of those deposits as possible so after the primary extraction solvents chemical solvents are used to remove additional oil the residue and that’s termed secondary extraction because we are at a point in history where we are thinking about the loss of our fossil fuel reserves and how much longer they’re going to last we have started to figure out other ways to extend their supply one of these ways is called sin fuel sin referring to synthetic or man-made these are derivatives of fossil fuels so for example we have tar sands or oil sands tar sands and oil sands are underground sand deposits that are permeated with a thick asphalt like oil called by Tumen so once this is obtained the by two men must be extracted from the sand and refined just like crude oil in the previous diagram so it’s still costly to do this the next type of sin fuel is oil shale oil shale is a rock containing a mixture of hydrocarbons so in this image you can see some of those hydrocarbons laid out within the rock so in order to extract this the rocks must be crushed and heated and then those deposits which are called karagin must

be refined just like the crude oil next we have gas hydrates gas hydrates our reserves of ice and crusted natural gas that are located deep underground and porous rock so this would give us another way to access natural gas deposits because in this icy type of material there are air pocket containing the natural gasses the problem with using these types of send fuels is that they have low net energy values in other words they are expensive to extract and expensive to process and the extraction of them and the processing of them do exert severe environmental impacts so let’s look at some of those environmental impacts one thing that I want to point out on this slide is that we have impacts pertaining to the combustion or burning of fossil fuels which are very different from the impacts pertaining to the extraction of those fossil fuels you definitely need to be able to differentiate between those two things in terms of the combustion of fossil fuels one of the biggest issues you’re probably aware of this is climate change because fossil fuels being carbon-based release carbon dioxide emissions carbon dioxide emissions have been steadily increasing since the onset of the Industrial Revolution when we started to burn fossil fuels at a great rate we’re going to talk a lot more about climate change in its impacts in a few weeks in addition to the carbon dioxide emissions there are other gaseous emissions that might affect human health directly in other words they might be carcinogenic they might contribute to smog they might contribute to acid deposition these are pollutants other than carbon dioxide which is a gas that is naturally present in our atmosphere and not technically a pollutant at all carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and that’s what makes it problematic but there are other dangerous emissions associated with burning fossil fuels additionally as these deposits are released into our atmosphere they tend to fall with rain and are deposited into sources such as surface waters these can be deposited directly into surface waters they can be deposited as runoff from point sources like factories they can be deposited as runoff from non-point for sources like cars and homes and businesses but again all of those things are impacts associated with the burning or combustion of fossil fuels then we have to look at the impacts of the extraction of fossil fuels so the first one is water pollution in the form of large oil spills that’s one of the main things that you have all heard about we’ve had some really big oil spills in your lifetime and in addition we have the slow release from these drilling operations that pollutes water sources at a slower rate over time furthermore coal mines aside from oil drilling produce chemical runoff this chemical runoff can acidify local surface water this is called acid mine drainage you can see in this picture the water that looks an orangish brown color highly acidic a pH of 1 or 2 nothing can live in that once again that’s due to the chemical runoff from the coal mine being combined with water just from precipitation additionally aside from those forms of pollution we have habitat destruction which is associated from mining operations this would particularly be true of strip mining operations and mountaintop removal because those are moving away the soil from the top of the oil reserves and also we have habitat destruction from the development such as roads around those mining and drilling operations when we start to have development then that of course means

that the vegetation is removed when the vegetation is removed the soil is exposed nothing is holding it in place and that can lead to soil erosion which is further habitat destruction so one of the problems with talking about fossil fuels is that it’s all very doom and gloom but there are solutions that are being looked at solutions that are being developed so one of those is called clean coal technology clean coal technology aims to remove chemical contaminants from the coal these would be the contaminants that are causing those more dangerous forms pollution like sulfur contaminants these clean coal technologies basically wash the coal before it’s burned so that those contaminants aren’t present in the emissions this can be done through chemical conversion or through physical removal another technique is called coal gasification you’ll remember that coal is one of the resources that we have plenty of for now and there are ways to potentially extend its use into other applications one of those ways is to convert the solid coal into a cleaner synthetic gas I’ll show you a picture of that in just a minute the next one is called carbon capture and storage or CCS first for short this is also called sequestration this is one of the technologies that’s most promising you can imagine that when we talk about capturing and storing a gas that is a difficult proposition of gases invisible for the most part and trying to contain it and put it somewhere away from the atmosphere is more difficult than most people think so these CCS techniques consist of capturing the carbon dioxide that are being emitted that is being emitted from factories or from drilling operations and then converting it maybe to liquid form and storing it and deep wells underground so it is sequester bird away from the atmosphere where it can’t contribute to climate change issues going back to coal gasification you can see the large seam of coal underground we have air going in on the left air moving through the coal being pumped out on the right as a gaseous form this is really simplified as you can probably tell but the idea is easy to see taking the coal and converting it to a gaseous form to use in different applications there is legislation in place when it comes to coal technologies there are regulations for example federal regulations laws that require restoration from strip mining operations in other words mining operations can’t just come in totally destroy a piece of land and leave it there they have to do some sort of restoration to bring it back closer to what it looked like before they started mining there this legislation is a step in the right direction but it definitely does not require them to restore it to the state that it was before they started politically socially and economically economically one of the things that we as citizens of the United States have to be thinking about is our dependency on foreign energy because we use so much energy we have adequate fossil fuels of some types like colon a chiral gas but we have less of those fossil fuels like oil any nation that lacks adequate fossil fuel reserves is vulnerable to the nations that have it in this graph you can see the nations of the world that have the highest crew oil production over a couple of decades and you can see the United States is on there so we’re definitely a part of the production line but maybe not as much as

OPEC OPEC stands for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries would be something that you need to know the seller nations such as the OPEC countries have some control over energy prices they can force buyer nations to pay more as supplies begin to dwindle so that does lead us to an economically vulnerable state it can lead to political instability has social implications as gas prices rise we have less freedoms to travel for example in the United States there is policy in place because of the link between the oil supply and the prices and our economic stability so for example the United States may politically support countries that supply us with oil we may look to developing domestic sources of energy domestic meaning sources of energy that are found within our country’s borders sometimes this is a very short term solution sometimes we know that there is oil present in a particular place we know that there is not very much oil present in that particular place so if we go drilling for that oil we are potentially contributing to long-term environmental problems while only offering a very short-term solution in terms of our energy needs the US has diversified its sources of petroleum in some cases drilling for oil within our country’s borders for example right off the coast of North Carolina the US has established a short-term supply of oil to help to buffer against future shortages and finally and this should be something that should be moved to the top of the list we are beginning to fund research into renewable energy and we have enacted some conservation measures but no matter how you look at it fossil fuels are finite they are definitely non-renewable whether they’re gone within our lifetime or our children’s lifetime or even after that the fact remains that once it’s gone it’s gone so investing in renewable energy other alternative sources of energy diversifying sources of energy that is where the true solution lies so in the short term what we need to be thinking about is how we can extend the supply of fossil fuels that we have while moving into research and investing into alternative energy sources the best method is through energy conservation and efficiency and these are two different things that are commonly confused starting with efficiency efficiency is defined as the ability to obtain a given result or amount of output while using less energy input there are lots of examples of energy efficiency for example efficient cars cars have cafe standards cafe stands for corporate average fuel efficiency these are benchmarks that are set by policy makers that automobile manufacturers have to meet the thing is the technology exists out there for us to have much better fuel efficiency in all of our vehicles the technology exists even if we’re not talking about hybrid or electric vehicles car manufacturers are hesitant to put those technologies into place because they are often funded at least in part by the oil companies this is a problem you can see in this chart some of the cafe standards for the different makes and models of cars that we have around the world or I should say around the United States and how those cafe standards are getting more rigorous over time additionally we have alternative technology vehicles we have things like electric cars gas electric hybrids and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles electric cars are getting a lot of press

right now one thing that I do want to point out is that if it’s an electric car it is still fossil fuel based because that electric car has to be plugged in to recharge the battery when you plug in something into an outlet that tells do power down the road to burn more coal to produce the electricity that is going to be pulled by whatever is pulled plugged in so this is not a long long term solution on the other hand a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle could be a hydrogen fuel cell involves using hydrogen as the source of fuel and as you can see in this diagram the emissions is water now water is a greenhouse gas we’ve talked about that before water vapor so whenever you solve one problem in many ways you create another but this can be managed and this is something that we have a ready supply of hydrogen and would produce many less emissions in terms of climate change and in terms of human health and environmental damage the main issue here right now is how to extract the hydrogen right now the hydrogen has to be extracted through electricity and most of our electricity production is through coal burning so once again fossil fuel-based but if we can find a way to extract that hydrogen using perhaps solar power then it becomes a much more viable source of energy for the future in our homes we can implement energy efficient lighting almost everybody uses CFLs compact fluorescent light bulbs in one way or another nail which are much much more efficient than the normal incandescent light bulbs that we’ve used in the past once again you can’t do just one thing these compact fluorescents do come with the price they are produced using mercury mercury is poisonous gas a heavy metal that can cause brain damage so if you break a compact fluorescent light bulb you need to get out of the house you need to open your windows you need to make sure that any young children are removed from the area for a significant period of time you can’t do just one thing whenever we try to create solutions to a problem we tend to create other problems in its wake another way to implement energy efficiency in our homes is to buy Energy Star appliances when we buy appliances now they come with an Energy Guide label which shows the estimated yearly operating cost and the estimated yearly electricity usage and that’s shown in comparison to other appliances that are similar so buying Energy Star appliances might cost you more upfront but you save money over time in electricity costs cogeneration is a method in which the excess heat that is produced during the generation of electricity is captured and used to heat nearby homes and businesses so power plants have to be configured this way it’s not as easy as just saying well let’s just have let’s just start doing that down at Duke power a cogeneration plant is constructed in such a way that this is possible so if you look at the cogeneration plant we have the fuel going in we have a small amount of loss a large percentage of that fuel is being used for electricity another percentage is being used for heat because as we produce electricity heat is a byproduct whereas in the normal power production what most power plants use we have much more heat being lost then we have being used for that in home generation production of heat so efficiency allows us to get more out of the same amount it allows us to use a given amount of energy a given amount of energy resource but yet get more from it conservation on the other hand describes the practice of reducing energy use period so there are personal choices that we can make these would be things like driving less to

save oil this would be carpooling or using mass transit we can dial down our thermostats for example setting our heat to 68 degrees in the winter and wearing a sweater instead of jacking it up to 73 in the summer the same thing goes setting our thermostats at a slightly higher temperature and wearing fewer clothes rather than making it frigidly cold in our houses it can be simple as turning off the lights around unused spaces this school has the hallway lights on this is not something that can be controlled by the way by the custodians the hallway lights stay on 24 hours a day 365 days a year that is tremendously wasteful so you have many personal choices that you can make to help with the conservation of electricity you can also let your voice be heard in trying to resolve some of these things that have always just been the status quo we have an energy club here at Butler if you’d like to get involved please let me know policy can also be used to help with energy conservation one of these things is unpopular for example increasing taxes on the use of gasoline but the fact is people will conserve when they feel it in their pocketbook when gas prices go up people drive less it is a fact one of the reasons that our gas prices have been able to stay at a relatively constant rate for the past several years is because our united states government subsidizes that industry in other words they put money in which reflects back on the consumer in a reduced cost the price that we pay for gasoline is much less than it actually ought to be because our government subsidizes the industry you may be thinking thank you government I appreciate that but the fact is if we are serious about reducing youth of these fossil fuels it will happen more quickly when prices go up so even though it may be an unpopular thing reducing these subsidies or increasing taxes is one method that would encourage that energy conservation