TESTING YOUR COMPREHENSION
1) Why are fossil fuels our most prevalent source of energy today? Why are they considered nonrenewable sources of energy? Today, the three main fossil fuels that are in demand are oil, coal and natural gas. These fossil fuels are prevalent because they are efficient to burn, ship, and store based on high energy content. Fossil fuels also provide for our daily needs such as transportation, heating, cooking and electricity. Based on our current rates of consumption, we will use up the Earth’s store of fossil fuels faster than created therefore making it a nonrenewable source of energy. After fossil fuels are created and depleted, they cannot be replaced in our civilization. This extremely long process takes thousands of years and if we were to replenish the depleted fossil fuels it would take millions of years. 2) How are fossil fuels formed? How do environmental conditions determine what type of fossil fuel is formed in a given location? Why are fossil fuels often concentrated in localized deposits? Fossil fuels form by preserving the anaerobic decomposition of organic matter. This organic matter then undergoes a slow process of anaerobic decomposition under sediments which form kerogen. After this, geothermal heating and pressure take action to change kerogen to create crude oil and thermogenic natural gas. As a result crude oil and gas rest in porous rock layers. Lastly, coal is formed when plant matter is compacted very tightly that there is little decomposed. Environmental conditions determine what type of fossil fuel is formed in a given location by studying the chemical composition of the starting material, checking the temperatures and pressures of the material, any presence or absence of anaerobic decomposers, and how much time it takes. Fossil fuels are concentrated in localized deposits due to the uneven distribution on earth’s surface because some parts of the world contain more fossil fuels than others. The duration of a nation’s fossil fuel depends on extraction, consumption, and imports/exports to other nations. 4) Describe how coal is used to generate electricity.
In a coal- fired power plant, electricity is generated by combusting coal to convert water to steam and leads to turbine. First, the coal is crushed and blown inside a high temperature furnace. Heat from combustion boils the water and the steam forms into turbine to turn the generator. This generates electricity by passing magnets through copper coils. Thereafter, steam is cooled and compressed in a circling loop and returns to the furnace. 5) How have geologists estimated the total amount of oil beneath the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s 1002 Areas? How does this amount differ from the “technically recoverable” and “economically recoverable” amounts of oil? Geologists use seismic waves to survey the estimated underground geologic conditions at a site. By using techniques of ground, air, and seismic graphs they show measurements that can infer the volume of the underground reserve. At ANWR's 1002 Area, the total reserves are estimated between 11.6 and 31.5 billion barrels. The technically recoverable fraction of that total is between 4.3 and 11.8 billion barrels. The economically recoverable fraction varies with the price per barrel of the oil. At $30 per barrel it would be 3.0 to 10.4 billion barrels. 6) How do we create petroleum products? Provide examples of several of these products. Crude oil is a mix of hydrocarbons, so we can create petroleum products by separating its components. At the start of this process, crude oil is boiled or cooled, generating hydrocarbon components to evaporate and rise through a distillation column. Higher oils are separated from lower oils. As a result the refinement process produces an area of petroleum products such as diesel, gasoline, jet fuel, and other products. Some examples of these petroleum products are a toothbrush, shower curtains, cosmetics, and detergent which are...
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