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The Impact Of Fossil Fuels

  • Date Submitted: 09/18/2012 01:12 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 38.8 
  • Words: 994
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Fossil fuels are of great importance because they can be burned (oxidized to carbon dioxide and water), producing significant amounts of energy per unit weight. The use of coal as a fuel predates recorded history. Coal was used to run furnaces for the melting of metal ore. Semi-solid hydrocarbons from seeps were also burned in ancient times, but these materials were mostly used for waterproofing and embalming. Natural gas is a major source of electricity generation through the use of gas turbines and steam turbines. Most grid peaking power plants and some off-grid engine-generators use natural gas. Particularly high efficiencies can be achieved through combining gas turbines with a steam turbine in combined cycle mode. Natural gas burns more cleanly than other hydrocarbon, such as oil and coal, and produces less carbon dioxide per unit of energy released. For an equivalent amount of heat, burning natural gas produces about 30% less carbon dioxide than burning petroleum and about 45% less than burning coal. Combined cycle power generation using natural gas is thus the cleanest source of power available using hydrocarbon fuels and this technology is widely used wherever gas can be obtained at a reasonable cost. Fuel cell technology may eventually provide cleaner options for converting natural gas into electricity, but as yet it is not price-competitive. The chemical structure of petroleum is heterogeneous, composed of hydrocarbon chains of different lengths. Because of this, petroleum may be taken to oil refineries and the hydrocarbon chemicals separated by distillation and treated by other chemical processes, to be used for a variety of purposes. Coal is primarily used as a solid fuel to produce electricity and heat through combustion. World coal consumption was about 6.75 billion short in 2006 and is expected to increase 48% to 9.98 billion short tons by 2030. China produced 2.38 billion tons in 2006.India produced about 447.3 million tons in 2006. 68.7% of China's...

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