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What is it?






solid fossil fuel: Fossilized plant

material (carboniferous 286-360 mya)
- mostly carbon with small amts of sulfur,
mercury and radioactive material
- Peat (not really coal) decayed plant
matter in swamps/bogs
- Lignite (brown coal): low heat content,
low sulfur content
- Bituminous Coal (soft coal): widely
used, has high heat content, large
supplies! High sulfur content
- Anthracite (hard coal): highly
desirable high heat and low sulfur, but
limited supplies
**Most abundant fossil fuel 10 X the
energy of oil and natural gas reserves
- Supply could last 215-1,125 years
- U.S. has proven coal reserves

- petroleum or crude oil is a thick, dark liquid consisting of

hundreds of combustible hydrocarbons (with some sulfur,
oxygen, and nitrogen impurities) made in a similar fashion
to coalfossilized microorganisms
Crude oil is converted into a number of petroleum products
through a refining process (distillation process-cracking
tower)-energy intensive process *(8% of all US energy use)

- underground gas 50-90% methane by volume.

Also some ethane, propane, and butane (trace
amounts of toxic hydrogen sulfide)
- formed in similar way to coal and oil. (microorg)
- Conventional natural gas: above oil reserves
(much is viewed as unwanted byproduct and is
burned offwhat a waste!!)
- Unconventional natural gas: methane hydrate
(bubbles of natural gas trapped in ice crystals)
globally, the amount of methane hydrate energy is
2X coal, oil and natural gas combined. Currently
too expensive to extract


-Underground mining (very dangerous but

less environmental impact)
-Area strip mining: remove surface soil to
expose shallow coal reserves (very damaging
to environment)


- used mostly to produce electricity and steel.

(62% worlds electric)



air pollution: high CO2, SO2, mercury,

radioactive material, particulates, lead
very high env. Impact (land disturbance)

- large supply, high net energy, technological

remedies for pollution problem.

- asphaltgrease/waxdiesel oil/home heating

oilkerosene/plane fuelgasolinenatural gases

proven versus unproven reserves

11 OPEC nations control 78% of proven reserve
Saudi Arabia 25% of reserve, Canada 15%
US, 2.9% world reserve
ANWR: 20% chance to meet US oil demand for 7-24
- oil is trapped in pores and cracks deep in the earth )often
in sandstone/limestone). Wells are dug into the rock to
pump it out.
- Typically, only 35-50% of usable oil is extracted from an
oil deposit. Too expensive to extract the remainder (inject
water/steam) *Net energy ratio declining
- most widely used energy resource in world
provides about 1/3 of energy we use for heating homes and
running vehicles
- also used to create fertilizers, pesticides, plastics
- U.S. uses 26% of extracted crude oil
- Oil still abundant and cheap, but the end is in sight.
40-100 yrs. Consequences? **Hubbert Curve
- oil drilling has limited env. impact (angle drilling) but
oil spills can be devastating.
- Gone in 50 years, CO2 release, air pollution,subsidized
price means resource is wasted (not true env. cost)
- similar to coal, but easily transported and distributed.

Most in Russia and Middle East.

Current supplies could last world 60-120 years
at current use and up to 200 yrs with
unconventional supplies.

- if a gas pipeline exists, it is pumped directly

from petroleum reserves.
- propane and butane are liquefied and removed.
Remaining methane dried, cleansed of hydrogen
sulfide, and pumped into pressurized pipelines for
- burned to heat space and water, generate
electricity and propel vehicles.

- release of methane itself (greenhouse gas) in

transport and CO2 when burned, difficult to
transport internationally, requires construction of
High energy efficiency (50-60%), low CO2
emissions compared to oil/coal. , easily transported
by pipeline.