Fossil Fuels

Recent reports on the current status of the reserves of fossil fuels point to a the need to switch to alternative energies such as Solar Power. The thinking behind our current economic policies has driven an exponential increase in our energy usage over the last 100 years. Unfortunately, the worldwide reserves of oil, gas and coal are limited.

Even without considering environmental impacts, it is clear that at some stage we will not be able to meet our ever increasing energy needs from a finite supply of these non-renewable resources.

To gain the best understanding of how to address our dependence on fossil fuels we need to be fully informed. Follow the links for more background information – with knowledge we can make informed, intelligent decisions that give all of us and the planet the best results.

How are fossil fuels formed?

The processes that have lead to the formation of coal are different to those that produced oil and gas. There is also a body of evidence that suggests abiotic oil formation, which has significant implications on the current state of our estimated energy reserves. Find out about the conditions required for the formation of these essential energy sources, and how the fractional distillation of crude oil turns the raw material into useful products.

Sources of fossil energy supplies

We all take for granted filling up the car or turning on the television, but where does the fuel for these come from? Different sources of fossil fuels need to be extracted according to type and location.

How do fossil fuel power stations generate electricity?

We all use electricity every day, and now we can have the facts on how it is generated. Understanding how fossil fuel power stations generate electricity is important if we are to have productive discussion about this at both the personal and governmental levels.

Why is burning fossil energy supplies a bad idea?

Take a look at what happens on a chemical scale when burning fossil fuels. Follow the journey of a simple methane molecule all the way to its transformation into the undesirable Carbon Dioxide.

There are other issues associated with combustion of fossil energy sources. Smog air pollution is a significant health risk to those living in built up areas and despite some measures to improve the situation, photochemical smog continues to pose noticable health risks to city dwellers. Carbon Monoxide Pollution is produced from incomplete fuel combustion and can be detrimental to health even in low doses.

Different types of engines also contribute to either clean or dirty emissions. Four stroke engines are by far the most environmentally friendly version of the internal combustion engine and are used in almost all cars in service today. The two stroke engine is a popular choice for smaller applications, but the 2 stroke exhaust gases are a serious cause for concern.

LPG: is it really an alternative fossil fuel?

LPG has been touted as a good replacement for gasoline, with many governments now keen to reduce their dependence on oil supplies, particularly those from outside the country. What about its environmental credentials though? Is it really an alternative fossil fuel? Find out here.

What are the advantages of fossil fuels?

There are significant advantages of fossil energies for developed countries to continue using these energy sources. The existing infrastructures and economies of most developed nations can at present only survive with continued consumption of fossil energy.

Will fossil energy supplies run out?

Will the supplies of fuels we use today come to an end? Fossil energy sources by their very nature are a limited resource, though some are far more abundant than others.

There is a lot of discussion about Peak Oil facts and global oil production. Are the reserves about to run out, and how do recent discoveries like the Bakken Oil Field change this outlook?

The trend in Australian petrol prices is a reflection of the global rise in oil prices. What, if anything, can be done about this situation?
Improved fossil fuel technology.
There has been a lot of talk about it, but can Clean Coal live up to the hype? Find out how this experimental technology works and its possible impacts on global greenhouse emissions.

There are also many varieties of petrol, or gasoline, available for use in vehicles with different Octane ratings. Some of these are supposedly better than others, but what is Octane and what does the rating on the pump really mean?

How does carbon dioxide cause the greenhouse effect?

Find out how the much discussed Carbon Dioxide contributes to global warming, also known as the Greenhouse Effect. Understanding the science behind the discussion is an essential motivator for sustained reduction in personal emissions.

Will the Greenhouse Effect affect me, and how?

It’s a burning issue in the minds of all of us. What will the impacts of global warming be on us and our children?

What about Nuclear Energy?

Nuclear powered reactors are capable of producing vast amounts of electricity with no greenhouse gas emissions, which is clearly a great benefit given current concerns about climate change. Find out how a nuclear fission reaction allows us to produce this power, and how a nuclear power plant works.

What are the dangers of this energy source, and how likely are large scale catastrophes from malfunctioning nuclear power stations? Also find out what fuels are involved in nuclear power stations and what the term enrichment means in Nuclear Power Information: Fuel Preparation.

Plastics and Oil

Our need for energy competes directly with our requirement for modern materials. We have become heavily dependent on plastics in everyday items that are both re-usable and disposable, meaning that our dependence on oil goes well beyond fueling our cars. Find out about plastics raw materials, how plastics are produced, which ones can be recycled and more.

A constant rise of 3.3% in energy use may not seem like a lot. It is important to realize though that this is the same as accelerating in a car. Even if we only accelerate a little bit, over time we will end up going ridiculously quickly.

It keeps going up exponentially; have a look at the units on the vertical axis; they are quite a bit higher than in the current graph shown first. Clearly this is impossible to sustain. Yet the trend continues and has done so steadily for some time.

It is quite clearly impossible, since by 2200 we would need to cover almost the entire land surface of the planet with solar panels just to provide Australia with its energy needs, which represents a meagre 0.33% of the global population. Were all countries as high in their energy needs as Australia, we would need 300 earths completely covered in solar panels to provide us with the energy we would need.

I find that having a laugh at things like our energy use helps lighten the load. We are all intelligent people, and surely together we can come up with a solution. We can’t afford a doom-and-gloom approach. I like Fred’s poetic humor site; good for a laugh if it gets too serious.