Fossil Fuels

Fossil fuels are a non-renewable source of energy. Formed from decomposed animals and plants that existed up to 300 million years ago, fossil fuels are located in the deposits beneath the earth.

14,714 Questions
Fossil Fuels

What are fossil fuels?

Coal, oil and natural gas.

Traditionally, a fossil fuel is any hydrocarbon that may be used as a source of energy. Coal, oil and natural gas are the three basic fossil fuels, formed 300 million years ago from organic plant and animal life subjected to great heat and pressure under the ground. They are classes as non-renewable sources of energy.

Note: the energy contained in a fossil fuel is the Sunlight energy that fell on the Earth in the past when the plant and animal life that comprises the fossil fuel was living.

Note: there have been hydrocarbons found in other places in the solar system (for instance Titan and Mars), and geologic sources of hydrocarbons are also possible, though the primary source on Earth is organic.

Longer answer

Fossil fuels are made primarily from anaerobic decomposition of plankton deposited in seas and oceans millions of years ago. There is some small component derived from plants and animals that were buried in prehistoric swamps and then put under high pressure for millions of years from the weight of the Earth's crust.

Over millions of years of time, heat and pressure turned the decomposing remains of the fossilized plants and animal into fuels, which release energy when burned. The fossil fuels include coal, petroleum, and natural gas which contain high percentages of carbon.

More information

Fossil fuels were formed from prehistoric plants and animals that lived millions of years ago. When these living things died, they decomposed and got buried under the layers of mud, rock and sand. Millions of years passed and the dead plants and animals slowly decomposed into organic material and fossil fuels.

The oil we use today comes from the decomposed remains of prehistoric plankton that fell to the seabed of ancient oceans and became entombed in the sediments forming there.

Coal is generally considered to be compressed plant matter from huge trees that became extinct many millions of years ago.

Fossil Fuels are hydrocarbons such as coal, oil and natural gas, sourced from the organic remains of prehistoric organisms. When these fuels are burnt, the energy released can be harnessed to produce electricity, power vehicles, heat homes, cook food and much more. They are also used in the production of important materials such as plastics.

Fossil fuels are called non-renewable resources because, once they have been used-up, it may take the Earth another 100 million years before anymore may be formed, if ever!


Fossil fuels are formed by photosynthesis in anaerobic organisms and plants which used the Sun's energy to split carbon dioxide into carbon and oxygen. The age of the organisms and their resulting fossil fuels is typically millions of years and sometimes exceeds 650 million years. Fossil fuels contain high percentages of carbon and include coal, petroleum, and natural gas. When the carbon in the fuel is burnt with oxygen from the atmosphere, the energy that was used in photosynthesis is released and carbon dioxide is re-formed.

Fossil Fuels

What are the problems with using or burning fossil fuels?

The use of fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) is a problem because the burning of these fuels in industry, transport and the generation of electricity releases carbon dioxide (CO2). This is causing global warming and climate change.

A second problem is that they are not renewable, so when we burn them they are finished. It is becoming more and more difficult to find oil and natural gas, and the methods being used are becoming more expensive with more dangerous side-effects (Fracking is an example where chemicals are pumped underground to break open the gas seams.).

Fossil Fuels

What is the solute and solvent in gasoline?

I'm not sure what you mean, commercial gasoline is a blend of linear and aromatic hydrocarbons averaging about 8 carbon atoms per molecule with various additives for various purposes (e.g. keep engine clean, reduce pollutants, stabilize mixture, improve starting in cold weather).

Gasoline is a solvent, but if you was a solvent for cleaning parts there are far safer ones that work as well.

Fossil Fuels
Natural Gas

Specific gravity of natural gas?

specific gravity for common natural gas : 0.55 to 0.7

Specific gravity is unitless and is give the density of the gas divided by the density of air at 20C and 1bar.

Commercial Bank and Checking Accounts
Fossil Fuels

Can you buy gasoline with a check?

usually not

No,you can not. In order to buy gasoline you need to use cash,credit or debit.

Global Warming
Fossil Fuels

How can fossil fuels harm the environment?

  • Burning fossil fuels creates pollution and pollution is bad for the environment.
  • they produce harmful greenhouse gasses
  • Burning fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide emissions that add to the greenhouse effect. This is causing global warming and climate change.
  • Fossil Fuels are fuels formed by natural resources. It harms the environment because every time we use it, carbon dioxide goes into the air.


What is the environmental impact of the extraction, transport and use of fossil fuels?

The major fossil fuels we use are oil, natural gas and coal.

The oil spill now occurring in the Gulf of Mexico is an unintended consequence in the extraction of fossil fuels. Tanker accidents resulting in oil spillage are another way that fossil fuels impact our environment.

These impacts may harm the ecosystem, but the ecosystem may recover from spills. One of the largest oil spills occurred during the Kuwait war (see associated link), but the Persian sea (Arabian sea) has recovered.

The environmental impacts of burning fossil fuels has resulted in acid rain. The combustion process produces sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and carbon dioxide, which combined with water vapor in clouds produces various acids.

The carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels is considered by many scientific organization to add to climate change or global warming. There is considerable information and technical reports available on the internet. The impacts of acid rain and global warming may be much more long lasting as they are difficult to reverse. A number of related links are included.

Fossil Fuels

How can you prevent burning fossil fuels?

By using alternatives, such as renewable energy makers, renewable energy (solar, wind, water, hydro, tidal and wave, geothermal, ocean thermal, biomass, biofuel and hydrogen).

Fossil Fuels

What is residual oil saturation?

Residual oil saturation is oil saturation that can not be produced from an oil reservoir from gas or water displacement. It is usually considered the immobile oil saturation after conventional (gas or water displacement).

1) It is can be based on result from a laboratory test. A core sample (rock sample in the shape of a cylinder) is taken from a reservoir is first saturated with oil and then displaced (pushed out) with water or gas. The test is ended when no more oil can be produced from this core. The oil that can not be pushed out and remains in the core is termed "residual oil." The residual oil to gas displacement may be different from the residual oil from water displacement. The residual oil in this case is a laboratory estimate.

2) It can be based measurement made in a well. If a zone in a reservoir is producing only gas or water, it may be assumed that the oil has been completely displaced. In this case, special tools are lowered in the well and the oil saturation is determined. The residual oil in this case is a field estimate.

There are a number of unconventional means (or enhanced recovery techniques) to displace the residual oil. A common means is injection of carbon dioxide or an enriched gas at high pressures which can partially dissolve the residual oil.

Fossil Fuels
Oil and Petroleum

Constituents of petroleum and its uses?

Petroleum consists of various gasses (oxygen, carbon gasses), metals (Nickel, Iron, Vanadium, Copper), and complex hydrocarbons (Alkanes, Cyclo-Alkanes, and Arenes). Petroleum is used for several things; fuel, plastics, waxes, Asphalt, lubricant and pesticides to name a few.

Fossil Fuels
Newtons Laws of Motion

What are the example of liquid fuel?

There are many examples, depending upon the use. Most often, liquid fuel is described as an option as compared to solid fuel.

Rockets are one example where both solid and liquid fuels may be used. Liquid hydrogen is the common rocket liquid fuel.

Cooking stoves can use solid or liquid fuel, in addition to gas. The most common cooking stove liquid fuel is alcohol.

Fossil Fuels
Chemical Energy

List and describe 3 fossil fuels?

Coal, natural gas, and oil are all examples of fossil fuels. Coal was formed in the warm tropical swamps that were located near the equator. It must be mined, that is the only way to get to it. Natural gas was formed by bacteria partially decomposed the organic materials mixed with sediment. This released methane gas as a waste product. This gas makes up part of the natural gas we use for energy. Oil was formed in a similar way. Millions of years ago earth was covered with shallow seas. Rivers carried sediments into these seas. Organisms that died were also washed into the seas as part of the sediment. Scientists believe that oil formed from those decayed plants and animals.

Special thanks to Patti Hutchison

Global Warming
Fossil Fuels

Where do fossil fuels get carbon from?

oil and gas are hydrocarbons so they contain hydrogen and carbon

e.g. methane is CH4 (one carbon and four hydrogen atoms)

Fossil Fuels
Oil Wells and Fields

How fast can an oil well be drilled?

There is no standard time to drill a well. It depends on a number of factors. An important factor is depth. A well drilled on land with an objective of the heavy oil sands in Bakersfield, California, may be drilled tp a depth of less than 200 ft, and be completed in less than a week. A well drilled offshore, Gulf of Mexico may take 2 - 3 months with target sands 10,000 to 12,000 ft below the sea floor. If production tests are conducted, this may take several more weeks.

Fossil Fuels

What does hydrocarbon fuel contain?

Hydrocarbon fuels contain a mixture of molecules classified as "hydrocarbons" along with various other non-hydrocarbon components which may or may not have fuel value. A hydrocarbon is a molecule that has a carbon backbone with hydrogen attached along the backbone. Simplest hydrocarbon is Methane (CH4). Hydrocarbons are generally associated with fossil fuels, but need not come just from fossil fuels. For example: Methane is a common byproduct of decaying organic matter. Global warming alarmists have noted the large amount of methane emitted from belching and flatulent cattle.

Hydrocarbon fuels usually contain other organic and inorganic compounds such as alcohols, keytones, ethers, and esters. They may contain partially oxygenated and nitrated compounds. Some contain hydrogen sulfide and other sulfur compounds. Since many (if not most) hydrocarbon fuels are fossil fuels and fossils are found in the ground - other common components of the ground (aka "dirt") are also mixed in with the hydrocarbon fuels. These inorganic compounds usually manifest themselves as ash after the hydrocarbon fuel is burned. Some of the common inorganic components are silica compounds and metals, although other nonmetallic components like Boron may also be present.

Units of Measure
Fossil Fuels

How many gallons are in a barrel of oil?

There are 42 gallons (1 U.S. gallon = 3.78 liters) in a barrel (i.e., 1 barrel of oil = 159 liters). When converting to oil to Metric Tonnes (MT), there is around 7.3 BBL per MT, and 304 Gallons per MT.

Originally there were 40 gallons to a barrel. However, that was changed in the mid-19th century to give a little extra so consumers wouldn't feel "cheated."

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 1 "BBL" of crude oil makes about 17 gallons of gasoline, 12 gallons of gasoil, 7 gallons of jet fuel or kerosene, while lubricants, light naphtha and asphalt makes up the rest. This ratio depends on the crude type and varies a lot.

The easy way to remember the number of gallons in a barrel of oil: There are 7 letters in gallons and 6 letters in barrel. 7X6=42 gallons.

42 US gallons.


Fossil Fuels
Oil and Petroleum

What is an example of crude oil?

The black stuff that comes "up from the ground comes a bubblin' crude, oil that is, black gold, Texas tea..." ;)

Fossil Fuels
Chemical Energy

What is definition of oil energy?

It is' fossil' sunlight energy. See related question below for more information.

Fossil Fuels
Oil and Petroleum

When did british petroleum become beyond petroleum?

After several mergers and acquisitions with companies such as Castrol, ARCO and latterly Amaco, British Petroleum changed it's name to BP Amaco, by this time the majority of its shares were in European and US ownership, in 2000 it re branded to the current name BP with the new slogan "Beyond Petroleum"

Cooking Measurements
Fossil Fuels

How many BTU's per gallon of liquid propane?

The Dept. of Energy says 91,330. The American Gas Association says 91,600.

Environmental Issues
Fossil Fuels
Energy Conservation
Oil and Petroleum
Natural Gas

What are the advantages and disadvantages of natural gas for our planet?

  • Natural gas (largely methane) burns more cleanly than the other fossil fuels (45% less carbon dioxide emitted than coal and 30% less than oil)
  • It is easily transported via pipelines and fairly easily using tankers (land and sea)
  • It can be piped into homes to provide heating and cooking and to run a variety of appliances.
  • Where homes are not piped, it can be supplied in small tanks.
  • It can be used as a fuel for vehicles (cars, trucks and jet engines) where it is cleaner than gasoline or diesel.
  • It is used to produce ammonia for fertilizers, and hydrogen, as well as in the production of some plastics and paints.
  • It's relatively abundant, clean burning and seems easy to distribute.
  • It's also lighter than air, so if there is a leak it will tend to dissipate, unlike propane, which is heavier than air and pools into explosive pockets.
  • It can be used for heating, cooking, hot water, clothes dryer, backup generator power, and so forth.
  • Some places will supply it to your house by way of underground pipes.
  • Natural gas is more economical than electricity,
  • it is faster when used in cooking and water heating and most gas appliances are cheaper than electrical ones.
  • Gas appliances also do not create unhealthy electrical fields in your house.
  • Even though it is cleaner than coal and oil, it still contributes a large amount of carbon dioxide to greenhouse gases.
  • By itself natural gas is mostly methane, which is 21 times more dangerous for greenhouse warming than carbon dioxide so any leakage of the gas (from animals, landfills, melting tundra, etc) contributes strongly to greenhouse emissions.
  • If your house is not properly insulated it can be very expensive.
  • It can leak, potentially causing an explosion.
A:1. Natural gas use requires a separate and special plumbing system inside structures.

2. Natural gas is colorless, tasteless, AND IS ODORLESS IF IT IS NATURAL, requiring the addition of an odorant [one or more of several "Mercaptans"] to allow olfactory detection [smell] of leaks.

3. When gas from an underground leak travels great distances [underground], the odorant can be "scrubbed out" of the gas, thereby rendering it again ODORLESS, and therefore a severe explosion and fire hazard.

4. Being a fossil fuel, it is carbon based, and its byproducts of combustion include carbon compounds [such as carbon dioxide and/or monoxide] which contribute to the environmentally damaging "greenhouse effect."


One disadvantage is that burning it creates CO2 emissions (although not as much as oil or coal), and CO2 is a greenhouse gas. Natural gas itself is actually a very strong greenhouse gas also (much more than CO2 in fact). Another disadvantage is that it can leak and cause fires and/or explosions.

A:As noted above, Natural Gas is a fossil fuel. I am skeptical of calculations that it produces less carbon dioxide than other fossil fuels, although it does burn cleanly and efficiently.

In some places, Natural Gas is considered a waste gas, and excess methane is just burnt in the atmosphere without using any of the energy it carries. For efficiency, we should be utilizing all of our fossil fuel hydrocarbons.

Some communities are now investing in recovering natural gas from garbage dumps and farming for energy production. There is more of this that we could be doing.

As far as fueling automobiles with either Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) or Liquid Natural Gas (LNG), the refueling process is slow (slower than using propane), and high pressures are required. And there are dangers of carrying around CNG or LNG tanks in vehicles.

A:If we are to believe scientists concerning global warming, we need to look at the two products here. Natural gas is mostly methane (as previously pointed out). Natural gas also escapes into our air naturally. Methane is many times more of a forcing agent in terms of green house effect. Converting methane into Carbon dioxide (a less substantial green house gas) would reduce our overall forcing in terms of real forcing.

There are several advantages to using compressed natural gas (CNG) to power vehicles. First, it is the cleanest burning fuel available. This reduces harmful emissions, which helps air quality. Secondly, there is an abundance of natural gas right below our feet. Increasing the production of natural gas would make the US less reliant on foreign sources for its energy, which would also help its national security. Third, as a result of the abundance of natural gas, it is much cheaper than diesel or gasoline. There are many areas throughout the US where natural gas is close to or less than $2 per gallon.
A: The gas orduces lots of energy and is easy to transport using pipelines.

D: It produces more pollution than oil and if it leaks natural gas can cause a big explosion and/or fire


Advantages of natural gas:

- It is a very clean burning fuel

- There is an abundance of it throughout the world - the U.S. has the 6th largest reserve of natural gas in the world

- It is about half the price of gasoline

- It can be used in vehicles and is very efficient

- It is used to heat most homes

- It is easy to recover it from shale

Disadvantages of natural gas:

- There are only about 1,000 fueling stations across the U.S. open to the public

- There aren't very many cars that use it yet
One advantage of natural gas is its abundance in the U.S. Our country has the 6th largest natural gas reserve in the world. Natural gas also has the advantage of being the cleanest burning fuel available.
its renewable!!

it can help keep other gases from the destroying the atmosphere(good for the enviornment)

and it also made vampires decay in the caves back then so there arent any more alive...(or are there?)
Also natural gas is used for fuel... and other things that have to use power
Natural gas is a carbon fuel so burning it generates the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. However this produces less carbon dioxide than the same amount of energy from burning oil or coal, so natural gas is slightly cleaner than other fossil fuels.

Fossil Fuels

What are used to make fossil fuels?


Haha, just kidding.

Really, it's just just a bunch of decayed plant matter; plants that were alive millions of years ago.

Artificial Satellites
Fossil Fuels
Natural Gas

How many kilos of natural gas are in a therm?

1 Therm is 100,000 BTU, and as there are 1000 BTU in 1 cubic foot of gas, 1 Therm = 100 cubic feet. Density of methane = 0.72 kg/cubic meter which is 35.3 cubic feet, so 100 cubic feet = 2.04 kg

Fossil Fuels

Is plutonium a fossil fuel?

No Plutonium is a metallic element and has no connection with any type of fosil fuel. The energy derived from plutonium is as a result of its radioactivity. not from energy derived originally from the sun through photosynthesis, as is the case with fossil fuels.

Earth Sciences
Fossil Fuels
Oil and Petroleum

How is petroleum stored in ground formations?

Petroleum occurs in porous and permeable rock which is surrounded by less porous and impermeable rock which prevents or slows its eventual escape to a body of water or the surface.

Nuclear Energy
Fossil Fuels

Why is nuclear energy better than fossil fuels?

It is better for the environment because it does not release polluting gases like fossil fuels do.


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