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Fossil fuel is a term used to describe a group of energy sources that were formed when ancient plants and organisms were subject to intense heat and pressure over millions of years.

FOSSIL FUELS 

Definition

Fossil fuel is a term used to describe a group of energy sources that were formed from ancient plants and organisms during the Carboniferous Period, approximately 360 to 286 million years ago[1]California Energy Commission. “Where fossil fuels come from” Accessed 1.27.2015. http://www.energyquest.ca.gov/story/chapter08.htmlCalifornia Energy Commission. “Where fossil fuels come from” Accessed 1.27.2015. http://www.energyquest.ca.gov/story/chapter08.htmlCalifornia Energy Commission. “Where fossil fuels come from” Accessed 1.27.2015. http://www.energyquest.ca.gov/story/chapter08.htmlCalifornia Energy Commission. “Where fossil fuels come from” Accessed 1.27.2015. http://www.energyquest.ca.gov/story/chapter08.htmlCalifornia Energy Commission. “Where fossil fuels come from” Accessed 1.27.2015. http://www.energyquest.ca.gov/story/chapter08.htmlCalifornia Energy Commission. “Where fossil fuels come from” Accessed 1.27.2015. http://www.energyquest.ca.gov/story/chapter08.htmlCalifornia Energy Commission. “Where fossil fuels come from” Accessed 1.27.2015. http://www.energyquest.ca.gov/story/chapter08.htmlCalifornia Energy Commission. “Where fossil fuels come from” Accessed 1.27.2015. http://www.energyquest.ca.gov/story/chapter08.htmlCalifornia Energy Commission. “Where fossil fuels come from” Accessed 1.27.2015. http://www.energyquest.ca.gov/story/chapter08.htmlCalifornia Energy Commission. “Where fossil fuels come from” Accessed 1.27.2015. http://www.energyquest.ca.gov/story/chapter08.html, prior to the age of dinosaurs.

At that time, the land was covered with swamps filled with microorganisms, marine organisms, trees, ferns and other large leafy plants. As the organisms and plants died, they sank to the bottom of the swamps and oceans and formed layers of a spongy material called peat. Over millions of years, the peat was covered by sand, clay, and other minerals, which converted the peat into sedimentary rock. Over time, different types of fossil fuels formed, depending on the combination of organic matter present, how long it was buried, and what temperature and pressure conditions existed when they were decomposing.[2]US Department of Energy. “Fossil”  http://energy.gov/science-innovation/energy-sources/fossil

US Department of Energy. “Fossil”  http://energy.gov/science-innovation/energy-sources/fossilUS Department of Energy. “Fossil”  http://energy.gov/science-innovation/energy-sources/fossilUS Department of Energy. “Fossil”  http://energy.gov/science-innovation/energy-sources/fossilUS Department of Energy. “Fossil”  http://energy.gov/science-innovation/energy-sources/fossilUS Department of Energy. “Fossil”  http://energy.gov/science-innovation/energy-sources/fossilUS Department of Energy. “Fossil”  http://energy.gov/science-innovation/energy-sources/fossilUS Department of Energy. “Fossil”  http://energy.gov/science-innovation/energy-sources/fossilUS Department of Energy. “Fossil”  http://energy.gov/science-innovation/energy-sources/fossilUS Department of Energy. “Fossil”  http://energy.gov/science-innovation/energy-sources/fossil
 

There are three major types of fossil fuels:[3]US Oil Properties. “Oil and natural gas: What are they and what makes them different?” June 2012. http://www.usoilproperties.com/natural-gas-news/oil-and-natural-gas-what-are-they-and-what-makes-them-different/ US Oil Properties. “Oil and natural gas: What are they and what makes them different?” June 2012. http://www.usoilproperties.com/natural-gas-news/oil-and-natural-gas-what-are-they-and-what-makes-them-different/ US Oil Properties. “Oil and natural gas: What are they and what makes them different?” June 2012. http://www.usoilproperties.com/natural-gas-news/oil-and-natural-gas-what-are-they-and-what-makes-them-different/ US Oil Properties. “Oil and natural gas: What are they and what makes them different?” June 2012. http://www.usoilproperties.com/natural-gas-news/oil-and-natural-gas-what-are-they-and-what-makes-them-different/ US Oil Properties. “Oil and natural gas: What are they and what makes them different?” June 2012. http://www.usoilproperties.com/natural-gas-news/oil-and-natural-gas-what-are-they-and-what-makes-them-different/ US Oil Properties. “Oil and natural gas: What are they and what makes them different?” June 2012. http://www.usoilproperties.com/natural-gas-news/oil-and-natural-gas-what-are-they-and-what-makes-them-different/ US Oil Properties. “Oil and natural gas: What are they and what makes them different?” June 2012. http://www.usoilproperties.com/natural-gas-news/oil-and-natural-gas-what-are-they-and-what-makes-them-different/ US Oil Properties. “Oil and natural gas: What are they and what makes them different?” June 2012. http://www.usoilproperties.com/natural-gas-news/oil-and-natural-gas-what-are-they-and-what-makes-them-different/ US Oil Properties. “Oil and natural gas: What are they and what makes them different?” June 2012. http://www.usoilproperties.com/natural-gas-news/oil-and-natural-gas-what-are-they-and-what-makes-them-different/ US Oil Properties. “Oil and natural gas: What are they and what makes them different?” June 2012. http://www.usoilproperties.com/natural-gas-news/oil-and-natural-gas-what-are-they-and-what-makes-them-different/  

  • Coal is formed from ferns, plants and trees which hardened due to pressure and heat
  • Oil is formed from smaller organisms, like zooplankton and algae. Intense amounts of pressure caused this complex organic matter to decompose into oil
  • Natural Gas undergoes the same process as oil; however the process is longer and subject to higher amounts of heat and pressure, causing further decomposition.

Context

Fossil fuels are the world’s dominant energy source, making up 82% of the global energy supply.[4]International Energy Agency. “Key World Statistics 2014”. 2014International Energy Agency. “Key World Statistics 2014”. 2014International Energy Agency. “Key World Statistics 2014”. 2014International Energy Agency. “Key World Statistics 2014”. 2014International Energy Agency. “Key World Statistics 2014”. 2014International Energy Agency. “Key World Statistics 2014”. 2014International Energy Agency. “Key World Statistics 2014”. 2014International Energy Agency. “Key World Statistics 2014”. 2014International Energy Agency. “Key World Statistics 2014”. 2014International Energy Agency. “Key World Statistics 2014”. 2014 Non-OECD countries hold the majority of proven reserves for all fossil fuels.[5]BP PLC. “BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2014”. June 2014 BP PLC. “BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2014”. June 2014 BP PLC. “BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2014”. June 2014 BP PLC. “BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2014”. June 2014 BP PLC. “BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2014”. June 2014 BP PLC. “BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2014”. June 2014 BP PLC. “BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2014”. June 2014 BP PLC. “BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2014”. June 2014 BP PLC. “BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2014”. June 2014 BP PLC. “BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2014”. June 2014: http://www.bp.com/content/dam/bp-country/de_de/PDFs/brochures/BP-statistical-review-of-world-energy-2014-full-report.pdf These energy sources have powered, and continue to power, the industrialization of nations. They have a variety of applications, from electricity production to transport fuel.  Moreover, fossil fuels are necessary for the production of a variety of common products, such as paints, detergents, polymers (including plastics), cosmetics and some medicines.

Some fossil fuels, such as coal, are an abundant and cheap form of energy. Others, like oil, have a variable cost depending on geographic location. For this reason, geopolitical issues arise due to the geographic allocation of these highly valuable resources.

Fossil fuels are non-renewable resources, as they have taken millions of years to form. Once these resources are used, they will not be replenished. Moreover, fossil fuels are the largest source of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas which contributes to climate change, and their production causes both environmental and human health impacts. These concerns are triggering the world to look at alternate sources of energy that are both less harmful and renewable. Additionally, the gradual depletion of conventional fossil fuel reserves has led companies to develop more challenging reserves.  These unconventional resources usually have higher production costs and a greater risk of environmental impact. 

References

  1. ^ California Energy Commission. “Where fossil fuels come from” Accessed 1.27.2015. http://www.energyquest.ca.gov/story/chapter08.html
  2. ^ US Department of Energy. “Fossil”  http://energy.gov/science-innovation/energy-sources/fossil
  3. ^ US Oil Properties. “Oil and natural gas: What are they and what makes them different?” June 2012. http://www.usoilproperties.com/natural-gas-news/oil-and-natural-gas-what-are-they-and-what-makes-them-different/ 
  4. ^ International Energy Agency. “Key World Statistics 2014”. 2014
  5. ^ BP PLC. “BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2014”. June 2014 

Take a Step Back

Energy

Energy is the capacity of a physical system to perform work.

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Oil

Oil is a fossil fuel and liquid hydrocarbon used mainly for the production of transportation fuels and petroleum-based products.

Natural Gas

Natural Gas is a flammable gas, consisting mainly of methane (CH4), occurring in underground reservoirs often with oil.

Coal

Coal is a combustible black or dark brown rock consisting of carbonized plant matter, found mainly in underground deposits and widely for electricity production.