Coal and petroleum

Coal and petrol as our natural sources

There are 2 types of resources; Inexhaustible Natural Resources and Non-exhaustible resources. Non-Exhaustible resources are found in unlimited quantity in nature. They are not likely to be exhausted by human activities. For example, air and sunlight. On the other hand,  exhaustible natural resources are found in limited quantity. They can be exhausted by human activities. Some of them are petroleum, coal, forests, wildlife, minerals,  natural gas etc. Coal and petroleum fall under fossil fuels and they are non-renewable sources. There was an abundance of fossil fuels until the 80s but the human exploitation is mounting pressure gradually resulting in exhaustion. Since the times of recent industrial revolution, we have been using more and more amounts of energy in various industrial sectors such as automobiles, manufacturing industry, construction industry and many more. This has resulted in the drying out of many reserves of coal and petroleum. The management of these energy sources differs slightly from other resources.


Formation of coal

Coal and petroleum are generated out of the degradation of bio-mass buried at different layers of the earth. When the biomass gets decomposed for many decades, slowly they take the form of fuel such as coal. The underlying material of fossils contain the combination of the vast majority of moist forests with huge trees, shrubs and many ferns that underwent their life -cycle and withered away. As a result, the residues get accumulated at different layers of the earth for millions of years to form a plaque of reserves. Since there is a lot of heat inside the earth`s crust, the materials undergo physical and chemical changes resulting in the formation of carbon-rich material known as fossil fuels. Later on,  The carbon plaques that survive for millions of years turn into coal reserves. Coal is a readily combustible rock with more than 50% of carbon mass in it. Coal is of three types depending on the amount of oxygen, carbon and hydrogen they contain, they are:

  1. Lignite

  2. Bituminous

  3. Anthracite




Formation of petroleum

Petroleum is a fossil found in its liquid form under normal temperature. The liquid is produced as a result of prolonged decomposition of organic(dead)  matter beneath the surface of the earth. The biological material accumulated under different layers of the earth undergoes a series of changes resulting in the formation of crude oil. Crude oil is the combination of many products hence the crude oil must be refined before using them. Some of the usable petroleum products are petrol, gasoline, diesel, kerosene, tar, heavy fuel oil, plastic items, lubricants, special, special gasoline for aviation, paraffin, and diesel.


Fossil fuel reserves


Uses of Petroleum

  1. Countries like India are completely relying on petroleum products especially petrol. Uses of petroleum products are 

  2. Fuels used for transportation by air, water or land.

  3. Use of diesel in power turbines for the production of electricity in large scale industries.

  4. Oil is used to produce electricity at homes and shops and some of the products made out of oils help to lubricate the inner walls of high-end machines used in different industries, hospitals etc.

  5. Kerosene is used for domestic purposes at home

  6. Used by chemical industries to produce plastic, dyes, paints, synthetic rubber, pesticides, perfumes etc.


Effects of burning fossil fuels

1. As we already know that coal and petroleum are rich in biomass. Biomass is made up of reserves of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and Sulphur; these produce harmful fumes and gases when they burnt. The combustion of fossil fuels results in the formation of gaseous poisons like carbon monoxide, Sulphur, Nitrogen and Carbon dioxide responsible for air pollution. On the other hand, carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that affects ozone and the stratosphere badly.

2. Coal and petroleum have a very high concentration of carbon, burning of coal and petrol result in the conversion of carbon into carbon dioxide, consequently, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere shoot up quickly to make way for intense global warming.

3. The gases formed by the combustion of fossils are thickly distributed alongside the clouds. When it rains, these components will combine with the rainwater to form acid rain and acid rain has a profound impact on the fertility and health of the soil.


Preserving fossil fuels

It is the duty of everyone to preserve fuels especially fossil fuels. There are many ways you can take the burden of over-usage of these fuels. Some of the common measures through which we can save our fossil fuels are

A.Use public transport instead of privately owned vehicles. India takes second place globally in terms of owning scooters and bikes which can bring a state of crisis in the fuel industry. So, it is a good idea to avoid private vehicles.

B. Non-motor vehicles (bicycles, pedal boats, carts) should be encouraged as these are good for health using bulbs or fluorescent tubes in your homes.

C. The use of electric and solar motor vehicles has been in the raise and this is a great sign because solar energy is an unfinished resource.

D. Wearing an extra sweater during winter days is advisable instead of an electric heater.

E. Use fuel-efficient engines in all vehicles or switch to electric or manual vehicles such as bicycles.

F. Go for recycle or reuse policy, for example, plastic containers that come with packed foods and other items can be reused for different purpose instead of throwing them away.