Q:

How does fossil fuel work?

A:

Quick Answer

Coal, oil and natural gas all produce heat energy when burned. These fuels were formed by the remains of organisms that existed millions of years ago. Heat from these fuels is used to convert water into steam, which is then used to power turbines that generate electricity.

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Full Answer

Fossil fuels are created over a period of millions of years when the remains of plants and animals are subjected to the intense heat and pressure that is found within the earth's crust. Fossil fuels have been a key energy source for widespread industrial development and are commonly used to power many vehicles, in addition to serving as a fuel source for the generation of electrical power. Fossil fuels are also used to create asphalt, plastics and other materials.

Despite their widespread usage, fossil fuels have several disadvantages that can limit their desirability and usefulness. Coal, oil and natural gas are considered nonrenewable resources because the creation of new fossil fuels requires millions of years. Because they are composed of hydrocarbons, fossil fuels release carbon dioxide gas, which contributes to global warming, into the atmosphere when they are burned. Oil and coal also produce sulfur dioxide, a gas that contributes to respiratory problems and acid rain.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    When was the first fossil fuel discovered?

    A:

    There is no definite date for the discovery of the first fossil fuel. According to the Kentucky Foundation, many ancient peoples used fossil fuels before they became popular as commercial sources of energy.

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  • Q:

    Is coal a fossil fuel?

    A:

    Coal is one of the three main fossil fuels. It accounts for a large percentage of energy production from fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions.

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  • Q:

    Where do fossil fuels come from?

    A:

    Fossil fuels come from organic matter that has decomposed under the intense pressure and heat of the Earth's crust. Fossil fuels are primarily carbon based, although some fuels, such as methane, have higher ratios of hydrogen to carbon. The production of fossil fuels usually takes millions of years to complete. Coal, natural gas and petroleum are all examples of fossil fuels.

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  • Q:

    What are examples of fossil fuels?

    A:

    Common examples of fossil fuels include natural gas, oil, peat and coal. These fuels are organic biomass extracted from the remains of primitive organisms that roamed the planet millions of years ago.

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