Fossil fuels – All living things use and store carbon
Millions of years ago, when plants and animals died, some were buried, crushed, and fossilized under the ground. Oil, coal, and natural gas are formed from these fossilized remains —this is why they are- called fossil fuels. When we burn fossil fuels we release large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere as part of the gas carbon dioxide (C02). It is released naturally from sources such as volcanoes, but humans and the machines we use are producing more C02 than ever before.
70% of the world’s energy comes from burning fossil fuels.
How coal is formed
Coal mining Coal is found in layers under the ground called seams. When we burn coal, the carbon that was stored inside the coal is released back into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.
Forest life Millions of years ago, the remains of plants and animals in wet swampy forests were buried by sand, mud, and other plants. The formed a watery fuel called peat.
Brown coal The peat was buried in sediment and the weight of the rock pressing down on the peat squeezed by sand, mud, and other plants. They out any water and gas. Slowly it compressed and fossilized into coal.
Black coal With more pressure and heat, the carbon in the coal was concentrated and the coal turned black. We mine black coal to fuel electric power stations.
Anthracite Anthracite is the highest grade of coal and can be almost pure carbon. We mine it for heating fuel. It forms when peat is subjected to heat and pressure over a long time.
Drilling at sea This enormous oil rig is being built off the coast of Norway.
When it is finished, the oil rig will house all the workers and machinery needed to drill down and pump oil and natural gas that are trapped under the seafloor.
Occam life When ancient sea creatures died they fell to the ocean floor. Over millions of years their bodies were covered by sand and mud that pressed together and eventually formed rock.
Oil and gas As this rock continued to pile up on top of the dead creatures, the crushing pressure fossilized their remains and turned them into oil and gas.
Rising up The oil and gas rose up through soft rock, but became trapped when they reached solid layers of rock, such as shale, that they could not pass through.
Drilling down Trapped under the solid rock, the oil and gas collected in a reservoir, with the gas on top of the oil. Rigs drill down and remove oil and gas to use as fuel.
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