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Thread: Truth or Fiction: "Fossil" Fuels

  1. #1

    Default Truth or Fiction: "Fossil" Fuels

    I read this on a car site, and I was just wondering if anyone can confirm or deny since I know little about the formation of oil.

    Keep in mind that this was just some guy's response, not a scientific journal.


    “If fossil fuels are finite (most would agree)”

    They are not fossil fuel they are hydrocarbons created from water and carbonates under pressure and temperature. Seems like a lot of people think petroleum oil came from rotting dinosaurs and plants (where do they get this idea? From the broadcast media lying brigade!) Did all earths dinasours mosey on over to the middle east to die? Like older humans go to Florida. Try to explain the HUGE pockets of oil and gas deep beneath the ocean floor. How did it get there?

    Man can synthesize hydocarbons but there is sooo much naturally occuring hydrocarbons that it does not make economic sense to produce them (Even if there was nuclear power available). The Peak Oil scare has been going on almost as long as the oil-is-from-rotting-dinosaur myth. There has NEVER - In a 150 years - been a year that humans used more petroleum oil than was discovered. In total, man has burned about a trillion barrels of petroleum and there are more than 3 trillion barrels in known reserves…Go Figure.

    Oxidizing hydrocarbons for energy is kinda primative but there is no other *VIABLE* option right now…Not without nuclear power which ya don’t get better than that…Einstein - E=MC^2

  2. #2
    Kanto Kanrei Member Marshal Murat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Truth or Fiction: "Fossil" Fuels

    Most geologists view crude oil and natural gas as the product of compression and heating of ancient organic materials over geological time. According to this theory, oil is formed from the preserved remains of prehistoric zooplankton and algae which have been settled to the sea (or lake) bottom in large quantities under anoxic conditions. Terrestrial plants, on the other hand, tend to form coal. Over geological time this organic matter, mixed with mud, is buried under heavy layers of sediment. The resulting high levels of heat and pressure cause the organic matter to chemically change during diagenesis, first into a waxy material known as kerogen which is found in various oil shales around the world, and then with more heat into liquid and gaseous hydrocarbons in a process known as catagenesis. Because most hydrocarbons are lighter than rock or water, these sometimes migrate upward through adjacent rock layers until they become trapped beneath impermeable rocks, within porous rocks called reservoirs.
    Wiki on Petroleum Formation

    While Wikipedia isn't the best source, it's a start.

    The formation of coal is from ancient ferns. Marble (or is it granite?) is compressed rock.
    Simply saying 'they can put hydrogen and carbon together for petrol' yields me to think he is ignorant. If it was that simple, you could also pull protons and neutrons apart and make anything into gold, or seperate carbon and oxygen like *snap* that.
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    I ask because it's usually something like that which causes outbursts like this, needless to say I dissagree completely.

  3. #3

    Default AW: Truth or Fiction: "Fossil" Fuels

    I think I have read about this in a newspaper a while ago. Apparently some scientists, mainly russians propose that oil does not come from rotten animals and plants.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abiotic_oil

    I don´t know what to think about it.

  4. #4
    Iron Fist Senior Member Husar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Truth or Fiction: "Fossil" Fuels

    IIRC you need more energy to create coal and diamonds etc than you get from burning them, that's why we dig for the naturally formed stuff. Otherwise that guy had just invented a perpetuum mobile.


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    The very model of a modern Moderator Xiahou's Avatar
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    Default Re: Truth or Fiction: "Fossil" Fuels

    Synthetic Oil
    One form of synthetic oil is that manufactured using the Fischer-Tropsch process which converts carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and methane into liquid hydrocarbons of various forms. This process was developed and used extensively in World War II by Germany, which had limited access to crude oil supplies. Germany's yearly synthetic oil production reached millions of tons in 1944. It is today used in South Africa to produce most of that country's diesel. Dr. Hermann Zorn of I.G. Farben Industrie in Germany actually began to search for lubricants with the properties of natural oils but without the tendencies to gel or gum when used in an engine environment. His work led to the preparation of over 3500 esters in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s including diesters and polyol esters.
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    has a Senior Member HoreTore's Avatar
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    Default Re: Truth or Fiction: "Fossil" Fuels

    Well, he is out on a slight bender. Yes, we can make oil(or rather, something similar, like ethanol) when we've pumped up the last of it. However, that oil will be a lot more expensive than simply pumping it out of the ground. That's what they(ze scientists) are trying to do, come up with a cheap energy source when our cheapest one is empty/not cheap.

    For countries depending on oil, this will of course be a big blow, unless they have already invested their profits in something they can build a new economy on. Being the biggest provider of the new cheapest energy source is what we'll be competing for in a few years...
    Still maintain that crying on the pitch should warrant a 3 match ban

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    Default Re: Truth or Fiction: "Fossil" Fuels

    So we don't know for certain how oil is actually formed? There's room for debate?

    Also, I have not been able to find any figures on his claim that:

    "There has NEVER - In a 150 years - been a year that humans used more petroleum oil than was discovered. In total, man has burned about a trillion barrels of petroleum and there are more than 3 trillion barrels in known reserves…Go Figure."

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    Master of useless knowledge Senior Member Kitten Shooting Champion, Eskiv Champion Ironside's Avatar
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    Default Re: Truth or Fiction: "Fossil" Fuels

    Quote Originally Posted by PanzerJager
    So we don't know for certain how oil is actually formed? There's room for debate?
    Well, most evidence indicates that it's formed from organic matter, as afaik organic matter is the only natural concentrator of carbon. It's for certain the most common mentioned factor atleast. Most likely it's very old peat or something simular.
    And my old schoolbook explaination of the creation of oil and coal was that it's a bit older than the dinosaurs, formed in gigantic swamps some 400 million years ago afaik.

    For his other claims, it's obvious that certain conditions needs to be filled to oil to be formed (hm mentioned above now) and as life exists both in the oceans and as continents move (the bottom of a sea ends up on land/ land sinks to the bottom of the ocean) it's perfectly possible to life to form oil that eends up on the bottom of the sea.

    Quote Originally Posted by PanzerJager
    Also, I have not been able to find any figures on his claim that:
    Seem to remember opposite claims but it was a while ago and I'm not planning to dig it up atm. In any case a lot of the known oil reserves aren't economically feasible to utilize and when they are, oil will still be several times more expensive than today.

    And as mentioned, synthetic oil would be a mean of transportation of energy, not creation of it (like digging it up does), and in that case I would suspect that hydrogen fuel cells are more efficient or another chemical rection system.
    Synthetic oil would still be used for plastics though.
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    Senior Member Senior Member English assassin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Truth or Fiction: "Fossil" Fuels

    I think there may be slightly room for debate than there is on, say, evolution, but not much more.

    Personally I think the idea of the hot deep biosphere is interesting and worth investigating, but whether there is any reason to suppose that is the source of much oil I doubt.

    The original article tried too hard, since there patently are fossil fuels (coal). The author's argument would apply equally to coal as to oil.
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    Iron Fist Senior Member Husar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Truth or Fiction: "Fossil" Fuels

    well, what I wanted to say before was that when you need energy, it is a bad idea to artificially create coal for your energy plants since to create artificial coal you need a lot of pressure and heat and to create these, you need more energy than you get out of the coal you created, anything else would be a perpetuum mobile because you could use the created coal to create more coal etc. Might be the wet dream of any capitalist but it doesn't work that way, instead of using energy to make coal, we could rather use that energy for whatever we'd use the coal for, then we'd get to use more of it in the end.

    Edit: We could also use a material that gives us energy through nuclear fusion and can then be used for nuclear fission and then for nuclear fusion again and then for nuclear fission.....ad infinitum, but sadly things don't work that way.
    Last edited by Husar; 08-01-2007 at 12:53.


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    Humanist Senior Member Franconicus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Truth or Fiction: "Fossil" Fuels

    There has NEVER - In a 150 years - been a year that humans used more petroleum oil than was discovered. In total, man has burned about a trillion barrels of petroleum and there are more than 3 trillion barrels in known reserves…Go Figure.
    The fuel consumption is increasing exponensial. What does that mean if the resources are limited? ... Go figure!

  12. #12
    Dragonslayer Emeritus Senior Member Sigurd's Avatar
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    Default Re: Truth or Fiction: "Fossil" Fuels

    I can’t refrain from admire the American need to scrutinize everything that might lessen the comforts of its citizens.
    This time it is its oil consumption. Are we really polluting with our petroleum CO2 emission?
    Are we really using too much? It can’t be true that there are only 45 years left of oil reserves in the world today. We don’t want to pay European prices for our fuel. We want to be able to buy 34 litres of petrol for an average hourly wage in the continuing years.

    As an employee of a major oil company (Hydro) I have some resources at hand.
    Consider this: The best geologists, petrochemists etc. do not work in universities or other academies. They are duly employed in the large oil companies. The great minds of these areas are working for us, the large and renowned petro-companies.

    Hence, to be able to predict where oil is found and how best getting at it, pump it up and utilize it, it is important to know how this raw material came to be.
    Let’s take petroleum found in the sea.

    Oil is made in sedimentary rocks or so called source rock that contains organic material. This material has been settling into the bedrock in stagnate waters with little oxygen and then covered by other sediments. Because of the lack of oxygen the organic material is only partially decomposed and therefore conserved in the sediment layers.
    The Oil we pump up comes from black (clay) shale that is probably around 150 million years old. Gradually the organic material discussed above when new sediments adds weight to the top, are squeezed into a material we call kerogen. And in temperatures reaching 100140 deg.C (at about 34 km depth), this material is transformed to petroleum that seeps out of the shale because of the high pressure. The source rock that originally contained lots of algae and plankton yields mostly oil and the material from above sea (previously coal) gives mostly gas.
    The oil and gas is lighter than water and will migrate up through the porous rock and cracks in the shale and finally be trapped under the impregnable rock we call “cap rock”.
    The petrochemists are able to analyze the petroleum and can establish “fingerprints” and hence know where and of what the several reservoirs of oil originated. It seems that some of the contents of an oil reservoir has travelled a long way and can originate from several different locations of the seabed.

    When it comes to how much oil is left, there are discrepancies in the numbers available.
    The initial post claims 3 trillion barrels left. I have not seen this number before. There have long been postulated about 1000 million barrels left or 1 trillion.

    But we have to consider the realities; there is continuously being discovered new reservoirs that adds to this “pool” of world oil. Some of the leading oil authorities have postulated that we have around 43-45 years left at the current rate of consumption.
    This does not indicate that the age of oil ends in 45 years.
    Here in Norway there will be pumped up oil from the seabed at least 50 – 100 more years.

    Old technology would only get a 40-50% extraction rate from a reservoir. This means basically that only half of the oil is extracted from most of the oil reserves. Newer technology increases this rate and we have increased this rate to 60% here in Norway. My company is currently developing new technology that will enable a 72% extraction rate. The oil developing nations will be able when using this technology to continue to extract from formerly depleted wells.
    And I haven’t even mentioned that there will be discovered new petroleum reservoirs in the future.
    As others have mentioned, it is always cheaper to gather resources than make them.
    Should we have to make our petroleum, the Americans would have to drive cars with 0,1 litre engines and 3 horsepower, not to mention us living in Europe and Norway.
    Last edited by Sigurd; 08-01-2007 at 14:54.
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    Moderator Moderator Gregoshi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Truth or Fiction: "Fossil" Fuels

    Thanks Sigurd. Fascinating insight.
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