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env100 note 49.docx

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University of Toronto Mississauga

ENV100 Lecture NotesFeb 27 2012 Fossil Fuels Intro continued Reading Chapter 15Fossil fuels are indeed formed from fossilsFossil fuels we burn today were formed from the tissues of organisms that lived 100500 million years ago Carboniferous PeriodProduced when organic material decomposed down in anaerobic conditions o Little or no oxygen o Bottoms of deep lakes swamps and shallow seas Organic matter heated compressed altered and eventually converted into crude oil natural gas or coalmaturationCoal is the worlds most abundant fossil fuelCoalwoody plant material compressed and altered to form dense solid carbon compounds o Contains lignin a tough organic constituent of plantsCoal has a very long history of use o The Romans used coal for heating in the second and third centuries in Britain o The Chinese have used coal for 20003000 years o Commercial mining began in the 1700s o Coal and the steam engine helped drive the Industrial Revolution and the steel industry o In the 1880s people used coal to generate electricity Coal forms from burial of woody plant matterCoal varies in qualityPeatorganic material that is broken down anaerobically but remains wet near the surface and not well compressed o Widely used as a fuel in Britain abundant in CanadaFour main grades of coal o Ligniteleast compressed softest lowest energy o Subbituminous o Bituminous o Anthracitemost compressed hardest has the most EnergyCoal is mined from the surface and from below groundSubsurface miningunderground deposits are reached by digging networks of tunnels deep undergroundStrip miningheavy machinery removes huge amounts of earth to expose and extract the coal
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