GEOL-1010 Lecture Notes - Lecture 11: Lignite, Sour Gas

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5 Feb 2018
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Lecture 11.1: Nonrenewable Energy
Geology in the News
New oil find onshore in Alaska
1.2 billion barrels (bbls)
o barrel is a standard unit of measurement
Largest onshore discovery in Alaska in 30 years
Energy Resources
Everything we need requires a certain amount of energy
Impacts politics
Impacts money
Energy Sources
Renewable- it replaces itself very quickly. It will naturally replenish itself on a short time
scale
o Replenishes fast enough to keep up with human consumption
Nonrenewable- it does not replace itself fast enough to keep up with human demand
o Doesn’t mean you don’t get any more, some will replace themselves but very, very
slowly
o Natural gas: a little bit of oil is formed each year but it does not keep up with human
demand at all
Part One: Fossil Fuels
***numbers in red font are the ones that really matter
Fossil Fuels- start with organic material; over long spans of time it gets transformed
o Think starting with fossil
o Ca 82% of energy consumption in the US and globally
Coal = 22.6%
Oil = 36.8%
Nat gas = 22.9%
Hydroelectric = 6.3%
Nuclear = 6.0%
All others = ~ 1.4%
How Much is There?
Reserve- the amount of the material that is ready for immediate use
o Money in the bank that’s good to go, you can use it
Resource- the total amount of that material that you know to exist
o Doesn’t matter whether you use it or not, its just there
o Resource will ALWAYS be bigger than the reserve
o It includes the reserve plus ones that you know about but cannot use
o Think your paycheck; you know you have it but you can’t spend it. You have the
money in your bank account plus your paycheck
Fossil Fuels: General Advantages
1. Historically cheap and abundant
2. Technology well developed
o we’ve been using them for a couple hundred years, we’ve gotten pretty good at
using them
3. Infrastructure built to run on them
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o power plants are used to using coal etc.
o we’re set up to use these things already
Fossil Fuels: General Disadvantages
1. Nonrenewable
o if you use of most of the material it won’t replenish itself on a human time scale
2. Deposits not uniformly distributed
o some countries have much more than others
o leads to weird political situations and conflict over these materials
3. Costs going up
o also fluctuate back and forth
o cost goes up- people look for something different
4. Environmental Damage
o health problems, putting people’s health at risk to use this stuff
Fossil Fuel #1 Hydrocarbons
Includes some fossil fuels but not all
Combination of hydrogen and carbon
Combustible H-C compounds
Requires:
o Area of high biological productivity
Need a lot of biomass and organic material
o Relatively low oxygen in waters/ sediments
Too much oxygen and it will decay and rot
Methane aka Natural Gas
People think of this as the future
Advantages
o 1. Resources growing in recent years
some of these we cannot use, we know they are there though so the potential
is there
o 2. Burns much cleaner than other FFs
30% less CO2 emitted per unit energy compared to oil
o 3. Price Often cheaper than oil
Burns cleaner and don’t even have to pay a premium
Disadvantages
o Safety issues
Sour gas (Contains H2S)
Don’t want the H2S but to get rid of it, it adds more time and cost
NG Heat system malfunctions can create CO
CO= Carbon Monoxide= Very dangerous
Very dangerous, lots of fires caused by use of this.
o Still contributes to atmospheric CO2 buildup
Yes it is cleaner than burning oil or coal, but it still does contribute to the
CO2 buildup
Oil
Oil Window
Small window of opportunity where you can even get oil in the first place
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