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Using energy from fossil fuelsWhat are fuels? How do you get energy from them?

Now this is where humans are different from all other life. You have learned how you can use fuels to make energy to power machines like cars, planes and computers. This way, you donít have to work so much and you can stay warm without the fat, fur or feathers that other animals have. You get the fuel to make all this extra energy mostly by digging it out of the ground and burning it. This releases ancient energy stores - fossil fuels - made by billions of tiny plants and animals which lived millions of years ago. This stuff has been locked away underground ever since, covered up by younger rocks that got laid down on top.

I'm sure you know what these fuels are:

sack of coalcoal oil barrel and gasoline canoil natural gas flame gas

These fossil fuels all come from underground; inside the Earth's crust. And that is where they should stay because burning them does a lot of damage to the air we all breathe, the oceans and living things on the land. I'll say more about that later in this guide.

You can burn any of these fuels, coal, oil or gas, to make electricity in power stations. How? But electricity is only one form of energy used by people. The biggest guzzlers of energy from burning fossil fuels are

  • keeping homes and offices warm in winter and cool in summer
  • transport: you know... cars, buses, some trains, ships and aircraft

Fuels for heating can be any fossil fuel though people mostly use oil or gas because they're easier and less dirty. Today, more and more gas comes fracking which has good points and bad.

Machines for transport almost all use the liquid fossil fuel, oil. Why? But the oil has to be refined to make gasoline, diesel and kerosene. Different types of engine need different types of liquid fuel. Some engines run on gasInformationGas enginesThe gas they use is liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) stored in high-pressure fuel tanks. This gas can be used in modified ordinary engines which are generally less polluting than those that use diesel or gasoline (petrol). But they're still using fossil fuel..

 

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