Basics of Fuels

  • Fuels are substances that release energy when they undergo a chemical or nuclear reaction. Fuel + Oxygen -> Carbon Dioxide + Water + Energy.
  • The energy released is used for various purposes like heating, running vehicles, cooking, and electricity generation.

Type of Fuels

  • Fuels can be classified into three types - solid, liquid and gaseous. Coal, wood, paper, and leaf are examples of solid fuel, petrol and diesel are examples of liquid fuel, and natural gas represents gaseous fuel.
  • There are also classifications like fossil fuels, derived from the remains of ancient organisms, examples include coal, oil, and natural gas. They have a high carbon content and release carbon dioxide when combusted.
  • Biofuels, like ethanol and biodiesel, are generated from contemporary organic material and are a renewable energy source.

Energy Release

  • The amount of energy released by a fuel is measured in Joules (J) or Kilojoules (kJ). It depends on the type of fuel and the amount of oxygen available for combustion.
  • Incomplete combustion due to insufficient oxygen leads to the formation of carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas, and lesser energy release.

Environmental Impact

  • The burning of fuels, especially fossil fuels, leads to air pollution. Harmful gases like carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides are released causing global warming, acid rain, and respiratory issues in humans.
  • Some fuels, like natural gas, burn cleaner and are considered more environmentally friendly.

Fuel Efficiency

  • Fuel efficiency refers to the amount of energy obtained from a unit of fuel. It is an important feature to consider in various applications, from heating homes to running vehicles.
  • Energy losses can occur during the transmission and utilisation of fuel energy. Efficient systems aim to minimise these losses.

Remember, fuels are valuable resources and their efficient use is crucial for sustainable living. Understanding fuel properties, their uses, and the environmental impacts, forms a foundational understanding of energy resources.