Fuels can be presented in solid , liquid or gaseous state and depending on their chemical composition will be the energy released in their reaction. The more complex its structure, the more bonds to break for each molecule, and this equates to more energy.
Types of fuels
Fuels can be classified according to their physical state, and can be:
The solid fuel can be obtained from natural deposits or products manufactured with them. These are, for example, coal, coal, coke, wood, firewood, litter, paper, cardboard.
The liquid fuels are generally organic compounds and mixtures thereof which can be found as components of oil. Among them are the same oil, gasoline, diesel, ethyl alcohol, methyl alcohol, kerosene, turpentine, among others.
The gaseous fuels are substances in this physical state that can be combusted. In fact, it is ideal that a gaseous fuel is used for combustion, since its particles have a greater contact surface and can be started faster.
Uses of fuels
Substances that act as fuels are intended to deliver a large amount of heat , and it is this that is used for purposes such as the following:
- Operation of internal combustion engines in automobiles.
- Engine operation in aircraft.
- Driving the trains by burning coal and producing steam.
- Boosting ships by burning coal and producing steam.
Cooking food using a natural gas or LP gas flame.
Main types of fuels
The most common fuels are described below, relevant for three reasons: the amount of heat they provide, the safety with which they can be used, and the ease of accessing them.
Coal is the element carbon in a high degree of purity . It originates from the plant remains decomposed to the maximum that, by accumulating in swampy, lake and marine areas of slight depth, suffered degradation caused by environmental conditions, such as pressure and heat.
Anthracite is the purest form of mineral coal, with a carbon content of 95% . It originates in places where the constant temperature ranges between 170 ° C and 250 ° C, such as the subsoil near volcanic areas. It is a fossil mineral that is usually scarce, compared to other fossil fuels such as coke or coal.
Coke is the result of the distillation or drift concentration of bituminous coal . It is usually used in industry to heat large amounts of water and thus produce steam, which will be in charge of driving electricity generation turbines; among other uses. In the past, it was used to heat homes.
It is another fuel made up mainly of carbon and other elements in a mineral form. Its carbon content ranges from 45% to 85% and is divided into three types: fat or oily coal, semi-dry coal and dry coal.
Natural gas, made up mostly of the methane hydrocarbon CH 4 , is a light fuel that provides an adequate amount of heat to be used both domestically and in industry. It comes from the decomposition of ancient animals and plants that, when they die, are deposited on the ground. This gas accumulates in reservoirs below the ground, so its exploitation must be careful.
It is the short name of liquefied petroleum gas , and it is the most volatile part that is obtained in the distillation towers. It contains approximately 70% propane gas and 30% butane gas , which when burned provide more heat energy than natural gas by containing more carbon atoms in its molecules.
It is the dark colored liquid made up of a great variety of organic compounds, most of which are hydrocarbons. It is the result of the long process of decomposition of ancient living beings, which have remained in the lower layers of the soil and subjected to high pressure. The fuels derived from it are called fossil fuels.
Oil is a raw material for a wide variety of products, such as:
- Fuel oil or fuel oil
- Plastic polymers
Gasoline is a liquid mixture of several octanes (hydrocarbons with chains of eight carbons and that can be branched). It is derived from oil and the fuel par excellence for cars, motorcycles, buses and more automotive vehicles that work with an internal combustion engine. Gasoline is often supplemented with chemical additives to optimize it.
Diesel is another fuel derived from petroleum and is used in compression-decompression machines such as cargo trucks, due to its heavier molecules that provide a greater amount of heat due to the number of broken links.
Hydrogen is an interesting exception among fuels in that it is not an organic substance. As a pure element, it is kept in a liquid state in high pressure containers. When it joins with the oxidizing oxygen, it gives off the heat of its bond and forms water vapor, so it is a non-polluting fuel.
Nuclear fuels are another exception. These are radioactive chemical elements , whose atoms are unstable and therefore they give off radiation or particles (depending on the element), disintegrating into elements of lower atomic mass. The energy given off is useful to obtain electricity, but it is so dangerous and carcinogenic if you have direct contact with it.
It is non-polluting energy, but if a small factor arises that drives the nuclear reactor out of control, a catastrophic accident would occur. Among the elements used to obtain nuclear energy are: uranium, plutonium, polonium, and thorium.
40 Examples of fuels
- Fruit peels
- Walnut shells
- Domestic waste
- Natural gas
- LP gas
- Fuel oil or fuel oil
- Ethyl ether
- Ethyl alcohol
- Isopropyl alcohol
- Methyl alcohol