Causes why we burn fossil fuels Combustion of fossil fuels is widely used to create energy as it is very efficient. When burned, huge amounts of energy are generated using a relatively small amount of the fossil fuel. Renewable energy is currently unable to rival the efficiency of fossil fuel combustion.
Fossil fuels are now widely available and cheap to extract contrasting with renewable energy sources which are currently not as cost effective. (https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/pros-and-cons-of-fossil-fuels.php)Effects of burning fossil fuels Burning fossil fuels has a large negative impact on the environment. The carbon dioxide emission from the combustion can cause the ‘greenhouse effect'(GHE).
The GHE is the process when these by-products are released and get trapped in the earth’s atmosphere and unable to escape. The trapped heat remains inside the earth’s atmosphere, causing the temperature of the earth to rise. This affects the environment for instance fundamentally altering the distribution of water and ice across the planet causing abnormal weather conditions, higher water levels, and melting ice caps. This process not only carbon dioxide, but also sulphur dioxide which is dissolved in the water. Sulphur dioxide becomes trapped in the H2O in the atmosphere and when precipitation takes place can fall to the ground as rain water. This creates ‘acid rain’. These substances are poisonous to trees and plants as the rainwater falls to the soil.
(www.slideshare.net/fafanull/causes-global-warming)Possible solutions A possible solution is capturing the gas by-products created as they are burned at the power plant. The basic ways of this technology are post-combustion and pre-combustion carbon capture.
Post-combustion carbon capture means carbon dioxide is trapped after the combustion of fossil fuels. When burning natural gases, filtering can be used post-combustion. By filtering the gas using a solvent that absorbs carbon dioxide, carbon dioxide is separated from the flue gases- water vapour, sulphur dioxides and nitrogen oxide. When the solvent is heated, water vapour is released and carbon dioxide is left. It is usually stored in underground. After this process, only about 10% of carbon dioxide releases to the atmosphere.
(https://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/carbon-capture1.htm) Figure 1 – It shows diagram of the steps of pre-combustion carbon capture.
(https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQ1yn3mrx80EgrXM0ymoovUzhvOu7e_sYUamDuIqa_-XVBYDVOm)Pre-combustion carbon capture means that carbon dioxide is captured before combustion. In pure oxygen, burning fossil fuel creates carbon monoxide and hydrogen. They falls to the bottom of a flask. By passing through a catalytic converter with steam, the gases will rise, and a chemical called amine will be put into the top.
The amine will synthesize with the carbon dioxide and fall to the bottom of the flask, separating with the hydrogen that rises up out of the flask. After that, through a heating process, the carbon dioxide rises to the top and the amine falls to the bottom of the flask.(https://science.howstuffworks.
com/environmental/green-science/carbon-capture1.htm) The Environmental Protection Agency that has instituted recent a standard, ‘The Clean Power Plan’, can be a solution. This plan will diminish carbon emissions from fossil fuel-fired power plants. This will include actions such as investing in renewable energy such as wind panel and solar radiation and implementing these facilities to subsidise from coal-fired power systems.
The EPA can establish temporary and final carbon dioxide emission performance rates to restrain the massive carbon emission from combustion of fossil fuels in power plants.(https://www.ucsusa.org/our-work/global-warming/solutions/global-warming-solutions-reduce-emissions#.WmlrvVRl9PY)