The immense progress that humanity has known during the last 2 centuries would never have taken place without the discovery of a remarkable source of energy. This source is that resulting from the combustion of fossil fuels. It has many advantages: inexpensive, highly energetic and above all abundant and easily exploitable (transport facilities in particular)
Thus, fossil energies have greatly contributed to improving the productivity of industries and the comfort of Western populations. They also allowed the birth of new sectors of very active chemical activities and led to the development of unimaginable and inconceivable products or processes without petroleum.
Development and progress are intimately linked to the use of these fossil fuels. So much so that today, no industrialized country can do without oil, the most common form of fossil fuels and aptly called black gold.
The entire world economy is based on the use of petroleum and all industrial processes directly or indirectly use this form of energy. Nuclear power and natural gas represent interesting energy alternatives on certain points but they could not completely replace oil. Transport, for example, will still use oil for a few decades (directly or indirectly)
Obviously, taking into account industrial and demographic developments, world energy consumption is constantly increasing. Thus, if annual world consumption was 2 Gtep (Gigatonnes oil equivalent) in 1950, it is currently around 8 Gtep. Specialists from the World Energy Council estimate that it will be between 10 and 15 Gtp in 2020.
Note: 1 Gtep = 1 Billion tonnes of oil equivalent = 4 exajoules (4 × 10 ^ 16 Joules) = 40 million billion joules = 10 million billion calories approximately.
2 uses oil
We must distinguish 2 kinds of uses of petroleum. The use in the form of energy, we speak of energetic petroleum and that in the form, more noble, of raw material intended to manufacture a product, we speak of process petroleum.
The energy oil: it is petroleum, the combustion of which provides thermal energy. This energy can be converted into mechanical energy in heat engines (reciprocating, gas turbine, etc.). With some exceptions, these engines require, depending on their technology, a preliminary refining of petroleum, in order to obtain a compound that is lighter than crude petroleum.
Energy oil represents about 85% of the mass of oil consumed.
The process oil: these are products derived from petroleum by chemical processes. These products are innumerable and affect almost all areas of human activity. These fields of activity which absolutely cannot do without oil and their products are omnipresent in our daily life. As proof: look around you and remove everything that has not been achieved with oil: almost all plastics, printing inks, paints ... without this oil process everything would become empty and our daily landscape would be very different ...
Process oil represents approximately 15% of the mass of oil consumed, but some products are heavy residues from oil refining.
Misuse of energy oil
Oil is therefore a fantastic raw material omnipresent in industry in the form of energy or process. Unfortunately, petroleum resources are not inexhaustible and the combustion of fuel oil has the major drawback of being highly polluting. In addition, most of the combustion processes (for transformation into mechanical energy) of petroleum have a low efficiency (less than 30%!). This means that a high proportion of oil is wasted.
You will find more details about the misuse of energy oil and its consequences:
- Waste of energy and depletion of resources
- direct and indirect pollution linked to the use of oil: figures and consequences
The measures to be taken: towards a rationalization of resources
Oil resources are running out, the oil extracted is wasted and its use is highly polluting.
It is now becoming necessary on the one hand to increase the efficiency of industrial processes using fuel oil and on the other hand to reduce their polluting emissions.
This in order to rationalize the planetary resources which are energy and the environment.
This will only go through the development of inventions and innovation to increase the energy efficiency of our means of energy conversion even if this should create a shortfall for the lobbies in place !! You will find on this site various innovations that could change things.
The consequences of such political decisions ...
In addition to environmental gains that cannot be quantified here, developing such inventions and increasing the efficiency of energy conversion systems would make it possible to:
- increase planetary energy resources by reducing gross energy consumption.
- to provide less expensive useful energy therefore accessible to the poorest populations but also to those in the process of experiencing an economic and industrial "boom" (China and India).
- to maintain constant the price of petroleum energy (in the sense of useful energy) despite the increase in demand and the future fall in supply resulting from the depletion of resources.
- to bring manufacturers up to future anti-pollution standards for a very low cost (per kWh installed and kWh produced) compared to other “clean” energy solutions.
- to pose fewer problems of future over-costs to industries using process oil by increasing the duration of exploitation of current resources.
An example of these invention is the injection of water into heat engines.