The immense progress that humanity has known during the last 2 centuries would never have happened without the discovery of a remarkable source of energy. This source is that from the combustion of fossil fuels. It has many advantages: inexpensive, highly energy efficient and above all abundant and easily usable (transport facilities in particular)
Thus, fossil fuels have contributed immensely to improving the productivity of industries and the comfort of Western populations. They also allowed the birth of new very active chemical activity sectors 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 that today, no industrialized country can do without oil, the most common form of fossil fuels and very aptly called black gold.
The whole world economy is based on the use of petroleum and all industrial processes use this form of energy directly or indirectly. Nuclear and natural gas represent interesting energy alternatives on certain points but they could not completely replace oil. Transport, for example, will still use petroleum for a few tens of years (directly or indirectly)
Obviously, given industrial and demographic developments, world energy consumption is constantly increasing. Thus if annual world consumption was 2 Gtoe (Gigatonnes oil equivalent) in 1950, it is currently around 8 Gtoe. Experts 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 = approximately 10 million billion calories.
2 uses oil
We must distinguish 2 kinds of uses of petroleum. The use in the form of energy, we speak of energy 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 whose combustion provides thermal energy. This energy can be converted into mechanical energy in heat engines (reciprocating, gas turbine, etc.). Without exception, these engines require, according to their technology, a preliminary refining of petroleum, to obtain a lighter compound than crude petroleum.
Energy oil represents about 85% of the mass of oil consumed.
The process oil: these are petroleum products derived from chemical processes. These products are innumerable and affect almost all areas of human activity. These fields of activity which absolutely cannot do without petroleum and their products are omnipresent in our daily life. As proof: look around and remove everything that has not been achieved thanks to petroleum: almost all plastics, printing inks, paints… without this petroleum process everything would become very 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
Petroleum is therefore a fantastic raw material omnipresent in the industry in energy form or process. Unfortunately, petroleum resources are not inexhaustible and the combustion of energy 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 yield (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 petroleum: figures and consequences
The measures to be taken: towards a rationalization of resources
Oil resources are running out, the extracted oil 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 energy 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 happen through the development of inventions and innovation allowing to increase the energy efficiency of our means of energy conversion even if this must create a shortfall for the lobbies in place !! You will find on this site various innovations which could make things change.
The consequences of such political decisions…
In addition to the environmental benefits 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 lowering raw energy consumption.
- to provide cheaper useful energy which is therefore accessible to the poorest populations but also to those on the brink of experiencing an economic and industrial “boom” (China and India).
- to keep the price of petroleum energy constant (in the sense of useful energy) despite the increase in demand and the future fall in supply resulting from the exhaustion of resources.
- to put industrialists in future anti-pollution standards at a very low cost (per kW installed and per kWh produced) compared to other “clean” energy solutions.
- to pose fewer problems of future over-costs to industries using process petroleum by increasing the duration of exploitation of current resources.
An example of these invention is the injection of water into heat engines.