Fuel saving devices are sold on the aftermarket with claims to improve the fuel economy and/or the exhaust emissions of any purport to optimize ignition, air flow, or fuel flow in some way. An early example of such a device sold with difficult-to-justify claims is the 200 mpg carburetor designed by Canadian inventor Charles Nelson Pogue.
The US EPA is required by Section 511 of the Motor Vehicle Information and Cost Savings Act to test many of these devices and to provide public reports on their efficacy; the agency finds most devices do not improve fuel economy to any measurable degree, unlike forced induction, water injection (engine), intercooling and other fuel economy devices which have been long proven. Tests by Popular Mechanics magazine also found unproven types of devices yield no measurable improvements in fuel consumption or power, and in some cases actually decrease both power and fuel economy.
Other organizations generally considered reputable, such as the American Automobile Association and Consumer Reports have performed studies with the same result.
One reason that ineffective fuel saving gadgets are popular is the difficulty of accurately measuring small changes in the fuel economy of a vehicle. This is because of the high level of variance in the fuel consumption of a vehicle under normal driving conditions. Due to selective perception and confirmation bias, the buyer of a device can perceive an improvement where none actually exists. Also, observer-expectancy effect can result in a user subconsciously altering driving habits. These biases can be either positive or negative to the device tested, depending on the biases of the individual. For these reasons, regulatory bodies have developed standardized drive cycles for consistent, accurate testing of vehicle fuel consumption. Where fuel economy does improve after the fitment of a device, it is usually due to the tune-up procedure that is conducted as part of the installation. In older systems with distributor ignitions, device manufacturers would specify timing advance beyond that recommended by the manufacturer, which by itself could boost fuel economy while potentially increasing emissions of some combustion products, at the risk of possible engine damage.
Types of devices
Accessory drive modifications
Modifying the accessory drive system can increase fuel economy and performance to some extent.Underdrive pulleys modify the amount of engine power that can be drawn by accessory devices. Such alterations to the drive systems for alternators or air conditioning compressors (rather than the power steering pump, for example) can be detrimental to vehicle usability (e.g., by not keeping the battery fully charged), but will not impair safety.
Fuel & oil additives
Compounds sold for addition to the vehicle's fuel may include tin, magnesium and platinum. The claimed purpose of these is generally to improve the energy density of the fuel. Additives for addition to the engine oil, sometimes marketed as "engine treatments", contain teflon, zinc, or chlorine compounds.
Magnets attached to a vehicle's fuel line have been claimed to improve fuel economy by aligning fuel molecules, but because motor fuels are non-polar, no such alignment or other magnetic effect on the fuel is possible. When tested, typical magnet devices had no effect on vehicle performance or economy.
Some devices claim to improve efficiency by changing the way that liquid fuel is converted to vapor. These include fuel heaters and devices to increase or decrease turbulence in the intake manifold. These do not work on standard vehicles because the principle is already applied to the design of the engine. This method is however integral to making vegetable oil conversions, and similar heavy oil engines, run at all. 
Air bleed devices
Devices have been marketed which bleed a small amount of air into the fuel line before the carburetor. These may improve fuel economy because the engine runs slightly lean as a consequence. However, running leaner than the manufacturer intended can cause overheating, piston damage, loss of maximum power and poor emissions (e.g., higher NOx due to higher combustion temperatures, or, if misfiring occurs, higher HC).
Some electronic devices are marketed as fuel savers. The Fuel Doctor FD-47, for example, plugs into the vehicle's cigarette lighter and displays several LEDs. It is claimed to increase vehicle fuel economy by up to 25% through "power conditioning of the vehicle's electrical systems", but Consumer Reports detected no difference in economy or power in tests on ten separate vehicles, finding that the device did nothing but light up.Car and Driver magazine found that the device contains nothing buts "a simple circuit board for the LED lights", and disassembly and circuit analysis reached the same conclusion. The maker disputed claims that the device has no effect, and proposed changes to the Consumer Reports testing procedure, which when implemented made no difference to the results.
Another device described as 'electronic' is the 'Electronic Engine Ionizer Fuel Saver'. Testing of this device resulted in a loss of power and an engine compartment fire.
There are also genuinely useful 'emissions-control defeat devices' that operate by allowing a vehicle's engine to operate outside government-imposed tailpipe emissions parameters. These government standards force factory engines to operate outside their most efficient range of operation. Either engine control units are reprogrammed to operate more efficiently, or sensors that influence the ECU's operation are modified or 'simulated' to cause it to operate in a more efficient manner. Oxygen sensor simulators allow fuel-economy reducing catalytic converters to be removed. Such devices are often sold for "off-road use only".
The reason why most devices are not capable of producing the claimed improvements is based in thermodynamics. This formula expresses the theoretical efficiency of a petrol engine:
where η is efficiency, rv is the compression ratio, and γ is the ratio of the specific heats of the cylinder gases.
Assuming an ideal engine with no friction, perfect insulation, perfect combustion, a compression ratio of 10:1, and a 'γ' of 1.27 (for gasoline-air combustion), the theoretical efficiency of the engine would be 46%.
For example, if an automobile typically gets 20 miles<32.19 km> per gallon with a 20% efficient engine that has a 10:1 compression ratio, a carburetor claiming 100MPG would have to increase the efficiency by a factor of 5, to 100%. This is clearly beyond what is theoretically or practically possible. A similar claim of 300MPG for any vehicle would require an engine (in this particular case) that is 300% efficient, which violates the First Law of Thermodynamics.
Extremely efficient vehicle designs capable of achieving 100MPG+ (such as the VW 1l) do not have substantially greater engine efficiency, but instead focus on better aerodynamics, reduced vehicle weight, and using energy that would otherwise be dissipated as heat during braking.
There is a debunkedurban legend about an inventor who creates a 100 mpg (2.35 L/100 km) or even 200 mpg carburetor, but after demonstrating it for the major vehicle manufacturers, the inventor mysteriously disappears. In some versions of the story, he is claimed to have been killed by the government. This fiction is thought to have started after Canadian Charles Nelson Pogue filed in 1930 for such a device, followed by others.
The popular U.S. television show MythBusters investigated several fuel-saving devices using gasoline- and diesel-powered fuel-injected cars under controlled circumstances. Fuel line magnets, which supposedly align the fuel molecules so they burn better, were tested and found to make no difference in fuel consumption. The debunked notion that adding acetone to gasoline improves efficiency by making the gasoline burn more completely without damaging the plastic parts of the fuel system was tested, and although there was no apparent damage the fuel system, the vehicle's fuel economy was actually worsened.
The show tested the hypothesis that a car with a carburetor type gasoline engine can run on hydrogen gas alone, which was confirmed as viable, although the high cost of hydrogen gas as well as storage difficulties currently prohibit widespread adoption. They also tested a device that supposedly produces sufficient hydrogen to power a car by electrolysis (running an electric current through water to split its molecules into hydrogen and oxygen). Although some hydrogen was produced, the amount was minuscule compared to the quantity necessary to run a car for even a few seconds.
The show also tested a carburetor that, according to its manufacturer, could improve fuel efficiency to 300 miles<482.80 km> per gallon. However, the device actually made the car less fuel efficient. They also determined that a diesel-powered car can run on used cooking oil though they did not check whether it damaged the engine.
The show noted that out of 104 fuel efficiency devices tested by the EPA, only seven showed any improvement in efficiency, and even then, the improvement was never more than six percent. The show also noted that if any of the devices they tested actually worked to the extent they were supposed to, the episode would have been one of the most legendary hours of television.
- ^EPA Gas Saving and Emission Reduction Devices Evaluation
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- ^FTC lawsuit: DuraLube oil additivesArchived January 15, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
- ^FTC lawsuit: STP engine treatmentArchived June 6, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
- ^FTC lawsuit: Slick-50 engine treatmentArchived March 16, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
- ^FTC lawsuit: ProLong engine treatmentArchived October 2, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
- ^FTC lawsuit: MotorUP oil additiveArchived April 4, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
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- ^"Fuel Doctor FD-47 fails the Consumer Reports mpg test". News.consumerreports.org. 2010-12-07. Retrieved 2013-12-30.
- ^MICHAEL AUSTIN (May 2011). "Fuel-Saving Devices Debunked: Dynamic Ionizer, Fuel Doctor FD-47, Hot InaZma Eco, Moletech Fuel Saver, Fuel Boss Magnetic Fuel Saver - Gearbox". Car and Driver. Retrieved 2013-12-30.
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- ^"New Fuel Doctor tests: Still no MPG magic". Consumer Reports. 26 May 2011.
- ^"Archived copy"(PDF). Archived from the original(PDF) on 2011-08-30. Retrieved 2011-10-19.
- ^ ab"Federal Settlement Targets Illegal Emission Control 'Defeat Devices' Sold for Autos". Prnewswire.com. July 10, 2007. Retrieved 2013-12-30.
- ^"Improving IC Engine Efficiency". University of Washington. Retrieved June 4, 2008.
- ^Snopes.com: Nobody's Fuel
- ^U.S. Patent 1,750,354
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- ^"Episode 53: Exploding Trousers, Great Gas Conspiracy". Unofficial MythBusters: Episode guides. 2006-05-28.
- ^Snopes.com: Acetone Deaf
"Oil and gas" redirects here. For other uses, see Oil and gas (disambiguation).
A fossil fuel is a fuel formed by natural processes, such as anaerobic decomposition of buried dead organisms, containing energy originating in ancient photosynthesis. The age of the organisms and their resulting fossil fuels is typically millions of years, and sometimes exceeds 650 million years. Fossil fuels contain high percentages of carbon and include petroleum, coal, and natural gas. Other commonly used derivatives include kerosene and propane. Fossil fuels range from volatile materials with low carbon to hydrogen ratios like methane, to liquids like petroleum, to nonvolatile materials composed of almost pure carbon, like anthracite coal. Methane can be found in hydrocarbon fields either alone, associated with oil, or in the form of methane clathrates.
The theory that fossil fuels formed from the fossilized remains of dead plants by exposure to heat and pressure in the Earth's crust over millions of years was first introduced by Georgius Agricola in 1556 and later by Mikhail Lomonosov in the 18th century.
The United States Energy Information Administration estimates that in 2007 the primary sources of energy consisted of petroleum 36.0%, coal 27.4%, natural gas 23.0%, amounting to an 86.4% share for fossil fuels in primary energy consumption in the world. Non-fossil sources in 2006 included nuclear 8.5%, hydroelectric 6.3%, and others (geothermal, solar, tidal, wind, wood, waste) amounting to 0.9%. World energy consumption was growing about 2.3% per year.
Although fossil fuels are continually being formed via natural processes, they are generally considered to be non-renewable resources because they take millions of years to form and the known viable reserves are being depleted much faster than new ones are being made.
The use of fossil fuels raises serious environmental concerns. The burning of fossil fuels produces around 21.3 billion tonnes (21.3 gigatonnes) of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year. It is estimated that natural processes can only absorb about half of that amount, so there is a net increase of 10.65 billion tonnes of atmospheric carbon dioxide per year. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that increases radiative forcing and contributes to global warming. A global movement towards the generation of renewable energy is underway to help reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.
Aquatic phytoplankton and zooplankton that died and sedimented in large quantities under anoxic conditions millions of years ago began forming petroleum and natural gas as a result of anaerobic decomposition. Over geological time this organicmatter, mixed with mud, became buried under further heavy layers of inorganic sediment. The resulting high levels of heat and pressure caused the organic matter to chemically alter, first into a waxy material known as kerogen which is found in oil shales, and then with more heat into liquid and gaseous hydrocarbons in a process known as catagenesis. Despite these heat driven transformations (which may increase the energy density compared to typical organic matter), the embedded energy is still photosynthetic in origin.
Terrestrial plants, on the other hand, tended to form coal and methane. Many of the coal fields date to the Carboniferous period of Earth's history. Terrestrial plants also form type III kerogen, a source of natural gas.
There is a wide range of organic, or hydrocarbon, compounds in any given fuel mixture. The specific mixture of hydrocarbons gives a fuel its characteristic properties, such as boiling point, melting point, density, viscosity, etc. Some fuels like natural gas, for instance, contain only very low boiling, gaseous components. Others such as gasoline or diesel contain much higher boiling components.
See also: Fossil fuel power plant
Fossil fuels are of great importance because they can be burned (oxidized to carbon dioxide and water), producing significant amounts of energy per unit mass. The use of coal as a fuel predates recorded history. Coal was used to run furnaces for the melting of metal ore. Semi-solid hydrocarbons from seeps were also burned in ancient times, but these materials were mostly used for waterproofing and embalming.
Commercial exploitation of petroleum began in the 19th century, largely to replace oils from animal sources (notably whale oil) for use in oil lamps.
Natural gas, once flared-off as an unneeded byproduct of petroleum production, is now considered a very valuable resource. Natural gas deposits are also the main source of the element helium.
Heavy crude oil, which is much more viscous than conventional crude oil, and tar sands, where bitumen is found mixed with sand and clay, began to become more important as sources of fossil fuel as of the early 2000s.Oil shale and similar materials are sedimentary rocks containing kerogen, a complex mixture of high-molecular weight organic compounds, which yield synthetic crude oil when heated (pyrolyzed). These materials had yet to be fully exploited commercially. With additional processing, they can be employed in lieu of other already established fossil fuel deposits. More recently, there has been disinvestment from exploitation of such resources due to their high carbon cost, relative to more easily processed reserves.
Prior to the latter half of the 18th century, windmills and watermills provided the energy needed for industry such as milling flour, sawing wood or pumping water, and burning wood or peat provided domestic heat. The widescale use of fossil fuels, coal at first and petroleum later, to fire steam engines enabled the Industrial Revolution. At the same time, gas lights using natural gas or coal gas were coming into wide use. The invention of the internal combustion engine and its use in automobiles and trucks greatly increased the demand for gasoline and diesel oil, both made from fossil fuels. Other forms of transportation, railways and aircraft, also required fossil fuels. The other major use for fossil fuels is in generating electricity and as feedstock for the petrochemical industry. Tar, a leftover of petroleum extraction, is used in construction of roads.
See also: Oil reserves
Levels of primary energy sources are the reserves in the ground. Flows are production of fossil fuels from these reserves. The most important part of primary energy sources are the carbon based fossil energy sources. Coal, oil, and natural gas provided 79.6% of primary energy production during 2002 (in million tonnes of oil equivalent (mtoe)) (34.9+23.5+21.2).
Levels (proved reserves) during 2005–2006
- Coal: 997,748 million short tonnes (905 billion metric tonnes), 4,416 billion barrels (702.1 km3) of oil equivalent
- Oil: 1,119 billion barrels (177.9 km3) to 1,317 billion barrels (209.4 km3)
- Natural gas: 6,183–6,381 trillion cubic feet (175–181 trillion cubic metres), 1,161 billion barrels (184.6×109 m3) of oil equivalent
Flows (daily production) during 2006
- Coal: 18,476,127 short tonnes (16,761,260 metric tonnes), 52,000,000 barrels (8,300,000 m3) of oil equivalent per day
- Oil: 84,000,000 barrels per day (13,400,000 m3/d)
- Natural gas: 104,435 billion cubic feet (2,963 billion cubic metres), 19,000,000 barrels (3,000,000 m3) of oil equivalent per day
Limits and alternatives
Main articles: Peak oil, Hubbert peak theory, Renewable energy, and Energy development
P. E. Hodgson, a Senior Research Fellow Emeritus in Physics at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, expects the world energy use is doubling every fourteen years and the need is increasing faster still and he insisted in 2008 that the world oil production, a main resource of fossil fuel, is expected to peak in ten years and thereafter fall.
The principle of supply and demand holds that as hydrocarbon supplies diminish, prices will rise. Therefore, higher prices will lead to increased alternative, renewable energy supplies as previously uneconomic sources become sufficiently economical to exploit. Artificial gasolines and other renewable energy sources currently require more expensive production and processing technologies than conventional petroleum reserves, but may become economically viable in the near future. Different alternative sources of energy include nuclear, hydroelectric, solar, wind, and geothermal.
One of the more promising energy alternatives is the use of inedible feed stocks and biomass for carbon dioxide capture as well as biofuel. While these processes are not without problems, they are currently in practice around the world. Biodiesels are being produced by several companies and source of great research at several universities. Some of the most common and promising processes of conversion of renewable lipids into usable fuels is through hydrotreating and decarboxylation.
Main article: Environmental impact of the energy industry
The United States holds less than 5% of the world's population, but due to large houses and private cars, uses more than 25% of the world's supply of fossil fuels. As the largest source of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, CO2 from fossil fuel combustion, accounted for 80 percent of [its] weighted emissions in 1998. Combustion of fossil fuels also produces other air pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, volatile organic compounds and heavy metals.
According to Environment Canada:
"The electricity sector is unique among industrial sectors in its very large contribution to emissions associated with nearly all air issues. Electricity generation produces a large share of Canadian nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxide emissions, which contribute to smog and acid rain and the formation of fine particulate matter. It is the largest uncontrolled industrial source of mercury emissions in Canada. Fossil fuel-fired electric power plants also emit carbon dioxide, which may contribute to climate change. In addition, the sector has significant impacts on water and habitat and species. In particular, hydropowerdams and transmission lines have significant effects on water and biodiversity."
According to U.S. Scientist Jerry Mahlman and USA Today: Mahlman, who crafted the IPCC language used to define levels of scientific certainty, says the new report will lay the blame at the feet of fossil fuels with "virtual certainty," meaning 99% sure. That's a significant jump from "likely," or 66% sure, in the group's last report in 2001, Mahlman says. His role in this year's effort involved spending two months reviewing the more than 1,600 pages of research that went into the new assessment.
Combustion of fossil fuels generates sulfuric, carbonic, and nitric acids, which fall to Earth as acid rain, impacting both natural areas and the built environment. Monuments and sculptures made from marble and limestone are particularly vulnerable, as the acids dissolve calcium carbonate.
Fossil fuels also contain radioactive materials, mainly uranium and thorium, which are released into the atmosphere. In 2000, about 12,000 tonnes of thorium and 5,000 tonnes of uranium were released worldwide from burning coal. It is estimated that during 1982, US coal burning released 155 times as much radioactivity into the atmosphere as the Three Mile Island accident.
Burning coal also generates large amounts of bottom ash and fly ash. These materials are used in a wide variety of applications, utilizing, for example, about 40% of the US production.
Harvesting, processing, and distributing fossil fuels can also create environmental concerns. Coal mining methods, particularly mountaintop removal and strip mining, have negative environmental impacts, and offshore oil drilling poses a hazard to aquatic organisms. Oil refineries also have negative environmental impacts, including air and water pollution. Transportation of coal requires the use of diesel-powered locomotives, while crude oil is typically transported by tanker ships, each of which requires the combustion of additional fossil fuels.
Environmental regulation uses a variety of approaches to limit these emissions, such as command-and-control (which mandates the amount of pollution or the technology used), economic incentives, or voluntary programs.
An example of such regulation in the USA is the "EPA is implementing policies to reduce airborne mercury emissions. Under regulations issued in 2005, coal-fired power plants will need to reduce their emissions by 70 percent by 2018.".
In economic terms, pollution from fossil fuels is regarded as a negative externality. Taxation is considered one way to make societal costs explicit, in order to 'internalize' the cost of pollution. This aims to make fossil fuels more expensive, thereby reducing their use and the amount of pollution associated with them, along with raising the funds necessary to counteract these factors.
According to Rodman D. Griffin, "The burning of coal and oil have saved inestimable amounts of time and labor while substantially raising living standards around the world". Although the use of fossil fuels may seem beneficial to our lives, this act is playing a role on global warming and it is said to be dangerous for the future.
Moreover, these environmental pollutions impacts on the human beings because its particles of the fossil fuel on the air cause negative health effects when inhaled by people. These health effects include premature death, acute respiratory illness, aggravated asthma, chronic bronchitis and decreased lung function. So, the poor, undernourished, very young and very old, and people with preexisting respiratory disease and other ill health, are more at risk.
Main articles: coal industry and petroleum industry
Further information: Fossil fuel exporters and Fossil fuels lobby
Europe spent €406 billion on importing fossil fuels in 2011 and €545 billion in 2012. This is around three times more than the cost of the Greek bailout up to 2013. In 2012 wind energy in Europe avoided €9.6 billion of fossil fuel costs. A 2014 report by the International Energy Agency said that the fossil fuels industry collects $550 billion a year in global government fossil fuel subsidies. This amount was $490 billion in 2014, but would have been $610 billion without agreements made in 2009.
A 2015 report studied 20 fossil fuel companies and found that, while highly profitable, the hidden economic cost to society was also large. The report spans the period 2008–2012 and notes that: "For all companies and all years, the economic cost to society of their CO2 emissions was greater than their after‐tax profit, with the single exception of ExxonMobil in 2008.":4 Pure coal companies fare even worse: "the economic cost to society exceeds total revenue in all years, with this cost varying between nearly $2 and nearly $9 per $1 of revenue.":5 In this case, total revenue includes "employment, taxes, supply purchases, and indirect employment.":4
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