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Tuesday, November 01, 2011

THE ORIGINS OF FUEL

"Relatively complex, carbon-containing molecules are found in comets and on nearby planets, thought to have been made elsewhere in our Solar System."

Mantle Hydrocarbons
Everybody knows that hydrocarbons such as petroleum are formed from biological processes. Plant matter and dinosaurs are trapped under layers of stone under immense pressure and heat and chemically alter into these new materials. That's why there's a basic presumption that we're going to run out; there can only be so much of this material that was made over time and when it runs out, there won't be any more for millions of years.

However, at Al Fin Energy, the blog makes a couple of good points:
If scientists can detect the signatures of complex hydrocarbons within the clouds of interstellar dust, then it is clear that the quantities of such materials in the universe must be truly immense.
...
Other bodies in our solar system, such as Titan, possess oceans of hydrocarbon -- clearly not of biological origin. In fact, as we are discovering, complex hydrocarbons appear to be ubiquitous wherever one looks in the universe.
In other words: clearly this cannot be biological in origin, and further there appears to be an incredibly vast amount of this stuff out there in the universe. Al Fin goes on to point out that "theorists such as Thomas Gold, and Sergey and Alexey Marakushev have maintained that much of the oil & gas that is produced commercially, came from this pre-biotic hydrocarbon."

The Carnegie Institution for Science is looking into this theory, which proposes the idea that these hydrocarbons make up a significant part of the earth's core and seep up through the layers and chemically are altered into petrochemicals in the process.

Are they right? Nobody knows, there's only one thing for sure: scientists don't really know the exact origins of petrochemicals. But there's some reason to believe they are neither as limited nor are they running out as people have long believed.

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