The material that can be reacted with other substances to release energy which can be used to do any work or can be used as heat energy is called fuel. The fuel can neither be created nor destroyed. The fuels can its form to suit the varied requirements. There is always a need to change a form of energy to another to do the desired work. For example: When a person burns a paper with a matchstick. We do not create light energy; the light energy is produced as the heat energy is transferred by the matchstick. To conclude, A fuel is a substance that produces some amount of energy on combustion. Few examples of fuels are Biogas, Natural Gas, Fossil Fuels etc.
The Fuels are further classified into Renewable Source of Energy and Non-Renewable source of Energy. Renewable Source of Energy is those fuels which do not use fossil fuels but that could be replenished naturally. Whereas, Non Renewable source of energy have the economic value and are not readily replaced as they are obtained from the source that will run out.
The calorific Value of fuel is the amount of energy produced by fuel on its combustion. Different fuels can be compared based on their respective calorific values. The calorific Value of fuel plays an important role in determining the cost of fuel.
The fuels are categorized based on their state as well as on their existence.
Following are the types of fuels
• Solid Fuels
• Liquid Fuels
• Gaseous Fuels
• Natural/ Fossil Fuels
• Nuclear Fuels
Solid Fuels: Solid fuels are those fuels which are in the solid state in their current form. Solid fuels are some of the prime fuels used by early men. The solid fuels generate heat and light energy on combustion. Example: Coal. Coal is one of the most important fuels that led to the industrial revolution and paved way to progress and modernization. The storage and transportation of solid fuels is comparatively easy and does not have much production cost too. The ignition temperature of the solid fuel is moderate but a large amount of energy gets wasted while using solid fuels. It is difficult to control the solid fuels and the weight of the solid fuel is also high.
Liquid Fuels: Fuels obtained from the fossil of plants and animals are liquid fuels. The fuel is produced due to the exposure of fossil remain to heat and pressure. The liquids fuels have flammable fumes and therefore it becomes essential to store it properly to avoid risks. The odour is also one of the major drawbacks of liquid fuels. The liquid fuels are clean and can be burned easily. The Calorific value of liquid fuels is higher than solid fuels. The liquid fuels do not produce ash or clinkers on burning. It is easy to control the combustion of liquid fuels. The liquid fuels can be transported easily with the help of pipes etc and handling the same can also be easier. The energy is less wasted while using liquid fuels. However, liquid fuels are expensive and it cost a lot of money to systematically store the liquid fuels. Utmost care and agility are necessary while handling liquid fuels. It may also necessitate the requirement of special equipment for the proper combustion of liquid fuels. Example: Petroleum, Kerosene, Diesel, Alcohols, Shale-oil etc
Gaseous Fuel: Gaseous fuels are obtained from nature and can be produced with solid and liquid fuels. Hydrocarbons, Carbon Monoxide, hydrogen etc makes most of the gaseous fuels. The Gaseous fuels can be handled easily as it is easy to transport the same with pipes. The combustion process can be done with minimal efforts in case of Gaseous Fuel. The heat content of gaseous fuel is highly opposed to solid and liquid fuels. It does not require a special burner or any other technology to combust the gaseous fuel. Large tanks are required to store the gaseous fuels. Being inflammable, it is a must to take all kinds of safety measures while using them as chances of fire hazards are more. Excessive use of fossil fuels is one of the major concerns today as it increases global warming. Example: Producer Gas, Natural Gas, Acetylene, Coal Gas etc
Fossil Fuels: Fossil Fuels are obtained from the dead and remains of plants and animals. They have been formed by the decades of pressure of the earth’s crust. The fossils fuels are very convenient to use and cost effective as well. Fossil fuels are non-renewable sources of energy. The natural gases are processed as CNG, methane, coal etc for various purposes. Some of the examples of fossil fuels includes; Coal, Natural Gas, Oil etc.
Nuclear Fuels: The material used to generate nuclear energy is called the Nuclear Fuel. The nuclear fuels generally have a high content of nuclear fission and are capable of self –sustaining chain reaction. Nuclear Fuels are divided in two types Fusion and Fission and the examples of Nuclear Fuel include Uranium, Plutonium etc. Fuels are very important as they help us to carry out various processes. The energy generated by the fuels is converted into mechanical and chemical energy to carry out various processes such as operating machinery, production etc. They are depleting at a rapid rate due to the over-utilization of fuels and increase in demand However, the supply of the same is very limited. It is necessary to give a considerable though while utilizing the fuel so that they do not get exhausted in the near future. Choosing the right fuel or an ideal fuel is very lucrative as it can have a good effect on the environment and the overall of production of the energy.
It is a must to choose a fuel wisely for the combustion process or to generate energy as it can have a considerable impact on the overall production and processes. Following are the characteristics of an ideal fuel:
1. The fuel must have a high calorific value to carry out the combustion process quickly.
2. The fuel should be readily available in the market and affordable as well.
3. The fuel must have a moderate combustion rate.
4. The transportation of fuel should be easy.
5. The fuel should also not produce any poisonous or harmful substance on combustion of the same.
India is one of the largest exporters of fuels. It exports some of the fuels that are abundantly available as well as import the fuels that are required. India is known for the production of various fuels. The Digboi town of Assam is known for its oil deposits. There are several gas fields located in Assam and Gujarat as well. The crude petroleum and natural gas reserves are in the state of Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, and Arunachal Pradesh etc.
It is important to note that some fuels are renewable and some are non-renewable and it may take hundreds of years to get them renewed. The demand for the fuels is high whereas the supply of the same is comparatively lower. Therefore, proper utilization of fuels and resources is must and wastage of the same should be avoided. Fuel plays a very important role in our lives making it more comfortable.