Uses of Fossil Fuels

Dhristi JEE 2022-24

Different Ways We Use Fossil Fuels: A Brief Introduction

Prehistoric remains of plants and animals generally create fossils. There are three types of fossil fuels namely natural gas, coal and oil/petroleum. Petroleum is the most broadly used fossil fuel. Petroleum originates from two Latin words petrowhich means rock and leum which means oil. On the other hand, coal is an abundant resource that is responsible for almost 40% of the electricity generated worldwide. Natural gas is another most efficient and convenient source of energy. Generally, natural gas is used in the industrial sector. In the next few segments, it is aimed to explain what are fossil fuels used for. 

Uses of Fossil Fuels: An In-depth Analysis

Before moving on to fossil fuel applications, it must be clarified that three forms of fossil fuels exist in three distinguished forms. Oil is found in liquid form, coal is found in solid form and natural gas is found in gaseous form. The various uses of fossil fuels are described in the following three segments:

a) Uses of Oil

b) Uses of coal

c) Uses of natural gas  

Uses of Oil:

Crude oil or petroleum is also termed as ‘black gold’. Petroleum is used in different ways. Generating electricity, transportation as fuel for automobiles and jets etc are the various ways in which petroleum is used. Various chemicals, plastics, lubricants, tars, wax, medicines etc are produced from the by-products of oil. Different types of fertilizers and pesticides are produced either by oil or by its by-products. Oil is also the source of the fuels used in industries.

Uses of Coal:

Fossil fuel in its solid state is known as coal. Coal is comprised of five elements namely sulphur, nitrogen, hydrogen, carbon and oxygen. There are three varieties of coal according to different energy properties. Those are anthracite, bituminous and lignite. Among the three types of coals anthracite is the hardest form of coal which consists of more carbon and the highest energy. Coal can exist for more than 200 years. Coals are generally extracted from the mines. The uses of coal have been doubled after the 20th century. Most of the countries are dependent upon coal as the other two fossil fuels (oil and natural gas) are generally more expensive. Electrical utilities, various products such as dyes, aspirins, soap, fibres, plastics and solvents are made of coal or by-products of coal. There are various uses of coal in different industrial sectors such as the steel industry, pharmaceutical industry, cement manufacture, manufacturing of paper etc. 

Uses of Natural Gas:

Natural gas is gaseous fuel and is mainly comprised of methane. It is much cleaner than the other two fossil fuels. Natural gas is used in air conditioning, cooking appliance such as fuel stoves and heat homes and establishments, heating water etc. There are several uses of natural gases in the industrial sectors such as steel foundries, glass foundries, other manufacturing sectors, aluminium smelters etc. Paints, fertilizers, plastics and dyes are also produced by natural gases. Another significant use of natural gas is in transportation such as CNG or LNG. 

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Structure of LP Gases

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Structure of Coal

How do we Use Fossil Fuels in Everyday Life?

There are various fossil fuels applications in our day to day life. Fossil fuel uses in our daily life are given in the following table:

Examples of Fossil Fuels List

What do Fossil Fuels Provide us in Day-to-Day Life? 


Chemicals, lubricants, tars, waxes, medicines, fertilizers, pesticides etc


Electrical utilities, different products such as dyes, aspirins, soap, fibres, plastics and solvents etc

Natural Gas

Air conditioning, a cooking appliance such as fuel stoves and heat homes and establishments, heating water etc.


Uses of Fossils:

Various uses of fossils are given below:

  • Dates of sedimentary rocks are determined by the fossils.

  • Different time periods of the processing of earth are derived by the fossils. 

  • Earth’s history can be identified with the help of fossils.

Uses of Fuel:

The uses of fuel are given in the following:

  • Gasoline is one of the most significant fuels for transportation.

  • Natural gas is used in heating and cooking.

  • Coal is an essential thing to generate electric power.

  • Alcohol is blended with gasoline to boost up the production of fuels.

Did You Know?

The uses of fossil fuels are massive in the production of medicines in the world. Petroleum and health care are very closely related to each other. Coal is also used for producing different types of medicines. Since coal is originated from the remains of plants and animals, various useful medicines are manufactured from coal.

So, now you know what do fossil fuels provide us with. Practically, our daily life will become come to a standstill in the absence of fossil fuels.

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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. How is Uranium used as Fossil Fuel?

Ans: Uranium can be considered as fuel as it is consumed by nuclear power plants and energy is also extracted from it. It is a non-renewable source of energy also like coal and other fuels. The only difference between uranium and other fossil fuels is that the former produces heat in the course of radioactive decay. One of the major demerits of uranium is that sometimes it produces dangerous radioactive reactions and waste products that continue to possess radioactive power for thousands of years. Uranium is capable of producing 1 million times of energy through weight for weight process.

2. What are the types of Coals? 

Ans: Coal is categorized into three subcategories according to the percentage of carbon and the amount of producing energy. The types of coal are Anthracite, Bituminous and Lignite. 

  • The percentage of carbon in Anthracite coal is around 86-92% and the percentage of dry volatile content is around 3-14%. 

  • The percentage of dry carbon in Bituminous coal is around 76-86% and the percentage of dry volatile content is around 14-46%. 

  • The percentage of dry carbon in Lignite coal is around 65-70% and the percentage is of dry volatile content is around 53-63%. 

Anthracite coal is considered the highest quality of coal.