Tuesday, November 22, 2022


  e-SBO       Tuesday, November 22, 2022

fuel is a substance that can be combusted or burnt to release energy as
a byproduct. The energy can be in the form of heat, light, electricity,
sound etc. This energy can be harnessed to power machines or used for
other purposes such as heating or lighting. Combustion is the burning of
fuel with energy released as a byproduct. Fuel is a very important
substance for the existence of a modern man. Examples of fuels include
petroleum products (petrol, diesel, fuel oil, kerosene, spirits, etc),
natural gas, coal, wood, charcoal, producer gas, water gas, etc.Fuel SourcesDifferent Sources of FuelsIdentify different sources of fuelsThere
are many types of substances that are used as fuels. The fuels exist as
solids, liquids or gases. The most common substances that are used as
fuels in Tanzania include wood, wood charcoal, coal, petroleum products
and natural gas. These fuels are obtained from different sources as
analysed below:

  1. Wood:
    wood is obtained from logs or poles of trees. The wood used as fuel in
    Tanzania is obtained from natural and artificial forests. Wood fuel is
    mainly used in rural areas where there are no alternative fuels. Wood is
    also a major source of fuel used by government institutions such as
    schools, colleges, hospitals, and military institutions.
  2. Charcoal:
    This fuel is made by heating certain substances such as wood and bones
    in a limited supply of air. Wood charcoal is the main source of fuel in
    urban areas and in some townships.
  3. Coal: coal
    used in Tanzania is mined at Kiwira coal mines. It is used indirectly
    for generating electricity or directly for powering machines in
    processing and manufacturing industries and factories. The electricity
    generated from coal is used in such industries as Tanga cement and
    several other industries in Dar es Salaam.
  4. Natural gas:
    This gaseous fuel is mined at Songosongo in Kilwa (Lindi region),
    located in southern Tanzania. The gas is used as a fuel at homes and in
    small industries. It is also used to generate electricity that is used
    in various manufacturing and processing industries. The electricity
    generated from this gas is also sold to Tanzania Electricity Supply
    Company (TANESCO) who distributes the energy to its various clients.
  5. Petroleum products (kerosene, diesel, petrol, fuel oil,fuel gas, etc.)
    These petroleum fractions are obtained from crude oil by the process of
    fractional distillation of crude oil (petroleum). Diesel, petrol and
    oil are used in vehicles and other machines. Kerosene is used in
    kerosene lamps and stoves for heating at homes and for other general

Methods of Obtaining Fuels from Locally Available MaterialsDescribe methods of obtaining fuels from locally available materialsMethods of making charcoalWhen
we heat certain organic matter in a limited supply of air, we obtain a
black, solid residue called charcoal. The organic matter can be from
plant or animal sources for example, wood or animal bones. Heating a
substance in limited supply of air is called destructive distillation.Wood
or bone charcoal is made by the process of destructive distillation of
wood or bones respectively. Charcoal is largely pure carbon. The entry
of air during carbonization (destructive distillation) process is
controlled so that the organic material does not burn down to ash as in
conventional fire, but instead decompose to form charcoal.Procedure for making wood charcoal

  • Cut wood into small pieces.
  • Arrange the wood pieces into a pile of wood on the ground.
  • Cover the pieces of wood with soil, leaving one open space for setting fire.
  • Set fire to the wood and then cover the open space with soil. Make sure that the wood is burning.
  • After the wood is burned, uncover the soil and pull out the black solid substance underneath. This is the charcoal.

Coal formationCoal
is formed from the remains of lush vegetation that once grew in warm
shallow coastal swamps. The following are the stages in the process of
coal formation:

  • The dead
    vegetation collects in the bottom of the swamp. It may start to decay.
    But decay soon stops, because the microbes that cause it need oxygen,
    and the oxygen dissolved in the stagnant, warm water is quickly
  • The vegetation is buried under debris.
  • Over
    hundreds of thousands of years, the environment changes. Seas flood the
    swamps. Heavy layers of sediment pile up on the dead vegetation,
    squeezing out gas and water and turning it into peat.
  • As the peat is buried deeper, the increasing heat and pressure compress it progressively to form different types of coal.
  • As
    the process continues, the coal gets harder and more compact. Its
    carbon content also increases, giving different types of coal. Table
    bellow shows a summary of the stages in the process:

Stages of formation of different types of coal

Name of coalCarbon content

Pressure and HeatLignite70%Hardness

Bituminous coal80%


carbon content increases so does energy given out per unit weight. But
hard coal tends to have higher sulphur content,hence likely to cause
environmental pollution. When burnt, the sulphur in the coal produces
sulphur dioxide gas that is released into the atmosphere, causing air
pollution.S(s)+O2(g)->S02(g)Categories of FuelsFuels
can be classified into three groups according to the physical state of
the fuel. A fuel can be in any of the three states of matter namely,
solid, liquid or gaseous state.Fuels According to their StatesClassify fuels according to their statesSolid fuelsSolid
fuels include wood, charcoal, peat, lignite, coal, coke, etc. The
immediate use of all these fuels is for heating and lighting. However,
these fuels have a long history of industrial use. Coal was the fuel for
the industrial revolution, from firing furnaces to running steam
locomotives and trains. Wood was extensively used to run locomotives.
Coal is still used for generation of power until now. For example, in
Tanzania the coal mined at Kiwira is used for generation of electricity.
Also Tanga Cement Company uses coal as a source of power to run
machines for production of cement.Wood
is used as a solid fuel for cooking, heating or, occasionally, as a
source of power in steam engines. The use of wood as a fuel source for
home heating is as old as civilization itself. Wood fuel is still common
throughout much of the world. It is the main source of energy in rural
areas.Wood charcoal
yields a large amount of heat in proportion to its quantity than is
obtained from a corresponding quantity of wood, and has a further
advantage of being smokeless. Wood charcoal is often used for cooking
and heating, in blacksmithing, etc.Animal charcoal
is used for sugar refining, water purification, purification of factory
air and for removing colouring matter from solutions and from brown
sugar. Animal charcoal is made by destructive distillation of animal
is a fuel of great industrial use. Coke is obtained by destructive
distillation of coal. Most of the coke produced in industry is used as a
reducing agent in the production of metals such as pig iron. A
substantial amount of coke is also used for making industrial gases such
as water gas and producer gas.Coke
is a better fuel than coal because when it is burning, it produces a
clean and smokeless flame. When coal is used as a fuel, it produces many
toxic gases during burning. Coke has high heat content and leaves very
little ash.Coal
is a complex mixture of substances, and its composition varies from one
place to another. It depends on coal’s age and condition under which it
was formed. Anthracite is a very hard black coal and it is the oldest
of all types of coal.When
coal is heated in a limited supply of air, it decomposes. This thermal
decomposition is called destructive distillation of coal. The products
are coke, coal tar, ammoniacal liquor and coal gas.Liquid fuelsLiquid
fuels include petrol (gasoline) diesel, alcohol (spirit), kerosene
(paraffin), liquid hydrogen, etc. Liquid fuels have advantage over solid
fuels because they produce no solid ashes, and can be regulated by
automatic devices. They are relatively more convenient to handle, store
and transport than solid fuels.Most
liquid fuels in wide use are derived from fossils. Fossil fuels include
coal, natural gas and petroleum. These fuels are formed from remains of
sea plants and animals which lived millions of years ago. The remains
became buried under layers of sediment. Immense heat and pressure
resulted in the formation of coal gas and oil.Energy
produced when petroleum products (diesel, petrol, kerosene, natural gas
etc) are burned, originated from the sun. This energy was transferred
to animals through their consumption of plants or plant products. When
the animals died, got buried, and compressed by heat and pressure, they
produced oil which gives off that energy when burnt.Petroleum fuels
are used in cars and in various other machines. Fuels used in cars and
lories (petrol and diesel), kerosene (for jet aircraft) and fuel oil
(for ships), all came from crude oil. Some oil fuel is also used for
electricity generation.Ethanol
burns with a clean, non-smoky flame, giving out quite a lot of heat. On
a small scale, ethanol can be used as methylated spirit (ethanol mixed
with methanol or other compounds) in spirit lamps and stoves. However,
ethanol is such a useful fuel that some countries have developed it as a
fuel for cars. In countries where ethanol can be produced cheaply, cars
have been adapted to use a mixture of petrol and ethanol as fuel.Brazil
has a climate suitable for growing sugarcane. Ethanol produced by
fermentation of sugarcane has been used as an alternative fuel to
gasoline (petrol), or mixed with gasoline to produce “gasohol”.
Currently, about half of Brazil’s cars run on ethanol or “gasohol”.
“Gasohol” now accounts for 10% of the gasoline sales in the U.S.A.The
idea about the use of biofuel for fuelling automobiles and other
machines has been borrowed by other countries including Tanzania.
However, the programme has raised a bitter concern among different
activists. Their doubt is that emphasis on growing crops for biofuel
production may take up land that could otherwise be used for growing
food crops. This, therefore, would mean that there would not be enough
land to grow enough food to feed the ever-increasing human population.
Hence, hunger will prevail. Notwithstanding all these shouting, biofuel
crop production is there to stay!Gaseous fuelsThe
use of gaseous fuels for domestic heating is common in urban areas.
Compressed gas that is delivered to our homes in steel cylinders is
liquefied propane, butane, or mixture of the two. When the valve is
opened, the liquid gas vapourizes quickly into gas and passes through a
pipe to the stove. Gaseous fuels are the most convenient fuels to
handle, transport and store.The following is a list of types of gaseous fuels:

  • Fuel naturally found in nature: -natural gas -methane from coal mine
  • Fuel
    gas from solid fuels or materials: -gas derived from coal (water gas
    and producer gas) -gas derived from wastes and biomass (biogas)
  • Fuel gas made from petroleum.

Gaseous fuels used in industryProducer gas and water gas are important industrial fuels.Producer gasProducer
gas is produced by burning a solid carbonaceous fuel, such as coke, in a
limited supply of air in a producer furnace. The reaction is exothermic
and this makes coke to get hotter. Carbonaceous fuels are fuels that
contain a high proportion of carbon. The producer gas is a mixture of
carbon monoxide and nitrogen.When
air, mixed with a little steam, is passed through the inlet in the
lower part of the furnace, the coke (carbon) combines with oxygen (from
air) to form carbon dioxide:

As the carbon dioxide formed rises up through the red-hot coke, it is reduced to carbon monoxide:

more heat (406 kJ) is produced in the lower part than is absorbed in
the upper part of the furnace (163 kJ), some excess heat is obtained in
the long run. This heat keeps the coke hot. The nitrogen gas in the
air is not affected at all during the process. Hence, the overall
reaction equation may be represented as follows:

As a fuel, producer gas burns to give out carbon dioxide.

a good deal of producer gas contains nitrogen, a gas that does not
support combustion, it has a lower calorific value compared to water
gas. See table 4.2 for comparison.Water gasWater
gas is produced by passing steam over white-hot coke at 1000°C. The gas
is a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. The reaction is
endothermic, causing the coke to cool.

Water gas burns as a fuel to give carbon dioxide and steam.

carbon monoxide is a very poisonous gas. The gas made from petroleum or
coal contains some carbon monoxide, which makes it poisonous. Natural
gas is safer and efficient, as it contains no carbon monoxide.Characteristics of a good fuelA
good fuel burns easily to produce a large amount of energy. Fuels
differ greatly in quality. There are certain characteristics, which make
a good fuel. After all, there is no fuel among the different fuels
known that posses all the virtues that a good fuel should have.
Generally, a good fuel has the followingcharacteristics:

  1. It
    should be environmentally friendly (not harm the environment) in the
    course of its production and use, that is, it should not produce harmful
    or toxic products such as much smoke, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide,
    sulphur dioxides, etc, which pollutes the air.
  2. It must be affordable to most people i.e. it must be cheap.
  3. It should not emit or produce dangerous by-products such as poisonous fumes, vapour or gases.
  4. It
    should have high calorific value i.e. it must burn easily and produce a
    tremendous quantity of heat energy per unit mass of the fuel.
  5. It should be easy and safe to transport, store, handle and use.
  6. It should be readily available in large quantities and easily accessible.
  7. It
    should have high pyrometric burning effect (highest temperature that
    can be reached by a burning fuel). Normally gaseous fuels have the
    highest pyrometric effect as compared to liquid and solid fuels.
  8. It should have a moderate velocity of combustion (the rate at which it burns) to ensure a steady and continuous supply of heat.
  9. A
    good fuel should have an average ignition point (temperature to which
    the fuel must be heated before it starts burning). A low ignition point
    is not good because it makes the fuel catch fire easily, which is
    hazardous, while high ignition point makes it difficult to start a fire
    with the fuel.
  10. A good fuel should have a low content of
    non-combustible material, which is left as ash or soot when the fuel
    burns. A high content of no-combustible material tends to lower the heat
    value of the fuel.

Calorific values of fuelsThe
heating value or calorific value of a substance, usually a fuel or
food, is the amount of heat released during the combustion of a specific
amount of it. The calorific value is a characteristic of each
substance. It is measured in units of energy per unit of substance,
usually mass, such as Kcal/Kg, J/g, KJ/Kg, KJ/Mol, MJ/m3, etc. Heating value is commonly determined by use of an instrument called bomb calorimeter.By
custom, the basic calorific value for solid and liquid fuels is the
gross calorific value at constant volume, and for gaseous fuels, it is
the gross calorific value at constant pressure.Calorific values of solid, liquid and gaseous fuels

Solid and liquid fuelsCalorific value (MJ/kg)
Coal and coal products
Anthracite (4% water)36
Coal tar fuels36 – 41
General purpose coal (5-10% water)32 – 42
High volatile coking coals (4% water)35
Low temperature coke (15% water)26
Medium-volatile coking coal (1% water)37
Steam coal (1% water)36
Peat (20% water)16
Petroleum and petroleum products
Diesel fuel46
Gas oil46
Heavy fuel oil43
Light distillate48
Light fuel oil44
Medium fuel oil43
Petrol44.80 – 46.9
Wood (15% water)16
Gaseous fuels at 15ºC, 101.325 kPa, dryCalorific value (MJ/m3)
Coal gas coke oven (debenzolized)20
Coal gas low temperature34
Commercial butane118
Commercial propane94
North sea gas, natural39
Producer gas coal6
Producer gas coke5
Water gas carburetted19
Water gas blue11

Measuring the heat given out by fuelsWe
burn fuels to provide us with heat energy. The more heat a fuel gives
out the better. The amount of heat given out when one mole of fuel burns
is called heat of combustion. This is often written as

value can be measured in the laboratory indirectly by burning the fuel
to heat water. Simple apparatus is shown in figure bellow. The basic
idea is: Heat gained by theHeat gained by the water = heat given out by the fuel.MethodThese are the steps:

  • Pour a measured volume of water into the tin. Since you know its volume you also know its mass (1 cm3 of water has a mass of 1g).
  • Weigh the fuel and its container.
  • Measure the temperature of the water.
  • Light the fuel and let it burn for a few minutes.
  • Measure the water temperature again, to find the increase.
  • Reweigh the fuel and container to find how much fuel was burned.

Measuring the energy value of a fuelCalculationsIt
takes 4.2J of energy to raise the temperature of 1g of water by 1ºC.
This constant value is called specific heat capacity of water, usually
represented as 4.2Jg-1C-1 (4.2 joules per gram per centigrade). So, you can calculate the energy given out when the fuel burns by using this equation:Energy given out = 4.2g-1C-1 mass of water (g) its rise in temperature (ºC).Then since you know what mass of fuel you burned you can work out the energy that would be given out by burning one mole of it.Example 1The experiment gave these results for ethanol and butane. Make sure you understand the calculations:Experimental results for heat determination

Ethanol (burned in a spirit lamp)Butane (burned in a butane cigarette lighter)
Mass of ethanol used: 0.9gMass of butane: 0.32g
Mass of water used: 200gMass of water used: 200g
Temperature rise: 20ºCTemperature rise: 12ºC
Heat given out = or 16.8KJHeat given out = = 10080J or10.08KJ
The formula mass of ethanol is 46. 0.9g gives out 16.8KJ of energy. So, 46g gives out of energyThe formula mass of butane is 58. 0.32 gives out 10.08KJ of energy. So, 58g gives out KJ of energy
So, H combustion for ethanol is -859KJ/molSo, H combustion for butane is –1827 KJ/mol

Example 2Determination of energy (calorific) value of ethanolThe energy/heating/calorific value of a fuel refers to the amount of heat given out when a specific amount of fuel is burned.ExperimentAim: To find out the energy value of ethanol.Materials: water, beaker, thermometer, weighing balance, spirit lamp and ethanol.Procedure:

  1. Pour a known volume of water into a beaker.
  2. Measure the temperature of the water.
  3. Fill the spirit lamp with enough ethanol.
  4. Weight the mass of both the ethanol and the lamp.
  5. Light the lamp and let it continue burning for a few minutes before putting it off.
  6. Measure the water temperature again, to find the increase.
  7. Reweigh the ethanol and its container to find how much ethanol was burned.

Record the following:

  • Mass of spirit lamp + ethanol (initially)
  • Mass of spirit lamp + ethanol (finally)
  • Mass of ethanol burned
  • Final temperature of water
  • Initial temperature of water
  • Rise in temperature of water
  • Mass of water

The amount of heat (q) released by ethanol is given by:

Specimen calculation:Mass of lamp and ethanol initially = 50gMass of lamp and ethanol finally = 49.5gMass of ethanol burned = 50.0 — 49.5 = 0.5gMass of water = 100gFinal temperature of water = 42ºCInitial temperature of water = 20ºCRise in temperature = 42ºC – 20ºC = 22ºCSpecific heat capacity of water = 4.2 Jg-1C-1Heat given out = Mass of water Xspecific heat capacity Xtemperature rise

similar procedures with kerosene, charcoal, coal, firewood etc. and
compare your results. Which fuel has more energy per gram? That is the
most efficient fuel.How reliable is the experiment?The following table compares the experimental results with values from data book.

FuelHeat of combustion in KJ/mol

From the experimentFrom a data book

big difference! The experimental results are almost 40% lower for both
fuels. Why do you think there is such a big difference? There are two
reasons for this:

  1. Heat loss:
    Not all the heat from the burning fuel is transferred to the water.
    Some is lost to the air, and some to the container that holds the fuel.
  2. Incomplete combustion: In case of a complete combustion, all the carbon in a fuel is converted to carbon dioxide. But here combustion is incomplete.
    Some carbon is deposited as soot on the bottom of the lamp and some
    converted to carbon monoxide. For example, when butane burns, a mixture
    of all these reactions may take place:

The less oxygen there is, the more carbon monoxide and carbon will form.Uses of FuelsUses of FuelsList uses of fuelsYou
have already learned different types of fuels and their energy values.
Fuels can be put into several uses. The use of a given kind of a fuel
for a particular function depends on the economic value of that use.
Generally, the uses of fuels include the following:1. Source of mechanical power:
Vehicles, machines and several other devices are powered by fuels such
as diesel, petrol, oil, etc as a source of mechanical power. In some
countries, vehicles have been modified to use natural gas as a source of
power. In Tanzania for example, plans are underway to modify car fuel
systems so that a natural gas obtained from Songosongo in Kilwa could
power cars. This will help a great deal to reduce the cost of running
cars on liquid fuels whose price in the world market is continuously
escalating. Hydrogen may become an important fuel for cars and homes in
the future, as we run out of oil and gas. It has two big advantages:

  • Its reaction with oxygen produces just water. No pollution to the environment!
  • It
    is a ‘renewable’ resource. It can be made by electrolysis of acidified
    water. As cheaper sources of electricity for electrolysis are developed,
    this may become an attractive option.

2. Cooking and heating:
Fuels like wood, liquefied gas (propane or butane or a mixture of the
two), charcoal and kerosene are burned to provide energy for cooking and
heating. When burned, these substances provide enough heat to cook food
and even heat different substance at home. Inhabitants of cold
countries in temperate regions of the world burn different kinds of
fuels to produce heat for heating homes and water.3. Generation of electricity:
The machines and devices responsible for electricity production and
supply are fuelled by heavy liquid fuels such as diesel, fuel oil, etc.
Most generators use liquid fuels such as petrol and diesel to generate
electricity. So, fuels play an important role in electricity production.
In Tanzania, coal from Kiwira mines is used for generation of
electricity used in Tanga Cement Factory and some industries in Dar es
Salaam. This is why escalation of crude oil in the world market results
to increased cost of electricity supplied to homes and industries. In
developed countries, uranium is used as a fuel to generate electricity
which is used at homes and in industries.4. Lighting:
Kerosene is used in paraffin lamps, tin lamps and hurricane lamps by
the rural communities to light homes. The use of paraffin is important
in rural areas of Tanzania where 90% of the total population stay and
earn their living. It is estimated that only 10% of the population have
access to electricity. So, you can see how crucial this fuel is to the
majority of the people.5. Industrial uses:
Industrial operations such as welding and metal fabrication make use of
oxyacetylene flame which produces extremely high heat to melt and cut
metals.6. Other alternative uses: manufacture of different kinds of products such as petroleum jelly, nylon and plastic.The Environmental Effects on Using Charcoal and Firewood as Source of FuelsAssess the environmental effects on using charcoal and firewood as source of fuelsTrees
are the most common source of fuels in developing countries like
Tanzania. Fuels from trees are mainly used for domestic purposes. People
cut down trees for firewood and for burning charcoal that is mainly
supplied to urban areas to be used as fuel.Because
of the rapidly growing human population, the demand for trees as a
source of fuel has ever increased to the extent that this resource is no
longer sustainable. The act of cutting down trees for firewood,
charcoal, timber, and for obtaining logs that are shipped to overseas
has made this resource to be depleted. This leads to environmental
destruction, a result that causes many problems to the human society and
other organisms as well.Trees
have several advantages apart from providing us with fuels. Trees help
in the attraction of rainfall and conservation of water sources in
various areas. Trees also help in removing bad gases from air such as
carbon dioxide that is emitted to the atmosphere due to various human
activities. In so doing, trees help to maintain the balance of gases in
the atmosphere.Trees
and other vegetation provide habitats and shelters for wild animals and
birds of the air. Presence of trees also help to maintain the survival
of microorganisms found in the soil, which are important for the balance
of nature. Trees can make our country look beautiful and hence attract
local and foreign eco-tourists, a fact which can contribute to our
country’s revenue, and economic growth.Deforestation
results to scarcity of rainfall as we are experiencing these years.
This is because trees attract rainfall. Scarce rainfall leads to
drought. Prolonged drought causes famine. Therefore, people will suffer
from famine if they continue to use firewood or charcoal as their
sources of fuels.The
other effect is soil erosion, which leads to loss of soil fertility.
Trees act as a soil cover, which makes the soil resist the impact of
raindrops. Deforestation means removal of the soil cover and hence
making the soil bare. It is obvious that tree cutting for firewood or
charcoal will expose the soil to agents of soil erosion such as wind,
water and animals. This will make the soil more prone to erosion. So
long as plants depend on the top soil (which contains more plant
nutrients) for survival and existence, an eroded soil will consequently
support very few or no vegetation at all. The aftermath of this is soil
noted early, trees help absorb excess carbon dioxide produced by
respiring living organisms. Cutting down trees will lead to excessive
accumulation of carbon dioxide in air. Carbon dioxide, among other
gases, is responsible for excessive heating of the earth, a phenomenon
called global warming. This is because the gas forms a layer in
the atmosphere that acts as a blanket. The layer of carbon dioxide gas
so formed prevents heat emitted by the heated earth from escaping to the
upper atmosphere. This causes extreme heating of the earth’s surface.
Consequences of global warming are many, the worst being drought that
could ultimately lead to extinction of plant and animal species.Vegetation that has dried up due to prolonged droughtIn brief, cutting down trees for charcoal and firewood can lead to the following environmental problems:

  • prolonged drought spells and hence famine;
  • drastic change in rainfall patterns;
  • global warming and climate change;
  • increased soil erosion and rapid depletion of soil nutrients;
  • increased aridity and desertification;
  • loss of valuable species of economic or medicinal value;
  • broken food chain and reduced ecosystem stability;
  • destruction of animal habitats and shelters;
  • extinction of animal, microbial and plant species; and
  • loss of biodiversity.

it is important to plant more trees and to reduce our dependence on
trees for fuels in order to improve our environment. Tree planting
campaign should be a regular practice and the trees that have already
been planted should be cared for. Natural forests should be conserved.
Local Governments should be encouraged to make and enforce the bylaws
against those people cutting down trees carelessly for charcoal burning.
At the same time, the central Government must look for the alternative
energy sources for her citizens urgently.

use of trees for fuels will end up our life on earth. Let us take
actions to conserve our environment so that we continue living a healthy
lifeConservation of EnergyWhat is energy?Energy
is defined as the ability to do work or bring about change. Energy
makes changes; it does things for us. It moves cars along the road, and
boats over the water. It bakes cakes in the oven and keeps ice frozen in
the freezer. It plays our favourite songs on the radio and lights our
homes. Energy makes our bodies grow and allow our minds to think. People
have learned how to change energy from one form to another so that we
can do work more easily and live more comfortably. The source of all
energy on earth is the sun.Forms of energyEnergy
exists in many different forms such as heat, light, sound, electrical,
etc. The amount of energy can be measured in joules, kilojoules,
megajoules, calories, etc. There are many forms of energy, but they can
all be put in two categories: Kinetic and Potential.Forms of energy

Kinetic energy is energy in motion of waves, electrons, atoms, molecules, substances, and objects.Potential energy is stored energy and the energy of position – gravitational energy.
Electrical energy
is the movement of electrical charges. Everything is made of tiny
particles called atoms. Atoms are made of even smaller particles called
electrons, protons and neutrons. Applying a force can make some of the
electrons move. Electrical charges moving through a wire is called
electricity. Lightning is another example of electrical energy.
Chemical energy
is energy stored in the bonds of atoms and molecules. This energy holds
these particles together. Biomass, petroleum, natural gas, and propane
are examples of stored chemical energy.
Radiant energy
is electromagnetic energy that travels in transverse waves. Radiant
energy includes visible light, x-rays, gamma rays and radio waves. Light
is one type of radiant energy. Solar energy is an example of radiant
Stored mechanical energy
is energy stored in objects by the application of a force. Compressed
springs and stretched rubber bands are examples of mechanical energy.
Thermal energy,
or heat energy, is the internal energy in substances caused by the
vibration and movement of the atoms and molecules within substances.
Geothermal energy is an example of thermal energy.
Nuclear energy
is energy stored in the nucleus of an atom – the energy that holds the
nucleus together. The energy can be released when the nuclei are
combined or when a nucleus splits apart (disintegrates). Nuclear power
plants split the nuclei of uranium atoms in a process called fission.
The sun combines the nuclei of hydrogen atoms in a process called
fusion. Scientists are working creating fusion energy on earth, so that
someday there might be fusion power plants.
Motion energy
is the energy which enables movement of objects and substances from one
place to another. Objects and substances move when a force is applied
according to Newton’s laws of motion. Wind is an example of motion
Gravitational energy is the
energy of position or place. A rock resting at the top of a hill
contains gravitational potential energy. Hydropower, such as water in
reservoir behind a dam, is an example of gravitational potential energy.
Sound energy
is the movement of energy through substances in longitudinal
(compression/rarefaction) waves. Sound is produced when a force causes
an object or substance to vibrate – the energy is transferred through
the substance in a wave

energy is energy in motion. Its existence can be shown by winds, ocean
currents, running water, moving machines or a falling body.Potential
energy is energy at rest. It is found stored in different forms, e.g.
in coal, petroleum and natural gas, batteries and muscles. Such energy
does not work so long as it is stored. It is capable of doing work when
it is converted to other forms of energy such as heat, light or
radiation.The Law of Conservation of EnergyExplain the law of conservation of energyEnergy conversion (Energy changes)Can
energy be created or destroyed? When wood or charcoal is burned, it
appears as if energy is destroyed and wasted. In fact, the energy in
these kinds of fuels is not destroyed when the fuels are burned. It is
simply converted to other forms of energy such as heat and light.When
you are seated on a desk in class, you are possessing potential energy.
When you stand up and walk away from the classroom, you are
transforming the potential (chemical) energy in your muscles to kinetic
energy.The Law of Conservation of Energy
states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed but it can only
be changed from one form to another. When we use energy, it does not
disappear. We simply convert it from one form to another.Potential
(chemical) energy in a dry cell is converted to electrical energy which
is finally converted to sound energy in radio speakers. In a tape
record player, the same chemical energy is ultimately converted to
kinetic energy to drive the cassettes. When the potential energy is all
used up, the batteries are dead. In the case of rechargeable batteries,
their potential energy is restored through recharging.The
chemical energy in your mobile phone battery can be converted into
sound, light, text, etc. The main energy changes that occur in a
variety of simple situations are:

  • Battery chemical to electrical, sound or light;
  • Car engine chemical to mechanical and then kinetic;
  • Light bulb electrical to light and heat;
  • Parachutist potential to kinetic;
  • Solar heat to electrical and kinetic;
  • Wind mill kinetic to electrical;
  • Running water kinetic to electrical;
  • Muscles chemical to kinetic, etc.

What other situations of energy changes do you know? Mention themAll
energy changes that occur during chemical and physical changes must
conform to the Law of Conservation of Energy, that is, energy can only
be changed from one form into its equivalent of another form with no
total loss or gain.The
most common form of energy in chemistry is the heat change. A chemical
reaction must involve some change in energy. As the reaction occurs,
chemical bonds of reactant molecules are broken while those of the
product molecules are formed. Energy is given out when a chemical bond
forms and it is consumed when a bond is broken.Take an example of combustion (respiration) of glucose in living cells:

respiration process, the bonds of glucose and oxygen are broken down
while those of carbon dioxide and water are formed. Heat is absorbed
when chemical bonds are broken and it is released when the bonds are
formed. The total amount of heat absorbed by the reactants is equal that
released by the products. Heat absorbed is given a positive sign (+ve)
while heat given out is assigned a negative sign (-ve). So the total
energy change is equal to zero. This means that no energy has been
created or destroyed.Experiments on the Conservation of Energy from One Form to AnotherCarry out experiments on the conservation of energy from one form to anotherActivity 1Carry out experiments on the conservation of energy from one form to anotherRenewable Energy BiogasRenewable
energy sources include biomass, geothermal energy, hydroelectric power,
solar energy, wind energy, and chemical energy from wood and charcoal.
These are called renewable energy sources because they are replenished
within a short time. Day after day, the sun shines, wind blows, river
flows and trees are planted. We use renewable energy sources mainly to
generate electricity.In
Tanzania most of the energy comes from non-renewable sources. Coal,
petroleum, natural gas, propane and uranium are examples of
non-renewable energy sources. These fuels are used to generate
electricity, heat our homes, move our cars and manufacture many kinds of
products. These resources are called non-renewable because they cannot
be replenished within a short time. They run out eventually. Once, for
example, coal or petroleum is depleted, it may take millions of years to
be replaced. So, these are non-renewable energy sources.BIOGASBiogas
is a gaseous fuel produced by the decomposition of organic matter
(biomass). Under anaerobic conditions, bacteria feed on waste organic
products, such as animal manure and straw, and make them decay. The
product formed from this decay is called biogas, which consists mainly
of methane, though other gases such as carbon dioxide, ammonia, etc, may
also be produced in very small quantities. The biogas produced can be
used as a fuel for cooking, heating, etc.Raw
materials for biogas production may be obtained from a variety of
sources, which include livestock and poultry wastes, crop residues, food
processing and paper wastes, and materials such as aquatic weeds, water
hyacinth, filamentous algae, and seaweeds.The Working Mechanism of Biogas PlantExplain the working mechanism of biogas plantThe
organic waste products are fed in a biogas plant. Prior to feeding the
material into the plant, the raw material (domestic poultry wastes and
manure) to water ratio should be adjusted to 1:1 i.e. 100 kg of excreta
to 100 kg of water. Then adequate population of both the acid-forming
and methanogenic bacteria are added.The
bacteria anaerobically feed on the liquid slurry in the digester. The
major product of this microbial decomposition is biogas, which largely
contain methane gas. The gas so produced is collected in the gas holder
and then taped off. The gas is used as a fuel for cooking, heating and
other general purposes.The biological and chemical conditions necessary for biogas productionDomestic
sewage and animal and poultry wastes are examples of the nitrogen-rich
materials that provide nutrients for the growth and multiplication of
the anaerobic organisms. On the other hand, nitrogen-poor materials like
green grass, maize stovers, etc are rich in carbohydrates that are
essential for gas production. However, excess availability of nitrogen
leads to the formation of ammonia gas, the concentration of which
inhibits further microbial growth. This can be corrected by dilution or
adding just enough of the nitrogen-rich materials at the beginning.In
practice it is important to maintain, by weight, a C:N close to 30:1
for achieving an optimum rate of digestion. The C:N can be manipulated
by combining materials low in carbon with those that are high in
nitrogen, and vice versa.A
pH range for substantial anaerobic digestion is 6.0 – 8.0. Efficient
digestion occurs at a pH near to neutral (pH 7.0). Low pH may be
corrected by dilution or by addition of lime.To
ensure maximum digestion, stirring of the fermentation material is
necessary. Agitation (stirring) can be done either mechanically with a
plunger or by means of rotational spraying of fresh organic wastes.
Agitation ensures exposure of new surfaces to bacterial action. It also
promotes uniform dispersion of the organic materials throughout the
fermentation liquor, thereby accelerating digestion.A Model of Biogas PlantConstruct a model of biogas plantThe
biogas plant consists of two components: the digester (or fermentation
tank) and a gas holder. The digester is a cube-shaped or cylindrical
waterproof container with an inlet into which the fermentable mixture is
introduced in the form of liquid slurry. The gas holder is normally an
airproof steel container that floats on the fermentation mix. By
floating like a ball on the fermentation mix, the gas holder cuts off
air to the digester (anaerobiosis) and collects the gas generated. As a
safety measure, it is common to bury the digester in the ground or to
use a green house covering.Structure of the biogas plantThe Use of Biogas in Environmental ConservationExplain the use of biogas in environmental conservationEnvironmental
conservation is a major concern in life. We need to live in a clean and
health environment so as to enjoy our lives better. The use of biogas
as an alternative source of energy is essential in environmental
conservation due to a number of reasons. These are some of the reasons:

  • Biogas does not produce much smoke or ash, which could otherwise
    pollute the atmosphere or land. When the gas is burned it produces very
    little smoke and no ash as compared to other sources of fuel such as
  • The use of biogas for cooking and heating prevents the
    cutting down of trees to harvest firewood, or burn charcoal for fuel, a
    practice that could result to soil erosion, drought, etc. Hence, using
    the biogas as fuel helps to conserve the environment as no more cutting
    of trees may be done.
  • Using cow dung, poultry manure and other
    excreta for biogas production helps keep the environment clean because
    these materials are put into alternative use instead of just being
    dumped on land, a fact that could lead to pollution of the environment.
  • Some
    biomass employed in biogas production is toxic and harmful. By letting
    these materials be digested by bacteria, they may be turned into
    non-toxic materials that are harmless to humans, plants, animals and
  • The excreta used for production of biogas produce foul
    smell if not properly disposed of. Using this excrete to generate biogas
    means no more bad smell in air.
  • Health hazards are associated
    with the use of sludge from untreated human excreta as fertilizer. In
    general, a digestion time of 14 days at 35ºC is effective in killing the
    enteric bacterial pathogens and the enteric group of viruses. In this
    context, therefore, biogas production would provide a public health
    benefit beyond that of any other treatment in managing the rural health
    and environment of developing countries



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