Gasoline Essay, Research Paper

Demand for gasoline has been the driving force in utilization and depletion of crude petroleum, which is a non-renewable resource. In recent years, tendencies have just begun to, at times, favor alternative fuels to power autos. Many possible alternative fuels exist, certainly not without their drawbacks. These alternatives include, but are not limited to, various batteries coupled with solar power, alcohols, gasohols, and both liquefied and gaseous natural gas, as well as hydrogen. As mentioned above, drawbacks do exist; the chief drawbacks being cost of adaption / implementation, engineering, and cost of the fuels themselves. As stated by many a chairman of petroleum companies, alternative fuels have limited applications and too many economic disadvantages, (Derr, 30).

“Although alternatives to gasoline may have some very limited niche applications in efforts to reduce air pollution, they have too few environmental advantages and too many economic disadvantages to justify the high expectations that some regulators have of them.” Quote from a speech given by the chairman and CEO of Chevron in 1994, (Derr, 30)

Derr, Kenneth T. Alternate vehicle fuels do not offer viable alternative to gasoline in U.S.. Adapted from a talk given to the Commonwealth Club of CA in San Francisco. Oil & Gas Journal. Dec. 19 ‘94. p. 30-34

. The National Research Council recently published information stating that human intervention has begun to take its toll on the marine environment. The ecological balance of oceans worldwide are at a dangerously unstable state, the effects of man-made pollutants introduced into the waters and seas are having severe consequences upon the marine life living there. There is much that needs to be accomplished before scientists can fully understand how bad our oceans and seas really are. Even more importantly, is the fact that environmental action must be taken now to reduce the oceans growing plight. Arguably the most contributing polluters to our oceans are the major industries of the world. Industrial ocean pollution has incorporated a wide variety of polluters, ranging from major oil spills dispersing toxic chlorinated hydrocarbons (the resultant of the breakdown of petroleum) to PCB=s (polychlorinated biphenyls) as well as DDT=s (dichloro-diphenyl trichloroethane, which is banned in the U.S. but still largely used in third world countries) all of which are used widely in chemical pesticides and detergents (Gourlay 85). The introduction of oil into our oceans occurs in three major ways; by tanker accidents, faulty underwater pipelines, or oil-rig blowouts. The times atlas of oceans lists one-hundred eighty-six tanker accidents between the years 1970 – 1985. Each accident was given an estimated oil-spill of ten thousand barrels (1,130 tons) or more (Gourlay 86). Potentially more disastrous are the oil rig blowouts, since they are more difficult than the tanker accidents. For example, in January 1969 an underwater oil drill exploded in the Santa Barbara Channel off the California coast. For nearly two weeks crude oil was polluted into the channel at nearly twenty-one thousand gallons a day. To this day wildlife experts are calling this spill the worst to ever hit the California coast, affecting over thirty different beaches, killing thousands of birds, seals, and dolphins as well as affecting hundreds of different species of fish (Gourlay 98). Oil breaks down into different compounds, depending on the molecular structure of the crude. It breaks down by the process of evaporation which leads to the process of dissolution, which in turn leads to emulsification and finally to biodegradation (Gerlach 73-74). Evaporation occurs after the first few hours after the oil has been introduced into the water. The best known way to evaporate the crude is to set it on fire, but this can only be done within a few hours after the oil spill due to having sufficient amount of pure flammable oil to ignite. After the evaporation process the dissolution process begins. The density of the oil will determine just how long the oil will stay at the surface of the water, or how long it will take for the oil slick to break apart and dilute itself. If the oil is relatively light then the period of dilution shall be relatively shorter. Whereas if the oil is heavier in mass, the outcome is a Ahighly persistent water-in-oil emulsion of semi-solid lumps known as chocolate mousse or more approriatly called tarballs (Gourlay 105)@. The latter is potentially more dangerous in a sense that the breakdown period, as well as the outcome of these tarballs is unknown (Gourlay 105). One known outcome is for the tarballs to sink to the bottom of the ocean and lie undisturbed for an unknown period of time. Here scientists have discovered is where the turmoil begins to discretely affect the food chain (Simon 46). The dilution of oil can affect the marine life in many deadly ways. The release of toxic chlorinated hydrocarbons, as well as the clouds of chocolate mousse (tarballs) are just two examples of the breaking down and diluting of crude petroleum. Anne Simon, author of Neptunes Revenge, describes the effects of clouded water (due to oil pollution) upon the sea life in three words, Asuffocation by anoxia,@ or more easily understood as death due to lack of oxygen (Simon 48). Fish rely on oxygen to survive just as we humans do, but to obtain this oxygen the fish go through a completely different process of inhalation, as compared to humans. As a fish sucks water into its body, it also pushes water out of its thin-walled fillamented gills. This is where the exchange of carbon-dioxide for oxygen takes place. With each gulp of water a fish takes in seventy five percent of the oxygen in that water is distributed throughout the fish=s bloodstream (Simon 48). Therefore, if there is not enough oxygen in the water, or the gills of fish become clogged with oily sediments, then the fish will suffocate and die; hence the effect of oil-polluted clouds (Simon 48). This dilemma has been observed frequently in previous years, for example in 1988 a report published by Anastasia Toufexis in Time Magazine describes New Jersey=s Raritan Bay, in which Aas much as one million Fluke and flounder were killed… when they became trapped in anoxic water…(Toufexis 46).@

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