Students need to understand how carbon dioxide is formed when fossil fuels are burnt; when they react with oxygen. It is also fundamental to chemistry that the students understand the law of conservation of matter, and can balance equations. The study of the environmental risks caused by burning fossil fuels and the fundamental concepts of chemistry combine to provide an interesting learning opportunity for the students.
Students will be able to:
- Write a balanced chemical equation.
- Articulate how burning fossil fuels increase the carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.
National Science Education Standard
Content Standard D : The Physical Setting
The structure of Matter
The configuration of atoms in a molecule determines the molecule's properties.
Strand 5: Physical Science
Concept 4: Chemical Reactions
Investigate relationships between reactants and products in chemical reactions.
Represent a chemical reaction by using a balanced equation.
Coal, oil and gas are fossil fuels. They were formed from fossilized plant and animal remains. Most of the energy we use is produced by burning fossil fuels. When coal, oil and gas are burnt, they react with oxygen to form water and carbon dioxide. The percentage of carbon dioxide in the air is increasing, and with more carbon dioxide our atmosphere acts as a greenhouse, retaining heat that would otherwise reflect into space. The observed increases in global temperatures, from Antarctica to Canada is known as global warning.
Fossil fuels are hydrocarbons, primarily coal, fuel oil or natural gas, formed from the remains of dead plants and animals. The theory that hydrocarbons were formed from these remains was first introduced by Mikhail Lomonosov in 1757. In common dialogue, the term fossil fuel also includes hydrocarbon-containing natural resources that are not derived from animal or plant sources. These are known instead as mineral fuels. The utilization of fossil fuels has enabled large-scale industrial development and largely supplanted water-driven mills, as well as the combustion of wood or peat for heat.
The development of the law of the conservation of mass can be found at http://dbhs.wvusd.k12.ca.us/webdocs/Equations/Conserv-of-Mass.html.
Extra help on balancing equations can be found at http://dbhs.wvusd.k12.ca.us/webdocs/Equations/Equations.html
Related and Resource Websites
EPA on Climate Change http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/index.html
Fossil Fuel: http://library.thinkquest.org/17531/fossil.html
Fossil Fuels on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fossil_fuel