Natural Resources

Fossil Fuels – Types & Uses, Pros & Cons

Understand pros and cons of fossil fuels with its types and uses

Fossil fuel is formed from the fossils of animal and plants buried over many years. The age of these organisms is millions of years. The heat of the Earth’s crust from beneath and the pressure of the rock from the top transform these fossils into fuel which is known as fossil fuel such as crude oil, natural gas, coal etc.

This fossil fuel composed of a maximum percentage of carbon and some percentage of other components such as petroleum, coal, natural gas etc.

Fossil fuels explanation

How long does it take in the formation of fossil fuels?

Fossil fuels are formed under the surface of the earth through a slow process of decomposition of fossils of plants and animals. The fossil of living organisms takes millions of year to transform into fossil fuels, hence it is a very slow natural process.

Fossil fuels include coal, natural gas, crude oil etc. Usually, the decomposed plants transform into coal whereas crude oil & natural gas are generated from the fossils of marine organisms.

According to the studies, millions of years ago many living organisms (plants & animals) were buried in mud after their death. After many years the buried plants and animals were transformed into fossils due to high temperature and pressure of Earth. Later on, these fossils were decomposed into fossil fuels.

Are Fossil Fuels and Renewables Similar?

Fossil fuels are carbon-based organic substances. When we use these substances to generate electricity it releases greenhouse gases. The gas emits less carbon on burning as compared to coal.

On the other hand, renewables are not carbon-based matters. The sources of renewables are natural that are recharging naturally such as the sun, wind, water etc.

One very important difference between fossil fuels and renewable is that renewable does not produce greenhouse gases while generating electricity whereas fossil fuels do.

What are the types of fossil fuels?

Fossil fuels are the underground natural resources used as the primary source for producing electricity, powering vehicles, cooking etc.

The need for energy has been increased with the industrialization from the past few decades. Fossil fuels are fulfilling the requirement of energy for us. Fossil fuels are mainly of 4 types as mentioned below-

  • Coal

Coal is an organic sedimentary rock which looks black in color. The main component of coal is carbon and it founds in layers.

Types of fossil fuels – Coal

Coal is an important fuel resource that helps in providing energy and electricity across the globe. Coal also plays an important role in the steel industry but the sad part is that it is one of the major reasons for greenhouse effects. This is why coal has comes to a declination mode these days.

  • Petroleum

Petroleum also termed as crude oil found in liquid form. The main component of petroleum is hydrocarbon and some other liquid organic components.

Types of fossil fuels – Petroleum

You can also call it black gold due to its importance in our life. The main usage of petroleum fossil fuel is for automobiles. Its demand is increasing every year but unfortunate excessive consumption of petroleum is working as an air & water pollutant.

  • Natural Gas

Natural gas is an inflammable colorless fossil fuel. It consists of mainly methane gas also with ethane, propane, butane etc. and makes a mixture of hydrocarbon gases.

As compared to other fossil fuels, natural gas causes less pollution. Like coal natural gas also depleting but quite rapidly. Natural gas is mostly used for industrial, residential, commercial purposes etc.

Gases – fossil fuel types
  • LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas)

LPG is heavier as compared to natural gas. It is stored in liquid form under humble pressure to make it easy for transportation. However, LPG is gaseous in normal atmospheric states.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Fossil Fuel

Fossil fuel obtained from Earth and transformed into various modes to use in different ways such as coal, natural gas, petroleum etc. They make our life quite easy.

We need fuel to perform various tasks whether it is about industrial usage, automobile usage or our daily life usage. Here we have listed the pros and cons of fossil fuel-

Pros of Fossil Fuel

  • The main advantage of fossil fuel is its capacity to produce electricity.
  • Coal is a fossil fuel which is cost effective when used in power plants.
  • The technologies for the extraction of fossil fuel have been accepted worldwide so that the maximum use can be made from these fuels.
  • Fossil fuel is quite reasonable and durable at the same time.
  • The contribution of fossil fuel is commendable to the economy as a whole.
  • The fossil fuel helps in generating a huge amount of energy.
  • The fossil fuels are available easily under the crust of Earth.
  • They can be easily transported after its extraction and can be stored as well.

Cons of Fossil Fuel

  • One of the main disadvantages of fossil fuel is its hazardous effect on the environment.
  • Fossil fuels also increase the risks of acid rain.
  • The fossil fuels are a non-renewable source of energy.
  • Apart from all the advantages, unfortunately, fossil fuels are harmful to human health.
  • The coal-mining danger is also present with fossil fuels.
  • Fossil fuels also affect marine life in the form of oil-spills.
  • Pollution is directly or indirectly related to the use of fossil fuel whether its air pollution or water pollution.

Uses of Fossil Fuels

Fossil fuels are not only used for industrial and transportation purposes but also an important part of our daily life. Some of the examples of fossil fuel usage that make our daily life quite easy & comfortable are –

  • Electricity
uses of fossil fuels – Generating electricity

Generating electricity from fossil fuel is one of the important contributions to mankind. For many thermal power plants, coal is the main source of fuel, whereas some other power plants also use natural gas & crude oil.

In these power plants the fossil fuels are burnt to produce heat and then this heat is used to convert water into steam. The steam generated by the burning of fossil fuel is used to operate various electronic machines.

  • Transportation
Fossil fuel use – In transportation

Transportation is an important use of fossil fuels. Major means of transportation such as land transport, water transport, railways etc. are operated by the use of fossil fuels.

The fossil fuels provide power to the engine of the vehicle which helps to move it forward.

For example – gasoline acquired from crude oil is used as fuel in cars, diesel obtained from crude petroleum is used in heavy vehicles like trucks, trains etc. petroleum is also used in ships etc.

Other items that require help of fossil fuel to get into production are – Fan Belts, Tires, Vehicle oil, Gasoline, etc.

  • At Home

The cooking gas or LPG used in our kitchen which is obtained from propane which is the lighter part of petroleum gas. In winters we use heaters in our home which is operated by using coal or natural gas. Kerosene is a byproduct of crude petroleum which is used in many ways in our daily activities.

The cooling system such as refrigerators also depends on fossil fuel in some ways. Other items that need fossil fuels to produce are – Dishwashers, Telephones, Refrigerators, Toilet Seats, Detergent, etc.

  • Additional Uses

Well, fossil fuel is not restricted to the usage of generating energy & power but also used in many other ways-

Fossil fuel is also used as lubricants (such as petroleum jelly, vehicle oil etc.) derived from the heavier fractions of it. The petrochemicals derived from fossil fuels are used in making plastic products such as bottles, bags, containers etc. Polyester is also obtained from fossil fuels used from clothing.

You must have heard about benzene chemical which is used as an ingredient in manufacturing companies for the production of rubber, solvents, pesticides etc.

Other items that need help from fossil fuels are – Deodorant, Clothing, Makeup accessories etc.

Is there any harmful effects of fossil fuels?


Fossil fuels are no doubt very useful for mankind but simultaneously the harmful effects are also observed. The extraction process of fossil fuel causes air pollution, marine pollution and sometimes cause harm to local communities. The transportation of fossil fuel from mines also causes pollution. The toxins are emitted when the fossil fuels are burned which causes global warming. The waste products releases from fossil fuels are also hazardous for us and our environment.

Resources are limited and our demand is rising everyday. Earth reminder suggests optimum utilization of resources so that our future generations will not suffer. Share it with your kids and family members.


Fahad Khan

I am a Post Graduate in Marketing and supply chain management with over 2 years of experience in a professional job and one-year experience at NGO. Earth Reminder must be our top most priority because resources which we are using today will not be there tomorrow. The sad part is we are not giving it back for example- Cutting trees daily but not planting new trees daily. Products which we are using are not natural anymore as some kind of manipulation is always there. Even now vegetables are not naturally grown from the soil as people use a chemical to grow them faster. With Earth Reminder, I am raising concern by bringing informational content related to earth care to the world and guiding them to contribute towards the Mother Earth.

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