Chemistry of Burning

Chemistry of Burning Activity Source: The University of Texas at Austin Bureau of Economic Geology. Provided by Association of American State Geologists. Adapted with permission. Why is CO2 increasing in the atmosphere? Who is doing it? Many people think that CO2 is “pollution,” so that clean burning should be a way to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions. In this demonstration, we review basic chemistry (see illustration) to realize that producing CO2 is an inevitable product of burning any fossil fuel. [Read More]

Drill Site Dilemma

Drill Site Dilemma Activity Source: Consortium for Ocean Leadership. Adapted with permission. For teacher: The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) is an international research program that explores the history and structure of Earth as recorded in seafloor sediments and rocks. It seeks to expand the reach of several previous programs by a collaborative union between the United States, Japan, and the European Union. The JOIDES Resolution is the research vessel that is operated by the United States. [Read More]

Energy and Population

Energy and Population Activity Source: The NEED Project. Adapted with permission. Just as your GPS helps you make sure you’re getting from point “a” to point “b” correctly, maps help scientists draw important conclusions and visualize important concepts they study. The right map can help a petroleum engineer find the best drilling site, or help a meteorologist make the best prediction. This interactive mapping activity will help you understand the relationship between the population of a given state and the amount of energy consumed there. [Read More]

Exploring Energy with GIS

Exploring Energy with GIS Activity Source: ESRI. Adapted with permission. Locating crucial energy resources involves examining phenomena under, on, and above Earth’s surface. Some of these phenomena change frequently, such as winds. Others, such as oil and coal deposits, are products of long series of geologic processes. Yet all are geographic in nature — they occur in specific places for specific reasons. To determine the best regions to explore for new natural gas deposits, to determine the ideal places for wind farms, or to locate the best rooftops for solar panels in a city, Geographic Information System (GIS) technology and methods are vital. [Read More]

Exploring for Petroleum - Modeling an Oil Reserve

Exploring for Petroleum - Modeling an Oil Reserve Activity Source: Adapted from “Earth System Science in the Community,” American Geosciences Institute, 2005 Background Since 1970, oil and natural gas have provided more than half of the energy used each year in the United States to produce electricity, heat, transportation fuels, and many everyday products from balloons to vitamins. Oil and natural gas are forms of petroleum, a word that literally means “oily rock. [Read More]

Exploring Porosity

Exploring Porosity Activity Source: The NEED Project. Adapted with permission. Earth scientists play a vital role in harvesting the energy resources on which we all rely. When preparing to drill for oil, for example, geoscientists must assess many aspects of a rock stratum (layer). For example, they must figure out the volume of the rock’s pores, or empty spaces, as compared with the rock’s total volume. This is called the rock’s porosity. [Read More]

Geoscience and Petroleum Careers

Geoscience and Petroleum Careers Activity Source: SEED (Schlumberger Excellence in Educational Development). Adapted with permission. What adventures await you as a student of the Earth sciences? How about a career as a scientist or engineer working for the world’s largest oilfield services company? Schlumberger employees invent, design, engineer, and apply technologies to help customers find and produce oil and gas more efficiently and safely — often in remote and challenging locations. [Read More]

Getting the Oil Out

Getting the Oil Out Activity Source: Society of Petroleum Engineers. Adapted with permission. Artificial lifting systems, or pumping units, are used to help pull oil out of reservoir rock and pump it up a well. A down hole pump in the well is connected to the pumping unit by steel rods, which are screwed together. The pump is activated from the up and down movement of the pumping unit on the surface. [Read More]

Greenhouse in a Beaker

Greenhouse in a Beaker Activity Source: Adapted with permission by The NEED Project. Carbon is naturally found in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide, or CO2, itself is not considered a pollutant. The CO2 being released from burning fossil fuels was part of the atmosphere hundreds of millions of years ago before being captured by plants and sea organisms. Carbon atoms naturally cycle through the biosphere, the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, and the lithosphere in process known as the carbon cycle. [Read More]

How Natural Gas Forms

How Natural Gas Forms Activity Source: American Association of Petroleum Geologists. Adapted with permission from American Geosciences Institute in collaboration with Project SEED. Think about the energy you use every day to cook, cool your home, or travel. For most of us, the main sources of this energy are fossil fuels: coal, oil, and natural gas. Whether used directly, as gasoline, heating oil, or natural gas, or to generate electricity (by burning coal), fossil fuels are a big part of the world’s energy picture. [Read More]