Alkanes as Fuels

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Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide is formed if alkanes burn incompletely

  • Carbon monoxide is poisonous - molecules bind to same sites on haemoglobin molecules in red blood cells as oxygen molecules meaning oxygen can't be carried around the body.
  • Can be removed from exhaust gases by catalytic converters.
  • Oxygenates are added to petrol to reduce carbon monoxide emissions - they help the fuel to combust fully
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Other Pollutants

Unburnt hydrocarbons and oxides of nitrogen contribute to smog

  • Engines don't burn all the fuel molecules - some come out as unburnt hydrocarbons
  • Oxides of nitrogen are produced when the high pressure and temperature in a car engine cause the nitrogen and oxygens atoms in the air to react together
  • The hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides react in the presence of sunlight to form ground level ozone - a major component of smog
  • Low level ozone irritates eyes, aggrivates respiratory problems and causes lung damage
  • Catalytic converters on cars remove unburnt hydrocarbons and oxides of nitrogen from the exhaust

Sulphur Dioxide

  • Burning fossil fuels which contain sulphur causes acid rain
  • Sulphur burns to produce sulphur dioxide gas which enters the atmosphere, dissolves in the moisture and is converted into sulphuric acid
  • Acid rain destroys trees, vegetation, buildings, statues and fish in lakes
  • Can be removed using calcium oxide which is basic
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Carbon Footprint and Carbon Neutral

Carbon Footprint - tells you how much effect something has on the environment

Carbon Neutral - carbon neutral activities have no overall carbon emission into the atmosphere

Bioethanol is pretty much carbon neutral

  • produced by fermentation of sugar from crops like Maize
  • all the carbon dioxide released when the fuel is burned was removed by the plant as it grew
  • still carbon emissons if you consider whole process - making fertilisers and powering agricultural machinery will involve burning fossil fuels
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