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Living without oil
Living without oil

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  • Oil plays a central role in the modern world.
  • The major use of oil is as a cheap source of transport fuel. We rely on cheap transport to move around both goods and people. Cheap oil-driven transport plays an almost invisible role in the manufacture of all modern goods.
  • A smaller but vitally important role of oil is as a source of modern materials, particularly plastics.
  • The need to develop sustainable alternatives to oil is driven by two major factors. The first is the fact that oil is becoming harder to find and extract and is likely to become more expensive, both economically and environmentally. The second is that the combustion of oil is a major contributor to anthropogenic global warming.
  • Alternative sources of crude oil are available, but this non-conventional oil is difficult to obtain and often its extraction can cause greater environmental damage than that of conventional oil.
  • Combustion of oil as fuel also gives rise to other forms of pollution: for example, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, particulates, VOCs and tropospheric ozone.
  • Chemical compounds are described using chemical formulas. For example, methane has the chemical formula CH4, meaning each molecule of methane consists of one atom of carbon and four atoms of hydrogen.
  • Chemical change is described using chemical equations. Full balanced chemical equations include the state (gas, liquid or solid) of the substances involved, and can be indicated by using an 'equals' sign. Unbalanced chemical equations use an arrow.