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There is no such thing as “fossil fuels”.

The term arose in the 17th century, coined by a German physicist named Georg Agricola, in his attempt to explain the presence of plant litter in coal deposits. The term was popularized by Sinclair Oil in the early 20th century, whose mascot was a cartoon Brontosaurus. Though there are significant remains of plants in many coal deposits, it is impossible for the plants to be the origin of coal. Instead, the litter gets stuck in tar pits while it is still viscous, then becomes incorporated into coal as it hardens.

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The term arose in the 17th century, coined by a German physicist named Georg Agricola, in his attempt to explain the presence of plant litter in coal deposits. The term was popularized by Sinclair Oil in the early 20th century, whose mascot was a cartoon Brontosaurus. Though there are significant remains of plants in many coal deposits, it is impossible for the plants to be the origin of coal. Instead, the litter gets stuck in tar pits while it is still viscous, then becomes incorporated into coal as it hardens.

In chemistry, “organic” means molecules containing the element carbon, usually bound to hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and/or sulfur. In it’s strictest sense, hydrocarbons are the poster children of “organic” compounds. If you support all things “organic,” then you should love petroleum.

Tholins, tar-like complex hydrocarbons, are found throughout our Solar System. The term was coined by Carl Sagan in the 1970s, to describe the vast amounts of organic compounds found throughout the Solar System. Though geophysicists and chemists will deny any possible connection, the composition and appearance of crude oil and tholins are nearly identical. Tholins — and crude oil — are found anywhere significant amounts of nitrogen, hydrogen and carbon are found in proximity to strong magnetic fields. The term “tholin,” either by intent or not, maintains a conceptual boundary between Earth-based hydrocarbons (oil, natural gas and coal), and the dark red sticky substances found throughout the Solar System on planets, moonsasteroids, and comets.

The two bodies with the greatest known amounts of complex hydrocarbons are Earth and Saturn’s moon Titan. On Earth, we have been using these deposits for most of human existence, though large-scale mining, refining and exploitation have only arisen in the last 200 years.

Titan has vast reservoirs of complex hydrocarbons in its atmosphere, rivers, lakes, and seas. It is thought to have a hydrocarbon cycle, much like Earth’s water cycle, with rain, pooling, evaporation, and cloud formation.

Both Earth and Titan have dense nitrogen-rich atmospheres (and to a lesser extent Neptune and Triton), with significant amounts of methane and ammonia present. The Earth generates its own powerful magnetic field, but Titan does not, though it orbits well inside of Saturn’s enormous and powerful field.

At this point, we introduce another concept known as the Electric Universe, or alternatively as Plasma Cosmology. This theory posits that the Universe is a massive electrical generator, and as such has huge, ubiquitous magnetic fields creating and steering streams of plasma, which occasionally “pinch” to create stars and planets.

In the laboratory, complex hydrocarbons are routinely created using plasma, electro-magnetic fields, heat, and pressure, using gases such as nitrogen, carbon monoxide and dioxide, ammonia, and others. Some of these processes are used in commercial applications. These processes can build longer hydrocarbon chains, or “crack” longer ones into shorter ones, creating a large array of products, catalysts and chemical precursors.

H&R Block Tax Software... Buy New $59.99 (as of 10:31 UTC - Details) For the sake of brevity, we will move on, but the reader is highly encouraged to study these topics, as combined they introduce the central concept for our purposes, know as abiogenic, or abiotic oil.

The term “fossil fuel” is predicated on the assumption that complex hydrocarbons — at least on Earth — are generated by “anaerobic digestion” of plant and animal matter by certain types of bacteria to create “biogenic” oil and gas. The category of “fossil fuels” generally include crude oil, natural gas and coal. The idea is that large amounts of biomass are quickly covered and are digested in low oxygen environments that are further subjected to high temperatures and tremendous pressure, thus transforming the biomass into “fossil fuel”.

Among the many problems with this concept are the need for hydrocarbons to exist in the first place to give rise to life (chicken and the egg), and the presence of complex hydrocarbons throughout the Solar System where life presumably has not arisen.

Biogenic oil might seem like a reasonable assumption. There are many devices available on the market, or plans to build them, that turn lawn clippings and organic waste into natural gas, though none of them generate the presumptive temperatures and pressure needed to further create oil and coal. However, the mechanisms to transfer biomass in low oxygen environments to the depths required to find the necessary heat and pressure are only theorized (subduction) and the cycles have never been observed in their entirety.

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