The Atmosphere and Oceans

The Atmosphere and Oceans

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The Atmosphere and Oceans

The atmosphere is a cocktail of gases . The exact amounts of each gas
vary as the amount of water vapour is variable.

Name of Gas

Amount in air








The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is tiny (0.01%).

The amounts of carbon dioxide and oxygen gas are balanced and stay the

Photosynthesis in plants converts carbon dioxide into oxygen.

Breathing and burning convert oxygen into carbon dioxide.

Burning a lot of fossil fuels destroys the balance by putting a lot of
carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This traps the sun's rays and will
not allow them to escape, this is called the greenhouse effect. This
causes the earth to become hotter and is called global warming.

Problems caused by this are more violent weather and melting ice-caps
making the sea rise.

Burning fossil fuels that contain sulphur also makes the gas sulphur
dioxide which dissolves in clouds and causes acid rain. Problems
caused by acid rain include dissolving buildings and plant and animal
life being damaged.

In prehistoric times the atmosphere was made up of carbon dioxide and

The oceans formed by water dissolving salt from the rocks , this salt
stays in the oceans because it does not evaporate when water does.


Oil is formed over millions of years by the dead bodies of marine
animals decaying trapped under layers of sedimentary rocks. Rocks that
allow oil to pass through them are called permeable rocks. Oil becomes
trapped in pockets of rock that will not allow it to escape called
non-permeable rocks.

Oil is a non- renewable fuel because it takes a very long time to form
and it is being used faster than it is formed , it will eventually run

Oil is made up of many different substances called hydrocarbons .

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hydrocarbons are made up of the elements hydrogen and carbon. They are
different because there are many different lengths of carbon chain in
the molecules that make up the hydrocarbons.

Crude oil is split up into many useful parts, called fractions, by
fractional distillation.


[IMAGE] Butane and light gases out

Fractionating Column

400C Petrol out


Kerosene out


Diesel out

Crude oil in


Fractional Distillation

The fractions can be separated because they have different boiling
points. The bigger the molecule the higher the boiling point so the
lower down the column they come off.

The most simple family of hydrocarbons are called alkanes.


The fuels made from the fractional distillation of crude oil are very
useful because when they are burnt they give out a lot of energy.

Petrol and diesel are burnt to power cars and lorries

Kerosene can be burnt for heating.

Butane and the light gases can be used for heating and cooking.

These hydrocarbons need oxygen to burn.

When they burn they produce carbon dioxide gas ( CO 2 ) and water (H2O).

If there is not much oxygen available when the fuel burns it produces
carbon monoxide which is a colourless poisonous gas. This is why
heaters must be regularly cleaned to avoid carbon monoxide being made.

Energy Changes

If when two chemicals react the temperature goes up then energy has
been released and this is called an exothermic reaction .

If when two chemicals react the temperature falls then energy has been
taken in and this is called an endothermic reaction.

If two different metals are placed in a solution which conducts
electricity (an electrolyte) then electricity is made.

Eg if rods of magnesium and copper are put in lemon juice then
electricity is made.

Energy is measured in Joules (J) or kilojoules (KJ). 1000J=1KJ

To measure how much energy is made by burning a fuel it can be burnt
under a measured amount of water and the change in the waters
temperature is measured .

Energy given out = Amount of water X 4.2 X temperature change of water

(J) (ml) (degrees C)
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