Matter & Energy


Matter is composed of atoms or groups of atoms called molecules. The arrangement of particles in a material depends on the physical state of the substance. In a solid, particles form a compact structure that resists flow. Particles in a liquid have more energy than those in a solid. They can flow past one another, but they remain close. Particles in a gas have the most energy. They move rapidly and are separated from one another by relatively large distances.

Synthetic Fuels

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Synthetic Fuels, liquid or gaseous fuels extracted or fabricated from solid earth materials that are rich in hydrocarbons—compounds containing hydrogen and carbon. Although similar in composition to gasoline, synthetic fuels are not refined from petroleum, but are extracted instead from coal, oil shale, tar sands, natural gas, and biomass (plants and plant-derived substances). For example, coal can be converted into liquid fuel by a process called liquefaction, and oil can be extracted from oil shale by a process called retorting. Natural gas is converted into fuel-ready liquid by using gas-to-liquids technology.

Like petroleum-based fuels, synthetic fuels can be used in a variety of applications in transportation, manufacturing, businesses, and homes. Because producing synthetic fuels is more costly than refining petroleum, however, the use of synthetic fuels is not widespread.