Making Oil Conservation a Way of Life

Ayn Rand said, “If a nation’s economy were a living body, oil would be definitely its blood.”

Oil conversation is conservation of all products derived from crude oil namely petrol, diesel, kerosene, jet fuel and natural gas. It includes preservation of all fossil fuels solid, liquid or gaseous including coal. Petroleum comes from the Greek word for rock oil. Crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid found in rock formations in the Earth consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights, plus other organic compounds.

The term “petroleum” was first used in the treatise De Natura Fossilium, published in 1546 by the German mineralogist Georg Bauer, also known as Georgius Agricola. Petroleum, in one form or another, has been used since ancient times, and is now important across society, including in economy, politics and technology. The rise in importance was mostly due to the invention of the internal combustion engine.

Today, about 90% of vehicular fuel needs are met by oil. Petroleum also makes up 40% of total energy consumption in the United States, but is responsible for only 2% of electricity generation. Petroleum’s worth as a portable, dense energy source powering the vast majority of vehicles and as the base of many industrial chemicals makes it one of the world’s most important commodities.

Why the need for Oil Conservation?

We are aware of the fact that all fossil fuel reserves are in rapid decline. We are also presently faced with the problem of environmental degradation and global warming which can spiral out of control. India is the 7th largest importer of crude oil in the world and imports 1687 103 bbl/day or 268 103m 3/day or behind the US, Japan and China. It is a major part of our import bill which was Rs.219991 crore in 2006-07.

Oil is important for our short term and long term economic, strategic and political interests. Neeladri Chatterjee from FMS-DU says, “Our dependability on imported oil as a source of energy has major impediment in our national security, since we have to import 75% of crude from abroad. Such high dependability on imported crude may force our nation to make severe compromises on other issues in order to ensure supply from oil exporting nations, for economic stability. The price of oil is volatile due to competition from other economically developing countries, future trading and hedging and has sent oil prices into orbit as never seen before.”

Realizing the importance of oil conservation, the United Nations Environment Programme announced the World Environment Day slogan as ‘Kick the habit! Towards a Low Carbon Economy’ to highlight the importance of energy efficiency, the need reduce carbon emissions. This also signifies the need to promote low carbon economies and lifestyles, involving improvement in energy efficiency, utilization of alternative sources of energy and practicing of eco-friendly consumption in all parts of the world.

The Hubbert peak theory by M. King Hubbert (also known as peak oil) posits that future petroleum production (whether for individual oil wells, entire oil fields, whole countries, or worldwide production) will eventually peak and then decline at a similar rate to the rate of increase before the peak as these reserves are exhausted. It also suggests a method to calculate the timing of this peak, based on past production rates, the observed peak of past discovery rates, and proven oil reserves.

How to make Oil Conservation a Way of Life?

To make oil conservation a way of life requires efforts from the individual and households

For individual vehicle owners

1. The ideal driving speed for diesel economy is 40-60 km/h. Extra diesel is burnt in overcoming increased air resistance at high speeds.

2. Idling wastes diesel at the rate of 2 Liters per hour. Switch off the engine for stops of over 2 minute.

3. Driving in wrong gears can increase diesel consumption by 10%. Use the same gear for coming down as for going up the same gradient.

4. Make use of engine as the brake. Sudden braking wastes engine power and diesel. Tests prove that a vehicle driven at 60 km/h can travel a distance of 650 miters, without consuming additional diesel.

5. Accelerate gradually. Sudden acceleration injects more diesel than necessary. Always maintain a steady speed while driving.

6. Avoid using clutch pedal as a footrest. This causes loss of transmission and rapid wear of clutch components. Avoid holding the vehicle on a slope by using the clutch and accelerator-use the hand brake instead.

For Households

1. Every thrifty you can avoid an idle flame if you prepare and keep all materials required for cooking within reach, before lighting the stove. Put off an idle flame at once.

2. Pressure cooking is one of the fastest and most economical ways of cooking. Experiments have shown fuel (kerosene or cooking gas) savings of 20% on rice, 46% on soaked gram dal and 41.5% on meat, as compared to ordinary cooking. Use the separators of the cooker to cook different items such as rice, vegetable and dal, all at the same time.

3. The quantity of water used differs for various dishes. And even for the same dish, different housewives use varying quantities of water. Since water is extensively used in cooking, you should remember that surplus water wastes fuel. An experiment on cooking rice with double the required quantity of water has revealed that fuel consumption increased by 65% So use only the optimum quantity of water for cooking.

4. Experiments have shown that soaking ingredients such as dal and rice for various intervals of time before cooking saves fuel. 250 gms of kabuli chana (chick peas) when soaked overnight in water consumed 22% less fuel as compared to the fuel required for the same quantity of unsoaked kabuli chana.

5. Cooking vessels should always be scrubbed clean.

Petroleum is the lifeblood of our industrial civilization. There is no greater terrorism or treason than wastage of oil.


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