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Petroleum Notes

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PETROLEUM NOTES What is petroleum? Petroleum also known as crude oil is a fossil fuel comprising a complex mixture of hydrocarbons. Its composition varies, depending on where in the world it is found, it generally contains alkanes, cycoalkanes and aromatic hydrocarbons. Crude oil is non-renewable (finite) and it cannot be replaced. It was formed: * From the sea, the sea contains many tiny animals and plants called plankton, they get their energy to live and multiply from sunlight. When they die they sink to the bottom of the sea. Those that died millions of years ago, form oil and gas which are the main sources of fuel. * The Dead Sea creatures were buried by sand and mud at the bottom of the sea. It is thought the sun's energy was stored in the bodies of the dead creatures and plants. The dead bodies started to decay. * Over millions of years the dead animals and plants were buried deeper and deeper. ...read more.


A further process takes place under reduced pressures which lower the boiling points, this is called vacuum distillation. Primary distillation - method of fractionation. Distillation is based on the difference in boiling point of the liquids in the mixture to be separated. Successive vaporisation and condensation of crude oil in a fractioning column will separate out the lighter fractions, leaving a residue. Crude oil is often a dark, sticky liquid that cannot be used without changing it. Crude oil is a mixture of different chemical called hydrocarbons. As you can see from the diagram, the temperature at the bottom of the column is kept very high about 350�C and cooler towards the top. This is because the first step to refine crude oil is to heat it until it boils. The burning oil turns into a mixture of gases in the column. The gases then rise up the distillation column this separates gases according to its boiling point. ...read more.


This residue contains the non-volatile hydrocarbons which only vaporise above 350�C but at atmospheric pressure. This residue needs to be distilled further for more fractions to be obtained. But to obtain these fractions they bust be distilled at reduced pressures. This allows mixture to be separated at a temperature below the normal boiling point, and prevents the componenets from decomposing. The fractions obtained from this process in order of boiling pints with the highest first are: bitumen (tar), paraffin waxes, fuel oil, and lubricating oil. What are the uses of the products formed? NAME OF FRACTION BOILING POINT RANGE/�C(approx) NUMBER OF CARBON ATOMS USES Refinery gas -160 - 25 1-4 Fuels for gas cookers, gas fires, camping gas Petrol 30 - 100 4-10 Petrol to fuel cars Naphtha 100 - 180 6-14 Feedstock for petrochemical industry Kerosene 150 - 250 10-16 Fuel for jets, feedstock for petrochemicals Disel 220 - 375 13-25 Fuels for transport and central heating Lubricating oil 350+ 20-30 Lubricating oils feedstock for petrochemicals Fuel oil 350+ 30-40 Fuel for ships and power stations Paraffin waxes 350+ 40-50 Polishing waxes, candles, lubricating grease Bitumen (tar) 350+ Over 50 Surfacing roads, roofing ...read more.

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