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Crude oil is a complex mixture of hydrocarbon molecules formed over millions of years when the remains of microscopic sea creatures trapped in sediments were converted by heat and pressure into crude oil

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Crude Oil Essay Crude oil is a complex mixture of hydrocarbon molecules formed over millions of years when the remains of microscopic sea creatures trapped in sediments were converted by heat and pressure into crude oil. The most abundant of these mixtures are the ones containing hydrogen and carbon only. These hydrocarbons can take on a number of different forms, i.e. alkanes, alkenes and alkynes. They vary in size and shape and viscosity. By manipulating these chains of hydrocarbons you can create any number of useful substances as they are very adaptable. However there are lots of compounds that also contain some of the following; oxygen, sulphur or nitrogen. The purer hydrocarbon compounds are the most required for these produce a higher temperature when they are burned which is the primary use for it as it generates an excess amount of energy when burned and therefore is a useful fuel. ...read more.


The distillation continues as above until 40 or 50 condenses have taken place then there is enough of each level to remove the separate fractions. In industry there is a careful balance to the amount of crude oil allowed in at the bottom of the tower at a time so that the fractions can be removed repeatedly without interrupting the process. The fractions are removed in the following order from the bottom (hottest) and the list also shows what can be done with each substance or how it can be used. Heavy Petroleum Oil These consist of simple alkanes with no more than 4 carbon atoms in a chain. They are used as a fuel for cooking and heating (for building other molecules). They are more commonly known as methane, ethane, propane and butane. Naphtha This is the most important fraction in the petrochemical industry as it can be further processed to make many useful materials. ...read more.


The first method is called thermal cracking. It involves heating the large hydrocarbons at high temperatures and high pressures until they break apart. This can be done using high temperature steam at 816?C is used to break ethane, butane and naphtha into ethylene and benzene, which are used to manufacture chemicals. Or the residual from the distillation tower is heated 482?C, cooled with gas oil and rapidly burned in a distillation tower. This process reduces the viscosity of heavy weight oils and produces tar. The other method of cracking is called Catalytic Cracking and it uses a catalyst to speed up the cracking reaction. Catalysts include zeolite, aluminium hydrosilicate, and bauxite. The hydrocarbons (only from the oil fraction) are heated in the same way but the catalyst speeds up the reaction by lowering the boiling point of the substance and allowing high molecular mass alkanes to break into many low molecular mass alkanes and some alkenes. Because the bond breaking happens randomly, many different forms of the substances are made, i.e. cyclo or branched isomers. Francesca Spencer 12JC 02/02/02 ...read more.

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