Crude Oil

Crude Oil

  • Crude oil, also known as petroleum, is a natural resource extracted from the ground.
  • It is a non-renewable fossil fuel that was formed millions of years ago from the remains of tiny marine plants and animals.
  • Crude oil is a mixture of a large number of different hydrocarbons - compounds composed of hydrogen and carbon atoms.

Hydrocarbons in Crude Oil

  • Hydrocarbons present in crude oil come in various shapes and sizes; these differences affect their properties and uses.
  • Some of these hydrocarbons are straight chains like alkanes, others are ring-shaped like cycloalkanes or contain aromatic rings like arenes.

Fractional Distillation

  • Fractional distillation is a process used to separate crude oil into its components based on their boiling points.
  • The crude oil is heated, and different hydrocarbons condense at different temperatures or fractions.
  • The hydrocarbon fractions at the top of the distillation column have low boiling points and are mostly gases, while those at the bottom have high boiling points, are thick and sticky, and can be used to make bitumen.

Products from Crude Oil and their Uses

  • Fractions (or components) of crude oil include petroleum gas, gasoline, kerosene, diesel fuel, heating oil, and lubricating oils.
  • These fractions can be cracked to produce a greater quantity of the more valuable fractions such as gasoline or jet fuel.
  • They also serve as raw material for many chemical products, including pharmaceuticals, solvents, fertilisers, plastics, and synthetic fibres.

Environmental Impact of Crude Oil

  • Burning fossil fuels like crude oil releases carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming.
  • Oil spills and leaks lead to significant environmental damage, destroying habitats and threatening species.

Renewable Energy

  • Due to these environmental issues and the limited supply of fossil fuels, there is a significant focus on developing renewable energy sources. These include solar, wind, hydroelectric, and biofuel energy.