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Petroleum: The Polymer Behind the World’s Growth
Petroleum is Latin for “rock oil” and stands today as one of the world’s most valuable commodities. Its uses range from fueling our cars to being used in the cloths we are wearing. The historical implications of petroleum’s discovery are the explosion of the Super wealthy in Arab countries and the land grab by western powers for these oil fields. Petroleum is a mixture of organic liquidsd called crude oil and natural gas, which occurs naturally in the ground and was made millions of years ago. Crude oil varies from oilfield to oilfield in colour and composition, from a pale yellow low viscosity liquid to heavy black 'treacle' consistencies.
Crude Oil and natural gas are extracted from the ground, either in the oceans or on land, by drilling into the crust of the earth. The oil is then shipped to a refinery where the oil is processed into refined products that we use in our everyday life, such as: fuels, lubricating oils, waxes, asphalt, and natural gas.
Chemically, Petroleum is a naturally occurring polymer . It is fundamental in production/creation of many of today’s non-natural polymers. It is also used in a basic form as fuel. This fuel comes from the degradation of prehistoric fossils. The end result of this degradation is petroleum. The hydrocarbon Find something on wikipedia
Petroleum has a wide variety of characteristics considering its wide range of uses. One of the qualities is it leaks to surface because it lighter than the surface it is encompassed in.
Crosslinking is very important for petroleum. It is the main action that causes petroleum to solidify. This allows for the creation of things such as cloths and fabrics.
Petroleum hydrocarbon structures
Petroleum consists of three main hydrocarbon groups:
These consist of straight or branched carbon rings saturated with hydrogen atoms, the simplest of which is methane (CH4) the main ingredient of natural gas. Others in this group include ethane (C2H6), and propane (C3H8).
Paraffins are the lightest of the Hydrocarbons, because they have very few Carbon atoms.
Napthenes are made of single bonded carbon rings sometimes with side chains that contain hydrogen atoms. Napthenes are chemically stable. They occur in crude oil and have very similar properties to Paraffins.
All Aromatic hydrocarbons contain a ring of six carbon atoms. These carbon atoms are attached with alternating double and single bonds. Double bonds are tighter and shorter. When viewed under a microscope, one would expect the single bonds to be much longer than the double bonds. Instead, all of the bonds are the same length. The electrons are all somewhat shared in the bonds. The basic ring that all of the Aromatics are made from is the benzene ring. Aromatics naturally occur in crude oil. They have a very strong aroma, hence the name Aromatics.
Aromatics have the most carbons of any Hydrocarbon and therefore are the heaviest. They also have the highest boiling point. Most of the time, Hydrogen atoms are attached to the carbon atoms, hence the name hydrocarbon, but there are some exceptions where crude oil can be composed of other compounds containing oxygen, nitrogen and sulphur.
These are some of the things that are made from Hydrocarbons.
There are different boiling points (distillation points) for the different hydrocarbons. The less carbon atoms that a hydrocarbon has, the lighter it is and the lower it’s boiling point is.
There are a few ways to refine the petroleum. Reforming is one of the most common ways; it uses heat and pressure to break down the molecules into smaller different molecules.
Here is an example:
heptane -> toluene + hydrogen
C7H16 -> C7H8 + 4H2
Cracking is another process that is used to break down the heavier hydrocarbons (more carbon atoms in the ring) into smaller lighter hydrocarbons.
Here is an example:
C16H34 -> C8H18 + C8H16
"Physical and Chemical Properties of Petroleum." University of Florida. University of Florida. 12 May 2008 <
"Refining Petroleum." World Petroleum. World Petroleum Council. 15 May 2008 <
Truong Dinh, Nguyen. "US Patent 6933341 - Thermal insulation gel with controlled crosslinking for petroleum hydrocarbon transmission lines." Patent Storm. 23 Aug 2005. Patent Storm. 12 May 2008
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