is a naturally occurring, unrefined petroleum product made of hundreds of
different hydrocarbon deposits and other organic materials. Crude oil can be
refined to make usable products such as gasoline, diesel, heating oil, jet
fuels, and other forms of petrochemicals. It is non-renewable and therefore is
a limited resource.
The process of refining crude oil is divided into
three basic steps: separation, cracking and reforming.
Separation is achieved through fractional distillation
which is divided into 2 parts: atmospheric and vacuum distillation. Atmospheric
distillation takes place in a distilling column where the crude oil is heated
to 350 – 400 o C. the liquid falls and the vapour rises. After passing through
a series of sieve trays heavier hydrocarbons condense faster and settle on the
lower trays while lighter hydrocarbons remain as vapour longer and settle at
the topmost trays. Heavy distillates are piped through vacuum distillation
where heavy hydrocarbons with boiling points of 450 o C and higher to be separated.
The second process is cracking where molecules are
broken down into fractions which can produce higher value products from higher
fractions. Reforming is utilized on lighter and lower value products to produce
more gasoline. The reforming process involves addition of chemical reactions
under pressure to change the composition of the hydrocarbon chain.
A barrel of crude oil produces the following contents:
9% Jet Fuel
5% Fuel Oil
4% Liquefied Petroleum Gases
18% Other products
The products vary in colour, viscosity,
PROPERTIES OF CRUDE OIL
Crude oil has the following properties:
USES OF CRUDE
Gasoline is used to fuel internal combustion engines
such as those in vehicles.
Diesel is a heavier product also used in internal
combustion engines, it is preferred to gasoline because of its ease of
combustion and fuel economy.
Crude oil can be refined into may industrial solvents
such as benzene, toluene and xylene which are used for the cleaning of machine
Kerosene is used for heating, lighting and jet
propulsion. Kerosene is used for this purposes due to its high freezing points.
Heating oil has low-viscosity and is commonly used in furnaces
Liquified petroleum gas (LPG) such as propane and
butane are used as fuels in outdoor appliances such as grills.
Coke left as a residue after fuels have been distilled
from crude, it as a form of coal.
Asphalt is a black by-product of crude oil used in
construction of roads.
Lubricants have high-viscosity and are used to
lubricate moving parts.
are heavy remains left behind after distillation , these viscous fuels are used
to propel and power heavy machinery in boats, power plants and factories.
Plastics is one of the most widespread uses of crude
oil. Plastics are used to manufacture of many different products such as
plastic bottles, paper bags, computer bodies, shoes and even car bumpers.
used in making of non-flammable clothing and also making clothes colourful. It
is used in the production of nylon, polyester, rayon, and synthetic furs.
Furniture are also petroleum based products at our
homes. Other home items such as refrigerators, the molded interior panels, door
liners, and foam insulation are made from petroleum.
Fertilizers majorly rely on petroleum therefore
growing of food majorly rely on oil for growth and maturity to be achieved
CRUDE OIL AND
Oil spills are as a result of accidents at oil wells
or on pipelines, ships, trains, and trucks that transport oil from wells to
refineries. Oil spills contaminate soil and water and may cause dangerous fires
and explosions. Oil spills kill marine animals such as whales, seals, fish and
dolphins. The oil coats the fur of this mammals thus exposing them to
hypothermia. When not directly affected marine life are contaminated by the food
coated with oil which may lead to death of these animals. Oil spills around
farms contaminate farm produce and therefore when eaten cause contamination and
ultimately cancers. Oil spills also cause death to birds which feed on fish and
also contaminate breedind sites such as those of turtles which lay eggs on
beaches. Oil spillage also makes the appearance of water bodies to look ugly.
High temperatures caused by the combustion of petroleum
cause nitrogen gas in the surrounding air to oxidize, creating nitrous oxides.
Nitrous oxides along with sulfur dioxide from the sulfur in the oil, combine
with water in the atmosphere to create acid rain. Acid rain causes death of
trees, fish and destruction of coral reefs.
Burning of crude oil creates large amounts of carbon
dioxide that traps heat in the earths atmosphere consequently leading to global
When oil or petroleum are burnt the combustion is
always incomplete and therefore toxic
compounds such as carbon monoxide and methanol are released in the environment.
Soot also produced from this incomplete combustion causes blackening of human
and animal lungs causing cancers, heart problems and death.
Construction activities associated with oil drilling strips
the environment of vegetation, increases erosion opportunities, and the
opportunity for weed infestation, it also distrupts the land’s ground surface.
These effects are mostly irreversible.