The Surprising Products We Get From Crude Oil
While crude oil is predominantly known for producing fuel oil and gasoline, the useful material can also be converted to a variety of products that we use in our everyday life. As super-heated crude oil cools in a distillation column, the gases condense into liquids and solids depending on which area of the column it cools in (the crude oil is cooler at the top and hotter on the bottom).
Distilling crude oil produces 19 gallons of gasoline per 42 gallon barrel of crude oil, at which point it’s mixed with additives like fuel injector cleaner and ethanol before you pump it into your tank. Benzene is also distilled from crude oil, and the benzene then creates phenol, which is the basis of many plastics and pharmaceuticals such as hair dye, sunscreen, and aspirin.
Refinery gases, including propene, propane, and butane, help fuel your grill and create your Tupperware. Naptha is usually distilled further into two streams; heavy naptha is crucial for the production of thermoplastics (in materials like Teflon, vinyl, and nylon) and thermoset plastics (in epoxy resin, volcanized rubber, and inflatable rafts). Light naptha is high in paraffin, so it’s use to make the paraffin wax in crayons and candles.
Kerosene, which ignites at higher temperatures than gasoline, is used as fuel for both camping stoves and jets. Lubricating oils create mineral oils such as base oils that are used for lubrication in US manufacturing plants and petroleum jelly that’s the base for many cosmetics. Diesel, in addition to being used for diesel fuel, is also used for home heating, and the fuel oil that remains after high grade fuels have been distilled off (or residual fuel oil) is used to fuel ships and power plants. The final residue that’s created at the lower levels and highest temperatures of the distillation chamber produces asphalt, used for road construction and roofing.
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