Crude Oil Process and Products
Crude oil, comes from the Earth in a raw liquid form. The liquid is composed of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, sulfur and other metals. It is typically black or dark brown in color. Sometimes it can be tinted yellow, red or green, depending on the elemental composition of the region. The large number of hydrocarbon, (organic compound consisting of hydrogen and carbon), variations is prevalent. These hydrocarbons include alkanes, cycloalkanes, aromatic hydrocarbons, and asphaltic. By having an elemental composition while being predominately hydrocarbons, oil can be distilled and created into many different products. The process of creating different petroleum products is due to varied heat temperature treatments.
The first step in creating different petroleum products is called distillation. The raw oil is pumped through pipes and hot furnaces that separate the hydrocarbons. The weight variation of molecules means that they create different reactions inside the tubes. For instance light molecules like butane and propane evaporate, while heavy ones like gas oils condense to the lower portion of the furnace chamber. Medium molecules like gasoline, diesel fuels and jet fuels “float” in the middle. This process is repeated continuously to make various products in other plants.
Cracking is the process used to break down the organic material and hydrocarbons into smaller molecules. Reducing the long and complex molecule chains of hydrocarbons and other elements allows for the creation of fuels. Catalyst, (rate at which reactions occur), are used to break down the molecules. Once the molecules are made into smaller molecules the next process begins.
Treating, is used to remove any impurities chemically created, or naturally occurring in the by product. These elements can include sulfur and nitrogen. The impurities are removed to decrease air pollution when fuels are used. If these chemicals were not removed a noxious black smoke appears, and create harmful carbon emission effects on the environment. By removing these pollutants gases are less damaging to the environment.
The reforming process, is how the hydrogen is removed from the low octane gasoline. Reforming uses a precious metal as the catalyst. These metals are platinum and rhenium. They allow for the hydrocarbons to reform.
By products of oil are numerous. Some products include propane, petrochemicals, and gasoline. Others include heating oil, diesel fuel, and asphalt.