Petroleum - Build or Burn

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PETROLEUM – BUILD OR BURN CHEMICAL PRINCIPLES Petroleum is one of the three fossil fuels which consist of a mixture of hydrocarbons. Petroleum is used as an important source of energy worldwide. Approximately 90% of the petroleum which is extracted is used for energy. Petroleum is also important in the production of synthetic compounds such as plastics. Petroleum is not a renewable energy source like all fossil fuels so should not be used carelessly. So should we build or burn it. To make a valued opinion as to whether we should build or burn a few chemical concepts need to be understood which is discussed below. FRACTIONAL DISTILLATION: Petroleum originates from marines life which were buried in sediments of the ocean. This then goes through a series of changes by heat, pressure and bacteria action which turns it into petroleum. When petroleum is extracted from the ground it is a mixture, therefore it needs to be separated into fractions. These different fractions of petroleum are achieved by fractional distillations ‘oil refining.’ This process separated the fractions out based on their boiling points which can be seen in figure 1. Figure 1: Fractional Distillation (Hagley Elsie 2007) HYDROCARBON CRACKING: The larger the hydrocarbon molecule the higher its boiling point, less volatile, less viscous and less flammable. These fractions which contain compounds of a higher molecular mass can be ‘cracked’. Petroleum contains many long-chain hydrocarbons. This process is known as hydrocarbon cracking which is a process in which hydrocarbons are broken down and rearranged by a catalyst into more useful smaller molecules. These smaller molecules produce more useful short-chain components such as gasoline and... ... middle of paper ... ...rom what naturally occurs around us. Wind power is generated by large, slow moving wind turbines which rotate around with the wind. This is another way in which ew can avoid using fossil fuels and use a more renewable source which does not have the impact on the earth like that of petroleum. Hydroelectric power is yet another source of power. It is produced similar to wind power, consisting of very large turbines. These turbines are spun around by the pressure which is very intense when leaving the blockaded portion of the river The final alternative energy source is biofuels. Biofuels is a great alternative source of energy as it gets rid of waste and being able to convert this to energy. Biofuels are produced from essentially living organisms and from metabolic by products. For a fuel to be considered a bio if must be more than 80% renewable energy sources.

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