Petroleum comes from the Latin language where ‘Petra’ means rock and ‘oleum’ means oil, hence the word petroleum.
Petroleum or oil is a naturally occurring liquid beneath the earth that is refined to yield products like gasoline, natural gas, diesel, jet fuel, lubricants, chemicals, wax and many other useful products.
Petroleum products like fuel oil are mainly used in transportation and power generation. They are used almost in every industry from chemical to beauty products, from pharmaceuticals to agriculture.
In the following article you will learn composition of petroleum, main usage and top petroleum products.
So let us get started …
What is Petroleum Made up of?
Petroleum or crude oil looks very fluid, volatile and viscous. Although crude oil comes in different colors but the most common color they come in is yellowish-black or black with a greenish tinge. Natural gas obtained from petroleum is colorless and odorless gas.
The properties of petroleum like viscosity, boiling point, density and color may vary depending upon the region they are extracted from.
Carbon and hydrogen are the two basic constituent elements of petroleum. They majorly contain alkanes and other hydrocarbons.
Basic Composition of Petroleum Chart
What is Petroleum Used For?
There are many uses of petroleum products across industries. Here are they …
Petroleum is the most common source of energy used in transportation. Be it petrol, diesel, LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas), jet fuel, marine fuel all come from crude oil.
Cars, motorcycles, buses, trains, ships, airplanes run on petroleum products. Some product like Kerosene is also used in home cooking.
Second most common use of petroleum is power generation. Although in India coal is the major source of electricity generation but petroleum product such as furnace oil is used to generate electricity in some countries.
Furnace oil is less polluting than coal.
Petroleum products are extensively used in chemical industry. Some of the byproducts of petroleum are used as raw products in chemical industries. Products like chemical fertilizers, fibers, synthetic rubber, nylon, plastics, dyes, paints etc use petroleum byproducts.
Ammonia which is used in agricultural fertilizers is manufactured from petroleum using Haber’s process. Ammonia is a source of nitrogen in agricultural fertilizer.
Moreover, a lot of pesticides are produced using petroleum.
Almost all industries around the world need lubricants for the proper functioning of machinery. Lubricants are basically petroleum jelly left after the fractional distillation of the crude oil.
So these were some of the main uses of petroleum products in various industries.
7 Petroleum Products and their Uses
But before we can use petroleum products they have to be extracted from crude oil through a process called fractional distillation.
Following products are extracted in a petroleum refinery.
Fuel oil or furnace oil is primarily used for power generation in power plants. Fuel oil is also used in big ships and industrial plants. Fuel services and fuel stations are always in great demand.
Commercial fuel oils are blended with other petroleum fractions to get desired viscosity. Fuel oil are bit expensive than coal for use in power plants.
Butane is basically a colorless and odorless gaseous hydrocarbon. There are two types of butane, n-butane (normal butane) and branched butane or isobutene.
Butanes present in natural gas can be separated from the lower-boiling gaseous constituents. LPG cylinders are made up of butane.
Diesel is most commonly used fuel in transportation. Diesel is obtained from fractions of crude oil that are less volatile than gasoline.
Diesel fuel releases more energy on combustion than equal volumes of gasoline. This makes diesel more economical. However they produce a lot of pollution.
In India gasoline is also known as petrol. Petrol is used because of its high energy of combustion and ability to mix with air in a carburetor.
There is also aviation gasoline which is different from automobile gasoline. Gasoline is bit cleaner than Diesel fuel.
Liquefied petroleum gas or LPG is used for domestic as well as commercial purposes. It is the cleanest cooking fuel recommended by the WHO.
LPG is mixture of the volatile hydrocarbons such as propane, butane and butene.
Unlike diesel, LPG can be stored indefinitely without degradation.
Kerosene also known as paraffin oil is a common liquid fuel used for cooking purposes. Kerosene causes a lot of household pollution but still cheaper than LPG.
Standard jet fuel is basically high quality straight run kerosene.
LNG or liquefied natural gas is primarily methane. LNG is 600 times smaller than natural gas and can be easily transported overseas.
LNG is more preferred than LPG or other natural gas because they can be used in large volumes.
So these were top 7 petroleum products and their uses. Some other products are napalm, naphtha, refined asphalt etc.