Fossil Fuels Hydrocarbons Combustion  Elmhurst College
Natural Gas Gasoline Compounds  Combustion Energy  Chemistry Department
Gasoline Distill Oil Refinery Convert Oil Refinery  Virtual ChemBook

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Distillation Oil Refining

Crude oil, also called petroleum, is a complex mixture of carbon and hydrogen (hydrocarbons), which exist as a liquid in the earth's crust. Crude oil has many compositions, some is black, thick and tar like, while other crude oils are lighter in color and thinner. The carbon and hydrogen in crude oil are thought to have originated from the remains of microscopic marine organisms that were deposited at the bottom of seas and oceans and was transformed at high temperature and pressure into crude oil and natural gas.

This oil and gas migrates upward through the porous rock, as it is less dense than the water which fills the pores. The oil and gas is trapped by a layer of impermeable rock through which they can't flow. Several different types of oil and gas "traps" exist; a common dome formed by folded sedimentary rocks. Crude oil is obtained by drilling a hole into the reservoir rock (sandstone, limestone etc.) and pumping it out.

Petroleum refining is the process of separating the many compounds present in crude petroleum. This process is called fractional distillation where the crude oil is heated; the various of the compounds boil at different temperatures and change to gases; and are later recondensed back into liquids. Fossil Fuels

The principle which is used is that the longer the carbon chain, the higher the temperature at which the compounds will boil.
Boiling Points and Hydrocarbons

The crude petroleum is heated and changed into a gas. The gases are passed through a distillation column which becomes cooler as the height increases. See the figure on the left. When a compound in the gaseous state cools below its boiling point, it condenses into a liquid. The liquids may be drawn off the distilling column at various heights.

 Although all fractions of petroleum find uses, the greatest demand is for gasoline. One barrel of crude petroleum contains only 25-35% gasoline. Transportation demands require that over 50% of the crude oil be converted into gasoline. To meet this demand some petroleum fractions must be converted to gasoline. This may be done by "cracking" - breaking down large molecules of heavy heating oil; "reforming" - changing molecular structures of low quality gasoline molecules; or "polymerization" - forming longer molecules from smaller ones. Conversion Oil Refining
For example if decane is heated to about 500 C the covalent carbon-carbon bonds begin to break during the cracking process. Many kinds of compounds including alkenes are made during the cracking process. Alkenes are formed because there are not enough hydrogens to saturate all bonding positions after the carbon-carbon bonds are broken.