Crude Oil is a fossil fuel formed over millions of years from the decomposition of fossils buried in the sedimentary layer of the earth’s crust. It is a mixture of different hydrocarbons. Components generally contained in crude oil are Carbon (up to 84%), Hydrogen (up to 14%) and small amounts of Sulphur, nitrogen, oxygen, minerals and salts.
The most important physical properties to be considered in the evaluation of crude oil quality are:
Density – The average density of crude oil ranges from 0.7 to 0.99 g/cm3 which is why oil floats on water.
Viscosity – Viscosity of a liquid is the resistance to flow. Crude oil is known to have varying levels of viscosity owing to its composition. Presence of substances like resins and asphaltenes increases the viscosity of crude oil whereas presence of saturates lowers it.
Flash Point – The flash point of oil is the temperature at which the oil generates vapor sufficient for ignition by an open flame. Crude oil has a broad range of flash points under sixty degrees Celsius categorizing it as a highly flammable substance.
There are various methods to mine crude oil from the earth’s sedimentary layer. Primary recovery methods which involves the use of pumps and secondary recovery methods which involve injection of gas or water to displace the oil. Lately, ‘enhanced oil recovery’ methods like thermal recovery, gas injection and chemical recovery have been found to be most efficient and are increasingly being adopted for oil mining around the world.
Crude oil is refined or separated into usable petroleum products before being utilized in the industry. Here are a few uses of crude oil –
Manufacturing gasoline and petroleum
Manufacturing tires for automobiles
Plastic manufacturing industry
Asphalt manufacturing industry
Sunscreen and medication
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