Essay: Oils and Natural gas

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  • Subject area(s): Science essays
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  • Published on: January 23, 2019
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  • Oils and Natural gas
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Total daily oil consumption around the world is 84,249,000 barrels a day
Most of the oil found in the ocean has oozed naturally from the ocean floor

The largest producer of oil is the country,Saudi Arabia, which produces 8.1 million barrels of oil per day

The U.S produces just 21 barrels as opposed to Saudi Arabia, which produces 264 billion barrels.

Oil is measured in barrels, which is equal to 42 US gallons or 159 liters

Gasoline makes up only 45% of crude oil

Crude oil (petroleum) is a thick, black liquid found underground

Oil has a wide variety of uses and is often used in cosmetics, medicine, paint, lubricants and as a fuel

Crude oil (petroleum) comes from fossilized organic material such as plants and animals

Because oil is so valuable it is called, “Texas Tea” or “Black Gold”

Crude oil is the main component of the petroleum that we use all over the world!

Petroleum is often used to fuel vehicles and machines

Crude oil can be changed into different types of fuels

The top three countries that consume petroleum are Japan, China and the USA.

As a refined fuel, petroleum needs to be maintained in certain conditions in order to remain stable.

The natural gas used in homes has an added substance to make it smell like sulfur so that people know when they have a gas leak.

Natural gas was formed deep under the earth about 100 million years ago.

There are more than 2.1 million miles of underground gas pipelines across the United States.

More than half of all the homes in the United States use natural gas – almost 62 million families.

In 200 B.C., people in China used natural gas to make salt.

In 1816, gas was first used to light street lamps in Baltimore, Maryland.

Natural gas is lighter than air.

Natural gas is measured in British Thermal Units (Btus), which measures the heat content.

One kitchen match gives off about one Btu of heat. The burner on a big gas stove, like in the picture to the right, might give off more than 15,000 Btus.

When natural gas is cooled to 260 degrees below zero, it changes from a gas into a liquid.

Crude oil is also known as petroleum. It is a dark colour liquid with a very strong odor.

The formation of oil began millions of years ago when the remains of dead plants and animals drifted to the bottom of the sea. These materials decayed and over time became covered by layers of mud and sand.

Areas deep within our oceans are studied to establish where good sources of oil are located. A structure called a ‘derrick’ is set up and wells are drilled in order to bring a flow of oil to the surface.

Crude oil can be obtained from reserves across the world. Some of the main producers of oil include Russia, The United States of America, Iran, China and Saudi Arabia.

Oil energy provides many important functions including the production of heat. For example, it can be used to heat water in order to produce steam.

Crude oil is usually transported to oil refineries by ship or pipeline. This is where usable petroleum is separated.

Crude oil has many uses, one of the main uses, besides producing electricity, is its ability to power cars when it’s processed as gasoline.

Oil does not only supply a powerful source of energy; it also contributes towards the formation of well-known products such as crayons, ink, deodorant, tires, and other common items.

Oil has non-polar molecules so it doesn’t mix with water. If you attempt to mix oil and water together, they will automatically separate.

Science Part:

What is natural gas? flammable gas, consisting largely of methane and other hydrocarbons, occurring naturally underground. (often in association with petroleum) and used as fuel. (dictionary)

What is petroleum? Thick mixture of gaseous, liquid, and solid hydrocarbons that appear yellow to black. Petroleum is a naturally occuring substance that can be found beneath the earth’s surface and can be separated for many uses. Natural gas, gasoline, naphtha, kerosene, fuel, lubricating oils, paraffin wax, and asphalt can all be derived from this substance and many of these as well as petroleum as a whole serve as a raw material for other products.

What is oil? Oil is part of petroleum. Petroleum is the whole of the substance taken from the ground which consists of natural gas, oil, and other substances. (more detail below)

Crude Vs. Refined oil

Crude oil is “unprocessed” oil and is also known as petroleum. Before it can used for anything, it needs to be processed or refined. It is a fossil fuel, meaning it is made naturally from decaying plants and animals from a long time ago. Crude oil is mainly tar-black and consists of hydrocarbons, which contain a lot of energy. Many of the things derived from crude oil is gasoline, diesel fuel, and wax. Crude oils are made from the following elements and compounds: Carbon- 84% , Hydrogen- 14%, Sulfur- 2%.

The industry classifies crude by its origin location and by how heavy it is. It can also be classified by how much sulfur there is in it, making it sweet (little sulfur), or sour (lots of sulfur).

Natural Gas:

Natural gas is made from decomposing organic matter, typically ancient marine life. Microorganisms and other marine life gets buried under layers of sand, shale, etc. and becomes trapped in an oxygen free environment. The organic material mixed with the heat and pressure from being buried transforms the organic material into hydrocarbons. The lightest of the hydrocarbons is what we know as natural gas or methane. Methane in its purest state is odorless, colorless, and is highly flammable. The chemical formula is CH4; one carbon atom surrounded by 4 hydrogen atoms. Because natural gas is less dense than water and most other compounds, it can squeeze its way through more porous rocks and rise up. The deposits we find and use are a result of this gas coming up through porous rocks, but blocked by more dense rocks that are up higher, allowing the gas to collect just beneath its surface.

Natural gas and petroleum are found using seismic tests. Trucks or more advanced 3D technology are used to strike the ground hard enough to create seismic waves that go through the surface. Geophones that have been places pick up these waves, and by using the time it took for the waves to travel, a crude picture can be made showing what lies underneath the surface. There is no way to guarantee where deposits are without drilling, but this activity helps to find the best potential spots to look deeper into.

Extracting these gases was proving to be harder as easily accessible deposits were becoming harder to find, but new extraction methods are being developed. Before, getting the gas out of the porous shale that natural gas usually starts in was hard and not worth trying to get, but now there is a technique used to easily get the gases out. Pipes are first fitted into the shale and then are used to pump water, sand, etc. into the shale to try to break apart the rock. This allows for the gases to escape and then be collected. There are many other types of gas that are defined more by where they are and what sort of rock they are surrounded by. All requiring different methods of extraction.

Natural Gas isn’t typically found by itself and is instead found mixed with other gases, water, etc. This mixture is sent off to be separated, where the useful, more dense gases like ethane and butane, are kept or used somewhere else, and leaving methane by itself. Because methane is odorless, companies add a sulfur based gas back into it to give it a rotten egg sort of smell so that people can tell when there is a gas leak in their home.

Transporting flammable gas is risky and can cause a lot of injuries, so the US has worked hard to provide 98% of people with underground piping to ensure that people can get this gas for their homes as well as helping reduce incidents related to transporting. Another way they can transport, especially overseas or other hard to reach places is by cooling the gas down to -260 degree fahrenheit and compressing it, forcing the gas into a liquid state. This allows specially made tankers to deliver 600 times more product than they would in its gaseous form.

Oil: Crude oil or petroleum is what we find in the ground. It was created millions of years ago when small aquatic animals and plants get are subjected to low temperatures for long periods of time or high temperatures for a short period of time. Many of these animals were single celled organisms called plankton that lived on the ocean’s surface long ago and were eventually covered in mud, leaving them to decay. Not all oil comes from part oceans, but some come from algae and other microscopic plant life in lakes. Organic fossil matter is called kerogen, and when this matter contains more sulfur, it turn into oil much faster at lower temperatures. This is because the carbon and sulfur bonds break much easier than the carbon and oxygen bonds that are usually present in organic material. When oil mixed with natural gases and other substances comes out of the ground, it is called crude oil if it is dark and viscous, or condensate if it is clear or vaporous. The oils we find are a mixture of hydrocarbons that can be green, red, black, or brown and are made of various types of chains that include, Nitrogen, Carbon, Sulfur, and Oxygen.

The process of making stuff out of crude oil: The crude oil is collected from the ground and heated to a boil where gases and other liquids start to separate. The various elements and compounds have different cooling temperatures, so the different products can be collected at different heights and stages of the distillation process. Heavier liquids stay at the bottom of the vats while light liquids and gases rise to the top. The heavier liquids are not in high demand nor do they have much use, so they can be broken down or “cracked”, altering their chemical composition, allowing for more useful gases and liquids to be collected. From there, the different compounds are collected and cleaned or refined into the raw elements needed for other products.

Products made from oil: Detergents, synthetic fibers, fertilizer, vitamins, plastics, CDs and DVDs, wax candles, band aids, etc. over 6000 products are made from petroleum.

Environment Part:

Natural gas has far fewer emissions than coal or oil, though it is a fossil fuel.

When burned for energy, natural gas produces 50 to 60% less CO2 (carbon dioxide) than a new coal plant would. When used in cars, natural gas produces 15 to 20 % less heat trapping gases than gasoline out of the cars tailpipe. Natural gas also burns much cleaner and produces fewer particles that pollute our air. Homes powered by natural gas produce far less emissions than houses powered by coal. Emissions of 1900 tons of NO2, 3900 tons of SO2, and 5200 tons of particulates are saved for every 10,000 homes powered with natural gas. The reduction in these pollutants benefits all of us by reducing asthma, bronchitis, lung cancer, and heart disease.

Oil has been often thought of as “bad for the environment” and “bad for our planet.” However, with ethical and focused practices, oil is very helpful for the earth and its environment. Changing the overall design process of how oil is refined greatly improves the environmental impact. Practices have dramatically improved over the last several years. Improving oil refineries, adding systems that make production cleaner and more efficient. Major improvements to current technologies is creating cleaner, more sustainable oil and oil producing sources. Processes like fracking has been looked down upon for several reasons. It has an increased risk for air, soil, and water pollution. However, methods like, resid upgrading, and gas separation techniques are helping make the process cleaner.

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