Crude Oil and Separating Crude Oil
Crude oil is one of our most important natural resources. It is a finite resource and will eventually run out. It is non-renewable because it cannot be made again.
Different parts of crude oil are used to make transport fuels, plastics, medicines, fabrics and dyes.
Drilling for crude oil
Crude oil has to be ‘won’ from the ground by drilling. It is them pumped to the surface.
Separating crude oil
Crude oil is separated by heating it up and then when parts of it have boiled, cooling it down. This is called fractional distillation.
The crude oil is separated into different fractions (parts). The process works because each fraction has a different boiling point.
Crude oil was made from compressed bodies of many animals over millions of years. It is made up of a mixture of many types of oils. All these oils are hydrocarbons. A hydrocarbon is made up of molecules containing carbon and hydrogen atoms only.
The oils are separated by fractional distillation.
Crude oil is heated at the bottom of a tower.
Oil that does not boil sinks as a thick liquid to the bottom of the tower. This fraction is called bitumen . It is used to make tar for road surfaces.
Bitumen has a very high boiling point. It ‘exits’ at the bottom of the tower.
Other Fractions boil and their gases rise up the tower.
The tower gets colder the high up it is.
Fraction with lower boiling points such as petrol and LPG ‘exit’ at the top of the tower, where it is colder.
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