Crude Oil and Separating Crude Oil

Precious 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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Comments 2 comments

MikeNV profile image

MikeNV 5 years ago from Henderson, NV

It actually is renewable as it's being made each day. The question is how much is being made vs how much is being used.

The bigger problem is how much is being wasted. Each week when I take out the trash to the curb my neighbors manage to completely fill their huge trash cans to over flowing. It takes me about a month to do the same and more than half is lawn clippings.

Walk through any grocery store and look at the packaging. This is all going to landfills.

The problem is waste. And the biggest waste of Petroleum is the United States Military which uses more than any other entity worldwide.


Jonathon Campbell profile image

Jonathon Campbell 5 years ago from London, UK Author

Ok that was a really interesting piece of information I am really grateful for you input.

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