A classification of petroleum products, with specific examples.
There are many substances and elements present in nature, among which many are used by man for multiple purposes.
Some of them are used as food, others as raw material to make products or even as fuel. And among fuels, one of the most valued to the point of being also called “black gold” is oil.
This product and its value is in fact an aspect to be taken into account and capable of tremendously affecting the world economy, even causing armed conflicts. And it is that it is not only its value as fuel, but that in our day to day we constantly use petroleum products. That is why throughout this article we are going to mention some examples of this type of product.
What is oil?
Petroleum is an oily liquid substance, a hydrocarbon compound with a black to yellowish color (depending on its composition) that is extracted from the subsoil and is a product.
It is one of the most coveted substances as it is one of the main sources of energy used by humans, being the main source of fossil fuels and having displaced coal centuries ago.
Its composition includes cyclic hydrocarbons, alkenes and in lesser amounts compounds based on sulfur and nitrogen, although it varies depending on the mixture of hydrocarbons and their different proportions.
Its main origin is the transformation of organic matter (remains of algae, plankton and remains of living beings) over millions of years, after being deposited by geographical accidents and sedimentation. After being extracted, the oil is subjected to a distillation process in which its different components are separated, with which different products (from fuels to medicines) can be produced either directly or through multiple chemical interactions.
Next we will see a series of petroleum products, most of which we use frequently. In some cases their link is obvious and well known, while in others the fact that they are derived from oil can be surprising.
1. Gasoline and other fuels
Probably the clearest and most well-known derivative of oil is gasoline, being the main fuel used by both public and private motorized transportation methods.
In addition to gasoline, diesel, diesel or kerosene are other highly relevant and useful fuels in different modes of transport.
2. Butane gas
Although it may not seem like it, the butane gas that we use in kitchens or even in different industries is one of the petroleum products, since it is a liquefied gas generated from the distillation of petroleum.
The asphalt that covers our roads is also a semi-solid product from crude oil. Specifically, it is the residue from the distillation of oil.
Besides on the road, it is also used for waterproofing and for making tiles.
One of the most widely used materials today, plastic is generally (although not always) a petroleum-based product.
This includes a large number of products: bags, containers, tableware, kitchen elements and even some furniture elements, technological gadgets, the latex of condoms and practically the vast majority of elements in our environment have some type of plastic component, and therefore based on petroleum.
It may seem strange that oil can become a substance that contributes to plant growth, but the truth is that after several chemical processes it can become a source of ammonia similar to manure.
6. Pesticides, fungicides and herbicides
Agriculture has benefited from oil both from the production of fertilizers and from pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. Although they can be harmful, they have been used to eliminate different types of pests of dangerous insects, invasion of herbs and plants harmful to the crop or infections such as those of some both. And all of them can also be made from oil.
7. Synthetic fabric
Some products used in the production of textile elements are also petroleum products. This is the case of polyester or nylon.
The detergents we use to wash clothes are also petroleum products, despite having a very different function from the materials we have seen so far.
9. Paints and solvents
Although not in all cases, paints, colorants and solvents of all kinds have often been produced from materials generated from petroleum.
10. Soaps, perfumes, dyes and cosmetics
It may seem surprising but some cosmetic products, soaps and perfumes tend to have components derived from petroleum, such as petrolatum or some of the volatile substances that are used in perfumes.
11. Food products
Some of the additives used in the preservation or treatment of food also come from petroleum processing. Flavor modifiers or enhancers, sweeteners or colorants are some examples. Also many food supplements or vitamins have some component derived from petroleum.
12. Drugs and health products
Other petroleum products are some of the sanitary products or even some medicines. Examples of these are prostheses, test strips or glycerin used for example in suppositories. Also other products such as condoms made of latex.
- Andrady, AL; Neal, MA (2009). Applications and societal benefits of plastics. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences. 364 (1526): 1977-1984.
- McKain, DL; Bernard, LA (1994). Where It All Began: The Story of the People and Places Where the Oil Industry Began — West Virginia and South-eastern Ohio. Parkersburg, WV: DL McKain.