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Oil production around the


World Oil Production

Petroleum: From the ground to

your gas tank
What comes out of the ground is not
immediately useful
It has to be treated, or refined, to
produce useful fuels
First step is fractional distillation
This process separates the various
petroleum based products.

Fractional Distillation
The petroleum is
heated to about 400
C which vaporizes it.
The vapors are sent
into a tower called a
fractionating column.
As they rise and cool
different fuel
products condense at
different heights.

Further treatments
What comes out of the distillation
process is not quite ready for use
yet. It still needs to be modified.
For example: Gasoline needs octane
added and tar needs heavy
molecules removed from it.

Treatment processes
Thermal cracking: The product is exposed
to high temperatures and pressures which
break heavy molecules into lighter ones.
Catalytic conversion: petroleum vapor is
passed over a alumina-silicate mixture or
clay which creates a chemical reaction
and adds octane to the gas
Polymerization: light hydrocarbon
molecules are joined and they produce
heavier molecules. Natural gas is made
into high octane fuels this way.

Alkane Hydrocarbons

You have heard these names

before: methane, ethane,
propane, butane, pentane,
hexne, heptane, octane.
Methane and ethane are the
main components of natural
Propane and butane can be
liquefied at fairly low pressures,
and are well known as liquefied
petroleum gas (LPG)
Pentane, nexane, heptane and
octane are volatile liquids.
They are used as fuels in
internal combustion engines, as
they vaporize easily on entry
into the combustion chamber
without forming droplets, which
would impair the uniformity of
the combustion.


Carbon atom is black, H atom

is white


How long?
Good site to look at is

Natural gas
Used since the 6th century BCE in China and
Japan. They used bamboo pipes to carry it to
For the most part, it was considered an
annoying by product of petroleum exploration
and was often burned off of oil wells.
1821 Fredonia, New York. A pipe provided NG to
30 burners
Development was slow due to the lack of
pipeline infrastructure
During and after WWII, its use became more
widespread because it was inexpensive and
pipelines were laid across the country.

Power plants: gas turbines have a higher
efficiency in converting the fuel to power
than steam turbines (we will talk about
these turbines later) . Plants are cheaper
to build and more environmentally
Transportation: Use is growing, but limited
by range (need to store the fuel in the
vehicle under high pressure and there is
not a widespread distribution system).

Not the solution!

Will not solve our energy problems
Most comes from domestic production,
as shipping is difficult.
US has consumed 85% of its available
natural gas and at the current rate of
consumption, we have enough for about
30 years.
Methane from coal beds can be used to
produce natural gas, which will increase
supply somewhat.

Coal Formation

Coal types
Peat: Youngest form of coal, lowest grade,
low quality fuel and organic material for
Lignite: 150 million yrs old, 50% carbon
Bituminous: 300 million years old, 50-80%
Anthracite: 500 million years old, 95%
carbon, hardest and cleanest burning coal.

US Coal resources

World distribution of coal

World coal production