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Fuels from crude oil

+Crude oil is a mixture of compounds called hydrocarbons.

+It can be separated into different fractions using fractional

distillation, and some of these can be used as fuels.


The alkanes are a family of hydrocarbons that share the same

general formula.


Alkanes are saturated hydrocarbons.

This means that their carbon atoms are joined to each other by
single bonds.
This makes them relatively unreactive, apart from their
reaction with oxygen in the air, which we call burning or
Boiling point and state at room temperature
Hydrocarbons have different boiling points, and can be either
solid, liquid or gas at room temperature:
← Small hydrocarbons with only a few carbon atoms have low
boiling points and are gases.
← Hydrocarbons with between five and 12 carbon atoms are
usually liquids.
Large hydrocarbons with many carbon atoms have high boiling
points and are solids.

Distillation is a process that can be used to separate a pure
liquid from a mixture of liquids
Distillation is commonly used to separate ethanol (the
alcohol in alcoholic drinks) from water.

This is the sequence of events in distillation:

heating → evaporating → cooling → condensing
Oil fractions
The diagram below summarises the main fractions from crude
oil and their uses, and the trends in properties. Note that the
gases condense at the top of the column, the liquids in the
middle and the solids stay at the bottom.

Hydrocarbons with small molecules make better fuels than

hydrocarbons with large molecules because they are volatile,
flow easily and are easily ignited
Combustion of fuels
Complete combustion
Fuels burn when they react with oxygen in the air. The
hydrogen in hydrocarbons is oxidised to water (remember that
water, H2O, is an oxide of hydrogen). If there is plenty of air,
we get complete combustion and the carbon in hydrocarbons
is oxidised to carbon dioxide:
hydrocarbon + oxygen → water + carbon dioxide

Incomplete combustion
If there is insufficient air for complete combustion, we get
incomplete combustion instead. The hydrogen is still oxidised
to water, but instead of carbon dioxide we get carbon
monoxide. Particles of carbon, seen as soot or smoke, are
also released.

Most hydrocarbon fuels naturally contain some sulfur
compounds. When the fuel burns, the sulfur it contains is
oxidised to sulfur dioxide.

Effects of acid rain.

1) Acid rain damages the waxy layer on the leaves of trees

and makes it more difficult for trees to absorb the
minerals they need for healthy growth.
2) Acid rain reacts with metals and rocks such as limestone.
Buildings and statues are damaged as a result.
3) Acid rain also makes rivers and lakes too acidic for some
aquatic life to survive.

Reducing acid rain

Sulfur dioxide can be removed from waste gases after
combustion of the fuel. This happens in power stations.
The sulfur dioxide is treated with powdered limestone to
form calcium sulfate. This can be used to make
plasterboard for lining interior walls, so turning a harmful
product into a useful one.