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NAME : ___________________________ ( ) CLASS : DATE : _________

T OPIC : F UELS (Notes)

Syllabus Objectives :
(a) Name natural gas, mainly methane, and petroleum as sources of energy.
(b) Describe petroleum as a mixture of hydrocarbons and its separation into
useful fractions by fractional distillation.
(c) Name the following fractions and state their uses
(i) Petrol (gasoline) as a fuel in cars;
(ii) Naphtha as feedstock for the chemical industry;
(iii) Paraffin (kerosene) as a fuel for heating and cooking and for
aircraft engines;
(iv) Diesel as a fuel for diesel engines;
(v) Lubricating oils as lubricants and as a source of polishes and
(vi) Bitumen for making road surfaces.
(d) State that naphtha fraction from crude oil is the main source of
hydrocarbons used as the feedstock for the production of a wide range of
organic compounds.
(e) Describe the issues relating to the competing uses of oil as an energy
source and as a chemical feedstock.

♦ Coal, petroleum and natural gas are all known as fossil fuels.

♦ Fossil fuels are described as non- renewable energy sources – once they are used
up, they cannot be replaced (fossil fuels took millions of years to form).

♦ Coal –
 Mainly carbon, with small amounts of other elements;
 Formed from the remains of dead plants.

♦ Natural gas –
 Found together with petroleum
 Consists mainly of methane, CH4 (a hydrocarbon)

♦ Petroleum –
 Also known as crude oil, found together with natural gas
 Is a mixture of hydrocarbons (compounds containing ONLY the elements
hydrogen and carbon )
 Of little use before it is refined;
 used mainly (1) as fuel; (2) as raw materials for other products eg. plastics,

Fractional distillation of Petroleum

♦ Petroleum is a mixture of hydrocarbons molecules of different sizes – the small

molecules have few carbon atoms and low boiling points; the large molecules have
many carbon atoms and high boiling points.
♦ Fractional distillation therefore makes use of the fact that the compounds composed
of longer carbon chains, require more heat and higher temperatures to vaporize
than compounds of shorter chains.
 the crude oil is heated and becomes a vapour;
 the rising vapour moves through the gaps in the trays and condenses on the
bubble caps;
 more hot vapour rises and bubbles through the liquid (in the trays) and
reboils it;
 each tray is a little cooler than the one below it as it is further away from the
 after some time, substances of low boiling point reach the top of the tower;
those of higher boiling point are nearer the bottom.

♦ Small scale fractional distillation of petroleum:

Properties & Uses of the different Fractions

♦ All fractions are insoluble in water and burn in air;

♦ As their boiling points increase, the following changes take place:
 Molecules become bigger (more carbon atoms);
 The liquids flow less easily (become more viscous );
 They burn less easily;
 When they burn the burn with a more sooty flame.

♦ Some fractions are more useful than others – greater demand for petrol and diesel,
than for lubricating oils or bitumen.
♦ The process of converting the heavy fractions of larger molecules into smaller, more
useful lighter fractions is calledcracking ; suitable catalysts used for the process are
powdered aluminium oxide or silicon dioxide.
Eg. C6H14(l) → C4H10(g) + C2H4 (g)
Cracking can also produce hydrogen gas, and provides an important industrial source
of hydrogen : eg. C10H22(l) → H2(g) + C4H8 (g) + C6H12 (g)

Petroleum to be used as an energy source or chemical feedstock?

♦ Only a limited amount of petroleum in the earth – wasteful to simply burn it away?
Reserved for making chemicals (plastics, drugs and other chemicals)?
♦ Possible solution – find alternative source of fuels.

Further Reading: