Chemistry - More of what we want
More of what we want
Unfortunately, the quantities in which the hydrocarbon fractions are
obtained via fractional distillation do not match marketplace demand.
To produce greater quantities of common fuels (which - generally contain
the smaller hydrocarbon molecules) - from a particular quantity of crude
oil, fractions containing large hydrocarbon molecules are converted to
smaller molecules via the process of_ cracking._ This involves heating, in
the presence of a catalyst, in the absence of air, and converts high
molecular mass hydrocarbons to low molecular mass hydrocarbons.
Cracking is used to increase the yield of petrol from crude oil and to
produce unsaturated hydrocarbons, such as_ ethene_ and _propene,_ which are
extensively utilised in the petrochemical industry. As stated earlier,
chemicals produced from crude oil, and via the conversion of components of
crude oil (petroleum), are known as petrochemicals. The production of
petrochemicals is a vital part of the modern chemical industry.
Common petrochemicals include plastics, medicines, fertilisers and
insecticides. Polyethylene wrap used for food, non-stick materials such as
Teflon, fibres such as nylon and polyester, and simple medicines such as
aspirin are all linked to the petrochemical industry.
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