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  Petroleum - Composition

The component chemicals of petroleum are separated by distillation. Products based on refined crude oil include kerosene, benzene, gasoline, paraffin wax, asphalt, etc.

Strictly speaking, petroleum consists entirely of hydrocarbons, compounds of hydrogen and carbon.

The four lightest alkanes - CH4 (methane), C2H6 (ethane), C3H8 (propane) and C4H10 (butane) - are all gases, boiling at -107C, -67C, -43C, and -18C, respectively (-161, -88, -46, and -1 degrees F).

The chains in the
C5-7  range are all light, easily vaporized, clear naphthas. They are used as solvents, dry cleaning fluids, and other quick-drying products.  The chains from C6H14 through C12H26 are blended together and used for gasoline. Kerosene is made up of chains in the C10 to C15  range, followed by diesel fuel/heating oil (C10 to C20) and heavier fuel oils as the ones used in ship engines. These petroleum compounds are all liquid at room temperature.

Lubricating oils and semi-solid greases (including Vaseline) range from C16 up to C20.
Chains above
C20 form solids, starting with paraffin wax, then tar and asphaltic bitumen.
Boiling ranges of petroleum atmospheric pressure distillation fractions in degrees Celsius:
" petrol ether: 40 - 70 C (used as solvent)
" light petrol: 60 - 100 C (automobile fuel)
" heavy petrol: 100 - 150 C (automobile fuel)
" light kerosene: 120 - 150 C (household solvent and fuel)
" kerosene: 150 - 300 C (jet engine fuel)
" gas oil: 250 - 350 C (Diesel fuel/ heating)
" lubrication oil: > 300 C (engine oil)
" remaining fractions: tar, asphalt, residual fuel

 

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