Monday, May 12, 2008

Fossil Fuel: Oil or Petroleum

Oil is another fossil fuel. It was also formed more than 300 million years ago. Some scientists say that tiny diatoms are the source of oil. Diatoms are sea creatures the size of a pin head. They do one thing just like plants; they can convert sunlight directly into stored energy.
As the diatoms died they fell to the sea floor (1). Here they were buried under sediment and other rock (2). The rock squeezed the diatoms and the energy in their bodies could not escape. The carbon eventually turned into oil under great pressure and heat. As the earth changed and moved and folded, pockets where oil and natural gas can be found were formed (3).
Oil has been used for more than 5,000-6,000 years. The ancient Sumerians, Assyrians and Babylonians used crude oil and asphalt collected from large seeps at Tuttul (modern-day Hit) on the Euphrates River. A seep is a place on the ground where the oil leaks up from below ground. The ancient Egyptians, used liquid oil as a medicine for wounds, and oil has been used in lamps to provide light.
The Dead Sea, near the modern Country of Israel, used to be called Lake Asphaltites. The word asphalt was derived is from that term because of the lumps of gooey petroleum that were washed up on the lake shores from underwater seeps.
In North America, Native Americans used blankets to skim oil off the surface of streams and lakes. They used oil as medicine and to make canoes water-proof. During the Revolutionary War, Native Americans taught George Washington's troops how to treat frostbite with oil.
Then people began searching oil under ground and could pump it to the surface. The well pumped the oil into barrels made out of wood. This method of drilling for oil is still being used today all over the world in areas where oil can be found below the surface.
Oil and natural gas are found under ground between folds of rock and in areas of rock that are porous and contain the oils within the rock itself. The folds of rock were formed as the earth shifts and moves. It's similar to how a small, throw carpet will bunch up in places on the floor.
To find oil and natural gas, companies drill through the earth to the deposits deep below the surface. The oil and natural gas are then pumped from below the ground by oil rigs. They then usually travel through pipelines or by ship.
Refineries
Oil is stored in large tanks until it is sent to various places to be used. At oil refineries, crude oil is split into various types of products by heating the thick black oil.
Oil is made into many different products - fertilizers for farms, the clothes you wear, the toothbrush you use, the plastic bottle that holds your milk, the plastic pen that you write with. They all came from oil. There are thousands of other products that come from oil. Almost all plastic comes originally from oil. There are some other things made from oil. The products include gasoline, diesel fuel, aviation or jet fuel, home heating oil, oil for ships and oil to burn in power plants to make electricity.
Source: www.energyquest.ca.gov

No comments: