C1.4 Crude Oil and Fuels

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Crude Oil

Crude oil is a mixture of lots of different hydrocarbons. Hydrocarbons are compounds which only contain hydrogen and carbon.

Some of these hydrocarbons are very small such as methane (CH4). This has a very low boiling point and is very flammable. As the hydrocarbons get bigger in size their boiling point increases and they become less flammable.

Fractional Distillation

  • Crude oil is heated to 350°C
  • Most of the substances in the crude oil are evapourated
  • It is pumped into the bottom of a factioning tower
  • Heavier hydrocarbons are already liquid or condense
  • Smaller hydrocarbons (low bpt.) rise up the tower
  • As hydrocarbons are cooled to their bpt. , they condese
  • Some hydrocarbons (low bpt.) are collected as gases


  • Hydrocarbons
  • Short chain ones are more useful as fuels
  • Their general formula is CnH2n+2 (where n=no. of carbons)
  • The carbon - carbon bonds in alkanes are all single covalent bonds
  • This means they are saturated hydrocarbons
    • only have c-c single bonds
    • carbon atoms already have bonds to 4 other atoms so it's not possible to bond to new atoms


Combustion is…


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