You drive a car, ride a bike or travel in a bus. These are a part of our day to day life. We know that these automobiles run on a variety of fuels, especially petrol. But have you ever wondered that petrol, though being non existent naturally, actually gets formed? Most naturally not, even though our lives will come to stand-still without the use of it. So, here’s your dose of information that will tell you all about how petrol is actually formed.
The base – petroleum
It is a common knowledge that petrol or gasoline is actually formed from petroleum or crude oil as it is known via a process known as distillation. But before we go into how petrol is actually derived from crude oil, let’s take a look at how petroleum is actually formed.
Petroleum is actually formed through a natural process that takes several hundreds of years to complete, which is one of the reasons why nature is unable to replenish the used up petroleum appropriately. The process usually starts with the formation of fossils of organic matter, especially the algae and the zooplanktons that are found in huge numbers/ belts under the ocean. As the years pass on, these organic fossils start mixing with the other sediments found in the water and start settling at the bottom, while other layers of fossilized organic matter start depositing on the top of it.
Over the years, as the number of these fossilized layers increase, an extreme pressure is created at the bottom and gets applied on the bottom most layer of the fossilized remains. Pressure and intense heat on the lower layer gradually convert these fossilized materials into kerogen (a wax like substance) which, when gets more heated, gets converted into gaseous hydrocarbons and liquid with the initiation of a process called catagenesis. A further process known as pyrolysis that involves a number of endothermic reactions between hydrocarbons at high pressure and temperature finally gives rise to the crude oil or petroleum.
Petroleum to petrol – the transformation
As mentioned at the very start, distillation of petroleum helps in the formation of petrol. However, the petrol that we get immediately after the distillation of petroleum can no longer be used as fuel due to the harm that it brings to the environment. As such, this pure form is mixed with various additives to give rise to the petrol that we actually use. However, the way that petroleum is processed to form petrol gives rise to different categories of petrol that vary in their quality and also in the degree that they may be harmful to the environment.
The measure of the suitability of the petrol is measured by the octane number, the higher the octane number the better is the fuel with regards to the environment. Also, the aromatic percentage is a matter of concern while producing the right petrol. The lesser the proportion benzene (which gives rise to the aroma), the better is the petrol as a fuel. Naturally, there is a trend to produce and use pure paraffin with a high octane rating.