Petroleum, or crude oil, is one of the world’s most important substances. Through a process called of refining, petroleum can be changed into more than 2,000 useful products. Here we can give only a general idea of what some of these are.
The best- know petroleum products are the high- energy fuels- gasolines, kerosenes, and diesel and fuel oils. Bottled gas is derived from petroleum. Much of the food we eat and the clothes we wear depend on substances from oil. Vegetable oil is used to prevent bread from sticking when it is being mixed. Petroleum- derived plastic film wraps much of our food. Many of our garments are made with synthetic fibers derived from petroleum.
Over a thousand different kinds of oils and greases are made from petroleum. The lubricants are used for everything from watch and machine parts to locomotives and electric generators.
From oil comes asphalt for roads and rooftops. Wax obtained from oil is used in making candles, waxed paper, and cellophane. Other products that come from oil are used in making carbon paper, ink to print books and newspapers, and detergents.
On farms, synthetic ammonia, made from petroleum, is used as a fertilizer. Oil- based sprays kill insects and weeds. And petroleum is used to manufacture petrochemicals. These are raw materials from which other chemical products,such as plastics and synthetic fibers, are made.
From petrochemicals the products made include such things as synthetic foam rubber, plastic tile, plastic film, and detergents.