Uses of Petroleum

1663 Words Jan 5th, 2002 7 Pages
Petroleum products are used widely in our everyday lives. They are used to power automobiles produce containers and to keep us warm. Petroleum, or crude oil is liquid composed of various organic chemicals. It is found in large quantities below the surface of Earth and is used as a fuel and as a raw material in the chemical industry. The word petroleum comes from the two Latin words "petro" and "leum" "petro" meaning rock and "leum" meaning oil. The chemical composition of all petroleum is principally hydrocarbons which are a family of organic compounds, composed entirely of carbon and hydrogen. Petroleum is formed under Earth's surface by the decomposition of organisms. The remains of tiny organisms that live in the sea are trapped …show more content…
Wartime shortages and the need to manufacture munitions spurred the formation of small American coal-mining companies that mined Virginia's Appalachian bituminous field and other deposits. The construction of the first practical locomotive in 1804 in England by British engineer Richard Trevithick sparked a tremendous demand for coal. The growth of the railroad industry and the subsequent rise of the steel industry in the 19th century spurred enormous growth in the coal industry in the United States and Europe.

The widespread use of petroleum as a fuel before, during, and after World War I eventually reduced the demand for coal. The change from coal to oil as fuel in warships in the early 1900s, the switch in the railway industry to diesel-electric locomotive engines in the 1940s and 1950s, and increasing use of natural gas as a heating fuel all contributed to a decline in coal production. Still, electric utilities continued to burn large amounts of coal to produce electricity.

Humankind has been using natural plastics for thousands of years. For example, the early Egyptians soaked burial wrappings in natural resins to help preserve their dead. People have been using animal horns and turtle shells for centuries to make items such as spoons, combs, and buttons. In order to find more efficient ways to produce plastics and rubbers, scientists began trying to

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