Hydrocarbon — is an organic compound consisting of hydrogen and carbon. Most hydrocarbons are found in raw oil. The other sources of hydrocarbons are natural gas, shale gas, associated petroleum gas, combustible shale, coal, and peat.
Hydrocarbons are combustibles. That’s why most of them are used as fuel (internal combustion engines, thermal power plants, boiler houses), and only an insignificant part becomes raw material in the chemical industry.
Sources of Hydrocarbon
Natural sources of hydrocarbons are valuable raw materials for the chemical industry. They are contained in the earth's crust, that’s why the extraction of hydrocarbons is labor-consuming and demanding.
Natural sources of Hydrocarbon:
Hard coal — is a product of the deep decomposition of extinct plant residues (tree ferns, horsetails, first gymnosperms). It looks like a black and dense sedimentary breed of black, which leaves a black line on the porcelain plate.
Natural gas — is a mixture of hydrocarbons with impurities of other gases extracted from sedimentary rocks. There is the following pattern: the higher the relative molecular weight of the hydrocarbons, the lower their amount in natural gas.
Associated petroleum gas — is a mixture of various gaseous hydrocarbons dissolved in oil which are released during the production and preparation of oil. This group also includes gases released in the processes of thermal oil refining, consisting of saturated and unsaturated hydrocarbons.
Oil — is a natural oleaginous flammable fluid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons with various molecular mass and other chemical compounds.
Usage of Hydrocarbon
Hydrocarbons are used in various industries. Mostly, they are utilized as a fuel due to their high heat of combustion. Saturated hydrocarbons are mainly used as part of the motor and reactive fuels, such as raw materials for the chemical and petrochemical industry. Liquid-saturated hydrocarbons, chlorine derivatives, and ethane are used as solvents. Solid hydrocarbons (paraffin, ceresin) are used in the production of plastics, rubber, synthetic fibers, and detergents, as well as in the food industry, and radio engineering.
Hydrocarbons are applied as moderators and coolants for nuclear reactors, or as a process media in chemical reactors. Bitumen varnishes are also created on a hydrocarbon basis. The use of aromatic hydrocarbons as solvents helps to increase the stability of varnishes. Liquid hydrocarbons are widely utilized for motor and rocket fuels. Hydrocarbon hexane is used as a solvent for natural and artificial leather footwear. Hexane is applied as a detergent in the textile, furniture, and leather industries.
Vaseline oil, petrolatum, and paraffin are mixtures of hydrocarbons with different numbers of atoms. They are used in medicine, production of perfumery and cosmetics, manufacture of candles, impregnation of matches, and packaging paper. In metallurgy, paraffin-based compositions are applied as a material for the production of injection molds.
Influence of Hydrocarbon
Nowadays, the usage of hydrocarbons is widely discussed. Currently, more and more people acknowledge the negative impact of hydrocarbons on the environment. Environmental problems begin already at the stage of oil production and its delivery to enterprises. Many accidents are accompanied by significant oil spills, their ingress into water bodies, and the death of sea animals. The areas near the pipelines are characterized by permanently disturbed vegetation.
Another issue is climate change provoked by the greenhouse effect. The excess hydrocarbon emissions don’t allow the heat to leave the Earth and, as a result, the global temperature rises on the planet. This phenomenon has already provoked the melting of glaciers, increasing droughts in the African region, and sea-level change. Many species of the Arctic lose their life environment and source of food.
How does the greenhouse effect occur, and what intensifies it? Solar energy heats the Earth's surface. Since the sun's radiation is short-wave, it freely passes through the greenhouse gases that are around our planet. A small amount of sunlight is reflected by aerosols that are found along with greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere. When the planet heats up, it gives off heat in the form of infrared radiation, but this radiation is long-wavelength. So greenhouse gases prevent it from fully penetrating back into space. This process raises the temperature on Earth.
More and more countries create strategies that involve the utilization of green technologies and the reduction of hydrocarbon emissions into the atmosphere. This strategy includes the production of energy from renewable sources, the reduction of car emissions, the tightening of countries' obligations for energy conservation, and the introduction of a "carbon tax".
The utilization of renewable energy sources becomes a new trend. Renewable energy sources (RES) include the sun, wind, water (except for large hydroelectric power plants), geothermal sources, and biofuels, i.e. all sources whose energy is considered inexhaustible.