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Petroleum and petroleum refining.

This will give you an introduction to petroleum, how petroleum is refined and the uses of refined petroleum products.

Target group
University undergraduates following chemistry

Delivery Method
Open education materials are provided and the students are requested to use them as supplementary learning material. Participants are highly encouraged to post questions and follow other threads in the discussion forum.

Petroleum or crude oil is a dark brown viscous liquid dispersed through porous rock deposits. It is mainly a mixture of several hundred hydrocarbons. The compositions of petroleum vary widely depending on the oil field. Read more in Source 1 and Source 2to find the composition of petroleum.

The components in petroleum are separated and purified by a process called petroleum refining. It is usually done by distillation into fractions of different boiling ranges first and then removing undesirable components in them by various methods. Fractions of different boiling ranges are taken out during distillation. The highest volatile components (lowest boiling points) come out first. Following video will show you how fractional distillation of petroleum is done.


Refined petroleum products are known as petrochemicals which are of industrial importance as raw materials for many useful finished products.