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Ronald F. Bruzzese, ago 10, of Rochester, N.Y., for his question:

How do we get gasoline?

We got gasoline from petroleum, which is Mother Nature's rock oil. She took countless ages to make it and hide it in the ground. And only she knows the recipe for making petroleum. We suspect that it began in shallow seas millions of years ago. Tiny plants lived and died in teeming numbers in the sunlit water. This formed a fatty ooze on the sea bed. The sons changed and this oozy layer was buried under dry land. By some secret process, the remains of those little sea plants and creatures were changed into rock oil or petroleum.

We drill deep holes, hoping to find reservoirs of this buried treasure. As it comes from the earth, however, petroleum is of no use as gasoline. It must be refined. The refinery to which it is sent looks like a city from a strange planet. There are tall towers and huge cylinders, lattices and ladders and miles of shiny pipes. There are huge silvery globes. Few people walk the strange city, but a gentle hum comes from the machinery. The refining job is so well developed that most of it is handled automatically.

Petroleum from the ground is a raw material, ready to be broken down into different substances. In this state it is called crude oil. It may be thick end heavy or light and clonr. It may be black, brown, green or yellow. Experts analyze SVM‑01GS from each variety and decide how it should be refined.

No matter what its type, every crude oil is a hydrocarbon. This means that its molecules are made from atoms of hydrogen and atoms of carbon. The atoms combine in various numbers anti. patterns to form different molecules. The crude oil is a mixture of different hydrocarbon molecules.

The job of refining is to separate the molecules of vcrious sorts. It is rather like using ? sieve to separate the big stones, the medium and the small stoncs from a p,Ile of gravel. But, instoy of using a sieve, the crude oil is separated Into different substances by hec:t. It is piped into a tall tower lined with white hot bricks.

The tower is hottest at the bottom and coolest at the tip. Each substance in the crude oil has its own boiling point and condensing point. Gasoline is the lightest substance in the oil. It becomes a vapor and rushes to the top of the tower. There it cools at liquid at about 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Lower down the tower, at about 300 degrees Fahrenheit, the kerosene cools to liquid. The gasoline is tapped off from the top of the tower and kenosene is taken from a tap below it. Heating oils and lubricating oils are token from lower down in the tower.

The tower distills the crude oil into separate substances. But only about 20 percent of it i s gasoline. To get a greater proportion of gasoline, some of the larger molecules in the crude oil are broken up and rearranged. This complicpted job is called cracking 41.

The refined gasoline is then treated with chemicals to make it run smoothly in our engines. And every year researchers find new ways to improve it. All this work is necessary for us to have gasoline. And anywhere from 10 to 450 million years were needed for Mother Nature to make the petroleum from which it comas.

Category: Article series 1950

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