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Petroleum: The Inside Story

Jeffrey Syken

Once upon a time in America, whale oil provided the fuel to light the darkness in pre-electrified America. With more lamps and fewer whales, a crude oil derivative: Kerosene, provided a plentiful substitute. Now the vast pools of black gold under places like western Pennsylvania, Texas and Oklahoma had a market. Once a waste by-product, the latent explosive power of gasoline would find an unlimited market with the rise of the internal combustion engine in the early 20th Century. A single barrel of crude oil can make over one-hundred useful products; from lubricating oil to plastics. First discovered in 1859, by the middle of the 20th Century oil was literally greasing the wheels of industrial progress. At one time, the United States was the main source of crude oil in the world, but poor use of the resource in the early days of the “oil rush” led the industry to better extraction techniques and improved refining methods (i.e. cracking furnaces). Though there are many derivatives of oil, perhaps none has been more important than gasoline. The power derived from a single drop of gasoline, when properly mixed with oxygen and vaporized is extraordinary. Without Hydro Carbons like gasoline, Kerosene etc. in their various atomic configurations, the modern world we live in simply would not be possible.

This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

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