Engine Fluids – Where does your fuel come from? 0

car oil changeThere are a number of fluids present in your vehicle and its engine, which are needed to ensure your vehicle runs efficiently and smoothly. This series of articles looks into all of these in more details, but here we look at where your fuel comes from.

Crude Oil is recovered, refined and separated, and made into fuel and hundreds of other products.

Essentially, Petroleum and Crude Oil are the same thing. Petroleum or Crude Oil is a naturally occurring liquid that was formed from the remains of animals and plants that lived millions of years ago in a marine environment. Over time, the remains of these animals and plants were covered by layers of sand and silt. Heat and pressure from these layers helped the remains turn into what we today call crude oil. The word “petroleum” means “rock oil” or “oil from the earth”, and comes from the from the Greek ‘petra’ meaning ‘rock’ and the Latin ‘oleum’ meaning ‘oil’.

The appearance and consistency of crude oil varies, depending on its composition; it is usually black or dark brown, but can have red, yellow or green tints to it, and it varies in thickness or viscosity. Most crude oil is recovered through oil drilling, both on land and under the sea. The geology of the land (or sea bed) is carefully analysed, and huge wells are constructed. The crude oil is extracted and sent to a refinery, and separated into a number of components using pressure and temperature. These components range from gasses such as methane, ethane, propane and butane; to liquids such as petrol, diesel, kerosene and fuel oil; and then semi-solids, such as bitumen, paraffin wax, asphalt or tar.

The petrol and diesel we put into our vehicles are both derived from some of the lighter fractions of crude oil, but have a slightly different chemical composition. Petrol and diesel oil are mixtures of hydrocarbons, both obtained from crude oil through distillation. Their components are different, so are their properties. Diesel is generally heavier and oilier than petrol and is less refined.

Although they are produced from the same substance, petrol and diesel engines work very differently, so it is essential you use the correct fuel for your vehicle!

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