The concept of equilibrium constants is fundamental in Chemistry Topics as it quantitatively describes the extent of chemical reactions at equilibrium.
What are petrochemicals?
Many useful chemicals (or substances) are obtained from petroleum and natural gas. Those chemicals which are obtained from petroleum and natural gas are called petrochemicals. Some examples of petrochemicals are : methyl alcohol, ethyl alcohol, formaldehyde, acetone, acetic acid, ethylene, benzene, toluene, vinyl chloride and hydrogen. Petrochemicals are very important because they are used to manufacture a wide range of useful materials such as : Detergents, Synthetic fibres (like Polyester, Nylon, Acrylic, etc.), Plastics (such as Polythene, Polyvinyl chloride, Bakelite, etc.), Synthetic rubber, Drugs, Dyes, Perfumes, Fertilisers, Insecticides and Explosives, etc.
Hydrogen gas is obtained as a petrochemical from natural gas. Hydrogen gas obtained from natural gas is used in the manufacture of fertilisers (such as ammonium nitrate and urea). Thus, petroleum is not only a source of fuels but also provides raw materials (in the form of petrochemicals) to manufacture a large number of useful substances. Due to its great commercial importance, petroleum is also called “black gold”.
Energy Resources of Earth are Limited
Most of the energy that we use today comes mainly from the three exhaustible resources of the earth: coal, petroleum and natural gas The amount of coal, petroleum and natural gas present in the earth is limited. The known reserves of coal, petroleum and natural gas will last only for about 100 years. Once the present stock of coal, petroleum and natural gas present in the earth gets exhausted, no new supplies of these fossil fuels will be available to us in the near future (because it takes millions of years to convert the dead organisms into fossil fuels in nature). So, fossil fuels should be used with care and caution, and not wasted at all so that the existing reserves of fossil fuels can be used over as long a period as possible.
Moreover, the burning of fossil fuels is a major source of air pollution. The use of fossil fuels is also linked to global warming (because they produce a lot of greenhouse gas ‘carbon dioxide’ on burning). So, the use of lesser fossil fuels will lead to cleaner environment and smaller risk of global warming. From the above discussion we conclude that we should use fossil fuels only when absolutely necessary because :
- it will ensure the availability of fossil fuels for a longer period of time.
- it will reduce air pollution and lead to a cleaner environment.
- it will reduce the risk of global warming.
Please note that the fossil fuels such as coal, petroleum and natural gas cannot be prepared in the laboratory from dead organisms (dead plants and animals). This is because the formation of fossil fuels is a very, very slow process and the conditions for their formation cannot be created in the laboratory.
How to Save Petrol and Diesel
Petrol and diesel are the two main fuels which are used for driving vehicles. We should make every effort to avoid the wastage of these precious fuels. In India, the Petroleum Conservation Research Association (PCRA) advises people on how to save petrol (or diesel) while driving vehicles. The various tips for minimising the wastage of petrol and diesel while driving vehicles are as follows :
- Drive the vehicle at a constant and moderate speed as far as possible.
- Switch off the vehicle’s engine at traffic lights or at a place where a person has to wait.
- Ensure correct air pressure in the tyres of the vehicle. Low tyre pressure consumes more fuel.
- Ensure regular maintenance of the vehicle (including engine tuning).