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[Energy] [Column] All About Petroleum - (8) Can We Make Petroleum?

by Eco Generation | 06-08-2019 14:20 Comments 4 Comments recommendations 0 recommendations

Can We Make Petroleum?



By Science Columnist Ho-Gwan Ko



It may be several decades later, perhaps hundreds of years later, but petroleum will eventually run out. To reduce the impact, we need to gradually replace petroleum. What can we do about transportation modes that move a lot of people and freight, such as cars and airplanes?
Recently, electric vehicles are attracting much attention. The global trend is to gradually reduce internal combustion engines that emit pollutants. Not only do electric vehicles not use petroleum, but they also make low noise and emit no pollutants.

Of course, electric cars also have some problems. This is because it takes thermal power and nuclear power plants to make electricity. Thermal power generation usually uses a lot of cheap coal, which is not free from environmental pollution problems. Although nuclear power generation is very good at making electricity, it has serious safety and radioactive waste problems. Some electric vehicles run on hydrogen fuel cells, but they also produce greenhouse gases when producing hydrogen.

Internal combustion engines can be used continuously. We can make fuel that can replace petroleum. For example, coal liquefaction technology makes petroleum with coal. In fact, the technology of turning coal into petroleum came about 100 years ago. However, as lots of oilfields have been discovered, coal liquefaction technology became a forgotten technology and rarely continued to grow. If petroleum is depleted or the price goes too high, this technology can be an alternative again.

Here is a brief descript
ion of the principle: Oxygen and water are added to coal and heated to make carbon monoxide and hydrogen. After removing impurities from this gas and making it react with a catalyst, it turns into petroleum. Going through fractional distillation, this petroleum produces gasoline or diesel. They say that about 1 ton of coal can produce 2 barrels of petroleum. As diesel made by this process contains little sulfur, it helps reduce air pollution.

There are other ways to make fuel. We can make automobile fuel using plants and animals. This kind of fuel is called bioethanol or biodiesel. Bioethanol is ethanol obtained by fermenting plants such as sugarcane, corn, and sweet potatoes; simply put, it can be called alcohol. This can run gasoline cars, but it involves some problems including having to modify the existing car engine, now bioethanol is used only by mixing with gasoline. Biodiesel, fuel made from vegetable oil or animal fat, can replace diesel.

Microorganisms are also used to make biofuels. Microorganisms that convert sugar into hydrocarbons are living petroleum plants. Gasoline and diesel as well as jet fuel have been successfully made with microorganisms, but the technology is still less economical. If this can be mass-produced enough to be an industry, we can ride cars or airplanes running on these biofuels in the future.

If petroleum is gone, the problem is not just about cars or airplanes. We will not be able to use those commonly used in our daily lives such as synthetic fibers or plastics. Substitutes for these can also be made from renewable raw materials such as plants and microorganisms. These are called bioplastics. Most of them are made from starch, and one of the examples is the green toothpicks common in restaurants.

Ethylene, the raw material of polyethylene, the most commonly used plastic, can also be made with ethanol. Just like making biofuel, ethanol can be obtained by fermenting plants such as sugarcane and corn. However, in order to meet the demand of plastics, it is necessary to grow a lot of raw material crops. Accordingly, there may be problems including forest area reduction, increased use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and more.

Bioplastics can also be made at microbial plants. Techniques for making raw materials of synthetic fibers or plastics using microorganisms have already been developed. However, there is also the challenge of increasing productivity and economy. It is true that petroleum is still the most efficient and convenient resource. However, we have already developed sufficient technology to replace petroleum for the moment of crisis.



All About Petroleum- When Will Petroleum Run Out?





Yushika Subedi

Rachu Khanal

  • Rachu Khanal says :
    Thanks for this great article
    Posted 31-03-2020 07:53

Vazira Ikhtiyorova

  • Vazira Ikhtiyorova says :
    I really appreciate your articles! Thank you!
    Posted 22-02-2020 21:16


  • ALOK DHAKAL says :
    Thanks for information!
    Posted 18-09-2019 00:14

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