Fossil fuels are considered as one of the primary sources of energy around the world. They have an extensive range of residential and commercial applications. From the petrochemical industry to power plants, different industries are dependent on fossil fuels directly and indirectly. Fossil fuels play an integral role in the world economy. However, the extensive usage of fossil fuels is giving rise to the threat of running out of their reserves.

refining fossil fuels

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Although fossil fuels are variations of hydrocarbons, their processing mechanism is different. The time duration and investment required for refining several types of fossil fuels also vary. If you want to understand the refining processes of different fossil fuels, this article will help you out.

Petroleum:

Petroleum is a naturally existing substance that came into existence after millions of years of geological reactions. Over the years, petroleum has become an integral energy source for different aspects of human life. From residential to industrial usage, petroleum derivatives are used in one way or the other.

Refining Process:

Petroleum is found in crude oil wells and is extracted through drilling. There are many steps involved in the refining process of petroleum, which are given below:

Extraction:

Extraction is the first step in petroleum’s refining process. It is found deep down under the surface of the earth as a component of crude oil. First of all, digging is done on the site to reach maximum depth from where drilling could start. Then extensive drilling is done with the help of heavy-duty drill machines until a rich source of crude oil is reached. The casing of the hole is done with a metallic or concrete case.

The Difference Between Refining Processes of Various Fossil Fuels 1

Source: Ravenpetro 

Separation:

The next step in the refining process of petroleum is separating it from other compounds of crude oil. The process of separation of petroleum is known as fractional distillation. It involves the heating of crude oil at high temperature. Different components present in the crude oil have different boiling points. The temperature is taken up to 400 degree Celsius, which is the boiling point of petroleum to make it evaporate.

There are several compartments made for collecting vapors of different compounds. When the petroleum fumes start depositing in the container, they are carried ahead for processing. It is important to use a quality ball valve like the ones found at https://en.siovalve.com/product-category/ball-valves/ to prevent leakage during transferring. The condensation is done afterward to convert petroleum vapors into liquid form.

Purification:

The final step is the conversion of petroleum into refined form. For doing so, the liquified petroleum is heated again at high temperature to remove the impurities from it. A catalyst is used that speeds up the process and provides a suitable environment for refining petroleum. Different impurities like sulfur are removed from petroleum as a result of heating.

The purification process is time-consuming, and at the end of it, petroleum becomes suitable for usage in different environmental conditions. Refined petroleum is further processed to be converted into different variants. Many by-products are also released after the purification process which is used for different industrial applications.

Coal:

Coal is a fossil fuel predominantly made up of carbon. It is a reliable source for heat and has a great value in the countries with cold temperature. It is found in mines and under the surface of the earth. Coal has numerous advantages, but there are some drawbacks too like its environmental effects. 

The Difference Between Refining Processes of Various Fossil Fuels 2

Source: Studentenergy 

Refining Process

The refining process of coal is a little different from the other fossil fuels. Unlike conventional fossil fuels, coal is embedded in the surface of the earth. Different mechanisms are used for their extraction. The steps involved in the refining process of coal are given below:

Mining:

Mining is the first step in the refining of coal. There are two types of coal mining; surface mining and underground mining. Surface mining is done in the areas where coal is present at a depth of 200 feet. Underground mining is incorporated if the presence of coal is deeper than 200 feet.

Initially, the mining is done manually and with the help of explosives. Then different drill machines are used to cut through the surface of mines. The digging continues until coal reserves are reached. Elevators are used to reach the depth of mines for extracting coal. The coal is collected in wheelbarrows and carried to the trucks.

Crushing:

Coal comes out of mines in the form of large chunks which are crushed into smaller pieces. This is done to make its further processing convenient. Different tools are used for crushing coal, including crushers and rollers. The size of the pieces is monitored during crushing to ensure that they do not get too small.

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Source: Usedstonecrushers

Processing:

After the crushing process is complete, coal is cleaned to eliminate different impurities from it, including dirt, ash, and sulfur. There are several components in coal with different densities which are also removed as a result of cleaning. Froth floatation process is carried out to clean smaller pieces of coal. The moisture from the coal is dried thermally, and the refined form of coal is transported for supply.

Natural Gas:

Natural gas is a naturally occurring gas found in deep rock formations. It is found separately as well as a compound of crude oil. It is also a popular energy source for industrial and residential purposes.

Refining process:

The refining process varies for different forms of natural gas. The natural gas found in crude oil is extracted through a similar procedure used for petroleum. However, the raw form of natural gas is extracted through pipes. After extraction, all the impurities like water, CO2 are removed from natural gas to produce dry natural gas. Once the refined form of natural gas is achieved, it is supplied ahead for consumption. 

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Source: Mozambiqueminingjournal 

Conclusion:

Various types of fossil fuels have a different composition, and that is why their refining process varies. The information given above will help you understand the refining processes of different fossil fuels.