Sunday, 2 August 2015

Petroleum, the Black Gold.

Background of Petroleum
Petroleum has been known throughout historical time even before the modern industrialization. It was used mainly in battlefield especially in mortar and other fire weapon of the defensive warfare. However, it is also used in coating walls and boat hulls. Not to mentioned, the Native Americans used petroleum in the making of medicine (Seneca oil and Genesee oil) and paints. In 1815, several streets in Prague were lighted with petroleum lamps.
E . L . Drake

The modern petroleum industry actually began in 1859, when the American oil pioneer E . L . Drake drilled a producing well on Oil Creek in Pennsylvania at place that later became Titusville. At that time, with the petroleum industry, they produced kerosene and these kerosene are used in lamps which soon replaced the whale oil lamps and candles in general use.

About Petroleum
Petroleum is a naturally occurring, yellow-to-black liquid found in geological formations beneath the Earth's surface, which is commonly refined into various types of fuels. Petroleum is formed when large quantities of dead organism, usually zooplankton and algae, are buried underneath sedimentary rock and subjected to intense pressure. Forming fossil fuels.

Natural petroleum spring in Kornia, Slovakia
Petroleum is a mixture of a very tremendous number of different hydrocarbons; the most commonly found molecules are alkanes (paraffins), cycloalkanes (naphthenes), aromatic hydrocarbons, or more complicated chemicals like asphaltenes. Each petroleum vari
ety has its unique mix of molecules which determines its physical and chemical properties.

In the strictest sense, petroleum includes only crude oil. However, in common usage it includes all liquid, gaseous and solid hydrocarbons. Under different temperature and pressure conditions, they appear in different form and has different usages.

Most of the world oil are non-conventional
Composition of compounds in Petrol
Composition by weight
ElementPercent range
Carbon83 to 85%
Hydrogen10 to 14%
Nitrogen0.1 to 2%
Oxygen0.05 to 1.5%
Sulfur0.05 to 6.0%
Metals< 0.1%

Composition of Hydrocarbons in Petrol
Composition by weight
Alkanes (paraffins)30%15 to 60%
Naphthenes49%30 to 60%
Aromatics15%3 to 30%

Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling. This comes after the studies of structural geology, sedimentary basin analysis, reservoir characterization. It is then refined and separated, most easily by distillation into a large number of consumer products, from gasoline and kerosene to asphalt and chemical reagents used to make plastics and pharmaceuticals. 

Usage of petroleum

Fuels (Petrol & Diesel)
The most common distillation fractions of petroleum are fuels.
Fuels are used in vehicles and transportation system which has became our daily necessity.

Distillation fraction
Industrial power
Oil is the major source of industrial power. While diesel and gasoline are commonly used in gas turbines to produce electricity.

Heating and lighting
Heavier oils are used in central heating plants for shops, offices as well as homes.
The lighter grades of oil such as Kerosene are still used for domestic purposes.

All types of lubricants and greases are produced from petroleum. These lubricants are very useful for machines especially for the machines that are used in transportation and industries.

Petro-chemical industry
Both petro-chemical and chemical industries use petroleum by-products as raw material to produce chemical fertiliser, synthetic fiber, synthetic rubber, nylon, plastics, pesticides and insecticides, perfumes, dyes, paints, carbon black and sulphur, etc.

Environmental effects 
As petroleum is a naturally occuring substance, its presence in the environment need not be the result of human causes such as accidents and routine activies (seismic exploration, drilling, extraction, refining and combustion). 

Ocean acidification
Ocean acidification is the increase in acidity of the Earth's oceans caused by the uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This increase in acidity inhibits life such as scallops.

Global warming
Petroleum drilling site
Combustion of petroleum releases carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. Along with the burning of coal, petroleum combustion is the largest contributor to the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide. This has cause global warming and raise in temperature on the Earth leading to melting of icebergs in North and South pole, which is extremely dangerous as it leads to rise in sea water level.

Oil extraction is simply the removal of oil from the reservoir (oil pool). This may sounds harmless but it has causes the Earth to be damaged especially geologically. 

Oil spills
Kelp after an oil spill
Crude oil and refined fuel spills from tanker ship accidents have dramatically damaged natural ecosystems in Alaksa, the Gulf of Mexico, the Galapagos Islands, France and many other places. Oil spills at sea are generally much more damaging than those on land, since they can spread for hundreds of nautical miles in a thin oil slick which can cover beaches with a thin coating of oil. This can kill organisms such as sea birds, mammals, shellfish and other organisms it coats. 

Oil Sick from the Montara oil spill in the Timor Sea, September 2009

Before we end this topic here,
one advice to all the people out there.

A poster used to encourage carpooling during World War II

Monday, 20 July 2015

TriNitroToluene (TNT), the Mistaken Dynamite.

Background of TNT
Yellow dye from TNT
2, 4, 6 - Trinitrotoluene (TNT) with the molecular formula of C7H5N3O6  is entirely different compound from dynamite. TNT has an interesting starting point where it was originally developed as a dye, not an explosive

Julius Wilbrand a.k.a Joseph Wilbrand
TNT revolutionized civil engineering and has cemented itself in the public consciousness as the definition of explosives. TNT was invented in 1863, just four years before dynamite by a German chemist named Julius Wilbrand also known as Joseph Wilbrand. Interestingly enough, TNT’s intended purpose was to act as a yellow dye. Its explosive capabilities weren’t even realized until years after its invention. Its explosiveness weren’t noticed because it has fairly high activation energy. In addition to that, it was actually less powerful than alternative explosive compounds of the day.

Properties of TNT
TNT is powder
TNT is a yellow, odorless solid that does not occur naturally in the environment. It has a melting point of 80.1°C and boiling point of 240°C. It is commonly used as an explosive in military shells, bombs and grenades, in industrial uses, and in underwater blasting. TNT may be burned but it is difficult to ignite. When water has been driven off or evaporated, the residue is easily ignited and it burns vigorously and is highly explosive. TNT also produces toxic oxides of nitrogen during combustion.

TNT in chunks

Safety and toxicity of TNT
TNT is poisonous, and skin contact can cause skin irritation. It causes the skin to turn into a bright yellow-orange color. During the First World War, workers who handled TNT found their skin turned bright yellow which resulted in them acquiring the nickname of “canary girls” or simple “canaries”.

People who are exposed to TNT over a prolonged period tend to experience anemia and abnormal liver functions. Blood and liver effects, spleen enlargement and other harmful effects on the immune system have also been found in animals that ingested or breathed TNT. There is evidence that TNT adversely affects male fertility. TNT is listed as carcinogenic as its effects are tested on lab rats. 

Consumption of TNT produces red urine through the presence of breakdown products and not blood as sometimes believed. 

Symptoms of Anemia
TNT may cause contamination called “pink water” as it was found that some military testing grounds’ wastewater are contaminated by the TNT and appeared as pink in color.

Advantages of TNT
Prior to the development of TNT, explosives were highly instable and prone to near-spontaneous combustion where they are easily exploded. Compounds such as black powder and nitroglycerine were often used, sometimes in volatile multi-compound mixtures. These compounds stated were highly explosive but the major and severe drawback is they have low activation energies. In other words, these explosives could be combust accidentally without ignition. In fact, there were cases where the shipment of the compounds above exploded and killed many people.  

TNT’s stable character made it a good choice for construction operations such as rock-blasting. Besides that, TNT has a melting point which is well below the temperature at which it spontaneously combusts. This allows manufacturers to safely pour the compound in liquid form. Additionally, TNT does not dissolve nor absorb water, making it safe to use in wet environments.

TNT has also helped in the military forces in developing weapons ever since 1902 when German forces began using TNT in their artillery shells. These shells were able to pass through British ships’ armor prior to exploding. In other words, the artillery shells tend to pierce or break the armor before exploding. Thus, TNT-containing shells were able to wreak havoc on contemporary ships by dumping a huge portion of their energy inside of the target.

TNT is also widely used alongside dynamite in the construction of the American railroad system. During this construction, there often are paths that required passage through a whole mountain, and so TNT and dynamite were brought in by the ton to clear passageways.

M795 projectile with IMX-101
Disadvantages of TNT
Though TNT is relatively stable, it does have some drawbacks. Explosives which contain TNT can degrade when stored at high temperatures. This in turn may create cracks in the explosive, increasing its shock sensitivity. Additionally, TNT’s energy density is somewhat low for an explosive compound. TNT was replaced by a compound called IMX-101 in the US army artillery shells as IMX-101 is less shock-sensitive and more stable in high temperatures.

Here's a compiled footage of TNT explosions.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Benzene, the Lethal Weapon.

Benzene was initially discovered as a chemical compound in the mid-1820s by an English scientist named Michael Faraday.
Michael Faraday
Charles Mansfield
Having been able to successfully isolate and remove benzene from oil gas, Faraday found the chemical compound to have a variety of valuable properties. It was not until 1849 that benzene would be produced on an industrial level after another Englishman, chemist Charles Mansfield, successfully isolated the chemical compound from coal tar.
Benzene is still produced industrially based on Mansfield's coal-tar method; however, the vast majority of today's benzene is produced by the petrochemical industry. Benzene can be produced more efficiently from petroleum than from coal. 

About Benzene 
Benzene is a type of common organic compound that is used widely throughout the chemical industry. Often referred to as PhH or benzol, benzene is an aromatic hydrocarbon (AH) that is incredibly toxic when inhaled, ingested or absorbed via the skin. It is a colorless liquid that is highly flammable and has a sweet and distinctive smell - hence the aromatic classification.
3-D Image of Benzene's Structure
Structure of Benzene Ring
Benzene can be produced naturally as a byproduct of carbon-rich materials undergoing incomplete combustion. Benzene also occurs naturally in crude oil and has been used as a gasoline additive because it can increase octane ratings and minimize engine "knocking." It has been used to decaffeinate coffee, as an aftershave and as an industrial solvent (metal degreaser) in the past; however, the most common use of benzene is as a precursor in the production of other chemicals. Benzene and benzene derivatives (styrene, phenol and cyclohexane) are still found in varying amounts in a variety of products, some of which include pesticides, drugs, rubbers, lubricants, dyes and detergents.

Uses of Benzene
Prior to widespread knowledge of benzene toxicity, the chemical compound was commonly used as an industrial solvent. It has since been replaced by a variety of other solvents.

One of the more common uses of benzene prior to its regulation was as a gasoline additive. Benzene increases the octane rating of gasoline, making it a widely used anti-knocking agent. Although the use of benzene as an additive in gasoline has seen a resurgence in certain nations around the world, benzene health concerns have prevented such a return-to-use in the United States, where the gasoline content of benzene is strictly regulated.
Today, benzene is used primarily to aid in the production of other chemicals. There are a number of derivative compounds that are produced using benzene, some of which include styrene, phenol and cyclohexane. 
Benzene and benzene derivatives can be found throughout a variety of products that can include:


Benzene Exposure - Benzene Health Effects

Prolonged benzene exposure has been linked with a host of negative health effects, many of which can be fatal if not properly treated. The exact nature of its effects typically depends upon the manner by which a person is exposed to benzene.

If benzene is inhaled, it can cause dizziness, tachycardia, headaches, confusion, tremors and unconsciousness. If inhalation of benzene occurs in high levels or over a long period of time, it could even result in death. If benzene is ingested, it can cause a great deal of stomach irritation, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, tachycardia and death.

Effects of Benzene in Our Body
The most significant adverse health effect of benzene exposure is damage to the blood. This condition is especially treacherous if it occurs during pregnancy because it hinders normal development of the fetus. Parents who suspect that their children's health conditions, such as acute childhood leukemia, were caused by benzene exposure, should contact experienced birth injury lawyers. These specialists can help them initiate prompt legal action to hold the responsible parties financially liable.

The chemical compound is classified as a human carcinogen by the US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Prolonged exposure can lead to the development of leukemia, a potentially fatal type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow. Benzene exposure has been definitively linked with bone marrow damage that causes a reduction in red blood cell levels (anemia).

Benzene and Acute Myeloid Leukemia
It has been determined that long-term exposure to benzene and benzene-laden materials can lead to the development of acute myeloid leukemia (acute myelogenous leukemia - AML), a type of cancer that affects the body's white blood cells. AML sufferers have abnormal blood cell production in their bone marrow, leaving them susceptible to infections and other problems related to an immune system deficiency.

People suffering from AML typically present a number of symptoms that can include fatigue, bleeding and infection. AML is a treatable disease, with approximately 50% to 75% of adult sufferers experiencing complete remission (no AML detected). AML sufferers are most often treated via chemotherapeutic means in the form of induction chemotherapy and post-remission chemotherapy.
If you or your loved one has been exposed to benzene and has suffered adverse health effects as a result, you should contact a skilled personal injury attorney to determine if you are entitled to compensation. In many cases whereby benzene exposure victims have been injured due to someone's negligence, they are entitled to receive just remuneration for medical expenses, physical and emotional suffering, lost wages, reduced future income and reduction in lifestyle. In cases whereby injured parents have lost their ability to care for their children, they often consult with experienced family attorneys to explore available legal protections and provisions.