Petrochemicals are chemicals that are extracted from natural gas and petroleum. They are essential in the chemical industry, the economy, and society because of the ever-expanding uses of this material. From crude oil to petroleum jelly, variations of this multifaced chemicals has many benefits in our homes. However, production is typically carried out in refineries, where there is physical and chemical change done to the hydrocarbons. The manufacture of petrochemical products starts from natural oil and gases that follow a dozen chemical procedures to arrive at the numerous by-products we have in the economy. They are used in the manufacture of a variety of products, including gloves, electrical appliances, cosmetics, paint, and solar panels, to mention a few. The following are uses of petrochemicals in our daily lives.
From plastic bottles containing our favorite beverages to plastic bags that store the contents of our trip to the mall, plastic is undeniably the most common variant of petrochemical substances. Plastic is the name commonly used because of the properties it exhibits, such as being easily deformable under high pressure or heat. However, several kinds of plastic differ because of their structure and applications.
These are plastics that are deformable under extreme conditions, including heat and pressure. They can easily be manipulated if they are melted or molded several times. This is because it breaks down the rigid chemical structure and makes it easier to use. Practical uses of thermoplastics include making of photographic film bags, manufacturing pipes for water and oil transportation, manufacture of packaging materials, furniture, toys, insulation materials, and artificial flowers.
Solvents, like plastic, are derivatives of the chemical element carbon. However, they have similar effects that are consistent with alcohol and other anesthetics. Solvents are known for their ability to dissolve other substances. Water is best known for this property, and is often referred to as the ‘universal solvent.’ Industries use inhalants and solvents because of their unique ability to dissolve many substances. The industrial revolution has been characterized by the massive application of oil and oil-based materials. More and more commercial products manufactured from oil contain solvents such as thinners, glues, degreasers, kerosene among others. Industrial application of soluble solutions includes glues (toluene, ethyl acetate, and various acetones), cement (trichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene), thinner (petroleum distillates, benzene, acetone, trichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene) and paint removers commonly known as varnish (acetone, toluene, benzene, methylene chloride.
Washing chemicals are derivatives of petrochemicals. They are highly soluble in water. Detergents and washing products have one unique feature; their ability to remove oil-based substances by modifying the surface tension of the liquid they are in. Most dirt particles consist of oil and discoloration chemicals. Bacteria and other harmful pathogens can be trapped here, posing a significant health threat to humans. As a result, detergents are used at home to remove dirt from surfaces and clothing material. They are commonly packaged in the form of liquid, powder, or flakes. However, they could easily be pollutants when they are disposed of. To curb this effect, many detergents are made from biodegradable products, which can quickly be eaten by microorganisms resent in the water and soil.
5. Synthetic Rubber
Rubber is a common material that is used in the manufacture of cars and shoes. However, synthetic rubber can be made to resemble natural rubber. Like the other chemical compounds mentioned above, synthetic rubber is derived from petrochemical polymers. Its primary use in our daily lives includes; making tires in the automotive industry, and shoes in the footwear industry. Also, synthetic rubber is considerably cheaper to produce and is used in terrace coverings and roof construction. It worth noting that synthetic rubber is vulcanized. Sneakers use petrochemical products as rubber soles of these popular shoes are variants of the former. Rubber is robust, flexible and all-weather making it convenient to use it to protect the soles of our feet.
6. Synthetic Adhesive
The synthetic adhesive is one of the common derivatives of petrochemicals. Adhesive are substances that are used to hold or merge two materials. It is commonly referred to as glue. It has been of great importance since the industrial revolution up to date. However, there are various mechanisms in which adhesive substances work; however, they are from a technological standpoint, members of the same petrochemical group. Adhesives enable people to be able to fix or repair broken materials such as glass, other plastics and, metal. Synthetic adhesives are based on the following petroleum base polymers; (ethylene tails, polyvinyl acetate tails, polyurethane glues, anaerobic, or cyanoacrylate adhesives, synthetic rubber glues, among others).
7. Herbicides and Fertilizers
Herbicides are an integral part of modern-day agricultural production. These chemical compounds are used to keep herbs and other unwanted plant growth at bay. Herbicides are used to extinguishing herbs because the latter affect agricultural production. Herbs not only affect land space allocated of farming crops, but they also compete with the latter for water, food, sunlight, and humidity. Besides, some herbs are poisonous, posing a significant threat to the wellbeing of humans and livestock living there. Hence, these petrochemical variants have a lot of importance in the production of the food we consume. There are over one hundred and eighty herbicides that have been formulated in laboratories. They include phenoxy-herbicides, chlorinated aliphatic acids, chlorinated benzoic acids, phenolic acids, and substituted dinitroaniliness all of which stem from petrochemicals.
8. Synthetic Fibres
Also known as sinteticas fibers, these material substances have been used for more than a century. Synthetic fibers were first introduced to industries and people back in 1938. Ever since then, the demand for this product has been increasing annually. These materials represent the second most essential compound in petrochemicals after plastics. They have replaced the used cotton, wool dyes among others, in the economy. They have opened a door of limitless opportunities for companies and people. Colors come in many colors. Nonetheless, the most common use of dyes includes writing in ball-point pens.
An insecticide is a chemical used to control and kill unwanted insects. One such notable pesticide is ‘mortein doom’ that has been used by Africans in killing mosquitoes and reducing the risk of malaria. However, very few people are aware of the insecticide’s petrochemical polymers. These pest controllers have paraffinic oil that is derived from the distillation process when manufacturing petrochemicals. The same chemical compound is found in herbicides and some fertilizers. Paraffinic oil makes it difficult for insects to breath because it creates an impenetrable layer. As a result, any threat from insects is neutralized by using insecticides. These products have a mass application in farming, as well. They can be used to treat pests on farms throughout the year.
Forms of petrochemicals have been used in the cosmetic industry for a more significant effect. Petroleum jelly is present in nearly all households. Petroleum jelly is used to moisturize the skin, preventing cracks and dehydration of the skin. Also, this form of petrochemical is used to treat injuries and cracks found on the surface and lips to a more significant effect. It creates a healing environment for wounds, making it a household necessity.
11. Food grade lubricant
Variants of petrochemicals are high food additives and preservatives. Some petrochemicals have been known to act as preservatives, which increase the longevity of food so that they can be enjoyed regardless of the storage or location at any point in time. Additionally, some petrochemicals increase the value of food; some petrochemicals contain vitamins such as ASA (Acety salicylic acid).
Petrochemicals have numerous applications in today’s world. Other uses of these chemical compounds include;
12. Lubrication of large machines in industries and vehicles.
Lubricants are essential for the functioning of engine parts commonly found in cars and computers in industrial areas. Oils reduce the amount of friction that arises from the engine’s operational activities. As a result, they become more efficient in production. Also, they reduce the likelihood of drivers overheating.
13. Plexiglas is a form of petrochemicals used in place of glass
This material substance is more robust, flexible and cheaper to process than glass. As a result, manufacturers have opted to use Plexiglas instead of glass in cares, aquariums, airplanes, and other household appliances
15. Forms of petrochemicals such as gasoline and propane are used as energy sources
Gas is the primary chemical compound behind the fuel that runs our vehicles. Propane is used in airplanes and hot air balloons because it is light and highly combustible. Gases derived from processing petrochemicals also help people use gas burners in their homes to cook their favorite meals.
16. Some petrochemicals are used in construction
For instance, asphalt is the main binder for gravel, which later forms asphalt concrete. It is one of the many derivatives of petrochemical substances. Hence, these chemical substances enable governments to construct durable and long-lasting roads.
17. Teflon is widely used in cutlery, particularly in non-stick pans. Not only that, Teflon is used in medical injection tubes, chemical prof pipes, to mention a few.
18. Nylon was developed as a silk substitute. However, this material is made from petrochemical polymers. It is used today in ropes, parachutes, guitar strings, and bridal veils.