"Fossil fuel" is the term given to fuels formed from the fossilised remains of prehistoric plants and animals, combined with exposure to heat and pressure in the Earth’s crust. This process occurs over millions of years. Fossil fuels contain high percentages of carbon and range from volatile gases such as methane, to liquid petroleum such as gasoline, to non-volatile substances such as coal. Fossil fuel oils are a very valuable commodity with a wide variety of uses, making them a vital part of our daily lives. Crude oil is mostly associated with being used to create gasoline, which powers combustion engines in vehicles. However, the combustion of gasoline is an inefficient process and crude oil can be used to create hundreds of other products that often last longer.
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Lubricants and greases
Fuel oil can be used to make lubricants or greases, which are often in a form of motor oil. Like gasoline they are used in internal combustion engines and lubricants protect the engine by reducing friction between moving parts. Certain additives can improve the viscosity of the lubricant and deliver reduced wear and ageing of machinery, helping it to last longer. Fuel oil is also used to make petroleum jelly, which can protect sensitive skin from friction.
Almost all vehicles are currently powered by internal combustion engines, however a small number of vehicles are now powered by a combination of gasoline and electricity. Hybrid vehicle models have an integrated electric motor and are smaller with lighter engines, which vastly improves the efficiency of their fuel combustion. Although Hybrid vehicles still use fossil fuel oil, they consume petroleum far more efficiently and it is thought that as this technology develops, in future they will require less fossil fuel oil.
Plastic materials are usually synthetic and most commonly derived from fuel oil. They are a vital part of our day-to-day lives and due to their relatively low cost and versatility, plastics are used in an enormous and ever expanding range of products. From Polyesters such as synthetic fibres and textiles, PET’s such as plastic film, to PE’s such as plastic shopping bags and plastic bottle, there are hundreds of different plastics all formed from crude oil. Plastics are often reusable and some more sturdy types are very long-life, ensuring efficient use of fuel oil.
Mineral oil and petroleum are used as the base ingredient in many of the cosmetics we use daily. Cosmetics such as foundations, cleansers and moisturisers are all formed from oil – even the production of toothpaste relies on fuel oil. Cosmetic companies are beginning to work towards decreasing their resource use amount of plastics in packaging, which will make the creation of cosmetics a more efficient in its use of fuel oil.
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