When you hear the word petroleum, most of us think about the gasoline that powers our cars, trucks, vans and other vehicles. However, petroleum is used for many things other than fuel including plastics and pharmaceuticals. Because petroleum is such an important part of our daily lives, it is wise to learn a little bit about this substance.
Petroleum isn’t something that was discovered when we invented automobiles, this sticky black, brown or yellow substances has been used for thousands of years. The word is actually made out of the Greek words Petra (“rock) and Oleum (“oil). Ancient Greeks and many other people used this sticky, flammable substance as a source of light as well as using it to cover cuts and gashes, particular on livestock. Greek Fire, a notorious ancient weapon, probably was partially made using petroleum because not only did it burn for a long time, it also burned even if it was in water, so the enemy could not easily stop the fire.
Many people mistakenly believe that dinosaurs are the source of petroleum. However, this is simply not true. Before dinosaurs existed, there was petroleum and the main “ingredients” are actual single-celled organisms such as algae and zooplankton which have been on Earth for billions of years. Petroleum is comprised of a variety of different hydrocarbons, which is simply a substance that created out of a specific number of hydrogen and carbon atoms.
Vehicle fuel, such as gasoline for internal combustion engines is what most of our petroleum is used to produce. However, other types of fuel also are created from petroleum such as kerosene, jet fuel, butane and even diesel fuel. The motor oil that lubricates our engines also is made from petroleum as well as many oils that used in many pieces of machinery. Our roads are paved using asphalt, which also is a petroleum-based product and asphalt has been used since ancient times.
Plastic is a highly usable product made from the petrochemicals that are produced when you refine petroleum. There are many different types of plastics that are created with petrochemicals and these include many types of thermoplastics. Thermoforming companies use thermoplastics to create a huge range of helpful products, including medical packaging, food packaging, agricultural packaging, electronic packaging and many other types of retail product packaging. The custom thermoformed packages are created by melting thermoplastic to a specific temperature and then forcing it into a mold and then trimming off the excess plastic. The excess can be recycled and used to make new items.
You might be surprised to learn that you actually know the names of some common types of this thermoplastic. Styrofoam, for instance, is a type of thermoplastic although that name refers to the brand and polystyrene is the proper name to use for this polymer. Another plastic we see and use a great deal is PVC or polyvinyl chloride. PVC pipes are durable and inexpensive, making them a highly used product by many industries. PVC also is used to make plastic flooring, signs and even furniture and simulated leather clothing.
Lenna Stockwell enjoys writing about how stuff is made. For further details about plastic thermoforming solutions or to find out more about thermoform molding, please go to the Indepak.com website now.