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Fractional Distillation

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Ever wanted to take a bath in oil? Well in Azerbaijan, oil is so important to their economy that you literally can take a bath in it! Crude oil is one of the most important natural resources, making everything from medicine to the petrol you put in your car. It is finite, which means it will eventually run out, and non-renewable as it cannot be made again. It is a fossil fuel, like coal and natural gas.

Fossil fuels were made over millions of years from the remains of dead organisms that were compressed together, while trapped in the Earth. Dead animals made oil and dead plants made coal.

 


Crude oil is a mixture of hydrocarbons (substances made of carbon and hydrogen only). In order to separate it into its components it needs to be heated through a process called fractional distillation. Here is a diagram that shows how crude oil is separated:

 

An image of a fractional distillation column. Long chains are formed at the bottom and short chains are formed at the top. As you go up, the products become less viscous and more volatile. .

 

 

 

You need to know this diagram and be able to talk about the properties of the hydrocarbons change over the different fractions.


The component hydrocarbon molecules are long chains held together by intermolecular forces. The forces are broken while boiling.

Lighter molecules with shorter chains need less energy for the forces to be broken, so they are easily separated. They have low boiling points. An example is petrol.

Heavy molecules, like bitumen, have longer chains and more energy is needed to separate them. They have high boiling points.


As the heat in the fractional distillation tower increases, small molecules evaporate first and rise to the top, whereas heavier ones stay at the bottom.

The smaller chains are also able to flow over each other better, meaning that they will be less viscous (they will flow more easily). The longer the chains, the harder it is for them to flow over each other making them more viscous.

Select two words which describe crude oil.

Finite

Renewable

Non-renewable

Hydroelectric

What type of fuel is crude oil?

Engine fuel

Fossil fuel

Crude fuel

Is the following statement true or false?

 

Oil is made of dead plants.

True

False

Select the elements that make hydrocarbons.

 

 

Hydrogen

Oxygen

Nitrogen

Carbon

What is the name of the process used to separate crude oil into its fractions?

Fractioning

Fractional dissolving

Fractional distillation

What type of forces hold hydrocarbon molecules together?

Intercarbonary

Intermolecular

Intermolecule

What happens to the boiling point of hydrocarbons as you increase the chain length?

 

Increase

Decrease

Stays the same

Is the following statement true or false?

 

 

Hydrocarbons with longer chains have higher viscosity.

True

False

Considering your answer to Q8, why do longer chain hydrocarbons have higher or lower boiling points?

They need less energy to break.

They need more energy to break.

They do not need any energy to break.

Do fuels have generally long or short chains? 

Long

Short

  • Question 1

Select two words which describe crude oil.

CORRECT ANSWER
Finite
Non-renewable
EDDIE SAYS
Crude oil is finite, which means it will finish eventually and non-renewable, which means it cannot be renewed.
  • Question 2

What type of fuel is crude oil?

CORRECT ANSWER
Fossil fuel
EDDIE SAYS
Oil, like natural gas and coal, are fossil fuels. But oil is a mixture of lots of different types of fuels and needs to be separated out before it can be burnt. Crude oil doesn't burn that well at all.
  • Question 3

Is the following statement true or false?

 

Oil is made of dead plants.

CORRECT ANSWER
False
EDDIE SAYS
Oil is made of dead animals, coal is made of dead plants.
  • Question 4

Select the elements that make hydrocarbons.

 

 

CORRECT ANSWER
Hydrogen
Carbon
EDDIE SAYS
Hydrocarbons are made of hydrogen and carbon - hence the name. We are good at naming stuff in science.
  • Question 5

What is the name of the process used to separate crude oil into its fractions?

CORRECT ANSWER
Fractional distillation
EDDIE SAYS
The process used to separate crude oil into its fractions is called fractional distillation. We are distilling the oil into different fractions. Again, amazing at naming stuff in science...
  • Question 6

What type of forces hold hydrocarbon molecules together?

CORRECT ANSWER
Intermolecular
EDDIE SAYS
Intermolecular forces hold hydrocarbon molecules together. the more intermolecular forces there are, the harder it is for the chains to move or the boil.
  • Question 7

What happens to the boiling point of hydrocarbons as you increase the chain length?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
Increase
EDDIE SAYS
longer chains mean a higher boiling point - so if you increase the chain length, you also increase the boiling point.
  • Question 8

Is the following statement true or false?

 

 

Hydrocarbons with longer chains have higher viscosity.

CORRECT ANSWER
False
EDDIE SAYS
Viscosity is how something flows - the shorter the chain the easier it is for the chains to move over each other - the lower the viscosity.
  • Question 9

Considering your answer to Q8, why do longer chain hydrocarbons have higher or lower boiling points?

CORRECT ANSWER
They need more energy to break.
EDDIE SAYS
Longer chain hydrocarbons have higher boiling points, because they need more energy to break.
  • Question 10

Do fuels have generally long or short chains? 

CORRECT ANSWER
Short
EDDIE SAYS
Fuels need to be volatile and come off the top of the fractional distillation column - this means that they have short chins.
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