C1.4 Crude oil and fuels
Crude oil is derived from an ancient biomass found in rocks. Many useful materials can be produced from crude oil. Crude oil can be fractionally distilled. Some of the fractions can be used as fuels.
Biofuels are produced from plant material. There are advantages and disadvantages to their use as fuels.
Fuels can come from renewable or non-renewable resources.
Candidates should use their knowledge to:
■evaluate the impact on the environment of burning hydrocarbon fuels (e.g. methane and ethanol)
■ consider and evaluate the social, economic and environmental impacts of the uses of fuels. Candidates may be given information and data about other fuels and their products of combustion for comparison and evaluation in the examinations.
■ evaluate developments in the production and uses of better fuels, for example ethanol and hydrogen. Candidates should know and understand the benefits and disadvantages of ethanol and hydrogen as fuels in terms of: use of renewable resources; storage and use of the fuels, and their products of combustion.
■ evaluate the benefits, drawbacks and risks of using plant materials to produce fuels.
Assessment and practical opportunities
■ demonstration of fractional distillation of crude oil using CLEAPSS mixture (take care to avoid confusion with the continuous process in a fractionating column)
■ design an investigation on viscosity, ease of ignition or sootiness of flame of oils or fuels
■ comparison of the energy content of different fuels, for example by heating a fixed volume of water
■ demonstration of the production of solid particles by incomplete combustion using a Bunsen burner yellow flame or a candle flame to heat a boiling tube of cold water
■ collecting and testing the products of combustion of candle wax and methane
■ demonstration of burning sulfur or coal in oxygen and then testing the pH of the gas produced
■ design an investigation on growing cress from seeds in various concentrations of sodium metabisulfite solution to show how acid rain affects plants.
Comparing properties of water, methane and lubricating oil (BP Education Real-World Science)
Build a hydrocarbon molecule interactive (BP Education Real-World Science)