Hydrocarbon is a class of organic chemical compounds that are only composed of carbon and hydrogen. Hydrocarbons consist of alkanes, alkenes, and alkynes, all of which have carbon and hydrogen entirely. The organic material that forms the source of hydrocarbons was derived from single-celled planktonic plants and single-celled planktonic animals. Even though hydrogen and carbon existed naturally in primordial earth, they underwent organic phases to form complex and varied molecules that are recognized as hydrocarbons (Schmidt, 2018). The exploration of hydrocarbons began in 1936, and it ultimately resulted in the discovery of about 200 gas accumulations and oil deposits. The natural source of hydrocarbons encompasses natural gas, coal, and petroleum. Throughout the history of hydrocarbons and the subsequent discovery of gas and oil accumulations, several companies such as the Royal Dutch Shell Oil Company, China national petroleum, and Total are among some of the companies that came into play from the exploration and production of hydrocarbons to allow them to be used by humans as sources of fuel.
An immense quantity of hydrocarbons is trapped beneath the oceans, and these companies have been using different technologies such as enhanced oil recovery to make hydrocarbons available for use. These and many other companies have continued to grow and expand because hydrocarbons make up for roughly 85% of the world's energy consumption. A wide variety of hydrocarbon components are blended together on a production scale so as to make fuels in accordance with various specifications that are appropriate for trains, cars, or airplanes. Specific manufacturing processes and subsequent downstream processing is used to make synthetic liquid hydrocarbons that can be utilized in various ways. Hydrocarbons are used in the production scale to obtain a variety of fuel sources such as methane gas used for cooking, as well as others used in different ways (Migdisov, 2017). In addition, hydrocarbons are used in production scales as a source of energy that is needed to make materials and products in the petrochemical and chemical industries.
Hydrocarbons are used in everyday life and hence have benefits in the real world. It is mainly used in the form of fuels such as natural gas, and heating oil as well as the principal components of gasoline. Hydrocarbons also serve as lubricants. It is also important to note that familiar plastics such as polyethylene and polystyrene are hydrocarbons, and they are used in a number of ways in our everyday lives. Hydrocarbons act as raw materials for the production of not only plastics but also solvents, industrial chemicals, and fibers. Hydrocarbons are used in so many aspects of the real world that it becomes complex to figure out all the benefits it has brought to the world. The modern world is heavily dependent on hydrocarbons in so many ways, from energy to source of raw materials for different production activities. Hydrocarbons are related to other concepts such as carbohydrates, amino acids, and proteins in that carbohydrates are made up of both carbon and hydrogen as well as oxygen (Perry, 2019). They serve as a source of energy. Amino acids also contain a carboxyl group and six that make up proteins have hydrocarbon R-groups. From looking at these compounds and concepts, the relationship that hydrocarbons have with them is significant.
Increasing the efficiency of hydrocarbons is a challenging concept because it involves refining the compound to remove impurities, which makes it less effective in its application. Also, the processes of turning hydrocarbons into fuel and energy can be improved so as to improve results. It can involve increasing the conversion efficiency so as to minimize the emission of carbon oxides, which can be dangerous to the environment.
The exploration and use of hydrocarbons have their benefits and disadvantages. Some of the benefits involve the use of hydrocarbons as a source of fuel when burned to release energy. Also, they are beneficial because they offer a cheap source of fuel that is produced quickly and in moderately reliable portions. Moreover, hydrocarbons are abundant hence can be made readily available for different uses and in the production of a variety of other materials. The exploration of hydrocarbons has ecological impacts both below and on the surface of the earth. Also, the burning of hydrocarbons has devastating effects on our environment, and some of these effects can be resolved by refining hydrocarbons so as to remove impurities such as nitrogen. Hydrocarbons are used as raw materials in the production of plastics which pose a threat to environmental health as they are non-biodegradable hence causing pollution
Even though the utility of hydrocarbons poses a significant threat to our environment and ecosystem, its benefits touch on essential aspects of our lives hence making it difficult to avoid them. Different governments have, however, put in place laws and policies that help in the regulation of hydrocarbons in terms of exploration and use (Ebeku, 2018). Liquid hydrocarbons and natural gas may have negative impacts on the environment; hence the government regulates its access and handling to parties that have the necessary quality standards working with hydrocarbons. The European Union has directives in place that dictate the granting and use of authorizations for prospective exploration and production of hydrocarbons such directives are in line with environmental protection as well as health and safety. Regulations also exist on ownership of hydrocarbons, and they are not easily accessible to everyone.
A number of researches are still being done on hydrocarbons to find new ways of burning them in a safe way to produce fuel. Also, the need to chemically alter hydrocarbons so as to make useful products and materials has been a major source of research even today. Most petrochemical and chemical industries carry out research in processes such as isomerization and catalyzing by acids so as to produce better and more useful products from hydrocarbons. Some research is also aimed at the effective utilization of hydrocarbons in a way that will bring solutions to climate change from the burning of hydrocarbons. Many governments are doing research on active hydrocarbon species because of the potential economic gain stemming from the utility of hydrocarbons. Some research is currently focusing on beneficial ways in which the energy holding hydrocarbon molecules together can be released without getting the resulting carbon oxides which are harmful to the environment.
Hydrocarbons are naturally occurring compounds that have been utilized all over the world as a cheap source of energy and fuel, but they are non-renewable on a human time scale. Hydrocarbons are dangerous to the environment, and it is for this reason that many government agencies have put in place policies and laws that regulate the access and production of hydrocarbons. The main aim is to allow the use of these compounds in ways that allow for the mitigation of the harmful impact they have on people's lives and the environment. Many research institutions also have ongoing research on hydrocarbons trying to understand them better and so be able to handle and utilize them in more efficient ways. Over the years, we have been using hydrocarbons in a variety of ways, and hence were able to identify some of its beneficial properties as well as disadvantaged to its exploration and use. It is important to take these into consideration when handling hydrocarbons on any level, whether it's research or the production of substances.
Ebeku, K. S. (2018). Cyprus hydrocarbons: Lessons from the Nigerian experience. European Scientific Journal, 14(1), 75-96.
Migdisov, A. A., Guo, X., Williams-Jones, A. E., Sun, C. J., Vasyukova, O., Sugiyama, I., Roback, R. (2017). Hydrocarbons as ore fluids. Geochemical Perspectives Letters, 5, 47-52.
Perry, G., & Spence, D. (2019). Preliminary Evaluation: Hydrocarbons, Cobalt, & Urea Enhance Bacteria Benefits to Plants. Journal of Experimental Agriculture International, 1-6.
Schmidt, D. R., Zack, L. N., & Ziurys, L. M. (2018). Widespread CCH and c-C3H2 in the Helix Nebula: Unraveling the Chemical History of Hydrocarbons. The Astrophysical Journal Letters, 864(2), L31.
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