Is Oil a Renewable Resource?





Oil isn’t a renewable energy and this one fact is probably why there is any demand for renewable or alternative energy sources. The oil price peak back in 2007/2008 has fueled demands for more alternative energies. However, there are some interesting alternative fuel topics surrounding oil at the moment. The first is geo-bioreactors and the second is artificially produced oil or synthetic oil. Let’s look at this in more detail below.

Geo-BioReactors

These solve the problem of how to take advantage of oil that is left in oil fields simply because it is cost prohibitive to bring to the surface. This oil is deeper and as the oil is extracted becomes increasingly more expensive to extract. As much as 25%-30% of the oil can be left behind due to cost issues currently. With a Geo-BioReactor both naturally occuring bacteria and seeded bacteria can convert the remaining oil to methane which is much easier to extract and can be readily used as an energy fuel. Higher oil prices can result in more oil being extracted but it also stresses the global economy.

Synthetic Oil or Artifical Oil

One of the main ways that synthetic oil is created is called the Fischer-Tropsche process. This process converts carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and methane to create a wide variety of liquid hydrocarbons. Another way it is manufactured is by removing bitumen from sands containing oil that have been mined. This is then hydrogenated to create a very high quality crude oil. This process requires a rather large facility though and nearby access to oil sands.

These synthetic oils can be used in all the ways that crude oil is but cost is currently higher. However, a changing crude oil price landscape can easily make synthetic oil a major part of our future. Let’s examine some of the advantages of disadvantages of synthetic oil or artificial oil.

Pros of Synthetic Oil

* Higher and lower temperature viscousity is markedly improved with synthetic oil.
* Much more stable chemically speakin.g
* More resistant to oxidation, heat breakdown, and sludge problems that plague engines.
* Less “oil” is wasted as synthetic oil lasts longer before needing to be replaced.
* Improved gas milage and better lubrication during cold starts.

Cons of Synthetic Oil

* Initial purchase price is multiple times higher than crude oil but extended life negates this.
* Lower friction of synthetic oil makes using it for breaking in a vehicle a bad idea.
* Artificial oils are not usable in rotary engines that are used in cars.
* Has potential to react in unexpected ways in industrial environments.
* Could cause certain plastics to breakdown and crack.

With the way oil prices have been lately synthetic oil is probably going to be a major part of our energy future. Not only is it environment friendly compared to crude oil but it also performs better in a variety of ways. The only drawback currently is price of production although it is commercially available at the moment.

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