If coal was king in the 19th century, oil was the undisputed emperor of the 20 th. Refined forms of petroleum, or “rock oil” became-in quite literalterms-the fuel on which 20th century ran, the lifeblood of its automobiles, aircraft, farm equipment, and industrial machines.
Petroleum technologies timeline
When retired railroad conductor Edwin drakestruck oil in 1959 in Titusville, Pennsylvania, he touched off the modern oil industry. For next 40 years the primary interest in oil was as a source of kerosene, used for lighting lamps. Then came theautomobile and the realization that the internal combustion engine ran best on gasoline, a byproduct of the process of extracting kerosene from crude oil. As the demand grew for gasoline to power notonly cars but also internal combustion engineers of all kinds, chemical engineers honing their refining techniques discovered a host of useful byproducts of crude-and the petrochemical industry wasborn. Oil had truly become black gold.
1901 North America’s first oil gusher
North America’s first oil gusher blows at the Spindletop field near Beaumont in southeastern Texas, spraying more than800,000 barrels of crude into the air before in can be brought under control. The strike boosts the yearly oil output in the United States from 2,000 barrels in 1859 to more than 65 million barrelsby 1901.
1913 High-pressure hydrogenation process developed
German organic chemist fried rich Bergius develops a high-pressure hydrogenation process that transforms heavy oil residues intolighter oils, boosting gasoline production. In 1926 IG Farben industries, where Carl Bosch had been developing similar high-pressure, acquires the patent rights to the Bergius process. Bergius and Boschshare a Nobel prize in 1931.
1913 New method of oil refining
Chemical engineers William Burton and Robert Humphreys of standard oil patent a method of oil refining that significantly increases...