How oil dependent is chemistry? I have not read about the connection between the fine chemical and the oil industries anywhere else. That said, I am quite ignorant and have not actively searched for it either.

Justus Liebig in tears

Oil dependence is bad, no point in arguing against that. Except from a number of Gulf States and Norway, and a bunch of well-paid lobbyists in DC, I suppose we are all on the same page here.

Propellants for vehicles based on 200 million year old dinos is not good long-term, and the resources cannot be infinite. Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are alarmingly high, but I do not wish this to be another climate change post. Forget about that aspect for a while.

Think about the chemical we lab chemists use on a daily basis. First then solvents, of course. Then all the reagents. Are not almost all of them more or less derived from oil? The good old question: Where do all chemicals come from?

Does anybody have a number on for example the percentage on all organic reagents in the Sigma-Aldrich catalog that were once crude oil. Is it 90 %? More?

If organic chemistry and the oil industry were married on Facebook, I guess the time is ripe to announce an “It’s complicated.”

I am full of questions. What do you know?


6 Responses to Addicted to oil, are we?

  1. Inverting your question, 10% of petroleum is used for chemicals. Of that 10%, it is split 50-50 between small molecules and polymers.

    Relax! As the price of petroleum stays permanently high, alternatives will become financially viable. But if your multi-year, multibillion dollar investment needs oil at $125/bbl to succeed and the price of oil fluctuates between $150/bbl and $60/bbl, you’re not going to spend the money unless you care more about making a point than actually showing off your financial acumen.

  2. R1ckr011 says:

    Sounds like someone needs to become a Member of Quora!

    Also please send me a message should you join 🙂
    Hopefully I won’t get locked out for spam :/

    P.S sorry for not taking thew time to sample this distinct HTML tag flavor. Busy busy!!

    • drfreddy says:

      Could you please explain in detail how your links provide answers to the question posted? Or I’ll flag them as spam. Yes, unlike ChemBark – nudge nudge – I moderate my comments quite heavily.

  3. branvanchemist says:

    Ha. As a former petroleum organic geochemist technician, I suggest you ask how much industry relies on chemistry field, and what is the reward, both for sustainability and scientific progress. The research is classified, I will tell you that. You won’t ever discover scientific methods important to applications or recent findings regarding petroleum exploration. “Petroleum is formed by a complex and incompletely understood series of chemical reactions from organic materials laid down in previous geological eras. The composition of petroleum varies depending on the source and geological history of each deposit.” The standard used is ASMB oil (Alberta Sweet Mix Blend) in which Wang, Fingas and Li identified 281 compounds (102 aliphatic, 126 aromatic and 53 biomarker) in the Journal of Chromatographic Science, Vol. 31, in September 1994. I do not know of any references later than that but that paper has the total list of every single compound identified.
    Hope that helps regarding your inquiry.

  4. branvanchemist says:

    Oh yes, and don’t forget about your paraffins and sasol waxes.

  5. Anna says:

    We waste so much for these experiments. Granted sometimes it is the only way, but there are other methods that have not been discovered or highly discussed. For example, an alternative to oil or sand baths (which are dangerous and messy) is a hot plate that can actually hold a round bottom flask – have a look at ours:

    Hopefully wont get blocked for spam 😀
    if you need more info, email us at [email protected]

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