Oil: Meaning, Characteristics, Advantages and Disadvantages
What is the Meaning of Oil?
Oil is a liquid derived from petroleum. It is used as a source of fuel throughout the world. Oil is a viscous liquid fuel that is important in many industries such as petrochemicals, transport, and power.
Since oil is readily available, many people depend on it for energy and industrial needs. Most automobiles run on gasoline/petrol, which is extracted from crude oil through fractional distillation.
Despite concerns about environmental pollution, many industries continue to extract oil. Some countries relied on it to produce electricity, but stopped when its prices started going up. Currently, the massive dependency on oil has made it impossible to stop its extraction.
Besides all the criticism oil gets, millions of barrels are bought and sold on a daily basis. Let’s have a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of oil.
Characteristic Features of Oil
- Viscosity. Oil is a viscous liquid: it is not very ‘runny’, and not as fluid as water.
- Color. Crude oil is usually black in color, but it can be dark or light brown too.
- Location. Oil can be found anywhere, including in desert ground and beneath the sea. It is found most abundantly in Saudi Arabia, Russia, China and the US.
- Effect on the environment. When burned, oil releases significant amounts of CO2 into the environment.
- Greasiness. Oil is greasy to the touch.
- Use. Oil is used as a fuel, or as a lubricant.
Advantages of oil
- Oil is cleaner than coal. Compared to coal, oil is relatively clean and burns easily.
- It produces reliable electricity. Electricity produced from oil can help to run household power needs with little to no disappointment at all.
- A powerful source of fuel. Oil can power everything from factories to ships.
- Their plants can be built anywhere. Oil plants can be set up in any place as long as you refuel them.
- The supply of oil deposits are in plenty. It doesn’t take a lot of resources to explore oil deposits. Once you have the equipment, you’ll be able to get oil in many places.
- Oil is less costly. Oil prices are lower compared to other energy sources because of the fewer expenses involved in its extraction.
- Oil combusts easily. Oil combusts easily to generate power to run vehicles and electricity for household needs.
- It is easier to transport oil. Oil can be transported to any region easily by road, rail or shipping.
- Oil has multiple uses. Besides providing energy, oil can be used to manufacture pesticides, fertilizers, CD coatings, plasters, and detergents.
- A fantastic lubricant. Due to its greasiness, oil is brilliant for keeping machinery greased and running smoothly.
- Oil provides high-density power. A little quantity of oil is enough to move a vehicle for several minutes. This is the reason why many automobile owners prefer to use it.
- Oil exploration and extraction create job opportunities. Human resource is required to extract, transport and market oil and its products.
Disadvantages of oil
- Effect on the atmosphere. It emits greenhouse gasses. Emission of carbon dioxide is one of the biggest cons of oil use. Because it is a hydrocarbon, when it is burned oil releases CO2 into the atmosphere and contributes to the greenhouse effect. Carbon dioxide leads to global warming which consequently results in melting of polar ice. The melting ice increases ocean levels which flood human habitats near the oceans.
- Oil spills pollute land. Oil that gets spilled during transportation pollutes the environment with odor and oil sediments.
- Oil disturbs marine life. Oil spills may lead to the damage of marine plants, birds and animals. Oil also lowers oxygen levels in water bodies.
- Oil causes acidic rain. When oil emits carbon monoxide, it combines with water in the air forming a weak carbonic acid that comes with the rain. Acid rain corrodes metallic surfaces and kills plants and water organisms.
- Oil causes violence and enmity. Oil-rich countries monopolize oil business and can decide to hike oil prices whenever they want. This can make other nations agitated.
- Some oil products and by-products are toxic. During oil refining, toxic gasses like sulfur and plastic are released into the environment. These substances are harmful to human life and other organisms as well.
- Oil is not easily recycled. Oil and its byproducts like plastic are hard-to-recycle items that pose danger to the environment.
- Oil mining leaves irreplaceable dents on the environment. Oil exploration and extraction involve digging holes in the ground which are mostly left unfilled after relocation.
- Oil prices keep varying. Oil can be unreliable at times, unlike electricity. Basically, products that are controlled by a monopoly cannot be depended on upon. You can wake up one day and find the price for a particular unit of oil has doubled.
- Oil is likely to run out in the near future. Very many people depend on oil yet their reserves are getting depleted. It takes quite some time to discover new oil deposits and a comparatively longer time for oil deposits to get refilled. This means, there is a time human beings will get stranded if necessary precautions are not taken.
Oil has multiple uses but so does its cons too. We need to find ways of using oil without endangering the environment. Since technology has already proved to solve so many problems, let’s hope it will come up with ways in which we can use oil without destroying our ecosystem.