MadSci Network: Environment & Ecology

Re: What are some of the most effective chemicals in breaking down crude oil?

Date: Sat Sep 2 23:08:04 2000
Posted By: Jerry McCormick, Staff, Chemistry, Independent Consultant
Area of science: Environment & Ecology
ID: 962496789.En

Crude oil is the product of millenia  of physical and
probably, microbial action. As such, it is resistant to
most chemical modifications.  The most common reactions
are combustion and, much more slowly, microbial action.
Even chemical oxidation of paraffins is usually slow and
incomplete.  To enhance microbial action, dispersants
are used, but there is question even here whether the
dispersed hydeocarbons are really destroyed or merely
made less obvious.
Some components of crude oil (such as olefins) may be
more susceptable to chemical or microbial action but
even here, actions are slow and incomplete.
J. R. D. McCormick                                          

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