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Kerosene or paraffin oil (British English, not to be confused with the waxy solid also called paraffin wax or just paraffin) is a colorless flammable hydrocarbon liquid. The name is derived from Greek "keros" (κηρός wax).

Kerosene releases heat when burned, making it useful as a fuel. Its heating value, or heat of combustion, is around 18,500 Btu/lb, or 43.1 MJ/kg, making it similar to that of diesel.


[edit] Distillation

Kerosene is obtained from the fractional distillation of petroleum at 150 °C and 275 °C (carbon chains from the C12 to C15 range).

Typically, kerosene directly distilled from crude oil requires some treatment, either in a Merox unit or a hydrotreater, to reduce its sulfur content and its corrosiveness. Kerosene can also be produced by a hydrocracker, which is used to upgrade the parts of crude oil that would otherwise only be good for fuel oil.

Kerosene was first refined from a naturally-occurring asphaltum called Albertite by Abraham Gesner in 1846, founding the modern petroleum industry in the process. Gesner went on to establish his Kerosene Gaslight Company to market kerosene around the world in 1850. Scottish chemist James Young built the first truly commercial oil-works in the world at Bathgate in 1851, using oil extracted from locally mined Torbanite, shale and bituminous coal. Polish chemist Ignacy Łukasiewicz discovered the means of refining kerosene from the less expensive seep oil in 1856. The widespread availability of cheaper kerosene was the principal factor in the precipitous decline in the whaling industry in the mid- to late 19th century, as the leading product of whaling was oil for lamps.

[edit] Uses

At one time it was widely used in kerosene lamps and lanterns. These were superseded by the electric light bulb and flashlights powered by dry cell batteries. Now it is mainly used in fuel for jet engines (more technically Avtur, Jet-A, Jet-A1, Jet-B, JP-4, JP-5, JP-7 or JP-8). A form of kerosene known as RP-1 is burned with liquid oxygen as rocket fuel. These fuel grade kerosenes meet specifications as to smoke points and freeze points.

In the early 1900's, kerosene was used as a cheap fuel for tractors. The engine would start on gasoline, then switch over to kerosene once the engine warmed up. A "heat valve" on the manifold would route the exhaust gasses around the intake pipe, heating the kerosene to the point where it can be ignited by a electrical spark.

It has been used to treat pools of standing water to prevent mosquitoes from breeding, notably in the yellow fever outbreak of 1905 in New Orleans.

Its use as a cooking fuel is mostly restricted to some portable stoves for backpackers and to less developed countries, where it is usually less refined and contains impurities and even debris. It can also be used to remove lice from hair, but this practice is painful and potentially very dangerous.

As a heating fuel, it is often used in portable stoves, and is sold in some filling stations. It is sometimes used as a heat source during power failures. The use of portable kerosene heaters is not recommended for closed indoor areas without a chimney due to the danger of buildup of carbon monoxide gas.

Kerosene is widely used in Japan as a home heating fuel for portable and installed kerosene heaters. In Japan, kerosene can be readily bought at any filling station or be delivered to homes.

The Amish, who limit use of electric appliances for religious reasons, rely on kerosene for lighting and often purchase kerosene-powered versions of appliances such as refrigerators.

It is used as an organic solvent.

Kerosene is often used in the entertainment industry, as a fuel for fire dancing. Kerosene is not usually used as a fuel for indoor fire-dancing as it produces an unpleasant odour which becomes, in sufficient concentration, poisonous. In general such use of fire indoors is not common. Methanol is often used instead [citation needed], however it can be a more dangerous fuel because of its lower flash point, and it also produces less "impressive" flames.

More ubiquitous in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, kerosene space heaters were often built into kitchen ranges and kept many farm and fishing families warm and dry through the winter. At one time citrus growers used smudge pots fueled by kerosene to create a pall of thick smoke over a grove in an effort to prevent freezing temperatures from damaging crops. "Salamanders" were kerosene space heaters used on construction sites to dry out building materials and warm workers. Before the days of blinking electrically lighted road barriers, highway construction zones were marked at night by kerosene fired pot-bellied torches. Most of these uses of kerosene created thick black smoke because of the low temperature of combustion.

A notable exception, discovered in the early 19th century, is the use of a mantle above the wick on a kerosene lamp. Looking like a delicate woven bag above the woven cotton wick, the mantle was a residue of mineral material (thorium dioxide) which glowed white hot as it burned the volatile gases emanating from the blue flame at the base of the wick. These types of lamps are still in use today in areas of the world without electricity.

It is in some cases used to store substances with redox tendencies within to prevent unwanted reactions, such as alkali metals.

[edit] Common names

[edit] Less Common names

[edit] References


[edit] See also

[edit] External links

Look up kerosene in
Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

da:Petroleum de:Petroleum es:Queroseno eo:Keroseno fr:Kérosène id:Minyak tanah it:Cherosene he:קרוסין la:Petroleum nl:Kerosine ja:ケロシン no:Parafin nn:Parafin pl:Nafta pt:Querosene ru:Керосин simple:Kerosene fi:Petroli sv:Fotogen vi:Dầu hỏa tr:Gazyağı


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