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petrochemical

petrochemical, any one of a large group of chemicals derived from a component of petroleum or natural gas. The cracking processes for manufacturing gasoline produce vast quantities of gaseous hydrocarbons. Originally considered waste products suitable only for use as illuminants and fuels, the gases today are manufactured into petrochemical substances widely employed in industry. Important petrochemical compounds are alcohols and aldehydes, butylene, butadiene, ethylene, propylene, toluene, styrene, acetylene, benzene, ethylene oxide, ethylene glycol, acrylonitrile, acetone, acetic acid, acetic anhydride, and ammonia. Materials made from the gases include carbon black, synthetic rubber, polystyrene, polypropylene, and polyethylene. Petrochemicals are widely used in agriculture, in the manufacture of plastics, synthetic fibers, and explosives, and in the aircraft and automobile industries.

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petrochemical

pet·ro·chem·i·cal / ˌpetrōˈkemikəl/ • adj. relating to or denoting substances obtained by the refining and processing of petroleum or natural gas: a huge petrochemical works producing plastics. ∎  of or relating to petrochemistry. • n. (usu. petrochemicals) a chemical obtained from petroleum and natural gas.

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petrochemical

petrochemical Chemical substance derived from petroleum or natural gas. The refining of petroleum is undertaken not only for fuels but also for a wide range of chemicals such as alkanes (paraffins) and alkenes (olefins), benzene, toluene, naphthalene, and their derivatives. They are used to produce detergents and nitrogen fertilizers.

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petrochemical

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Petrochemical

Petrochemical

Petroleum is probably best known as a source for many important fuels, such as gasoline , kerosene, acetylene, and natural gas . However, many of the organic compounds that make up the complex mixture known as petroleum have another use. They are raw materials used in the production of a host synthetic products. These chemicals are known as petrochemicals. To a large extent, these petrochemicals are hydrocarbons . Some of these petrochemicals and the products into which they are made include ethylene (plastics , synthetic fibers, and anti-freeze), benzene (synthetic rubber , latex paints and paper coatings), propylene (drugs and detergents ), and phenol (adhesives, perfumes, flavorings, and pesticides).

See also Fossil fuels; Synthetic fuels; Volatile organic compound

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