Countless businesses in many industries rely on a steady supply of steel to create machines and to make products. Oil companies construct large tanks, pipes and platforms on the ocean to extract oil from both steel and aluminum, and each drill is made of steel that is alloyed with tungsten.
Currently, humans have explored less than 10 percent of the Earth’s oceans, and we’ve explored even less of the floors of the oceans. Companies use ships that are equipped with vertical sonar, which can send signals straight down, to search for pockets of crude oil.
By crisscrossing a cavity filled with oil many times, this technology can reveal the shape of the pocket, determine the amount of oil that the well contains and find out how far it is below the ocean’s floor.
In the early 20th century, governments and businesses commonly built stationary oil rigs that were fastened to the ocean’s floor; however, this practice rapidly proved to be disasterous when heavy storms hit or when relatively small oil wells dried up much more quickly than expected.
Now, companies design floating platforms that designed to be disassembled and tugged by large ships from one oil well to another.
Each rig features one drill to more than forty drills, and portable pipes are used to bring oil from several thousand feet below the surface to the platform in hours.
Plants that process oil into more useful fuels contain groups of steel holding tanks that are connected to pipes leading into the main building. In the central building, crude oil is converted into natural gas, useful petroleum, diesel fuel, kerosene or asphault.
In order to extract more useful substances from the oil, the refineries use fractional distillation. The oil is placed in a tank that has at least five levels that are all heated to different temperatures. Usually, the hottest level, which is located at the bottom of the massive drum, is heated to 450 degrees Celsius, and the coolest part of the tank is 150 degrees.
During a period of several hours, the components of oil that have lower boiling points, such as gas and kerosene, migrate naturally to the upper, cooler levels of the container. Heavy fractions, which are usually lubricating oil, paraffin wax and asphault, rest near the bottom.