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Ten Facts About Petroleum You Probably Don’t Know

For the past century, we have used oil almost exclusively to power our planes, trains, and automobiles, but there are quite a few random uses for the viscous substance that will surprise you.

1. It’s used to make plastic bags

Oil is used to make plastics, and more specifically, the small sandwich bags you carry to work with you. The oil used to make just one such plastic bag could power an automobile for 11 meters. Think about that for a second.

2. It’s a chemical in fertilizer

Yes, the same fertilizer you use for gardening likely contains oil in it. And quick spoiler alert: we aren’t going to run out of oil-based fertilizers any time soon.

3. It’s used to make asphalt

This fact probably isn’t all that surprising. A number of chemicals go into the mix that creates asphalt, and oil definitely happens to be one of them.

4. It’s found in several polyurethane finishes

There are many different types of polyurethane finishes, including water based, but oil based finishes are among the most popular.

5. It’s used in cleaning solvents

We’ve all heard the age-old saying “fight grease with oil“…..right? No? Well, oil is a popular chemical in many cleaning products, and is very helpful in removing stains from clothing.

6. We’ve used oil for over 5,000 years

You read correctly. The ancient Babylonians and Sumerians used crude oil long before we ever heard of it. Hipster much?

7. Texas has the largest oil reserve in the United States

The Texas reserve is so large, in fact, that 1/5 of the American’s oil production comes from it.

8. Petroleum was used to create your computer

Whether you’re viewing this article on a computer, phone, tablet, or some other electronic, petroleum helped manufacture it.

9. Petroleum is measured in barrels

You’ve probably heard the reporter on TV explaining the rising/declining prices of oil over time, but did you ever wonder why he never used “liters” or “gallons” when explaining the pricing trend? That’s because petroleum is measured in barrels, which is equal to about 42 gallons or 159 liters.

10. We will run out of petroleum one day

Petroleum isn’t a never-ending miracle substance. Current analyzations estimate that we have approximately 3.74 trillion barrels of oil left on the planet. Before we run out, we’ll reach what’s known as “peak oil”, at which point all previously protected oil reserves will be exploited for all they’ve got. And then we will completely run out of oil. Unless we’ve fully converted to alternative resources by that time, we’ll be good and screwed.

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