Published: Jan 2010
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ALTHOUGH GENERALLY THE ANALYSIS OF organic components in petroleum products and lubricants receives the most attention in technology, the inorganic metals and nonmetals also constitute an important part of these products. In some products (e.g., crude oils) they occur naturally; in others (e.g., lubricants), they are purposely added to enhance performance of products. A majority of elements in the periodic table can be found in petroleum products. The major constituents are made from carbon-hydrogen-oxygen-sulfur (C-H-O-S) present at percent levels while metallic elements are present in levels of milligrams per kilogram or higher. Generally, it is believed that the source of petroleum is of marine animal and vegetative origin deposited with sediment in the coastal waters in the prehistoric times. Over a period of millenniums, aided by heat and pressure, the material released various elemental and organic volatile compounds, leaving a mixture of hydrocarbons containing varying amounts of sulfur, oxygen, nitrogen, and trace amounts of metals and other elements as the end product. Except for carbon and hydrogen, sulfur and nitrogen are the most abundant elements in the crude oils. Sulfur up to 6 mass percent and nitrogen over 1 mass percent have been reported in some crude oils. More than 40 other elements have been found in crude oils. Most common are vanadium (up to 1,000 mg/kg), nickel (up to 100 mg/kg), and iron (up to 30 mg/kg). In lesser amounts, other elements such as As, Ba, Be, Cd, Cr, Cu, Hg, Mn, Mo, Pb, Sb, Se, Sn, Te, etc. have been identified in the crude oils. These metals in crude oils are present as porphyrins, transition metal complexes, organometallic compounds, salts of carboxylic acids, and colloidal minerals.
Kishore Nadkarni, R. A.
Millennium Analytics, Inc., East Brunswick, NJ