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Black gold

More than anything else our society is based on black gold, mineral oil. Mineral oil is the black crude we usually just call oil and is not consumed but converted into other synthetic products for technology use. Organic oils are what we get from plants, also called oil but usually prefixed with type such as olive oil or sunflower oil, and these oils are used for cooking and eating. Although not necessary for life, mineral oil (just called oil from here on) is actually a necessity for our technological society.

Plastics, fuels, fertilizers, detergents, the list goes on of what we make from oil and most of our engines run from the fuel supplied by it. Suffice to say without oil or society will collapse, there is simply no replacement for oil at this point in our history. We are committed to oil for the foreseeable future despite the push to remove our dependency.

Although crude mineral oil is formed from a natural process which we can replicate in a laboratory the timescales involved for the natural process is way too long for us to consider oil as a renewable resource, even though logically it is, and too expensive and time consuming for us to consider making synthetically. Bear in mind that is now where we have access to significant chemical processing equipment.

So fast forward to after an event. Sure our society will be gone but we still will have a requirement to replace the functionality we have from petroleum products. We can make do with fertilizers by recycling food waste and animal waste as we do now with natural fertilizers. We can also make natural detergents and fuel from natural ingredients like sunflower oil or rape oil. One key difference is we will have to grow it instead of simply pumping it out of the ground and that is a significant difference. Acres of land will need to be put aside to generate fuel and the other by products. Land that we will need to prioritise for food production.

Some items we simply will not be able to replicate after an event. Most plastics and other synthetics will be beyond our crude technology and we will have to resort to recycling what we will be able to recover and replacing the remainder from natural resources such as wood, plant and animal matter. Medicines, also made from petroleum products, will need to be replaced by natural medicines just like in the olden days.

Even then the replacements we put in place will not perform anywhere near as effectively as the original oil based products. Think of the ‘engineering’ that has gone into producing simple engine oil for our high performance engines. Our sunflower based oils will not fully be able to replace that even in a tractor type engine and we will need to replace and monitor the oil a lot more than we do now. They won’t be as good but we will adapt and make do.

Although we will move on we will either have to replace our reliance on petroleum with other products and move on or replicate our petroleum based extractions and make more efficient use of the output. That is a future problem we face and we will have to face it regardless of whether we have an event or not.

For our purposes though we need to consider this situation and at the minimum put aside a nice stock of oil products such as heavy engine oil, light oil, axle grease and high temp copper grease at a minimum and if we can, to consider the future, put aside some basic building blocks for manufacturing in plastic. We already are putting aside medicines, fuel and other such products. This is just another product. Sure our stores will eventually run out but by then we will have the food production in place with enough extra to allow us to make do with the natural output from our crops.

If you are anywhere near a natural oil field, and they are dotted around, seriously consider storing some oil cracking equipment. At its most basic it is simple chemical processing and easily done if you know what you need to do. They were doing it in the early 1800s after all. After an event oil will be back to being like gold. A very valuable commodity. Make sure you have some. Being able to refine it is even better.

3 comments to Black gold

  • maddog

    and there i was thinking we could get away from the stuff

  • Skean Dhude

    Sorry mate. No such thing until we develop some new technology. We have travelled so far down the path there is not real alternatives regardless of what our green friends say.

  • mike

    We could go back to horses?
    All the young lads could stand around the horse talking about how they put modified shoes on and they could dye them different colors, with racing stripes….0-30mph in about an hour, we could have chariot races again!!
    I wouldnt mind a go of that 😉

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