Petroleum is big business in the modern world. Petroleum, also known as crude oil, is formed by the decay of plants over millions of years. It is then extracted from the ground and processed into many different products. In the refinery pictured above, crude oil is separated into fractions based on differences in the boiling points of the various components. That process is called fractional distillation. Among the uses of petroleum are gasoline and other fuels, oils, plastics, adhesives, and a host of useful chemicals. The common thread in all of these compounds is the element carbon. The chemistry of carbon-containing compounds is called organic chemistry. In this chapter, you will learn about the basics of organic chemistry, including types of organic compounds, the system of nomenclature used in organic chemistry, and some basic organic reactions.
Opening image copyright Jaochainoi, 2013. www.shutterstock.com. Used under license from Shutterstock.com.