Monday, September 28, 2009

Structure of Petroleum Gunk

C&EN's cover story last week discussed advances in understanding the structure of asphaltenes. The headline on the cover describes these compounds as "Petroleum's Gunk" because of the problems they cause the oil companies by clogging their pipelines. Asphaltenes greatly increase the viscosity of crude oil - more oil would be pumped from the wells but for these things. Take a look at the structure of one example from the C&EN article:

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