What should I know about physics to become a plant operator at an oil refinery plant?


Armstrong, Energy Compliance

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Energy may be the most important factor that will influence the shape of society in the 21st century. The cost and availability of energy significantly impacts our quality of life, the health of national economies between nations, and the stability of our environment. What kind of Energy Compliance do we want to use in our future? Will there be enough? What will the consequences of our decisions be?

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Energy crisis in the 21st century appeared in 2011, whereby an earthquake and tsunami in Japan led to the disruption of nuclear facility and a global re-examination of the safety of the nuclear industry. Oil and gas prices continued to be volatile, and the demand for energy has been affected by global economy. Presently it is really accepted that the supply of gas is limited, but the aggressive efforts in recent years, we have been able to find gas and oil at a greater rate than we consume them. Therefore, most people would agree that energy industry, particularly oil industry played a major role in providing fuels that powered the engine of industrialization. The evolution of western society during the past two centuries followed the increase in its energy consumption.

The population of industrialized nations has improved its standard of living, people live together longer and healthier. It is logical to assume that people in the rest of the world would like to follow suit and consume more energy to improve the quality of lives. Industrialization has brought the recognition that the unhealthy pollutants in the air, water and soil are now subjects of discussion by the world environmental organization. These seemingly contradictory needs present challenges to every country to pursue the improvement of its citizen's livelihoods while minimizing damage to the environment

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Natural gas is an ideal fossil fuel for generating electricity. In recent years, the use of natural gas and refinery fuel gas for power generation has become favored over coal and oil because they require less capital investment and are environmentally more friendly. The development of technology that combines gas and steam turbines in power generation increases thermal efficiency.

The so-called co-generation system, which supplies the steam requirements of an oil refinery and generates excess electricity for sale, has become a popular practice. Methanol produced from gas has been considered either a gasoline substitute or a blending components of gasoline to reduce air pollution. In recent years, oxygenates have been produced as gasoline to reduce air pollution in some developed countries. This is also an intermediate in mobile natural -gas - to gasoline process, which was commercialized in the process cannot be justified economically to produce liquids fuels as long as oils are available.

Brian Monetti, Science is Awesome!

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A job like this probably wouldn't have specific physics requirements, but learning more will only make you a stronger candidate! You can check out some great courses on physics and chemistry here:


I would recommend being familiar with the concepts of fluid pressure, boiling and evaporation, as well as how structures respond to forces such as weight and pressure. You can get a sense of how oil refineries work here: http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/energy/oil-refining.htm

More senior level positions in an oil refinery generally would require degrees in Chemistry, Engineering, or Management. You can find schools which have degrees like this on Noodle: https://www.noodle.com/colleges/chemistry-major

Entry level positions at a refinery might only require a high school diploma, but you could likely work your way higher up through the company with more education and training. Hope this helps, and good luck!!

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