Petrochemicals are used to manufacture thousands of products people use every day — just about everything not made from rocks, plants, other living things or metal.
These products include everything made of plastic, medicines and medical devices, cosmetics, furniture, appliances, TVs and radios, computers, parts used in every mode of transportation, solar power panels and wind turbines.
Petrochemicals are also the building blocks for body armor and other high-tech materials that are used to protect police officers, firefighters and the men and women in our armed forces.
In addition, petrochemicals are the key raw materials that keep you safe while driving in your car, and make modern communications possible. In fact, regardless of how you’re viewing this website — on a desktop computer, laptop or smart phone — the viewing device is made from petrochemicals.
Petrochemicals are derived from ethane, propane, butane and other hydrocarbons extracted from crude oil and natural gas liquids. Naptha is also an important petrochemical feedstock. When hydrocarbons are separated from the other parts of oil and natural gas liquids, it’s fed into a manufacturing facility that is called a cracker. The facility gets its name because it uses high temperatures to crack the chemical bonds in hydrocarbon molecules to form useful chemical building blocks.
In the United States, ethylene is one of the key petrochemicals that our members manufacture. It’s used to make polyethylene — one of the most versatile plastics found in manufacturing.
Because it’s one of the most fundamental building blocks in organic chemistry, ethylene is also used to manufacture an enormous number of different chemicals. For example, ethylene oxide is used in hospitals to sterilize life-saving medical equipment that can’t be heated.
The petrochemical industry supports about 1.4 million American jobs, including about 214,000 employed directly in petrochemical manufacturing plants. If petrochemical manufacturers did not operate in America, many of those jobs would disappear and our nation would have to import petrochemicals from abroad.
Chart of products made from petrochemicals
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American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers
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