ON comparing the refining industry existing about 1912 with that existing to-day and considering the working principles which, divested of accompanying accessory circumstances, represent the basic factors of the industry then and now, fundamental differences are manifest specifically distinguishing both periods.
Formerly the tendency was to destroy all matter impairing the use of the individual constituents of mineral oil. To-day there is prevalent. the successful endeavour to separate useful constituents from those of lesser value by means of solvents. Instead, therefore, of destroying matter, as formerly, this is now cautiously treated; instead of following the sole relevant question of how to obtain useful finished products, there is a foremost endeavour to supply the market, in as cheap and economical a way as possible, with good, refined finished products, while avoiding, as far as possible, waste of material. This is the problem governing the industry to-day, and as simple as it appears to be at the present time, as difficult it was to propound thirty years ago. It must be borne in mind, that at that time the industry of refining mineral oil rested solely on the tradition of a mere empiry; which amply rewarded the work based on methods of experience and practical knowledge, while considering any deviation from this path a theoretical labour promising little success, if only for the reason that not enough time and devotion was given to the work intended to serve the investigation of the composition of the individual components of mineral oil. It is true to say that it was known that kerosine distillates of different origin only yielded useful illumin ating oils after gradually diversified refining. However, just as little was known with accuracy as to which class of compounds the constituents, removed by refining, belonged, as to what the hydrocarbons were, which represent the well-burnable illuminating oil. Still less unravelled was the situation in refining lubricating oil, in which crass empiry, obscured by the secret processes or old, time-worn recipes, held predominant sway in the industry. When approaching the question of the creation of rational processes for the refining of mineral oils it was essential to first investigate what, from the chemical view-point, was to be eliminated by the process of refining, and, in the same sense, what should remain as useful.
Lazar Edeleanu was the first to devote himself to the scientifical elucidation of these problems. It is true there already existed some publications regarding the composition of petroleum hydrocarbons, ere Edeleanu commenced his systematic work in this field of research. The previous publications, however, entirely missed the crucial point, i.e. Why is it that Rumanian illuminating oil burns less well than Pennsylvanian; what has to be taken out from the former-removed by refining-in order to place it on an equality