Crude Oil, or petroleum is a mixture of different hydrocarbons. The fractional distillation of crude oil is a key industrial process, as it produces compounds such as methane, bitumen and gasoline.

The fractional distillation of crude oil[edit | edit source]

Fractional distillation separates crude oil into more useful hydrocarbons. These hydrocarbons are separated by their boiling points, each of these sections are called fractions. It is important to remember that one fraction may contain many different hydrocarbons, not just one. The fractions collect further up the fractional column if they have lower boiling points.

Uses of different fractions[edit | edit source]

  • Refinery gas --> fuel
  • Gasoline --> fuel in cars (petrol)
  • Naphtha --> chemical manufacture
  • Kerosene/Paraffin --> fuel in jet engines
  • Diesel or Gas oil --> fuel in diesel engines
  • Fuel oil --> fuel for ships and for home heating
  • Lubricating oil --> waxes and polishes
  • Residue --> bitumen manufacture and surfacing roads

Cracking[edit | edit source]

Cracking can be used to change the amount of different fractions in crude oil. For more see the main article on Cracking.



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