Gasoline Production

Gasoline is produced by "breaking down" the larger hydrocarbons in crude oil into smaller ones with between 3-12 carbon atoms. Crude oil contains a wide range of hydrocarbons, organometallics and other compounds containing sulfur, nitrogen and other impurities. The hydrocarbons can contain up to 60 carbon atoms.

A refinery distills crude oil into various fractions and, depending on the desired final products, will further process and blend those fractions. Typical final products can consist of compressed natural gases, liquefied petroleum gases, butane, gasoline, kerosene, diesels, distillate and residual fuel oils, lubricating oils, paraffin oils and waxes.

Modern refinery processes for gasoline components include:

  • Catalytic cracking - breaks larger, higher-boiling, hydrocarbons into gasoline-range product that contains 30% aromatics and 20-30% olefins
  • Hydrocracking - cracks and adds hydrogen to molecules, producing a more saturated, stable, gasoline fraction
  • Isomerisation - raises gasoline fraction octane by converting straight chain hydrocarbons into branched isomers
  • Reforming - converts saturated, low octane, hydrocarbons into higher-octane product containing about 60% aromatics
  • Alkylation - reacts gaseous olefin streams with isobutane to produce liquid high-octane iso-alkanes


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