• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

The physical and chemical processes that are used in an oil refinery

Extracts from this document...


The physical and chemical processes that are used in an oil refinery - BY RICHARD DILLEY Welcome to the Oil Refinery Oil production and refinement is one of the single most important industries in the world today. The crude oil based products we used everyday can include the petrol we use to drive our cars; the kerosene that fuels our planes and the even the roads we drive upon. However, there are many processes that are needed to obtain and develop the parts of the crude oil so that we can use them. Crude oil is made up of hundreds of hydrocarbons, each of which can be a vastly complex arrangement of hydrogen and carbon atoms. Crude oil is in its self, useless, but the solids, gases and liquids dissolved within it are highly valuable and are what first gave crude oil the name "black gold". The vast majority of crude oil is found miles beneath the ocean and as such must be piped from the source to the refineries back on land. At the refinery the oil meets its first process... Fractional Distillation As the crude oil enters the refinery it is heated and passed into a 'distillation column' (shown below). In the column the hottest temperature will be at the bottom and the coolest at the top. ...read more.


However, if the external pressure is reduced the boiling point range can be brought down to a more practical level and therefore further fractions can be obtained from the residue. This is done using a highly pressurized distillation column. The most important use of the crude oil refining process is for making petrol. Making better Petrol As I mentioned earlier, straight-run gasoline was initially used as a fuel for the internal combustion engine, but with mans need for speed and efficiency something had to be done. The most common problem with straight-run gasoline is 'knocking'. Knocking is what happens when the fuel ignites to quickly. In a petrol engine, the fuel must be made to ignite just before the piston reaches the top of the cylinder. If the fuel ignites at the wrong time then the cycle will be far less effective and less power will be produced. This is because the fuel igniting must move the piston the greatest possible amount. If the fuel were to ignite when the piston is only half way up the cylinder then the power output would not be that great. A hydrocarbon or mixture of hydrocarbons tendency to auto-ignite is measure by its octane number. Making the right Octane Number There are many ways for petrol blenders to alter the octane number of the fuel they wish to produce. ...read more.


The catalyst will have become covered in carbon and will therefore be useless. It has to pass into the 'regenerator' where the carbon is 'burnt' off using the oxygen in air. The products are smaller, lighter hydrocarbons which can be removed from the separator in a gaseous state. Oxygenates The two most common types of oxygenate used in petrol manufacture are alcohols and ethers. Oxygenates are fuels which contain oxygen molecules and they have high octane number. Straight-run gasoline has an octane number of 70 but methanol and ethanol have octane numbers of 114 and 111 respectively. 2-methoxy-2-methylpropane is the most commonly used oxygenate and is used in all performance grades of unleaded: Unleaded regular 93 octane 0.6% MTBE added Unleaded premium 95 octane 2.2% MTBE added Unleaded super plus 98 octane 7.0% MTBE added Blending to make the right fuel The ideal fuel can only be obtained from thorough blending and accurate mixing of the following: straight run gasoline; product from isomerisation; product from catalytic cracking; butane; MTBE; Ethanol; and Methanol. To get the 'right' blend of petrol the blenders must consider the price and performance (octane number) of the petrol. When they have met a balance of these two variables then the petrol will be blended in batches of about 20 000 000 litres and then shipped off to the petrol stations. Thus, our story ends, we have followed the hydrocarbons from their birth as crude oil to their destiny as petrol for the cars that help sustain the lifestyles we live today. 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Organic Chemistry section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Organic Chemistry essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Viscosity of Alkanes

    3 star(s)

    0.7575 Speed is calculated using this formula: Speed = Distance Time Analyis I have found from my results that the longer the chain the Alkane has the more viscous the Alkane is, so the slower the Alkane is when running down the slide.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    Hydrocarbons and the importance of oil as a power source.

    3 star(s)

    are going to run out of oil and it takes millions of years for oil to form. PART 3 Some advantages and disadvantages of oil Advantages:- > Freely available. Currently it is very easy for people to buy oil. Edible oil can be bought from the grocery stores and the

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Iron ore: processes and History

    3 star(s)

    shaped moulds, (called pigs for the cast iron), from an alcove called a casting arch. The floor where these moulds are is called the casting floor. These smelting operations can last for long periods of time such as weeks; additional fuel and ironstone being added as necessary, from the top,

  2. Peer reviewed

    Should food additives be banned

    3 star(s)

    reliable website because it is checked by the government and also a food standard agency website. Different types of food additives? Below, this table will show the different types of food additives and what their cause is in the food.

  1. Peer reviewed

    The purpose of this lab is to identify two different unknown organic compounds, through ...

    3 star(s)

    The rest can be used for further experimentation. 3. Now, test the solubility in water of the 2 liquids, if it is an alkane, alkene or an alcohol. Because they all have different reactions with water. (Hex-1-ene and Methylpentan-1-ol is insoluble .Hexane and Hexan-1-olis soluble)

  2. Esters. Esters are formed from an alcohol and carboxylic acid; this is an ...

    For the people that said yes they said that it would be ok to test on 'pest' animals such as rats and mice. They also said that it would be ok to test on chickens, raccoons, monkeys and chimpanzees. When I asked them about if they had any other Information/ comments about animals testing cosmetics; they said.

  1. 'Petroleum.'Crude oil is a mixture of different hydrocarbons and can be broken down into ...

    The major fractions of crude oil are: o LPG (Liquefied petroleum gas) - used for calor gas and camping gas.

  2. GCSE Chemistry Revision Notes - everything!

    But as soon as the zinc chloride melts, the bulb lights. Zinc starts to form around the cathode (the negative electrode). Chlorine gas is produced at the anode (the positive electrode). The bulb goes out when the heat is removed and the metal solidifies.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work