Refinery Vs Petrochemical Plants

Refinery vs Petrochemical plant

Understand Functioning of Refinery

An oil refinery or petroleum refinery is an industrial process plant where crude oil is transformed. Petroleum refineries change crude oil into petroleum products for use as fuels for transportation, heating, paving roads, and generating electricity and as feedstocks for making chemicals; i.e. raw material for Petrochemical industry. The differences in the structure of these molecules account for their varying physical and chemical properties,

Distillation tower

Understand Petrochemical plants

Olefins include ethylene, propylene, and butadiene which are raw materials for making plastics.

Aromatics include benzene, toluene, and xylene which are raw materials for making dyes and synthetic detergents. 

Products made from petrochemicals include such items as plastics, soaps and detergents, solvents, drugs, fertilizers, pesticides, explosives, synthetic fibres and rubbers, paints, epoxy resins, and flooring and insulating materials

Basic Crude Oil Refining Processes

Distillation-Separates Heavy & Lighter fuels

Cracking : Maximize the use of heavy oil. Catalysts break the heavy oil into more valuable lighter fluids

Reforming: Increases the amount of gasoline produced from crude oil. Number of carbon atoms are same in Naphtha (liquid obtained from distillation) as in gasoline but the structure is more complex. Reforming rearranges the molecules in Naphtha & turn it into more useful gasoline, hence increases the gasoline amount produced.

Blending: As the name indicates, it is Process of Mixing of refinery products to obtain the finished petroleum fuels. Gasoline is blended to achieve octane standards to meet the specification of engine types.

Treating: Process used to produce cleaner gasoline. Helps to protect the environment & our health. Removes sulfur from gasoline and these sulfur compounds are used in fertilizers and pharmaceutical.

Products of Refineries & Feed to Petrochemical Plants

On the basis of chemical structure, final products from refineries are categorized into three categories olefins, aromatics, and synthesis gas. At the same time they can be considered as the raw material for Petrochemical Industry!!

  • Olefins: such as ethylene (CH2=CH2) and propylene (CH3CH=CH2), which are important sources of industrial chemicals and  plastics; butadiene (CH2=CHCH=CH2) is used in making synthetic rubber.
  • Aromatics: such as benzene, toluene, and xylenes, which have a variety of uses – benzene is a raw material for dyes and synthetic detergents, and benzene and toluene for isocyanates, while xylenes are used in making plastics and synthetic fibers.
  • Synthesis gas: a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen that is sent to a reactors to produce gasoline-range and diesel-range hydrocarbon as well as methanol and dimethyl ether.

Petrochemical Products

Petrochemicals – components derived from oil and gas that are used in all sorts of daily products such as plastics, fertilizers, packaging, clothing, medical equipment, detergents and tyres – are becoming the largest drivers of global oil demand. Interesting fact about all the products from refineries & Petrochemical plants is “only 5% contribute towards petrochemical products & 95% go towards fuels”

Dont miss the articles on What is Oil and Gas Sector and What is Energy sector.

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