How do refineries differ from petrochemical plants?
An oil refinery is an industrial process plant where crude oil is transformed. Petroleum refineries transform crude oil into petroleum products that are used as fuels for transportation, heating, road paving and electricity generation, and as feedstocks for the manufacture of chemicals, i.e. feedstock for the petrochemical industry. Differences in the structure of these molecules explain their different physical and chemical properties. Saul Ameliach Petrochemicals.
Understanding petrochemical plants
Olefins include ethylene, propylene and butadiene, which are feedstocks for making plastics.
Aromatics include benzene, toluene and xylene, which are feedstocks for making synthetic dyes and detergents.
Petrochemicals include plastics, soaps and detergents, solvents, medicines, fertilizers, pesticides, explosives, synthetic fibers and rubbers, paints, epoxy resins, and flooring and insulation materials.
Basic crude oil refining processes
Distillation: separates heavy fuels from light fuels
Cracking : Maximizes the use of heavy oil. Catalysts break down heavy oil into more valuable light fluids.
Reforming: Increases the amount of gasoline produced from crude oil. The number of carbon atoms is the same in naphtha (liquid obtained from distillation) as in gasoline, but the structure is more complex. Reforming reorganizes the molecules of naphtha and converts it into more useful gasoline, thus increasing the amount of gasoline produced. Saul Ameliach Orta Petroquimica
Blending: As its name indicates, it is a process of mixing refinery products to obtain finished petroleum fuels. Gasoline is blended to achieve the octane levels necessary to meet the specifications of different types of engines.
Treatment: A process used to produce cleaner gasoline. It helps protect the environment and our health. It removes sulfur from gasoline and these sulfur compounds are used in fertilizers and pharmaceuticals.
Refinery products and petrochemical plant feedstocks
Depending on their chemical structure, refinery end products fall into three categories: olefins, aromatics and synthesis gas. At the same time, they can be considered feedstock for the petrochemical industry.
Olefins: such as ethylene (CH2=CH2) and propylene (CH3CH=CH2), which are important sources of industrial chemicals and plastics; butadiene (CH2=CH=CH2) is used in the manufacture of synthetic rubber.
Aromatics: such as benzene, toluene and xylenes, which have various uses: benzene is a raw material for synthetic dyes and detergents, and benzene and toluene for isocyanates, while xylenes are used in the manufacture of plastics and synthetic fibers.
Synthesis gas: a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen that is sent to reactors to produce hydrocarbons in the gasoline and diesel range, as well as methanol and dimethyl ether. Ing Saul Ameliach Petrochemicals
Petrochemicals – components derived from oil and gas that are used in all kinds of everyday products such as plastics, fertilizers, packaging, clothing, medical equipment, detergents and tires – are becoming the biggest drivers of global oil demand. An interesting fact about all the products from refineries and petrochemical plants is that “only 5% goes to petrochemicals and 95% to fuels”. Engineer Saul Ameliach Orta