Friday, October 3, 2008

How is fuel made?

How is fuel made? Gasoline for cars, specifically.

Oh, boy.

First, the crude oil is extracted from the ground. That's a different story...

The crude oil is brought to a refinery, where it is pumped through a high temperature steam boiler. This boiler heats the crude oil to about 600 to 700 degrees celsius. This superheated crude oil is pumped into a distillation tower.

The distillation tower has several levels of progressively lower temperatures, with the highest temperature at the bottom and the lowest at the top. Most of the components of the crude oil will vaporize at or below 600 C. Because of the temperature profile of the refining tower, certain chemicals will be condensed at certain heights. This difference in condensation temperature allows the separation of chemicals as their gaseous forms rise through the tower.

The stuff that won't vaporize at below 700 C or so is called the residual crude---tar, coke, some waxes, etc. These are solids or very refractory liquids that are often used in making other things.

At about 370 to 600 degrees C, heavy oil condenses. This is used as an industrial fuel or used to make other products.

At about 300 to 370 degrees C, lubricating oil (stuff used to lubricate your car engine), grease, etc.) condenses.

At about 250 to 350 degrees C, diesel fuel, heating oil, etc. condense. These are sometimes used to make other products.

At about 175 to 325 degrees C, kerosene condenses. Kerosene is used in jet fuel, tractor fuel, lantern oil, etc. Often used to make other products, too.

At about 40 to 205 degrees C, gasoline condenses. This is the fuel most of us use in our cars.

At about 60 to 100 degrees C, naptha condenses. Naptha is used to make high octane gasoline, as an industrial solvent, etc.

At about 40 degrees C, petroleum gas condenses. This is used to make LPG, to make plastics, etc.

1 comment:

Grumpator said...

I don't really have a comment, but just want to let you know that I read this post. Do I get a good grade for reading it?