Sie sind auf Seite 1von 5

Div Dasani

Dr. John Fagley & Mr. Denny Lehman

KBC Advanced Technologies, Inc.
Petroleum Refining in Nontechnical Language Notes
Chapter 1: The Evolution of Petroleum Refining

In 1859, kerosene was the main source of fuel. Gasoline and naphtha were
considered waste products and allowed to evaporate into the atmosphere
before the kerosene was recovered.
For 30 years after discovering crude oil, refining consisted of separating the
various products of crude oil through batch processing operations, a
procedure which consisted of heating and vaporizing a tank of oil and
condensing the vapors into a liquid state.
Continuous batch process- batch process tanks strung in a series. Capital and
energy intensive.
Fractional distillation- using trayed columns (modern method- 25% more
Nongasoline fractions (heavy parts of crude oil) can be cooked until they
crack into lighter fractions
Naphtha- Hydrocarbon fractions in the range of 104C to 157C; generally
unsuitable for direct blending into gasoline and is usually either further
processed in a cat reformer or fed to an ethylene plant.
Feedstock- that portion of the crude oil that has an initial boiling point of
340 C or higher at atmospheric pressure and an average molecular weight
ranging from about 200 to 600 or higher
Cracking- Refining process in which large molecules are broken into smaller
molecules of uneven sizes.
o Fluid catalytic cracking (FCC; cat cracking) is one of the most
important conversion processes used in petroleum refineries. It is
widely used to convert the high-boiling, high-molecular weight
hydrocarbon fractions of petroleum crude oils to more valuable
gasoline, olefinic (alkene) gases, and other products. The FCC process
vaporizes and breaks the long-chain molecules of the high-boiling
hydrocarbon liquids into much shorter molecules by contacting the
feedstock, at high temperature and moderate pressure, with a fluidized
powdered catalyst. (Most popular)
o Hydrocracking- A process in which light or heavy gas oils or residue
hydrocarbons are mixed with hydrogen under high pressure and
temperature and in the presence of a catalyst to produce light oils.
o Thermal Cracking- A refinery process of cracking heavy streams such
as flasher bottoms (?) or cat cracked cycle oil into light products using
high temperatures.
o Coking- a refinery unit operation that upgrades material called
bottoms from the atmospheric or vacuum distillation column into
higher-value products and, as the name implies, produces petroleum
cokea coal-like material.

Div Dasani
Dr. John Fagley & Mr. Denny Lehman
KBC Advanced Technologies, Inc.
The five basic refining processes:
1. Separation- either by distillation or absorption. Molecules remain
intact. No chemistry takes place.
2. Cracking- Utilizes catalysts, with or without hydrogen, to break apart
large molecules into smaller ones, as in cat cracking, hydrocracking,
and coking.
3. Reshaping- Changes the configuration of individual molecules, as in cat
reforming and isomerization.
4. Combining- Makes larger molecules from smaller molecules so they
can be used in gasoline, as in alkylation and polymerization.
5. Treating- Uses catalysts and hydrogen to chemically remove
Chapter 2: From the Oil Patch to the Refinery

Oil reservoirs have gas dissolved in them and gas reserves have oil. The oil
and gas mixture goes into a field separator, a vessel that separates natural
gas and crude oil by exposing the mixture to a large container and thus
dropping the pressure and increasing volume.
Types of gases:
o Associated natural gas- Natural gas that is dissolved in crude in the
reservoir and is coproduced with crude oil.
o Nonassociated gas- Natural gas that exists in a reservoir alone and is
produced without any crude oil.
o Condensate- A relatively small amount of liquid hydrocarbon, typically
through naphtha or gas oil, that gets produced in an oil patch with
nonassociated gas
o Dry gas- nonassociated gas that that has almost no hydrocarbons
heavier than butane.
o Stranded gas- gas thats well is in a remote location.
o Flare- to burn unmarketable gas on site.
o Natural gas liquids (NGL)- hydrocarbons heavier than methane but
not as heavy as condensate that remain in a natural gas vapor stream.
Four types:
1. Ethane- Goes to chemical plants as feedstocks for ethylene plants
2. Propane- Goes to liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) market for
heating, lighting, and cooking, or to chemical plants as feedstocks
to ethylene plants
3. Butanes- Go to gasoline blenders or refiners as raw material, or to
chemical plants as feedstocks. Butanes can be used jointly with
propanes as LPG
4. Natural gasoline- A low-octane gasolinelike material that you
would not use by itself in a car. Goes to blenders or refiners for
gasoline blending or to chemical plants as feedstocks

Div Dasani
Dr. John Fagley & Mr. Denny Lehman
KBC Advanced Technologies, Inc.
Ethane, propane, and butane are volatile and gaseous at room
temperature. Natural gasoline is liquid at room temp but can remain in
gas state when mixed with enough natural gas. If a natural gasoline +
butane content >10% in gas, it can condense and liquefy in a natural
gas transmission line. This can reduce capacity of the pipeline or
damage turbines that push gas through pipeline. This is why some gas
streams must be processed in gas plants to remove these components.
Economic incentive to this as well: these NGLs are worth more in other
markets than being sold as constituents of natural gas.

Some crudes are worth more than others, and condensate is worth more than
crude oil.
Diluted crude- crude oil admixed with natural gas and butane.
Liquefied natural gas (LNG)- liquid natural gas. Properties:
o Natural gas can only be shipped by sea through LNG Tankers
o Gas liquefication plants are capital intensive energy hogs
o LNG Tankers are far more expensive than commercial tankers
o When LNG reaches its destination market, it goes through a receiving
and regasification facility before it is introduced as a vapor into the
local natural gas pipeline system.

Chapter 3: Crude Oil Characteristics

Crude oil is a mixture of different chemical compounds. When crude oils
temperature is raised such that it starts to boil, and this temperature is maintained,
some of it will vaporize, and some of it will not.

Distillation curve- a plot of temperatures on one scale and the percent

evaporated on the other. Each type of crude oil has its own unique distillation
curve that helps characterize what kind of hydrocarbons are in the crude.
Fractions/cuts- generic names for all compounds that boil between two given
temperatures, called cut points.
Typical crude oil cut points

Butanes and
Gas oil
Lighter crudes have more gasoline, naphtha, and kerosene. Heavier crudes
have more gas oil and residue.
Specific gravity = weight of compound/ weight of water

Div Dasani
Dr. John Fagley & Mr. Denny Lehman
KBC Advanced Technologies, Inc.
API Gravity- popular measure of gravity in the oil industry.

specific gravity

- 131.5 =

141.5weight of water
weight of compound


The higher the API gravity (and the lower the specific gravity) of a compound,
the lighter the compound.
Sulfur is sometimes chemically bonded to some of the more complicated
hydrocarbons molecules so that it is not easily separated from the pure
carbon compounds. That is, not until it is burned. Then it forms
smelly/environmentally objectionable sulfur/oxygen compounds.
Consequently, sulfur removal in hydrocarbons remains a big issue for refiners
Sweet crudes have 0.5% sulfur content or less, while sour crudes have
1.5% or more.
Batch distillation- the use of distillation in batches, meaning that a mixture
is distilled to separate it into its component fractions before the distillation
still is again charged with more mixture and the process is repeated.
Fractional distillation- the separation of a mixture into its component
parts, or fractions, such as in separating chemical compounds by their boiling
point by heating them to a temperature at which one or more fractions of the
compound will vaporize. It is a special type of distillation that can be done on
a continuous basis and requires less energy and facilities than batch
Distilling column- an essential item used in distillation of liquid mixtures so
as to separate the mixture into its component parts, or fractions, based on
the differences in volatilities (tendency to vaporize). Parts:
o Charge pump- moves crude from a storage tank through a system.
o The crude is first pumped through a furnace where it is heated to
~750F, before the half and half liquid and vapor crude oil combination
is introduced to the distilling column.
o Inside the distilling column is a set of trays, one or two feet apart, with
perforations in them, which permit the vapors to rise through the
column and the liquid to fall. This causes the heavier liquid to drop
toward the column bottom while the lighter vapors move through the
trays to the top.
o Bubble caps- devices that fit into the perforations in trays that force
vapor coming up through the trays to bubble through the liquid
standing several inches deep on the tray. This bubbling is the essence
of the distilling operation: as the hot vapor bubbles through the liquid,
heat transfers from the vapor to the liquid, causing the vapor bubbles
to cool and allowing some of the hydrocarbons in them to change from
the vapor to liquid state. As the temperature of the vapor drops,
heavier compounds that remain in the vapor liquefy as the bubbles
climb the tower.

Div Dasani
Dr. John Fagley & Mr. Denny Lehman
KBC Advanced Technologies, Inc.
Petrochemical companies are more likely to have packed
columns, columns filled with packing, a sort of corrugated metal.
Pro: Extensive surface area acts a s a receptor to allow for
condensing and contact with the rising vapors
Con: More likely to become fouled, limiting its attractiveness in
o After passing through the liquid and shedding some of the heavier
hydrocarbons, the vapor continues to move up to the next tray where
the same process takes place.
o The amount of liquid on each tray grows as the hydrocarbons from the
vapor are stripped out. A downcomer permits excess liquid to
overflow to the lower tray.
o At several levels on the column, the sidedraws take the liquid off- the
lighter products from the upper parts of a column, the heavier liquids
from the parts closer to the bottom.
o Refluxing- process that occurs outside the distillation column. To
assure that heavy hydrocarbons do not get out from the top of the
column, some of the vapor will be run through a cooler. Whatever is
condensed is reintroduced to a lower tray. Whatever is still vapor is
sent off as product.
o Reboiling- Converse of refluxing, but for lighter hydrocarbons. Bottom
streams are circulated through a heater to drive off any lighter
hydrocarbons and separating them from the liquid product.
Cut points- key parameters at which various distilling products are
separated. Every cut has two cut points:
o Initial boiling point (IBP)- the temperature at which a product
begins to boil
o End point (EP)- when the product is 100% vaporized
o At a cut point, the EP and IBP of two adjacent cuts are the same
o Tail ends- small amounts of hydrocarbon in a cut that vaporize slightly
outside the effective initial boiling point and the effective end point.
o Effective cut points- cut points that can be considered a clean cut,
ignoring any tail ends.