There is a rising demand worldwide for petroleum products, more specifically transportation fuels (diesel and gasoline) as well as petrochemical products such as olefins and aromatics. The traditional refining markets are experiencing a relative increase in demand while the rising refining markets are witnessing are very rapid surge. As a result, there has been a sort of 'squeeze' on the existing refineries, which has prompted a new refining technological approach that will optimize the efficiency and improve the output worldwide. In an effort to satisfy the growing needs of clients worldwide, major refining companies are investing hugely on revamping their refining technology.
Take a moment and think, in the TV shows and movies, you have probably seen images and pictures of black crude, thick oil gushing out of the ground or from a drilling podium. However, when you go to the gas station, you only pump out clear gasoline. Also, there are thousands of other products derived from oil such as plastics, crayons, jet fuel, heating oil, tires, synthetic fibers to mention but a few. Have you ever wondered how this is possible? Well, talk of refining technology.
Refining technology entails separating all the components of crude oil into their unique forms which will be in useful forms and substances. The refining technology process uses the following steps:-
- Fraction distillation is a very old and common way of separating things into different components by making use of their different boiling temperatures. This entails heating the crude oil first, allowing it to vaporize and then condensing the vapor.
- The second step is known as conversion, i.e. applying a chemical process on some of the fractions to come up with others. This process breaks down long chemical chains into short ones which will make it easier for the refinery to turn it into usable form, depending on its demand.
- The fractions are then treated carefully by applying different refining technology methods to get rid of all impurities.
- The various fractions i.e. both the processed and unprocessed are combined into mixtures or left in their unique purest forms as desired.
All products in their natural form contain some sort of impurities hence have to be refined through the above mentioned ways - hydrotreating, or hydro-cracking if you like, and the final part is blending. When you stop and think, it's funny how many things originate from oil or natural gas. Medicine, synthetic fiber, fertilizers, among many others. By utilizing technology, refining is done to get the most pure forms of components.