Production of gasoline from crude oil

Eugene HoudryEugene Houdry

Production of gasoline from crude oil

To improve gasoline recovery from crude oil, refiners initially used heat to break down the larger molecules of the heavy oil fraction into the smaller ones found in gasoline, using a process called thermal cracking. In thermal cracking, high temperatures and pressures are used to break the large hydrocarbons into smaller ones.

Gas station with classic petrol filler nozzles from the 70sGas station with classic petrol filler nozzles from the 70s

Since high temperatures also formed unwanted products, a vacuum distillation that operated at lower temperatures was used by 1928. Using an inert catalyst (catalytic cracking) rather then high temperature to achieve cracking was developed by Eugene Houdry (1936), was introduced commercially in 1937 and revolutionized the gasoline refining process.


Did you know?

In, 2011 the world is expected to use 85 million barrels of crude oil, the majority of which in the form of petrol. But the Earth's crude oil resources are not unlimited.