Fossil Fuels

What is the process known as hydrocarbon cracking?

Cracking is a process that uses heat to decompose complex substances. Hydrocarbon cracking is the decomposition by heat, with or without catalysts, of petroleum or heavy petroleum fractions (groupings) to give materials of lower boiling points. Thermal cracking, developed by William Burton (1865–1954) in 1913, uses heat and pressure to break some of the large heavy hydrocarbon molecules into smaller gasoline-grade ones. The cracked hydrocarbons are then sent to a flash chamber where the various fractions are separated. Thermal cracking not only doubles the gasoline yield, but has improved gasoline quality, producing gasoline components with good antiknock characteristics (no premature fuel ignition).


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