The Process Of Turning Oil To Fuel

12 May 2015
 Categories: , Blog


There is a lot of talk about oil in politics because it is used so heavily in the world. Oil is used in many things from making plastic and medicine to cosmetics and rubber. However, the thing that most people associate oil with is fuel. Petroleum goes through quite a process though before it is suitable for pumping into your car.

Straight out the ground, crude oil is thick and black, much like molasses. Before it is useable, it goes through a refining process. American companies buy the barrels of oil and often refine it here on the country's own land to refine for national products. Refining is a three step process: distilling, converting, and treating.


The first step of distilling the oil is basically just boiling it at a very high heat since the hydrocarbons that make up petroleum have different boiling points. For instance, kerosene boils at 350 to 617 degrees Fahrenheit (175 to 325 degrees Celsius) while gasoline boils at 104 to 401 degrees Fahrenheit (4- to 2-5 degrees Celsius). At each boiling point, the different levels of thickness (or heaviness) separates all the substances from each other. In order to reach all of the boiling levels, the oil is heated up to 1112 degrees Fahrenheit, or 600 degrees Celsius.

Once temperatures are high enough, a vapor is created and routed through different columns. The lightest forms go to the top and through tubes while the medium and heavy go through their respective tubes. This helps the manufacturing process significantly and most refineries have the equipment to do this process fairly quickly.


After separation, the process of refining continues by taking the heavy hydrocarbon molecules and "cracks" them into smaller ones with high pressure and heat. Cracking breaks 70 percent of the petroleum into gasoline and the rest into specialty fuels like diesel and jet fuels. After each is separated, they are mixed with different products. Each has a different octane level which makes them ideal for different engine systems. The last step of conversion rearranges the oil, removing hydrogen from gasoline with lower octane levels.


Gasoline fumes contribute to pollution levels, so during the last step of refining the fuel is treated. The focus of treatment is to remove impurities that cause pollution. These substances include sulfur and nitrogen, which are put to good use in other products like farm fertilizer. After treatment is done, more products are blended in to help make sure that the fuel is consistently the same. The fuel is then ready to be taken to gas stations across the nation.

If you need to purchase oil or fuel, visit a business like Small & Sons Oil Dist Co.