MadSci Network: Engineering

Re: How long to convert crude oil to gasoline?

Date: Mon Mar 24 05:00:14 2008
Posted By: Leslie Allen, Staff, Laboratory Chemist, Valero Refining Company
Area of science: Engineering
ID: 1206129195.Eg

Good morning Joe,
The gasoline purchased at retail is a blend of components. The distilled 
gasoline from crude oil runs about 15-20% dependent of the crude. We call 
the gasoline distilled from crude "light straight run" (LSR) gasoline.
The LSR gasoline has low octane and wouldn't run very well in your car.

The refining process is a continuous operation of many individual units to 
perform upgrade of crude fractions. Low octane light material is converted 
to high octane gasoline components in processes like reforming and 
alkylation. Heavier crude material is broken down into shorter molecules 
by cracking. The crude fractions are stored in tanks at the front of each 
unit until processed.

If we are talking LSR gasoline, then the time would be short. Once the 
crude enters the distillation tower, only seconds until gasoline condenses 
from the fractionation tower.

If we are talking about finished gasoline, the time would be longer, but 
really not all that much longer. There is no definite answer, only 
estimates.  With all the units running, my best estimate less than 1 hour.

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