Fractional Distillation Work for the Crude Oil

Fractional distillation is a process used to separate a mixture of two or more components based on their boiling points. It is used in the petroleum industry to separate crude oil into its various components such as gasoline, diesel fuel, and lubricating oil.

Crude oil is a naturally occurring fossil fuel found in underground reservoirs. It is a complex mixture of hydrocarbons, which are molecules made of carbon and hydrogen atoms. Crude oil also contains other compounds such as sulfur, nitrogen, and oxygen, as well as trace elements such as metals.

It is used as a fuel and crude oil is an important resource, it is used to produce a wide range of chemicals and plastics. However, the different components of crude oil have different properties, and these are separated from each other in order to be useful.

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Fractional Distillation Work for Crude Oil

The process of fractional distillation of petroleum involves heating the crude oil to about 350 – 400 °C in a distillation column. As the crude oil is heated, it vaporizes and the column starts to rise. 

How Fractional Distillation is Revolutionizing the Oil and Gas Industry

The column is equipped with a series of trays, and as the vapors rise, they condense on trays at different levels in the column. The temperature is lowest in the column and decreases with an increase in height. The heavier components condense at the bottom of the column, while the lighter components condense at the top.

Products Obtained from Fractional Distillation of Crude Oil

The liquid fractions collected at various stages in the column are again processed to produce more useful products. For example, the overhead fraction is cooled and condensed to produce liquefied petroleum gas, used as fuel for heating and cooking. 

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The next fraction, which is naphtha, is used as a feedstock for the petrochemical industry to produce chemicals such as plastics, synthetic fibers, and detergents. The heavier fraction, such as kerosene, diesel fuel, and lubricating oil, is used as a fuel for transportation and industry.

Importance of Fractional Distillation in the Petroleum Industry

Fractional distillation is an important process for obtaining pure components from complex mixtures, and it is widely used in the petroleum industry. Without fractional distillation, it would not be possible to obtain the various components of crude oil easily in pure form, which would severely limit the range of products that can be made from crude oil.

Difference Between Distillation and Fractional Distillation

Distillation and fractional distillation are both methods used to separate the components of a mixture based on their boiling points.


Distillation is a process in which a mixture is heated to convert it into vapor, and then the vapor is condensed to obtain a liquid fraction. 

The process is based on the principle that the different components of a mixture must have different boiling points, and that they can be separated by heating the mixture to evaporate the component with the lowest boiling point, and then collecting the different components. For this, the vapor is condensed and separated.

Fractional Distillation

Fractional distillation is a more accurate and efficient version of distillation that involves multiple distillations in a fractional column. The column consists of a series of trays or plates, each with a specific temperature range. 

As the vapor rises through the column, it condenses and re-vaporizes on each plate until it reaches the top of the column. The temperature decreases with increasing altitude, and different components of the mixture condense to different degrees.

The main difference between distillation and fractional distillation is that distillation involves a single separation of a mixture, whereas fractional distillation involves multiple separations, resulting in a more complete and accurate separation of the components.


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