Treatment of Hydrocarbons

Treatment of Hydrocarbons Photo Credit: Clipart.com


In this lesson, you will explore what happens to petroleum fractions after they are separated by the refinery distillation process. Remember that each fraction contains a mixture of different hydrocarbons that are approximately the same length. These fractions are not ready for public use yet; they must undergo various chemical processes called treatment.


You will now explore the treatment process of these petroleum fractions through the final part of the interactive. It is this treatment process that produces the gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel that we use in our daily lives.

Go to the Oil Refining: A Closer Look interactive that you explored in earlier lessons. Watch and review the introductory video. Once you are at the interactive, go through step 1 (Dump Crude Oil) and step 2 (Start Furnace). This is the distillation process.

You are now ready for step 3 (Begin Treatment)! Click on the button on the left menu of the interactive. Observe that there are seven petroleum fractions.

  • What are the seven petroleum fractions that emerge from the distillation column?

Click on the red circle next to each fraction's name to explore how each fraction is chemically altered and treated. Each treatment process is described in a gray box. You can click on the gray boxes to read detailed descriptions of the treatment processes. You will find that each treatment process is characterized by a great deal of vocabulary and technical terms. Do not worry about all the terminology; focus on the main ideas.

Based on your exploration, answer these questions about the treatment process (these questions are repeated on the Treatment of Hydrocarbons student sheet):

  • What are the four treatment processes for the light gas fraction?
  • After clicking on all seven red circles, what is the most common treatment process?
  • What are the two treatment processes for the residue fraction?
  • Select a "Hydrotreating" treatment to open a box that describes the process. Based on your reading of the description, what does the hydrotreating process remove from the hydrocarbon fractions?


This esheet is a part of the Chemistry of Petroleum 4: Treatment of Hydrocarbons lesson.

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