If you are wondering how oil is refined, there are several crucial steps in the process to be aware of. Prior to separating the individual compounds in the oil, the refinery will need to get rid of impurities. Here are the key steps in the process of refining oil.

The process of refining oil

1. The oil will arrive in its crude form

Crude oil contains a wide range of impurities, which is due to the fact that it is taken from within the earth. As a result, there are bits of rock and other materials from underground in it.

The first step in the process is filtration. In this step, the oil is run through a filter that keeps out particulate matter. After this is complete, the oil can move on to the next step.

2. The distillation process

In order to effectively remove all of the impurities, the oil is mixed with water before going to the next steps. Then, it goes through a desalter. This removes any brine that it picked up from the seawater. After this, it will go on to a furnace. This will heat the oil up to around 398 degrees Celsius. Then, it goes into the distillation chamber itself.

Impurities that are removed by heat leave the distillation chamber through the top, and they are fed into a reflux drum. Following this, they are fed into a chamber of water, which produces a substance known as sour water. This substance is discarded as waste. The material that is left in the first chamber is fed into a second chamber.

3. Separation of the individual components

This is the stage where the final products of gasoline, kerosene, light fuel, heavy fuel, and fuel oil are created. The individual components of the oil are separated by weight in the following order from lightest to heaviest:

  • Kerosene/jet fuel (lightest)
  • Light fuel (typical gasoline)
  • Heavy fuel (diesel oil)
  • Residue (fuel oil)

4. Quality control

In order to ensure that the end product is as refined as possible, it’s essential for refineries to analyze the final product to ensure that it meets their standards. Luckily, this has become easier than ever due to modern technology. Computer technology makes it possible for refinery owners to monitor the quality of their final products with sensors.

Not only that, but they can examine the quality of each step along the way with sensors. This has allowed refineries to produce much more pure and effective petroleum products, which will ensure that you get the best possible product for your engine or other uses. If problems are found during the quality control process, refinery owners will seek to remediate them right away.

Furthermore, modern-day quality control sensors will provide precise readings on the specific octane of fuel that’s produced. This will help to ensure that end consumers are able to pick out the right product for their needs.

Oil Refinery Analysis, Testing & Inspection Services

AmSpec’s facilities across the United States and around the world have the capabilities to perform a wide range of analyses on a multitude of products including biofuel, petroleum, petrochemical and agricultural commodities. Our highly-trained lab staff and state of the art laboratories ensure that the analyses are performed with the highest level of quality, accuracy and precision.

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