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steam crackingZoomA-Z

Subject - petrochemistry

Steam cracking is an uncatalyzed, thermal cracking process used in the petrochemical industry to break down hydrocarbons. In this process, steam is added to the mixture of gaseous hydrocarbons (ethene, butane, crude gasoline, or long-chain hydrocarbons). This procedure lowers the partial pressure of the hydrocarbons to a point at which polymerization and condensation reactions are reduced. Primarily, steam cracking is used to increase the yield of olefins.

Product composition from steam cracking approximately amounts to (in %):

  • ethene 28.7
  • pyrolysis gasoline 19.6 (feedstock for the production of benzene and toluene)
  • propene 16.1
  • methane 15.4
  • butene 5.5
  • butadiene 4.3
  • ethane 3.9
  • hydrogen 2.0
  • propane 1.2
  • ethyne 0.4
  • residue 0.9

See also: cracking

Recommended Learning Units

Alkanes: CrackingLevel 118 min.

ChemistryOrganic ChemistryAlkanes

This learning unit describes the cracking of alkanes. The industrial relevance of this process is explained using various examples.