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Alkanes: Cracking

Cracking: Introduction

Reaction principle

In the cracking process, long-chain hydrocarbons are broken down into a mixture of short-chain or branched hydrocarbons following a homolytic mechanism that creates pairs of radicals.

Example of a cracking process


In the petrochemical industry, cracking is part of the refinery process and as such is used to increase the yield of usable alkanes from crude oil. Initially, low-molecular, gaseous compounds are predominantly formed which are subsequently transformed again into higher-molecular, liquid compounds by an alkylation process called reforming.

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