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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.

Fig.1
Example of a cracking process

Applications

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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