Story of Automotive fuels

Automotive fuels are broadly divided in to two categories. Motor gasoline which is used in spark ignition engines and High-speed diesel, used in compression ignition engines. Both these fuels are generally produced from crude oil.  There is an alternate raw material such as reformate from which this automotive fuel can be derived, however this intermediary is also product of crude oil distillation process. Natural gas is used as a feed in some refineries but limited to low scale production.

Petroleum Crude (Crude Oil)

Crude oil is mixture of comparatively volatile hydro carbons, compounds mainly composed of Hydrogen and Carbon. Hydro carbon in crude is mostly alkanes (Paraffins), cyclo-alkanes (Naphthenes) and various hydrocarbons. Other elements present are sulphur, nitrogen, oxygen and traces of metals such as Iron, nickel copper etc.

Composition of crude oil by mass percentage

Carbon 83 to 87%

Hydrogen 10 to 14%

Nitrogen 0.1 to 2%

Oxygen 0.05 to 1.5%

Sulfur 0.05 to 6.0%

Metals < 0.1%

Crude is formed when large quantities of dead organisms are buried underneath sedimentary rock and undergo intense heat and pressure. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling. This comes after the studies of structural geology, sedimentary basin analysis, reservoir characterization.

Crude oil is refined and separated, most easily by boiling point, into large variety of consumer products, from petrol (or gasoline) and kerosene to asphalt and chemical reagents used to make plastics and pharmaceuticals.

Petroleum Industry

Petroleum industry is involved in exploration, production, storage, transportation and marketing of petroleum products. The major part product handled by the industry is Fuel Oil and petrol. These are the most widely used fuels around the world. Oil accounts for the largest part of energy consumption all over the world. Approximate oil consumption of the world is around 30 Billion barrels per year.

Upstream oil companies are engaged in exploration, production and refining activities. Down stream oil companies are their expertise in transportation and marketing of refined products. Few companies are engaged in both upstream as well as down stream activities due to their wide experience in the field. Marketing companies are closer to end customers as they have to develop strategy based on changing market requirements.

Refinery Process

Crude oil is subjected to destructive distillation for separating the constituents. The most common distillation fractions of petroleum crude are fuels.

The chemical structure of petroleum is heterogeneous. The chemical separated by distillation are treated by other chemical process for meeting various specification requirements and the customer needs.

Fraction                                               Boiling Range (Degree centigrade)

Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG)                    −40  to  −1

Petrol                                                                  -1   to   110

Jet Fuel                                                                150 to 205

Kerosene                                                             205 to 260

Fuel Oil                                                               205 To 290

Diesel Fuel                                                          260 To 315

Finished products are subjected to stringent laboratory tests to ensure they meets all specifications prescribed by the national and inter national agencies also the specific customer requirements before releasing from refinery.

Supply chain.

Refined products are stored in storage facilities designed based on capacity requirements. Products are transported by different modes based on market locations. Costal movement by oil tankers is preferred for long distance and exports. Pipeline transfer is used as safe and economical option. Rail and road modes are also used widely for transporting fuels. Product transported from refinery locations are stored at intermediate location after ensuring all safety and statutory requirements before finally being dispatched to retail outlets.

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