Conversion processes

Conversion process units are used to convert one hydrocarbon stream into another by changing molecule size and structure. The objective is to shift the yield of the refinery away from less valuable products (e.g., residual fuel oil, LPG) and toward more valuable ones (e.g., gasoline, diesel).

They do this by breaking large molecules into smaller ones (cracking), joining small molecules into larger ones, or changing the shape of molecules without changing overall size.

A number of different types of conversion units can be found in refineries. The choice the refiner has made of which ones to have often in their refinery usually depends on the nature of the crude feedstock available and the highest demand (and value) products in their local market:

The Refinery Reference Desk includes content derived from our industry experts as well as from public data sources such as company websites. Nothing herein is intended to serve as investment advice. This material is based on information that we believe to be reliable and adequately comprehensive, but we do not represent that such information is in all respects accurate or complete. McKinsey Energy Insights does not accept any liability for any losses resulting from use of the content.

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