Cracking is a broad term that refers to any process that results in the breaking down of larger hydrocarbon molecules into smaller molecules.

Most of the major conversion units in a refinery perform some type of cracking.

Cracking can be achieved through the use of heat (thermal cracking) or hydrogen addition (hydrocracking), often in the presence of a catalyst (catalytic cracking/hydrocracking).

Cracking in its various forms is the primary means of improving the product yield of a refinery to include more of the high-value light products and less of the low-value heavy products.

McKinsey uses cookies to improve site functionality, provide you with a better browsing experience, and to enable our partners to advertise to you. Detailed information on the use of cookies on this Site, and how you can decline them, is provided in our cookie policy. By using this Site or clicking on "OK", you consent to the use of cookies.