Hydrogen production

Many refineries must intentionally generate hydrogen to supply all the needs of the hydrotreaters and hydrocrackers.

Refineries with a reformer typically generate a large portion of the hydrogen they need, but often this must be supplemented with intentional hydrogen generation, especially when making ultra-low sulfur fuels or when using a hydrocracker for conversion.

There are two major process options to make hydrogen, using either light ends or fuel oil as a feed:

  • Steam reforming - A catalytic process for making hydrogen from steam and a light hydrocarbon such as methane, ethane, or propane
  • Partial oxidation - A process for generating hydrogen through partial combustion of fuel oil (to CO) and injection of steam to force production of H2

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.



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.