Light naphtha

Also known as: light straight run naphtha, LSR, natural gasoline, light paraffinic naphtha, pentanes plus, C5+

Light naphtha can refer to either a finished product used as a petrochemical feedstock or a distillation cut commonly called light straight run naphtha. It is composed of pentane and slightly heavier material.

Light naphtha comes from distillation of crude oil or from separation of NGLs in a gas processing plant. Gas plant light naphtha is often called natural gasoline or pentanes plus.

In a refinery, light naphtha is often blended directly into gasoline. However, its low octane and relatively high vapor pressure typically limit it to 5% or less of the gasoline pool. To boost its octane, it is often sent to the isomerization unit before gasoline blending.

As a petrochemical feed stock, light naphtha is used in steam crackers to make ethylene and ultimately make plastics. In this use, it competes with propane and ethane as a feedstock. Highly paraffinic naphtha is preferred in this use as it provides better yields than more naphthenic or aromatic naphthas.

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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