Paraffins are straight- or branched-chain hydrocarbons (i.e., they do not contain naphthene or aromatic rings).

In a refinery, a paraffinic hydrocarbon will tend to crack well in a cracking unit (e.g., FCC) and will have higher cetane when blended into diesel, especially if it contains more straight chains and fewer branches. Likewise, it will tend to perform poorly in a reformer and would make a poor (low-octane) gasoline blendstock.

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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