Also known as: Propene, C3=

Propylene is a three-carbon olefin, basically propane with one double bond.

In a refinery, propane is important as a feedstock to the alky unit to make C3 alkylate for blending into gasoline. Propylene is also often separated and sold as a feedstock to the petrochemicals industry to make polypropylene plastics.

Refinery propylene primarily comes from the FCC unit. Small amounts of propylene are also produced from other cracking units, such as the coker, but these are less likely to be separated for use in the alky. Propylene can also be produced on purpose by dehydrogenating propane, but this is not typically done in a refinery.

In the absence of an alky unit, the typical disposition of propylene is in LPG blending or refinery fuel, both very low-value options.

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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