Metal-organic frameworks cut energy consumption of petrochemicals

In the chemical and the petrochemical industries, separating molecules in an energy-efficient way is one of the most important challenges. Overall, the separation processes account for around 40% of the energy consumed in ...

A step toward independence from fossil resources

Instead of happening as a result of one big discovery, independence from fossil resources will most likely take place gradually. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials ...

New cobalt catalyst transforms propane to propene

Adam Hock, assistant professor of chemistry at the Illinois Institute of Technology, and colleagues have developed a new cobalt catalyst that selectively transforms propane to propene and hydrogen.

A new catalyst to transform propane into propene

Researcher Adam Hock of Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) and colleagues at Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) and Northwestern University have developed a new catalyst to transform propane into propene (propylene).

Effective thermal insulation with wood foam

Insulation materials of tomorrow must be both efficient and environmentally friendly. Fraunhofer scientists are developing insulation foam made from wood that could re- place petrochemical plastics in the long term.

Robot inspects pipes in petrochemical platforms

With the purpose of verifying onshore and offshore platforms such as Pemex's and detect cracks or corrosion, the Mexican Corporation of Material Research (COMIMSA) designed RoboPipe, a robot capable of inspecting the pipes ...

Biodegradable cabinet: A new approach to sustainability

A furniture design academic from Sheffield Hallam University has started creating furniture made from 100 per cent biodegradable material, which can be composted at the end of its lifespan.

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Petrochemicals are chemical products derived from petroleum. Some chemical compounds made from petroleum are also obtained from other fossil fuels, such as coal or natural gas, or renewable sources such as corn or sugar cane.

This article focuses on organic compounds that are not burned as fuel (see also Petroleum product).

Two petrochemical classes are olefins including ethylene and propylene, and aromatics including benzene, toluene and xylene isomers. Oil refineries produce olefins and aromatics by fluid catalytic cracking of petroleum fractions. Chemical plants produce olefins by steam cracking of natural gas liquids like ethane and propane. Aromatics are produced by catalytic reforming of naphtha. Olefins and aromatics are the building blocks for a wide range of materials such as solvents, detergents, and adhesives. Olefins are the basis for polymers and oligomers used in plastics, resins, fibers, elastomers, lubricants, and gels.

Global ethylene and propylene production are ~110 million tonnes and ~65 million tonnes per annum respectively. Aromatics production is ~70 million tonnes. The largest petrochemical industries are located in the USA and Western Europe; however, major growth in new production capacity is in the Middle East and Asia. There is substantial inter-regional petrochemical trade.

Primary petrochemicals are divided into three groups depending on their chemical structure:

The prefix "petro-" is an arbitrary abbreviation of the word "petroleum"; since "petro-" is Ancient Greek for "rock" and "oleum" means "oil". Therefore, the etymologically correct term would be "oleochemicals". However, the term oleochemical is used to describe chemicals derived from plant and animal fats.

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