Petrochemicals are the chemical products obtained from petroleum by refining. Some chemical compounds made from petroleum are also obtained from other fossil fuels, such as coal or natural gas, or renewable sources such as maize, palm fruit or sugar cane.
The two most common petrochemical classes are olefins (including ethylene and propylene) and aromatics (including benzene, toluene and xylene isomers).
Primary petrochemicals are divided into three groups depending on their chemical structure:
- Olefins includes ethene, propene, butanes and butadiene. Ethylene and propylene are important sources of industrial chemicals and plastics products. Butadiene is used in making synthetic rubber.
- Aromatics includes benzene, toluene and xylenes, as a whole referred to as BTX and primarily obtained from petroleum refineries by extraction from the reformate produced in catalytic reformers using naphtha obtained from petroleum refineries. Alternatively, BTX can be produced by aromatization of alkanes. Benzene is a raw material for dyes and synthetic detergents, and benzene and toluene for isocyanates MDI and TDI used in making polyurethanes. Manufacturers use xylenes to produce plastics and synthetic fibers.
- Synthesis gas is a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen used to produce methanol and other chemicals. Steam crackers are not to be confused with steam reforming plants used to produce hydrogen for ammonia production. Ammonia is used to make the fertilizer urea and methanol is used as a solvent and chemical intermediate.
- Methane, ethane, propane and butanes obtained primarily from natural gas processing plants.
- Methanol and formaldehyde.
Nowadays, the use of light and heavy polyethylene materials is an integral part of our daily life, and most of the products and goods used are made of these materials, which are of great importance.
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