Adventures In Energy

Reforming is a process designed to extend the volume of gasoline that can be produced from a barrel of crude oil. Hydrocarbons within the naphtha stream have roughly the same number of carbon atoms as these in gasoline, but their construction is usually extra complex. Reforming rearranges naphtha hydrocarbons into gasoline molecules.

Figure 3.7. Hydrogen loop in a hydrotreating unit.

The reforming course of involves three separate catalytic reactors, each one going down beneath carefully managed temperature and pressure ranges. Naphtha is combined with hydrogen and fed by each reactor chamber in sequence. Extra hydrogen formed by the catalytic reactors is recovered and put to use in subsequent reforming and in different processes all through the refinery. The other products of reforming are mild gases and a high-octane gasoline mixing component referred to as reformate.

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The octane score of reformate is important because it impacts the octane rating of the gasoline you purchase on the pump. By controlling the temperature and circulate rate of the reformer, refinery operators can enhance the octane rating of the reformate, but that also has the impact of producing less reformate. The reverse can be true: If demand for high-octane gasoline is lower, the reformer might be adjusted to provide extra reformate with a lower octane ranking.

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