LARRY MULVEHILL / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY LARRY MULVEHILL / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Burn off tower at oil refinery in Puerto Rico. In an oil refinery, crude oil is heated and passed through catalytic cracking towers to break up the heavy crude oil hydrocarbon molecules into lighter fragments. The resulting components, from heavy industrial oils and tars through to light fuels (like petrol and kerosene) and gas, are separated out. The components, called fractions, may then be processed.
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