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Cracking: Definition, Meaning, Types, Uses and Importance

Cracking is a process in which long-chain hydrocarbons are broken into smaller molecules. It occurs by the breaking of carbon-carbon bonds. The rate of catalyst depends on factors such as temperature and catalyst. This process is used in the production of petrol, diesel, and gasoline. In chemistry, it is the process of the breakdown of alkane into simple alkenes and alkanes. Cracking of hydrocarbons means the breakdown of complex long chains of hydrocarbons into smaller ones. The final products that are formed because of cracking and the rate of cracking majorly depends upon two factors:

  • catalysts presence
  • temperature

Generally, the procedure of cracking is a kind of breaking of molecules under the conditions of catalysts, heat, and solvents. There is a type of fluid catalytic cracking that produces a higher yield of liquid petroleum gas and petrol.

Cracking in Organic Chemistry

During this process many reactions take place. Some of them are.
1. Initiation - In this reaction, single molecules break into 2 free radicals. A Small Portion of radicals goes under initiation.
2. Abstraction of hydrogen - In this reaction, second molecules become free radicals. It removes H atoms from other molecules.
3. Radical Decomposition - In this free radical decompose break into free radicals and alkanes. It gives alkene products.
4. Termination - In this reaction, two radicals react to form products that are not free radicals.

Types of Cracking

FCC - This is a different procedure from all others. Fluid catalytic cracking is used in petroleum refiners. In this process, high molecular weight and high boiling hydrocarbons are converted into gasoline and other products. The feedstock is made to go through high temperatures and a moderate amount of pressure. Generally, the feedstock is brought into close contact with hot as well as powdered catalysts. These catalysts break down the long chain of molecules into the shorter chain of molecules.
Hydrocracking - It is used for the breakdown of C-C bonds. E.g. - Diesels, jet, fuel and LPG. It is based on two different processes that involve the merging of catalytic cracking and hydrogenation. In hydrogen's presence, feedstocks are used to crack so that the required products can be achieved.
The factors required for this process to occur are hydrogen, high temperature, high pressure as well as a catalyst. The procedure co-depends on the relative rates of two different reactions that take place and also on the characteristics of the feedstock.
Steam Cracking - It involves the breakdown of saturated hydrocarbons into unsaturated hydrocarbons. It is a much older procedure where heat energy is evolved from steam. This process is also described as pyrolysis. With the occurrence of high amounts of latent heat energy that is present in the steam, this technique is taken to be very useful in the technique of alkenes production. The raw materials utilized in the procedure are gas oil, a mixture of butane and propane, and naphthalene.
Thermal Cracking - It is a process in which the breakdown of large non-volatile hydrocarbons into gasoline takes place. Both high temperatures, as well as pressures, are utilized in this process. In between the bonds of carbons that are situated in hydrocarbons, homolytic fission occurs. This reaction has a lot of uses in industries, especially in the production of burner fuels.

Uses of Cracking

It is used in oil refining, cooking oil, ethanol, diesel fuel, liquified petroleum gas, etc.

Importance of Cracking

It is used in oil refining, cooking oil, ethanol, diesel fuel, liquified petroleum gas, etc.

  • Fractional distillation aids of crude oil help in the production of larger hydrocarbons.
  • Cracking leads to conversion of small hydrocarbons into large hydrocarbons.
  • It also helps in the production of alkenes. Alkenes are more reactive than alkanes.





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