Diesel is an important factor in running fleets and managing our daily activities. In fact, diesel powers more than 90% of the world’s freight and is used in more than two-thirds of the commercial uses. Its power, efficiency, and dependability make diesel fuel an optimal choice for driving the global economy.
Diesel fuel is just one of the popular products created from crude oil. Before we understand the refinery process of the crude oil, it`s prudent that we have a rudimentary understanding of what crude oil is.
Crude oil is a naturally occurring fluid found within the earth`s crust. In most cases, the crude oil assumes a yellow to black color and is refined to form different types of fuels. On a molecular level, crude is defined as having different chains of hydrocarbons that occur in different lengths.
How is diesel fuel produced?
Crude oil refining starts with the boiling of the viscous liquid to vaporizing temperatures of up to 400 degrees Celsius. The crude oil vapor is then channeled to a fractional distillation tower where it starts to cool down. And because the crude oil is made up of hydrocarbons with different chains, the distillation process capitalizes on the difference in their boiling point to separate various distillates .i.e. shorter hydrocarbon chains have a lower boiling point than those of longer lengths.
Depending on the length of the hydrocarbon chains, the vaporized crude oils begin to return to the liquid state at the different levels of the fractional distillation. For fuel types with longer hydrocarbon chains such as bitumen or asphalt, they settle at the bottom. The bitumen is followed by shorter hydrocarbon chain fuel-types such as fuel oil at 370 degrees Celsius. When the vapor is at between 230 to 350 degrees Celsius, diesel fuels forms, and is later siphoned off into a diesel holding tank for final treatment.
Can diesel fuel be formed from non-petroleum sources?
Yes, just like Ethanol, feed stocks can be refined into a high-quality biodiesel. Just like ethanol is blended into alcohol, algae, soya beans a pond scum can be produced into biodiesel.