How is gasoline made?


Quick Answer

Gasoline is made when refineries break down the hydrocarbons found in crude oil. Crude oil is formed from the remains of animals and aquatic plants that lived billions of years ago and have been covered in sediment and exposed to high temperatures and extreme pressure.

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Full Answer

The process of refining crude oil to make gasoline involves heating the crude oil and routing it through a distillation column where the different components of crude are boiled off. The components condense at various temperatures. After the products are distilled, changes to the molecular structure of the products are made using changes in pressure and heat or sometimes with the use of a catalyst. The type of gasoline produced depends on the refinery's setup and the crude oil type. Refineries may also add other ingredients into the gasoline including ethanol.

Gasoline is transported from refineries via pipelines to storage terminals. From there, it is loaded into delivery trucks and routed to individual gas stations.

Refineries not only refine hydrocarbons to make gasoline, they also derive other products from hydrocarbons, including jet fuel, heating oil, diesel fuel, residual fuel oil and liquefied petroleum gases. In 2012, the United States imported 7.58 million barrels and produced about 7.03 million barrels of crude daily.

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