How Is Gasoline Made From Oil?

What is Gasoline, and Where is it Manufactured? What are the Different Processes Involved? What are the Uses of Petroleum Products?
how is gasoline made from oil

Over the period of millions of years after human existence, people have discovered various sources of energy. Petroleum is the source of power from which various other products are generated, like gasoline, jet fuel, diesel, tar, paraffin wax, and other heavy fuels. At times, I wonder how is gasoline made from oil or how is gas made from oil for use. Today you will get to know about the process involved in producing gasoline from oil. 

1. What is Gasoline?

Gasoline is a term used in the United States and Latin countries as a synonym for petrol. Gasoline, or petrol, is a fuel produced from the fractional distillation of petroleum. It is used in spark-ignited internal combustion engines. Gasoline is a transparent and highly flammable liquid. (See How Lighters Work?)

2. Where is Gasoline Made?

how is gasoline made from oil 1

Petroleum refineries or oil refineries convert crude oil (petroleum) into gasoline and various other petroleum products. Jamnagar Refinery, located in India, is the world’s largest petroleum refinery, having a capacity of 1.24 million barrels per day. (See 4 Most Important Inventions of the Industrial Revolution)

3. How is Gasoline Made from Oil?

Actually, gasoline is obtained from crude oil through the process of refining. It is a process of reducing and removing impurities from the substance to obtain new and pure substances. Without the process of refining, it is not possible to make gasoline from petroleum.

Refining involves distillation, conversion, and treating, and so the whole process is important to know how is gasoline made from oil. But these three stages have some more processes within them as explained ahead. (See How many Gallons of Gas in a Barrel of Oil?)

4. What is Atmospheric Distillation?

Distillation or separation is the initial stage at which the molecules of petroleum are separated according to their molecular weight. In how is gasoline made from oil, a 60-meter (196.86 feet) tall distillation column (container) of petroleum is heated at 350 to 400 degrees Celsius to vaporize the petroleum.

The long container has different temperatures at different levels and finally, at the topmost layer, the temperature is 150 degrees Celsius. This is the level where gases reach and stay. The molecules condensed at different levels at distinct temperatures are then collected. The heaviest molecules at the bottom do not vaporize, they have to undergo another distillation to obtain diesel and heavy fuel oil. (See What Is The Meaning Of OD Off?)

5. What are the Molecules obtained after Distillation?

Large distillation tanks.

Each column has a tray and each tray collects the molecules during vaporization, which is known as petroleum cut that contains highly viscous (sticky) hydrocarbons. Asphalt (bitumen) collected at the bottom, propane in the middle layers, and gases at the top columns. (See What is the Lewis structure of CH2O?)

6. What is Polymerization?

After the molecules are separated or distilled, some of them are combined into larger molecules. These are used for the gasoline blending process or simply known as polymerization. (See What Is a Sonic Boom?)

7. How is Conversion done?

The remaining heavy molecules after the distillation process are broken down at this stage. The conversion, or cracking, is done through two methods.

  • Catalytic Conversion uses a catalyst to crack large carbon atoms into small molecules over a temperature between 516 and 537 degrees Celsius (960 to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Thermal Conversion involves heating the distilled oil at 500 degrees Celsius (900 degrees Fahrenheit).

In how is gasoline made from oil, refineries use one of the above-mentioned processes and during this stage, about 75% of heavy molecules are broken down into diesel and gasoline (petrol). (See What Happens When you Mix Bleach and Ammonia?)

8. What is Hydrotreatment?

Treating or hydrotreatment is a process to remove sulfur from the oil by using hydrogen (water) and a catalyst. This step converts the sulfur in oil to hydrogen sulfide. This step is carried on after distillation to minimize emissions from the vehicles because sulfur is corrosive in nature and causes air pollution. (See What is an Oil Change?)

9. How is Sweetening done?


The process of washing the propane, kerosene, and butane in sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) solution to remove thiols (the odorants) is known as sweetening. Thiols are the odorants that are used to assist in detecting natural gases. (See How can you differentiate between the gas and the brake pedal?)

10. How is Gasoline treated through Catalytic Reforming?

  • To use gasoline as an automotive fuel, its octane rating needs to be increased. Gasoline must have an octane rating of 95 to 98 on a scale of 0 to 100. Catalytic reforming or simply reforming is the process through which the octane rating is increased.
  • Naphthenic hydrocarbons (saturated cyclic hydrocarbons) are converted into aromatic hydrocarbons (unsaturated cyclic hydrocarbons).
  • Platinum is used as the catalyst and the process takes place at a temperature of 500 degrees Celsius with a pressure of 10 bar. (See What is a ricer car?)

11. What is Octane Rating?

Fuel is a highly flammable substance, and it cannot be used as automotive fuel with a high level of combustion. Thus, to measure the detonation resistance of the fuel, an octane rating is used as the measurement scale. The higher the rating is, the lower the detonation chances. (Also read How Does A Magnifying Glass Work?)

12. Why is the Rating Increased?

It is necessary to increase the rating so that the fuel withstands compression in an internal combustion engine without exploding. Octane rating can be increased by catalytic reforming and alkylation (another chemical reaction). (Also read Do Water Towers Hold Water?)

13. How is Gas made from Oil Distributed?

A large oil refinery column: how is gasoline made from oil 2

After going through different tests and lab analyses, gasoline can be distributed to gas stations through a network of pipelines from where you can easily refill your vehicles. Asphalt, sulfur, propane, petroleum coke, butane, and aviation gasoline are also transferred and distributed for use in factories and industries. (See Why Are Fire Trucks Red?)

14. What are the Different Uses of Petroleum Products?

Various petroleum products are obtained after the petroleum is refined, and these products have distinct uses.

  • Gasoline and diesel are used in vehicles as automotive fuels.
  • Asphalt, also known as bitumen, is used for paving roads.
  • Base oils are used to make lubricants.
  • In how is gasoline made from oil, kerosene (Aviation Kerosene) is used as jet fuel in airplanes and helicopters with turbine engines.
  • Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) can be used as heating and cooking fuel in houses. It can also be used as an automotive fuel. LPG is often known as butane and propane.
  • Naphtha is used majorly as a petrochemical feedstock, a substance used for manufacturing synthetic rubber, varieties of plastic, and chemicals. (See 13 Different Types of Compasses)

So, this is the method of how is gasoline made from oil and how is gas made from oil. Extracted gasoline from oil is a valuable product that is a non-renewable resource. (See How to Achieve Zero Gravity?)

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