Fractional distillation is the process of separating crude oil into groups of hydrocarbons with similar numbers of carbon atoms. We call these groups of hydrocarbons “fractions”.
Hydrocarbons with few carbon atoms are called 'short-chain hydrocarbons'.
Hydrocarbons with lots of carbon atoms are called ‘long-chain hydrocarbons’.
Different-sized hydrocarbons have different boiling points. Fractional distillation separates hydrocarbons using their different boiling points. The steps of the process are:
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