Skip to main content

How an Oil Refinery Works

Ever wondered how an oil refinery works?

Now you can learn more about the technology involved in refining crude oil into the thousands of petroleum-based products you use everyday. 

Refinery Processes

Crude oil refineries employ some of the United States’ top scientists, engineers, and safety professionals to ensure that products are produced efficiently and safely. US refineries process about 17 million barrels of crude oil a day. Refinery configurations vary, but US refineries are undeniably some of the world’s most sophisticated. 

Oil Refining: A Closer Look

This interactive gives students an opportunity to learn how oil is transformed from its "raw" state to more usable forms. An introductory movie offers background on how petroleum came to exist in the fist place and why it can be used as a source of energy. Students then can run the distillation and treatment processes that change crude oil into everything from gasoline to roofing tiles.

Adventures in Energy - Refining Oil

Explore the critical role refining plays in unleashing the potential of a barrel of crude oil and turning it into the specially formulated products that we rely on every day. These products include gasoline, agricultural chemicals, heating oil, plastics, and even prescription medicines. Demonstrated in this section are the sophisticated technologies involved in several key processes, including distilling, reforming, blending and treating that safely and efficiently help deliver energy in all its usable forms to American consumers.