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What is the Cracking of Hydrocarbons?

After the fractional distillation of crude oil there are too many
hydrocarbons and not enough small hydrocarbons
to meet the public's demand.
Some of the large hydrocarbons (the heavier fractions)
are broken down into more useful smaller hydrocarbons
(lighter fractions) by a process known as cracking.

The chemistry of cracking results in the formation
of smaller, more useful alkanes (such as petrol),
and even more useful alkenes (such as ethene).

The fractional distillation of crude oil produces alkanes.
Cracking is the main source of alkenes.
See also the dehydration of ethanol to produce ethene.

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