Cracker Plants & Ethylene
"Cracker plant" is industry lingo describing a plant that takes natural gas and breaks it into smaller molecules to create ethylene. Ethane crackers plants perform the first step in the transformation process, separating ethane – a component of natural gas—into ethylene, the building block of plastics and other industrial products. They use extreme heat to 'crack' the molecular bonds in ethane to produce this material. Ethylene is a critical building block for the petrochemical industry, and is among the most produced organic compounds. Ethane crackers depend on natural gas for their ethane supply, and these plants also use natural gas to generate electricity. Plus, building more ethane cracker plants necessitates increased construction of fracking infrastructure, all of which slows down the transition to renewable energy. These photos illustrate the buildout of infrastructure and transportation lines that the oil, gas, and petrochemical industry utilizes to transform resources into petrochemicals and plastics.
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