Process Plant Terminology

Process Plant Terminology


A refinery is a plant that takes crude oil as its feed or charge stock and converts it into the many petroleum products that people use; Some of these are gasoline, jet-fuel, kerosene, butane, propane, fuel oil and asphalt.


The hydrocarbon compound contains hydrogen and carbon. Hydrocarbon compounds are numerous and form the basis for petroleum products. They exist mostly as vapors and liquids but may also be solid. In general, piping systems refineries and gasoline plants transport hydrocarbons or utilities.

Gasoline Plant

The gasoline plant takes natural gas (a vapor) as its charge stock and separates the vapor’s heavier products out and re-injects the lighter gas (methane) into a pipeline or perhaps into the gas field it came from. Again gasoline, propane and butane are extracted as products. But, since a gasoline plant starts with a vapor, the heavier hydrocarbons do not exist in its charge stock; so heavier products cannot be made. Asphalt s one of the products that is classified as a heavy hydrocarbon and is not produced in a gasoline plant.

Chemical Plant

The chemical plant takes semi-refined products from refineries and gasoline plants and reprocess them, in this case it is also act as a Petrochemical plant. Sometimes blending in other products and converts them into certain chemicals which may be sold as a finished consumer product. One such product widely demanded today is plastic. Chemical plants make many ingredients in modern medicines.

Tank Farm

The tank farm is the area that contains the huge storage tanks of the refinery and gasoline or chemical plants. The tanks are usually isolated from the main processing units in case of fire. They may be 200° or more in diameter and will contain the plant’s charge stock for several days. The tanks also store the plant’s products, until the shipment goes to the consumer.

Flare Systems

The flare system transports vapors (via a piping system) to a flare stack which is very tall and has a flame burning at the top. This system burns waste gases and also collects and burns relief valve discharges. At night the flare stack usually stands out -sending flames high into the air. This is waste gas burning. if it did not burr, it would pollute the air.


Instruments tell the operator what is happening inside a vessel or pipe. There are four basic groups of instruments, namely temperature, pressure, flow and level.


Most students may think of fluid as liquid, but it can also be a vapor. Fluid means something that will flow-something not solid. Piping directs fluid flow.

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