Cracking, as the name suggests, is a process in which large hydrocarbon molecules are broken down into smaller and more useful ones. The various components of crude oil have different sizes, weights, and boiling temperatures; thus, a crucial step during cracking is the separation of these components. Because they have different boiling temperatures, they are often separated by a process called fractional distillation. Cooling towers play an integral part of this process. Specifically, refineries use towers to cool the condensers, maintaining the temperatures suitable for different substances to condense into intermediate or end products. If the cooling towers are undersized, inefficient, or not working properly, the refinery will not be able to produce quantities of higher margin products such as butane and other lighter hydrocarbons, which are then processed further to separate them into fuel gases such as methane and ethane, propane, propylene, butane, and butene.

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