Subject: Energy to refine gasoline
Dear Mr. Armstrong,
Thank you for your December 4, 2009, electronic mail requesting a reputable source to calculate the energy required to refine a gallon of gasoline. The energy required to refine a gallon of gasoline can be estimated based on the energy content of crude oil and the refinery efficiency of the facility performing the energy conversion; I can provide you a reputable source for both values.
In a 2008 report, Argonne National Lab estimated that the efficiency for producing gasoline of an “average” U.S. petroleum refinery is between 84% and 88% (Wang, 2008), and Oak Ridge National Lab reports that the net energy content of oil is approximately 132,000 Btu per gallon (Davis, 2009). It is commonly known that a barrel of crude oil generate approximately 45 gallons of refined product (refer to NAS, 2009, Table 3-4 for a publication stating so). Thus, using an 85% refinery efficiency and the aforementioned conversion factors, it can be estimated that about 21,000 Btu—the equivalent of 6 kWh—of energy are lost per gallon of gasoline refined:
The documents referenced herein are publicly available, as follows:
Wang, M. (2008), “Estimation of Energy Efficiencies of U.S. Petroleum Refineries,” Center for Transportation Research, Argonne National Laboratory, http://www.transportation.anl.gov/model ... -03-08.pdf
Davis, S., Susan W. Diegel, and Robert G. Boundy (2009), Transportation Energy Data Book, edition 28, National Transportation Research Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, cta.ornl.gov/data/
NAS (2009), Hidden Costs of Energy: Unpriced Consequences of Energy Production and Use, The National Academies Press, http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=12794&page=
It is worth noting that refining one barrel of oil yields gasoline in addition to other products, so only a portion of the refining energy used to refine a barrel of crude is truly attributable to gasoline. Even so, in terms of energy equivalencies, the preceding estimation is valid.
If I may be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me. Your interest in energy efficiency at the Department of Energy is appreciated.
– Jacob Ward Program Analyst/PMF Vehicle Technologies Program Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy U.S. Department of Energy