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Naphtha is a toxic kind of raw petrol or gasoline distilled from crude oil and a raw material for the chemical industry. It contains the fractions from crude oil, with a boiling temperature from 30 °C to 200 °C (below the temperature window of diesel) and may have a significant share of aromatic compounds. The detailed composition depends on the specific crude oil source. For gas turbines so-called ‘heavy naphtha’ (boiling temperature from about 100 °C to 200 °C) is a niche application. While naphtha is characterized by high heating values and low content of mineral contaminants, similar to diesel, it has lower density and viscosity. Naphtha has high vapor pressure at atmospheric conditions and a low flash point, similar to gasoline. Consequently, the safety requirements for handling are similar to those for petrol or gasoline. Due to the lower viscosity, compared to diesel, lubrication behavior has to be considered in order to avoid fuel pump failures. Condensates are liquid fractions of natural gas from some natural gas wells, containing hydrocarbon fractions above C3. They have similar properties to naphtha (e.g. density, viscosity, heating value, vapor pressure and flash point).

Naphtha is a feedstock destined either for the petrochemical industry (e.g. ethylene manufacture or aromatics production) or for gasoline production by reforming or isomerisation within the refinery. Naphtha comprises material that distils between 30°C and 210°C. naphtha is commonly used as a solvent. It is used in hydrocarbon cracking, laundry soaps, and cleaning fluids. Naphtha is also used to make varnishes, and sometimes is used as a fuel for camp stoves and as a solvent (diluent) for paint.

Light naphtha is the fraction boiling between 30 °C and 90 °C and consists of molecules with 5–6 carbon atoms. Heavy naphtha boils between 90 °C and 200 °C and consists of molecules with 6–12 carbon atoms.

Another source differentiates light and heavy comments on the hydrocarbon structure, but offers a less precise dividing line:

Light [is] a mixture consisting mainly of straight-chained and cyclic aliphatic hydrocarbons having from five to six carbon atoms per molecule. Heavy [is] a mixture consisting mainly of straight-chained and cyclic aliphatic hydrocarbons having from seven to nine carbon atoms per molecule.

Both of these are useful definitions, but they are incompatible with one another and the latter does not provide for mixes containing both 6 and 7 carbon atoms per molecule. These terms are also sufficiently broad that they are not widely useful.

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