Cracking is a thermal or catalytic decomposition of oil products, leading to the formation of hydrocarbons with a smaller number of atoms in the molecule.

General formula for cracking:

СnН2n+2 = Сn-kН2(n-k)+2 + СkН2k

In cracking, high-boiling fractions of hydrocarbons, which are called heavy hydrocarbon fractions, serve as raw materials.

Cracking is carried out in order to increase the yield of light fractions.
Hydrocracking is a type of cracking, processing of high-boiling oil fractions, fuel oil, vacuum gas oil for gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, lubricating oils, raw materials for catalytic cracking, etc. It is conducted by the action of hydrogen at 330-450 °C and a pressure of 5-30 MPa in the presence of nickel-molybdenum catalysts.
Plasma hydrocracking is the process of heavy hydrocarbon fractions cracking at a pressure close to atmospheric pressure using low-temperature plasma factors as a highly concentrated heating source and a catalytically active medium, as well as hydrogen-containing gases as hydrogen donors for hydrogenation.
The technical result of plasmothermal hydrogenation of heavy hydrocarbon fractions is the change in the fractional and chemical composition of raw materials in such a way that the content of condensed (liquid) fractions is mainly gasoline and diesel fractions; the decomposition process takes place with a minimum formation of decomposition gases and without the release of hydrocarbon fractions heavier than the raw material.