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Cracking is the breakdown of complex organic molecules like heavy hydrocarbons into lighter hrdrocarbons. in this process breakdown of carbon-carbon bonds occur.

Cracking in a chemistry context refers to breaking up long-chain hydrocarbon molecules into shorter ones. Profit is one motive for doing this in an oil refinery. Crude oil contains short and long chain molecules and these can be separated in a fractional distillation tower. Unfortunately they end up with a lots of tar which doesn't command as high a price as the more volatile components. A cracker breaks up the tar molecules to yield more profitable short chain hydrocarbons. This is a gross oversimplification of course.

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