1. A class of unsaturated paraffinic hydrocarbons recovered from petroleum, of which butene, ethylene, and propylene are examples.
2. Hydrocarbon molecules containing carbon-carbon double bonds. The name olefin comes from roots the imply oil former. The general formula for olefins is CnH2n, where n is 1, 2, 3, etc. Olefins are not found in crude oil, but are formed during cracking reactions in many refinery processes.
3. The group of hydrocarbons known as alkenes. Refinery olefin units produce ethylene and propylene to make polyethylene and polypropylene, used by the petrochemical industry to make plastics, synthetic fibres and adhesives.

Petroleum refining glossary. 2013.

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