What are aromatics, what's their chemical composition and how are they manufactured?

What is an aromatic?

Aromatics are hydrocarbons, organic compounds that consist exclusively of the elements carbon and hydrogen – without which life would not be possible on Earth. Aromatics occur naturally in fossil raw materials such as crude oil and coal, and are produced using feedstocks from steam crackers and refineries.

The main aromatics are benzene, toluene and the xylenes; they are used as starting materials for a wide range of consumer products. Many items taken for granted in our everyday lives rely on products made by the aromatics industry, with benefits like durability, safety, comfort and lightweight design. The items we mean range from the aspirin to the CD – so if you want to know more about the end-uses of aromatics, just check out the section From aromatics to consumer products.