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Gasoline /ˈɡæsəliːn/, or petrol /ˈpɛtrəl/ is a transparent, petroleum-derived liquid that is used primarily as a fuel in internal combustion engines. It consists mostly of organic compounds obtained by the fractional distillation of petroleum, enhanced with a variety of additives. Some gasolines also contain ethanol as an alternative fuel. In North America, the term gasoline is often shortened in colloquial usage to gas, but some people use the term petrol, which is the common name in the UK and elsewhere in the Commonwealth of Nations. Under normal ambient conditions, its material state is liquid, unlike liquefied petroleum gas or natural gas.
Gasoline is more volatile than diesel oil, Jet-A, or kerosene, not only because of the base constituents, but also because of additives. Volatility is often controlled by blending with butane, which boils at −0.5 °C. The volatility of petrol is determined by the Reid vapor pressure (RVP) test. The desired volatility depends on the ambient temperature. In hot weather, petrol components of higher molecular weight and thus lower volatility are used. In cold weather, too little volatility results in cars failing to start.
In hot weather, excessive volatility results in what is known as "vapor lock", where combustion fails to occur, because the liquid fuel has changed to a gaseous state in the fuel lines, rendering the fuel pump ineffective and starving the engine of fuel. This effect mainly applies to camshaft-driven (engine mounted) fuel pumps which lack a fuel return line. Vehicles with fuel injection require the fuel to be pressurized within a set range. Because the camshaft speed is nearly zero before the engine is started, an electric pump is used. It is located in the fuel tank so the fuel may also cool the high-pressure pump. Pressure regulation is achieved by returning unused fuel to the tank. Therefore, vapor lock is almost never a problem in a vehicle with fuel injection.
In the US, volatility is regulated to reduce the emission of unburned hydrocarbons by the use of so-called reformulated gasoline that is less prone to evaporation. In Australia, summer petrol volatility limits are set by state governments and vary among states. Most countries simply have a summer, winter, and perhaps intermediate limit.
Volatility standards may be relaxed (allowing more gasoline components into the atmosphere) during gasoline shortages. For example, on 31 August 2005, in response to Hurricane Katrina, the US permitted the sale of nonreformulated gasoline in some urban areas, effectively permitting an early switch from summer to winter-grade gasoline. As mandated by EPA administrator Stephen L. Johnson, this "fuel waiver" was made effective until 15 September 2005.
Modern automobiles are also equipped with an evaporative emissions control system ( 'EVAP system' in automotive jargon), which collects evaporated fuel from the fuel tank in a charcoal-filled canister while the engine is stopped, and then releases the collected vapors to the engine for consumption when the engine is running (usually after it has reached normal operating temperature). The evaporative emissions control system also includes a sealed gas cap to prevent vapors from escaping via the fuel filler tube.Octane rating For more details on this topic, see octane rating.
Spark ignition engines are designed to burn gasoline in a controlled process called deflagration. But in some cases, the unburned mixture can autoignite, which results in rapid heat release and can damage the engine. This phenomenon is often referred to as engine knocking or end-gas knock. One way to reduce knock in spark ignition engines is to increase the gasoline's resistance to autoignition, which is expressed by its octane rating.
Octane rating is measured relative to a mixture of 2,2,4-Trimethylpentane (an isomer of octane) and n-heptane. There are different conventions for expressing octane ratings, so a fuel may have several different octane ratings based on the measure used. Research octane number (RON) for commercially-available gasoline varies by country. In Finland, Sweden, and Norway, 95 RON is the standard for regular unleaded petrol and 98 RON is also available as a more expensive option. In the UK, ordinary regular unleaded petrol is 91 RON (not commonly available), premium unleaded petrol is always 95 RON, and super unleaded is usually 97-98 RON. However, both Shell and BP produce fuel at 102 RON for cars with high-performance engines, and the supermarket chain Tesco began in 2006 to sell super unleaded petrol rated at 99 RON. In the US, octane ratings in unleaded fuels can vary between 86 and 87 AKI (91-92 RON) for regular, through 89-90 AKI (94-95 RON) for mid-grade (European premium), up to 90-94 AKI (95-99 RON) for premium (European super).
The octane rating became important as the military sought higher output for aircraft engines in the late 1930s and the 1940s. A higher octane rating allows a higher compression ratio or supercharger boost, and thus higher temperatures and pressures, which translate to higher power output. Some scientists even predicted that a nation with a good supply of high octane gasoline would have the advantage in air power. In 1943, the Rolls Royce Merlin aero engine produced 1,320 horsepower (984 kW) using 100 RON fuel from a modest 27 litre displacement. Towards the end of the second world war, experiments were conducted using 150 RON fuel.Stability
Quality gasoline should be stable almost indefinitely if stored properly. Such storage should be in an airtight container, to prevent oxidation or water vapors mixing, and at a stable cool temperature to reduce the chance of the container's leaking. When gasoline is not stored correctly, gums and solids may accumulate, resulting in "stale fuel". The presence of these degradation products in fuel tank, lines, and carburetor or fuel injection components, make it harder to start the engine. Upon resumption of regular vehicle usage, the buildups should eventually be cleaned out by the flow of fresh petrol. A fuel stabilizer can be used to extend the life of fuel that is not or cannot be stored properly. Fuel stabilizer is commonly used for small engines, such as lawnmower and tractor engines, to promote quicker and more reliable starting. Users have been advised to keep gasoline containers more than half full and properly capped to reduce air exposure, to avoid storage at high temperatures, to run an engine for ten minutes to circulate the stabilizer through all components prior to storage, and to run the engine at intervals to purge stale fuel from the carburetor.Energy content (high and low heating value)
Energy is obtained from the combustion of gasoline by the conversion of a hydrocarbon to carbon dioxide and water. The combustion of octane follows this reaction:2 C8H18 + 25 O2 → 16 CO2 + 18 H2O
Gasoline contains about 35 MJ/L (9.7 kW·h/L, 132 MJ/US gal, 36.6 kWh/US gal) (higher heating value) or 13 kWh/kg. Gasoline blends differ, and therefore actual energy content varies according to the season to season and producer by up to 4% more or less than the average, according to the US EPA. On average, about 19.5 US gallons (16.2 imp gal; 74 L) of gasoline are available from a 42-US-gallon (35 imp gal; 160 L) barrel of crude oil (about 46% by volume), varying due to quality of crude and grade of gasoline. The remaining residue comes off as products ranging from tar to naptha.
A high-octane-rated fuel, such as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) has an overall lower power output at the regular compression ratio of an engine run at on gasoline. However, with an engine tuned to the use of LPG (i.e. via higher compression ratios, such as 12:1 instead of 8:1), this lower power output can be overcome. This is because higher-octane fuels allow for a higher compression ratio, hence a higher cylinder temperature, which improves efficiency. Also, increased mechanical efficiency is created by a higher compression ratio through the concomitant higher expansion ratio on the power stroke, which is by far the greater effect. The higher expansion ratio extracts more work from the high-pressure gas created by the combustion process. The applicable formula is . An Atkinson cycle engine uses the timing of the valve events to produce the benefits of a high expansion ratio without the disadvantages, chiefly detonation, of a high compression ratio. A high expansion ratio is also one of the two key reasons for the efficiency of Diesel engines, along with the elimination of pumping losses due to throttling of the intake air flow. A high compression ratio can be viewed as a necessary evil to have a high expansion ratio.
The lower energy content (per litre) of LPG in comparison to gasoline is due mainly to its lower density. Energy content per kilogram is higher than for gasoline (higher hydrogen to carbon ratio, see for example Standard_enthalpy_of_formation#Examples:_Inorganic_compounds_.28at_25_.C2.B0C.29).Density
The specific gravity (or relative density) of gasoline ranges from 0.71–0.77 kg/l (719.7 kg/m3 ; 0.026 lb/in3; 6.073 lb/US gal; 7.29 lb/imp gal), higher densities having a greater volume of aromatics. Gasoline floats on water; water cannot generally be used to extinguish a gasoline fire, unless used in a fine mist.Chemical analysis and productionA pumpjack in the United StatesAn oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico
Gasoline is produced in oil refineries. Material that is separated from crude oil via distillation, called virgin or straight-run gasoline, does not meet the required specifications for modern engines (in particular octane rating; see below), but will comprise part of the blend.Some of the main components of gasoline: isooctane, butane, 3-ethyltoluene, and the octane enhancer MTBE.
The bulk of a typical gasoline consists of hydrocarbons with between four and 12 carbon atoms per molecule (commonly referred to as C4-C12).
The various refinery streams blended to make gasoline have different characteristics. Some important streams are:
The terms above are the jargon used in the oil industry, but terminology varies.
Overall, a typical gasoline is predominantly a mixture of paraffins (alkanes), naphthenes (cycloalkanes), and olefins (alkenes). The actual ratio depends on:
Currently, many countries set limits on gasoline aromatics in general, benzene in particular, and olefin (alkene) content. Such regulations led to increasing preference for high octane pure paraffin (alkane) components, such as alkylate, and is forcing refineries to add processing units to reduce benzene content.
Gasoline can also contain other organic compounds, such as organic ethers (deliberately added), plus small levels of contaminants, in particular organosulfur compounds, but these are usually removed at the refinery.Additives See also: List of gasoline additives Antiknock additivesA plastic container for storing gasoline used in Germany
Most countries have phased out leaded fuel. Different additives have replaced the lead compounds. The most popular additives include aromatic hydrocarbons, ethers and alcohol (usually ethanol or methanol).Tetraethyl lead
Gasoline, when used in high-compression internal combustion engines, has a tendency to autoignite (detonate) causing damaging "engine knocking" (also called "pinging" or "pinking") noise. Early research into this effect was led by A.H. Gibson and Harry Ricardo in England and Thomas Midgley and Thomas Boyd in the United States. The discovery that lead additives modified this behavior led to the widespread adoption of their use in the 1920s, and therefore more powerful, higher compression engines. The most popular additive was tetra-ethyl lead. With the discovery of the extent of environmental and health damage caused by the lead, however, and the incompatibility of lead with catalytic converters found on virtually all newly sold US automobiles since 1975, this practice began to wane (encouraged by many governments introducing differential tax rates) in the 1980s.In the US, where lead had been blended with gasoline (primarily to boost octane levels) since the early 1920s, standards to phase out leaded gasoline were first implemented in 1973 — due in great part to studies conducted by Philip J. Landrigan. In 1995, leaded fuel accounted for only 0.6% of total gasoline sales and less than 2000 short tons (1814 t) of lead per year. From 1 January 1996, the Clean Air Act banned the sale of leaded fuel for use in on-road vehicles. Possession and use of leaded gasoline in a regular on-road vehicle now carries a maximum $10,000 fine in the US. However, fuel containing lead may continue to be sold for off-road uses, including aircraft, racing cars, farm equipment, and marine engines. Similar bans in other countries have resulted in lowering levels of lead in people's bloodstreams.
Gasolines are also treated with metal deactivators, which are compounds that sequester (deactivate) metal salts that otherwise accelerate the formation of gummy residues. The metal impurities might arise from the engine itself or as contaminants in the fuel.Detergents
Gasoline, as delivered at the pump, also contains additives to reduce internal engine carbon buildups, improve combustion, and to allow easier starting in cold climates. High levels of detergent can be found in Top Tier Detergent Gasolines. These gasolines exceed the U.S. EPA's minimum requirement for detergent content. The specification for Top Tier Detergent Gasolines was developed by four automakers: GM, Honda, Toyota and BMW. According to the bulletin, the minimal EPA requirement is not sufficient to keep engines clean. Typical detergents include alkylamines and alkyl phosphates at the level of 50-100 ppm.Ethanol European Union
In the EU, 5% ethanol can be added within the common gasoline spec (EN 228). Discussions are ongoing to allow 10% blending of ethanol (available in Finnish and French gas stations). Most gasoline sold in Sweden has 5-15% ethanol added.Brazil
In Brazil, the Brazilian National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels (ANP) requires gasoline for automobile use to have from 18 to 25% of ethanol added to its composition.Australia
Legislation requires retailers to label fuels containing ethanol on the dispenser, and limits ethanol use to 10% of petrol in Australia. Such petrol is commonly called E10 by major brands, and its price per litre is less than that of regular unleaded petrol.United States
In most states, ethanol is added by law to a minimum level which is currently 5.9%. Most fuel pumps display a sticker stating the fuel may contain up to 10% ethanol, an intentional disparity which allows the minimum level to be raised over time without requiring modification of the literature/labelling. Until late 2010, fuels retailers were only authorized to sell fuel containing up to 10 percent ethanol (E10), and most vehicle warranties (except for flexible fuel vehicles) authorize fuels that contain no more than 10 percent ethanol. In parts of the United States, ethanol is sometimes added to gasoline without an indication that it is a component.India
The government of India in October 2007 decided to make 5% ethanol blending (with petrol) mandatory. Discussions are ongoing to increase the blending of ethanol to 10%.Dye Main article: Fuel dyes
In Australia, petrol tends to be dyed a light shade of purple.
In India petrol is dyed red.
In the United States, aviation gasoline (avgas) is dyed to identify its octane rating and to distinguish it from kerosene-based jet fuel, which is clear.
In the U.S., many rural states offer 'off road diesel' that contains a red dye. It is chemically the same as undyed diesel but can be purchased without paying a road tax. Its use is for off road vehicles, such as tractors. However, if the fuel is used in on road vehicles, the dye will be transferred to fuel filters and other components. Offenders with marked components are liable for tax evasion.
Oxygenate blending adds oxygen-bearing compounds such as MTBE, ETBE and ethanol. The presence of these oxygenates reduces the amount of carbon monoxide and unburned fuel in the exhaust gas. In many areas throughout the US, oxygenate blending is mandated by EPA regulations to reduce smog and other airborne pollutants. For example, in Southern California, fuel must contain 2% oxygen by weight, resulting in a mixture of 5.6% ethanol in gasoline. The resulting fuel is often known as reformulated gasoline (RFG) or oxygenated gasoline, or in the case of California, California reformulated gasoline. The federal requirement that RFG contain oxygen was dropped on 6 May 2006 because the industry had developed VOC-controlled RFG that did not need additional oxygen.
MTBE use is being phased out in some states due to issues with contamination of ground water. In some places, such as California, it is already banned. Ethanol and, to a lesser extent, the ethanol-derived ETBE are common replacements. Since most ethanol is derived from biomass, such as corn, sugar cane or grain, it is referred to as bioethanol. A common ethanol-gasoline mix of 10% ethanol mixed with gasoline is called gasohol or E10, and an ethanol-gasoline mix of 85% ethanol mixed with gasoline is called E85. The most extensive use of ethanol takes place in Brazil, where the ethanol is derived from sugarcane. In 2004, over 3.4 billion US gallons (2.8 billion imp gal/13 million m³) of ethanol was produced in the United States for fuel use, mostly from corn, and E85 is slowly becoming available in much of the United States, though many of the relatively few stations vending E85 are not open to the general public. The use of bioethanol, either directly or indirectly by conversion of such ethanol to bio-ETBE, is encouraged by the European Union Directive on the Promotion of the use of biofuels and other renewable fuels for transport. Since producing bioethanol from fermented sugars and starches involves distillation, though, ordinary people in much of Europe cannot legally ferment and distill their own bioethanol at present (unlike in the US, where getting a BATF distillation permit has been easy since the 1973 oil crisis).Safety Environmental considerations
Combustion of 1 US gallon (3.8 L) of gasoline produces 8,788 grams (19.37 lb) of carbon dioxide (2.3 kg/l), a greenhouse gas.
The main concern with gasoline on the environment, aside from the complications of its extraction and refining, is the potential effect on the climate. Unburnt gasoline and evaporation from the tank, when in the atmosphere, react in sunlight to produce photochemical smog. Addition of ethanol increases the volatility of gasoline, potentially worsening the problem.
The chief risks of such leaks come not from vehicles, but from gasoline delivery truck accidents and leaks from storage tanks. Because of this risk, most (underground) storage tanks now have extensive measures in place to detect and prevent any such leaks, such as monitoring systems (Veeder-Root, Franklin Fueling).Toxicity
The material safety data sheet for unleaded gasoline shows at least 15 hazardous chemicals occurring in various amounts, including benzene (up to 5% by volume), toluene (up to 35% by volume), naphthalene (up to 1% by volume), trimethylbenzene (up to 7% by volume), methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) (up to 18% by volume, in some states) and about ten others. Hydrocarbons in gasoline generally exhibit low acute toxicities, with LD50 of 700 – 2700 mg/kg for simple aromatic compounds. Benzene and many antiknocking additives are carcinogenic.Inhalation
Huffed gasoline is a common intoxicant that has become epidemic in some poorer communities and indigenous groups in Australia, Canada, New Zealand,and some Pacific Islands. In response, Opal fuel has been developed by the BP Kwinana Refinery in Australia, and contains only 5% aromatics (unlike the usual 25%) which weakens the effects of inhalation.FlammabilityUncontrolled burning of gasoline produces large quantities of soot.
Like other alkanes, gasoline burns in a limited range of its vapor phase and, coupled with its volatility, this makes leaks highly dangerous when sources of ignition are present. Gasoline has a lower explosion limit of 1.4% by volume and an upper explosion limit of 7.6%. If the concentration is below 1.4% the air-gasoline mixture is too lean and will not ignite. If the concentration is above 7.6% the mixture is too rich and also will not ignite. However, gasoline vapor rapidly mixes and spreads with air, making unconstrained gasoline quickly flammable. Many accidents involve gasoline being used in an attempt to light bonfires; the gasoline readily vaporizes after being poured and mixes with the surrounding air.Usage and pricing Main articles: Gasoline usage and pricing and Peak oilUK petrol prices
The United States account for about 44% of the world’s gasoline consumption. In 2003 The US consumed 476.474 gigalitres (1.25871×1011 US gal; 1.04810×1011 imp gal), which equates to 1.3 gigalitres of gasoline each day (about 360 million US or 300 million imperial gallons). The US used about 510 billion litres (138 billion US gal/115 billion imp gal) of gasoline in 2006, of which 5.6% was mid-grade and 9.5% was premium grade.
Western countries have the highest usage rates per person.Europe
Unlike the US, countries in Europe impose substantial taxes on fuels such as gasoline. The price of gasoline in Europe is typically more than twice that in the US. In Italy, due to the amendments imposed by Monti's Government in December 2011, the price of gasoline has passed, in the period of two weeks, from 1.50 €/l (7.48 US$/gal) to 1.75 €/l (8.72 US$/gal); on March, 17th, in a Gasoline Station located near Ancona, has reached the psychological threshold of 2 €/l: the price was € 2.001/l (this means 9.97 US$/gal) This chart needs to be compared to the USA national average price of gasoline of 0.71 €/l .
From 1998 to 2004, the price of gasoline fluctuated between $1 and $2 USD per U.S. gallon. After 2004, the price increased until the average gas price reached a high of $4.11 per U.S. gallon in mid-2008, but receded to approximately $2.60 per U.S. gallon by September 2009. More recently, the U.S. experienced an upswing in gas prices through 2011, and by 1 March 2012, the national average was $3.74 per gal.
Unlike most consumer goods, the prices of which are listed before tax, in the United States, gasoline prices are posted with taxes included. Taxes are added by federal, state and local governments. As of 2009, the federal tax is 18.4¢ per gallon for gasoline and 24.4¢ per gallon for diesel (excluding red diesel). Among states, the highest gasoline tax rates, including the federal taxes as of 2005, are New York (62.9¢/gal), Hawaii (60.1¢/gal), and California (60¢/gal). However, many states' taxes are a percentage and thus vary in amount depending on the cost of the gasoline.
About 9% of all gasoline sold in the US in May 2009 was premium grade, according to the Energy Information Administration. Consumer Reports magazine says, “If says to use regular fuel, do so—there’s no advantage to a higher grade.” The Associated Press said premium gas—which is a higher octane and costs several cents a gallon more than regular unleaded—should be used only if the manufacturer says it is “required”. Cars with turbocharged engines and high compression ratios often specify premium gas because higher octane fuels reduce the incidence of "knock", or fuel pre-detonation. If regular fuel is used the engine computer will usually switch to a less aggressive fuel map in order to protect the engine, and performance is decreased.History
The first automotive combustion engines, so-called Otto engines, were developed in the last quarter of the 19th century in Germany. The fuel was a relatively volatile hydrocarbon obtained from coal gas. With a boiling point near 85 °C (octanes boil about 40 °C higher), it was well suited for early carburetors (evaporators). The development of a "spray nozzle" carburetors enabled the use of less volatile fuels. Further improvements in engine efficiency were attempted at higher compression ratios, but early attempts were blocked by knocking (premature explosion of fuel). In the 1920s, antiknock compounds were introduced by Migley and Boyd, specifically tetraethyl lead (TEL). This innovation started a cycle of improvements in fuel efficiency that coincided with the large-scale development of oil refining to provide more products in the boiling range of gasolines. In the 1950s oil refineries started to focus on high octane fuels, and then detergents were added to gasoline to clean the jets and carburetors. The 1970s witnessed greater attention to the environmental consequences of burning gasoline. These considerations led to the phasing out of TEL and its replacement by other antiknock compounds. Subsequently, low-sulfur gasoline was introduced, in part to preserve the catalysts in modern exhaust systems.Etymology and terminology
"Gasoline" is cited (under the spelling "gasolene") from 1863 in the Oxford English Dictionary. It was never a trademark, although it may have been derived from older trademarks such as "Cazeline" and "Gazeline".
Variant spellings of "petrol" have been used to refer to raw petroleum since the 16th century. "Petrol" was first used as the name of a refined petroleum product around 1870 by British wholesaler Carless, Capel & Leonard, who marketed it as a solvent. When the product later found a new use as a motor fuel, Frederick Simms, an associate of Gottlieb Daimler, suggested to Carless that they register the trade mark "Petrol", but by this time the word was already in general use, possibly inspired by the French pétrole, and the registration was not allowed. Carless registered a number of alternative names for the product, while their competitors used the term "motor spirit" until the 1930s.
In many countries, gasoline has a colloquial name derived from that of the chemical benzene (e.g., German Benzin, Dutch Benzine, Italian benzina, Chile bencina, Thai เบนซิน). Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay use the colloquial name nafta derived from that of the chemical naphtha.
The terms "mogas", short for motor gasoline, or "autogas", short for automobile gasoline, are used to distinguish automobile fuel from aviation gasoline, or "avgas". In British English, gasoline can refer to a different petroleum derivative historically used in lamps, but this usage is relatively uncommon.See also