What Are the Different Types of Fuels That Exist Today?

Ready to ride your new set of wheels on the asphalt? Rev up your engine with the right kind of fuel!

There are many types of fuels provided in the energy industry. Some people think that you save more by purchasing the most affordable fuel. Others believe that the more expensive the fuel is, the higher the quality, which isn’t always the case.

Car enthusiasts know that fuel in the tank is like dating: they have to be compatible. What fuel you get depends on your engine type. The mechanisms of a diesel engine differ from that of a gasoline engine.

Do you place priority on power, energy, or savings? You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Are you looking for eco-friendly options without sacrificing power?

Get to know the types of fuels to decipher which one is the best fuel for your vehicle.

1. Gasoline

Gasoline, also known as petrol, is the most common and versatile automobile fuel. Not only are they used to power cars, but they also power lawnmowers, boats, aircraft, and machinery.

Crude oil goes through an intensive journey before making it into your car engine. Manufacturers process crude oil through fractional distillation. In this process, they refine crude oil by heating it in a furnace until it forms a gas vapor.

The gas vapor distills in distillation towers, followed by conversion. Manufacturers add chemicals, catalysts, heat, and pressure to the mixture in conversion. Finally, the resulting liquid receives blending and treatment, forming usable engine fuel.

We’ve had cars running on gasoline for over 140 years. These cars include most sport utility vehicles, motorcycles, and light trucks. Their engines operate by spark ignition.

Fuel enters the combustion chamber and combines with air in a spark-ignited internal combustion engine. A spark plug then ignites the injected fuel and air mixture, generating a combustion reaction. Combustion causes air expansion, thereby propelling the piston into motion.

2. Diesel

Like gasoline, diesel is a distilled fuel refined from crude oil. It’s thicker and more energy-dense than gasoline. As such, diesel engines are more economical than gasoline engines.

Compared to gasoline engines, diesel engines need higher temperatures to fire the fuel. Thus, diesel engines struggle to power up in the cold. However, diesel packs more punch per gallon.

This gives you more energy, torque, and acceleration. The diesel engine works by letting air into the cylinder where the piston compresses it. This causes the air to reach high temperatures.

The air gets so hot that when fuel gets injected through an aerosol spray, the fuel ignites and explodes even without a spark plug. You find diesel engines in Audis, BMWs, and the Mercedes-Benz. They also power heavy-duty trucks.

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3. Biodiesel

Unlike petroleum-based fuels, biodiesel comes from vegetable oils, animal fat, and used cooking oil. A process called transesterification converts the oils into biodiesel.

If you’re looking for more sustainable automobile fuel, biodiesel is a good bet. Use biodiesel as a replacement for diesel for compression-ignition engines without any modifications.

It provides light to moderate engine power for your car. Biodiesel needs an engine that ignites via compression, which is incompatible with gasoline engines. If your vehicle runs on diesel, it’s safe to assume it is compatible with biodiesel, too.

Biodiesel is non-toxic and biodegradable. Additionally, it reduces greenhouse gas emissions, which is equivalent to planting 1.9 billion trees! With the many types of fuels, you have more eco-friendly options.

4. Ethanol

Did you know that the very same ethanol that gets you loud and tipsy is the same kind of alcohol used in fuel? Ethanol is one of the additives in gasoline that boost performance and engine power. Typically, ethanol makes up 10% of it.

Ethanol improves the octane rating of the fuel. An octane rating pertains to the stability of the fuel. This is the ability of a fuel to resist igniting in the engine before it’s meant to do so.

Low octane ratings settle at around 87, midgrade at 89-90, and premium octane fuel hovers at 91-94. Ethanol blends comprise between 51-83% ethanol.

This fuel comes from various plants like sugarcane or corn, depending on abundance and availability. The plants ferment, producing cellulosic ethanol.

Although ethanol harnesses less energy than gasoline, it costs a fraction of the price of petrol. This makes it more economical for light-powered cars.

Ethanol is compatible with gasoline engines; however, diesel engines can’t handle pure ethanol. For diesel engines, you have the option to use ethanol blends instead.

5. Methanol

Methanol rings a lot like ethanol fuel and has overlapping chemical and physical properties as a fuel. Methanol is the simplest alcohol, containing one carbon atom per molecule, with ethanol containing two.

It is flammable wood alcohol that serves as an alternative fuel source. Since it has one carbon less than ethanol, processing raw materials into methanol is easier.

Raw material translates as biomass. This counts for anything like garbage, farm waste, and feedstocks. Methanol harvested from the methane emission of landfills and natural gas is the most economical source.

Through partial oxidation reactions, biomass churns out methanol fuel. This fuel is one of the more favored fuels because it allows the engine to climb into maximum power.

Methanol is popular among racecar drivers due to its higher octane rating. Additionally, the lower flashpoint of methanol compared to gasoline makes it safer for racing in the event of a crash.

Types of Fuels: Which Works Best With Your Vehicle?

There are five basic types of fuels: gasoline, diesel, biodiesel, methanol, and ethanol. They differ in terms of energy sources like petroleum or organismal byproduct. Your fuel source depends on your engine type, power needs, and environmental considerations.

Thank you for reading our article! To learn more about car engines and the oil industry, check out our other blog posts. Fill up your tank and live life on the freeway.


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