Although new power sources like natural gas, hybrid-electric vehicles, and E-85 are increasing in popularity, most combustion engines sold in the United States are still powered by unleaded gasoline or diesel fuel. Although the chemical differences between these two fuels is significant, how engines use these fuels to create power is quite similar. Let’s break down the differences and similarities in the fuels and engines so you can make an informed decision on which to choose.
What’s the difference between gasoline and diesel fuel?
Essentially, gasoline and diesel fuel both come from petroleum, but have different methods of refinement for use. Unleaded gasoline is more refined in general than diesel. It is comprised of multiple carbon molecules that range in size from C-1 to C-13. During combustion, gasoline is combined with air to create a vapor, then ignited to produce power. During this process, larger carbon molecules (C-11 through C-13) are much harder to burn, which is why it’s estimated that only 80% of fuel burns in the combustion chamber during the first attempt.
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