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Old 02-10-2012, 03:31 PM   #1
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Top Tier fuels: Keep your engine clean!

I've seen a few people asking questions about what kinds of fluids to put into their cars, so I sat down and started this thread (which I'd been thinking of doing since class).
I learned a lot recently about the manufacturing, distribution, and dispensing of gasoline and diesel recently in Fuel & Emissions class at school, and it bottles the mind the sheer volume of information I hadn't learned yet!

*Fun Fact #1: The first cars were electric, up until the 1930's, when diesel became a cheaper alternative and a need in overall range was sought*

You may or may not have known that there are no more than four companies that manufacture gasoline & diesel fuels... (and only three companies that make batteries!); the difference is in the proprietary detergents and additives those companies will add before trucking it to your local petrol stations. There is, of course, a minimum standard set that determines what properties need to be present for fuel to be saleable in the United States, but there is also a minimum standard for 'excellent' fuels as well.

Those fuels that end up rated as "Top Tier" have been researched and tested for their preservative qualities, and true octane ratings. Ever wonder what RON and MON were when you saw it on the pump?! Here's a hint and a paragraph from my textbook:

"The octane rating required by law and the one displayed
on gasoline pumps is the Antiknock Index
(AKI). It is the average of RON and MON. The AKI is
stated as (R+M)/2.)"

The explanation for the acronyms goes like this; The Research Octane Number and the Motor Octane Number
"Both use a laboratory single-cylinder
engine equipped with a variable head and knock
meter to measure knock intensity. A test sample of
the fuel is used in the engine as the engine’s compression
ratio and air-fuel mixture are adjusted to develop
a specific knock intensity. There are two primary
standard reference fuels: isooctane and heptane. Isooctane
does not knock in an engine but is not used in
gasoline because of its expense. Heptane knocks
severely in an engine. Isooctane has an octane number
of 100. Heptane has an octane number of zero.
A fuel of unknown octane value is run in the test
engine equipped with a variable compression cylinder
head and a knock meter. The severity of knock is
measured. Various proportions of isooctane and
heptane are run in the engine to duplicate the severity
of the engine knock when the test fuel was run.
When the knock caused by the isooctane and heptane
mixture matches that caused by the fuel being
tested, the octane number is established by the percentage
of isooctane in the mixture. For example, if
85% isooctane and 15% heptane produced the same
knock severity as the tested fuel, that fuel would be
rated as having an octane rating of 85."

*Fun Fact #2: Early in the production of diesel fuel (1930s), when distilling the crude to get it, the gasoline we all know and have come to rely on, was an unknown 'by-product'... so they stored it in barrells just long enough to get it to a river/water source and dump it!*

So next time you go to fill up, check your smart phone or just keep the nearest top-tier dispenser in mind... unless you don't care about your engine!
There's more info on the actual website, and the history channel has run some real eye-opening programs on fuels also.

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