Gasoline is something individuals invest in on a regular basis. Whether you’re part of a fleet or you simply use your car to get to and from work, you need gasoline to make your engine run. However, have you ever stopped to wonder how gasoline is actually made? Here, our fleet gas card company dives into the process used to turn oil into fuel:
Obtaining Crude Oil
Crude oil (also known as petroleum) is a black liquid composed of hydrocarbons and organic compounds. It’s pumped out of the ground and can be transported or imported from another country in order to be turned into gasoline. The most common method for extracting crude oil from the ground is drilling into the porous rock and pumping it out using piping and valving. Once it’s pumped out, it’s transported to a petroleum refinery.
Distillation and Refining
Because crude oil requires a very high temperature to burn, it doesn’t make for a very good fuel and needs to be separated into smaller chains of refined fuel (including gasoline). Once the oil is at the refinery, it’s pumped into a high-temperature furnace that evaporates everything but the largest molecules. The vapors travel into column and cool at different temperatures. Lighter products like butane, kerosene, and gasoline travel to the top of the column while the molecules at the bottom are removed and used for plastics and lubricants manufacturing.
About 44% of petroleum will become gasoline, 22% will become diesel fuel, 9% will become jet fuel, and the rest will be used in a variety of other ways.
Many times, petroleum is refined to maximize the output of its products and improve the quality of fuel. This requires a catalyst such as aluminum, platinum, acids, or processed clay to be added to the petroleum and then heated so that chemical changes occur and a more pure gasoline product is created.
Additives and Octane Ratings
After refining gasoline, many companies add things like anti-knock compounds to prevent engine knocking or antioxidants to prevent the formation of resin (or “gum”) in the engine. Once the gasoline is ready to use, it’s evaluated for its mixture of heptane and isooctane and given a rating based on the ratio of the two liquids.
For example, 87 octane gasoline means there’s 87% isooctane and 17% heptane in the mixture; 91 octane gasoline means there’s 91% isooctane and 8% heptane. Because the isooctane evaporates slowly and produces virtually no knocking, some drivers prefer to use higher octane gasoline in their vehicles.
What kind of gasoline do you prefer? How about your fleet gas card holders? We’d love to know!