High-quality fuel is described as high octane, but what is octane and how does it affect fuel quality? Can any car use this type of fuel? In today’s article, we will try to answer these questions together, dear reader, to learn more about the types of fuels and the differences between them and to help you choose the right fuel for your car…
Octane is a saturated hydrocarbon compound with the chemical formula C8H18, and it is a basic component of the fuel used by cars. While several chemical “isomers” are available for this compound, (the same chemical formula but in a different order), the isomer that gave octane its importance is 2,2 4 because of its high resistance to auto-ignition.
For the purposes of comparison between different fuels and to facilitate testing, this isomer is given octane number 100 as a reference value for its ability to resist auto-ignition, while heptane compound (C7H16) was given the number zero because it is unstable, and between these two numbers the fuel is evaluated by certain ratio of known as “octane rating”
. For example, 90 octane means that the fuel has the same operating efficiency of a mixture of 90% octane and 10% heptane.
But what do we mean by auto-ignition and how does it affect the engine?
As you know, dear reader, internal combustion engines consist of cylinders.
Inside these cylinders, the air and fuel mixture is compressed by the piston and then this mixture is ignited by the release of an electric spark from the spark plugs. When this explosion occurs, the piston moves back to the top of the cylinder, rotating the crankshaft, which turns this vertical movement. to a horizontal rotational movement, sending the power through the transmission, to wheels.
In order for this process to work as planned, the explosion occurs only when the spark plugs release the electric spark, but the fuel may ignite before the spark occurs due to the pressure and heat inside the combustion chamber, which leads to and early explosion with a much greater force than required. This causes the phenomenon which weakens the engine’s power and exposes it to the risk of cracking or even explosion, God forbid.
Hence the importance of high-octane fuel, which does not ignite until the spark is triggered to provide the required explosion at the required time and thus help the engine to generate the maximum power and horsepower possible.
Gas stations usually provide two or more types of fuel, and this value ranges between 87 and 98 octane and varies from country to country. For example, gas stations in the United States of America provide three types of fuel; Regular fuels with an octane rating of 87, medium fuel (90 octane), and high-quality fuel (91 to 94 octane).
Racing cars, modified cars, and those equipped with turbochargers or superchargers need a different kind of fuel than what is provided by regular gas stations, as these types of high-performance cars require high-quality fuel characterized by a higher octane rating than what gas stations has to offer.
Among the most famous types of high-quality fuels suitable for racing and modified cars:
- Ethanol fuel: It means ethyl alcohol liquid, and while it can be used as a fuel in its pure form (100% ethanol), this fuel is often used as a mixture with regular fuel in varying proportions, including E85 and E98, where the letter E symbolizes the first letter of the word ethanol, and the number indicates the percentage of ethanol in the fuel.
- Methanol fuel: It means methyl alcohol liquid, and as is the case with ethanol fuel above, the use of methanol as a fuel in automobile engines provides better thermal efficiency and also generates greater power and horsepower, especially as it is characterized by an octane number of more than 108 octane (according to the RON standard)
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