Petrol or gasoline is mixture of hydrocarbons derived from crude petroleum through distillation. It is mainly used as fuel for internal combustion engines. ‘Petrol’ is used in most of the Commonwealth Countries while the term ‘Gasoline’ is basically used in North American Countries. Etymology of petrol is also quite interesting. The word ‘gasolene’ first came into existence in 1865 which was modified to the modern spelling ‘gasoline’ in 1871. Initially any other fuel other than diesel or liquefied gas which could be used in engines was termed as gasoline. The word ‘petrol’ came into existence in early 1892. Carless-Capel & Leonard, a German wholesaler, was the first company to register ‘petrol’ as a trade name. Gasoline is also known as Benzin in
Petrol or gasoline is a by product of distillation of crude oil or petroleum which is complex mixture of various hydrocarbons occurring naturally. The distillation of crude petroleum to yield its various by products is credited to Muslim Chemists who were the first to distill crude oil. Crude petroleum consists of around 84% of energy rich fuels such as diesel, petrol and LPG. Petroleum is believed to be formed due to continuous compression and heating of decayed organic material which is settled at the bottom of the sea in absence of oxygen over a period of time and subjected to high pressure. Crude oil can be classified according to its place of origin or by its viscosity or relative weight or sulfur content.
China had earned the credits for drilling the first oil wells in around 4th Century using bamboo poles but commercial oil well was first drilled in 1858 in North America by James Miller Williams. Edwin Drake began the petroleum industry in
Octane rating is an important characteristic of petrol. It is an indicator of anti knocking capacity of petrol which is defined as resistance to abnormal combustion in internal combustion engines. A better octane rating means a better quality of petrol. Various additives are widely used now a days to increase the octane ratings of petrol or to act as lubricators which includes oxygenates (such as methanol, ethanol), Antiknock agents (such as Tetra-ethyl lead, Isooctane) and antioxidants (such as Butylated hydroxytoluene, Ethylene diamine). Regular gasoline with octane rating of 91 contains 34.8 MJ/L (MegaJoules/Litre) of energy. But various non-aliphatic hydrocarbons present in petrol and many anti knocking agents can cause various health and environmental issues such as air pollution which are being taken seriously all over the world. These issues have led to the inclination towards alternate fuels such as biofuels which have very less emissions as compared to various fossil fuels. Due to these environmental issues leaded petrol was banned in the year 2000. Petrol is also quite unstable as varnishes and gums are easily formed in it if left unattended for a period of time.
Petrol has been the main reasons for the developments in car engines since last 100 years. Most of the car engines are designed according to the kind of petrol available at that time. Petrol itself has gone through a lot of changes because of the pressure of very high demand which has let to the development of various variants of petrol having a wide range of boiling points with more high and low boiling point hydrocarbons. The addition of these hydrocarbons has resulted in changes in carburetor design and fuel systems of car engines regularly.