Gasoline, Petrol


Gasoline is a complex liquid mixture that is processed from petroleum. Among Commonwealth nations, it is known as petrol. It consists of more than 500 hydrocarbons which have five to twelve carbon atoms per molecule. To enhance its performance and reduce emissions, small quantities of alkane cyclic and aromatic compounds, such as toluene and benzene, are added to petrol. It also boosts its octane rating, which is gasoline’s measure of resistance.


Gasoline is a complex liquid mixture that is processed from petroleum. Among Commonwealth nations, it is known as petrol. It consists of more than 500 hydrocarbons which have five to twelve carbon atoms per molecule. To enhance its performance and reduce emissions, small quantities of alkane cyclic and aromatic compounds, such as toluene and benzene, are added to petrol. It also boosts its octane rating, which is gasoline’s measure of resistance. Higher octane levels are needed for high-performance petrol, for example in racing cars, since higher-performance gasoline is more likely to combust (explode).

Uses and Importance of Gasoline

Its primary use is as fuel but it can be put to numerous other uses such as follows:

  • Treats lice and its eggs effectively.
  • Serves as a popular cleaning agent in the US.
  • Works as a camping fuel.
  • Used in portable generators to generate emergency electricity.

Its industrial uses are:

  • used as a raw material in several chemical industries.
  • used in industries that depend heavily on gasoline such as companies that manufacture pesticides, insecticides and fungicides.

Currently, the most critical use of petrol is that it serves as vehicular fuel.

Extraction and Processing of Gasoline

Production of gasoline takes place in oil refineries through the process of fractional distillation of crude petroleum. What happens is that crude oil is segregated into different fractions spanning varied boiling points and different chain lengths. During fractional distillation, every barrel of crude oil yields 25% of straight-run gasoline.

Other fractions produced during fractional distillation are also processed and blended to produce additional gasoline. Whatever impurities are detected in these fractions are removed by passing them through the following:

  • a column of sulfuric acid to extract unsaturated hydrocarbons, nitrogen and oxygen compounds.
  • an absorption column containing drying agents to eliminate water.
  • hydrogen sulfide scrubbers and sulfur treatment to remove sulfur-related impurities.

After processing, the various fractions are cooled and blended together to produce petrol of different grades. The world’s petroleum reserves are depleting rapidly. The 2007 BP Statistical Review of World Energy indicates that the petroleum reserves in the Middle East will last for 79.5 years. In Latin America, it will last for 41.2 years while in North America, it will last only for 12 years. The search for new and effective alternatives for gasoline continues.

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