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What are the benifits and problems with diesel fuel?

Long before hybrids became the hip way to cut down on fuel costs, diesel engines were the road warrior's only option.

Diesel fuel is a kind of gasoline refined from crude oil or petroleum. In oil refineries, crude oil is heated, and various hydrocarbon molecules are extracted to create fuel. Diesel is much heavier and oilier than gasoline and evaporates much more slowly. It's often referred to as "diesel oil" because of its consistency.

Diesel fuel has approximately 18% more energy per unit of volume than gasoline. It also takes less refining to make diesel. In addition, diesel engines are actually more efficient than gasoline engines. As a result, people with diesel engines enjoy better gas mileage.

On the negative side, diesel contains more particulates (particles of soot) than gasoline, which cause smog. And it goes without saying that diesel-friendly stations aren't nearly as common as those that pump ol' 87 octane.

There are a lot of simple ways to improve the efficency of your car. These energy tips from About.com are a smart place to start. Also, if you have a diesel car, you can try biodiesel fuel, made from vegetable oil, to cut down on emissions and keep your ride smelling sweet.



  1. What is the difference between diesel fuel and gasoline?
  2. What are the benefits and problems with diesel fuel?
  3. The pros and cons of going diesel

Hydrocarbons – compounds composed of carbon and hydrogen.

Hydrocracking – a severe, high temperature, high pressure refinery process that converts heavy black oil into gasoline and diesel fuel by cracking or breaking up larger molecules, in the presence of hydrogen and a catalyst.

Hydrotreating – a refinery process that reacts a fraction of crude oil with hydrogen at high temperature and pressure, in the presence of a catalyst, to improve colour and odour, and reduce sulphur content.

Low sulphur diesel fuel – fuel that contains less than 500 parts per million (0.05 wt per cent) sulphur, required for on-road applications, and may be used off-road.

Lubricity – The property of diesel fuel that lubricates moving parts in fuel pumps and fuel injectors to minimize wear.

Off-road diesel fuel – refers to diesel fuel that is used for off-road purposes (i.e., mining, farming, marine, etc.). Off-road diesel fuel is frequently dyed red or "marked" to show that it is exempt from provincial road taxes.

Regular sulphur diesel fuel – fuel that contains less than 5,000 parts per million (0.5 wt per cent) sulphur, may not be used on-road, and is usually used in off-road applications such as farming, forestry and marine.