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What is Gasoline?

Gasoline — A Petroleum Product

Gasoline is a nonrenewable fuel made from petroleum. Refineries in the United States produce about 19 gallons of gasoline from every 42-gallon barrel of crude oil that is refined. The rest of the barrel gets turned into other petroleum products like diesel fuel, heating oil, jet fuel, and propane.

Gasoline Is Refined From Crude Oil

Most gasoline is made from crude oil, formed from the remains of plants and animals (diatoms) that lived hundreds of millions of years ago. These remains were covered with layers of sediment over time. With extreme pressure and high temperatures over millions of years, these remains became the mix of liquid hydrocarbons (an organic chemical compound of hydrogen and carbon) that we call crude oil. Refineries break down these hydrocarbons into different products. These “refined products” include gasoline, diesel fuel, heating oil, jet fuel, liquefied petroleum gases, residual fuel oil, and many other products.

Did You Know?

Gasoline changes with the seasons.

The main difference between winter- and summer-grade gasoline is their vapor pressure. Gasoline vapor pressure is important for an automobile engine to work properly. During cold winter months, vapor pressure must be high enough for the engine to start easily.

Gasoline evaporates more easily in warm weather, releasing more volatile organic compounds that contribute to health problems and the formation of ground-level ozone and smog. In order to cut down on pollution, the Environmental Protection Agency requires petroleum refiners to reduce the vapor pressure of gasoline used during the summer months.

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