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How Is Diesel Fuel Different From Regular Gasoline?

Monday, October 26th, 2015
question marks representing frequently asked questions about diesel fuel

Updated on 11/13/2020


There are many types of fuel available to the public and to businesses. Although they share the same purpose, there are major differences between them. They have different compositions and differ in the amount of energy they generate during the combustion process.

The features of diesel fuel and regular gas, and the power produced by the two, differ greatly. The main way in which these fuels differ can be found in how each functions within an engine. There are also differences between diesel, gas, and biodiesel.

The features of diesel fuel and regular gas

Diesel fuel is made using a hydrocarbon mixture that is a byproduct of the distillation of crude oil. It is denser than gas. Diesel’s boiling point is higher than that of water, which means it has an extremely low evaporation point. Regular gas can evaporate at room temperature, by comparison.

Diesel fuel is classified as combustible, meaning it requires compression and heat to function. By comparison, regular unleaded gas is considered a flammable liquid, which means that it requires a spark. As an example, diesel fuel will extinguish a lit match while a match will ignite the fumes of gasoline before it even reaches the liquid.

Another difference between diesel fuel and regular gas is that regular gas contains more sulfur. Diesel’s chemical composition is C14H30. While the extra atoms make a big difference during combustion, they produce more greenhouse emissions.

The power produced by diesel fuel and regular gas

There are many reasons why diesel is more powerful than gasoline. This is a benefit for many industries that rely on diesel-powered vehicles. Here are some quick facts to know about the power output of both fuels.

  • Opponents of diesel don’t mention that the power generated from its combustion is several times greater than that of regular gas. The increase in power output makes this fuel more efficient.
  • Diesel has a higher energy density than gasoline, with one gallon producing 155x 10 to the sixth power joules. Gasoline only produces 132×10 to the sixth power joules. In other words, one gallon of diesel produces 147,000 BTUs compared to 125,000 BTUs of a gallon of regular gas.
  • Diesel fuel does not need Ethanol, an additive that increases efficiency.
  • While diesel fuel is highly efficient for use within trucks and heavy machinery, it is less effective in automobiles.
  • The EPA has conducted studies that show diesel performs less-efficiently in cold weather conditions than regular gas. But, it is known to perform better at higher altitudes.

How diesel fuel and regular gas function within engines

The real difference between the two fuels is how they function within an engine. A diesel engine uses direct fuel injection, so the fuel is moved directly into the cylinder. It is designed to withstand considerable pressure and heat. This type of engine might also contain a glow plug that makes the combustion process more efficient in cold weather conditions. Engines that use regular gas require less pressure and heat because the spark plug is sufficient to create the spark required to ignite it.

Differences between petroleum-based fuels and biodiesel

In addition to diesel fuel and regular gas, another fuel product that is used in vehicles is biodiesel. It is produced from vegetable oil, animal fat, and recycled restaurant greases. Biodiesel is advertised as the energy source of the future because it is safe, biodegradable, and less polluting than petroleum-based fuels.

As the research and development of this new fuel source expands, it is likely to become a major market player in the future. In fact, as of August 2020, biodiesel production was up 163 million gallons in the United States, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Of this, 96 million gallons of B100 (100% biodiesel) were sold in biodiesel blends, with diesel fuel derived from petroleum.

Looking for a wholesale fuel supplier near you?

At Kendrick Oil, we offer a wide variety of wholesale fuels including diesel and regular gasoline. If you need wholesale fuel or if you have any questions about our Products and Services, call (800) 299-3991 or contact a member of our Team. We supply clients throughout Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, and Louisiana.