gasoline

The chemistry of gasoline is not as simple as you'd think. In the absence of additives, your engine will knock itself into oblivion (See: Octane Rating And Lead: Explaining The Chemistry Of Gasoline). Over the years, a number of anti-knocking additives have been used, including one that, in hindsight, was a terrible idea: tetraethyllead (the lead in leaded gasoline). More recently methyl t-butyl (MTBE) was used until it was discovered that the chemical was water soluble (duh) and accumulated in groundwater. Tetraethyllead was banned in 1996 and MTBE hasn't been used since 2005.

At this time almost all...

Useless trivia item for a Wednesday:

Whether you are choosing 87, 89, or 93-octane rated gasoline, you're not buying octane. Why? Because if you were actually putting octane into your car, it would screw it up big time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The "octane" rating of gasoline actually measures the amount of an additive called isooctane. The two are isomers- they have the same chemical formula but different structures and properties. Octane is a chain of eight contiguous carbon atoms. Isooctane has chain of five contiguous and three "branched" carbon atoms. Both are hydrocarbons. The...