Before the introduction of Petrol and Diesel fuel types. The first internal combustion engine (ICE) was run on a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen. Nikolaus Otto was the creator of this engine and introduced petrol engines in 1876. This was developed due to the energy density being higher compared to other chemicals for fuel. In the 1920s lead additives were introduced to help prevent knocking in ICE, however, the pollution from lead caused environmental concerns so it was phased out from 1970 onwards.
In modern society, Petrol and Diesel are the biggest factors in the Automotive industry worldwide. Both fuel types are created from fractions of crude oil. Petrol is created from the lighter fractions of crude oil whilst diesel fuel is created from heavier fractions. Both fuel types are obtained through the refining process which is also known as fractional distillation. Petrol is obtained from the fraction with a boiling point of 40°C to 205°C whilst Diesel is usually between 205°C to 345°C. Diesel has a higher density than petrol and is less volatile providing better fuel efficiency, whilst various additives such as octane enhancers and ethanol are added to Petrol to meet specific standards. Petrol ICE start with a spark plug to ignite the fuel whilst Diesel compression ignition engines rely on heat from the compression of air to ignite the fuel.
Petrol Engines: E5 and E10 fuel
Petrol-run engines have a chemical element known as Octane. Octane is a hydrocarbon compound that assesses the fuel’s resistance to knocking in an ICE vehicle. There are different ratings of Octane, The standard rating of Octane in Petrol is 95. This can be seen in all Petrol stations across the UK under the term E10. E10 Petrol has a lower energy content due to the higher Ethanol content. Ethanol is a renewable biofuel, contributing to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, the carbon footprint content in E10 Petrol is lower than E5 due to the increase in Ethanol content. The Petrol blend of E10 is designed to ensure safe and efficient engine operation.
E5 Petrol is a premium fuel type which has a higher-rated octane level of 97+. The higher octane level reduces knocking in engines significantly more than E10 fuel, cleaning all the dirt throughout the engine since it burns at a higher rate. The availability of this fuel type can be limited. The most common stations which have E5 Petrol are Shell, labelled as V-power and BP, labelled as Ultimate. The cost of E5 Petrol is higher than E10 Petrol however, it has better fuel efficiency and is compatible with most Petrol engines. High-performance engines and high-compression engines require E5 fuel to prevent knocking and achieve optimal performance. Both E5 and E10 Petrol are better than Diesel fuels for city driving.
Diesel Engines: B7 and B10 fuel
Similar to petrol engines, diesel engines have their own chemical element known as Cetane. Cetane is used to assess the ignition and combustion quality of an engine. The Cetane number of Diesel fuel measures how easily fuel ignites when subjected to compression in a diesel engine. The number represents a percentage of cetane. For standard Diesel Engines, B7 fuel has a 7% Cetane level. B7 fuel is widely available in fuel stations, from supermarkets to more premium brands like Shell. It is common for B7 fuel to be used in standard engines being suitable for normal engine operation.
B10 Diesel fuel also has Cetane but at a 10% level. This fuel level is considered more premium than B7, which also means it is more expensive. B10 Diesel is recommended for high-performance and standard diesel engines. This fuel type has been designed to improve combustion efficiency which can contribute to reduced noise, fewer emissions, and increased performance. B10 can be limited in availability, the common fuel station you can get this from would be Shell and BP, look for V-power diesel (Shell) or ultimate diesel (BP). Both B7 and B10 Diesel are better than E5 and E10 petrol for motorway driving which can be more cost-efficient.
Overall, both fuels have different purposes. Diesel is a more expensive fuel but has more of an impact on the global environment. E10 Petrol and B7 Diesel are more available. The premium and higher octane/cetane level fuel is more expensive and limited whilst more beneficial for your vehicle.
UK Government; 2035 proposal ban
The UK government have decided to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2035. You can purchase fully electric vehicles from here onwards and still drive petrol and diesel vehicles. The congestion charge and ultra-low emission zones will still apply to individuals with vehicles without a euro 4 or euro 6 engine.
The UK government aims to combat climate change and promote cleaner transportation, this falls in line with the country’s commitment to gain net-zero emissions by 2050. This low-emission alternative scheme will increase the demand for electric vehicles which will promote a shift towards more sustainable and environmentally friendly transportation options. Hybrid vehicles will also be an option for the public to purchase which aids in the transition as it allows consumers to be more comfortable with electric technology and charging infrastructure. The benefit of hybrid vehicles is that they produce fewer harmful emissions such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), compared to the average combustion engine making them more environmentally friendly.
How can Autoserve help?
Find reliable and convenient automotive services with ease by joining the Autoserve club, becoming a member and having access to a network of approved garages. An Autoserve member will be eligible for a fuel card where it’s easier to track expenses and lead to cost-effective budgeting. Spending limits and restrictions can also be put in place to control how fuel cards are used. In addition, this will help prevent misuse and provide clear insights into business or personal expenses. For businesses with fleet vehicles, the fuel cards can be integrated into current management systems allowing better optimisation of routes and fuel consumption. These fuel cards are accepted at a wide range of fuel stations.
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With over 16,000 approved garages, a 24/7 service and a host of cost-saving offers, Autoserve can keep your car running smoothly. Call one of our professional Service Advisors on 0121 521 3500 for more details. After all one call does it all!