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Diesel Fuel

The word "diesel" is derived from the German inventor Rudolf Diesel who in 1892 invented the diesel engine. Diesel engines are a type of internal combustion engine. Rudolf Diesel originally designed the diesel engine to use coal dust as a fuel. He also experimented with various oils, including some vegetable oils, such as peanut oil, which was used to power the engines which he exhibited at the1900 Paris Exposition and the 1911 World's Fair in Paris.

Diesel fuel is produced from petroleum and from various other sources. Petroleum diesel, also called petro diesel or fossil diesel is produced from the fractional distillation of crude oil between 200 °C (392 °F) and 350 °C (662 °F) at atmospheric pressure, resulting in a mixture of carbon chains that typically contain between 8 and 21 carbon atoms per molecule.

As of 2010 the density of petroleum diesel is about 0.832 kg/l (6.943 lb/US gal), about 12% more than ethanol free petrol (gasoline), which has a density of about 0.745 kg/l (6.217 lb/US gal). About 86.1% of the fuel mass is carbon and when burned, it offers a net heating value of 43.1 MJ/kg as opposed to 43.2 MJ/kg for gasoline. However, due to the higher density, diesel offers a higher volumetric energy density at 35.86 MJ/l (128 700 BTU/US gal) vs. 32.18 MJ/l (115 500 BTU/US gal) for gasoline, some 11% higher, something that should be considered when comparing the fuel efficiency by volume. The CO2 emissions from diesel are 73.25 g/MJ, just slightly lower than for gasoline at 73.38 g/MJ.[7] Diesel is generally simpler to refine from petroleum than gasoline and contains hydrocarbons having a boiling point in the range of 180-360°C (360-680°F). The price of diesel traditionally rises during colder months as demand for heating oil rises, which is refined in much the same way. Because of recent changes in fuel quality regulations, additional refining is required to remove sulfur which contributes to a sometimes higher cost. In many parts of the United States and throughout the United Kingdom and Australia, diesel may be higher priced than petrol. Reasons for higher priced diesel include the shutdown of some refineries in the Gulf of Mexico, diversion of mass refining capacity to gasoline production, and a recent transfer to ULSD, which causes infrastructural complications. In Sweden a diesel fuel designated as MK-1 (class 1 environmental diesel) is also being sold, this is a ultra low sulphur diesel that also has a lower aromatics content, with a limit of 5%. This fuel is slightly more expensive to produce than regular ultra low sulphur diesel.

Use as vehicle fuel

Unlike petroleum ether and liquefied petroleum gas engines, diesel engines do not use high voltage spark ignition (spark plugs). An engine running on diesel compresses the air inside the cylinder to high pressures and temperatures (compression ratios from 14:1 to 18:1 are common in current diesel); the diesel is generally injected directly into the cylinder, starting a few degrees before top dead center (TDC) and continuing during the combustion event. The high temperatures inside the cylinder cause the diesel fuel to react with the oxygen in the mix (burn or oxidize), heating and expanding the burning mixture in order to convert the thermal/pressure difference into mechanical work; i.e., to move the piston. Glow plugs are used to assist starting the engine to preheat cylinders to reach a minimum operating temperature. High compression ratios and throttle-less operation generally result in diesel engines being more efficient than many spark-ignited engines.

This efficiency and its lower flammability and explosivity than gasoline are the main reasons for military use of diesel in armored fighting vehicles like tanks and trucks. Engines running on diesel also provide more torque and are less likely to stall as they are controlled by a mechanical or electronic governor.

A disadvantage of diesel as a vehicle fuel in some climates, compared to gasoline or other petroleum derived fuels, is that its viscosity increases quickly as the fuel's temperature decreases, turning into a non-flowing gel at temperatures as high as -19 °C (-2.2 °F) or -15 °C (5 °F), which can't be pumped by regular fuel pumps. Special low temperature diesel contains additives that keep it in a more liquid state at lower temperatures, yet starting a diesel engine in very cold weather may still pose considerable difficulties.

Another rare disadvantage of diesel engines compared to petrol/gasoline engines is the possibility of runaway failure. Since diesel engines do not require spark ignition, they can sustain operation as long as diesel fuel is supplied. Fuel is typically supplied via a fuel pump. If the pump breaks down in an "open" position, the supply of fuel will be unrestricted and the engine will runaway and risk terminal failure.

Use as car fuel

Diesel-powered cars generally have a better fuel economy than equivalent gasoline engines and produce less greenhouse gas emission. Their greater economy is due to the higher energy per-liter content of diesel fuel and the intrinsic efficiency of the diesel engine. While petro-diesel's higher density results in higher greenhouse gas emissions per liter compared to gasoline, the 20–40% better fuel economy achieved by modern diesel-engine automobiles offsets the higher per-liter emissions of greenhouse gases, and a diesel-powered vehicle emits 10-20 percent less greenhouse gas than comparable gasoline vehicles. Biodiesel powered diesel engines offer substantially improved emission reductions compared to petro-diesel or gasoline-powered engines, while retaining most of the fuel economy advantages over conventional gasoline-powered automobiles. However, the increased compression ratios mean that there are increased emissions of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) from diesel engines. This is compounded by biological nitrogen in biodiesel to make NOx emissions the main drawback of diesel versus gasoline engines.


Unlike kerosene and gasoline, which are typically kept in blue and red containers respectively, it is recommended that diesel be stored in a yellow container.



Diesel fuel is very similar to heating oil which is used in central heating. In Europe, the United States, and Canada, taxes on diesel fuel are higher than on heating oil due to the fuel tax, and in those areas, heating oil is marked with fuel dyes and trace chemicals to prevent and detect tax fraud. Similarly, "untaxed" diesel (sometimes called "off road diesel") is available in some countries for use primarily in agricultural applications such as fuel for tractors, recreational and utility vehicles or other non-commercial vehicles that do not use public roads. Additionally, this fuel may have sulphur levels that exceed the limits for road use in some countries (e.g. USA).

This untaxed diesel is dyed red for identification, and should a person be found to be using this untaxed diesel fuel for a typically taxed purpose (such as "over-the-road", or driving use), the user can be fined (e.g. US$10,000 in the USA). In the United Kingdom, Belgium and the Netherlands it is known as red diesel (or gas oil), and is also used in agricultural vehicles, home heating tanks, refrigeration units on vans/trucks which contain perishable items such as food and medicine and for marine craft. Diesel fuel, or marked gas oil is dyed green in the Republic of Ireland and Norway. The term DERV ("diesel engine road vehicle") is used in the UK as a synonym for unmarked road diesel fuel. In India, taxes on diesel fuel are lower than on petroleum, as the majority of the transportation that transports grains and other essential commodities across the country runs on diesel.

In some countries, such as Germany and Belgium, diesel fuel is taxed lower than petrol (gasoline) (typically around 20% lower), but the annual vehicle tax is higher for diesel vehicles than for petrol vehicles. This gives an advantage to vehicles that travel longer distances (which is the case for trucks and utility vehicles) because the annual vehicle tax depends only on engine displacement, not on distance driven. The point at which a diesel vehicle becomes less expensive than a comparable petroleum vehicle is around 20,000 km a year (12,500 miles per year) for an average car. However, due to the recent rise in oil prices, the advantage point is becoming lower, resulting in more people opting to buy a diesel car where they would have opted for a gasoline car a few years ago. Such an increased interest in diesel has resulted in slow but steady "dieseling" of the automobile fleet in the countries affected, sparking concerns in certain authorities about the negative effects of diesel.

Taxes on biodiesel in the U.S. vary among states, and in some states (Texas, for example) have no tax on biodiesel and a reduced tax on biodiesel blends equivalent to the amount of biodiesel in the blend, so that B20 fuel is taxed 20% less than pure petro-diesel. Other states, such as North Carolina, tax biodiesel (in any blended configuration) the same as petro-diesel, although they have introduced new incentives to producers and users of all bio-fuels.


Diesel and HHO

If you are thinking about adding HHO to your Diesel engine, excellent choice. Diesel responds very positive to both hydrogen and oxygen. The increased oxygen provides more oxidizer for burning the fuel more complete. The addition of hydrogen burns even more of the Diesel vapors. It is a win win situation.

I have witnessed HHO upgrades to several diesel trucks. All of them gained more power. All of them gained better fuel efficiency. All of them gained cleaner exhaust emissions. Consequently, all of the owners smiled from ear to ear.

  • One big rig truck put out black smoke and heavy fumes while running at idle. That problem was eliminated. The truck ran for 30 minutes, in a garage, and no one noticed any diesel smell. One guy climbed the stack to check the exhaust. He was amazed.
  • Another vehicle, a dump truck, poured out black smoke when it pulled heavy loads. That problem was solved. It not only  no longer smoked, it ran like it had another higher gear. Hills that normally were a struggle, were no longer a struggle.
  • One pickup truck, was able to spin his tires. while sitting still.
  • I know of one pickup truck that nearly doubled his mileage.

At one time, I had a report that some 2008 diesels came out with an emissions system that used a small amount of diesel injected directly into the exhaust to burn unburned fuel. Makes no sense to me, but that was the report. If you know anything about this, please let me know.

Starting in 2008, some manufacturers started putting computerized emission controlled systems on diesels. I found information stating that both Wide Band and Narrow Band O2 sensors are being used, and MAP/MAF sensors. If that is the case, you will need to determine exactly what you have before order an Analog or Digital AFR sensor Tuner. HHO Electronics makes good ones.

Diesel Catalytic converters are called Diesel Particulate Filters (DPF).
Here is some supporting documentation  http://www.singapore-motors.com/new-diesel-technologies.html

One thing we know for sure is that diesel requires less HHO than gasoline.


  EPA - Environmental Protection Agency
  EPA - Diesel Fuel

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is establishing a comprehensive national control program that will regulate the heavy-duty vehicle and its fuel as a single system. As part of this program, new emission standards will begin to take effect in model year 2007 and will apply to heavy-duty highway engines and vehicles. These standards are based on the use of high-efficiency catalytic exhaust emission control devices or comparably effective advanced technologies. Because these devices are damaged by sulfur, we are also reducing the level of sulfur in highway diesel fuel by 97 percent by mid-2006. The program provides substantial flexibility for refiners, especially small refiners, and for manufacturers of engines and vehicles, to aid them in implementing the new requirements in the most cost-efficient manner.

Heavy-duty trucks and buses today account for about one-third of NOx emissions and one quarter of PM emissions from mobile sources. In some urban areas, the contribution is even greater. EPA’s
new program will result in PM and NOx emission levels that are 90 percent and 95 percent below today’s levels, respectively. The results of this historic program are comparable to the advent of the catalytic converter on cars, as the standards will for the first time result in the widespread introduction of exhaust emission control devices on diesel engines. And, just as removing lead from gasoline enables the use of catalytic converters, this program removes sulfur from diesel fuel to enable the use of these advanced emission controls on diesel vehicles.

The 1990 Amendments: The View from the Driver’s Seat (Gasoline & Diesel)
Typical drivers will probably not be aware of many vehicle and fuel changes manufacturers are making in response to the 1990 Clean Air Act, although these changes could add $200 to the cost of a car and a few cents per gallon to the cost of gasoline. But there are other programs that drivers will notice, especially in areas with air pollution problems. New 1994 and later model cars must be equipped with “onboard diagnostic systems.” These systems feature dashboard warning lights that alert drivers to malfunctioning emission control equipment. Controlled by the vehicle’s computer, the onboard diagnostic system must also be capable of storing trouble codes that help mechanics pinpoint the malfunction.

Another change involves tampering and mis-fueling. Such activities have always been discouraged, but were previously illegal only for commercial operations. “Backyard mechanics” now are also subject to stiff penalties for deliberate tampering. For drivers in polluted cities, more changes will be apparent. Some cities will have to start I/M programs to check vehicle emissions on a regular basis. Areas that already require I/M testing may have to institute more stringent programs.

As projected by the Agency in the 2007 rulemaking, all manufacturers are planning to use catalyzed diesel particulate filters (CDPFs) to comply with the 2007 particulate matter (PM) standard.




Gasoline Gallon Equivalent - GGE

Gasoline gallon equivalent (GGE) or gasoline-equivalent gallon (GEG) is the amount of alternative fuel it takes to equal the energy content of one liquid gallon of gasoline. GGE allows consumers to compare the energy content of competing fuels against a commonly known fuel --- gasoline.




Gasoline (Regular Un-leaded) 1 US Gallon 114,100 BTU per gallon
Gasoline reformulated with Ethanol 1.019 Gallons 111,836 BTU per gallon
Diesel #2 0.88 US Gallon 129,500 BTU per gallon
Biodiesel (B100) 0.96 Gallons 118,300 BTU per gallon
Biodiesel (B20) 0.90 Gallons 127,250 BTU per gallon
Kerosene 0.90 US Gallon 128,100 BTU per gallon
Ethanol fuel(E100) 1.500 US Gallons 76,000 BTU per gallon
Ethanol fuel (E85) 1.39 US Gallons 81,800 BTU per gallon
Methanol fuel (M100) 2.01 US Gallons 56,800 BTU/gal (it takes twice as much Methanol to equal the BTU of gas)


Gasoline Ingredient concentrations:

Diesel Ingredient concentrations:

Kerosene Ingredient concentrations:

Other Fuels and their ingredients  

Page Last Edited - 04/03/2022


    Copyright © 2003   All rights reserved.   Revised: 04/03/22.                                             Web Author, David Biggs
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