The USA uses an average of 122 million gallons of diesel every day.
Diesel fuel is essential in the transportation industry by more vehicles than you may think. From trucks to boats to military tanks, diesel is an integral part of the USA economy.
So if your high-school physics didn’t teach you the in’s and out’s of diesel, it’s time to educate yourself. Don’t get left behind in a riveting dinner party conversation just because you don’t know about the different types of commercial diesel fuel.
Read on for the all you need to know guide to the use of diesel.
What Is Diesel Fuel?
Diesel is a fuel that’s used in any engine where ignition takes place without a triggering spark. Instead, the compression of air and injection of fuel is enough to get a vehicle started.
Historically, diesel was unregulated or standardized, so it was available at varying qualities and prices. However, now in the USA, diesel is standardized and widely available at similar prices. It also has to meet specific quality criteria to be legal for sale.
What Is Diesel Fuel Used For?
The most common use of diesel is on on-road vehicles such as cars, trucks, and busses. However, diesel for business is a hidden market you don’t have much exposure to.
Diesel displaced the use of coal on trains, and they now run almost exclusively on this fuel. Military vehicles also use diesel engines because they are more energy-efficient and have less risk of fire.
Finally, tractors and other heavy vehicles use primarily diesel engines. This started before World War II in many parts of the world, but it only progressed to the USA in the 1950s.
What Are the Different Types of Diesel Fuel?
It’s not as simple as just using ‘diesel fuel’; there are many different types available. The most common type of commercial diesel oil is called petroleum diesel, and it’s produced by fractional distillation (remember this from high-school physics?)
Next, is synthetic diesel, produced from any carbonaceous materials. This includes coal, natural gases, and other biomass. The raw material is converted to diesel using the biomass/gas/coal-to-liquid (BLT/GLT/CLT) process.
The final primary type of diesel is biodiesel, made from vegetable oil or animal fats. Because biodiesel contains low levels of sulfur, its environmental impact is lower than other diesel fuels. However, biodiesel is relatively unstable and is notorious for causing system blockages and problems at low temperatures.
Diesel Fuel: The Need to Know Guide
So that’s everything there is to know about diesel fuel in a whistlestop tour.
Of course, you could keep researching until you produced a thesis on the topic; however, we’re confident that this article should give you a basic understanding of the fuel that most American’s use every day.
If you enjoyed learning the basics of diesel in this article, make sure to check out our other posts for all things business, locomotive, finances, and more!