Everyone is familiar with the oil that comes out of the ground. It's a black liquid that is called petroleum and it is extremely useful for a variety of purposes, including providing energy. This oil, in its crude form, contains hydrocarbons and the carbon in these atoms are linked together in chains. The different lengths of these chains are known as different forms of oil and gas, diesel and kerosene are three of the most commonly known forms of chains. So what is the difference between these three?
The main difference between these three is that they have different boiling points so it's possible to separate them by distillation. This means that the oil is heated so that different chains can be vaporised and pulled out into what are called fractions.
There are more modern techniques that use chemical processing in order to further distill the fractions of oil produced by distillation. That means that diesel oil can be turned into gasoline, for example, if there is a higher demand for gas. The fractions of gas have to be treated to remove impurities and then they are often combined into different mixtures in order to produce gasolines with high or low octane ratings
Gasoline is one of the lightest and shortest chains and is usually a blend of chains in a certain range that all vaporise at fairly low temperatures - less than the boiling point of water. That's why gas evaporates quickly when it is spilled on the ground. Gas is the most common method of fuelling automobiles and a lot of machinery. In a gas engine, fuel mixes with air and that mixture is compressed and then ignited by spark plugs. Gasoline can come in a variety of specialised mixtures such as processed, unprocessed, high-octane, low-octane, etc.
Kerosene is heavier than gasoline but lighter than diesel. It's a combustible hydrocarbon liquid that is often used in households for heating things like stoves and lanterns. It's also used to power large jet engines for aircraft and also as a starting material to make other products. It is often much more affordable than both gasoline and diesel. Kerosene most often comes in one basic mixture but can also be blended with other fractions to create different solutions or further distilled into cleaning solvents.
Diesel is the heaviest oil and has the highest boiling point. It is actually much more effective for fuelling engines but it has not been as popular with everyday drivers because attempts are still being made to make it cleaner and less noisy. In a diesel engine the air is compressed first and then the fuel is mixed in. The air is already heated from the compression which causes the fuel to ignite and power the car.