How Many Different Types of Fuel Can You Name?

Justin Christensen |

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A substance that generates heat on combustion, fuel has an endless list of applications. It can be classified in a variety of ways such as its physical state – solid, liquid or gas, or how it is derived – naturally occurring or processed. Ideally, a “good” or valuable fuel is one that exhibits a low ignition point and a high calorific rating.

You might be surprised by how many different kinds of fuel are used in our daily routines at work, at home or on the road. Here are some of the more common ones:

  • Aviation Fuel – two types are jet fuel and avgas; Jet fuel is used in jet and turbo-prop aircraft engines; typical formulations are: Jet A and Jet A-1, kerosene and paraffin oil based, and Jet B, naptha-kerosene based; has strict specifications for flash point, freezing point, auto ignition temp and open air burning temp.

  • Biodiesel – Also known as B20 or B100, is intended as a replacement for diesel and can be blended with it in any ratio; it is produced from a variety of vegetable oils and animal fats; can be used in any diesel engine and is clean burning.

  • Biomass – Is a carbon-based mixture composed of organic molecules, alkali, alkaline earth and heavy metals. Fuels include wood, straw, manure and sugar cane; these are burned to produce energy for heating, cooking, industrial processes and electricity.

  • Butane – Well known as lighter fluid, this hydrocarbon gas is a component of petroleum and is used in portable stoves, as a propellant, for heating and cooling and is often added to gasoline in winter.

  • Diesel – This petroleum based fuel is produced from hydrocarbons by distilling out crude; it comes in grades #1 and #2, has a low ignition point and stores well. With greater energy and power density than other fuels, it is highly popular for use in heavy-duty trucks and equipment.

  • Ethanol – Also known as E85 or E10 with gasoline blends, this alcohol is derived from plants such as corn or sugarcane. It is used in products from perfume to explosives, but primarily to fuel cars.

  • Fuel Oil – Is the heavyweight of commercial fuels derived from crude and comes in a variety of grades. Its main use is for heating in furnaces and boilers.

  • Gasoline – A natural byproduct of petroleum and the most refined form of crude, gasoline is available in three grades: unleaded, regular and premium with octane levels ranging from 85 to 90+.

  • Hydrogen – The lightest and most common element, this gas has an extensive range of uses varying from creating water and in industrial production to processing, fuel and as a coolant.

  • Kerosene – Distilled from petroleum or shale oil, is a thin, clear liquid that is often used for heating, lighting, cooking and powering aircraft; very clean burning and economically viable.

  • Methanol – Also known as M85 with 15% unleaded premium gasoline, this alcohol is produced from biomass or natural gas. It is used as solvent, fuel, anti-freeze and a denaturant for ethanol.

  • Natural Gas – Is produced when buried plants and animals are exposed to extreme heat and pressure over thousands of years. It is used for heating, cooking, manufacturing, vehicle fuel and power generation.

  • Propane – Also referred to as liquefied petroleum gas, this hydrocarbon is derived from natural gas and refined crude. One of the cleanest burning fuels, it is used for heating, cooling, cooking and powering vehicles.

As the list of available fuels continues to grow, so will the variations of use. Working with a reputable fuel distributor will help you choose the best product for your application.