Gasoline is a complex mixture of different hydrocarbons with different properties. Consequently, when heated, different components will vaporize at different temperatures. How much gasoline vaporizes at low temperatures (front-end volatility), medium temperatures (mid-range volatility), and high temperatures (tail-end volatility) will affect performance across a wide range of dimensions and is known as the distillation profile of the fuel.
The performance affected includes:
- Front-end volatility (low temperatures):
- Cold start
- Hot start
- Avoiding vapor lock
- Minimizing evaporative emissions
- Mid-range volatility (medium temperatures):
- Achieving quick warm up
- Fuel efficiency on short trips
- Good power and acceleration
- Avoiding carburetor icing
- Avoiding hot stalling
- Tail-end volatility (high temperatures):
- Fuel efficiency after warm up
- Avoiding engine deposits
- Minimizing dilution of crankcase oil
- Minimizing VOC emissions
Distillation properties are typically measured as the temperatures of initial boiling, at specific volume percent recovery (5%, 10%, 20%, 30%, 40%, 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%, 90%, 95%), and end point or final volume recovery.
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