Gasoline

Also known as: petrol, motor gasoline, mogas, benzine

Gasoline is one of the major petroleum products produced from processing crude oil in a petroleum refinery.

Gasoline is one of the higher-valued light products (along with jet fuel and diesel). It is used almost exclusively in the transportation sector, mostly as a fuel in automobiles and other light-duty vehicles. Generally, refiners will try to maximize their yield of gasoline, along with diesel, to maximize profit. Since the two products draw from different boiling range material, they are largely complimentary. However, there are a few conversion units that favor one over the other, forcing refiners to make a call on which will be more value-creating. Most notably, FCCs will tend to upgrade VGO more toward gasoline, and hydrocrackers will upgrade VGO more toward diesel.

Gasoline product qualities

Gasoline powered vehicles use Otto cycle (spark ignition) engines. To perform well and to minimize environmental impact, this requires gasoline to have specific product qualities. Some of the more important ones are:

  • Octane - A measure of a fuel's resistance to auto-igniting (knocking) when compressed with air in a spark ignition engine
  • Vapor pressure - A fuel's volatility or tendency to vaporize
  • Distillation profile - This describes how much gasoline (volume %) evaporates at different temperatures
  • Vapor lock index - This measures the tendency of gasoline to vaporize in the fueling system, causing vapor lock
  • Driveability index - A measure of a fuel's performance at both cold start and warmed-up conditions
  • Sulfur content - A measure of the sulfur remaining in the fuel
  • Aromatics content - Aromatics compounds include high-octane materials such as benzene, toluene, and xylene
  • Benzene content - Benzene is a known carcinogen for humans, and is consequently limited to very small amounts in many grades of gasoline
  • Olefins content - In gasoline, olefins have the tendency to form coatings on engine walls, reducing performance over time

Gasoline blending

Gasoline is typically a complex blend of many different refinery intermediate streams. The most common refinery-produced components in the gasoline pool are:

Gasoline also often contains non-refinery sourced blend components, either as octane enhancers or to satisfy a renewable fuels mandate. Typical non-refinery sourced blendstocks include:

  • Ethanol - High octane with no aromatics or sulfur, but high vapor pressure
  • MTBE - High octane, no aromatics or sulfur, and low vapor pressure, but limited by environmental concerns related to storage and leakage to water reservoirs in some areas. It is banned across the US
  • ETBE - High octane with no aromatics or sulfur, but high vapor pressure

McKinsey uses cookies to improve site functionality, provide you with a better browsing experience, and to enable our partners to advertise to you. Detailed information on the use of cookies on this Site, and how you can decline them, is provided in our cookie policy. By using this Site or clicking on "OK", you consent to the use of cookies.