Jet fuel

Also known as: jet kero, turbo kerosene

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

Jet fuel is one of the higher-valued light products (along with gasoline and diesel). It is used primarily in the transportation sector. It is the primary fuel used in jet aircraft, but it is also used in other jet turbine applications.

The same material used to make jet fuel is also sold as the product kerosene for non-aircraft uses, but with lower quality specifications.

The kerosene used to make jet fuel has a boiling range in between gasoline and diesel range material. Consequently, jet fuel can be a swing fuel, stealing volume from gasoline and diesel when jet fuel prices are high, and contributing volume when jet fuel prices are low.

There are a number of different grades of jet fuel for different uses and markets:

  • Jet A-1 - The standard grade for international commercial aviation
  • Jet A - The standard grade for US domestic aviation

Jet fuel qualities

The use of jet fuel in high-performance jet turbines, at high altitudes and low pressures, requires jet fuel to have very specific product qualities. Some of the more important ones are:

  • Smoke point - A measure of the tendency of a fuel to emit smoke (carbonacious particles) when burned in a jet turbine
  • Flash point - A measure of the temperature at which a fuel forms a potentially ignitable mixture of hydrocarbon and air
  • Freeze point - The temperature at which a fuel starts to form solid crystals

Jet fuel blending

Jet fuel is typically a simple blend of a few different kerosene streams. The most common components are:

The Refinery Reference Desk includes content derived from our industry experts as well as from public data sources such as company websites. Nothing herein is intended to serve as investment advice. This material is based on information that we believe to be reliable and adequately comprehensive, but we do not represent that such information is in all respects accurate or complete. McKinsey Energy Insights does not accept any liability for any losses resulting from use of the content.

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