It might seem like a simple question, but do you really know the difference between diesel and gasoline? The first and most critical difference is in the weight and density of gasoline as opposed to diesel.


When crude oil is processed at a refinery, it is divided into various components based upon weight. The lightest and least dense component of crude oil is gasoline. Because of this characteristic, gasoline is more flammable and it starts to vaporize almost immediately (even at just room temperature). A quick fire of the spark plug is all it takes to ignite gasoline and start an engine, so little pressure and heat are needed.

Diesel, on the other hand, is a hydrocarbon mixture found on the heavier end of the crude oil spectrum. It is also less volatile making it much more difficult to detonate. In fact, diesel fuel is classified as combustible, rather than flammable, since it requires both compression and heat to operate. This is how diesel engines function by injecting diesel fuel into a cylinder to which extreme pressure and heat are applied. A diesel engine does not require a spark, however, because the fuel detonates on its own due to the extreme conditions.


Because diesel fuel is so dense, it is able to provide substantially more energy per gallon leading to better fuel economy. The extreme forces necessary for the combustion of diesel also result in several times greater power upon combustion than gasoline. One gallon of diesel produces on average approximately 22,000 more BTUs than regular gasoline making diesel a preferred choice for many trucks and most all heavy machinery. Another factor to consider is that gasoline requires the addition of Ethanol for best efficiency which is not the case for diesel.

The downside of diesel, however, is that the high-pressure engines required to detonate diesel fuel are much more expensive to build than its gasoline counterparts. There is also some concern about diesel engines in colder climates since diesel requires such high temperatures in order to detonate and power the engine. If outside temperatures are too extreme, starting your engine may become impossible with diesel.

Diesel has also been criticized over the years for its greater sulfur content. The chemical composition of diesel (C14H30) historically resulted in significant greenhouse gas

emissions, but this is no longer the case. The clean diesel that is standard for diesel engines on the market today is ultra-low sulfur diesel - containing 97% less sulfur than in years past.

Whether your equipment operates using gasoline, diesel, metalworking fluids, greases, or lubricants, General Petroleum has the quality products and service that you need to keep your operation running smoothly. Give our local team a call to find out how we can help streamline your distribution processes.