Gasoline basics

Chemical and physical properties of gasoline

Unlike methanol and DME, gasoline is a complex mixture, one comprising over 500 straight-chain and branched-chain hydrocarbons containing from five to 12 carbons each. Chemical formulae for gasoline range between C6H14 and C12H26, with a good “average” compound being C8H18.

Gasoline production

Most gasoline is produced through the fractional distillation of crude oil, which is separated into fractions according to different boiling points of hydrocarbons of varying chain lengths. This process yields approximately 25% of straight-run gasoline from each barrel of crude oil.

Though virtually all gasoline currently marketed today is made from petroleum and is thus non-renewable, gasoline can be made from non-fossil, renewable feedstocks. Sapphire Energy, for example, is refining renewable gasoline from “green crude” produced with algae. Time will tell whether they will be able to commercialize their technology by producing renewable gasoline in a scalable, cost-effective manner. Blue Fuel Energy is also planning to produce renewable gasoline, but will use mature, proven methanol-to-gasoline technology. In the 1980s and 90s at its Motonui plant in New Zealand, using the Mobil MTG process Methanex produced about 14,000 barrels per day of unleaded gasoline from natural-gas based methanol. Blue Fuel Gasoline will be indistinguishable from the gasoline that Methanex produced — and from conventional gasoline as well. That said, it will have two advantages over them: being derived from renewable, low-carbon methanol, it will be devoid of sulfur and thus be cleaner burning; and it will have about one-third the carbon intensity.

Methanol-to-Gasoline plant in New Zealand

Methanol-to-Gasoline plant in New Zealand

Renewable gasoline can be seamlessly blended with fossil-based gasoline and stored and distributed WITHOUT ANY modifications to existing infrastructure. It’s the ultimate drop-in fuel. And being low-carbon, blending it into the gasoline pool is the simplest way for fuel suppliers to meet low-carbon fuel standard requirements.