Jet Fuel and Gasoline: What Are Their Differences?

For an aircraft to achieve and maintain flight, they utilize the combustion of jet fuel and air mixtures which produces the force necessary to drive systems and generate propulsion. While jet fuel is a fuel, it is not interchangeable with the types of fuels or gasoline that power vehicles such as automobiles. At the same time, other vehicles cannot use jet fuel as well due to its composition and characteristics. In this blog, we will discuss jet fuel and gasoline, allowing you to better understand their differences and why jet fuel in particular is so important for the functionality of aircraft.

There are four primary types of aviation fuel that are used for aircraft, those of which are jet fuel (Jet A-1), kerosene-gasoline mixtures (Jet B), aviation gasoline (avgas), and biokerosene. Jet A fuel is the most widely used aviation fuel type, having been utilized by the United States since the 1950s. Jet A fuel is a type that is refined kerosene-based, colorless in its appearance. For its use, Jet-A fuel is often implemented within turbine engines such as turboprops for their functionality.

While Jet A is a fuel type primarily used in the United States, Jet A-1 fuel is an alternative used globally and is interchangeable with Jet A for turbine-engine aircraft. When compared to Jet A fuel, Jet A-1 fuel differs with a freezing point of -47 °C as compared to -40 °C. As such, Jet A-1 fuel is more beneficial for aircraft that are either taking on lengthy international flights or are flying over polar regions. Additionally, Jet A fuel does not often feature the static dissipater additives found in A-1 fuels, those of which help reduce the static charges formed as fuel moves.

Gasoline, or petrol, is the fuel that is most commonly used by automobiles with spark-ignited internal combustion engines. As a petroleum-derived liquid, engine block gasoline majorly consists of organic compounds which are gained through the fractional distillation of petroleum and the addition of additives. To increase the performance of a gasoline mixture, enhance its chemical stability, and more, various chemicals may be added to a mixture. For the means of improving the combustion qualities of gasoline, common additives regularly found in mixtures include ethanol, MTBE, and ETBE.

While both fuel types serve a similar role in assisting the functionality of an internal combustion engine, there are distinct differences that set the two apart. When comparing aviation fuel to gasoline, the primary difference between the two is the presence of lead in aviation fuels. For the lubrication of an aircraft engine, aviation gas is commonly mixed with tetra-ethyl lead additives. While lead was previously used in automobiles, such practices ceased in 1986. Despite this, aircraft still rely on such additives as a suitable alternative has not been discovered quite yet. With this one difference, automobile engines would quickly face large amounts of damage to areas such as the catalytic converter if they attempted to use aviation fuel.

The two fuels also differ in their octane ratings, those of which serve as a measurement of a fuel’s ability to resist premature ignition. For avgas in particular, 100 octane ratings are the most common, though ratings of 87 and 130 may be found as well. For automobile gasoline, on the other hand, common octane ratings found at pumps range from 87 to 93 octane. While an engine can utilize a fuel that has a higher octane than is required, lower ratings can be dangerous. Automobile engines also require engine modifications to optimally take advantage of higher octane fuels, thus furthering their differences.

While the aforementioned characteristics are the main factors that set jet fuel and gasoline apart from one another, there are also other differences such as density, flashpoints, and freezing points. As such, operators should never attempt to use the two fuel types interchangeably as it can create hazardous and unsafe conditions for either vehicle. At Sourcing Streamlined, we operate as a trusted supplier of various aviation components and aircraft parts, offering customers competitive pricing on cell fuel parts, gage fuel components, bearing gasoline products, and camshaft gasoline parts. If you find particular items on our website that you are interested in, we ask that you send us a completed RFQ form to request a quote for your comparisons. See why customers steadily depend on Sourcing Streamlined for all their operational needs today when you get started on the purchasing process through our website.


April 22, 2021

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