Treating Gasoline With Respect

Oil provides the power for most of the industrialized world. Gasoline, an oil derivative, provides the power for transportation. Car drivers typically don’t understand gasoline so in line with the thought of helping educate safe drivers, a little bit of knowledge about gasoline could make you a safer driver. This is yet another topic that most online drivers ed courses do not address and spending a little time to understand more about gasoline is worth the effort.

First off, it is important to understand the dangers of gasoline. If you think about it, you will realize that there is a tremendous amount of energy in a gallon of gasoline. In fact, enough to move a 4,000 lb. car a distance of over 30 miles in about 30 min. – that requires a lot of energy. Gasoline is converted into rotational energy, which moves your car, in what is known as an “internal combustion engine”. The clue is the word “combustion” – in other words the gasoline is mixed with oxygen and actually “explodes” in your engine. It is obviously a controlled explosion, but none the less a very powerful explosion which provides a glimpse into the potential danger of gasoline.

Check out this video to see what can happen when pumping gasoline around an open fire. In this case, this person was very lucky and hopefully has learned to treat gasoline with the respect it deserves!

A few facts about gasoline:

  • Gasoline fumes are very flamable. They are already mixed at the proper ratio with the air in order to produce a combination that is very easy to combust.
  • Gasoline fumes are heavier than air and will drift to a low point ready for combustion from electrical sparks, lighters, etc. Of particular danger are areas such as garage pits where gasoline fumes will coalesce thus forming a potentially lethal situation.
  • Gasoline floats on water and hence a gasoline fire cannot be extinguished by water unless the water is used in a fine mist. When around gasoline always have a proper fire extinguisher available.
  • The air-gasoline mixture ratio needs to be between 1.4% and 7.6% in order for gasoline to be explosive. Gasoline vapor rapidly mixes and spreads with air, making unconstrained gasoline quickly flammable.
  • Each gallon of gasoline contains approximately 125,000 BTU’s or 132 MJoules of energy when converted via combustion.
  • On average, about 19.5 US gallons (16.2 imp gal; 74 L) of gasoline are available from a 42-US-gallon (35 imp gal; 160 L) barrel of crude oil (about 46% by volume)

Well, there you have it. Since gasoline is used to power our cars, driver education should contain information about understanding gasoline. It is a wonderous form of energy that has powered our transportation for over a century but deserves a good deal of respect.

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