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Answered 2008-11-30 15:12:14

Gasoline Versus Jet Fuel For the first few decades of flight, aircraft engines used the same kind of gasoline as automobiles. As airplane engines became more powerful, however, gasoline wasn't the best choice. Most gas in the early 1900s had octane ratings of 87 or less. While that was enough for a car to work, airplane engines needed a higher octane grade. Fuel is rated according to its level of octane. The octane rating of gasoline tells how much the fuel can be compressed by the cylinders before it ignites. The higher the octane, the more compression it can handle before igniting. Higher octane levels allow engines to burn fuel more efficiently, rather than "knock," which indicates engine strain and potential damage. Merely increasing the octane wasn't enough for efficient flight, though. High-octane gas has a low flashpoint-the temperature at which it can catch fire by an open flame. Gasoline's flashpoint is around -1 degrees Celsius [°C] (30 degrees Fahrenheit [°F]). Aviators wanted a fuel that would be safer. At first, aviators used a mixture of kerosene and gasoline. It was called Jet Propellant 1 (JP-1), but a drawback was the way it smoked as it burned. Aircraft then went to using Jet-A commercial jet fuel. It is kerosene-based and has a flashpoint of 49 °C (100 °F). It's a high-quality fuel that includes an anti-freeze to prevent ice buildup inside fuel tanks. Jet A-1 is used by most turbine-powered aircraft. It's quite similar, but it has a higher freezing point. (Only the military and outside of the US is antifreeze added to jet fuel). In the US there are absolutely no additives in Jet fuel, also it's not made "from" kerosene. It's close to the same distillation, but they are different fuels. Airplanes can still use leaded gasoline, and octane ratings of 115 are seen in high-performance airplane engines. Jet engines, however, burn kerosene-based jet fuel. Just as automobile drivers are concerned with fuel efficiency and engine condition, airplane and jet pilots are concerned about using the best fuel for their type of aircraft engines.

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