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You Want Fuel With That?



You Want Fuel With That?
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 7
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   11.12

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    air-gasoline, catalyst, gasolines, internal-combustion, methanol, octane, oxygen-rich, petrol, reformulated, zeolite, conventional, ignition, premium, compounds, heated, ignite
     content words:    United States, New York


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You Want Fuel With That?
By Trista L. Pollard
  

1     Fuel glorious fuel! All the machinery and vehicles in the world would not move if it was not for fuel. We depend on our cars to start, our planes to fly, and our ships to sail everyday. So what is the best diet for a hungry engine? Gasoline or petrol is the food of choice for the world's automobiles.
 
2     Gasoline is a light, highly flammable mixture of hydrocarbons (compounds made up of only hydrogen and carbon). It is used in internal-combustion engines to change heat energy to mechanical energy. Gasoline can be made by distilling (a process of evaporation and condensation of the vapor that is produced) petroleum and obtained from natural gas by distilling oil shale and coal. Methanol, a colorless flammable liquid, is produced by combining hydrogen and carbon monoxide gases that are heated under pressure with a catalyst called zeolite. Catalysts are substances that help to accelerate chemical reactions between two substances without being affected by the reaction. Chemical reactions produce heat and another substance that is completely different from the two or more combined substances.
 
3     Gasoline used in internal-combustion engines is rated with an octane number. Octane numbers are used to describe the quality of the gasoline. When the air-gasoline mixture enters the cylinders of an engine, it needs to remain stable and not ignite too quickly. This means the gasoline must be able to withstand high pressures and high temperatures without igniting too early in the cylinders. The gasoline, once ignited, must also burn evenly in these conditions. Octane numbers rate the gasoline's ability to remain stable in the cylinder until the right moment when the spark plug ignites the mixture. If the gasoline ignites too early, your engine will produce a "knocking" or "pinging" sound. In addition to your engine talking to you, your automobile will operate inefficiently, waste fuel, and sustain damage to its engine. Gasoline is made to resist igniting below certain temperatures. When a gasoline has a higher octane number that means it has a higher ignition temperature. Today most cars do not need high octane gasoline (etc., premium, super, high test) unless the engine is knocking and pinging. Cars built before 1971 must use high octane gasoline. New cars that have high performance engines should also use high octane gasoline.

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