The Cause of Gasoline Emissions

The primary cause of gasoline emissions is the inefficient combustion of gasoline.

Gasoline is a volatile mixture of flammable liquid hydrocarbons, i.e. compounds which contain both hydrogen and carbon atoms. Gasoline is primarily derived from crude petroleum and is commonly used as a fuel for internal combustion engines.

Internal Combustion is used to generate mechanical power. In a scenario of “perfectly efficient combustion”, oxygen in the air would convert all the hydrogen in gasoline to water, and all the carbon in gasoline would be converted to carbon dioxide, and nitrogen would remain unaffected.

In reality, the combustion process is not perfectly efficient. The disparity between perfectly efficient combustion and typical combustion is illustrated as follows:

  • Perfectly Efficient Combustion = fuel (hydrocarbons) + air (oxygen and nitrogen) » carbon dioxide + water + unaffected nitrogen.
  • Typical Combustion = fuel + air » solid inorganic materials + unburned hydrocarbons +nitrogen oxides + carbon monoxide + carbon dioxide + sulfates + water. (1)

Because perfectly efficient combustion rarely occurs, technologies which are capable of reducing pollutive byproducts of combustion have been developed. Developments in emissions reduction strategies have focused on:

  1. Mitigating the amount of pollutive compounds contained in fuels, e.g. lead, sulfur, metals, etc. which affect higher levels of pollutive emissions, and
  2. Employing technologies that can transform, filter, or otherwise reduce harmful emissions before they are released into the environment, e.g. catalytic converters, NOx reducers and oxidation catalysts.

Notwithstanding the adoption of increasingly stringent emissions standards and advancements in the development and distribution of emissions reduction technologies, challenges in achieving increased levels of emissions reduction persist.