Gasoline can occur naturally in nature

petrol is a complex mixture of over 100 different, predominantly light hydrocarbons with a boiling range between that of gaseous hydrocarbons and petroleum / kerosene. It is mainly obtained through the refining and processing of petroleum.

There are different types of gasoline, which differ in the type of hydrocarbon composition.

Areas of application

The term petrol is a collective term. He describes:

  • Raw gasoline (naphtha) as untreated petroleum distillate, an important raw material for the petrochemical industry,
  • White spirit and specialty gasoline as a solvent and extraction agent in chemistry,
  • Petrol or Motor gasoline for vehicles with petrol engines (petrol distilled from crude oil, refined with additives),
  • Aviation fuel for airplanes with gasoline engines (piston engines with external ignition).

It is therefore often inaccurately referred to as gasoline, although there are other types of gasoline that are rarely used today.

Gasoline is also used as a fuel.


The hydrocarbons required for gasoline are usually obtained from petroleum by fractional distillation and cracking in refineries.

In Germany, from the 1920s until the end of the Second World War, petrol was also obtained from coal by liquefying coal (synthetic petrol) due to a lack of petroleum. The high energy consumption and the high CO2-Emissions make the process mostly uneconomical these days when cheaper natural gas or oil is available. However, plants are still in operation in South Africa today and others are planned in the world (see Coal Liquefaction # Applications in the Present).


The hydrocarbon molecules in petrol contain 5 to 10 carbon atoms.

Components of regular gasoline:

  • various hydrocarbons
  • different ethers
  • higher alcohols (prevent injection icing)
  • Phenols (against petrol aging through auto-oxidation (oxidation in air))
  • Complexing agents (prevent free metal ions from appearing in gasoline)
  • Amines (corrosion protection)

The octane number (RON) is important for use in gasoline engines. The octane number is a measure of the engine's knock resistance. The higher the octane number, the higher the knock resistance. Additives are added to refine the raw gasoline. The basic fuel does not differ between the various mineral oil companies; it often even comes from the same refinery. The base fuel then becomes the respective Additive package of the supplied group. The most important types of petrol are specified in the DIN EN 228 standard (see box on the right).

Petrol in the European Union exists according to DIN EN 228[1] from the following groups of substances:

  • Main constituent alkanes
  • max. 42 vol .-% aromatics
  • max. 18 vol .-% alkenes normal gasoline; max. 21 vol .-% for Super (Plus)
  • max. 1% by volume benzene
  • max. 150 mg / kg sulfur
  • max. 2.7 mass% oxygen
  • The remaining volume% consists of MTBE and the various additives mentioned above.
DIN EN 228
AreaFuels for automobiles
RegulatesUnleaded petrol requirements and test methods
Brief descriptionSpecifications for minimum requirements and tests for petrol
Publishing year3.2004

Types of gasoline

  • Regular petrol (RON 91) (not available in Switzerland, Spain, Sweden and other countries)
  • Super (petrol) / Eurosuper (ROZ 95) (Switzerland: 'Bleiffrei 95')
  • Super plus (ROZ 98) (Switzerland: 'Lead-free 98' or 'Super'), used in aviation under the name MoGas
  • Shell Optimax (RON 99) only at Shell petrol stations, but is gradually being replaced by V-Power
  • V-Power / ultimate 100 / Super 100 (ROZ 100) (only at Shell / Aral / partially OMV petrol stations)
  • Aviation fuel (AvGas) in the versions (100 RON) (leaded) and (130 RON) (high lead content)
  • White spirit as a solvent and cleaning agent, free of aromatics
  • Lighter fuel is usually aromatic-free
  • Light petrol

In August 2007 the price difference between super and normal in Germany was only one cent. Representatives of automobile clubs suggested that the oil companies wanted to abolish normal in the medium term in order to have more revenues and less costs. Oil companies rejected this allegation as unfounded.[2] However, since the end of November 2007 regular and premium gasoline has been the same price at many petrol stations. [3]

Etymological origin

The original name comes from the Arabic word luban dschawi - "Incense from Java". This term came to Europe through Arab trade relations with Catalonia. With the omission of the first syllable and the change of the first a to e originated in Italian benjuì, in Middle Latin benzoë, from which the German word benzene developed.

In 1825 Faraday discovered the compound, later called benzene, in empty gas bottles, which he then called bicarbure d'hydrogènebefore it was renamed petrol by Eilhard Mitscherlich. However, he used it to refer to today's benzene. Mitscherlich named the substance after the raw material he used, benzoin. Justus von Liebig made the assignment to our present-day petrol.

The term petrol is therefore (as is sometimes mistakenly assumed) in no connection with the engine manufacturer Carl Benz.


A type of motor gasoline is called unleaded if it has not been given any lead-containing anti-knock agents to improve its octane number.

Unleaded regular petrol (91 octane) was reintroduced in Germany in 1984, super unleaded (95 octane) in 1985, when cars were increasingly being equipped with catalytic converters. Also in 1985 Switzerland introduced unleaded 95 instead of leaded regular gasoline (95 octane), in 1993 "Super Plus" (98 octane unleaded) was introduced.

In 1988 the sale of normal leaded gasoline was banned in Germany; From 1996 the German mineral oil industry stopped selling leaded premium gasoline. The leaded super (98 octane) was sold in Switzerland until 1999. Since 2000, no leaded petrol has been allowed to be offered in the EU.

Price development


  1. DIN EN 228 (accessed January 24, 2007)
  2., "Outrageous cashing in" - regular gasoline before the end?, August 13, 2007
  3., "Super and normal cost the same", November 30, 2007

See also

Categories: Flammable Substance | Toxic substance | Environmentally hazardous substance | Mixture of substances | mineral oil