# A gallon of gas

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by Happy Valley, Nov 28, 2009.

1. ### Happy ValleyActive Member

Just some musings for discussion.........
Some time back earlier in the year I remember my wife telling me a humorous quip about a circulating email at the uni science dept. where she works that went something like this:

An intelligent alien visitor comes to earth and is asked among other things about sourcing the most efficient and dependable fuel available to terrestrial humans.
Given a periodic table of elements, access to an inventory of resources and a lab to proceed in, the alien works away diligently and quickly comes up with it's solution: a gallon of gasoline.

It's astounding to consider the energy contained in that gallon of gas. Think of pushing by hand the average family sedan loaded with 4 people for 25 miles........and do it in about a half hour!

In another thread here we were discussing MPG and the efficiency of mass transit and privately owned vehicles being fully loaded.
Much of my working life was spent being stationed at many places around the globe. I can say unequivocally that with few exceptions in all of them outside the US I saw "fully loaded" less an option and more a certainty.
In many places I've been mass transit moves more on the schedule of being full rather than at a certain time. Of course, they are usually always full and quickly so.

Thirty years ago Buckminster Fuller wrote in Critical Path about auditing the books of the true cost accounting of the cosmos.
He stated perhaps one way to calculate the true cost of a gallon of gas, one might use the then current electric rates of ConEd to supply the power needed for the pressure and heat on the carbonaceous material sufficient to result in the petro slurry to refine a gallon of gas.

His calculation and end tally for that gallon? About a million dollars.

Last edited: Nov 28, 2009

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2. ### motorbikemike45Member

Gasoline is a very complex mix of chemicals. I remember when Formula One racing was using 1.5 litre (about 91 cubic inches) supercharged engines producing well over 1,000 horse power! The formula rules require gasoline, not alcohol based fuels. No "gasoline" would have worked in those super stressed engines, they would have exploded. The racer's solution was to run pure toluene. They got around the rules because toluene is ONE of the components of pump gasoline. Gasoline has one of the highest specific heat coefficients of any fuel. It will be difficult to replace because it works so well. I expect that hydrogen will eventually be the replacement that works best because it is a sustainable fuel with a clean exhaust. Fossil fuels will get more and more expensive as demand continues to increase (just look at the increasing demand in China and India) and they become scarcer and harder to extract from the Earth, hydrogen will then become more competitive in price.

3. ### Tinker1980Guest

I was thinking about this post yesterday at work, there was something bugging me about it... I couldn't figure out what at first.

I then heard the clattering of one of the spotter trucks in the lot, and remembered: Diesel has more stored energy than gasoline, wouldn't that be picked over a gallon of gas?

Also... a gallon of propane has less energy than a gallon of gas, BUT a gallon of LPG weighs 4 pounds or so - gasoline is 6 pounds per gallon - six pounds of LPG has more energy than six pounds of gasoline.

Just for fun, I did some math... one of the lead-acid forklift batteries at work makes 36 volts and 1500 a-h... I think that translates to about a gallon and a half of gasoline! The batteries weigh as much as a decent size sedan. (3400 Lbs)

4. ### motorbikemike45Member

Diesel does have more energy per gallon than gasoline, but we can refine more gallons of gasoline than gallons of diesel per barrel of crude oil. I'm not going to do the math, but gallons refined per barrel of crude is one reason that gas is priced a tad lower than diesel.

5. ### Tinker1980Guest

Aha, that makes sense.

6. ### Happy ValleyActive Member

Good for you, that's what it was meant to do.
Thanks for contributing.

7. ### arceeguyActive Member

Out of any given barrel of oil, you will get anything from tar to LPG. Tar being the heaviest and LPG being the lightest. Gasoline, Diesel, Fuel oil and kerosene are some of the products in between the two extremes.

Modern refining techniques allow refineries to "crack" larger, heavier hydrocarbon molecules into gasoline - giving more gasoline per barrel than would be possible using conventional methods. Depending on demand, a refiner can tune for more output on the product in demand.

While you will get more gasoline than diesel per barrel of oil, the price of diesel used to be lower than gas because here in the USA, demand for diesel is low compared to gasoline because our cars are mostly all powered by gas, creating a bit of a surplus for diesel.

Now diesel is more expensive because the EPA has mandated much lower sulphur content in the diesel fuel to lower emissions, and the extra processing has made diesel quite a bit more expensive even though you could say that diesel is a "by product" of gasoline refining. (You can even say that gas is a by-product of tar production :goofy: )

8. ### WhizBangAndyMember

HMMM..Tar...Dontcha mean ASPHALT? then again when production stops inadvertently and it gets stuck in the line it might as well be TAR.. LOL We would have miles and miles of concrete highways and roads without it..lol Ka-Thump Ka-Thump Ka-Thump..:jester: