Fossil Fuels

What do the octane numbers of gasoline mean?

The octane number is a measure of the gasoline’s ability to resist engine knock. Two test fuels, normal heptane and isooctane, are blended for test results to determine octane number. Normal heptane has an octane number of zero and isooctane a value of 100. Gasolines are then compared with these test blends to find one that makes the same knock as the test fuel. The octane rating of the gasoline under testing is the percentage by volume of isooctane required to produce the same knock. For example, if the test blend has 85 percent isooctane, the gasoline has an octane rating of 85. The octane rating that appears on gasoline pumps is an average of research octane determined in laboratory tests with engines running at low speeds, and motor octane, determined at higher speeds.


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Science Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App