What is Diesel Fuel?

5 key facts to understanding what diesel is and how it’s used

Unless you manage a fleet of large vehicles or run a farm or construction site, you might only think about diesel when you notice it listed at the gas pump.

In the U.S., pretty much all private passenger vehicles run on unleaded gasoline. Even so, diesel is the fuel of choice for most commercial ventures. It powers many buses, trucks and forklifts. It’s used for power generators and farm equipment. It fuels sea vessels, too.

Here are some key facts you should know about diesel fuel.

1. Diesel is not the same as gasoline.

Both gasoline and diesel are derived from crude oil (although some diesel comes from biomass too). However, these fuels come from different hydrocarbons separated from crude oil when it’s refined. Diesel is denser than gasoline. It won’t evaporate into the air the way that gas will. It’s also more energy-rich than gasoline, producing 10 to 20 percent more energy in combustion.

2. Diesel engines function differently than gasoline engines.

Gasoline is flammable, so all it needs is air and a spark to ignite. Applying a spark to gas is what makes a gasoline engine run. On the other hand, diesel is combustible but not flammable. If you dropped a lit match into a bucket of diesel, it would go out like the diesel was water. Diesel engines are combustion engines. They apply heat and pressure to cause diesel to explode.

Diesel engines have a longer lifespan and get better mileage for their fuel.

3. There is both off-road and on-road diesel.

On-road and off-road diesel are sold separately, but there’s no chemical difference between them. The only difference is their appearance, intended usage and price.

  • On-road diesel is clear and sold at gas pumps. It’s subject to taxes that can often be quite high.
  • Off-road diesel is dyed red and used for farming, construction, power generation and other non-road purposes. It isn’t subject to taxes and cannot be sold in gas stations. You can face a fine if you’re found using off-road diesel in a road vehicle.

4. Diesel is much cleaner than it used to be.

Diesel fuel used to have a very high sulfur content, which was harmful to the environment and exacerbated breathing illnesses. In 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a fuel standard that reduced diesel’s sulfur content to 15 parts per million or less. Ultra-low sulfur diesel is the norm in the U.S. now.

5. Burt’s Reliable has the best diesel delivery in Suffolk County.

For businesses, farms, worksites and public buildings in the East End and North Fork of Long Island, we are the go-to company for premium diesel delivery. Our on-site delivery reduces your lost working hours — no more sending vehicles to a gas station, no more collecting and reconciling receipts and no more running out unexpectedly. We’ll work closely with you to create a customized delivery plan.

Ready to get started receiving top-quality diesel fuel? Get in touch with Burt’s Reliable today!