Fuels and Fuel Products Information

Fuels and fuel products include gasoline, diesel oil, coal, fossil fuels, biofuels, natural gases such as butane and propane, and other combustible fluids or materials. They are used mainly in the aviation, marine, and automotive industries. Most fuels and fuel products are supplied, refined and distributed by different organizations. In the United States, trade organizations such as the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) represent independent crude oil and natural gas exploration and production companies. Regulatory agencies include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Hydrocarbon fuels are the most common fuels and fuel products in use today. They rely upon the combustion of a combination of hydrogen and carbon molecules to produce energy. Naturally-occurring hydrocarbon fuels are called fossil fuels. Examples include coal and natural gas. Processed fossil fuels include methanol, ethanol, diesel oil, and gasoline. Natural gases burn more cleanly than other fossil fuels and include propane and butane. Typically, natural gas is transported via pipelines, trucks, or gas cylinders. In order to provide for more efficient distribution, natural gas can be liquefied by chilling it to -260° F (-162° C). Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is transported via LNG tanker. Fuels and fuel products such as gasoline can be transported via ship or tanker truck.

Fuels and fuel products can be used for purposes other than energy production. For example, hydrocarbon fuels such as petroleum are used to lubricate the moving parts in automobiles and machinery. Cleaners made from petroleum distillates are used to remove deposits and adhesives caused by combustion. Fuel additives are designed to make the systems that use fuels and fuel products to run more cleanly and efficiently. Biomass fuels or biofuels are renewable fuels derived from a living organism, or the byproduct of a living organism.