Gasoline , also known as petrol outside North America, is a transparent, petroleum-derived liquid that is used primarily as a fuel in internal combustion engines. It consists mostly of organic compounds obtained by the fractional distillation of petroleum, enhanced with a variety of additives.
The characteristic of a particular gasoline blend to resist igniting too early (which causes knocking and reduces efficiency in reciprocating engines) is measured by its octane rating. Gasoline is produced in several grades of octane rating. Tetraethyllead and other lead compounds are no longer used in most areas to regulate and increase octane-rating, but many other additives are put into gasoline to improve its chemical stability, control corrosiveness and provide fuel system ‘cleaning,’ and determine performance characteristics under intended use. Sometimes, gasoline also contains ethanol as an alternative fuel, for economic or environmental reasons.
Gasoline, as used worldwide in the vast number of internal combustion engines used in transport and industry, has a significant impact on the environment, both in local effects (e.g., smog) and in global effects (e.g., effect on the climate). Gasoline may also enter the environment uncombusted, as liquid and as vapors, from leakage and handling during production, transport and delivery, from storage tanks, from spills, etc. As an example of efforts to control such leakage, many (underground) storage tanks are required to have extensive measures in place to detect and prevent such leaks. Gasoline contains benzene and other known carcinogens.